If you want an image of the future as we desire it, imagine a boot stamping on Jonathan Jones’ face… forever

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

86 Comments

  1. Alex B
    June 8, 2024 @ 3:01 am

    While not my favourite episode this year, or even in the top half (give me the 1-2-3 punch of Boom, 73 Yards and Dot and Bubble any day), the season is much the stronger for having this in it – having the old standards played well helps ground the experimentation and, I suspect, will make the whole thing play all the smoother on the rewatch. I’m particularly charmed that Davies and Moffat wrote all of Doctor Who’s big swings and experiments this year, while the hot new writing talent gave us shape shifting aliens chasing the Doctor around a country home.

    There’s also a delight in knowing that, at least for this era, the show playing the hits means it absolutely revelling in its queerness, with Herron obviously being offered the chance to do it meaningfully post-Loki and seizing it with both hands.

    Reply

  2. Cyrano
    June 8, 2024 @ 4:24 am

    I enjoyed the sudden appearance of hologram Richard E Grant, but really it should have been RTD, Julie Gardner and Phil Collinson in a heap of wigs and hats.

    Reply

    • Snowmonk
      June 8, 2024 @ 5:39 am

      We’re all going to have fun Richard E Grant theories, but mine is that The Great Intelligence as played by REG gets consumed by the Doctor’s timeline at the end of The Name of the Doctor and ends up becoming a former incarnation (Shalka/Curse of Fatal Death/pre-Hartnell/all of the above)!

      Reply

      • Citizen Alan
        June 9, 2024 @ 2:03 am

        Until I hear differently, my head canon is that McGann’s tenure as the 9th Doctor was just so effed up with temporal anomalies that at some point after the end of the Virgin line, he regenerated into Richard E. Grant, had the Shalka adventure and probably a few others, and then got de-regenerated back into McGann for his BBC adventures. If nothing else, that explains the haircut.

        Reply

        • Robin Bland
          June 9, 2024 @ 7:53 am

          Can’t wait for the finale Tales of the TARDIS to be a cut-down edition of Withnail and I.

          Reply

          • Richard Lyth
            June 13, 2024 @ 4:07 am

            “We’ve started a Time War by mistake!”

          • Richard Lyth
            June 13, 2024 @ 4:07 am

            “We’ve started a Time War by mistake!”

  3. Cyrano
    June 8, 2024 @ 4:45 am

    It’s an odd thing but this is the episode in which I really feel like Gatwa stepped into the role. Maybe it’s because the episode isn’t written by a showrunner so he’s written with a slightly more off the shelf Doctorishness than the more individual, vulnerable, slightly withheld thing Davies is doing. But it’s actually the flirting. He flirts with Jonathan Groff in an incredibly Doctor-y way. It is a delight. They’d better get Groff back, it would be a crime to waste that much chemistry down a space thingy.

    Also a delight: Indira Varma’s little bird movements once she gets possessed.

    El makes clear her ambivalent relationship with fun, but I think an episode that is this much fun makes it’s own case.

    Reply

  4. Richard Pugree
    June 8, 2024 @ 6:23 am

    This was glorious – and fun! – and I really enjoyed some of the understatedness of parts of Groff’s performance, which was far subtler than it needed to be.

    For now I’m still thinking Land of Fiction – which this being explicitly Bridgeton works well with, along with the kinds of antagonists we’ve had this series and all the other times Ruby mentions something and it manifests. Maybe another version of Ruby is trapped there.

    Reply

    • Einarr
      June 8, 2024 @ 7:04 am

      Agreed about Groff – I think the choice to write and perform Rogue as actually rather quiet (not shy, exactly, but brooding and introverted, not instantly outgoing) made a really effective contrast with Ncuti’s lightning-energy flirty-charm Doctor. And, less significantly for the episode but important for fan metatext, it made Rogue quite distinct from Captain Jack (likewise the decision to set this in the 1810s, not the 1940s as was one mooted setting, which would’ve only made the two look more similar).

      The only Groff line read I don’t think convinced was “wow” – too deadpan to seem genuinely impressed, but not enough sarcasm if that was the intent instead (which I don’t think it was).

      Reply

  5. BG Hilton
    June 8, 2024 @ 7:59 am

    Yeah, Richard E Grant, sure, fine. Where was Rowan Attkinson, you cowards?

    Reply

    • Georgia
      June 9, 2024 @ 11:53 am

      And while we’re at it, Joanna Lumley.

      Reply

  6. Falls
    June 8, 2024 @ 8:05 am

    This is the episode in which I realised the episode sequencing has been my biggest problem with this season. There hasn’t been an episode I’ve even been disappointed by, but the season has felt clumsy nonetheless. Rogue is an episode that screams second, feeling like it’d match The Unquiet Dead well to Space Babies’ The End of the World.

