Home 2024 Season 1 SPOILER REVIEW: Doctor Who The Legend of Ruby Sunday – A Dramatic...

SPOILER REVIEW: Doctor Who The Legend of Ruby Sunday – A Dramatic Prelude to the Finale Episode

The Legend Of Ruby Sunday,Ruby Sunday (MILLIE GIBSON), The Doctor (NCUTI GATWA) & Mel (BONNIE LANGFORD),BBC STUDIOS/ Bad Wolf Photo: Sophie Mutevelian

The first episode of Season 1’s two-part season finale has just aired. Doctor Who – The Legend of Ruby Sunday sees the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) returning to Earth, seeking answers to two ongoing mysteries.

Who is Susan Twist? and “Who is Ruby Sunday?”

The episode opens rather spectacularly, with the TARDIS landing front and centre in UNIT HQ. Ruby and the audience are introduced to several key characters: UNIT, Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), Colonel Ibrahim (Alexander Devriant), Rose Noble (Yasmin Finney), and Harriet (Genesis Lynea). We’ll learn more about Harriet later.

A new Scientific Advisor, Morris Gibbons, is portrayed by Lenny Rush. Rush was originally scheduled to appear in Space Babies, but after his reading, the powers that be promoted him to the Scientific Advisor. On another note, I was surprised he wasn’t introduced as Dr Gibbon. Surely, he has several degrees. As for Ruth Madeley’s Shirley Bingham, she does seem to have fallen victim to the frequent rotation of Scientific Advisors.   UNIT goes through numerous scientific advisors quite quickly.

Doctor Who The Legend Of Ruby Sunday, Morris Gibbons (LENNY RUSH),BBC STUDIOS 2023, Photo: Sophie Mutevelian
Doctor Who The Legend Of Ruby Sunday, Morris Gibbons (LENNY RUSH),BBC STUDIOS 2023, Photo: Sophie Mutevelian

After the hellos and hugs, the Doctor jumps into his request, identifying who and what Susan Twist is.   In the Doctor’s video montage, a few versions of Susan Twist that we haven’t seen are shades of Star Trek and Loki. Well done to the VFX team. Someone has enjoyed themselves with the new AI tools.

To his surprise, UNIT is already one step ahead of him. Susan Triad is Earth’s version of this woman. She runs S Triad Technology, and Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford ) is already embedded in Susan’s business. All of this leads us to Rule 1 of Doctor Who.

The Showrunner Lies.

Russell T Davies is known for his clever misdirection, and The Legend of Ruby Sunday is no exception. The episode plays with the concept of anagrams, particularly the anagram of “S Triad,” which leads UNIT and much of the programme’s fan base to speculate that Susan was the Doctor’s granddaughter or the TARDIS itself.   But we must remember that Astrid (Kylie Minogue) wasn’t the TARDIS either.

Doctor Who The Legend Of Ruby Sunday, Susan Triad (SUSAN TWIST),BBC STUDIOS 2023, Photo: James Pardon

Back to the other mystery of the season. Who is Ruby Sunday? After some banter, the Doctor acquires access to UNIT’s Time Window and a VHS tape from Ruby showing her left at church.   By combining the tape with Time Window, Ruby and the Doctor are set in a recreation of her mother’s abandonment on Christmas Eve. The woman thought to be Ruby’s mother remains “66 metres or 73 yards” away from Ruby, and no one sees her face. How much the distance calls back to the previous episodes is yet to be discovered.

The Time Window proves to be not just an observation point but also a tool to change time itself. An unknown entity appears—a black cloud surrounds the TARDIS—one that wasn’t at the original event. UNIT loses yet another officer as Colonel Winston Chidozie (Tachia Newall) is devoured by a mysterious entity entwined into the very fabric of the time vessel.

On the other side of London, Susan Triad is also possessed. The black cloud entity starts to manifest from the past into this time and place surrounding the present-day TARDIS just as Unit’s Harriet, H Arbinger, announces the coming of a new god. The black cloud around the TARDIS, Susan, and Harriet all transform, becoming the ancient being, Sutekh, and two of his messengers.

A Return of an Old Enemy – Sutekh

Russell T Davis has created a dynamic setup for the finale of Season 1. All the pieces are set for an explosive end to the season. He has departed from the traditional use of iconic villains such as the Daleks, Cybermen, the Master, or the Time Lords from Gallifrey and reintroduced a classic villain from Tom Baker’s era. Sutekh, an ancient and malevolent force, first terrorised the Fourth Doctor in the Pyramids of Mars.  Sutekh’s return brings a nostalgic yet chilling atmosphere, as his evil influence poses a significant threat once again.

