Doctor Who: Fugitive of the Judoon
January 26, 2020 12:35 PM - Season 12, Episode 5 - Subscribe

The Doctor and friends race to 21st-century Gloucester to stand in the way of trigger-happy space police the Judoon. But who or what are the Judoon investigating?

If you're planning to watch this, do not look at any discussion at all! Let's just say that the Internet is rather exploding about this episode, mainly in a good way, but to even hint why would give away some key plot points. Also, I've kept the list of keywords very trimmed down to avoid spoilers.
posted by Major Clanger (62 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have to hand it to the BBC: they did a very good job of not letting slip that John Barrowman was returning (as seemingly did he!) and also not leaking the Mystery Doctor - for want of a better term - surprise.

A quick look at Twitter shows reaction to be overwhelmingly positive, by which I mean that just about everyone tweeting on the #DoctorWho hashtag is coming out with some variant on 'OMG', 'WTF', 'YAAAYYY!', 'Best episode in years' or a combination thereof. The tiresome reactionary corner of Who fandom are probably in shock right now; there's now a Black female Doctor with attitude. Yes, the end titles specifically said

And introducing
Jo Martin
as
The Doctor

which is how John Hurt was introduced as the War Doctor, i.e. this isn't a fake-out, this is canonically an incarnation of the Doctor we haven't met before. But it's been made pretty clear that all the Doctor's past incarnations have been accounted for - the War Doctor was meant to be the one hidden one. So where does the Mystery Doctor come from?

The likely explanation would be that she's a Doctor from a parallel timeline. We've seen such other timelines several times over Who's history, notably in the classic-era story Inferno and the New Who stories that reintroduced the Cybermen ('Rise of the Cybermen' / 'The Age of Steel' and 'Army of Ghosts' / Doomsday'). But there wasn't any suggestion that those timelines had their own versions of the Doctor, and although I understand it's a concept explored in some of the numerous spin-off novels and audio dramas, I don't think the TV show itself has ever addressed the idea. Perhaps Chris Chibnall has decided that the time is right to do so.

Callbacks: Captain Jack, the Chameleon Arch, the Blinovitch Limitation Effect (although not named as such).

If the Mystery Doctor's timeline includes the events of The Horror of Fang Rock then it's ironic, or perhaps darkly humorous, that she hid her identity in a lighthouse.
posted by Major Clanger at 1:03 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]


I'm totally here for a double dose of female Doctors.
posted by Pendragon at 1:24 PM on January 26 [7 favorites]


Over on Twitter, this thread points out the implications about Lee.

The scenario here was the mirror-image of the events of 'Human Nature' / 'The Family of Blood'. Lee was the counterpart of Martha, a companion who was aware of the hidden Doctor's true identity and was doing his best to protect her, even though she was unaware of it. Except that in Lee's case, it extended to living with her as her husband, and in the end dying - only for the Mystery Doctor to seemingly not even recall his existence, or perhaps more horrifyingly, to have disregarded him entirely on recovering her memories.
posted by Major Clanger at 1:57 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]


This was good. Captain Jack Harkness' reveal just gave me a joyous feeling--I didn't realize how much I've missed him.

The Doctor's reveal was really well done too--I initially did guess she might be another Time Lord when the hidden memory angle became clear, reminiscent of when the Doctor and the Master had previously done that, but then Jack's warning worked as a misdirect, that she might be an incognito Cyberman of some kind. The actual reveal was such a gleeful "Whaaat?!" moment the likes of which we haven't had in a while, and I loved it.
posted by Pryde at 2:18 PM on January 26 [8 favorites]


I swear Chibnall-as-showrunner is proper all or nothing. Like this just turned up to 13. We go from the accessible, lore-negligible stuff from the previous series to hyper-Moffatry. Tbh, I was quite enjoying the fake-out episode as it was, especially the gag of The Doctor reaching for her "Judoon goons during a monsoon in the month of June" rhymes. Love a cathedral too. When #ididntseethatcoming happened I messaged my mates who like me can't always see an episode live to warn them to avoid all potential spoilers before watching. I definitely, definitely didn't see the other thing coming, although there was a whiff of "are all humans secret Time Lords or something?" in the air. I did pick up that the Doctor identified Gat as Gallifreyan, which doesn't necessarily mean Time Lord.