    Filter the Who fans liable to be turned off by the sappiness and snot monsters, show off the monster of the week style with a past episode that sets up our future recurring Captain Jack, then start to push the boat out. Let Gatwa show off his acting chops with Boom, give The Devil’s Chord room to breathe after The Giggle to make its scope feel earned, sprinkle in a format-breaking Dot and Bubble now the format has been established, let 73 Yards book-end the non-finale episodes now Ruby’s become part of the furniture.

    Reply

    • Richard Pugree
      June 8, 2024 @ 8:31 am

      Yes, absolutely agreed. I really found myself wishing this had come much sooner in the run, whilst watching. For new viewers’ sakes if nothing else. It’s such a good ‘this is doctor who’ episode, and would establish a benchmark that the more tonally weird episodes depart from. It feeds strange to have taken this long in the run to have got to a ‘normal episode of Doctor who’.

      Which is interesting in itself, but can’t help feeling it would have worked better in the way you describe.

      Reply

      • SJS
        June 8, 2024 @ 9:23 am

        I saw a suggestion elsewhere that Rogue might possibly have been shuffled around to allow it to air during Pride month.

        Reply

        • Richard Pugree
          June 8, 2024 @ 9:52 am

          Hmm, would they bother for that reason? It would seem quite a big change to make for mostly the US audience?

          ‘Pride month’ is not particularly a thing in the UK where the main Prides are in July (on the anniversary of the first London one) and August, and LGBT History month is in February). There’s generally some commemoration of Stonewall in June here, but the ‘Pride Month’ thing is a particularly US thing isn’t it?

          I guess companies here are starting to do it more, so the rainbows start getting slapped up earlier, and there’s obviously a lot of blurring of those national differences in a lot of online spaces.

          Or maybe I’m just out of date.

          Reply

          • Paul Fisher Cockburn
            June 9, 2024 @ 7:08 am

            Unfortunately, I think you need to update yourself; a significant number of Pride events now take place across the UK in June. (Although, yes, some still opt for late May or early July.)

            https://www.thepinknews.com/2024/04/28/everything-you-need-to-know-about-every-major-pride-in-the-uk-this-year-including-whos-performing/#page/4

            Also, RadioTimes.com is far from the only British website or company to start decking itself out in rainbow colours from 1 June.

          • Jack hackett
            June 9, 2024 @ 9:08 am

            Davies has always wanted to be a success in the U.S. He tried before with Torchwood miracle day, which was a dismal failure. Just like the Doctor Who movie in the 90’s, there is a reason it’s never seen repeated or mentioned. Now that Davies has chosen to use Doctor Who as his personal, Doctor Who themed semi-autobiography, the show has lost more viewers than ever before.

          • Richard Pugree
            June 9, 2024 @ 9:27 am

            Ah, fair enough, @Paul. Clearly as far as that Radio Times website is concerned at least ‘Pride Month’ is definitely a thing, so I stand corrected.

            In terms of it being a meaningfully discrete bit of time in UK LGBT people’s calendars though (in a way it does seem to be for lots of folk in the US as far as I can tell? Though that might be a complete misreading), I’m less convinced.

            If anything I think we enter gay season which starts with Eurovision in mid may, and then it’s just prides right through the summer, with London (29th June this year), Brighton (always first weekend of August), and Manchester (23rd August this year), and the London and Brighton Trans Prides (July) getting the most national attention, rather than June as a month having any particular resonance.

            But clearly many companies at least have started doing the ‘Month’ thing. Ah well.

        • Cyrano
          June 8, 2024 @ 9:56 am

          Possibly, but the beat of Ruby recognising Susan Twist’s portrait feels like a late season touch on that plot.

          Reply

    • Mano
      June 8, 2024 @ 12:24 pm

      Oh absolutely! Hadn’t really worked out the best order for me, but your’s sounds good.

      As it is the season lacks some flow, the feeling that I am watching an ongoing story for me. There are some damn good stories, but they all stand on their own. Earlier seasons of NewWho gave me that impression.

      Also I’d have loved to have Ruby’s family show up at least once to learn more about her, why she travels with the Doctor and how her travels contrast with her previous life. Also Carla and Cherry are great!

      Reply

    • Przemek
      June 9, 2024 @ 11:37 am

      I wouldn’t go as far as you but yeah, “Rogue” should have been the second episode and “The Devil’s Chord” should be the sixth one.

      Reply

  7. Shannon
    June 8, 2024 @ 10:20 am

    I just caught that the one alien is obsessed with becoming the king – who at that time, would have been King George, who Groff played in Hamilton. Nice touch.

    Reply

  8. Jesse
    June 8, 2024 @ 11:49 am

    “I cannot wait to see them set to battle mode”

    Did he say “battle mode” or “power mode”? Works either way, I guess.

    Anyway. A delightful episode, and I say that as someone who hasn’t ever seen Bridgerton either.

    Reply

  9. Mano
    June 8, 2024 @ 12:28 pm

    This was a good monster of the week story. A perfectly normal Doctor Who story, no groundbreaking experiments, no shocking revelations about the world of the Doctor. Just a well told story.

