For the past few weeks, Doctor Who has been teasing audiences with a locked room mystery. It’s one of the oldest puzzles in storytelling – what’s in the box?
Here are some of the most popular theories that have developed over the past few weeks, ranked from most to least convincing – if you’re worried about spoilers, turn back now!
At the moment, it seems Missy is the most likely occupant of the vault. Indeed, the tease at the end of Knock Knock seemed almost to confirm it entirely; the relationship between the Doctor and whoever is in the vault, with its almost friendly rivalry, definitely grows from the established rapport we’ve seen between the Twelfth Doctor and Missy.
John Simm’s Master
Of course, it’s possible that the clues suggesting it’s the Master have been a curveball – it is the Master, just not the one we’re expecting. We know by now that John Simm’s Master is set to return to the series, but we haven’t been told when or under what circumstances – could he be stuck within the Vault? Just how many times did the person inside the Vault knock on the door last week?
The Mondasian Cybermen
It’s possible, yes, because we know they’re coming back – but it’s less likely. After all, most of the hints we’ve had so far suggest that there’s only one person in the Vault, not a large group. And even if it is the Cybermen – well, could you imagine the Doctor sitting down to eat Mexican food with them while they play piano? This one doesn’t seem so likely really.
The Next Doctor
It’s been pointed out that most of Moffat’s mystery boxes tend to hide the Doctor – consider the Pandorica – and that he’s hinted that Peter Capaldi’s regeneration will be unlike one we’ve ever seen before. Could it be that the Twelfth Doctor has kidnapped his future self, to try and prevent his regeneration? While it might be a compelling story, it’s unlikely from a production standpoint – Chris Chibnall would no doubt want a fresh slate for his Doctor, and we don’t even know if she’s been cast yet.
A Previous Doctor
Rumours of Paul McGann’s return remain as strong as ever, while the suggestion that David Bradley might be appearing to play the First Doctor has been tabloid fodder for a while now. It’s not impossible, just rather unlikely – particularly in a year when Doctor Who has been trying to be a little bit more forward looking in its approach.
Having said that, though – while Doctor Who series 10 has been trying to be more forward looking in its approach, there is one character from the past they keep referencing. Susan Foreman, the Doctor’s granddaughter, and a favourite character of Peter Capaldi’s. Has Moffat been foreshadowing a return from the first companion? If he is – well, why would she be locked inside the vault?
Someone (or something) else
Of course, it may well be that we’re taking the wrong approach – the answer isn’t someone we’ve seen before, it’s an entirely new character. Or, in fact, it may not be as simple as just being a particular character – remember the Doctor’s line in the trailer that he’s been “guarding the gateway to your world for years”? Maybe we shouldn’t be asking what’s in the Vault, but what’s behind the door?
Does it matter who’s there?
Well, that’s the thing. At the moment, it does look most likely to be Missy in the Vault – Occam’s Razor in action. But as we’ve been focused on what is in the Vault, we’ve lost sight of the why and the how that left them there – and it’s clear that that’s where the real mystery is.
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