RTD doubles down on the pantheon of Gods with Sutekh’s return and reminds everyone of the Toymaker’s threats.   As H(arriet), Arbinger recites a list of the gods, including Maestro, the Trickster and the Toymaker, the “hidden one” that all gods fear, returns. Ruby’s past is now intertwined with Susan Triads and these gods. The gods that the Fourteenth Doctor (David Tennant) released with his use of salt in The Blue Yonder.

The Problem with the Bigenerational

With Rose Noble and Donna Noble working for UNIT, this episode emphasises the problem of the bigeneration of the Doctor. The 14th Doctor is still alive and around, complete with his own TARDIS. It isn’t plausible that he would fail to help his “niece” Rose, Earth and the universe.   It isn’t credible that a fully aware Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) would not be marching up to UNIT with her daughter, Rose Noble (Yazmin Finney), trapped in such danger.

The Doctor and Ruby

Ncuti Gatwa continues to excel in his performance. He has created a happy, joyful Doctor with a young vibe and a love for life.   But his performance shines in the quieter, more thoughtful moments. This Doctor is vulnerable, and while he still ducks and dives to hide this, he relies heavily on those he knows well. Kate gives him a pep talk and a hug as he mourns his granddaughter.   Mel forces him to focus instead of berating himself about the death of the UNIT officer.  Russell T Davies has continued to infuse this Doctor, as with his previous versions, 9th and 10th Doctors, with the pain of loss. While the Time War has been resolved/reduced, other pains and losses have taken their place. Once again, the Doctor has put a cloak on to hide.   Given the destruction of Earth seen in the trailer for the next episode, Blogtor expects more of the Doctor’s angst to appear next week.

Doctor Who :The Legend Of Ruby Sunday, The Doctor (NCUTI GATWA) & Mel (BONNIE LANGFORD),BBC STUDIOS 2023,James Pardon

Blogtor likes Ruby Sunday. She is a dynamic and confident companion, but we haven’t gotten to know her and her family or understand her relationship with the Doctor. This season needed to be longer, and it has made it more difficult to define the relationship between the two leads.   The chemistry exists, but not the history of how they came to trust and rely on each other.    This series has had 8 episodes. The next one will have 9. In contrast, Season 1 of the 2005 reboot had 13 episodes. This series would have benefited greatly from the extra episodes.

From “The Legend of Ruby Sunday” to “The Empire of Death”

Given that the title of this week’s episode is called The Legend of Ruby Sunday, little of Ruby Sunday’s legend has been identified or resolved. It is an episode that focuses heavily on the Doctor and his past. Even the Time Window sequence meant to examine Ruby’s abandonment on Christmas Eve is a plot device to emphasise the Doctor and his TARDIS. Callbacks from across the specials and series 1 recognise the pain that the TARDIS has exhibited at various moments. How long Sutekh has been embedded into the fibre of the TARDIS is unknown, but it has impacted the beloved time machine.

Doctor Who S1,15-06-2024,The Legend Of Ruby Sunday,Ruby Sunday (MILLIE GIBSON) & Carla (MICHELLE GREENIDGE), BBC STUDIOS 2023,James Pardon

Mrs Flood (Anita Dobson) and her interaction with Ruby’s mum and grandmother is another subplot. Mrs Flood has a lot more than she appears. How she fits in a Triad comprising herself, Susan, and Ruby needs to be resolved. Ruby is part of Series 2, so this mystery might not be solved by the end of the series.

There are also the stunning breakout effects expected in a two-part series finale. The VFX department has been working overtime, starting with the initial TARDIS landing to the Time Window drama.   Based on the trailer, we can only expect more for the last episode.

Conclusion

Doctor Who: The Legend of Ruby Sunday, featuring Sutekh’s return, provides a thrilling connection to the past, while the various misdirections showcase Russell T Davies’ mastery of plot twists. The decision to forgo traditional villains in the finale allows for fresh and innovative storytelling, keeping the narrative exciting and unpredictable.

“Doctor Who: The Legend of Ruby Sunday” blends nostalgia with the present.   We must wait until next week for the conclusion of Ncuti Gatwa’s first season.

Doctor Who continues at midnight on 22nd June BST with The Empire of Death on iPlayer in the UK and on Disney+ everywhere else except Ireland

2 COMMENTS

  1. Kate Lethbridge-Stewart is played by Jemma Redgrave, Vanessa is her aunt!
    She once said in an interview that teachers at school used to call her Vanessa by mistake, so it’s not the first time this error has occurred…

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