Doctor Who Recap: Meet Bill in Doctor Who’s Season 10 Premiere, “The Pilot”

Credit: Simon Ridgway/BBC AMERICA

It’s been 84 years but the new season of Doctor Who is finally here. It’s Peter Capaldi’s last season, and yet this is like a little reboot, as usually happens when we get a new companion. So let’s meet Bill Potts.

She serves chips in the cafeteria at St. Luke’s university in Bristol. She also has been sharing winks and secret smiles with a student, Heather, and attending the lectures of the Doctor, despite not being a student herself. Having apparently hung up his time traveler lifestyle, the Doctor is a professor, and his lectures are audited by just about everyone because they’re interesting and weird. After noticing her at all of his lectures, and noting she always smiles when she doesn’t understand something, the Doctor calls Bill to his office.

The short of it is, he wants to be her personal tutor and she accepts. Every weekday after class she comes by for lessons and discussions. In between, she flirts some more with Heather and deals with her clueless foster mom. She also spies the Doctor and Nardole (yeah, he’s around for some reason) messing with a Gallifreyan vault under the university. After dashing away before they see her snooping, Bill finds an upset Heather, who shows her a freaky looking puddle. When Bill looks into it, she sees her reflection and though she can tell something is off, she shrugs it off.

It’s not until Bill sees Heather looking at the puddle on a different day that she pays more attention. Heather promises to wait as Bill runs around the fence to meet her but then she’s gone by the time Bill arrives. Bill doesn’t notice Heather is now in the puddle. She does go talk to the Doctor about the strange encounter, and he immediately runs off to investigate.

They deduce the puddle doesn’t show a proper reflection because it’s not just a puddle of water. He doesn’t bother telling Bill what it actually is so when she goes home and hears the shower running, she gets nervous. There’s no one in the bathroom but when she looks near the drain, Heather’s eye looks back at her.

Bill runs back to the Doctor’s office and sees a soaking wet Heather on the way. Heather follows, liquefying herself to get under the office door. The Doctor drags Bill into the TARDIS, which has been sitting in the corner of his office with an “Out of Order” sign on it. It takes Bill a moment to give us the “amazed companion enters the TARDIS for the first time” face but it’s lovely when it happens. After checking on the vault, the Doctor whisks them off to Australia to see if Heather can/will follow. She does, and then follows them millions of years into the future.

Remembering the scorch marks near the puddle at the university, the Doctor posits the liquid is, basically, sentient oil from a spaceship that took Heather because of her innate desire to “get away.” The trio goes to a Dalek war zone and trick one of the trigger- happy mini tanks into firing at Heather. It has no effect and, in fact, she’s able to take over the Dalek. Bill finally realizes Heather is keeping her promise to not leave without her. They touch hands, and Bill sees the wonders of the universe, bids her crush goodbye, and lets go. Heather disappears in a splash.

Bill later confesses she was too scared to accept Heather’s offer to travel with her. The Doctor responds that fear is a good thing. He then tries to wipe Bill’s memory of the entire incident. Only, she won’t let him and protests saying, what if someone did that to him? His face falls and a fandom collectively remembers how Clara Oswald’s story ended. I cry a little. He lets Bill go with her memories intact.

Alone in his office, the Doctor argues with the TARDIS and with the photos of River Song and Susan, his granddaughter, on his desk. He says he doesn’t “do that” anymore, referring to time traveling. Earlier in the episode, it was mentioned he’d been at the university for 50 years, which is possibly concurrent and probably connected to that vault too. But it doesn’t take much convincing either from himself or the voices in his head to pop into the TARDIS, meet Bill outside, and ask her to travel with him. They might even be able to find Heather somewhere. Bill and Twelve’s Excellent Adventures are about to begin.

Doctor’s Notes

  • Professor!Twelve? Someone’s been reading my dream journal.
  • If Peter Capaldi were teaching a class, I’d literally never miss either.
  • Someone explain to me the need and purpose of Nardole?
  • Bill is absolutely adorable, and I’m already jealous of her ability to make every outfit look amazing.
  • Anyone else sigh dreamily every time Twelve smiles? Just me?
  • The Doctor: “I am very particular about time.” Ummm, since when?
  • Bill: “Why do you run like that?”
    The Doctor: “Like what”
    Bill: “Like a penguin with its arse on fire.”


  • Bill is going to have a character arc similar to Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter. That is, she’s going to travel with him for a short time, probably a season, and then leave him once she finds love and happiness, hopefully with Heather.
  • The Doctor is going to find Clara Oswald out there in time and space.
Stephanie Coats
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