Please Discuss Fugitive of the Judoon with Me (Doctor Who)


Warning. I’m going to be spoiling the absolute piss out of the most recent episode of Doctor Who and then some. I will do my best not to spoil anything above the fold, however. I will also be doing a shallow dive into very deep and frankly confusing Doctor Who lore, so please keep that in mind. This is your warning. If you haven’t seen Fugitive of the Judoon, then please don’t read this post unless you’re like me and enjoy spoilers… in which case, read on fellow spoiler-junkie… but still see the episode.

I’ve talked about Doctor Who on this blog before. I’ve noted that it’s my all-time favorite show. And it’s weird, because it’s one of only two shows that I actually keeps my attention, the other being The Mandalorian (seriously… there was literally no TV show that kept me that engaged aside from Doctor Who before the Mandalorian dropped).

No… I don’t watch a lot of TV.

I’ve also discussed how I’ve considered Peter Capaldi’s Doctor to be my Doctor. I wasn’t super happy with every one of his episodes, and Moffat is not my favorite showrunner or head writer or whatever… that would actually be script editor Douglas Adams, who did script editing for the show for a time while Tom Baker was the Doctor (and before he [Adams] wrote the third Hitchhiker’s Guide book… which, BTW, started as a story for Doctor Who that was never shot). But I absolutely love Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. I think he was phenomenal, and was a welcome relief from the young, far-too-human (in my opinion) Doctors before him.

As for Jodie Whittaker… I think she’s absolutely phenomenal and is definitely in my top 5. Sadly, I wasn’t all that enamored with her first season (season 11, from 2018) over-all, but I have loved her characterization, her Fam, and where she’s going.

This season, only half-way through, has been a revelation, however. There was one bad episode (Orphan 55… sorry it wasn’t good) in a sea of good (so far) episodes (if you ignore a couple super problematic aspects of Spyfall Part 2 [i.e. the Doctor’s racism and wiping minds without consent… again]).

Then there’s the episode in question… Fugitive of the Judoon. Now, I do think it’s an amazing episode, but it’s also left me confused, speechless, and in desperate need of having a conversation about it.

So, starting now, I’m going to spoil the shit out of it…

Let me just get the return of Captain Jack out of the way. That was awesome… ish. “Ish” because…

As you can see, he just straight up kisses Graham without warning. It makes sense for Captain Jack’s character, but I felt uncomfortable for Graham in that moment. But maybe I’m wrong to? I should point out that if you don’t know who Captain Jack is or how he’s been written since his introduction by Steven Moffat in the Eccleston Doctor episode The Empty Child (an incredible episode I always recommend people see), his use throughout the series by Russel T. Davies, and him in Torchwood, then you wouldn’t realize that it’s entirely in character for him. He’s… very open and forward, and if he thinks someone’s attracted to him, he’ll act on that. He does also take “no” for an answer, but you do kind of have to say “no”.

Plus, he did think this was the Doctor and he was written as a character who could maybe have been a potential love interest for the Doctor (although the Doctor never really acts on those affections, and it’s left ambiguous as to whether the Doctor returns them… sometimes he [because this is back when the Doctor was played by Eccleston and then Tennant] seems to, other times he doesn’t). And since Captain Jack was and is very much attracted to the Doctor, it would make perfect sense for him to greet the Doctor like that.

In other words it is entirely within Jack’s character to straight up French kiss the Doctor by way of greeting. That said, I also think they had him do that to Graham because if he had done that to Whitaker’s Doctor, the reaction from the public would have been… fierce…

However, Graham, obviously, isn’t the Doctor, and has no idea who this complete stranger who just kissed him out of nowhere is. So… it wasn’t the best moment, IMO. I get why they did it, but… yeah…

Anyways…

Aside from that, I loved his return and hate that, at least in this season, he’s not gonna meet Whittaker’s Doctor. Hopefully he will in the Special or something.

So with that out of the way, let’s get to what I actually want to talk about…

What?

What?

What.

What?

I…

Just…

I…

What?

So the basic gist is this: The Judoon are after a fugitive. (Wait. Nathan. What the hell are the Judoon?!?) The show makes you think it’s some white dude; it’s not.

Side note: I don’t mean to downplay Lee Clayton like that. That was more rudely dismissive than I intended. The character, Lee Clayton, was actually a very good and very important character to the plot. I guess I dismissed him because I felt like the show dismissed him, given how quickly they just killed him off… ironically to further the plot of a woman. It was a gender-flipped fridging, honestly. But in his few moments, he was very good and served a more important role to the story than I gave him credit for.

Ruth Clayton, played by Jo Martin, goes off to a lighthouse with the Doctor, where she finds what’s clearly a Chameleon Arch, breaks it, and regains her true memories and identity.

And she’s The Doctor. Like… the actual Doctor, as outright confirmed by Chris Chibnall

“The important thing to say is – she is definitively the Doctor,” he explained. “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.”

