Doctor Who's season 12 trailer showcases plenty of returning villains, but it may also give a few clues as to the Timeless Child mystery from Jodie Whittaker's debut season. It's been nearly a year since the Doctor last graced the small screen in the 2019 New Year's Day special, but the BBC have finally released a trailer for the forthcoming season 12 and there are some notable changes from last year's outing. After previously avoiding classic villains, the new trailer reveals Cybermen, the Judoon and a Racnoss. Also in contrast to Doctor Who season 11, the trailer footage teases a longer-term story arc running throughout the season, rather than the entirely self-contained stories the Thirteenth Doctor has experienced thus far.
In fact, the only long-running plot thread established in season 11 was the mystery of the Timeless Child. In "The Ghost Monument," the Doctor and her new companions are attacked by some intergalactic, sentient rags capable of prying into their victims' minds. These rags (or Remnants, to give them their actual title) reveal one of the Doctor's fears to be "the Timeless Child" and this phrase leaves the Doctor visibly shaken and angered at the mental intrusion. The story has yet to develop beyond this initial mention, but the foundations for a season-spanning story in the style of "Bad Wolf" or Harold Saxon were laid.
Although there's no explicit reference to the Timeless Child in Doctor Who's season 12 trailer, there are a few visuals and lines of dialogue that could be connected to the mystery. The most obvious of these comes when the Doctor states "something's coming for me...I can feel it" There's a prominence to these words, highlighted further by the accompanying image of Whittaker's Doctor sitting alone in a darkened TARDIS, that suggests this "something" is not merely another monster to chase down a corridor. The Doctor's reaction to the Remnants has already confirmed that the Timeless Child is a source of fear and shame to the Time Lord, and also something from the character's ancient history. This description would fit with the trailer's implication that a ghost from the Doctor's past is catching up with her.
Also significant is the drastic shift in tone from the first half of the trailer to the second, immediately after Whittaker's foreboding warning. After the fun antics of the first 30 seconds ("the name's Doctor...THE Doctor"), suddenly there's an undertone of doom. Yasmin is crying, Graham is solemnly questioning what the Doctor has gotten the team into and smiles are suddenly replaced by panicked expressions of fear and worry. These elements are likely edited together from completely separate episodes, but their effect in the trailer is to create a sense that Doctor Who season 12 has a major arch villain that will haunt the team throughout the upcoming run of episodes.
A final potential link to the Timeless Child could be the entity seen entering the TARDIS in the season 12 trailer. As Doctor Who fans will know, hardly anything is capable of breaking into the Doctor's home, whether due to its state of temporal grace or advanced Time Lord technology. However, a ghost-like form is seen halfway through the TARDIS door in the trailer, with the Doctor reiterating that nothing should be able to get through. Whatever villain this turns out to be, it's likely to be a big player in the world of Doctor Who, such is the difficulty involved in breaching the TARDIS, and the Timeless Child makes more sense than most. If this mystery figure originates from the Doctor's past, they're surely connected to the Time Lords, which could allow them some method of breaking into Gallifreyan ships. Alternatively, the quality of being "timeless" may render the defenses of a time machine useless. It's highly improbable, of course, that Doctor Who would reveal the true Timeless Child in season 12's trailer, but the spirit could perhaps be a minion or follower of the Doctor's big new enemy.
Doctor Who season 12 premieres in early 2020 on BBC and BBC America.