I like the multiverse/Pete's World theory that I've seen people advancing online, but between the Lone Cyberman warning and the Other Doctor weirdery I'm thinking maybe the Cybermen have converted a Time Lord and started another Time War which the Doctor and Fam are experiencing as these reality-retcons from their perspective (although if that wouldn't set the Cloister Bell off, I don't know what would). This is all ridiculously arcane and unseeded, but then the plot itself is too.

Proper enjoyable OTT WTF episode anyhow. I thought we were just going to see a fun one with some Judoon doo'n their th... oon!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 2:56 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Leave it to a former head writer of Torchwood to write Captain Jack's reintroduction to Doctor Who.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:11 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]


Crisis of Infinite Whoniverses?
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:23 PM on January 26 [7 favorites]


Oh! Oh! Oh! Just give me a 5 second Richard E Grant Shalka Doctor cameo in the flesh and I will absolutely die. Borrow that Rogue One CGI Peter Cushing and chuck him in there for good measure.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 5:33 PM on January 26 [7 favorites]


So the TARDIS control is first Doctor style, the training and behavior sound like CIA (Central Intervention Agency), and the origins of the Time Lords is a lie, at least according to an incarnation of the Master. A Master who may or may not be from the same timeline as our current Doctor given the madness of this episode. Jack was using a quantum scoop, which may or may not be related to the Time-Scoop of the Five Doctors, but it may well indicate that the old stupidity of the early Time Lords has managed to make its way out into the Universe. So possibly an alt-universe is leaking in, an alt-timeline is being created, or the history of the Time Lords is all a lie to cover-up for something so terrible the Master was appalled by it. Rassilon left in a snit last time we saw him. Could he be a big bad for this season?
posted by Ignorantsavage at 10:28 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


Rassilon left in a snit last time we saw him. Could he be a big bad for this season?

I can't imagine anything I want more right now than Timothy Dalton chewing up the scenery again.
posted by coriolisdave at 11:56 PM on January 26 [10 favorites]


I have to hand it to the BBC: they did a very good job of not letting slip that John Barrowman was returning (as seemingly did he!) and also not leaking the Mystery Doctor - for want of a better term - surprise.

12 series into the new run, has the BBC finally learned how to put together spoiler free previews? I should know better than to watch them but still sometimes do and up until this year always regretted it.

The other Doctor does seem more like a parallel universe character but I'd also be happy if she were some far future Doctor (not 14, but something indeterminate). Or better yet some forgotten previous incarnation just to mess with all the rigid order Moffat kept trying to set with The Doctor's origins.

I'm also wondering if that terrible mind wiping in episode two was put in just to remind us that it's a thing the Doctor can do. So at the end of this season Ruth-Doctor (not Doctor Ruth) can wipe this from our Doctor's mind. Or vice versa depending on who is actually the future Doctor.
posted by Gary at 12:01 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Although, in previous multi-Doctor meetups they hand-wave away that the meeting is forgotten by the older Doctors when they regenerate. So mind wiping would still be unnecessary.
posted by Gary at 12:03 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Oh I so squeeeeee'd at Captain Jack.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:38 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I don't know how I feel about this. Jo Martin killed it as the kind of prickly (and stylish--that coat!) Doctor we haven't seen in a long time, but...messing around with the canon of the show and pulling out an extra Doctor like this feels uncomfortable. Not so much in a "BUT THE SACRED TEXTS" kind of way as in a "Don't touch the Jenga tower made of glass" kind of way, if that makes sense.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:06 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


I was ready to give up on Doctor Who altogether but this was a pleasant surprise. I hope we'll see Jack more this season.
posted by KTamas at 2:33 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Or better yet some forgotten previous incarnation just to mess with all the rigid order Moffat kept trying to set with The Doctor's origins.

Moffat created and introduced the War Doctor. He already messed with the "rigid order".
posted by crossoverman at 2:34 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


When I heard that disembodied voice in the spaceship, my mind started screaming "OMGTHAT'SCAPTAINJACK!!!", and when he finally appeared I actually shouted a gleeful "YES!!!"

And, yeah, I can't recall hearing any rumors about Jack's return. I just hope it's not a quick cameo, just to deliver the Cyberman warning. Then again, given the possible/probable "alternate universes" angle we might be seeing here, our Doctor's declaration that "something is coming for me", and now reappearances of two characters we thought were long gone (The Master and Capt. Jack) maybe we're going to a few more cameos to paint some kind of "universes colliding" theme?

