Everything—and we do mean everything—in this post is a spoiler, so if you have yet to watch Doctor Who season 12 episode 5, Fugitive of the Judoon, TURN BACK NOW.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Here, we’ll give you a moment.
Still here? Alright, darlings, from here it’s a one-way ticket to Spoiler Town.
WHAT an episode. Fugitive of the Judoon stunned fans everywhere by bringing back Captain Jack, but that turned out to be the lesser of the episode’s two big reveals. The other, of course, is Jo Martin’s Doctor, formerly known as Ruth Clayton.
— Doctor Who Official (@bbcdoctorwho) January 27, 2020
Not only did Martin make history by being the first Black actor to play The Doctor ever (outside parody productions) but the introduction of the character also cracks the show’s lore wide open. Is this Doctor from a parallel universe? Is she a past regeneration? Is she the next regeneration? The possibilities are, quite literally, endless.
But at least we can rule one major fan theory out. Speaking to the Mirror, showrunner Chris Chibnall revealed two key pieces of info: Martin’s Doctor is 100% the Doctor, and yes, she’s from this universe.
“The important thing to say is – she is definitively the Doctor,” he told the publication. “There’s not a sort of parallel universe going on, there’s no tricks. Jo Martin is the Doctor, that’s why we gave her the credit at the end which all new Doctors have the first time you see them. John Hurt got that credit.”
Chibnall added that “there will be answers to some of these mysteries this series,” and that he’s “very aware of the history and very aware of the continuity” with regards to lore.
“But stories are ongoing pieces of fiction. They develop and evolve,” he continued. “My job is to be bold with the storytelling and have fun.”
So if Martin’s Doctor is not from a parallel universe, who is she? Emmett and Sylas, our intrepid weekly Doctor Who recappers, suggested that “Ruth Doctor could be [the Thirteenth Doctor’s] past, a past that she’s forgotten or had taken from her,” bringing up the multiple incarnations of the Doctor (like The Valeyard) that don’t get counted among the official 13 regenerations.
As for where, exactly, in the past, there are several popular theories. According to The Guardian, many fans think she’s either from in between the Second (Patrick Troughton) and Third (Jon Pertwee) Doctors, while others believe she’s pre-Hartnell.
Wilder theories abound. Over on Reddit, we have Schrodinger-style shenanigans, Martin’s Doctor being the real Thirteenth and Whittaker’s Doctor being The Valeyard, the Timeless Child being the Doctor, the 1999-set 1996 TV movie being the key to it all, Martin’s Doctor being a future regeneration, a call-back to the Morbius Doctors, the Timeless Child having been turned into two Doctors, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Here’s what we know for sure:
- Martin’s Doctor doesn’t recognize the Sonic Screwdriver
- But she does have a ’70s style Tardis that she calls “the ship,” à la Hartnell
Oh, and also:
There. We solved it.