Saying Goodbye to the Thirteenth Doctor: A Doctor Who Regeneration Reflection

“I wish…I wish this could last forever.”  Those were the Doctor’s final words, spoken as she skipped stones on the beach with Yaz in “Legend of the Sea Devils,” her last adventure before her regeneration in “The Power of the Doctor.”  The first time I watched the special I found the line poignant.  The closer I got to “The Power of the Doctor,” the more I echoed her sentiment.  I wasn’t ready to say goodbye!  I couldn’t lose the Thirteenth Doctor!  I couldn’t lose Yaz!  Not yet!  However, as the personification of Time itself ominously told the Doctor at the Temple of Atropos, “You can leave here, but you won’t outrun me.  Your time is heading to its end.”  Defiant and with more than a little fear the Doctor said, “No…it’s not.  You’re wrong.”  But Time solemnly replied, “Nothing is forever.  No regeneration.  No life.”  I wish Time was wrong!  But alas, the Doctor regenerated, whether I was ready for her to or not.  This piece is me processing; it’s a reflection on the Thirteenth Doctor’s regeneration and her era of Doctor Who.

I think one of the most beautiful things about Doctor Who is it forces its fans – lovingly but with certainty – to dialogue with the reality of change.  Change is scary.  But change is an essential part of life and if we ever stop changing we die.  Being a fan of Doctor Who means touching our discomfort around change – whether it’s a companion, the Doctor, or a showrunner – every few years.  We wish certain things could last forever, in the world of Doctor Who as in our own lives, but nothing is forever.  No regeneration.  No life.  Being a fan of Doctor Who means being reminded of this regularly while also being lovingly shown such change is natural and everything will work out in the end (it may even be exciting!), even though we may feel sad about it.

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The Doctor and Yaz talk about their feelings for each other on the beach. / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

Normally I like to fill my pieces with footnotes and the like but this one is different.  This is just an essay of thoughts and feels looking back on Jodie Whittaker’s time as the Thirteenth Doctor on Doctor Who.  In the lead-up to her regeneration, I rewatched every episode of hers but I forced myself not to take any notes for this piece.  I just wanted to watch, to relive, to feel her journey as the Doctor.  Now, I’m writing much the same way.

While I’ve written of this before, it bears repeating in a piece like this.  Within Doctor Who fandom, there is the oft discussed concept of “my Doctor.”  It can be the Doctor you watched first.  It can be the Doctor who permanently hooked you on the show.  In essence, it’s the Doctor who will always hold a special place in your heart, the one who made you the Doctor Who fan you are today.  I struggle with this concept to a degree, loving each and every Doctor.  Every Doctor feels like my Doctor in their own way.  However, as much as any one Doctor can be, Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor is my Doctor.

I began watching Doctor Who because of her.  I’ve written before how I owe my deep and abiding love of Doctor Who to Theresa.  Theresa was a coworker who became a friend.  Now she’s proved one of those friends who becomes family.  We shared so many geeky passions – Marvel, Star Wars, DC, etc. and so on – but Theresa also adored a show I’d never seen.  This glaring hole in my pop culture knowledge was Doctor Who

I’d always been interested in Doctor Who but starting a show with such a long history felt intimidating.  But then I met Theresa!  She loved it so I trusted I would, too.  Also, it’d mean we’d have another topic for banter as well!  It was win/win.  Still, it wasn’t until Jodie Whittaker was cast as the first ever female incarnation of the Doctor that I said, “Ok, now there’s no more waiting around.  This is historic!  I need to be a part of this!”  So I began watching Doctor Who during Peter Capaldi’s era but I wasn’t caught up in time to see any of his episodes live.  Fittingly, the first episode of Doctor Who I watched live as it aired was Jodie Whittaker’s first episode, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth.”

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The Doctor on the night she regenerated in “The Woman Who Fell to Earth.” / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

Thus began a very special connection between the Thirteenth Doctor and myself.  I started watching because of Jodie Whittaker.  Because I don’t have cable, I’d go to my parents’ to watch Doctor Who on BBC America every Sunday night (a far more joyful, far more exciting, and far less anxiety-inducing Sunday night experience than when I used to watch The Walking Dead :8).  Sometimes it was for dinner, too, but I’d always hang out and chat with Mom and Dad regardless.  Dad would almost always be off to bed before Doctor Who began (and always before it ended) but Mom would watch every episode with me.  So the Thirteenth Doctor’s era of Doctor Who wasn’t just the first era I watched live as it aired but it was also the first Doctor Who I ever shared with my family. 

