The 9th season of Doctor Who premieres on September 19th. Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman return as the Doctor and companion Clara Oswald. The fascinating dynamic between the Master/Missy and the Doctor will continue in Season 9, with Michelle Gomez returning for the series. We’re still reeling from her maniacal reveal in “Dark Water” and can’t wait to see what Missy will bring in Season 9.
Most of the 12 episodes will be broken into a series of two-part stories. This feels like a nod back to the old series, when the narrative was related over four 30-minute episodes. Steven Moffat noted in DWM that with these two-part episodes, there will be substantial differences between the two halves. Producer Brian Minchin elaborated on the new pacing with Season 9 in an interview with SFX:
“The mission statement we had was bigger adventures, and to go further in space and time. We’ve got a very confident Doctor, we’ve got a very confident companion and they’re both experts at doing this now so we can tell slightly bigger stories. We’re doing more two-parters – and not just conventional two parters. We’re doing linked stories where you might not be sure how they’re going to be connected until you see them. We’re pushing the storytelling that way, to give us more scale of adventure.”
As well as exciting new storylines and characters, the TARDIS gets a makeover in Season 9.
Prior to the series television premiere, Doctor Who will continue Steven Moffat’s tradition of enhancing the story with a prequel. “The Doctor’s Meditation” will premiere at cinema screenings of Real3D versions of “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven” on September 15–16.
Episodes 1 & 2
In the season premiere, Missy will continue to vex the Doctor and Clara, though Steven Moffat notes, “What brings her back into their lives is the last thing they’d expect.” UNIT Chief Scientific Officer Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) will return for the season premiere. This two part-story, titled “The Magician’s Apprentice” and “The Witch’s Familiar,” includes guest cast Kelly Hunter (last seen as the Shadow Architect in “The Stolen Earth”), Clare Higgins (who played Ohila, the High Priestess of the Sisterhood of Karn, in “The Night of the Doctor”), and Jaye Griffiths. Season 9 begins with a classic Doctor Who enemy–the Daleks! One of the scenes in the Season 9 tralier shows a city that looks remarkably similar to the decimated planet of the Daleks, Skaro, which might allow for the possibility of the Doctor engaging with a past adversary. The season opener is written by Steven Moffat and Directed by Hettie Macdonald (“Blink”).
Episodes 3 & 4
Moffat tells viewers to expect “a brilliantly creepy two-parter … one of our scariest adventures yet.” The story is set in a ghost-inhabited underwater base dealing with the impending submersion of an island into the sea. That’s right—ghosts!!! According to The Mirror former basketball player Neil Fingleton will play The Fisher King, a crashed alien that makes his home in Loch Ness. Moffat told SFX Magazine, “It’s very scary, atmospheric and claustrophobic, much like some classic episodes.” The episodes were written by Toby Whithouse (“A Town Called Mercy,” “A God Complex,” “Vampires of Venice”) and directed by Daniel O’Hara.
Episodes 5 & 6
Episodes 5 and 6 are period stories, titled “The Girl Who Died” and “The Woman Who Lived.” The first episode features Vikings fighting mercenary robots and a dragon, while the second part features a group of Highwaymen dealing with a Norse god. The episodes star Maisie Williams (Arya Stark from Game of Thrones). Steven Moffat revealed, “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.” Other cast includes Rufus Hound as Sam Swift and Paul Kaye as Prentis. “The Girl Who Died” is written by Jamie Mathieson (“Flatline” and “Mummy on the Orient Express”) and Steven Moffat, and “The Woman Who Lived” is written by Catherine Tregenna (Torchwood). Both episodes are directed by Edward Bazalgette.
Episodes 7 & 8
The Zygons, last seen in “Day of the Doctor,” return to Doctor Who in “The Invasion of the Zygons” and “The Inversion of the Zygons.” Jemma Redgrave reprises her role as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart. Viewers were surprised and excited to learn that Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) would be coming back. In a statement, Steven Moffat commented: “Osgood is back, fresh from her recent murder at the end of last series. We recently confirmed that Osgood was definitely dead and not returning—but in a show about time travel, anything can happen.” Episodes were written by Peter Harness (“Kill the Moon”) and directed by Daniel Nettheim.