    How I have missed something like that since 2017!

    Reply

  10. Dr. Happypants
    June 8, 2024 @ 1:35 pm

    I’m a gay man and I am very here for gay representation and I love Gatwa playing a horny, slutty gay Doctor, but honey, you can do so much better. Rogue was a bland, flat, deeply unengaging character. He didn’t have anything interesting to say, and until his heroic sacrifice he didn’t have much interesting to do either. He couldn’t even play along when the Doctor wanted to create drama. Being vaguely sad about your sketchy backstory isn’t a personality, babes.

    The Doctor having terrible taste in men is some very authentic representation though.

    Reply

    • John Richards
      June 9, 2024 @ 7:15 am

      I was also thinking Groff wasn’t the best choice for this role and it was a shame it wasn’t someone with more overt sexiness. Murray Bartlett maybe?

      Reply

    • David Cook
      June 11, 2024 @ 1:01 pm

      “horny, slutty gay Doctor” To be honest, I am disturbed by the Doc having sex (whether with a man, woman or Dalek) as I have projected my asexuality on the character (My fault I know). It’s the part of “new Who” that leaves me cold (which is probably why the Doctor\Donna era is my favourite, as they were just best friends having fun). Growing up with the old show, I identified with the Doctor, with the new show its only Donna, Wilf and Ryan. Still I hope the show is a big success and gets a new audience 😀

      Reply

      • Ross
        June 11, 2024 @ 1:30 pm

        I really dig the audacity of this doctor being just SO overtly, libidinously gay. Not queer-coded, not ambiguous, not “I would definitely date a lady if I were emotionally stable enough to date but I am not and never will be”, but just flat out “This doctor likes dudes and is not shy about it”.

        I’m glad ace folks got something out of the perception of an ace doctor, and sorry they’re missing it, but I always found it weird how many people took asexuality as a core trait of the classic series Doctor. I guess because I watched the show as a children’s show when I was a child myself, so it never read to me as a conscious choice in the character as opposed to the default for children’s show heroes.

        Reply

        • David Cook
          June 11, 2024 @ 1:59 pm

          Well, perhaps it’s because growing up there wasn’t (and isnt) that many characters that an asexual could identify with. Characters who are not defined by their sex drive. Sherlock Holmes, perhaps, or Mr Spock, and both characters in twenty first century media are given an active sex life. As a person on the margin, you identify with the alien, not the ‘normal’ characters who have little in common yourself. 😀

          Reply

          • Ross
            June 11, 2024 @ 3:02 pm

            Yeah, see, my comprehension gap here is that while I agree that asexual characters are a rarity in adult mass media, they’re the norm in children’s media, which is certainly how I experienced Doctor Who.

  11. James Whitaker
    June 8, 2024 @ 3:09 pm

    For a story that gives the Doctor an explicit queer romance it’s amazing how traditional this felt – aliens show up on Earth and plan to do bad things just because and the Doctor stops them. Loved the psychic jewelry coming back, very nice. Was genuinely convinced for a moment that Ruby had actually been killed, as it seemed so convincing, and the Doctor’s rage so genuine, that I thought the finale would be about him trying to save her, a la Hell Bent, but cleverly averted. The ring at the end felt like a nod to him keeping the brooch at the end of The Aztecs. Genuinely no idea what the hell is going to happen come the finale – struggling to think of any answers to Susan Triad, Mrs Flood, or indeed any of the other little mysteries that have been threaded throughout the season.

    Reply

    • Ross
      June 8, 2024 @ 8:05 pm

      I would note that, yeah, it’s a traditional Doctor Who story in ways that the last few weren’t, but also, the alien shapeshifters aren’t invading, they’re not planning to take over the world (well, I mean, kinda, but not really?); they’re just having fun.
      That reminds me a lot of Aliens of London / World War III with its reveal that the Slitheen aren’t an invading alien species, but a family of blue-collar criminals working a grift. (Which I recall a lot of people just straight-up rejecting at the time).

      Reply

  12. Corey Klemow
    June 8, 2024 @ 3:32 pm

    Doctor-Rogue-River episode, please and thank you.

    Reply

  13. Christopher Brown
    June 8, 2024 @ 5:31 pm

    Great review for a fun episode, but…wait, Tales of the TARDIS is back??

    Reply

    • Einarr
      June 8, 2024 @ 6:22 pm

      There’s a one-off bonus special airing between part 1 and part 2 of the season finale. We don’t know what story it will be framing. Whether or not you think its placement makes it likely it will present a look back at a classic serial that ties into the finale villain or returning character is up to you!

      Reply

      • Christopher Brown
        June 8, 2024 @ 8:11 pm

        Intriguing!

        Also, I loved the instrumental cover of Poker Face during the Battle Mode scene.

        Reply

      • Anthony Bernacchi
        June 11, 2024 @ 11:01 am

        Didn’t know about the extra Tales of the TARDIS. Aside from Sutekh being the leading contender for the big bad for various other reasons, that almost certainly rules out the Trickster.