That… significantly narrows the options. See, I thought she was a parallel universe Doctor at first… a different timeline in a universe that isn’t “ours” (i.e. the main Whoniverse that we watch on TV on Sundays).

But unless Chibnall is continuing on in the grand tradition of show-runners lying (which has been a thing since at least RTD, if not earlier in the show’s history), she’s not from a parallel universe. And “alternate timeline” is just another way of saying “parallel universe”… or is it? Could she be an alternate timeline in our same universe? Can one universe have more than one timeline running through it?

Here’s the other thing… Martin’s Doctor is not a future Doctor. Based on her conversation with Whittaker’s Doctor, she’s a past Doctor, because she doesn’t remember being Whittaker’s Doctor at any point. The thing is, Whittaker’s Doctor doesn’t remember being her, either.

There are three theories. Two of them rely heavily on deep Doctor Who lore… one does not. I’ll start with that last one…

Theory 1 – Time is Being Re-Written

Something happened somewhere along the past of either the Doctor specifically or Gallifrey in general, re-writing the Doctor’s history. This basically means that the Doctor likely has a whole new swath of re-generations, and the current run as we know it is being written out of existence. This could mean that what’s coming for The Doctor (she mentions at the end of the episode that something’s coming for her) is that wipe of the timeline. That may be what the “Lone Cyberman” Captain Jack is talking about in the episode represents.

The downside of this theory is that, if it gets resolved the way it probably will, then Martin’s Doctor will be wiped out of existence at the resolution… unless (until?) our current Doctor regenerates into her (I cannot express in words how ecstatic I’d be if Martin was the next Doctor, even after all this; I do love her as the Doctor; she’s amazing).

So yeah… now let’s get into some deep Doctor Who lore…

Theory 2 – Season 6B

So way way back in the history of the show, at the end of a serial called The War Games, which was the series finale of season 6 at the time, Patrick Troughton’s Doctor was tried by the Time Lords and found guilty of meddling in affairs he shouldn’t have been. They gave him two sentences: he was exiled to Earth, and he’d be forcibly regenerated.

Here’s the thing… no actor had been cast for the 3rd Doctor, yet, so they didn’t show Troughton’s Doctor regenerate into Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. We didn’t see Pertwee stumble out of the TARDIS until the first episode of the 7th season, Spearhead From Space. Now, yes, he was wearing what ostensibly were Troughton’s Doctor’s clothes, but otherwise, we didn’t see it.

So there’s a gray area there. You see, since Moffat inserted John Hurt’s War Doctor between Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston, we’ve seen every regeneration on screen directly, accept for that one.

Over the years, this has led to a hypothetical idea called “Season 6B”.

The history of this hypothetical season is built on a few admittedly flimsy clues and questions:

1) Polystyle Publications was, at the time, publishing officially license Doctor Who comics. Between Hartnell and Troughton was easy enough because they showed the regeneration directly, and because there was only a week between the regeneration scene and Troughton’s first episode as the Doctor. However, as I said, the regeneration from Troughton to Pertwee was not shown on screen, and there was a six month gap between Troughton’s last episode and Pertwee’s first episode.

Polystyle Publications, then continued publishing comics featuring Troughton’s Doctor, but deliberately chose to not set them before the War Games. This means that, in an officially licensed comic series, Troughton’s Doctor was going on adventures after the sentencing and before he regenerated.

But of course, pre-internet, the comics weren’t shared widely, and their connection to Doctor Who canon (if there is such a thing) remains… contested.

So…

2) Troughton’s Doctor does indeed show up again as the Doctor, in the Three Doctors, the Five Doctors, and the Two Doctors. (In that order)

Each time, he looks older. Of course this is because the actor ages in real life, but if you know anything about any kind of fandom, you know that we have to find in-universe explanations.

Also, he shows up with Jamie McCrimmon in The Two Doctors, and Jamie is older, as well.

3) At the beginning of Spearhead from Space, Pertwee does indeed start out with Troughton’s clothes… and also a bunch of things Troughton did not have at the end of War Games. Where did they come from?

4) In both the Two Doctors and the Three Doctors, Troughton’s Doctor is willingly working for the Time Lords, something he refused to do throughout his main run.

5) Also in the Two Doctors, Troughton’s Doctor possesses a TARDIS recall device, something he didn’t have in his main run and something Colin Baker’s Doctor didn’t have.

6) Again in the Two Doctors, Troughton’s Doctor’s console room is noticeably different from the console room he had during his main run.

7) Jamie McCrimmon knows things in the Two Doctors that he shouldn’t… like… he shouldn’t know about the Time Lords because they wiped his memories of the Doctor in the War Games and he didn’t know about them before that… yet he does know about them in The Two Doctors… meaning the episode had to be set after the events of the War Games for Jamie.

It was Paul Cornell’s, Martin Day’s, and Keith Topping’s book “The Discontinuity Guide” that provided the answer to these and more questions that became the Season 6B Theory.

