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In the Doctor Who episode "The Beast Below", it is logical for the smilers to only have two faces (one on each side).

So how can they have three faces?

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    Well, exactly! That's what's so creepy about them! – jonrsharpe Aug 23 '15 at 18:09
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    A figure with three sides is generally termed a triangle. – Lexible Aug 23 '15 at 19:22
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    I feel this is like asking how can the TARDIS travel through time and space. – Voldemort Aug 24 '15 at 3:07
  • "Logic, my dear Zoe, merely enables one to be wrong with authority." -- The Doctor (The Wheel in Space, Episode 3) – Elliott Frisch Sep 1 '15 at 1:06
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Unless the plot ever returns to Starship U.K., this is unlikely to ever be directly answered.

So I will indulge in educated guessing once again. While advanced enough to have what amounts to a giant contained atmosphere and civilization in space, the government of Starship U.K. doesn't seem to have the ability to fold space on a whim. That tells us that there really only should be space for two faces.

So if there can be only two, the face on the back has to be able to be replaced or reconfigured on a rather quick basis. With the sort of ceramic look to the faces, changing them doesn't seem likely. Then again, neither does replacing it so quietly and quickly without anything ever being seen. Since they are at minimum, mobile robots and observer drones, you can say that the technology behind them is far deeper than their look would suggest.

So maybe their design is too. After all, why would you make something that looks like a steampunk ceramic head in a box, something out of an old carnival, if it's much more than that? Well, the theme of the bad guys is intimidation; trying to keep the secrets of Starship U.K. under wraps. I think that extends to the Smilers. Make them look simple, but capable of far more. Make them put people on edge, nervous and a little afraid, so a citizen will think twice about crossing a line. And then if necessary, a lot afraid, with just a cunning little parlor trick.

That the writer or showrunner (curse you Moffat) gets to pull the trick on the audience as well, call it a bank shot.

My answer would be that the solid ceramic isn't actually as solid as seen, that the faces can reconfigure, based on the lack of any face-switching noises or motions seen.

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  • It could also be a transmat device. The 2nd Doctor episode The Seeds of Death established humanity as having this form of teleportation as early as the 21st century, though of course on Doctor Who the timeline may be constantly changing... – Hypnosifl Aug 23 '15 at 20:39
  • @Hypnosifl - Well, there's usually beams, lights, or other flashy what-nots with transmats. – Radhil Aug 24 '15 at 23:29
  • Transmats/teleports don't always create flashes, think of the sudden one from the elevator to the Cyberman ship just after 10:35 in "Closing Time" here, for example. Even when a brief light is seen, as in 34:07 in Journey's End here or 29:10 in The Sontaran Strategem here, it looks pretty localized, so if on the far side of an object you might not see. – Hypnosifl Aug 25 '15 at 0:32

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