As we move on from the multi-layered dreamscape of Last Christmas, and look towards The Magician’s Apprentice and the Series 9 arc, questions are everywhere:
Is Clara actually on the TARDIS? Did the Doctor really giddily abscond with her on Christmas Day? Or was it still a dream? A wish fulfilment as she never got over Danny or the other "impossible man" she didn't marry. Does a clarification of the relationship between Clara and the Doctor even matter?
Perhaps not - but it would if they were raising a child together. Above the dirge of reconstituted theories, I just keep wondering who the Magician's Apprentice is, and I propose that... congratulations, it's a Pink!
The specter of Orson Pink fuels the need to explain his duality/paradox. The Doctor and Clara have met him, so, he exists, right? So he is added to the list of burning questions left behind from Series Eight, and consequentially becomes problematic if we accept the reality of Danny's death.
I've re-revisited Series Eight, whilst projecting into Nine, all the while trying to answer the titular question - who is the Magician's Apprentice? And have we met them already?
I think this opening episode of Series Nine will resolve the Pink conundrum. There is much speculation that Clara is already pregnant, which could explain Orson's existence, but I think that's too simple and the timing for a child to grow up could be problematic. After all, Clara wouldn't have left her child to go away at Christmas, would she? Yet the Doctor did scan her after Danny died and said she was a "mess of emotions". But would Doctor Who really be as soap-operatically obvious as to choose the ‘already pregnant’ option? And would Moffat really give us another pregnant companion so soon after the Amy/Rory/Melody/River storyline? No, I don't think this is an option. I believe that the "mess of emotions" and 'THREE MONTHS' post-it being nothing more than a red herring to have us all speculating and looking in the wrong direction. So how could the show resolve the Pink conundrum?
When questioned, at the end of the universe in Listen, Orson Pink denies recognizing Clara, but then offers that “my grandparents, well one of my grandparents, well, great grandparents" had time travel stories. When questioning why she received the toy soldier from him, Clara asks "Family heirloom?" "Yeah," Orson replies, handing it to her. Family as in blood, or family because she was a part of his extended family? Family because they both time-travelled? Does he recognize the both of them? He clearly exclaims, "what are the odds of the two of you finding me?" - the TWO of them - the Doctor and Clara, both.
I believe that the answer lies in the fact that Rupert Pink said he was orphaned, yet whilst in the Nethersphere they had troubling finding Danny's family. Using that from Listen, and projecting through to Dark Water reminds us that he does have family somewhere. Where? With that in mind, and going into the speculative stratosphere, here's my proposal.
I think Flatline gives the clue, in one of the more popular characters we met in Series Eight - Rigsy. We don't know Rigsy's last name... and he was going to his Grandmother's. So, where is his family? Is Rigsy a Pink? A colorful name for a street artist, who would also be a wonderful addition to the TARDIS, but still young enough to need guidance while old enough to have proper adventures.
Consider this also. In Flatline the TARDIS missed Clara's home by 150 miles, arriving in Bristol - which. by train, is only 35 minutes away from the children's home where they encountered Rupert Pink during Listen. Could Rigsy's "Grandma" actually be Danny's Mum? The family missing, believed dead by young Rupert could easily be so close - would probably be that close! This coincidence makes my suggestion not as far fetched as it may at first sound.
So, could the Magician's Apprentice be Rigsy? Another Pink as the new member of the team? This would allow the Doctor and Clara to 'parent' him. Basically, to act as Doctor and Mrs Who. My mind always goes back to the Fiftieth Anniversary Special when Clara was told to keep their - the collective Doctors' - future, safely in her hands.
Is Rigsy the apprentice? Did the Doctor rescue young Clara? Or is he still asleep in the TARDIS, not even consciously reconciled with her yet?
What do you think?
Risk adverse, Stacy would never even enter the TARDIS, but admires those who do. Happily watching and writing from the distance of Indiana, USA. She enjoys writing and discussing her observations and critiques.