The new sonic screwdriver wielded by the Thirteenth Doctor in the upcoming season of Doctor Who is not your average sonic screwdriver. In fact, it may turn out that the Doctor makes it herself.
For the past 55 years, Doctor Who has been a major staple in British-made science fiction, wherein a time-traveling humanoid alien known as the Doctor traverses the universe in a time machine called the TARDIS. The long-running series has managed to exist for long as it has on account of the Doctor's unique regenerative capabilities, allowing more than one actor to tackle the role; and with the upcoming thirteenth iteration of the character premiering this fall with actress Jodie Whittaker, a whole slew of changes will follow - not the least of which being a brand new sonic screwdriver. And while the Doctor's trusty screwdriver has taken several forms of the years, Thirteen's is definitely unique. In fact, it may be the first handmade sonic.
While the creation and upgrading of sonic screwdrivers have changed from time to time (River Song's is a gift from the Twelfth Doctor, the Third Doctor upgraded the Mark I version with significant improvements himself), a Time Lord is fully capable of creating his or her own sonic screwdriver if necessary. And though the new trailer for Doctor Who season 11 doesn't outright showcase Thirteen crafting her own, there are certainly some suggestions that this may turn out to be the case.
For one, this theory stems off of the new screwdriver's designer Arwel Wyn Jones stating that he "can’t wait for people to see how the Doctor acquires it," suggesting that it won't follow any recent trends of how former sonic screwdrivers have been obtained. What's more is that the trailer shows Thirteen crafting something with a double-barrel blowtorch - and though it's not revealed what it is she's making specifically, her outfit supplies some additional hints as well. In this scene, Whittaker's Doctor is still wearing the suit favored by Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor, implying that this scene takes place very early on in the season (presumably the first episode), before she starts sporting her new ensemble. And if that's the case, then it's that much more likely she'd need a new screwdriver, seeing as Twelve's is MIA.
In fact, speaking of Time Lord technology missing or destroyed in the Christmas special, the Doctor is also seemingly without her TARDIS. So, given that she's stranded in a brand new body without either of her go-to apparatus, her defenses are down. This would suggest that, instead of hunting down her TARDIS and waiting for it to finish its own regeneration process, Thirteen may well be taking matters into her own hands.
And, aside from how she might create her screwdriver (assuming that ends up being the case), the physical design has a rougher, homespun look to it than previous versions. The Doctor's screwdriver typically has a sleek, machine-made quality, but Thirteen's doesn't appear that way at all. This screwdriver is imperfect and unpolished, with an almost organic design - something that may well have been the product of a rough contraption like the aforementioned makeshift double-barrel blowtorch. And given that the Doctor has always been especially self-sufficient (Three, Four, Ten, and Eleven being particular standouts), as well as the fact that she usually has trouble with patience (which is noted in a Chibnall-penned episode from Steven Moffat's era titled "The Power of Three"), it's no wonder that she would simply roll up her sleeves and solve a problem herself instead of simply waiting around. And if nothing else, having the Thirteenth Doctor construct the tool herself could also be a sly contrast to previous Doctors being criticized for too often "sonic-ing" their way out every situation.
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