“Is God willing to prevent The Timeless Children, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh The Timeless Children? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
The Timeless Children is an episode of Doctor Who broadcast on the 1st March 2020. This episode, for one reason or another, has caused a lot of online discussion and turmoil amongst the fandom. Some like it, others hate it, and others loathe it. I loathe it. Forgetting the bad writing in the show in general as of late, the retcons and revelations that the episode revealed frankly ruined the show for me. So, how did it suck? Why is this a reconstruction and a review? I will reveal all.
To really ‘get’ this, you do need to watch the episode on iPlayer, and have an understanding of the plot and lore of Who. This episode is basically backstory porn and continuity porn. I would give a synopsis, but it wouldn’t help much. If you have, then please read on. The Timeless Children, for me, has ruined my enjoyment of the show for adding retroactive continuity that flies in the face of the show’s existing lore.
In and of itself, on the subject of lore, that is a good thing. Stories need to develop, and lore should be added. Doctor Who needs new canon. When it basically says that what the audience has been told has always been a lie, that is where I get annoyed, and I get angry at the laziness of it all.
Characters like The Lone Cyberman were pointless, in the end. He was killed by The Master (who is insane again), and the things they did to The companions were sucky too. Instead of completing a long paragraph, I’ll just list all my continuity and plot anoyances:
Ben’s The Timeless Children continuity critique list (#7 may SHOCK YOU)
1. The point of the Cybermen is they are emotionless cyborgs, who are repressed as to avoid the pain of having various plugs, sockets, and bits in them. Making them pure robot removes the point of them being Cybermen.
2. The Master is crazy, because…? He was cured before ‘The Doctor Falls’ in Series 10. Why is he suddenly giddy and mental. He is more like a windowlicker than a villain!
3. The Lone Cyberman was pointless.
4. So was his mission.
5. Timelords aren’t a race, but a rank. They have always been a rank. Gallifreyans don’t have two hearts and regenerate. They have one heart and are very much mortal. We knew they were genetically altered. This was established over 40 years ago!
6. Alright, devil’s advocate: Yes, timelords being not timelords at first makes sense, to an extent. But where is The Doctor from?
7. The Timeless child malarky makes no sense. She’s a ‘space baby’ that had the power to regenerate and was experimented on to give the timelords that power. Why? What is the point of adding it to the story if it doesn’t forward anything? It forwards the timelords, not The Doctor. The Master destroyed Gallifrey, didn’t he? Heck, so did that guy with the death particle.
8. So we now know The Doctor has infinity regenerations. I guess that’s good to explain away the ’12 regenerations’ limit, but we knew that Timelords could give them more (and that was told to us TWO SEPARATE TIMES in 1983, and in 2013).
9. Why can River Song regenerate then? She’s not a timelord, she’s a human who was born in the TARDIS. Why could she regenerate? This makes no sense with what we know now.
10. Why is The Doctor’s memories scrambled to be like an old Irish village?
11. The TARDIS was shaped like a phonebox because of the chameleon circuit being broken. Why did Jo Martin’s past Doctor incarnation (unless its a future one) end up a Police box too? Her TARDIS interior was like Hartnell’s. Why is hers a Police Box? (and don’t say because of the time period, it was buried in a hole).
12. How far in the future were humans this extinct? Why are there only 7 of them? There were much more in Utopia. How are there so many then? Were they all inbred?
13. How can The Judoon imprison Doctor 13 when it was Doctor Jo Martin who did the crime? I guess statute of limitations don’t exist in space…
14. The clip from Brain of Morbius. WHY? Morbius was also a Timelord, they were his incarnations.
15. Graham, Yaz, and Ryan did nothing. Captain Jack would have fought, he fought Daleks.
16. Why have John Barrowman set up the lone Cyberman, when he never actually meets The Doctor, or plays any other part in the story. For that matter, why pull out the companions in his ONE APPEARANCE? Were they always surplus to requirement?
17. Are the Time Lords really dead now? Why? How did The Master kill a whole planet? Why would he need The Death Particle? He can kill them all himself.
18. I take back what I said in the intro. You shouldn’t need to get the lore and backstory. Frankly, that shouldn’t be the case at all. How are kids going to understand this stuff? They watch the show, aren’t we supposed to be making new fans?
The review in summary
This episode is really a disservice to you, the fandom. The show, for all its flaws, had a strong continuity, and could be forgiven. Bad writing ruined this story. The writers made something so overblown and messy, because the Cybermen weren’t big and bad enough. That is where I come in.
The Timeless Children: RECONSTRUCTED
When I do these reconstructions, I take the elements present, and rearrange them to be something else. So, that’s what I’ll do. I will take things out, and maybe add some stuff in to make a (hopefully) better story.
