After featuring two big names in the two-part season premiere—Sir Lenny Henry and Stephen Fry—Doctor Who is once again bringing on a couple of guest stars to wrap things up. Deadline reports that Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones‘ Ser Barristan Selmy) and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time‘s Steve Toussaint will play as-yet undisclosed roles in the two-part season finale. While a synopsis has been kept under wraps, the episode titles contain some key clues about what’s to come: Part 1 is called Ascension of the Cybermen and part 2 is called The Timeless Children. Here’s what we think this could mean.
Spoilers ahead for all preceding episodes of Doctor Who season 12.
To start, the finale titles tie directly into two of the season’s mystery arcs:
- Who or what is the Timeless Child?
- Who or what is the Lone Cyberman and why did [REDACTED] return out of nowhere to warn the Doctor about it?
All signs point to these questions being answered in the finale, and part 2’s title is particularly significant, implying the existence of multiple Timeless Children beyond the one who was initially namedropped all the way back in Jodie Whittaker’s second episode.
There’s also been a recurring theme of identity erasure this season, with “Fugitive of the Judoon” implying that the Doctor may have had 13 entire lives before the regeneration we consider the “First Doctor,” and that the Time Lords may have erased the memory of those lives from her mind.
But who would give that kind of order? Our own theory is that we’re bound to see inaugural Lord High President of the Time Lord society and recurring villain Rassilon. He has yet to show up in this storyline, but could he be making an appearance in the two-part finale? Ian McElhinney certainly looks like he could be scary enough. And if he’s playing Rassilon, Steve Toussaint could be the “lone Cyberman,” or yet another Doctor we have to meet.
Showrunner Chris Chibnall has kept mum on all these points, but he did give fans a sneak peek at the finale’s storyline. Speaking to Doctor Who Magazine, per Radio Times, he said Part 1, Ascension of the Cybermen, is “set at the end of the great cyber war.”
Ascension of the Cybermen is one of those episodes where the Doctor and her friends are all on the run from different threats. We head into the next episode with the jeopardy of whether they’re ever going to meet up again…
Although Chibnall said he couldn’t reveal anything about The Timeless Children‘s plot, he added that “The Timeless Child is mentioned as far back as “The Ghost Monument” , and the final episode of this [season] is where some of those questions get answered. It’s a huge, emotional finale with lots of Cybermen. And it runs for 65 minutes.”