The idea was that after his sentencing, but before his forced regeneration, Troughton’s Doctor was picked up by the Celestial Intervention Agency (the Time Lord’s CIA) and forced to work for them before finally be sentenced to Earth and forcefully regenerated into Pertwee to carry out his sentence in full.

But what does any of that have to do with Martin’s Doctor?

Well… it could be that Troughton’s Doctor was fatally wounded during his work with the CIA, and he regenerated naturally into Martin’s Doctor. She discovered something so heinous about the CIA or the Time Lords that she fled to late 20th Century Earth and used the Chameleon Arch to hide herself from the Time Lords. Unfortunately, they eventually found her, wiped her memory, forced her to regenerate into Pertwee’s Doctor, then made sure that all evidence of her existence was entirely wiped, not just from the Doctor’s memory, but from all memory. How she’s running into her future self now is still a mystery, and who knows what consequences it will have for the show and for the Doctor… a past regeneration that she didn’t choose to forget, but was forced for forget and that was entirely wiped from existence now suddenly exists.

There are some downsides to this, of course…

It entirely screws up the counting of the Doctor’s regenerations, because it means, in fact, that Tennant’s second regeneration (because according to Time of the Doctor, that incident that created the Metacrisis Doctor in The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End was, in fact, a full regeneration) was, technically, the Doctor’s final regeneration, not Smith. So this would mean that he should have died in The End of Time, not regenerated into Matt Smith’s Doctor.

Of course, that one’s easily taken care of by saying that part of wiping the Martin Doctor from existence was also returning that regeneration cycle to the Doctor, thus keeping Time of the Doctor numbering intact.

Another downside, though, is that Martin’s Doctor doesn’t recognize the sonic screwdriver.

Except that she doesn’t actually say she doesn’t know what it is. She dismisses it as being too smart to need one. Whittaker’s Doctor assumes she doesn’t recognize it… but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t.

The final downside is explaining this to a general audience in an hour-long episode in a way that isn’t too convoluted and leaves them confused. How do you explain how Martin’s Doctor wasn’t just forgotten, but was straight up wiped from existence, including giving the Doctor back that regeneration, and yet now she’s here?

That one doesn’t have such an easy answer, and it’s so convoluted and relies so much on deep Doctor Who lore that I don’t think even Moffat would have gone there.

And yet the next theory is somehow even more convoluted…

Theory 3 – The Cartmel Master Plan

During Sylvester McCoy’s run as the Doctor, Andrew Cartmel was the main script editor. He and his group of writers had a plan to re-introduce mystery and intrigue and “darkness” to the character.

I’ll quote from the TARDIS database for this…

The overall plan for Cartmel was to reveal that the Doctor was some form of a reincarnation of the Other, a mysterious figure from Gallifrey’s past who helped form the Time Lords’ society and perfect the time travel technology of the Time Lords.

There were six total founders of Time Lord society, with the central three being the Other, Rassilon, and Omega.

Cartmel did indeed try to work this into the series, but he never had a chance due to the cancellation of the series at the time.

So how does that relate to Martin’s Doctor?

Well, first off, every appearance of Rassilon has him appearing as a bad guy… someone who is desperate for power and glory. So… the idea is that Rassilon, in his desire for power and glory, betrayed Omega and the Other. He exiled Omega to a pocket universe, and his fate is explored in the serial The Three Doctors.

As for The Other… well… he destroyed the Other by forcing them to continually relive their lives. After a certain amount of regenerations, they would die and start over at the beginning. The Other, as noted above, is the Doctor.

Or… in The Three Doctors, Omega’s fate is actually noted to be a result of his work of creating the supernova that powers Time Lord civilization. The multiple lives could be the Other’s fate, as the Other could be the one who figured out regeneration, but as a result, was doomed to be reborn after so much time… a sort of forced immortality. (Although that would contradict the theories that it was Rassilon who figured out regeneration, so…)

This would make Martin’s Doctor pre-Hartnell, but without changing Hartnell as the 1st Doctor… of this current timeline. The Other/Doctor would still have a police box because they would end up on the same general trajectory, even with different regenerative forms.

This one, however, has several problems…

The first is… well… what about the Last Great Time War? Does it always happen, or was this something new? Had the Doctor stumbled onto the Daleks in these previous lives or not? If this is the case, and Hartnell’s Doctor didn’t remember the life that included Martin’s Doctor, why did Peter Capaldi’s Doctor remember being Matt Smith’s Doctor and all the ones before?

Remember, Capaldi was not the 13th Doctor. He was the first. In order to regenerate, the Time Lords had to give Smith’s Doctor a whole new regeneration cycle, which is, basically, a whole new life. The reason for this is because what happened to Tennant’s Doctor in The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End was indeed a regeneration… Tennant’s Doctor regenerated into himself. That alone made Smith’s Doctor the 12th incarnation. Then the 50th Anniversary special introduced the War Doctor, played by John Hurt, who came between Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston. This made the regeneration from David Tennant to Matt Smith the Doctor’s last regeneration. Had the Time Lords not interfered in Time of the Doctor, the Doctor would have truly died.