Great episode!
posted by Thorzdad at 4:51 AM on January 27 [5 favorites]


That was very good! But why wasn't the first thing out of one or both of the Doctors' mouths, after establishing their mutual identity, "Right, which number are you?", followed by a quick runthrough of incarnations till they hit the point of divergence?
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:13 AM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Stray observations and musings:
  • Marcia's knitting is considered a weapon by the Judoon (though they could classify anything held in the hands of a "hostile" individual to be a weapon).
  • I was hoping the Judoon were coming to Earth to seek revenge for the hunting of their earthie cousins.
  • Those Judoon horns are pretty loosely attached, or Ruth is a proper boss.
  • Lee mutters "Humans" when "All Ears Allan" ("it's not a nickname if you give it to yourself") tries to get Lee to "take it outside," for the nth time.
  • Allan has been spying on Lee's library check-outs, and now I want to see what Allan considers to be "weird books."
  • Lee, as Ruth's companion, had his memory intact, and served as the "sketchy one," so he'd draw attention away from Ruth, the forgetful Doctor. That's some A+ companioning.
  • He also had some special training, as did Gaz, who served for the glory of Gallifrey. So was Lee a time lord, too? Or was The Doctor temporarily known as Ruth something of a War Doctor herself, so her companion was also a trained fighter?
I'll stop there. Maybe folks with more proper insights into the Whoniverse can fill in blanks or make better guesses, as I have a passing knowledge of bits and pieces, picked up from friends and the internet, and only started watching with any regularity starting with the 2005 reboot.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:26 AM on January 27




But why wasn't the first thing out of one or both of the Doctors' mouths, after establishing their mutual identity, "Right, which number are you?", followed by a quick runthrough of incarnations till they hit the point of divergence?

Because neither of them watch a show called Doctor Who. While there's some meta in the narrative about the Doctor having their favourite regenerations, how exactly would they describe their different selves anyway? Do they think of the dude who liked long scarves and the other one with the cricket outfit and the one who wore a leather jacket?

So was Lee a time lord, too?

As I saw pointed out elsewhere, Ruth never introduced herself as a Time Lord - and Gat was specifically described as Gallifreyan, not a Time Lord.

If Ruth pre-dates William Hartnell's Doctor, perhaps Time Lords didn't exist then. Is the lie the Master referred to a re-writing of Gallifreyan history? Did they develop Time Lords to try to control something that happened with The Timeless Child? Is this Timeless Child the thing that was sent from the future, as Captain Jack described?

So many questions. This is the Doctor Who I like; one that invites speculation.
posted by crossoverman at 2:40 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


I have to hand it to the BBC: they did a very good job of not letting slip that John Barrowman was returning (as seemingly did he!) and also not leaking the Mystery Doctor - for want of a better term - surprise.

PinkNews absolutely did not do a good job of that while I was reading an unrelated article today. :(
Anyway, this and the previous episode have left me rather more optimistic about this year's Whos. *reads rest of thread*
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 4:21 PM on January 27


Shouldn't Gat, on sharing the Doctor's memories of the destruction of Gallifrey, have recoiled, screaming "You did what?"
Good episode though.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 6:15 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


That was delightful! I was spoiled for the Master reveal but this was all a surprise to me, and all good ones.
posted by jeather at 6:32 PM on January 27


This was an incredible episode. I've been generally positive about the new series but this really hit it out of the park in terms of the kinds of WTF plotting that I really enjoy.

Theory Time: Since alternative universes are kind of a cop out, I'm calling it. The Ruth Doctor is an old regeneration from (probably) between 2 and 3.

Evidence For:
* Ruth seems to be an earlier regeneration, being unaware of events depicted in later series.
* Ruth seems to have been working for the Time Lords in some capacity she did not like. In the expanded Whoverse, the Time Lords used the Doctor to do some deniable dirty work between the Doctors 2 and 3.

Evidence Against:
* We have already had one forgotten regeneration. Two seems like a stretch from a storytelling perspective.
* The Ruth Doctor doesn't recognize the sonic screwdriver, either because she is from even earlier than 2 or because our Doctor was using it is a way (scanning) that she was unfamiliar with.
* Having another old regeneration screws with the 12 regeneration limit established in the old show. But the Time Lords seem to be able to give new regenerations if they want to.