        Reply

        • Ross
          June 11, 2024 @ 12:51 pm

          The Trickster would be an interesting choice, but not one that’s a good fit with the trend of the series – in a year where the Doctor has taken down two gods, the whole thing about the Trickster is that he’s essentially a minor-league villain who keeps trying to punch above his weight class. Most of the trickster stories so far have carried an element of “If the Doctor actually shows up, the trickster will be dealt with trivially.” You could use him, but I think you’d need some build-up, probably along the lines of the Doctor’s hubris allowing the Trickster to gain a surprising advantage. (I think the Trickster works better against Tennant’s Doctor for this reason). It would take a lot of work to sell me on the idea of following up the Toymaker and the Maestro with a dude who was consistently defeated by plucky children (Such a thing would be very rewarding, but you’d have to actually put in the work, and I think it’s too late in the season to do that much work).

          Reply

          • Einarr
            June 11, 2024 @ 2:10 pm

            The Trickster could conceivably be difficult rights-wise, given Gareth Roberts currently hates RTD’s guts and I doubt RTD feels warmly about him either.

  14. Ross
    June 8, 2024 @ 6:42 pm

    Weirdly, I found the Doctor falling so hard and fast for Rogue strangely believable – so many past Doctors have had this thing where they can slow burn or they can resist, or they can, only at the end, admit that they are way too emotionally messed up right now to try to navigate a romance with a mortal, but Ncuti’s Doctor clearly is the sort of dude who is prone to very sudden, very powerful crushes. But I found it much harder to accept the speed and intensity with which Rogue reciprocates. Like, the instant the scanner reveals the Doctor as a Time Lord, Rogue is like a puppy. I think if I were a cynical bounty hunter still despondent from the loss of my they/them partner, it would take me a at least couple of hours to get to the level of emotional vulnerability to propose to someone. Even if he looked like Ncuti Gatwa.

    I had a hard time convincing my wife that Elizabeth was also a Chuldur before the reveal. That was a well choreographed twist – I figured it out when the Duchess mentions the wedding. I too had managed to forget “battle mode”, though it was clear Ruby was the real Ruby – I figured it had been some sort of Magic Indoor Snow Intervention thing.

    My eight-year-old was tickled to see Doctor Who make out with Krystoff Bjorgman, though she was not entirely clear on which of them was the Doctor and whether they were “good guys” or “bad guys”.

    Reply

    • Loz
      June 9, 2024 @ 4:34 am

      I did wonder whether the bigeneration was the Doctor unloading all the old man angst onto his Tennant-self, leaving the new Gatwa more free to express emotions such as at the end of Dot and Bubble or this week, though maybe I’m just overthinking it. Also there seems to be less of the Doctor showing off his great knowledge of everything which has long been a standard form of scene setting but maybe that’s just down to RTD choosing rather straightforward locations that don’t need much explanation.

      I wonder why we’ve seen so little of the Doctor and Ruby inside the TARDIS this season?

      Reply

      • Paul Fisher Cockburn
        June 9, 2024 @ 2:03 pm

        You’re a fan, of course you’re “over-thinking it”—go with the flow, baby, and have a great time.

        Arguably, the “Doctor showing off [their] great knowledge” isn’t so much a deliberate character trait, more about info-dumping information as quickly as possible when you’ve only got 45-minutes to tell the entire story. That we didn’t have so much of it this time round was nice—we were largely “shown” rather than “told” what we needed to know about the bad guys, and no more.

        I have to admit that Season One/Series 14/Season 40 is rather shaping up to be like Series One in 2005—I agreed with nigh on all RTD’s general decisions regarding the relaunched series, but generally preferred the episodes he didn’t write. (Or at least didn’t rewrite so much of the scripts that he felt obliged to add a co-writing credit.)

        Reply

  15. Kazin
    June 8, 2024 @ 7:57 pm

    It was pretty good. It really did feel like standard Doctor Who in many ways – a return to what the show could pretty much always do in its sleep prior to 2017. Best thing about this episode was Ncuti Gatwa’s performance, I think.

    I’m fascinated how different our rankings are. Mine are:

    73 Yards
    The Devil’s Chord
    Boom
    Rogue
    Space Babies
    Dot and Bubble

    (I’ve yet to rewatch Dot and Bubble since last week since it really did feel like a slog, so that one’s likely to move once I get around to it, though I doubt it’ll top 73 Yards which I absolutely adore).

    Reply

    • Kazin
      June 8, 2024 @ 7:58 pm

      Lovely, freaking formatting.

      73 Yards
      The Devil’s Chord
      Boom
      Rogue
      Space Babies
      Dot and Bubble

      Reply

      • Kazin
        June 8, 2024 @ 7:59 pm

        Ah, fuck it. That’s two weeks in a row showing my whole ass in El’s comments lmao

        Reply

  16. WeslePryce
    June 9, 2024 @ 12:24 am

    An episode that reminds me of the Lazarus experiment or 42, but in the complimentary sense—this is an episode that rounds out the episode count of the season and is enjoyable in a simple fashion. Of course, this is an 8 episode season, with 2 Doctor-lite episodes and a couple episodes that were already on autopilot (sorry Space babies), so it’s a bit less easy to be pleased by this.