Mom’s seen every episode of Jodie’s Doctor Who with me.  Jodie’s Thirteenth Doctor is still Dad’s all-time favorite Doctor.  My brother, David, began watching Doctor Who after seeing the trailer for “Revolution of the Daleks” and realizing “this isn’t what I thought Doctor Who was!” which led him to “The Mummy on the Orient Express” during BBC America’s amazing annual Doctor Who Christmas marathon.  I love Doctor Who more than any other story, any other narrative universe.  Nothing touches my heart or moves my soul like Doctor Who.  As a result, there are few things I love more than sharing Doctor Who with others!  It feels like I’m opening my heart to them and, in this story, offering them a piece of what matters most to me.  Sharing that with my family, especially with Mom every Sunday, is so beautiful.

When I began rewatching all of the Thirteenth Doctor’s era in preparation for “The Power of the Doctor,” I began with the end of Peter Capaldi’s run.  I watched “World Enough and Time” (S10E11), “The Doctor Falls” (S10E12), and “Twice Upon a Time” (Christmas Special 2017).  It felt right to begin my rewatch through the Thirteenth Doctor’s life with the end of the Twelfth Doctor as his regeneration naturally gives birth to the Thirteenth Doctor.

I often wonder if Steven Moffat knew the next Doctor was going to be female.  He set it up perfectly through the Twelfth Doctor’s era, first with the Master becoming Missy and then, in “World Enough and Time,” having the Doctor and Bill discuss it directly.  As the Doctor tells Bill about Missy he explains how the Time Lords approach gender:

The Doctor – “She was my first friend, always so brilliant, from the first day at the Academy.  So fast, so funny.  She was my man crush.”
Bill – “I’m sorry?”
The Doctor – “Yeah, I think she was a man back then.  I’m fairly sure that I was, too.  It was a long time ago, though.”
Bill – “So, the Time Lords, bit flexible on the whole man-woman thing, then, yeah?”
The Doctor – “We’re the most civilized civilization in the universe.  We’re billions of years beyond your petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes.”

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The Doctor and Bill have dinner and discuss Gallifrey, gender, and regeneration. / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

Later, in “The Doctor Falls,” meeting Missy, the previous incarnation of the Master asks the Doctor, “Is the future going to be all girl?”  The Doctor replies, “We can only hope.”

We’ve seen before the Doctor can influence/nudge their regeneration to a degree (the Twelfth Doctor’s face was to be a reminder of who the Doctor is and what they do and the Time Lords were giving the Second Doctor the chance to choose his next face when they were forcing his regeneration before he took too long and they chose for him) so, whether Moffat knew officially or not, it’s clear the Doctor was ready for a female regeneration.  And we got her!

The Thirteenth Doctor’s gender isn’t the only part of her character intimately anchored in her previous regeneration though.  In “Twice Upon a Time,” the Twelfth Doctor is considering not regenerating, wondering if he’s lived long enough.  Has his time finally come to die?  Speaking to the Testimony Foundation’s recreated versions of Bill and Nardole, the Doctor tells them, “You’re not even really here.  You’re just memories held in glass.  Do you know how many of you I could fill?  I would shatter you.  My testimony would shatter all of you.  A life this long, do you understand what it is?  It’s a battlefield, like this one, and it’s empty.  Because everyone else has fallen.”

The Doctor felt alone.  The Doctor felt haggard.  The Doctor felt like the last being standing in an infinite universe, one who had already seen and done too much.

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The Doctor stares out at the World War I battlefield he feels is an apt metaphor for his long life. / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

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The Doctor moments after she regenerated. / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

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Her story – this regeneration – begins in joy! / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

So what does she do when she regenerates?  She begins building her fam :D.

And the TARDIS helps!  To me, one of the most fascinating (and little discussed) facets of Doctor Who is the TARDIS’ role in where the Doctor lands.  We know the TARDIS is sentient; a living organism grown more than its built.  We know it can move anywhere in space and time.  And we also know it doesn’t always take the Doctor where they expect to go.  Why do the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones end up facing the Dalek invasion of New York City in the 1930s as opposed to the Twelfth Doctor and Nardole?  Why do the Eleventh Doctor and Amy sort the mess on Starship UK instead of the Second Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe?  Why do the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane stop the very first Sontaran invasion of Earth instead of the Ninth Doctor and Rose?