If this all ties into what The Master's message (and he was telling the truth), then the Gallafreyians have been secretly using Time Lords for dirty deeds without their knowledge. Which makes the Doctor's memory wipe of the characters in Spyfall seem thematically on point.

Or not. I'm onboard either way.
posted by AndrewStephens at 7:48 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Finally a really good episode! I am full of the squee.
posted by Coaticass at 7:59 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


The big two delights/surprises have been covered above (and like virtually everyone, I also loved them both).

So instead just a quick shout-out for Allan, one of the most instantly memorable and enjoyable side characters on Who in some time. He was a nut.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:48 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


We have already had one forgotten regeneration. Two seems like a stretch from a storytelling perspective.

If you’re referring to Hurt’s War Doctor, he was not forgotten. His existence was simply buried deep down and ignored by later Doctors. Matt Smith’s Doctor knows exactly who he is and tells Clara so. And Tennant’s Doctor also recognizes him immediately in The Day of the Doctor.

I’m going with alternate universe/hyper-coiled-super-timelines/unicorns. What I’m trying to process is whether the Master was from the same alternate universe? And/or Jack for that matter?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:09 PM on January 27


This was a lot of fun. Like "It takes you away" last season, this show seems to be at it's best when it's weird. Finally things felt weighty. I wasn't really sold on the death of Gallifrey mattering (as the Dr says here, this is the second time it's happened to her!) but adding other, earlier Gallifreans makes it feel more weighty.

The sheer joy of actually having the ambition of having two big reveals going on at the same time, rather than having bandages talk about a timeless child!

I mean, the companions still had very little to do other than react, but at least they got a bit of a moment at the end.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:25 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I also think the script's writer Vinay Patel (with Chris Chibnall) did a better job with the Judoon than Davies ever did. The first time around, they felt like the random goofy FX villain of the week. This time? Well, they were cops witlessly pursuing designated suspects with no regard for anyone except their own process, and they seized every opportunity to escalate things grotesquely...

Well, that is... Okay, that is something for a weekend scifi show going out to all ages on the airwaves.

Loved it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:09 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


No kidding about avoiding online discussions. I had both big reveals spoiled while scrolling through a news app on Sunday afternoon. I wonder if the Doctor Ruth reveal is why Jodie Whittaker "accidentally" mentioned earlier in the week that she was definitely returning for a third season.
posted by plastic_animals at 9:10 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]


I'm super up for season 3 with two doctors.
posted by jeather at 9:24 AM on January 28


Yay! I loved it. I yelled in glee at both reveals! Television so rarely catches me by surprise these days that to have it happen twice in a single episode was a marvel.

It was also the first script this season where Chibnall didn't first visit the Who Was? shelf at Waterstone's before sitting at his keyboard.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:22 PM on January 28


Because neither of them watch a show called Doctor Who.
But they did establish that one of them should have been able to remember the other. That neither could is WAY more interesting than "what number."
As I saw pointed out elsewhere, Ruth never introduced herself as a Time Lord - and Gat was specifically described as Gallifreyan, not a Time Lord.
Lore has vacillated on whether all natives of Gallifrey are Time Lords or not; I'm not sure that's considered settled right now at all.

I think the implication, for those who remember, is that Lee was a companion watching over her -- just as Martha did in "Human Nature."
The Ruth Doctor is an old regeneration from (probably) between 2 and 3.
If that were true, the current Doctor would have remembered being her, and she pointedly doesn't.

Finally: I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. Best ep this series, and maybe best for Jodie so far. We're off to the races for sure, and I love it.

And, not for nothing, I'm willing to own being pretty happy about how much this new development will piss off a Certain Segment of fandom.

I feel like Lee's medal was a tell of some kind, but I'm not picking up the reference.
posted by uberchet at 3:52 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I thought this was probably the best episode of Chibnall's run... but before anybody gets too excited, remember that this was written by Vinay Patel, who wrote last season's widely-acclaimed Demons of the Punjab. In other words, two standout scripts, by the same writer, who's not Chibnall. This may be a case of Chibnall failing to ruin a good script more than it's reason to believe the season is turning around.