    Also, it is concerning that so far this season, we’ve only had two moments where the Doctor and Ruby are at odds with each other or have any tension whatsoever, and they both occur in non-RTD penned episodes. Moffat’s “Ruby does something risky to increase the Doctor’s chance of survival” and this episodes “Why do you have to be so cheery even though something terrible happened!” are the closest we’ve gotten to the Doctor and Ruby having a conflict or mismatch over anything, really. And that’s just a real shame, since in a show with only two leads, you kinda want the two leads to have a dynamic that has tension and leads to interesting writing. RTD seems content to let his leads neverendingly bounce off each other, be separated from each other, and otherwise spin wheels for 80% of the season.

    I agree with the other commenters who think this probably should have been an earlier episode. This is the type of fun yet scary/solemn adventure that a companion wants to experience early in their run: it sets the tone for what “travelling with the Doctor” really means.

    My personal ranking is: Boom > DotBubble > Rogue > Church > Babies = Devil’s > 73 Yards.

    Also, currently we’re all in a lens of “wow, 8 episode seasons really let you down,” but it is worth noting that it appears they’re going for steady yearly releases, which would cushion the blow of this season being middish quite a lot. 12×3 over 4-5 years is technically fewer than 8×3 over 3 years.

    Reply

  17. Bat Masterson
    June 9, 2024 @ 3:40 am

    This is the Paul Cornell one. Specifically, “Human Nature/Family of Blood” (Captain Jack Harkness Remix).

    Reply

  18. John Richards
    June 9, 2024 @ 7:11 am

    This was the first episode I enjoyed without reservations this season. It was such a change to not have massive plot holes all over the place and things like Chekhov’s Earrings were an absolute delight. It would have worked better to have Rogue introduced in an earlier episode, but I’ve been finding this season such a slog that this was a surprise and delight.

    Reply

  19. BG Hilton
    June 9, 2024 @ 8:24 am

    The next ‘show all the Doctors’ scene should include David Morrissey, just to see whose heads explode.

    Reply

  20. prandeamus
    June 9, 2024 @ 9:30 am

    Lots of fun. “Joy” almost seems a better word. Some of the pop references went over my head but I did get “Poker Face” and that Mozart guy. Kylie is a given of course.

    What is this KERA 13 of which you speak? I google it only to find shoe adverts. I need psychic cufflinks now.
    Minor caveat – is it feasible to fall for Groff quite so fast? I suppose that’s where we are now, so be it. There’s no reason that Ncuti’s Doctor can’t have his heart on his sleeve, I guess.
    First time in ages I’ve had problem with the sound mix for dialogue. I thought Rogue said “Bite me” first time, but on rewind I think it was “Find me”. Did Ruby set the earrings to “Battle Mode?”
    We now know what Lawrence Miles really likes, judging by his Twitter postings.
    Great spaceship design

    Reply

    • prandeamus
      June 9, 2024 @ 9:31 am

      Thank you wordpress for eliinmating my carefully formatted list… grrr.

      Reply

    • Aaron George
      June 9, 2024 @ 11:30 am

      In the US, Doctor Who used to only air on our PBS stations. KERA 13 is the local PBS station where El watched it. Mine was KCTS 9

      Reply

      • Elizabeth Sandifer
        June 9, 2024 @ 1:25 pm

        KERA 13 is actually the one for Dallas Texas that my grandparents taped a large swath of Sylvester McCoy off of for me. But that’s the closest one to “my” PBS station I had, so I went with it. Figured I’d get people’s Google tabs open early in case they needed to discretely look up “Meet the Grahams.”

        Reply

        • prandeamus
          June 10, 2024 @ 1:42 pm

          That makes more sense, writes a less-confused British guy.

          Reply

    • prandeamus
      June 10, 2024 @ 1:43 pm

      Second thoughts about instant infatuation with Rogue: it’s no worse that Mme de Pompadour.

