Doctor Who Introduced New Villains The Pantheon Years Ago

Maestro and their kind have history on Doctor Who.

Jinkx Monsoon as Maestro at a piano in Doctor Who The Devils Chord
Photo: James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios

Warning: spoilers for Doctor Who episode “The Devil’s Chord”.

Just before Doctor Who baddie the Toymaker was defeated, bound with salt, and imprisoned in a deep, deep vault at the end of 2023 episode “The Giggle”, he issued a threat. “My legions are coming,” he told the Doctor(s).

Well, now the Toymaker’s legions are here.

First, the Christmas special saw a galleon of baby-eating goblins fly in to cause coincidence-based-mischief in “The Church on Ruby Road“. Next, the Toymaker’s offspring Maestro put the willies up the Doctor by wreaking havoc in “The Devil’s Chord”. “That thing must be part of the Pantheon,” the Doctor said about Maestro. “Oh, God.”

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The Pantheon of Discord

Oh, God is right. Played with lip-smacking commitment by Jinkx Monsoon, Maestro is the god of music. (But less in a ‘jam along with this Dream Theater B-side’ than in a ‘destroy the universe by sucking all the music out of it’ way). And if Maestro’s “Pantheon” turns out to be the Pantheon of Discord, an established part of Whoniverse lore, then the Doctor is right to panic.

Introduced in official Doctor Who short stories and comics, and referenced on screen in spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007 – 2011), the Pantheon of Discord is a group of extra-dimensional beings who just want to watch the worlds burn. Exiled outside our reality, they’re always waiting for a chance to break in and dine on the chaos they create. Thanks, apparently, to the Doctor invoking superstition at the edge of the universe in “Wild Blue Yonder”, now they can do just that.

Before Maestro and the Toymaker (a rebooted character who first featured in Doctor Who in the 1960s), the last major time the Whoniverse referenced the Pantheon of Discord on TV was in 2009 two-parter “The Wedding of Sarah-Jane Smith”, co-written by Russell T Davies. In it, Sarah-Jane was targeted once again by recurring villain “The Trickster”, who’d conned her new fiancé to hypnotise her into marriage. The Tenth Doctor showed up in time to stop the wedding, and along with K-9 and Sarah-Jane’s young companions Luke, Rani and Clyde, saved the day.

The Trickster

David Tennant’s Doctor explained The Trickster to the kids as “a creature from beyond the universe, forever trying to break into our reality, manifest himself, he’s one of the Pantheon of Discord.” The Trickster is in eternal exile, says the Doctor, and exists to wreak havoc. Chaos and destruction are its meat and drink. Sounds a lot like the Toymaker and Maestro, doesn’t it?

When the Doctor faces the Trickster, it tells him, “I can feel this moment reverberating back through the ages – the meeting of the Pantheon of Discord and the last of the Time Lords.”

The Doctor responds, “I’ve known the legends of the Pantheon since I was a little boy. I fought your shadows and your changelings. I never thought we’d actually meet”. And then in a classic Doctor move, he annoys the Trickster by observing that it looks “a bit lonely for a pantheon”. The Trickster tells the Doctor that it embodies multitudes and that, hang on a bloody minute, he’s one to talk about loneliness! The whole thing ends with the Trickster being banished outside the universe once again by a heroic sacrifice by Sarah-Jane’s fiancé.

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So that’s very likely the Pantheon referenced by the Doctor in “The Devil’s Chord“, an established Who group of trouble-causing, reality-altering deities like Maestro and The Toymaker (and in the comics, Krampus too), plus whichever other gods are about to make the leap into this reality.

In fact, one fan theory from @DoctorWhoPN suggests that there could be a link between Pantheon members and the repeated winks to camera / breaking the fourth wall in recent episodes. Mrs Flood, Maestro, the Doctor… they’ve all done it. Is it just cheekiness, or because they’re all part of the Pantheon and therefore have the power to break down the walls between realities? Will the Doctor’s mystery origins see him revealed to be, as speculated on here, a god?

(Additionally, if anybody was in doubt about that being the last Doctor Who will see of the Pantheon, note the cagey re-appearance of a certain 1920s schoolboy “H. Arbinger” in the final musical moments of episode two. If Maestro’s Harbinger is still around to harbinge, then something is being harbinged alright.)

Doctor Who airs on BBC One and Disney+