That does indeed make Capaldi the first Doctor, and Whittaker the second Doctor. And yet both continue on the same lifeline as Hartnell through Smith. Had this happened to the Other/Doctor before? Does this always happen to them? Or is this a fluke in the timeline… a massive change?

Second, this does contradict canon going all the way back to The Three Doctors where Hartnell’s Doctor is indeed referred to as “the earliest one”. In other words, the TV show goes out of its way to show that Hartnell’s Doctor was the original… pre-regenerations.

Except for one story from Tom Baker’s era called The Brain of Morbius, that in fact showed several incarnations of the Doctor pre-Hartnell…

Or did it? That is a hotly contested point in Doctor Who fandom. Some think it did, and it is what Philip Hinchcliffe, who was producer of the series at the time, intended, but many think those were either previous incarnations of Morbius (although that doesn’t quite fit with the episode unless Morbius confused his previous incarnations with the Doctor’s for some strange reason) or a complete fake-out by the Doctor used to beat Morbius at his own game.

So it either does or does not contradict the show depending on how you view it.

Third, Martin’s Doctor’s TARDIS is stuck as a blue police box. Yet we know, according to the show, that it didn’t disguise itself as a blue police box until the Doctor and his granddaughter Susan landed in Totter’s Lane in the 60s. So why does a pre-Hartnell incarnation’s TARDIS appear as a blue police box?

And finally, this is perhaps even more convoluted than the Season 6B theory, at least to the general audience.

Both of these theories (6B and Master Plan) involve deep Doctor Who lore that the average fan simply wouldn’t be aware of, and explaining it is rather outside the scope of a one-hour episode of Doctor Who. Unless the goal is to explain either one over the next five episodes of the current season, I don’t see how either can be pulled off in a way that doesn’t confuse the general audience.

To further confuse things is what happened in this season’s opening two-parter Spyfall (parts 1 & 2). The Master (who has returned) destroyed Gallifrey because he discovered a secret about the Time Lords, him, and the Doctor that ruined everything. It was a horrible secret, one so bad that it seemed to the Master that Time Lord society deserved to be utterly destroyed over it. It has something to do with “The Timeless Child”, which was first mentioned in the 2nd episode of season 11 (Whittaker’s first season), but then not mentioned again until Spyfall, when the Master mentions it. And what does the Lone Cyberman have to do with any of it?

Is all that connected to the existence of Martin’s Doctor? Is there a connection?

Of course there must be… but what?

Honestly, this might be the biggest shake-up of Doctor Who lore… ever.

To be fair, Doctor Who doesn’t really have a “canon” as such. Of course this is in part because the show is fundamentally a time travel show, so literally everything is canon. If it’s DW-adjacent in any way, then it is canon… including the parodies and the Dr. Who and the Daleks films that featured Peter Cushing playing a human known as Dr. Who who discovers time travel.

Or perhaps that’s not the case… perhaps there is a canon, and it’s just the main TV show and the 90’s TV film. But even that involves a ton of ridiculous contradictions (The Brain of Morbius, for example… and the TV film claiming that the Doctor is half human… which is not even hinted at before and is straight up ignored after).

I’m personally conflicted. One the one hand, I’m really worried. I simply can’t see how Martin’s Doctor fits outside of a parallel universe. Both Season 6B and the Cartmel Master Plan are fascinating, but are far to messy and convoluted to work. Yet Chibnall did say that Martin’s Doctor is not from a parallel universe.

On the other hand, I’m excited. I honestly cannot wait to see how this is resolved and I wish I had a time machine to jump forward to this coming Sunday and the Sundays after to see each following episode to the finale, and then the Special… and then jump forward again to the next season to see the consequences of all this play out.

I’m worried, but dammit I’m hooked. So either way, Chibnall’s done a damn good job, here… at least at piquing my interest and making me ecstatic for the rest of this season.

What do you think? Do you have any theories about Martin’s Doctor? Where is she on the Doctor’s timeline, especially if she can’t be from the Doctor’s future?

Comments

  1. says

    My money is on Martin’s Doctor being a regeneration between the 2nd and 3rd Doctors. How or if they explain how this affected the number of regenerations I wouldn’t like to guess.

  2. says

    Given that Spyfall involved entities which appear to be explicitly extra-dimensional I assumed the whole thing was going to branch out into multiverse storylines, since it’s not really been done before in DW. That seemed by far the most likely explanation of the other Doctor. There’s a decent chance that they have an unorthodox and Who specific interpretation of the multiverse theory, which might allow them to claim that this isn’t that. Or of course it could just be bs. Occam’s Razor suggests the latter.

