Doctor Who tends to duck actually killing off its companions, with the Doctor’s friends usually just mindwiped, trapped in a parallel universe or frozen at their moment of death and sent off to travel the universe. Well, except Adric. He had it coming.
However, clues have been pointing for a while to the fact that this series could actually see the death of a companion, with Pearl Mackie’s Bill Potts in the frame to be one of the few Doctor Who cast members to actually meet their maker.
The hints first began a few months ago when a trailer for the new series saw Bill hint at her own mortality, suggesting that her life with the Doctor could be of danger to her safety
“I’m having the time of my life – and I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she said (as you can see in the trailer below).
“Even if it kills me…”
Since then, episodes of the series have seen this danger realised a few times (especially when she’s stunned and nearly murdered by spacesuit zombies in Oxygen), while the synopsis for the first part of this year’s series finale (aka episode 11) seems to hint that her grim prediction could be about to come true.
Friendship drives the Doctor into the rashest decision of his life. Trapped on a giant spaceship, caught in the event horizon of a black hole, he witnesses the death of someone he is pledged to protect. Is there any way he can redeem his mistake? Are events already out of control? For once, time is the Time Lord’s enemy…
The Doctor is played by Peter Capaldi, Bill by Pearl Mackie and Nardole by Matt Lucas. Michelle Gomez guest stars as Missy.
So, could Bill really be about to die? Our strong and stable answer has to be: maybe. Rumours have abounded for a while that actress Pearl Mackie will be departing the series alongside showrunner Steven Moffat and star Peter Capaldi, and a death storyline would certainly explain away her exit while also potentially giving some backstory for whoever the new Doctor is – a man haunted by the danger he brings into others’ lives.
However, it could also be that the truth is more complicated. We know that this episode deals with a spaceship where time is dilated, meaning that it moves slower at one end of the ship than the other – so who’s to say the Doctor doesn’t see Bill’s death, only to use the ship’s peculiar temporal circumstances to reverse it within the episode? After all, the synopsis suggests he may try to “redeem his mistake,” suggesting that the death isn’t as immutable as death normally tends to be.
And then of course, there the option that the person the Doctor has “pledged to protect” isn’t Bill after all, as one would expect. When Capaldi’s Time Lord took on the imprisonment of nemesis-turned ally Missy, he pledged to protect her body for a thousand years – so could it be that it’s the former Master who bites the deep-space dust? Perhaps her newly-good nature resulting in her making a decision that she never would have before, landing the Doctor with serious guilt over his own part in her rehabilitation?
OR it could be Matt Lucas’ Nardole, or some random guest star we haven’t met yet. There’s no evidence for and against those ones yet, but hey – got to cover all the bases.
Anyway as noted, whoever does die will almost certainly be resurrected within the episode by the timey-wimey forces in play, but it is still worth keeping an open mind about the deadly dangers faced by the Doctor’s friends in the upcoming episodes.
After all, head writer Steven Moffat is on his way out – who’s to say he wouldn’t try to really spin some heads by being one of the few writers on the series to properly kill a companion?
Doctor Who continues on BBC1 this Saturday 17th June at 6.30pm