Doctor Who, the Sisterhood of Karn, and the Mysterious Enemy

Ohila of the Sisterhood of Karn

The BBC released the season prologue on September 11th, one week before the season premiere on September 19th. Here, the Doctor is speaking with Ohila, high priestess of the Sisterhood of Karn. We’ve seen her once before, in the internet short Night of the Doctor, a prologue to the 50th anniversary episode Day of the Doctor.

What really hasn’t been explained is who the sisters are. They originated in the 1976 episode Brain of Morbius, which essentially features two related plots. The first is a Frankenstein-esque story about a man, Solon, attempting to build the perfect body for the renegade Time Lord Morbius, who was thought executed but actually lives as a brain in a jar. Solon even has his own Igor to assist him on the project.

The second plot revolves around the Sisterhood, a female-only religious cult centered around an ever-burning flame that produces an life-prolonging elixir. They have relatively good relations with the Time Lords; Karn and Gallifrey are relatively close to one another physically. In the novels (which are not canon), it’s revealed that the sisters are Gallifreyan, and they fled their world to practice in peace after science triumphed over religion there.

Sisterhood of Karn in Brain of Morbius, Dr Who

The Sisterhood as depicted in 1976.

Who is the “Old Enemy”?

Here, Ohila tells the Doctor that “he” wants to see the Doctor and has agents that will never stop looking for him. She reminds him that this person has always been the Doctor’s enemy, and the Doctor owes this “creature” nothing.

Who is this old enemy we’re discussing? Frankly, I have no idea. People keep jumping to the conclusion that it’s the Master, but that really makes no sense. Forgetting the problematic use of pronouns now that the Master is Missy, there’s the glaring issue of this person and the Doctor having always been enemies. That that is not the case with the Master. For a long time, he and the Doctor were best friends. We’ve never learned when they parted ways or under what circumstances, but they were close for a long time.

Is it some other Time Lord? Day of the Doctor has rather muddled the timeline of Time Lords. For the first several seasons, no Time Lord could exist besides the Doctor (because he was at the eye of the storm, so to speak) and the Master, who had transformed himself into a human before all Daleks and Time Lords were removed from time and space. Yet, so far, we’ve only seen the Sisterhood in relation to issues with Time Lords.

Is it someone new? If so, I hope the writers have thought it out. It needs backstory. We need to understand why this enemy wishes to see the Doctor, why the Doctor is willing to go, and why all the trepidation. And it needs to be more than an off-hand explanation given to Clara.

Ohila’s description of this person as a creature further defies attempts to guess this character’s nature. I wouldn’t call any Time Lord a creature, unless something incredibly awful happened to it.

IMDB lists Ohila as a character for “the Magician’s Apprentice” and “The Witch’s Familiar,” which are the opening episodes of season 9.  Does this have something to do with why Missy looks a tad worried in the trailer?

There’s a second prologue to be released Tuesday in the United States as part of an airing of Dark Water and Death in Heaven in movie theaters called The Doctor’s Meditation. In the current prologue, the Doctor flippantly mentions meditating on a rock, so hopefully one will follow the other. For now, all we can do is wait for the next installment.

Lucretia Strange, time traveler, has never met a historical period she didn’t like…except the 18th century, which was just rubbish.   You can find all of her articles HERE.  Her alter ego blogs at History, Interrupted.


History, Interrupted

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