DOCTOR WHO - The Twelfth Doctor and the Mara

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Christopher Morley considers the possible return of a classic Who foe.


Pesky things, snakes. The Fifth Doctor knew so better than anyone ( minus Adam & Eve or Cleopatra, possibly) having battled the Mara in Kinda/Snakedance! But could the most infamous resident of the Dark Places of the Inside be about to assume physical form once more? It's not, after all, unreasonable to assume that the voice claiming to be able to see into the Doctor's very soul in his Twelfth incarnation ( see the Series Eight teaser trailer) could belong to the serpent at the head of the Sumaran Empire.......


A crash course in its two previous appearances should help lend weight to the theory. Current head writer Steven Moffatt loves them, & has previously been vocal in his championing of Peter Davison as the greatest actor to have portrayed the Doctor in ' Classic Who ( which will please the man himself if he happens to be reading this during any breaks in play in the currently ongoing England-India Test match)'- given his position he could easily choose to indulge his inner fanboy & bring back a classic enemy from his own favourite era.

Would he be justified in doing so? It's been teased that 'the Doctor is returning to the scene of an old adventure' since filming has taken place in Lanzarote for Peter Harness's Series Eight episode- early candidates for just which scene & old adventure include Sarn (Planet Of Fire)...



...or Pompeii (The Fires Of Pompeii)...


Pompeii may be the favourite, thanks to the whole 'Peter Capaldi as Caecilius' thing. Watch this space for an explanation of just how the Doctor can end up looking a bit like him! (or maybe it's this?) But what if the corner of time & space chosen for such a revisit is either Deva Loka or Manussa?

It can't be that hard to imagine Twelve ending up in the heart of the Sumaran Empire at its origin ( a chance to see the Mara gaining a following & growing in power as it feeds on pure evil from the minds of its subjects). Or the radical change hinted at in the Series 8 blurb could be that the Mara returned to physical form some years after the man in the cricket ensemble first defeated it & has now set about creating a new Empire for itself......


Hiding its reveal until the last possible moment during Twelve & Clara's exploration of their new surroundings would surely crank up the tension. Having his companion possessed in a similar manner to the fate which befell Tegan could also work.


But its unlikely that the Mara would allow itself to be truly defeated if it were banished from Ms Oswald's mind- which might well set up a thrilling end to Series Eight! Should it be forced to relinquish physical existence once more, nothing's to stop it reverting to its purely mental tricks. And as a hive mind or gestalt consciousness ( to coin the proper term), who says it can't spread its malignant influence through the TARDIS itself?

And indeed once tainted by the Mara, some traces would surely remain, as they did with poor Tegan. Which leads into another possibility- what if it's not Clara who's targeted, but the Doctor himself.......lest ye forget, the telephone ( which he's now somehow managed to patch through to the console without any help from BT) could prove the ideal vessel for the snake to get at Twelve's mind. How things might play out if it did just that is worth considering.


We already know the Doctor places quite some emphasis on whether or not he is ' a good man'. Might prove difficult to tell if this newest incarnation of the 'good man' who's already gone to war once ( A Good Man Goes To War) were to be forced to battle himself, you'd think. Of course, he's done similar before, whether its dealing with an evil doppelganger in The Enemy Of The World & Meglos or an irksome Cyber-Planner with access to his mind ( Nightmare In Silver).

If we also count the Dream Lord ( Amy's Choice) & the Valeyard the Doctor has quite some experience of his own dark side. But how would the Mara use potential power over him? If the snake really can see into the recesses of his soul it might just be check-mate. Perhaps it could be the ideal opportunity for Clara to prove herself the heroine as she races to save him once more, as she has been for all his lives?

A neat reversal of Five's rush to rid Tegan of all those horrific dreams of snakes...



Perhaps Clara telling Twelve that she's been experiencing similar will fill him with dread once more....or he himself could be the one plagued with the nightmares. In perhaps the ultimate bluff, maybe we've already seen the dream in the form of that ominous phone call, though!

Sensibly if it is indeed the Mara, its attempted leap from the phone line into the Doctor's mind is probably waiting to be seen in the episode itself. The thought of it taking up its snake form & slithering around the faithful Type 40 must be one to fill any Fifth Doctor fans ( Moffatt included) with excitement. It would also stand to reason that Clara wouldn't know how to answer the question of ' am I a good man?' were it posed by the resulting Mara-Doctor, though of course we'd rapidly find out that the answer would be ' no' with all the darkness of his past lives to feed on.


Ms Oswald would certainly be justified in her statement that she doesn't know who the Doctor is any more at a stroke! Mind you, nor does he at the moment- muddying the waters further. And with a blank mental canvas upon which to wreak havoc the Mara would be in its element- setting up the chance of recurring battles much like the Kinda/Snakedance double header. If all of that isn't the clincher, just imagine what the superior special effects of the modern age could achieve in bringing the Mara back to chilling life.......

Warped Factor
Words in the key of geek!