      Reply

  21. Einarr
    June 9, 2024 @ 9:48 am

    Cross-posting from a long comment elsewhere:

    Re the joyful conceit of “monsters who enjoy cosplaying/LARPing” as one of the main things it brings to the table – that’s a pretty distinctive and unusual strand in DW. I see it as monstering the show’s (and wider culture’s) own relationship to history as being there for a bit of a flimsy/cheap form of dress-up at times. After all, the Doctor and Ruby are doing the exact same thing as the baddies, just to a lesser degree – they’re luxuriating in the Bridgerton of it all too, so it’s not just saying that another show can be a bit vapid, it’s got an element of introspection to it about Who itself – but the Chuldur take this to a much further, much more obsessive degree, blind love for a period of history based on simplistic mass entertainment, a love of “fun” (which the Doctor is also, textually, looking for) that morphs into harming others, using them up and draining them for one’s own satisfaction, to a point that the costuming/mask they want to put on corrupts the wearer, like adopting the pointless classism and military jingoism between warring empires of the time … and this all feeds into the queerness of the romance as well, because the Chuldur’s non-harmless form of LARPing is ultimately all about being other than oneself, not being genuine, not being authentic, which Rogue and the Doctor learn to be with each other despite their initial stiffness, standoffishness, mutual distrust, differing MOs. This is also what Ruby tries to bring to the table with all her fish out of water behaviour, she pays brief lip service to doing the posh voice and the patter but soon can’t be bothered and is just completely and utterly herself, her normal self-expression, and that’s what she advises Emily to do as well (which doesn’t go anywhere but is def part of the same coherent theme).

    And in the midst of masks and fakery and inauthenticity, postmodern artifice (see the classically performed pop song covers, the linguistic anachronisms), the Doctor and Rogue find something genuine, something meaningful – obviously if one doesn’t buy into the connection or the romance this will fall completely flat, which is the case for various people, but putting to one side whether they execute that well, that’s clearly what the episode is about: finding the genuine amid the artificial.

    Reply

  22. Przemek
    June 9, 2024 @ 10:08 am

    Oh, this was just lovely. I enjoyed it so, so much. Smart and brilliant and fun and charming. One of my favourites for sure.

    I feel like this season excells at showing the show’s range as much as (if not more so) the Eccleston’s season. Just a whirlwind of premises and genres and styles. Bravo.

    Reply

  23. Anton B
    June 9, 2024 @ 1:09 pm

    Last week it was Social Media World, This week it’s D&D dice and cosplaying Angry Birds dancing to Billie Eilish in ‘Bridgerton’. Russel T Davies is determined to show he’s down with the kids. He’s never been above a bit of trolling either so, if it wasn’t enough that he’s acknowledged The Timeless Child, he raises the ante here with a blink and you’ll miss it, hologram head shot of the Shalka Doctor.

    I’ve never seen ‘Bridgerton’ so I suspect, (Like when you see one of those caricatures a talented punter has done of the pub landlord which he’s hung up behind the bar of a pub you’ve wandered into), some of the references were lost on me. I got the gist though.

    I suppose we need to address THE KISS. It was okay and not before time. I like to think, as RTD clearly does, that a young gay viewer might be pleased to see some representation and be encouraged to take a tentative step out of the closet. On the heels of last weeks stunning mic drop anti-racist moment and combined with the ‘Bridgerton’ style blind casting, RTD is definitively setting his stall out and clearly doesn’t give a damn. I’ve already seen some snark about the ‘gay agenda’ from commenters online as there was last week about ‘wokeness’ and ‘virtue signalling’. If those kind of viewers are triggered, RTD is doing it right. Because Doctor Who has always been about pushing boundaries. Long may it continue to do so.

    Reply

    • David Cook
      June 10, 2024 @ 3:01 pm

      As an asexual, I long for the old days when the Doctor didn’t have a sex life and just had adventures. I can’t really identify with the character anymore, like I did with Troughton and Tom. Still if it upsets the Daily Mail, it’s worth it.

      Reply

  24. Toby
    June 9, 2024 @ 4:09 pm

    I’m keen to avoid spoilers so haven’t really done much research on this, but I’m hoping commenters here might be less inclined to out-and-out ruin something, and as El mentioned it in her review…
    Why have I suddenly seen people talking about Sutekh being in the finale, more than just the random “it’s the Rani/Davros/macra/background character from the Keys of Marinus!” that happens every year? Is there a reference I’ve missed? There was the Pyramids of Mars-ing in The Devils Chord, but that’s not really a Sutekh thing. At this point I’m assuming it’s a leak that people are trying to pretend they’re “seeing the clues” for to look smart – the only thing I’ve seen with someone trying to explain it involved pointing out things like triangles (like pyramids!) and sand (like Egypt!) in various scenes.

    Reply

    • James Whitaker
      June 9, 2024 @ 4:21 pm

      Yeah, I’m slightly baffled by the way this theory seems to have come out of nowhere too – we’ve gone from the usual “it’s the Master, the Rani, the Monk” nonsense to “it’s definitely Sutekh based off of what, vibes?? Because he’s a vaguely fantastical character? Because Susan sounds a bit like it? I’m not really sure what’s going on here. I did laugh when someone joked that the Myrka was coming back…

      Reply

      • Ross
        June 10, 2024 @ 9:02 pm

        When I heard it first, the “theory” was “Susan Triad” = “Sue T” and “Triad Technology” = “T Tech” thus by the distributive property, “Sue Tech”

        Which is like JUST on the cusp of clever enough to be worth structuring the season around a pun.

