After the revelation from “Spyfall, Part 1,” “Fugitive of the Judoon” ups the ante with a familiar villain, the return of an old friend, and a new face that doesn’t exactly belong to who you expect.
Emmet (still in recovery from surgery) and Sylas have returned to talk about this week’s episode…
Sylas: Can I just say, the opening is still the most beautiful thing. It’s so pretty. This whole episode is pretty.
Emmet: I like the new Judoon. They’re more articulated, and their faces are so much more expressive.
Sylas: I’m just happy that the Doctor made more Judoon rhymes. As soon as I knew they were going to be in the episode, that’s all I cared about. And she repeated the moon line! “Judoon platoon near the moon.” And then later “near a lagoon.” I don’t even care what happened in the rest of the episode.
Emmet: Yeah you said that, but then…
Sylas: Okay yeah you’re right because Captain Jack showed up. I recognized his voice instantly! It’s so exciting.
Emmet: He still doesn’t understand consent with the kissing. Oh Jack, you never change.
Sylas: Jack doesn’t understand consent because his answer is literally always yes. He forgets that no is an option. But at least Graham didn’t seem to mind much.
Emmet: And can I just point out that Jack had no problem switching pronouns. A true omnisexual.
Sylas: Captain Jack gets gender transition!
Emmet: Speaking of getting things right away, I’m proud of us for figuring out that Ruth was a Time Lord. I mean, the first clue was the fact that Gat referred to Lee as Ruth’s companion.
Sylas: Ooh! I missed that. I kind of already thought Ruth might be a Time Lord though just because of the gravity Jo Martin had on screen, even in her comical moments. And the way the camera followed her. It felt very similar to the way we knew that there was something up with Sacha Dhawan as O, before he revealed himself as the Master.
Emmet: And then as soon as the text said “Break the glass,” it was like, ooh yeah just like the watches.
Sylas: And then it’s basically confirmed with the way the Doctor interrogates Ruth’s memories. Even though it could have been some other alien with false memories, there were just too many similarities piling up.
Emmet: And then they name her Ruth, and she has the “R” on her necklace, and there are so many Time Lords whose names begin with R! Rassilon, Romana. The Rani.
Sylas: Yeah I was really thinking she’d be Romana. Like Romana on the run from the Master’s destruction of Gallifrey.
Emmet: Which brings us back to the Master and what he said about this huge lie they’ve been told about the history of Gallifrey and the Timeless Child. We don’t know what it is, but this all plays into the suggestion that we, and the Doctor herself, don’t really know her own history as well as we think. So Ruth Doctor could be her past, a past that she’s forgotten or had taken from her.
Sylas: The Time Lords have been known to mess around with people’s minds and regenerations before.
Emmet: Right. They capture the Second Doctor and force him to regenerate. And the Third even has amnesia for a little while. For all we know, there could have been another Doctor in between them. And then on the other hand there’s the Valeyard.
Sylas: The one from the sixth Doctor’s episode, the “The Trial of a Timelord,” right.
Emmet: Yeah, the Valeyard was supposed to be an incarnation that existed sometime between the Twelfth and final incarnation of the Doctor. We do actually see him in “The Trial of a Timelord” and he’s also supposed to be all the Doctor’s darker personality traits brought together, but it does set us up for this idea of extra and unusual incarnations. Not unlike the War Doctor.
Sylas: There’s also the Watcher from Four’s final episode. You could even include the Dream Lord from “Amy’s Choice” in that. All of them are really the Doctor in meaningful ways, even if they aren’t counted, so to speak, in the general sense of the iterations.
Emmet: There really are so many options. We don’t have the full breadth of what’s going on yet. But the Doctor says, “you don’t know me, I don’t even know me.” It’s like what we see from Me in season nine, the way she keeps those journals because she’s been alive for so long that she can’t remember things. We’re getting some acknowledgement from the Doctor now along those lines–she even says that she doesn’t know how old she is.
Sylas: I loved that we finally get away from the fact that RTD’s numbers, with Eccleston’s Doctor claiming to be 900 years old, never made any sense, haha.
Emmet: And then of course, this could be an alternate dimension thing instead. We have the Kasaavin coming from another dimension, and the questions about Earth’s undecided fate in “Orphan 55” set us up for the idea of colliding realities and multiple futures. So the revelation about this other Doctor and Lee and Gat and Gallifrey in general might end up going in that direction instead.
Sylas: But what the Master said makes that less likely. All this almost has to be tied up with the lie about Gallifrey. Also, we don’t get any explanation as to why the Doctor doesn’t instantly recognize that Gat is Gallifreyan. We know that different iterations of the same Time Lord can’t always recognize each other, and the Master is always using perception filters and things to hide from the Doctor, but we don’t know why she needs the sonic to recognize Gat as one of her own. It seems a weird plot hole, and I can’t decide if I think it was dropped accidentally or if there’s some revelation coming.
Emmet: Yeah, it could be that they just forgot, or didn’t want to stop and deal with it since there is so much going on in this episode already. I do really love how they keep finding more reasons to surround the Doctor with ladies.
Sylas: I know! I was like, have there ever been three lady Galifreyans on screen together? I don’t think so.
Emmet: And Ruth Doctor is so amazing! I love her TARDIS, and her outfit. She’s got a very classic vibe. Her TARDIS is a modern take but it’s very reminiscent of the early TARDIS interior. And her clothes are somewhat classic as well, with bonus brainy specs.
Sylas: Her outfit is amazing, A little bit sixties, a little bit timeless. I might go so far as to call it the best Doctor outfit of all. And then she goes the old school Doctor route of complaining about the “new” iterations clothing choices. Rainbows and short pants! And then the Doctor makes fun or Ruth Doctor’s shirt and I’m like honey, you’ve got nothing here. It’s such a good outfit. It works so well.
