After the 2018 series largely ignored classic villains and monsters, Doctor Who’s current run is going all-out.
Following on from 2019’s Dalek New Year’s special we’ve already seen the return of the Master (Sacha Dhawan) and have been teased comebacks for the rhino-like Judoon and the Cybermen. But could there be another classic alien foe coming back to the BBC sci-fi series?
That’s the question on our lips after eagle-eyed fans noticed something interesting in a picture for upcoming episode Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror. As revealed in some of the teaser footage for the story, the Doctor soon discovers some otherworldly tech and species are involved in Tesla and Edison’s war over electrical currents, including some interesting-looking weapons.
But the device Jodie Whittaker’s holding in this picture is more familiar than most – because it’s more or less exactly the same design as the Silurian “heat ray”, a weapon used by Doctor Who’s reptilian baddies (and sometimes allies) sporadically since 2010 when they returned to the series in The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood.
You can see it in action on the right of the image below, as well as the above shot from the Doctor Who Visual Dictionary, which gives a good profile shot of the weapon.
So is this meant to be a Silurian weapon? And does this mean that Homo Reptilia will make their grand return in series 12?
Well, possibly not. Despite its identical shape the weapon Whittaker’s Doctor is holding is painted and styled slightly differently with a larger emitter on the end (though it looks like it might just be taped on), which could indicate that it’s supposed to be a different piece of technology.
After all, it seems unlikely that an episode already including shapeshifting alien foes and two established historical figures would have much time to include another species like the Silurians anyway, so it might just be a case of the Doctor Who production team reusing an old mould for a minor prop.
Then again, it’s worth noting that current showrunner Chris Chibnall actually wrote the episodes where the new-look Silurians and their weapons first appeared, so it’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t have noticed the similarity. And given how many new props Doctor Who has to make every week anyway, why would they decide to reuse just this one?
For now, it’s a mystery – maybe Tesla discovered Silurian tech and adapted it to his own work? That could cover all bases – and we’ll have to wait until episode four airs to find out the full truth. And based on that whole hypercube theory we discussed the other week, this might turn out to be a red herring anyway…
Doctor Who continues this Sunday at 7:10pm on BBC One