The TARDIS, in many ways, is a brilliant allegory for the transcendence of God.  We can never fully fathom why it does what it does, how it chooses, what it sees.  Nor can the Doctor or anyone who travels with them.  All anyone can have is faith.  But, even if we can’t see the reasons – or even begin to fathom them – we know the TARDIS is the key factor in where the Doctor ends up.  As the Twelfth Doctor tells Bill, “Well, you don’t steer the TARDIS.  You negotiate with her.  The still point between where you want to go and where you need to be, that’s where she takes you.”

More than any other force or factor in the Doctor’s life, the TARDIS decides where and when they’ll end up.  After the weariness of life had caught up with the Twelfth Doctor, after he came to see his long life as a battlefield where he was the last one standing and considers finally dying, he chooses to regenerate anyway.  The TARDIS then dumps the freshly regenerated Thirteen Doctor onto a train in Sheffield where she meets Graham, Grace, Ryan, and Yaz – her soon-to-be fam.

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The Doctor meets Ryan, Grace, Yaz, and Graham for the first time. / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

She doesn’t have her TARDIS for the first two episodes of the Thirteenth Doctor’s tenure.  She needs to rebuild her sonic screwdriver, too, and she struggles to remember who exactly she is.  While this sets up a dramatic moment – where the Doctor finally remembers who she is and tells Tzim-Sha, “Bit of adrenaline, dash of outrage, and a hint of panic knitted my brain back together.  I know exactly who I am.  I’m the Doctor.  Sorting out fair play throughout the universe.” – it has a deeper symbolic purpose, tying to the Twelfth Doctor’s choice.

The Twelfth Doctor was worlds-weary, ready to end it all.  Aboard the Mondasian colony ship, he watches Bill die and then she’s turned into a Cyberman while he’s powerless to stop it. Of all the companions the Doctor’s lost, to my mind this is the most brutal.  It’s horrific to see and it has to rip the Doctor apart.  Then Missy seemingly reverts to her villainous ways, joining up with her old self, the Master.  It’s no surprise he asks the Testimony-created versions of Bill and Nardole, “Can’t I ever have peace?  Can’t I rest?”  Despite all these losses, he choose to regenerate.  In this death and regeneration, the Doctor isn’t just being born again.  The Doctor is also choosing to hope life is still worth living, that life can become brighter and less isolating again despite the millennia of losses.

With this hope beating anew in her chest, the TARDIS drops the Doctor in Sheffield.  In building her sonic, in struggling to remember her name, in having to wander the universe and find her TARDIS again, the Thirteenth Doctor is rebuilding herself.  I’ve always loved that Chris Chibnall shows us the Doctor literally rebuilding her identity after all she suffered, especially on that Mondasian colony ship, in her previous life.  It’s beautiful!  Part of that rebuilding sees the Doctor bring on the largest TARDIS team – in Yaz, Ryan, and Graham – of the modern era.  We had a few three person TARDIS teams but we’ve not seen four people regularly onboard since Classic Doctor Who.  In fact, a four person TARDIS team is how the show began in 1963, with the Doctor, his granddaughter Susan, and her two teachers, Ian and Barbara.

This has become my preference.  The more people in the TARDIS with the Doctor, the better!  Part of this is because I’m an empath and my empathic part likes to see a family around the Doctor.  The TARDIS, with its infinite corridors, feels lonely (or lonelier than it needs to be) to me when there’s just one person travelling with the Doctor.  I know the Doctor is a lonely being, too, so my heart is happier the more people there are with them.  Also, I prefer the narratives a larger TARDIS team brings.  I like when we can have the story shooting off in different directions.  I like the interplay between the Doctor and different companions, between the companions themselves, and between the companions and the people they meet on their travels.

Some complaints about the Thirteenth Doctor era of Doctor Who discussed how underdeveloped some of the companions felt.  While I’d never judge those who feel that way (all art is subjective and we like what we like for deeply personal, and at times unconscious, reasons), I don’t see that.  All of the Doctor’s companions had beautiful arcs as far as I’m concerned.