Emmet: And the colors are really compatible, with the deep blue, and all the splashes of bright color on her shirt, that kind of looked like she was wearing a cravat. They should be complimenting each other!
Sylas: I love that the Doctor’s all ‘you have a JOB?” Like, bb, you worked for UNIT for years. You just pretended like they were working for you.
Emmet: I wanna talk about the irony of the Doctor being like ‘I’m a tour guide for Gloucester, I know everything about Gloucester.’
Sylas: Yeah honey, we know you do. It’s also a very old school move that Ruth was annoyed that the tourist wasn’t impressed with the bit about Henry III, and so she had to bring in the bit about Harry Potter. That sounds like a classic Doctor. One of the new series Doctors would have considered Harry Potter even more exciting.
Emmet: It’s true.
Sylas: Do you think they’ll bring back Rassilon and his megolmania for whatever the truth is about the founding of Gallifrey. I mean, it was him and Omega and the Other as the main founders, right?
Emmet: Yeah, it would make sense that he was someone who was rewriting Gallifreyan history to his own purposes. And he’s kind of like a perfect example of white patriarchy, imperialism, etcetera.
Sylas: Right, and as you point out, the last few seasons have made an effort to make Gallifrey look not completely white and 90% male, but historically it very much has been that way. Given how recent Who is trying to improve on that track record, with more diversity across the board, including in the companions and in the one-off characters in the different episodes, there could be something there, too.
Emmet: The one thing I don’t want from whatever revelation we get about Gallifrey’s past is for it to turn out that Gallifreyans started out as humans from the future, or come from human ancestry or whatever.
Sylas: Yeah, I agree. That makes the Doctor’s attraction to humans really weird.
Emmet: It would reframe Doctor Who. It would make sense, since the original point of Doctor Who was to teach history. So it would be the Doctor actually going back and learning his own history. But it would rob the show of this joy that is this weird alien who has no reason to love humans; the rest of her species don’t. It’s a quirk unique to her, something that makes the Doctor more special, as well as humanity, within the narrative of Doctor Who.
Sylas: I get that. I suppose there’s always a danger, in shows that run so long and get so complicated, of making decisions in the interest of continuing the story that accidentally tamper with or erase things that came before. Which sometimes can make it better, like in the ways we’ve been mentioning, but it’s possible to muck things up a little, too.
Emmet: Yeah. I’m even a little concerned about the possibility of Ruth being an early incarnation of the Doctor, because then you have this weird thing where a black woman then regenerates into a white dude for a really long series of iterations. And from a metatextural standpoint, if she is an earlier and not a future or alternate Doctor, that’s kind of crappy because we’ll never get to see her be the Doctor. We’ll know she existed, but she won’t exist as a running part of the show. We don’t actually get to keep it, as it were.
Sylas: But maybe it opens the door for the future. I mean, to have now two female Doctors now, and a Doctor who is a person of color.
Emmet: I just can’t stop thinking about the cosplay. It’s going to be amazing!
Sylas: You know, there’s a lot of stuff in this episode that reminded me of Russell’s tenure. Even the Doctor herself has been acting more like Nine and Ten, with the way she’s keeping her fears and trauma to herself, freaking out about the destruction of Gallifrey and then hiding it. People ask to visit her home, she says no but won’t say why. All dour and “you don’t know me” stuff.
Emmet: And then they bring back the Judoon and they’re stupid scanner marker. Except this time it’s a stamp instead of a sharpie. That’s the kind of bullshit from the Russell era that I love so much. It’s a giant space thing… that is an X stamp.
Sylas: Ruth’s trick with the overloaded gun is also very Nine and Ten. She isn’t using it herself, she’s not killing anyone outright. She gave Gat a choice, the ability to choose not to kill, but she also made sure that Gat would be the one who would suffer the consequences of that choice.
Emmet: We don’t know why Gallifrey sent the Judoon to find the Doctor.
Sylas: Do you think Lee and Gat are actually Time Lords? They could be Gallifreyans of other rank. We don’t know much about Lee, but he was the Doctor’s protector, and clearly remembered who he was, even though his bio-whatever screen made him appear human to the Doctor.
Emmet: Also Gat is a really weird name for a Time Lord.
Sylas: They could be Gallifreyan soldiers of some kind. I mean, Gat says they had the same training, but the Doctor was never trained as a soldier, I don’t think, even though he eventually became one during the Time War.
Emmet: Yeah, it’s possible.
Sylas: Do you think we have to wait for the season finale to get Jack back?
Emmet: I don’t think we’ll see him for a while.
Sylas: I loved how he decided Ryan was his favorite. If you had asked me before this episode who Jack would like best, I absolutely would have picked Ryan.
Emmet: I’m worried about the nanogenes attacking our captain.
Sylas: I was wondering if that was a reference to the ones from “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances.”
Emmet: For sure.
Sylas: And now the TARDIS is going to keep the Doctor distracted for a bit. Take them on some non-Gallifreyan adventures until whatever is coming for the Doctor catches up to her. Classic.
Emmet: I just can’t wait to see the Master again.
Sylas: Of course you can’t. Neither can the Doctor, even if she says it’s just about him being dangerous. Their love is real.
Emmet: And Ryan’s right, you know. Jack is the good kind of cheesy. Some of us miss good cheesy.
Sylas K Barrett would very much like to get in on some of the Time Lord fashions in this episode. But he might not have the hair for it.
Emmet Asher-Perrin wants that vest the new Doctor is wearing.