For me this was maybe the first time the show has really felt like Doctor Who since Chibnall came aboard, and I don't think it was just the fanservice-y stuff. Whittaker's Doctor has been such a relentlessly cheerful, seemingly untroubled sort, kind of a Doctor Lite, and this was the first time we've really seen her engage in the kind of brooding and darkness that's an essential part of the Doctor's character. I liked Ruth a lot while feeling an immediate distrust of the Ruth-Doctor, which I think was the intent. She was way to eager to wave guns around She was also just a little too arrogant, snappy and defensive. Those are all qualities of The Doctor, but usually the character has plenty of charm to balance that out. As soon as this Doctor remembered who she was she became quite dismissive and even contemptuous of our Doctor, and even finding out they were the same person didn't seem to change that much. Like, Ruth seemed so nice, and then when she became this particular incarnation of the Doctor it seemed more chilling than thrilling.

Did our Doctor never say her name to Ruth before they were in the old TARDIS together? I was kind of surprised that Ruth-Doctor was just then learning she'd been running around with the Doctor all that time. That must have taken some very careful scripting, having the Doctor do all this stuff without ever really introducing herself, mentioning her TARDIS, etc. I guess that's also probably why they were driving to the lighthouse instead of taking the TARDIS. One of my beefs with Chibnall is that it seems like he's trying to keep the show away from the TARDIS, for some reason. The characters are always driving and taking planes and trains and stuff, instead of just hopping in this goddamn magic box that can go anywhere, and you get this feeling like they hang around in there as little as possible. But in this case I can justify the minor plot wonkiness of avoiding the TARDIS for the sake of an effective reveal at the end.

After I'd complained about the piss-poor effects makeup lately, the Judoon looked terrific. I wonder if those were the old suits from like 10 years ago. Does latex makeup hold up that long? Either that or they blew the makeup budget for the whole season on the Judoon and every other week it's like, "What can you do with some craft fur and greasepaint?"

I had the Captain Jack appearance spoiled by a headline on Io9, and I sure wish it hadn't been. What a delightful shock that must have been!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:23 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Did our Doctor never say her name to Ruth before they were in the old TARDIS together? I was kind of surprised that Ruth-Doctor was just then learning she'd been running around with the Doctor all that time.

I’m pretty sure Ruth didn’t regain her memory of being the Doctor until she broke the button thing at the lighthouse, so there wouldn’t have been any challenge or dissonance if our Doctor had said anything beforehand. That said, no, I don’t think our Doctor ever formally introduced herself to Ruth until inside TARDIS-2.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:57 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


I feel like Lee's medal was a tell of some kind, but I'm not picking up the reference.

Same here. They focused on it too specifically. Medal won during the time wars?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:59 PM on January 28


That said, no, I don’t think our Doctor ever formally introduced herself to Ruth until inside TARDIS-2.

Which is odd, because the Doctor always seems to introduce themselves as soon as possible.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:53 PM on January 28


I had the Captain Jack appearance spoiled by a headline on Io9, and I sure wish it hadn't been. What a delightful shock that must have been!

It was. It occurs to me that it was the perfect distraction from what was going on with The Doctor and Ruth.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:55 PM on January 28




I feel like Lee's medal was a tell of some kind, but I'm not picking up the reference.

I'm super intrigued by Gat saying that she and Lee had both had the same training. What is that about?!
posted by crossoverman at 9:19 PM on January 28


That link is critical info, plastic_animals. Shuts fully half the theories down right away.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:46 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


I agree, assuming Chibnall is telling the truth (which is not always a good assumption). I wonder if this could be the Season 6B theory being played out.
posted by plastic_animals at 6:46 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


I assume that someone/thing (the Lone Cyberman?) has rewritten the past, giving rise to a Gallifrey with a more overtly militant political structure and relaxed opinions about high-backed ceremonial collars. Ruth, Lee and Gat are time commandos from this reworked version of our own universe's timeline, technically not a parallel universe because it runs on top of, not alongside it, so Chibnall is totally not lying, no tricks at all, it depends on what the definition of "is" is.

Which I think is what others have suggested above, but this timey-wimey snake is eating its own tail, so who knows.
posted by mumkin at 9:40 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


The ?th Doctor's Tardis looked suspiciously like the First Doctor's. IRL, this is probably because they rebuilt the console for An Adventure in Space and Time and set dressing around it is so easy. But it also seems to point to a Doctor who predates Hartnell's incarnation, or perhaps replaces him somehow. It's not like this sort of thing has never been speculated upon. While fandom has been pretty comfortable seeing the "First Doctor" as the true first for a good long time now, all it takes is one showrunner to change that forever (taking as an exception truly stupid things mentioned once and never EVER brought up again like being half human).

