We’re halfway through this series of Doctor Who, and inching ever closer to the sad day when Peter Capaldi’s Doctor bids farewell at the end of the year.
Unless of course it happens earlier than that – because from the beginning of this series there have been hints that this version of the Time Lord might begin his regeneration early, with clips showing the character apparently beginning the process by which his species renew every cell in their bodies and change their appearance (in other words, an in-show way to allow for frequent recasting of the lead actor) and Capaldi himself hinting at a premature change.
Now, of course this probably won’t be a “full” regeneration – it’s much more likely that the scenes we’ve seen of the Doctor bathed in golden energy will just result in him being healed from an injury before siphoning off the excess energy, as David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor did once in 2008 – but we’re still intrigued as to how, when and why such a mini-regeneration will take place.
By this point we’re pretty sure of the why: the Doctor was struck blind a few episodes ago, so the process can be used to heal his sight – while in behind-the-scenes terms, hinting at an early regeneration while people speculate about the next Doctor is good PR – but now a new clue we’ve spotted could shed light on when and how the whole thing will take place.
Take a glance at the image above. Do you see the small statue on the left of the table behind Peter Capaldi? If you look closer, you can see that’s it’s a small figurine of a robed figure with the word “Truth” etched on the bottom (very stylish, every home will want one etc).
We’re betting that this clue means the regeneration has a connection to the horrifying robed monks of latest episode Extremis, whose connection to the Veritas document (translated as, you know, Truth) was the centrepiece of that complex story. Maybe they actually instigate the change in the Doctor for some reason, or maybe it happens regardless, restoring the Time Lord’s sight just when he needs to be at the top of his game more than ever.
And the statue has also inspired us to try to pinpoint exactly when this mini-regeneration happens, which we’re pretty sure we’ve finally figured out. While we previously speculated that it could take place in next week’s seventh episode, The Pyramid at the End of the World (mainly because of the little triangles on the soldier’s shoulders in the regeneration scene), evidence is now pointing to the Monk storyline continuing even further into the following eighth episode The Lie of the Land (look, “Lie”, there’s that Truth theme again).
A new clip for this Saturday’s seventh episode sees the Monks explaining that they will be asked to take over humanity, hinting at a connection to the already-announced brainwashing/”mass delusion” storyling of episode 8 (written by Toby Whithouse), while a screenshot from footage of that same episode shows more of the soldiers with the little triangles/Pyramids on their shoulders.
In that image you can also see that the Doctor is wearing the same clothes he has on for his regeneration (including a buttoned-up waistcoat, which has been absent when he’s worn that jacket before) while in the background an ominous, Pyramid-shaped logo with the word Truth (again!) printed on it also appears.
In short, it looks clear that this Saturday’s episode and the one after are closely linked, and it seems likely that the teased regeneration will take place in the latter. In effect, this makes Extremis, The Pyramid at the End of the World and The Lie of the Land a three-part story or mini-arc within the wider series, so restoring the Doctor’s sight at the end of it would make sense narratively.
Of course we could be wrong, and maybe the Doctor will be permanently blind before regenerating forever into a new actor weeks before anyone expected, but hey – we’re only doing our best to find the Truth.
Doctor Who continues on BBC1 this Saturday at 7:45pm