Theory: Bill’s Mom in Series 10
Warning: another long-post incoming, but apparently I keep on having Doctor Who theories and I’ve got to get them out somewhere. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Hopefully some of you will enjoy it/have some thoughts of your own!
So as Series 10 has gone along, I’ve been slightly suspicious regarding Bill’s actual parentage. I mean, true, we have pictures of Bill’s mom, but that’s only because the doctor went back to take pictures of “Bill’s mom”… which would be a perfectly lovely moment if that’s all it was, but we only have the Doctor’s word (well, photo) to go on that she is, indeed, “Bill’s mom.” And remember rule 1: the Doctor lies.
As I’d seen someone mention, there is a young girl in one of the “world enough and time” trailers who looks a bit like a younger Bill (trailer here: [x] ). They’ve also made several very pointed allusions to the importance of Bill’s mom which again, could just be a very sweet character trait, but… they have referenced it. Like ALOT (see: hanging photos of her mom in Knock Knock, screaming for her mom in Oxygen, using her “memory” of her to save the day in Lie of the Land, etc).
At this point, I’m still conflicted at this point as to who Bill’s mom (assuming she isn’t the one shown in the pictures) might be. My thoughts on who would be most likely have shifted as the series went on, but my main suspicions have been that she’s either River/the Doctor’s daughter (I mean they did spend 24 years on Darillium), that she’s simply related to the Doctor in some way/shape or form, or that she’s the daughter Missy/The Master talked about in Witch’s Familiar (though at that time, Missy would have technically been her Father, so the woman in the picture might actually be her mom: however, I’ve grown more uncertain with this theory, which I’ll explain in a bit).
In terms of visual clues, there are several that could suggest a relation to the Doctor (possibly River), especially in The Pilot: For example, one of the first things we see Bill do is look at a picture of River and Susan (about 1 min in exactly). Secondly, when Bill asks the Doctor “Why me?”, the Doctor’s reply (“Well I noticed you”) is immediately followed by a shot of him looking at Susan’s photograph (about 3 min 20 seconds in). Near the end of the episode, we also see shots of her with River’s picture clearly featured in the frame ( about 44 min 40 secs in). There’s also the “grandad/father/grandfather” references in Knock Knock. It is, however, possible that those cues are simply intended to build an onscreen relationship where the Doctor views Bill LIKE a daughter/granddaughter,and not a literal relation.
Also, going back to the most recent episode: in addition to the shot of the Bill-ish looking girl in the trailer, there was a curious shot about 32 minutes in World Enough and Time: When Bill and Simm!Master are walking outside the hospital, there are lots of camera cuts to sad, impoverished looking kids. Near the end of that sequence, there’s a shot where they pass a little girl standing in an alley: Looking at her, it seems possible that she could be the same kid as in the trailer, (though I’m not 100% sure: perhaps someone else can say for certain). However, instead of keeping focus on Simm!Master and Bill as they walk by, the camera allows them to leave the frame and makes a strangely deliberate zoom on the little girl. Could be reading way into that, but just throwing it out there.
Apart from the visual clues (which, again, could just be sentimental), something happens at around 9 minutes into the Pilot that struck me as odd: when she’s following The Doctor and Nardole into the vault, the door opens automatically. When she’s heard crashing about, the Doctor asks Nardole “The door upstairs, how did you set the security?”, to which Nardole replies: “Friends only”. My question would be: what does the “friends only” setting mean? Is it just that the machine picks up that Bill’s a decent/friendly human being and lets her in (which she is, but that seems a bit lax on security), or is there a genetic component involved? If the security has a genetic basis, it would probably have a bioprint that would allow the Doctor and Nardole (and maaaybe Missy) to access the vault. At this point Bill doesn’t know anything about the “sci-fi” elements of the Doctor’s life (he’s just her tutor), so he has no reason to deliberately grant her access. Could it be that she has enough genetic similarities to someone that’s already been granted “friends” status?
In terms of a possible relation to the Master/Missy, I was more keen on this theory earlier on, but have cooled on it a bit as the series went on. In The Witch’s Familiar, Missy explicitly states that she has a daughter when she’s talking to Clara about the brooch (“the doctor gave it to me when my daughter…”). When I saw that she wasn’t wearing the brooch in the promo photos (and before Extremis aired), I thought it might be possible that Extremis!Missy was at an earlier point in her time stream than WF!Missy and the event involving the brooch and her daughter hadn’t happened yet. However, after watching Extremis (which is pretty clearly set after WF), and rewatching WF (she specifically mentions the brooch being given in the “olden days of Gallifrey”, which I’d missed the first time) this theory seems increasingly unlikely.
Now: If we accept for a moment that Bill is related to either the Doctor/River, just the Doctor, or Missy/the Master, the one main snag is that she appears to be biologically human, as shown by the fact that the Cyberman “patients” singled her out in World Enough & Time, and by the fact that she (apparently) grew up living a fairly normal life with her Foster mother (I’m pretty sure one of her doctors would have noticed if she had two hearts). In this scenario, the two main solutions would be (1) the chameleon arch, which could rewrite her biology and give her a normal human life or (2 )her physiology is close enough to human to pass without any obvious differences. At this point in the series, I think Option 1 is increasingly unlikely: if they were going to reuse the chameleon arch, you’d think they would have (a) made a passing reference to it by now [since not all current Who fans have seen episodes from 10 years ago], or would have left a visual hint (like with a brief shot of a watch/similar object in her home or on her person. I haven’t seen anything like this, but do correct me if I’m wrong). Option 2 could be possible, since we haven’t yet seen what the physiological result would be if a Time Lord and a Human were to procreate, in terms of heart number, dominant qualities, etc., and there might be a way for more “Time-Lordy” qualities to be suppressed. If River were the mother (versus the woman we think of as “Bill’s mom” or another human): while she did gain time lord qualities from exposure to the time vortex, both of her parents were biologically human, meaning she would likely have one heart as opposed to the Gallifreyan two.
Another thought that popped into my head was that, instead of the little girl being young Bill, perhaps that girl was Bill’s mother. If so, that would make the physiological problem a bit simpler: Even if her mother were Mondasian as opposed to an Earthling, it’s been heavily implied that the two species are pretty much identical in terms of their genetic makeup (after all, Mondas and Earth are twin planets, and Bill’s “human” genetic makeup was automatically detected when she stepped on the ship). In that case, it might be the case where the Doctor rescues her from the ship and resettles her on Earth, where she later has Bill.
Anyway, those are the options that came to mind, though I can’t say what the answer is. The only thing I know for sure is that they’ve made a pretty big deal of Bill’s mom , so she’ll probably show up again one way or another. We shall see. If you have any other thoughts, would love to hear them!