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The Doctor with her new fam, on one of their first adventures. / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

Ryan goes from a kid working in a factory unsure of what he wants to do with his life to realizing it’s his job (as it should be all of our jobs!) to protect the Earth.  He ultimately stops travelling with the Doctor because he’s come to believe his place is on his planet, beside his friends, doing all he can to protect it.  As a young man with an absent father who lost his mom when he was thirteen-years-old and then his nan, Grace, the night they meet the Doctor, he finds the courage to let Graham in and build a relationship with his grandfather and set boundaries and hold his father to them so he can begin to build a relationship with him, too.

Graham was a retired bus driver who processes his grief over the loss of Grace, dialogues with the ever-present fear of his cancer returning, and goes from believing they don’t get aliens in Sheffield to seeing – and defending! – more of the universe than almost anyone can imagine.  His quips as he takes everything they see and do in stride are one of my favorite parts of his character :).  When Ryan decides to stay on Earth, despite longing to see more of the universe, Graham decides to stay behind, too.  His place is with his grandson, protecting their planet.  My heart!

Then there’s Yaz.  Oh, Yaz.  What can I even write that won’t take the piece off in an entirely new direction?  Graham captures her best when he tells Yaz, “You said to the Doc that you thought she was the best person you’d ever met.  But you know what, Yaz?  I think you are.  You ain’t got a time machine or a sonic.  But you’re never afraid and you’re never beaten.  I’m going to sound like a…like a proper old man, but you’re doing your family proud, Yaz, you really are.  In fact, you’re doing the whole human race proud.”  She finds the courage to accept herself on her journey with her own sexuality and she has courage even greater than the Doctor in admitting those feelings and being willing to follow them, no matter where they may take her and the pain they may bring.

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Yaz and the Doctor share their final moment together. / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

I loved Ryan, Graham, and Yaz when I first met them.  I enjoyed watching them in each new episode and rewatching those episodes again and again.  But on this rewatch I realized how deeply I’ve come to love them as characters and the relationships they all build together.  No TARDIS team of the modern era travels the emotional ground they do together nor builds more important bonds than they do.  I don’t think the interplay between all members of the TARDIS team has affected all members with equal significance, the Doctor included, more then this one either.  The closest would probably be the Eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory but Amy and Rory had a far closer preexisting relationship then any members of the Thirteenth Doctor’s fam did going in.  Of the episodes of Classic Doctor Who I’ve seen so far, the closest TARDIS team I’ve seen which had such deep, lasting, profound effects on one another as the Thirteenth Doctor, Yaz, Ryan, and Graham do would be the First Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara. 

In this way, I’ve come to realize Jodie Whittaker’s first season – Doctor Who Series 11 – is my favorite single season of Doctor Who, classic or modern.  I KNOW!  This feels like such a major revelation!  Why I love it so much is how intimate the story is.  Yes, of course there are monsters and villains, alien worlds and distant landscapes, the past, the present, and the future.  But what is most important, what is always front and center, is the slow and beautiful growth of relationship between the Doctor, Ryan, Graham, and Yaz.  Watching Doctor Who Series 11 is watching a family be born and it fills my whole heart.

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The fam says their goodbye. / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

I knew I loved these episodes but I was surprised by how deeply they resonated.  My sadness at saying goodbye to Ryan and Graham was as great now as it was when I first watched “Revolution of the Daleks” and the lonely ache of their absence hurt more this time around.  “Revolution of the Daleks” first aired 1 January 2021 and we didn’t get another episode of Doctor Who until “The Halloween Apocalypse” on 31 October 2021.  Covid.  Life.  Anxiety.  Exhaustion.  All of this plus time meant I was more eager to see where Doctor Who was going than thinking about where it’s been.  Marathoning the episodes though, my heart ached watching the Doctor and Yaz go on without Graham and Ryan, even though I loved the sense of their duo adventures and I love Dan as their new companion!  I missed her fam.  I missed my fam.  There’s that change thing again.

I’ve also come to realize Jodie Whittaker’s first New Year’s Special, “Resolution,” is my single favorite Dalek episode in all of Doctor Who.  I think it does the best job capturing the full scope of the threat of the Daleks in a single episode.  When I began watching Classic Doctor Who I was shocked to realize how intelligent the Daleks were.  In addition to being hate-fueled engines of destruction, they were as intelligent as the Doctor!  Nothing in modern Doctor Who had ever given me that sense of the Daleks…until “Resolution.”  We see what one Dalek can do to armies and how it almost brought the Earth to its knees under Dalek control (twice!) on it’s own.  And the second time it did much of that without its armored casing!  To see the Dalek have to rebuild it’s armor was both a lovely little mirror to the Doctor rebuilding her sonic in her first episode as well as a brilliant illustration of how intelligent the Daleks can be.  This creature builds one of the most advanced pieces of military technology the universe has ever known from scraps.  I love how Chris Chibnall’s Dalek Trilogy anchors them in the varied, imposing threat they were in Classic Doctor Who while framing that threat in modern times.

