I don’t think Doctor Who would be Doctor Who if every series of the show didn’t provide the fans with a burning question. A burning question that would have them speculating mindlessly for many months before the series or indeed the individual episode premiered on our television screens.
Last week the first official trailer of Series 9 was released, and once again it set up a question that would irritate and excite fans for weeks to come. This year, the question is: Who exactly is Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones’ Arya Stark) playing?
First of all let’s look at what we already know about Williams’ character. Well firstly, when the initial announcement that the now recognisable Maisie Williams was to star in two period adventures of the new series, a quote came alongside the announcement. The quote, which was issued by executive producer Steven Moffat said: “… It’s not possible to say too much about who or what she’s playing, but she is going to challenge the Doctor in very unexpected ways. This time he might just be out of his depth, and we know Maisie is going to give him exactly the right sort of hell.”
We know that there are very few characters who can give the Doctor hell, and something to think about. And now with the trailer coming out that provided us with a glimpse of the character, where she said a line that indicates she knows who the Doctor is (“Hello, old man,”) has sent fans even more Stark (pun intended!) raving mad.
It was also established by Williams herself, as well as Capaldi that her character would indeed have a connection to the Doctor, and also us as an audience.
So let’s look at the possibilities as to who this hell-raising character could be…
Probably the option that people are hoping Maisie’s character to be the most. For those fans out there who have never seen Classic Doctor Who, Susan Foreman was a pupil at Coal Hill School in the very first serial of the show An Unearthly Child. She was later established in the same serial to be the Doctor’s granddaughter. A girl from another world, who was a wanderer in the fourth dimension.
Susan (once again played by Carole Ann Ford) was last seen in the anniversary special The Five Doctors alongside the First Doctor again, after she initially left in The Dalek Invasion of Earth in 1964, with the Doctor vowing to see her again in the future. Aside from the 1983 special, we are yet to see the Doctor revisit his granddaughter. Could this be the series he finally does that, even if unintentionally? With Capaldi’s Doctor being a Hartnell-esque Doctor at heart, maybe Moffat is seeing the opportunity more clearly than ever here?
Unfortunately, there is always something that could straight away debunk such speculation, until it is proven otherwise. A few factors come into play that may mean it isn’t Susan. Firstly, when the Doctor left her, Susan didn’t have a TARDIS, and because the last serial she was ever seen in was set in the 2100’s. It seems unlikely that she would be able to travel back to what looks like Viking times and the 1700’s in The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived.
Also, it was never established on-screen that Susan was in fact a Time Lord and had powers of regeneration. While it was assumed she was, there is also the possibility that she is simply a Gallifreyan girl and never attended the Academy. So there is no evidence that she could change her face from Carole Ann Ford’s original Susan into the younger Maisie Williams.
Alongside that, another thing that could debunk the speculation, albeit far less solid than the two reasons above is how Williams came across in the trailer. I may be reading in between the lines here, but Susan was intially portrayed as an often timid, terrified teenager when on the travels through time and space. Maisie looks confident and full of personality, with maybe a hint of no-nonsense of scheming also mixed into the cauldron, which likens more to the Doctor’s daughter, Jenny as seen in Series 4 of the new series. But then again, as seen with the Doctor himself, regeneration can change people, so who knows…?
To me, this option seems much more plausible, however possibly a little predictable.
Fans have, much like Susan, been wanting Jenny to return after her debut and only appearance in Series 4’s The Doctor’s Daughter for a number of years now. However, since then, the show itself seems to have ignored that by the end of that episode, it transpired that *SPOILERS* Jenny didn’t actually die, instead regeneration energy brought her back.*SPOILERS* This means that they could realistically explain a comeback in the future, and because we don’t know what happened to Jenny even moments after the rocket took off at the end of The Doctor’s Daughter, that perhaps she regenerated shortly afterwards and found a way to time travel to various historical locations, just like her father can.
As mentioned in the Susan sub-section. I feel that in that one scene alone, what Maisie was portraying, was more in key with Georgia Moffett’s performance as Jenny than it was for Carole-Ann Ford’s portrayal as Susan in the 60’s.
A young or unseen incarnation of River Song
Knowing Moffat, this is probably what it will be. River is Steven’s go-to strong female character when the going gets tough for the Doctor. And she is always there to help him out, as are most wives to their husbands. We know this series is mainly going to focus on the adrenaline and adventure sides of things, but we also know there is some great evil out there that is being set up in the finale. So maybe following the old status quo, Steven feels the need to reinvigorate the character into a new younger form along with the new Doctor. It would also keep Moffat clear of explaining how she was still alive after the events of The Name of the Doctor.
We know for certain that River can regenerate, because we saw it twice on screen in the same series. Once in Day of the Moon, where little girl River regenerates in New York, then during the events of Let’s Kill Hitler, we discovered that Amy and Rory’s childhood friend Mels, was in fact their future child Melody Pond. Who after being shot, regenerated into Alex Kingston’s version of River Song.
This theory could also be considered as one of the frontrunners in answering the question of who Maisie is playing, because of who is in the episode itself. As Norse legend goes, Odin is the god of Asgard. Odin will be appearing in one, if not both episodes that Williams is set to star in played by Merlin actor David Schofield. We know that in River’s diary conceals of tale of how the Doctor and River went to a picnic on Asgard, and we know how much Moffat loves to bring those diary adventures to the screen whenever River appears. So maybe this is the time we will see another of their mysterious, unexplained adventures together?
… or is she … a young Missy?
To me this is a twist I wouldn’t see coming. What if Maisie Williams is to portray a younger version of Missy? We don’t yet know the origins of Michelle Gomez’s Master, how she escaped Gallifrey and regenerated from her previous form (John Simm) into her new devilishly feminine form.
Peter Capaldi himself said that we are not sure if she is wholly good or if she has an evil side. And from what we saw in the trailer, it seems that Missy may well be a focal point of the series to come. Also it would fit into the rumoured sightings of [spoiler title=’Series 9 SPOILERS!’ collapse_link=’true’]two Osgoods in the filming for Episodes 7 and 8 and the two versions of Capaldi seen filming for Episode 11. [/spoiler]
This is the least likely to be the case, but I certainly think it would put a spin on things, and would make it possible in the future for Maisie to return if ever they wanted her. Plus, I think she would be great as a young Missy.
Who do you think Maisie Williams is playing in episodes 5 and 6? Do you have any unique speculation as to who she could be? Share down below in the comments.