Episodes 8 and 9 will stay the same, for the most part. The two minor changes I would make is there is no Master in Episode 9, and the Cyberiad will be a chip, not a shiny goo thing. Both of them are superfluous. Oh, and the humans were actually a defence force, controlling evacuation and fighting off Cyber attacks. We will get The Master in The Timeless Children though.
The episode begins as a mirror to the end of Episode 9. The Lone Cyberman is being upgraded. That was his conversion in the last episode, and his previous life. He dons black handlebars, and becomes the Cyber-leader. Yaz, Graham, and the humans are sickened as they watch it happen. The Lone Cyberman cries in pain. We don’t see the gore, but we hear it. You may here the cyber-surgeons say things like ‘Your current form is insufficient. A full conversion is necessary for your continuation’.
Meanwhile The Doctor, Ryan, and the others are looking at the portal to Gallifrey. They are all shocked, and stunned. A Timelord walks through to greet them all. The Timelord is Borusa, from the original series. He is chancellor of Gallifrey again, after The Five Doctors. With his return, it is another recurring Timelord we haven’t seen in a long time. He reveals that The Timelords have been taking the humans into refuge. Borusa also states they have The Master too.
The new Cyberleader (who will indeed be voiced by David Banks, in my fanon) will make their way to the planet that The Doctor escaped to, while also trying to capture the others on the ship. These scenes will be pivotal, as they will be Graham and Yaz being bad-ass, and using their own intelligence to take out the Cybermen. They saw the procedure, they know what its like.
Borusa leads the others to The Citadel, showing the damage havocked by The Master. It’s actually been 100 years since then, but the rebuilding effort is taking its time. The Master apparently ripped open the Eye of Harmony chamber, and used it to try and destroy the whole planet. The Master is incarcerated, and is insane (which is why he was insane in Spyfall), he is rambling about what he has learned, and keeps repeating ‘Timeless children’, in a mumble.
The Doctor sits with him, and he will turn to her, looking scared. He says one thing to her: ‘I know what I did. I’d do it again. But if you knew what I did, you would finish the job’ before laughing maniacally. The Doctor demands to know what ‘The Timeless Children’ are. The Master looks at her, and says ‘They are all around us’.
The Cybership arrives, and enters the rift. The Cybermen have entered Gallifrey. The Master stands up, and he says ‘It all begins again, Doctor. The future is mine’. It is then revealed that The Master had been in cahoots with the Cybermen. Why? The Cyberplanner had predicted that the Cyberwar would end with the almost extinction of humanity, until they went to Gallifrey.
Once in Gallifrey, they would become a new race of mortal timelords called ‘The Timeless’. They would win the Cyber war. The Master tried to destroy Gallifrey to change history, but didn’t. Instead, he took Timelords, and humans, and made a new race of Cybermen, called Cyberlords. A mixture of Timelord and Cyberman. And yes, they can regenerate.
Gallifreyans, humans, and The Doctor are taken aback as Cybermen, Cyberlords, and Cyberdrones rain down on them (and they are all of various eras). Some people are latched onto by Cyberdrones and Cybermats, and they become zombies. The Doctor, Borusa, and the others prepare for conversion, but are saved by Yaz, Graham and the other humans.
There is then a big war on Gallifrey. Hundreds die, and it is badass. The ‘Fam’ meet, and realise that to defeat the Cybermen, they need to use the death particle (which is why cyberleader needed the cyberiad, it was needed to unlock it). It would kill them all, but humanity (evacuated into TARDISES) would live, and history would continue.
The Master, Cyberleader, and two Cybermen confront The Doctor, Graham, Yaz, and Ryan. There’s a big stand off, and The Doctor says something like this: ‘If I die, I will die the way I lived: saving the Universe. And if you die with me, then so be it’. As this happens, a large white flash comes, and the sound cuts. The screen goes slow mo, and the cybermen all turn to dust, as does The Master.
The ‘fam’ wake up on the TARDIS. Humanity set up a new colony on New Earth. A new beacon for humans to live, alongside the evolved Sisters of Plenitude, derived from Cats. Everyone celebrates, though The Doctor is unsure. What happened? What did Borusa do? Suddenly, two Judoon arrest The Doctor, and she ends up in space jail. Fade to black.
That ending may sound Deus ex Machina, but really its meant to echo ‘The War Games’ when The Time Lords slow down time and kill a whole race of people, and wipe them from existence. While humans are not welcome on Gallifrey, I think that this would be a good twist, and show Timelords as more three dimensional and complex. They don’t want non-Gallifreyans, but will help to preserve time and space. Its a means to an end for them.
This would, in my opinion, be a more fitting ending to this series. I have replaced shit with triumph. This is an epic ending to Series 10, in my opinion. I didn’t want to write it, though. I wanted them to.