This era’s historical episodes hold a special place in my heart.  I once dreamed of being a history teacher, before religious studies took me in another direction and I began teaching theology.  “Rosa.”  “Demons of the Punjab.”  “The Witchfinders.”  Doctor Who always does an exciting job of dropping us into our own history but these episodes bring it alive with a poignant beauty and a stirring purpose.

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The fam ends up in India during Partition. / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

I have great respect for the “message” episodes they did, too, in particular the episodes looking at the problem of climate change – “Orphan 55” and “Praxeus.”  These episodes were criticized by many for being “too direct” or “too preachy” or “not subtle enough in their commentary.”  Again, I’m not judging.  We all like the art we like.  But when I hear critiques like this I always think of two things.  First, Doctor Who has never really been subtle in discussing social issues.  I mean, the Third Doctor was pretty direct in a 1974 serial about how we abuse the environment when he said, “Yes, of course he was mad.  But at least he realized the dangers this planet of yours is in, Brigadier.  The danger of it becoming one vast garbage dump inhabited only by rats.  It’s not the oil, the filth, and the poisonous chemicals that are the real cause of pollution, Brigadier.  It is simply greed.”  Second, have you looked at our world??  I think the time for subtlety around issues like climate change, immigration, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, acephobia, war, nuclear proliferation, and a punitive attitude towards the poor has long past.  Not discussing these issue directly, pointedly, and uncompromisingly is part of our problem.

In my rewatch, especially because I began with the end of the Twelfth Doctor’s era, I was particularly moved by “The Haunting of Villa Diodati.”  One of the recurring bits of the Thirteenth Doctor’s time travelling with Yaz, Graham, and Ryan is how she and they always say, “It’s a pretty flat team structure.”  But that all changes the moment the Lone Cyberman shows up.  The Doctor’s personality shifts so quickly!  Her fear is palpable.  Can you blame her?  The last time she met the Cybermen, the converted Bill.  None of the fam are ready when she turns serious and snaps at them:

Yaz – “Doctor, what are you doing?  Where are you going?”
Mary – “You’re not leaving us?”
The Doctor – “I have to find out what he’s looking for.  Alone.”
Yaz – “You need backup.  All of us against one.”
The Doctor – “One Cyberman, but then thousands.  Humans like all of you changed into empty, soulless shells.  No feeling, no control, no way back.  I will not lose anyone else to that.  Do not follow me.”

All of the work the Doctor’s been doing since she regenerated – drawing a family around her, showing them the universe, being the Doctor again and shaking off the heaviness of all she’s lost in the preceding millennia – is threatened the instant that Cyberman shows up.  The wounds are ripped open.  Her trauma is triggered.  Her family is threatened.  Her fear flows form her.

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The Cybermen return to haunt the Doctor. / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

The next three episodes – “The Haunting of Villa Diodati,” “Ascension of the Cybermen,” and “The Timeless Children” – are filled with the threat of the Cybermen, forcing the Doctor to face this fear and wade into her trauma around the horrific loss of Bill she was unable to stop.  Personally, I have never been as scared nor as anxious watching Doctor Who as I was watching “Ascension of the Cybermen” and “The Timeless Children.”  I realized I never had to wonder if a companion was making it through before!  I didn’t read spoilers as I watched my way through Doctor Who from 2005 up to Jodie’s premiere but I still had the general sense of the show.  I knew when certain companions would leave, even if I didn’t know how.  One of the places modern Doctor Who most starkly differs from Classic Doctor Who is in the tragic end of so many of the Doctor’s relationships with their companions.  In Classic Doctor Who most companions leave because they return home or find love or decide to stay and help a people who need them.  But Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat seemed to look at that model and say, “Ok, but what if we ripped everyone’s heart out each time a companion leaves instead?  Yeah, let’s do that.”

