Doctor Who has been promising the resolution to the mystery of the Timeless Child ever since the phrase was first mentioned at the beginning of season 11. Last night’s season 12 finale, “The Timeless Children,” finally laid out all the answers, but at the same time, it also set up another mystery to be explored when the show returns.
As we had all guessed, the Timeless Child is indeed the Doctor herself. And, as the introduction of the Ruth Doctor (Jo Martin also appeared in a cameo in the episode) a few weeks ago told us, it’s all about the character having more regenerations than we previously realized. But, at the same time, it also goes deeper than we ever imagined.
The Master had previously hacked into the Matrix, the repository of all Time Lord knowledge, and discovered the true origins of his people. In ancient times, Tectuan – the first Gallifreyan to invent space travel – found a rip in space/time through which a unique child had arrived from another universe. A child who regenerated when they were fatally injured. Tectuan spent years studying the child’s biology and was eventually able to splice her genetic code into herself and other Gallifreyans. So, the Doctor is how the Time Lords are able to regenerate.
The Doctor then had many lives as an adult, working for the Time Lords’ secret service, before they were forcibly regenerated back into a child – with their mind wiped. The Doctor’s life, as we’ve always known it, then began.
Fast forward to the end of the episode and the Doctor is on her way to pick up her friends after dealing with the Master and the Cybermen when the Judoon teleport into the TARDIS and zap her away to Stormcage, the highest-security prison in the galaxy, after they failed to capture her in “Fugitive of the Judoon.” And we’ll find out what happens next in the New Year 2021 special, titled “Revolution of the Daleks.”
All in all, Doctor Who season 12 concluded with a revelation that reshapes the show’s past and a tease for what’s to come in its future.