Before the return of Doctor Who, BBC One has already given us a hint of what is to come. This is a Prologue to the first episode of this season. And so: what do we have here?
Karn. The planet of Karn is the home to the Sisterhood of Karn. More recently, it was the site of the minisode “Night of the Doctor,” where we got to see the transformation of the Eighth Doctor into the War Doctor and the beginning of his entry into the Last Great Time War. However, Karn and The Doctor have an older shared history: from his time combating the renegade Time Lord Morbius as the Fourth Doctor and the introduction of the Sacred Flame and the Elixir of Life.
What is also interesting to note is that the Sisterhood of Karn are biologically Gallifreyan. In fact, not only do they possess the Elixir of Life that can at least temporarily restore life, but they create potions and processes that aid in helping a Time Lord regenerate. According to the New Adventures novel Cat’s Cradle: Time’s Crucible they are a remnant of the Pythia’s power: the original prophetic leader of an ancient matriarchal Gallifrey.
It could have been assumed, at least in how they were only portrayed in “Night of the Doctor” in the new Doctor Whos series, that Karn had perished with Gallifrey in the Time War but it also makes sense that they did not. The fact is, when The Doctor mentioned he had been the last of the Time Lords, he could have only been referring to Gallifrey and its ruling class. He never actually said he was the last of the Gallifreyans. Gallifreyans become Time Lords, but not all Gallifreyans are Time Lords and the Sisters of Karn are something else entirely: even if they are related in a biological sense.
Of course, this could be a moot point as due to the actions of The Doctor and all his past incarnations, Gallifrey was seemingly saved. Perhaps this could be applied to its erstwhile allies such as the Sisterhood of Karn as well. In any case, here in this Prologue we have an interesting situation.
Who is this person who has a history with The Doctor, and is attempting to use his servants to find him? Who is this “creature” that The Doctor owes nothing to? Well, it most likely isn’t Missy as Missy identifies with the female gender pronoun and the only minions she has are those she subverts or creates for twisted and zany purposes.
However, there might be another clue.
Who is The Doctor’s other arch-nemesis? Who has had, and still yet may retain, servants to seek him out? Who had a very long and storied association with him? Who could, at this point in his existence, be classified as “a creature?” And who is this person that he can identify with: someone who creates agents through circumstance almost as much as he has?
There had been leaks and rumours that Davros will be returning to Doctor Who. I mean, many believed that he had died before, so what is stopping him from coming back now. But there is more. One particular rumour states that The Doctor will be meeting Davros before his injuries, perhaps as a younger man … or a child. It always seems to return to that idea from “Genesis of The Daleks”: to that quandary of destroying an evil before it at least overtly becomes evil. And, as The Doctor proclaims in “The Prologue” sometimes “an enemy is a friend that you don’t know yet.”
I mean, if it is Davros he is pretty well beyond any form of redemption and some things are very much fixed points in time. Davros will create the Daleks. He will be one of The Doctor’s greatest and most ingenious enemies. But, then again, this might not be about Davros at all. This could be someone else entirely: someone we know or someone that we are about to meet.
As for the object The Doctor gave the Sister Ohila … who knows? Your guess is as good as mine. Doctor Who and its protagonist Mr. Cantankerous returns this September 19.