This week we’re looking at ‘Flatline’, an episode high on visual content and rife with clues pointing to VERY IMPORTANT THINGS THAT WILL HAVE SIGNIFICANCE LATER ON.
As is customary, I’ll be jumping around, rather than going through chronologically. We’ll start at the halfway point, and you’ll observe, in this shot, the arrival of Clara and her new friends at the train depot.
The first character on the side of the carriage is partially obscured, but we’ll assume that it’s an incomplete letter ‘Q’. Let’s deal with 8503 first – a number which refers to an Australian visa condition requiring the holder to depart the country in order to apply for another visa. This is a CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS reference to Tegan Jovanka, who had to leave the series (at the end of ‘Time Flight’) in order to return to it, and to whom we referred extensively in a previous entry in this series.
However, this is a double-barrelled clue: 8503 also applies to an oil rig, currently in the Gulf of Mexico. The Third Doctor and Jo spend lengthy periods on an oil rig in Alistair Reynolds’ Harvest of Time, which also features the Master. The ‘Q’ is thus a link to Qatar, a country rich in oil and the host of the 2022 World Cup, and from this we conclude that series nine will feature the Doctor and Tegan visiting Qatar and witnessing an earlier incarnation (the Eleventh Doctor, obviously) scoring the winning goal in the last minute of extra time, releasing a hundred tiny aliens into the stratosphere in the process.
While we’re on the subject of trains, have a look here.
113 refers, significantly, to ‘The Dancing Floor’, episode three of ‘The Celestial Toymaker’, whose IMMINENT RETURN is foreshadowed by the animated floors present in this week’s installment. Decoding the second train is a little trickier, as it refers not to episode 65, but rather episode 65 in the Second Doctor’s run, to which the ‘2’ alludes. This turns out to be part two of ‘Fury From The Deep’, a story with which Matt West seems to be quietly obsessed. It was also Deborah Watling’s last story. UNTIL NOW.
Deep within the tunnels, we can see a sign on the door.
‘W D’. Walt Disney. AND WE’RE BACK WITH THE MARY POPPINS.
Except it’s not that simple.
‘W D’ is, instead, an obvious reference to Willem Dafoe, who is thus pegged to be the 17th Doctor. Except, of course, Dafoe’s not getting any younger, and we’re still on Doctor no.12, so either Moffat is planning on casting an ageing Doctor, or he’s going to bring in some wibbly wobbly trick and cast him in a year or two as a future incarnation travelling back along his own timeline. It’s been a while since we had a Valeyard conspiracy, so perhaps that’s where we’re headed.
Or is it?
Let’s see what happens when we mix up that text a little.
The last time the Doctor had mail, it turned out to be a psychic container from another Time Lord – a long-dead Time Lord, as it turned out, but this is CLEARLY a sign that there are others out there. Iris Wildthyme must be due a TV appearance by now. Does anyone have Katy Manning’s number? Not that it matters, as she seems to have the Doctor’s.
Moving on, when is a door not a door?
When its handle gets flattened, that’s when, but ignore the door and look at the cryptic numbers to its left. 26038 ostensibly refers to a particular type of diesel locomotive, but that’s only part of the story: it’s also the zip code for Glen Dale, a city in West Virginia and home to country singer Brad Paisley. The connections to Doctor Who seem slim at best, until we recall this scene from ‘Victory of the Daleks':
DOCTOR: All right, Prof. Now, the PM’s been filling me in. Amazing things, these Ironsides of yours. Amazing. You must be very proud of them.
BRACEWELL: Just doing my bit.
AMY: Not bad for a Paisley boy.
BRACEWELL: Yes, I thought I detected a familiar cadence, my dear.
And I think we all know what this means, don’t we…?
Next: a flat.
Notice the two horses, which refer to the Black and White Guardians, as encountered by the Fourth and Fifth Doctors. The clock on the mantelpiece reads 12:44 pm, which in itself does not seem significant until we examine this:
(Retrieved from here.)
Valdore is a Romulan Admiral in assorted Star Trek: Enterprise stories, played by Brian Thompson, who significantly played the Alien Bounty Hunter in The X-Files. CLEARLY a Mulder and Scully investigation of the Doctor’s activities, along with a crossover with UNIT, cannot be far away. (In fanfiction terms, of course, it’s already a distant memory.)
Meanwhile, back in the train yard:
2055 marks the year after the Martian expedition that took centre stage in ‘The Waters of Mars’, so it’s CLEARLY A YEAR OF GREAT SIGNIFICANCE.
You can read more about this (including the various arguments rebuffing it) in a reddit comment thread I discovered last night. I mean, honestly. These people are the same sorts of people who think you can predict the apocalypse by adding up ages in the Bible.
It’s a good thing we’re not so silly here, isn’t it?