Watching those episodes my heart was in my throat, fearing for Yaz and Ryan and Graham.  While it hurt to say goodbye to Ryan and Graham in “Revolution of the Daleks,” I am eternally grateful to Chris Chibnall for returning Doctor Who to its classic roots and giving us happy endings for all the companions.  Ryan chooses to return to be with his friends who need him and to protect their planet.  Graham chooses to stay with his grandson and do the same.  He also may be in the midst of striking up a new relationship with Ace, the Seventh Doctor’s companion!  And when I saw this on Twitter my heart melted:

Then Dan chooses to go home to get his life in order and begin his relationship with Di.  Even Bel, Vinder, and Karvanista (who weren’t proper companions but still helped the Doctor stop the Flux) headed off into the galactic sunset together for more adventures.  The same is true for Sarah and Nick, who help defeat the Daleks inside a time loop on New Year’s Eve and found love together.  The saddest ending would be for Yaz.  She and the Doctor only just openly owned their feelings for each other, agreeing to live in the moment together, and she loses her.  But Yaz isn’t in this alone!  “The Power of the Doctor” gives us a beautiful vision of community and support when it shows many of the Doctor’s companions coming together for a group therapy session.

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The Doctor’s former companions come together to take strength from each other’s love and support. / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

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Awwww, I love this SO MUCH. Here we have William Russell, who played Ian Chesterton from 1963-1965; Jodie Whittaker who was my Doctor from 2018-2022; Bradley Walsh, who was Graham O’Brien from 2018-2022; Josh Bishop, who played Dan Lewis from 2021-2022; Sophie Aldred, who played Ace from 1987-1989; then we have Jemma Redgrave, who’s played Kate Stewart from 2012-present; Mandip Gill, who’s been Yasmin Kahn from 2018-2022; Bonnie Langford, who played Melanie Bush from 1986-1987; Katy Manning, who was Jo Grant from 1971-1973; and Janet Fielding, who played Tegan Jovanka from 1981-1984. Whew! Hello EXTENDED FAM <3. / Photo Credit – @bbcdoctorwho

Really, could there be a better way to illustrate the power of the Doctor?  These people who knew the Doctor, who travelled with the Doctor – stretching across six decades – come together to love and support each other.  The power of the Doctor, this episode seems to say, is forming bonds of loving communion and being transformed in and through those bonds.  The power of the Doctor is creating family from strangers.  That’s what love does.  That’s what the Doctor does.

It would seem I’ve wandered into the end of this reflection.  There is a lot I could say about “The Power of the Doctor.”  There is a lot I will say about “The Power of the Doctor.”  But right now all I want to say is how beautiful it was.  It was this gorgeous love letter to Doctor Who reaching back from this moment in time to the very first episode almost sixty years ago.  It is second only to Peter Capaldi’s “Twice Upon a Time” as my favorite regeneration episode.  It was a perfect microcosm of Chris Chibnall’s time as showrunner, too, as it worked to not only bridge but really connect Classic Doctor Who with modern Doctor Who.

The Guardians of the Edge is one of the most fascinating bits of Doctor Who lore I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait to reflect on it further!  I loved all the cameos.  But the heart of the story was really about the Doctor and Yaz – their final adventure and their goodbye.  That’s as it should be.  Watching, I also had to say goodbye to the Doctor and Yaz.  Then I said goodbye to Yaz.  And then I said goodbye to the Thirteenth Doctor.

Once again Doctor Who has led me to the reality of change, dropping me in the midst of it whether I wanted to be there or not.  And once again it showed me, even through my tears, how beautiful it can be. 

I cried many tears as the episode reached its end.  I cried as Yaz carried the Doctor to the TARDIS.  I cried as she began regenerating.  I cried as they said goodbye.  I cried as the Doctor regenerated.  But they were all happy tears, born from the beauty of what the Thirteenth Doctor’s era of Doctor Who gave me and I finished the episode overflowing with joy.  Mom voiced the same sentiment, before I said it out loud myself.  They were all happy tears.  It was all joy.  If I was to boil Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall’s era of Doctor Who down to one word (he wrote on the sixth page of his reflection), it would be JOYFUL.  This was a joyful era to watch.  Mom put it perfectly.  And “The Power of the Doctor” filled us with the same joy Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor always does.  As the first regeneration I ever watched live as it aired goes, this was a beautiful one. 

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No words, all feels. / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

Sitting on top of the TARDIS, eating ice cream and gazing at the Earth, the Doctor tells Yaz, “A wise person once said to me, ‘goodbyes only hurt because what came before was so special.’  And it’s been so special.  You, and Graham, and Ryan, and Dan.  Nobody else got to be us.  Nobody else got to live our days.  Nobody.  And my hearts are so full of love of all of you.  I have loved being with you, Yaz.  And I have loved being me.”