I love Jodie's performance as the Doctor, and I get a lot of echoes of the FIfth Doctor era (crowded Tardis, mother-hen Doctor, amped up cheese factor). I love how each actor gets to draw from a larger and larger pool of previous performances while still being true to the essential nature of the character.

I know a lot of people round here have not been enjoying Chibnall's run so far, but to me it has all felt like the best of Classic Who updated for our timestream. Rather than attempting to fix the fundamental flaws of the show, it has largely embraced them (a show that gives its hero a time machine does not leave a lot of room for basic logic, to say nothing of tight puzzle-plotting). It hasn't bought into RTD's relationship-based soapy continuity to a large degree, either. I think that leaves a lot of modern viewers wondering, "why are we watching this week to week again?" And maybe they're right. Maybe in this day and age you need more than a ridiculous, positive hero tackling strange and silly (and sometimes serious) problems across time and space with a few naff special effects and a half-assed solution at the end. But I'm going to love the hell out of this version every damn week I get it.
posted by rikschell at 10:29 AM on January 29 [7 favorites]


+1 on this being written by Vinay Patel, the person behind my favorite ep of the last season. I don't know what bits he wrote, but I assume he was given some leeway since everyone else seemed to like Demons of the Punjab as well.

My problem with the other Doctor Who eps this season isn't that they feature ridiculous, strange, and silly stories across time and space – if that were the case, I'd hate The Good Place. It's that I think the plotting is usually fucking awful and doesn't make any sense. I really enjoyed this ep, but I'll continue cherrypicking Doctor Who.
posted by adrianhon at 1:30 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


My guess is that Chibnall wrote the Jack stuff and everything else was Patel - though obviously that story (the Ruth!Doctor or Doctor Ruth, as AV Club called her) must have been designed as part of the season arc. The Jack stuff was also directed by a different director (Jamie Magnus Stone) than the other stuff - probably because of Barrowman's schedule, but possibly because it ties into the finale (also directed by Stone)?
posted by crossoverman at 2:43 PM on January 29


I don't know who wrote what, but I'd like to thank them for all the wordplay, those bits were like a delightfully creative Doctor Who/Doctor Seuss crossover. (Or perhaps the Princess Bride? Although no-one was offered a peanut.)

A platoon of Judoon, near the Moon!
posted by Coaticass at 4:23 PM on January 29


Big Finish likely has multiple writers frantically plotting out a couple dozen stories for Ruth Doctor.

Also, I just realized how grateful I am we're not calling her Doctor Ruth.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:52 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


The site I'd read only credited Patel as the writer, not Chibnall. So if Chibnal co-wrote it, I gotta give him credit. Even so, I fully expect his next solo outing to be back to his usual Arachnids in the UK level.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:57 AM on January 30


The on-air credits say "Vinay Patel and Chris Chibnall." Not sure if the same practices apply in the UK, but in the US, the use of the word "and" means Patel wrote an entire script then Chibnall did a rewrite that altered/added/removed enough to merit him being added to the credit. (By contrast, the use of an ampersand to connect the names means the writers wrote it together.)

It's a little murkier for TV, where the credited writer of a US script may have been simply the writer from the writers room who did the heavy lifting, either by fleshing out the story the room broke together or writing a story from scratch that fell within agreed upon parameters. And in either case, the script may be rewritten by the showrunner (often uncredited) or lightly reworked by the entire room collectively, also uncredited.

UK tv writers seem to have more autonomy so the more standard film-style guidelines would be more apt, I am guessing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:02 AM on January 30


