Could The Trickster Be Returning to Doctor Who? (Theory)

Back in the early 2000s, when Russell T Davies revived Doctor Who for a new generation, he became well-known for his intricately placed narrative threads. If you are an avid fan of his original era, Bad Wolf, Torchwood, Vote Saxon, and the planets disappearing will be ingrained in your memory. Little hints that, once you’re clued up, will have you pointing and whistling at the TV screen like Leonardo DiCaprioThese seemingly insignificant motifs became the foundations for some of Davies’ most incredible Doctor Who stories: The Parting of the Ways’ and Journey’s Endjust to name a few. 

Since his return, Russell T Davies has been laying out new threads for viewers to keep a keen eye on. This time around, they are arguably less subtle, but it is still great to come together as a fandom and speculate on what it all might mean for the future. So, whether you are a new fan getting to grips with Doctor Who’s interconnected web, or you’ve been one for a while and are simply looking for some validation on that theory you had, this fellow Who fan will guide you through it all before you have the time to say, Trickster!

Just a quick note, though: theorizing around anything these days isn’t an exact sport. You only have to look at something like WandaVision to see how a fandom can run wild and then be severely humbled afterwards. So, let’s proceed with caution! 

[There are spoilers ahead for past Doctor Who episodes.]

The One Who Waits

Cast your minds all the way back to the third 60th anniversary special for this one. In The Giggle, the Fourteenth Doctor and his companion Donna Noble, played by David Tennant and Catherine Tate, respectively, faced up against one of the Doctor’s oldest enemies – the Toymaker. First appearing in a mostly missing First Doctor story in 1966, the character, now played by Neil Patrick Harris, returned to spread havoc on Earth. 

Neil Patrick Harris as The Toymaker in Doctor Who Special 3: The Giggle. Image courtesy of Disney+.
Neil Patrick Harris as The Toymaker in Doctor Who Special 3: The Giggle. Image courtesy of Disney+.

In the crucial scene, the Doctor challenges the Toymaker to a game. As the Toymaker is shuffling his cards, he discusses what he has been up to since being pulled into our universe. Turning God into a jack-in-the-box, making a jigsaw out of the Doctor’s history, and even playing a game with the Master (but we will discuss that later!). One person he would not pick a fight with, however, was The One Who Waits. A figure hiding in the darkness that made the all-powerful Toymaker run away. Consider our shivers, timbered. The One Who Waits has since been mentioned once by Jinkx Monsoon’s Maestro (in The Devil’s Chord), a figurative child of the Toymaker, a physical embodiment of music instead of games. They exclaimed that, “The One Who Waits is almost here!”. So it might not be long before we find out, but who could it be?

Is The One Who Waits Susan Foreman?

The first and most prevalent theory is that The One Who Waits is the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan Foreman. Susan was the OG companion, traveling through time and space with the First Doctor, William Hartnell. In the 1964 story The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Doctor left Susan on Earth to fend for herself. Despite abandoning her, the Doctor did state that he would be back, but it wasn’t until 1983 that Susan made another appearance in the show’s special multi-Doctor story, The Five Doctors

Susan held no grudge against the multiple versions of her grandfather, but she was also sidelined, so we didn’t find out much about those twenty years of her life. Since then, there has been no mention of her in the show, until now. In The Devil’s Chord, the Doctor (played by Ncuti Gatwa) reminisces about the time he spent in the Junkyard on Totters Lane with his granddaughter. 

If you know Russell T Davies, you know that everything is there for a reason. Why mention her after all this time if she won’t have a part to play? Plus, nearly sixty years is a long time to wait to finally acknowledge her abandonment and how it made her feel, making her an interesting candidate to be The One Who Waits. This theory does break down slightly when you ask the question of why the Toymaker would be scared of her. So unless her estrangement had finally got to her, and she has become something sinister, then it seems unlikely this will be the answer. 

The Trickster Returns?

The other theory would see the return of an iconic villain from a different show. The Trickster was a recurring villain in the Doctor Who spin-off show The Sarah Jane Adventures. He would appear and make bargains with people to alter history and then feed off the chaos that would ensue. He’s certainly powerful enough to warrant people being afraid of him. In the episode Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane? he had the power to make it so Sarah Jane died in a freak accident instead of her friend. Without Sarah Jane in the present day to help, the Earth was almost hit by a meteor and destroyed.

Since the Toymaker’s return, there has been a heavy focus on the idea of a pantheon of gods and all-powerful beings, including the Toymaker and Maestro. This is where the theory holds even more weight, as The Trickster is known to be a part of the Pantheon of Discord. An eagle-eyed viewer also pointed out that in The Devil’s Chord, when Maestro discovers a song within Ruby Sunday, it sounds eerily similar to the Trickster’s theme. So, could the Trickster have made a deal with Ruby’s birth mother to change the course of history? It’s possible, but even if The One Who Waits doesn’t turn out to be the Trickster, his return would be spectacular.