    There is always the possibility that the Doctor bifurcated at some point along their timeline, given the amount of nonsense they’re regularly involved in it wouldn’t be a stretch. In that case it could have happened at any time, I’m not nearly enough of a fan to speculate. What gets me is the lack of sonic. It seems to indicate that Martin’s Doctor is an entirely different person, every Doctor I can remember had their sonic screwdriver though perhaps if you go far enough back that isn’t the case. I also feel like if there were two Doctors running somehow parallel, they would know. Exactly what the Doctor can and can’t sense seems to be a bit vague, but the idea of their having a literal clone without any kind of psychic connection seems odd.

    Whatever the ‘answer’ turns out to be it must be connected to the Master’s allusions regarding the Time Lords’ civilisation being built on a lie, which led to the destruction of Gallifrey (again). Though I think if we want to get meta about it, the existence of Gallifrey is always a narrative problem for the show, so blowing it up was probably convenient.

    To be honest I’ll just be happy if there IS an explanation, rather than the kind of handwavey non answer most showrunners seem so enamoured of since Lost started us spiralling toward the event horizon of Abrams’ bloody mystery box.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    Let’s start with some facts.

    before he [Adams] wrote the Hitchhiker’s Guide series… which, BTW, started as stories for Doctor Who

    Not true. The first series of Hitchhikers had already been completed and broadcast when Graham Williams met Adams to offer him the job on the recommendation of his predecessor in the role, Anthony Read.

    Hitchhikers started out as one idea for a proposed radio series to be titled “The Ends of the Earth”, which had nothing at all to do with Dr. Who and in each episode of which the Earth would be destroyed.

    What you may be thinking of is the plot to the THIRD Hitchhikers book “Life, The Universe and Everything”, which was the first book NOT to be based on a broadcast radio series. It was instead based on a story idea Adams had for a Doctor Who film titled “Dr. Who and the Krikkitmen”, and if you think about the plot much its origins as a Doctor Who script become obvious. Adams commented that it was difficult to shoehorn Who plots into the HHGG universe because unlike the Doctor and his companions HHGG characters are essentially feckless and cowardly.

    Adams had a habit of reusing ideas (which is not necessarily a bad thing, since his ideas were generally really good). For instance, he wrote possibly the best serial of Classic Who, “City of Death”, in which it is discovered that the origin of life on earth is the energy released by the destruction of an alien spacecraft in the distant past -- an alien who is still knocking about in the present and determined to get back into the past to correct the error. He also wrote “Shada”, in which a Cambridge University professor named Chronotis turns out to be a retired Time Lord whose college rooms are his TARDIS. Anyone who has read “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” will recognise these elements from that book.

    ——————————
    You don’t get to choose who “your” Doctor is -- it finds you. Mine is Tom. You’re lucky yours is Capaldi -- he was fantastic, and my single favourite episode of all (against stiff competition) is “Heaven Sent”. My wife’s is Smith. I do feel a bit sorry for people who latched onto Davison or Colin.

    I feel way more sorry Whittaker. I was SO looking forward to female Doctor, especially after Missy had been so incredibly good. I laughed at the haters. Then I watched the show. Whittaker is a good actor -- watch her with John “Finn from Star Wars” Boyega in “Attack the Block”, it’s really good. But the scripts, oh ffs the scripts. I’ll sum it up this way -- the entire fucking point of the Doctor, if there is one, is that the Doctor and their companion(s) turn up somewhere, and as a result, things are BETTER. Sometimes, rarely, yes, everyone dies (Horror of Fang Rock, I’m looking at you), but equally, as in “The Doctor Dances” EVERYONE LIVES! But since 13 came along, the Doctor turns up, waves her Sonic Sex-toy around in an unbelieveably contrived and overdone way, and if she achieves anything at all (which she mostly doesn’t) it’s to actually side WITH the bad guys.

    There’ve been a lot of complaints from alt-right nutters about the show being overly PC, but in fact what I think is happening is that fans on the LEFT are being trolled by a right-wing showrunner. “Look -- the Doctor’s a woman! And she’s fucking useless!“. I absolutely hated the last series, the nadir of which was probably “Kerblam”, where space-Amazon was grinding down workers with meaningless pointless menial jobs, and when one of the workers staged an uprising the Doctor sided with space-Amazon against the workers, and having had a go IN THAT EPISODE at someone for anti-robot prejudice, allowed thousands of robots to be murdered. I very, very nearly bailed on the entire series at that point. There was a LOT else to hate about it, almost none of which was Whittaker’s performance (sonic pose aside).

    I’m glad I didn’t. This week the Judoon were trailed. Face it, they’re a bit shit. I started playing the episode, and at the end of the opening credits my wife stormed out (note: before the show had begun -- no cold opens nowadays) to get a cup of tea complaining it was going to be rubbish again. 50 minutes later we’d both been on the edge of our seat, gone “what the FFFFUUUUUCCCCKKK!” at least twice, and were high fiving that our show was kinda back to how we liked it.