I've been thinking (way too much) about this. With Chibnall assuring us Ruth is a legit, part of the line Doctor, it seems like there are really just four possibilities:
  1. She predates "The First Doctor"/Hartnell - This would explain the appearance of the TARDIS being similar, some of the shared tics ("my ship"/impatience). There would still need to be an explanation for why later Doctors (and seemingly virtually everyone else) didn't know she existed. The most interesting part could be that she may be part of an entirely different series of regenerations. So... twelve more secret Doctors? I love that. Though if she can believe 13 is her future, she wouldn't be 13 in her run. She'd be twelfth at most.
  2. The aforementioned Season 6B Theory. (Recap: fans have postulated that continuity gaps between the Second Doctor as he was in his run vs. how he was in meetups with later Doctors can be explained by exploiting the interference of the Time Lords into this regeneration and the loophole of the not-that-clearly-shown regeneration from 2 to 3, resulting in added time, possible other Doctors in the gap, etc.) Issues here are that she doesn't seem to recognize a sonic screwdriver (which Two and up should) and again no one recognizing/acknowledging her. And putting yet another asterisk into that series of regenerations (while doable) can be seen as getting overly complicated. Plus, fan theories aside, The War Games kinda does show that regeneration, poor FX aside.
  3. She comes from after (at least) all of the previously known Doctors. Problems are: she doesn't seem to know 13 or the latter history of Gallifrey. Less restrictive but worth mentioning is that her personality tilts more toward early Doctors than later.
  4. She's from during another Doctor's run. We have indications from the Tom Baker cameo in the Tennant/Smith/Hurt meetup that faces can be re-used. Maybe the Time Lords stole The Doctor, wiped them, gave them the Ruth face/persona, used them as required, then wiped/reset. The problem here is that we don't have indications that re-using a face can come concurrently with readopting a persona. In fact, that would make regeneration sort of stupid if it were possible to reset instead of being forced to change. It's possible to write around that, especially with some Doctors having shown personality changes during their run.
It's possible they could come up with some wibbly wobbly to place her between two other Doctors, but again, that messes with the regeneration limit. They can do that, but so far the regeneration limit has only been reset from zero remaining to full, not partially restored.

Plus, trying to find a gap in a previously shown regeneration would cause some of us to say well, "This isn't what happened! They cheated us! He didn't get out of the cockadoodie car!"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:41 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


I love Chibnall for giving me this much to obsess over.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:44 AM on January 30


Also, I just realized how grateful I am we're not calling her Doctor Ruth.
I mean, we weren't, but now that's all I can think of.
posted by uberchet at 8:53 AM on January 30




The introduction of Ruth got me wondering if they're pulling a Westworld-style trick with the way they re-introduced the Master without any explanation whatsoever. I wonder if he's actually the earliest Master we've seen, and the lie he's mad about is the same sort of mind-wipe that could have theoretically produced Ruth.
posted by FallibleHuman at 4:47 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


That won't work, because a scan late in the ep noted conclusively that both Doctors were the same person, ie the target.
posted by uberchet at 4:53 PM on February 2


Theory from The Incomparable Doctor Who Flashcast: The first doctor is not the 1st doctor. There were numerous previous regenerations while working for the CIA (Central Intervention Agency). The doctor's memory was wiped at the end of their service.

They also mentioned on the podcast that in a classic episode (missed which one and which doctor, but was after the 'first' regeneration) the doctor started to say that they had been a scientist for over a thousand y... and then stopped.

In a previous episode their age was stated to be 700 and something.
posted by Mick at 7:58 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Current timeline Jodie Doctor is "thousands" of years old now, thanks to (among other things) the end-years of the Smith incarnation. She said as much in the ep.
posted by uberchet at 7:09 AM on February 4


I'm just catching up so all of the surprises were spoiled, alas.

The TARDIS being a police box would indicate this lost regeneration(s) happened sometime after the "first" Doctor. In The Name of the Doctor (s7e13) we see Clara persuading the Doctor to take the TARDIS, which is shown as a featureless cylinder, before it gets "stuck" as a police box. The Ruth Doctor also asks when she got so into rainbows, so that likely predates the fourth doctor (rainbow-ish scarf) and definitely the sixth doctor (rainbow entire outfit).

I'm wondering if the "Timeless Child" is going to tie directly into the Doctor's family history somehow, if it is a callback to the very first episode title "An Unearthly Child" referring to his granddaughter Susan.
posted by mikepop at 12:39 PM on February 12


I would be delighted to the point of exploding if this tied in to Susan somehow and they brought Carole Ann Ford for a cameo.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:14 AM on February 14 [3 favorites]


I've wondered for a while if "War Doctor" is the name for a Time Lord regeneration setting.
"Make the next one meaner, less empathic, more likely to use violence."
Then the next regeneration has to carry the moral debt the amoral bastard incurred - hence 9's desperation.
Maybe Ruth Doctor was a War Doctor immediately prior to the Doctor we call 1? There has to be some excuse for his behavior.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:23 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


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