        Reply

    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      June 9, 2024 @ 4:33 pm

      Less leak than rumor/theory. (Or at least, I’ve not seen anyone present it as a known spoiler.) But the key data points are 1) Davies teasing “something buried beneath UNIT HQ since the Pertwee era.” Which is a slight misdirect, but UNIT HQ is built on the grounds of the Scarman estate. 2) Davies saying he wanted to do a direct sequel to a classic series story, and the fact that there’s a Tales of the TARDIS with Gatwa/Gibson between the two episodes suggesting that there’s going to be an opportunity to do “so who is this guy,” and for that matter the fact that Baker is the only Doctor yet unrepresented in TotT. 3) The trailer has a recurrence of the weird TARDIS groan noise that happened in Wild Blue Yonder, Devil’s Chord, and Rogue, which is a close match to the sound that plays when Sutekh’s face appears in the TARDIS at the start of Pyramids. 4) Assorted small points like the known presence of sand somewhere in the season, the pyramids in the background of one of the shots of Susan Twist in weird evil makeup, “Empire of Death” feeling like a Sutekh phrase (he offers the Doctor an empire in Pyramids). 5) The considerably less persuasive though admittedly funny observation that Susan Triad is running a technology company of some sort, or “Sue Tech.”

      Reply

      • James Whitaker
        June 9, 2024 @ 5:31 pm

        That makes sense! Having said that, it’d be hilarious if instead of Pyramids of Mars being the Tale of the Tardis episode, it was the Hand of Fear and Eldrad coming back.

        Reply

        • Bat Masterson
          June 9, 2024 @ 6:40 pm

          Eldrad must, in fact, live.

          Reply

          • Corey Klemow
            June 9, 2024 @ 8:18 pm

            But when Eldrad meets the Gatwa Doctor, Edlrad must LOVE. (Which is also the title of my proposed spinoff romcom series starring the severed hand of Eldrad and the severed hand of the Tenth Doctor. But will they be kept apart by the Fickle Finger of Fate? Not to mention the invisible hand of the market. #meetcutical)

          • Aylwin
            June 10, 2024 @ 4:32 pm

            I’m still trying to find an audience for “Eldrad Must Live, Laugh, Love”

        • prandeamus
          June 10, 2024 @ 1:47 pm

          Eldrad must live.

          Reply

      • Toby
        June 10, 2024 @ 4:35 am

        I’m going to choose to interpret all this to mean that we’re (finally!) getting a sequel to everyone’s favourite story, The Time Monster.

        Thanks for the explanation, that makes a lot of sense!

        Reply

      • prandeamus
        June 10, 2024 @ 1:55 pm

        This is a delightful theory, but part of me wants it to a resurrection of something delightfully crap like the Nucleus of the Swarm, or Terry Nation’s Invading Androids. Maybe a Gel Guard left behind in a UNIT drain by Omega. There’s a cave of Silurians hiding behind a trapdoor in the Brigadier’s writing desk, guarded by a Primord.

        RTD2, surprise me!

        Reply

        • James Whitaker
          June 10, 2024 @ 2:56 pm

          I’d genuinely love it if Davies brought back a villain known to be crap and actually did something interesting and effective with it. I mean, if anyone could do it, it’d be him. Struggling to think of what though. Maybe we’re off back to Metebelis 3?? Anything feels possible!

          Reply

      • Ross
        June 10, 2024 @ 9:50 pm

        Of course, Sutekh was originally presented in the “Gods are really just very powerful aliens” frame of the time, rather than any sort of proper “From beyond space and time and not subject to our laws” sort of god. Not really a problem if RTD wants to rewrite the Osirans into outer gods, but I would think there’s plenty of classic Who entities that fit the role without any modifications – The Gods of Ragnarok, Kronos, Fenric, the Animus. Kronos is the only one with an obvious link to UNIT, of course. Though if the relevant artifact is a VHS tape, the thing it brings to my mind is The Wire.

        Reply

      • Jake
        June 14, 2024 @ 2:10 pm

        Bonus point- Triad Technology’s logo includes a little triangle (aka Pyramid) lol.

        https://x.com/TriadTechnology

        (This is really just an excuse to show off the Triad Tech Twitter account, which I find incredibly charming despite being an outdated promo technique because it has broadly not worked, therefore becoming more of a sneaky easter egg)

        Reply

  25. Tirian69
    June 10, 2024 @ 1:22 am

    I see how the hints could lead to this apparently out-of-nowhere rumor. But wasn’t the hint also that the thing buried in UNIT HQ is a VHS tape. So not sure how that would play in. The Brig had a VHS tape of the Doctor and Sarah battling Sutekh???Surely the most obvious choice, given the hints and the forces release by Tennant at the edges of the universe, is that somehow Chronos the Chronavore has been released. Do we know what happened to the crystal of Chronos? I would have thought the Master took it with him to Atlantis, but can’t recall if that is made explicitly clear in the original story. Or even a VHS recording that was made of Thascales’ time experiments. Failing that, even Azal would surely be a more obvious choice than Sutekh given the “supernatural” bent of the current Whoniverse. And while I know that El is somewhat ambivalent about how highly regarded Pyramids is, my 13 year old self thought that story was Doctor Who perfection and I don’t want Russell (or anyone else, even Moffat) messing with my memories of that particular classic. So my money is on Chronos.