    So, in order: Jack’s disregarding of consent. On the one hand, entirely in character for the left-trolling I believe Chibnall to be doing. In his defense, Jack is positive this is his absolutely closest friend ever in a long, long, LONG life. He’s not properly apologetic when he finds out he’s wrong, but it’s an honest mistake.

    in this season, he’s not gonna meet Whittaker’s Doctor

    Says who? (with a small w).

    The show makes you think it’s some white dude; it’s not.

    I think that unfairly minimises that “white dude’s” role. It works so well on two levels. The first time through, he’s really creepy and suspicious-seeming. It was really well done. The second time you watch it -- knowing where it’s going -- it’s heart-breaking. Consider: this is the Doctor’s companion. He’s basically in the same position as Martha was in “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood” -- a protector, watching over a Time Lord he loves to ensure that the false personality she’s adopted doesn’t waver, that her camouflage remains intact. But unlike Martha, he doesn’t survive -- he does everything he can to protect her, and never breaks faith, even to his death, which he goes to knowing he has at least given her the route to rediscovering herself. Watching it through a second time knowing all that adds a great layer to the writing and the performance.

    Ruth Clayton, played by Jo Martin[…] she’s The Doctor

    I have no problem with the Doctor being black, or a woman. I have just ONE problem with the Doctor being this black woman, and that problem is that I am WAY more interested in knowing what happens next with her than I am in the weak, ineffectual “Doctor” Whittaker has been forced to portray for the last season and a half. Jo Martin, and “Ruth Clayton”, are GREAT. Elsewhere, part way through the previous season, I seriously suggested that Chibnall was trolling the audience in that he HAD cast a woman as the Doctor, but that woman was NOT Whittaker. I was thinking (hoping) that at the end of the series Phoebe Waller-Bridge was going to stride up the console and demand to know just exactly what the FUCK Missy was doing on HER TARDIS. And it would transpire that there was a good reason for Whittaker’s character being so absolutely shit at Doctoring -- she was never the Doctor. We’d been faked out for a whole season watching an entirely different Time Lord. Unfortunately it turned out the reason the Doctor was shit was that the writers were shit.

    And that’s the rub -- it’s still Chibnall in charge. Having forged his own “no old monsters, few continuity references” path last time round, he’s now delved deep into the Davies/Moffat toolbag, and come up with an intruiging setup. I have near-zero confidence he can stick the landing though.

    Speculation about what was going on with the timeline started in episode 1, when the wonderful Sacha Dhawan was revealed as the Master. On one level, great -- but on another, if this is the next incarnation after Missy, that entirely shits on her complex and extended redemption arc. There exists the possibility, however, that Dhawan is somehow a different Master entirely, and there being a different Doctor entirely seems to point the same way (quite apart from everything else, the Doc said “reminds me of Jodrell Bank”, in reference to Tom’s regeneration… except that didn’t happen at Jodrell Bank (even if it was filmed there), it canonically happened at the Pharos Project in Cambridgeshire, minimum 100 miles from Jodrell Bank).

    It doesn’t necessarily point to a 6b/6c thing because, as you rightly point out, that’s WAY complex, especially for a showrunner who was so openly hostile to continuity references last year. It is provocative that we’ve had non-consensually mindwiping of women re-established as a Thing, though, don’t you think? (I say “of women”, because Tesla and Edison (and Babbage, come to that) were NOT subjected to it).

    Personally, I quite like the idea of Time Being Rewritten, along the lines of the Star Trek reboot movies -- establish the “same” universe, but branch it off and start again. Somehow hand off the memories of “this” Doctor to the “new” one, but just… start again. Still Daleks, still Cybermen, still Sontarans and everything else, but everything new from the beginning again. Maybe even the occasional leak over from the other universe. But I think that might be a step too far. Then again, I’ve seen it seriously suggested that Chibnall’s brief is to kill the show, and that would be one way to do it, possibly.

    This one episode has caused more enthusiasm in me and my wife for this show than anything since Capaldi’s last “normal” episode. I just hope they can keep it going.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    One further thing: it’s nice that JW is in your top 5 Doctors (which means you consider her better than at least one of Tom, Eccleston, Tennant, Smith or Capaldi, and without knowing which, I disagree). But…

    So far, she’s not in my top eight Doctors played by women.

    That list would look like this:
    1. Gomez (Missy was pretty good at being the Doctor)
    2. Coleman (in a gift to fanfic, Clara’s final fate is off round the universe in a TARDIS with a female companion).
    3. Martin (obvs, and if I’m brutally honest only this low on the list because I don’t personally find her smoking hot, unlike (1) and (2).
    4. Kingston (River is another Doctor, including visibly regenerating).
    5. Williams (see (2))
    6. Lumley (she counts! Fight me!)
    7. Tate (meta-crisis and Donna was a WAY better character than I expected given how little I like Tate’s comedy).
    8. Hynes (I’ve seen her character in Russel T. Davies’s “Years and Years” described as a Doctor expy.
    9. Whittaker (almost totally not her fault, apart from the “sonicking (sp?) pose” thing.