Yes :).  One thousand times, yes.  I will always love the Thirteenth Doctor for being the reason I finally had to follow Theresa’s example and start watching Doctor Who, bringing us even closer.  I love that I got to spend every Sunday watching every episode for the first time with Mom.  I get tears in my eyes just thinking of how much I loved those nights together.  I love that she’s Dad’s favorite Doctor, too.  I love that the excitement of her second battle with the Daleks finally gave David the nudge he needed to fall in love with Doctor Who himself.  I love how Jodie Whittaker’s time as the Doctor has woven all these extra bonds between myself and people I love so very, very much, tying us even closer together in our sharing something as beautiful as Doctor Who.  These bonds continue to grow as my love of Doctor Who has led Jeff and Kalie to begin watching it themselves, just as Theresa’s love of the show once did for me.  I can’t imagine my life without Doctor Who in it.  As the Doctor spoke of her love to Yaz, it echoed in my heart and it was the perfect way to capture all this show – and this era in particular – has meant to me.

After parting with Yaz, the Thirteenth Doctor goes to regenerate on her own.  Her excitement to pass her life on to her next self is as radiant as the regeneration energy crackling around her.  Change is constant.  It can be sad.  It can be scary.  But it’s also beautiful and exciting and what’s coming next is something to look forward to, no matter how our hearts may ache at what we leave behind.  This is what we are always beautifully reminded of as Doctor Who fans.  Jodie Whittaker’s final words as the Doctor were perfectly her.  Glowing with regeneration energy and smiling all the while, the Doctor looks out at the rising sun and says, “That’s the only sad thing…I wanna know what happens next.  Alright then, Doctor whoever I’m about to be.  Tag, you’re it!”

Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor will always be my Doctor and I will always hold her and this era of Doctor Who in a special place in my heart.  Going forward, I’m excited to see what happens next!  And, in so many different ways big and small, because of Jodie Whittaker’s era of Doctor Who I’m excited that I get to share what happens next with so many of the people I love most, too.

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Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

Doctor Regeneration 30

With her arms spread wide and her regeneration energy lighting up the sky, all I can think of is the Doctor saying, “I love you thiiiiiiiiis much!” and that makes me very, very happy :). I love her that much, too. / Photo Credit – BBC Studios’ Doctor Who

5 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to the Thirteenth Doctor: A Doctor Who Regeneration Reflection

  1. You wrote a lovely tribute to the 13th Doctor! But I did see an error in your post as you wrote, “…glaring hole in my pop culture knowledge was Doctor Who” – I think you meant Star Trek!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Nancy! This was definitely one of those pieces that just poured out of my heart :). As to Star Trek, there is a VERY good chance I may have a post coming up in the future about how a relationship with another amazing friend led me to address another glaring hole in my pop culture knowledge. But who can say for sure? Only time will tell ;D.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a lovely tribute and summary of the 13th Doctor’s era and what it meant to you. A viewers first Doctor Who is always something really special, and you never forget that magical introduction to these wacky adventures in time and space in the TARDIS. My fist Doctor was the 4th (Tom Baker) as a kid, and I’ve been hooked on all things Sci-Fi ever since! 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate your comment :). After watching and rewatching all the modern episodes of Doctor Who again and again, I finally got BritBox when lockdown hit and began my journey through classic Doctor Who. I’m taking my time and enjoying them, as opposed to trying and binge it all. I’m in the middle of Tom Baker’s time as the Doctor, now! I just watched the episode where he first meets Leela. I have heard so many things about what an iconic Doctor he was and I get it. I am loving it all!

      I love that Doctor Who was what hooked you on all things Sci-Fi, too. For me, I think Star Wars was my first entry as a kid. At least it was the first world I really embraced. But there’s nothing like Doctor Who and it has my whole heart!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. Yes, TV shows like Classic Doctor Who, Star Trek, the Incredible Hulk, and of course films like Star Wars all helped get me hooked on Sci-Fi. It was Doctor Who that really captured my imagination though. So glad you have been discovering the Classic eras of Doctor Who, there’s so many wonderful stories to enjoy. I did a re watch during lockdown as well and thoroughly enjoyed it. You post about the 13th Doctor’s era was a joy to read. Cheers for following my blog as well 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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