    But, quite frankly, I’m not giving a damn about any story line until we get Groff back into the series. As a lifetime fan, I would be more excited by the return of Groff for multiple future Ncuti stories than the return of Carole-Ann Ford for the season finale. I’m a firm believer that successful “one-offs” often can, and should, remain “one-offs”. But this particular relationship has me almost as excited as I was when Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead first hinted that River was the Doctor’s future wife. Russell, please move heaven and earth to do for Jonathan Groff what Moffat did for Alex Kingston. In fact, send Groff all the Alex Kingston episodes to watch and sign him on the spot for multiple future appearances: to be for Ncuti’s Doctor what River was for Smith and Capaldi’s Doctors.

    Reply

  26. Andy
    June 10, 2024 @ 5:16 am

    “As the first script since Can You Hear Me? to be written by someone who did not write for Series Three in 2007”

    Sorry if I’m being dense but I can’t see how this isn’t either Legend of the Sea Devils or, if the Chibnall co-wrote disqualifies that one, Villa Diodati?

    Reply

    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      June 10, 2024 @ 3:01 pm

      I had it in my head that he had a cowrite credit on Diodati, presumably because of how arc-centered it was. But yes, off by one error, will correct.

      Reply

  27. Sean Dillon
    June 10, 2024 @ 1:09 pm

    Given he’s a DnD player who sucks at the role playing aspects of the game, it’s safe to assume Rogue is of the philosophy that XP leveling is the core of the game and could do without the witty side characters. His arc this episode effectively being learning to love a side character.

    Reply

  28. Aylwin
    June 10, 2024 @ 6:09 pm

    Some snippets:

    Given all the Empty Child resonances around Rogue, cloaked spaceship and all, I found it hilarious in retrospect how the Doctor responds to the first sign of something strange by immediately doing a scan for alien tech.

    Further regarding the speed of mutual smittenness jarring a bit, I’m not too convinced about the Doctor being down bad for someone who is not merely insistent on killing him (we know from experience that that’s entirely consistent with their tastes), but on doing so for what has to be from the Doctor’s point of view the most boringly routine reason possible: “Someone has been murdered and here you are, so I’m assuming you’re responsible”. Such a failure to be interesting doesn’t really chime with my sense of what the Doctor’s into.

    Being that which I am, I blinked a bit at the line about starting a war with France. It’s 1813! Britain was already at war with France! Had been almost continuously for twenty years! What’s more, that specific year was the very height of the war, which was almost certainly the biggest war in history up to that date. (I say almost certainly, because on general principles there’s bound to be a “well actually this one in China was bigger” argument.) So “Bwahahaha we’ll start wars!” falls a little flat for me as nefarious alien havoc-wreaking at that moment.

    Reply

    • Przemek
      June 11, 2024 @ 7:33 am

      Good point about the war with France but then again, it’s the aliens who say it. They’re allowed to get Earth history a bit wrong.

      Reply

  29. Aylwin
    June 10, 2024 @ 6:23 pm

    Oh, and in terms of explicitly landing in such a zeitgeisty hit of the moment, it is clearly A Statement that the alien cosplayers uniformly come to the conclusion that they don’t really want to be in Bridgerton any more, because now they’ve seen it they’d rather be in Doctor Who.

    Reply

    • Patman
      June 12, 2024 @ 12:50 pm

      Ohhhh, that’s brillian!

      Reply

  30. Camestros Felapton
    June 11, 2024 @ 3:58 am

    I rewatched it and overall I enjoyed it but I still feel like there is a deep mismatch between the Chuldur as a threat and the final standoff. These were very minor-league villains in the scheme of things, so the idea of this dimensional trap being the only solution was uncovincing.

    Reply

    • Loz
      June 12, 2024 @ 5:03 am

      Yeah, but practically every other Doctor Who monster is like that. I always wanted a story where the Doctor manipulates several of these ultra-deadly-but-we-only-ever-see-them-once monsters into fighting one another, the Queen of the Racnoss versus the Raston Warrior Robot versus the Daemon anyone?

      Reply

  31. Jake
    June 14, 2024 @ 2:00 pm

    “ “The new boss,” eh? Wonder if he’ll be interested in hearing about this fellow with two hearts.”

    My theory is that this is the same boss that Beep The Meep referenced, which would explain why Rogue didn’t kill The Doctor when he saw Tennant’s face- clearly this guy is someone “The Boss” wants alive (for now!). Plus that gives this boss character a reason to recognise Gatwa’s the same guy who beat the Meep, provided Rogue sells him out, which of course he will because relationship conflict.

    Gosh, isn’t it nice watching Doctor Who do longform plotlines well again?

    Reply

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