  5. says

    There are three theories

    I’ve heard some more than three…

    Theory 4, “Doctor 0” (which I’ve heard to refer to it elsewhere), is that Ruth is a pre-Hartnell Doctor, which is partly based on things such as the retro look of her Type 40 console room (complete with round things!) and either her ignorance or arrogance in not possessing or needing a sonic screwdriver; and the TARDIS exterior is noticeably narrower in dimensions than the Police Box shape post-2005, thus at a glance more reminiscent of the classic run of the show. My reservations around this theory don’t centre on such superficial things as these but on how would the elements such as the received history or wisdom of the series change. How does Susan Foreman fit in to the scheme of things if there is a pre-Hartnell Doctor, and who is she? As the OP points out, the TARDIS’ chameleon circuit becomes stuck during the Hartnell Doctor’s visit to 1960s Earth, so the TARDIS concealed on the beach should have a working chameleon circuit and not have the shape it does.

    Theory 5, non-multiverse bifurcated timeline (Ian King mentions this in passing above, in addition to the glance in the original post) seems to be where Chibnall is going, in my reckoning at least. Some of those ‘classic’ elements of Ruth’s Doctor and TARDIS possibly point to an earlier incarnation than 13th, i.e. that she might be an alternate regeneration based on a bifurcation of the timeline, so that 13 and Ruth share some regenerations in common up until the splitting point. This idea has already been explored in other Doctor Who media before now; principally in the ‘Faction Paradox’ series of the BBC novels and especially Interference by Lawrence Miles, where we discover the Eighth Doctor interacting with a Third Doctor who didn’t regenerate after his previously fatal encounter with the Queen spider of Metebelis Three, with the result that his timeline has been paradoxed.

    I feel I should point out in relation to the Cartmel Masterplan, it isn’t exactly clear to what extent the Other is the Doctor or the Doctor is the Other; Marc Platt’s Lungbarrow (originally to have been a Season 26 story, it was radically changed into what became Ghost Light before materialising as a Virgin novel) introduces the idea of Time Lords being brought into existence by looming (a loom creates a new identity by threading disparate elements of personalities saved in the Time Lord’s repository of memory, the Matrix) and the idea is that the looms were surreptitiously manipulated to incorporate all of the surviving elements of the Other’s persona into the Doctor.

    Lastly, I find the idea that Chibnall is merely trolling parts of the fanbase is pretty cheap. It’s part of the culture wars currently going on for some rabid sad fans to dislike greater inclusivity in this and other sci-fi properties such as Star Wars and Star Trek – well, some of them are actually far more abusive than displaying mere dislike. Doctor Who (like Star Trek) has always preached egalitarianism and tolerance as subtext, while at a production level often failing to live up to its ideals; so I am seeing a lot of criticism from supposedly-grown adults who are upset that Chibnall has been so gauche to overtly say the “subtext” out loud, as text.

    One of the delicious things about this episode is that however it is resolved, it will change our perception of the show and the Doctor – Chibnall has wanted to pull out the stops on this show for over thirty years (the Season 23 DVD extras feature a very young future showrunner interacting with John Nathan-Turner and Pip and Jane Baker) and I wish him the very best luck in doing so.

  6. says

    “There are three theories” was supposed to be a blockquote but obviously the deity Typos intervened.

    One last note: I’ve been a fan since 1978, which although falling right in the middle of the Tom Baker years, is when the ABC began its great frequent repeating of colour episodes from Pertwee onwards, and thus is why I tend to think of Pertwee as slightly more of a favourite than Tom Baker – but I have to say it’s pretty much shared honours. I also have a considerable soft spot for Colin Baker, which began with a wonderful interview he gave prior to starting in 1984, where he listed out his hopes for what he might be able to do with the role, and in which he was largely thwarted. I found, when I was eventually lucky enough to encounter the Hartnell and Troughton Doctors that they both had their virtues, while there have been things to enjoy in all of the post-2005 Doctors’ portrayals, irrespective of the quality of the individual shows and plots.

    So I think the idea that there’s one and only one Doctor which you have as “your Doctor” is obviously self-refuting – as the Brigadier puts it in The Five Doctors, “Wonderful chap … all of them.”

  7. sonofrojblake says

    I think the idea that there’s one and only one Doctor which you have as “your Doctor” is obviously self-refuting

    In your specific case it may well be. However, I think you’ll find that among Whovians (and even civilians), and especially those of us who’ve grown up with the show on original broadcast in the UK, the idea that there’s a “your” Doctor is uncontroversial bordering on the universal.