This episode was written by Doctor Who alum Mark Gatiss, who commented in an interview with the Telegraph, “It has been a tough nut to crack, but I’m delighted with how scary it is.” According to a story by the Daily Star, Episode 9 will use a found-footage approach used in films like Paranomal Activity, with followers of the Doctor using phones and camcorders to record their attempts to fight a monster. In an interview with SFX Magazine, Moffat noted, “It wasn’t possible to do such an episode ten years ago, when the show came back, and Mark has been rewriting it over and over again to make it perfect. It’s a beautiful story, very eerie and special. I think it’s going to be an instant classic.” Reece Shearsmith, Bethany Black, and Elaine Tan guest-star, and Justin Molotnikov directs.
In this Earth-based story, Joivan Wade returns as Rigsy. We loved Rigsy in “Flatline” and thought he would make an outstanding companion. The episode has been described as an “invasion of invisible streets.” It will lead into the final two-part series finale. The episode was written by Sarah Dollard, and Justin Molotnikov directs.
Episodes 11 & 12
The first part of this two-part story focuses solely on the Doctor, though Clara will be in the final episode. The penultimate episode will end with a cliffhanger, one that Moffat has claims fans won’t see coming. The two-part season finale was written by showrunner Steven Moffat and directed by Rachel Talalay, who directed the Season 8 series finale “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven.” In a BBC interview, Talalay noted, “These episodes are completely different to what I did last year.” Moffat referred to it as “a ludicrous challenge,” while Talalay described it as “one of the most complicated and difficult episodes I’ve ever done.”
Season 10 could address the issue of why the twelfth Doctor’s visage has appeared on previous Doctor Who characters. When the Doctor first regenerated in the Season 8 episode “Deep Breath” the Doctor said, “Why this one? Why did I choose this face? It’s like I’m trying to tell myself something. Like I’m trying to make a point. But what is so important that I can’t just tell myself what I think?” Before becoming the twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi appeared as Roman merchant Lobus Caecilius in season four’s “The Fires of Pompei” and as Home Office secretary John Frobisher in Torchwood: Children of Earth. Steven Moffat has said, “We are going to resolve the matter of his face. He’s going to try and figure out where he’s seen that face before.” In an interview with Nerd3 Moffat explained that Russell Davies had a plan to explain the multiple Capaldis in the Who universe. When Russell Davies and tenth Doctor David Tennant were in spotted in Cardiff in early August, speculation arose that the team was in town for a follow up to “The Fires of Pompei” to finally address the issue of Peter Capaldi’s earlier appearance in the Doctor Who series.
In “The Day of the Doctor,” it was revealed that the War Doctor had not destroyed Gallifrey, but that it was sealed in a pocket universe, trapped in a single moment of time. When the Time Lords or Gallifrey sent out a distress signal through the crack in time, the Doctors enemies surrounded Trenzalore to prevent its return along with the mess that is the Time War. In “Death in Heaven” Missy told the Doctor that Gallifrey was in it’s original position, but the Doctor only found empty space there. The Doctor was disappointed, but so were we because we love the Time Lord episodes from the old series. Will Season 9 include a storyarc about Gallifrey? It could be a complex storyline to develop that takes several seasons to resolve. We hope to see Doctor Who connect back to the Gallifrey story during Season 9 even if his quest to locate the home of the Time Lords is not at the forefront.
Will the Doctor reconnect to anyone from his past? The Coal Hill School narrative has left some wondering if the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan Foreman could make an appearance. A return of the Hath in Season 9 has led some to wonder if the Doctor’s daughter Jenny, who was artificially created from his DNA in “The Doctor’s Daughter,” will reappear. Fans would love to see River Song make an appearance, though Steven Moffat has previously noted that such a return would have to be driven by a strong storyline.
From what we can see for Season 9 so far, it looks like it will be quite an adventure. Season 9 of Doctor Who premieres on Saturday, September 19th at on BBC One and BBC America (9pm ET).