The Companion, her Parentage, and the Snow. 

The Christmas special The Church on Ruby Road introduced us to the new companion Ruby Sunday, played by Millie Gibson, and in the episode, we learn a lot about her backstory. Ruby was left at a church on Ruby Road, hence her name, by a mysterious hooded figure the day she was born. In the present day, it is clear that Ruby is looking for answers. Going as far as appearing on the real-life TV show Long Lost Families hosted by Davina McCall, which shows family members reunited after years apart, But she has no luck as she receives a call from Davina herself to confirm they couldn’t find any information on her birth parents.

Millie Gibson and Ncuti Gatwa as Ruby Sunday and the Doctor in Doctor Who: The Church on Ruby Road. Image courtesy of Disney+.
Millie Gibson and Ncuti Gatwa as Ruby Sunday and the Doctor in Doctor Who: The Church on Ruby Road. Image courtesy of Disney+.

In the following three episodes, the snow from the day she was put on that church doorstep has reappeared. As the Doctor states in Space Babies, it’s like the memory is seeping through to them. It happens again in The Devil’s Chord inside Abbey Road Studios. This is matched with the Maestro discovering a song within Ruby. The Shepherd’s Bell Carol which was also played the night she was born. It occurs again in Boom, specifically when the ambulance is trying to state her Next of Kin. But unlike the other times, the snow stops. 

What does it all mean? The snow and the music are connected to Ruby’s birth, which means, in turn, it is also connected to her parentage and who left her on the doorstep of the church. The snow only occurs when Ruby is also there, and when it stops in Boom, this could be because she was dying; a fault in the system, perhaps? 

People have been trying to work out who her parents could be. Names that have popped up include The Trickster, Susan, River Song, and even the Doctor in some roundabout timey-wimey way. As for the hooded figure at the church, there is a theory that Ruby will have to drop herself off to fix the timelines. Whatever the answers may be, Russell T Davies is cooking something up that will hopefully blow us all away. 

The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson)
Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) and The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) in Doctor Who: The Devil’s Chord. Image courtesy of Disney+.

Who is Susan Twist?

Something that may go over casual viewers’ heads is the reappearance of a certain actress over the past few episodes. Susan Twist is an actress who has had a different bit-part in five episodes since the show returned in November last year. Her first appearance was in the second 60th anniversary special Wild Blue Yonder

The Doctor and Donna land the TARDIS in the famous tree where Isaac Newton discovered gravity. Skulking on the sidelines is Susan Twist, Isaac Newton’s maid, Mrs. Merridew. She doesn’t have much to say apart from telling Isaac not to return until he has had a good idea. She has since appeared in every episode, in The Church on Ruby Road as a reveler at Ruby and her band’s gig, in Space Babies as one of the space station’s officers, in The Devil’s Chord as a tea lady at Abbey Road Studios, and in Boom as the face of the AI-run Villengard ambulance. 

Susan Twist’s face is always where the Doctor and Ruby are at some point, but that begs the question: Who is following whom? Is Susan Twist purposefully placing herself in the Doctor and Ruby’s adventures? or are the Doctor and Ruby coincidentally bumping into her every time? In a few of the instances where she has shown up, history has been changed or is changing. For example, In Wild Blue Yonder, Isaac Newton names his discovery Mavity, a running joke that has been mentioned more than once since, and in The Devil’s Chord, the course of the world is changing because music no longer exists. Maybe Susan Twist is trying to change history here and there so the Doctor will notice her. 

S. Triad and TARDIS

Up until Boom, the Doctor and Ruby had never seen Susan Twist’s face, but because of her role in this episode, they couldn’t not perceive her. This is going to be incredibly important going forward, as if she shows up again, maybe as a villain, then the Doctor may recognize that he has seen her before. One thing that is for certain is that she is going to be appearing closer to the end of the series as a character named Susan Triad. If you shorten that slightly to S. Triad, can you see what word is hidden? That’s right, S. Triad can be rearranged to make TARDIS. If you are an avid fan, you know Russell loves an anagram. The big arc for Series 2 was Torchwood, which is an anagram of Doctor Who. This could mean that Susan Twist’s character could have a TARDIS, or heck even be a TARDIS! It would certainly explain how she can be in so many places at once. 

All of this doesn’t even get into the other smaller threads that have been placed. The Toymaker’s golden tooth, which contains the iconic villain, the Master, got snatched by a hand with red nails after the Toymaker was defeated in The Giggle. Annette Dobson’s Mrs. Flood knows what a TARDIS is, AND she can break the fourth wall, too. Who is she? And what does she have to do with everything? I’m sure only time will tell. If it’s anything like some of the reveals from 20 years ago, then it’s guaranteed we are in for a treat.

Doctor Who Season 1 is now streaming on Disney+.


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