There were many things for fans to wrap their head around in last night’s season 12 opener of Doctor Who. Chief among them was the final scene, which reintroduced an iconic villain in an ultra-surprising way.
Much earlier in the episode, though, a line from Stephen Fry’s C reveals that two long-running alien-busting organizations have been shut down off screen: UNIT and Torchwood. While UNIT’s closure was previously referenced in 2019’s “Resolution,” this is the first time it’s been confirmed that Captain Jack Harkness and his team have stopped protecting the Earth, too.
And, as you’d imagine, fans aren’t happy with this development. Torchwood was last on our screens back in 2011, but there’s always been hope that the spinoff series would return in time, especially as star John Barrowman has been continually fighting to get something off the ground. However, this reference to the team in “Spyfall Part 1” appears to confirm that we’ve definitely seen the last of Torchwood.
— Newt (@babynewt_) January 1, 2020
“They’re all gone” ?? #DoctorWho
— jaymie (@simmoslxter) January 1, 2020
"UNIT. Even Torchwood."
— Sarah (@areyouokayhun) January 1, 2020
Gwen when she hears the Doctor said Torchwood is over#DoctorWho
— The Women of Who ? (@TheWomenOfWho) January 1, 2020
The weird thing is that Big Finish Productions has been officially continuing the story of Torchwood in audio drama form for years – not to mention UNIT – so this reference is raising a lot of questions about what’s canon and what’s not.
Big Finish: What are your plans for Torchwood and UNIT so they won't interfere with what we're doing
Chibs: They don't exist anymore
Big Finish: pic.twitter.com/hPSAvUmJwT
— Edward (@Smalledd) January 2, 2020
To be fair, some folks did enjoy the scene as they just liked hearing the word Torchwood in Doctor Who again, even if it was to say that they’re gone.
just gonna leave this here because it's so satisfying to see them actually mention torchwood in current doctor who, it's been so long pic.twitter.com/sNVgl1hIRO
— Dan☀️ (@hipstershambIes) January 2, 2020
Here’s an idea: what if Sacha Dhawan’s Master is actually the one who’s behind the closing down of both UNIT and Torchwood?
…so like – what if The Master was behind UNIT and Torchwood being shutdown? #doctorwho
— Dan☀️ (@hipstershambIes) January 1, 2020
Others are wondering if showrunner Chris Chibnall dropped this reference in order to tease a big plan he has for both teams in the future. Who knows, maybe he does have something up his sleeve and Barrowman really is finally coming back to the show?
I think Chibnall is building up to something by having the British government get rid of both UNIT and Torchwood… And I hope it's good
— i lied I'll always be a widow main (@mana_bear) January 2, 2020
Doctor Who continues this Sunday, January 5th with episode 12xo2 “Spyfall Part 2” on BBC One/America.