Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Character Spotlight: The Monk

Before the Doctor started his feud with the Master, there was another rival Time Lord he encountered. Back before we'd even heard the terms "Time Lord" or "Gallifrey". If you're familiar with the adventures of the First Doctor, you'll recognize his name in the title of this post: The Monk.

On screen, he only has two appearances, which we’ll discuss in a second. But like most of Doctor Who, there are plenty of other adventures once you take into account audiodramas, books, comics, etc. All of those appearances are pseudo-canon, but I’ll include some of those details found on the Doctor Who wiki.

Life on Gallifrey

Before encountering the Doctor on television, the Monk (who by some reports went by Mortimus) knew him in the Time Lord Academy. After leaving the Academy, he was part of the Celestial Intervention Agency (CIA), which may or may not be related to the Division. Fifty years after the Doctor left with Susan, Mortimus ended up leaving Gallifrey and playing with history for his own amusement. By the time we see him in “The Time Meddler”, he had already helped build Stonehenge, taught Da Vinci how to fly, and time-traveled his way into a small fortune. 

The Meddling Monk

After saying goodbye to Barbara and Ian, the Doctor, Vicki, and Steven ended up in 11th Century England at the same time as the Monk. It took him all of five minutes to spot the Doctor and basically deduce who he was (or at least where he came from). He tried to kidnap the Doctor (who escaped). Before he could put his plan into action, the Doctor deduced the origins of the Monk, as another renegade Time Lord (before “Time Lord” was a thing). With some quick thinking, the Doctor was able to maroon the Monk’s TARDIS, leaving him behind in 11th Century Britain. 

The Daleks’ Master Plan

Unfortunately most of this story has been lost to time (and space?) so I haven’t had a chance to watch this story in full--just the audio stitched together with episode stills. But let me sum it up as best I can anyway. While the Doctor is already trying to deal with the Daleks and their time disruptor, the Monk hops in for some revenge. But after some altercations, the Doctor is able to sabotage the Monk’s TARDIS to keep him wandering in time and space. So off he went into who knows where.

Later Incarnations

While we never saw the Monk on television again (maybe in a future season and a new regeneration) we have the record of at least four other incarnations in pseudo-canon, including one female incarnation known as the Nun. It’s also been hinted in some sources that he later regenerated into the Master… but that’s where the canon gets a little muddy.

So while I probably won’t write about every Time Lord we encounter through Classic Who, I do think it’d be fun to revisit some of them in the modern era, like the Rani and Romana. But for today, we’ll just stick with the Monk (though I can keep dreaming about Susan and Romana returning).

"The Monk" as "the Nun" in Big Finish productions

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