Are the Time Lords returning to Doctor Who?

The shock conclusion of series 13's fourth episode implies that the Doctor could be headed back to Gallifrey – but which version?

Doctor Who

Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor has spent quite a bit of this Doctor Who series looking for her old employers The Division – but in the latest episode, they found her instead.

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As she’s tricked and corralled by the Weeping Angels, Flux – Chapter Four: Village of the Angels concludes with the Doctor “recalled by Division”, aka separated from her friends via Quantum Extraction and turned to stone, apparently ahead of transportation to the shadowy organisation (though why she also grew Weeping Angel wings is anyone’s guess).

It’s a shocking twist that sets up exciting moments in the episodes to come – not least of which may be the on-screen return of the Time Lords, who’ve been largely absent from Doctor Who in recent years.

You see, while The Division uses all kinds of different species as operatives (examples we’ve seen include Lupari, what appear to be humans and the Weeping Angels), its origins lie on Gallifrey. As seen in series 12 finale The Timeless Children, The Division was apparently set up by the nascent Time Lord society to work in the shadows, protecting time and advancing their society’s aim while giving the higher-ups plausible deniability.

So while the on-ground fighters seem to be a mix of different races, at the top we can assume it’s still Time Lords. And now that the Doctor is being “recalled” (whatever that means) it seems likely she’ll come face to face with some of her own species.

The twist? They’re almost certainly not the Time Lords she knows. In the “present” of Doctor Who, Gallifrey and the Time Lords have been destroyed (again) thanks to Sacha Dhawan’s Master, with the empty ruins forming the setting of the 2020 series finale.

**STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 02/03/2020 20:00:01** The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) - (C) BBC - Photographer: James Pardon
The Doctor on Gallifrey in The Timeless Children (BBC)

The Division operatives we’ve seen since are from the Doctor’s past – so we can assume that the ‘Division’ calling the Doctor back in are from that past as well. Certainly, the last Time Lord operative we saw (Ritu Arya’s Gat) was shocked and disbelieving when told of Gallifrey’s destruction, coming from a time when the planet was still thriving.

Time travel – it’s a headache. But basically, wherever the Division are coming from, it must be a period where Gallifrey still stands. It’s probably also from a time long before the “present” of the Doctor’s life, probably closer to when the Fugitive Doctor (Jo Martin) left the organisation (unless they just took a really long lunch break during the thousands of years in between).

Though of course it’s also possible that the Division survived the end of Gallifrey somehow, and have just been lying in wait to abduct Whittaker’s Doctor now that she’s started looking into their affairs.

Either way, the whole thing screams Time Lords. It screams stuffy, snobby posh aliens with weird stiff collars and offbeat fashion sense, and we can’t wait to see if they actually turn up in Doctor Who: Flux’s final two episodes.

Assuming they don’t just keep the Doctor in stone angel form, like Han Solo in Jabba’s Palace. But that might not make for such an exciting finale in a couple weeks’ time.

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