    The nature of the broadcast in the UK tended to cause kids to “imprint” on the incarnation they grew up with, and the effect is strong. It’s a combination of
    1. regularity -- like clockwork at teatime every Saturday, after the footie results and local news but before the Generation Game (later every Monday/Tuesday, but that was the beginning of the end).
    2. ubiquity -- it was on for most of the year. The punishing schedule was partly what drove Hartnell out of the part in the first place. None of your ten episode “seasons” here, it was on what seemed like ALL THE TIME. Even when they scaled it back later, The Key to Time was five stories of four episodes each, with a sixer to finish -- that’s SIX MONTHS!
    3. uniqueness -- there was very little else on TV that was anything like it. There were, after all, for most of the original run, only three TV channels available, mostly filled (to my young eyes) with soaps, sport and game shows. Cheap crap, in other words.
    4. lack of choice -- you speak of “frequent repeating of colour episodes from Pertwee onwards” -- {Yorkshire accent}LUXURY!{/Yorkshire accent}. The BBC hardly ever repeated the show, so the Doctor of the day was the Doctor you saw, no alternatives. Possibly a little curio around an anniversary, but mainly the only Doctor available for your formative years was the one who happened to be in the role at that time. And of course hardly anyone had VCRs and the BBC released almost no episodes on VHS anyway for years.

    It does fascinate me the different ways people relate to the show based on how they’ve consumed it, but the idea that you haven’t imprinted on “your” Doctor strikes me as practically perverse! It’s way more odd than, say, having no opinion on Picard vs. Kirk. 😉

  8. says

    Paul Durrant @ #1:

    That’s what many are leaning towards, but as you said, it’s gonna be a right mess to explain…

    Ian King @ #2:

    A Bifurcated Doctor is another idea, you’re right.

    As for the sonic… like I said, she never said she didn’t recognize it. She rudely dismissed it. Whittaker’s Doctor assumed she didn’t recognize it. Doesn’t mean she didn’t…

    Also, as Paul points out in #3, Troughton’s Doctor did indeed have a sonic screwdriver… it’s just that that’s pretty much all it was. Pertwee’s Doctor turned it into the magic wand gadget it became in later years (and especially post-2005).

    sonofrojblake @ #4…

    Thanks for the corrections. I did actually know that about Douglas Adams, yet somehow managed to mess that up in the post… I’ll need to fix that…

    As for Chibnall, when you say “right-wing”, do you mean “liberal” or “conservative”? I consider Chibnall a liberal show-runner, not a conservative one. I’d need to watch Kerblam again… which I don’t fancy doing… before I can comment on that.

    As for who says Jack won’t meet the Doctor this season… in that very same link where Chibnall confirms that Jo Martin was indeed playing the Doctor, he also confirms that Jack won’t be back for the main season.

    And you’re right that I minimized Martin’s Doctor’s companion. That wasn’t my intention… I just wanted to get to the crux of my point and the post was already too long. I’ll edit an addition to that.

    As for my list…

    I don’t put Peter Capaldi on my list because he’s my Doctor, which I separate from my favorite for… some reason. He’s… like… my “double favorite”, I guess. So there’s Capaldi, then here’s my list in order from first to last:

    1) Tom Baker
    2) William Hartnell
    3) Patrick Troughton
    4) Christopher Eccleston
    5) Jodie Whittaker
    6) Paul McGann (I should note that McGann has worked his way up from being my least favorite due to his Big Finish audios; I highly recommend them)
    7) Peter Davison
    8) Sylvester McCoy
    9) Matt Smith
    10) David Tennant (I know I know… absolute heresy. But I found Tennant and Smith too human and Tennant specifically too saccharine…)
    11) Colin Baker (this more has to do with his era rather than him specifically, though… there was an amazing Doctor somewhere in there, for sure)
    12) Jon Pertwee (I just didn’t like the earth-only era)
    13) John Hurt (not enough time with his Doctor, unfortunately; and I haven’t listened to the War Doctor audios from Big Finish, yet)

    I don’t know where Jo Martin fits, yet, but she could push Whittaker out, especially if she’s also playing the next Doctor after Whittaker (which would be incredible).

    Xanthë @ #6:

    There’s no way this reveal doesn’t change the show, honestly. The hope, of course, is that it’s for the better, but we’ll see…

    Also, I call Capaldi my Doctor for several reasons. Smith to Capaldi was the first regeneration I saw live. Plus, I found him refreshing after Smith, who I found to be a bit too human. Capaldi really reminded me of a sort of combination of Hartnell, Troughton, and both Bakers, as well, which was a huge plus (even though I rate Colin as my 10th favorite). Everything about him was what I imagined the Doctor should be in terms of personality, so he very quickly became my Doctor.

    My favorite Doctor’s list is in flux and subject to change (Hartnell was actually number 1 until somewhat recently when I decided to re-watch Douglas Adam’s era… Tom Baker went to number 1 after that), but Capaldi will probably always be my Doctor.

  9. sonofrojblake says

    It did strike me as odd you’d know phrases like “Season 6b” and “Cartmel Masterplan” and NOT know the Adams background, but nobody’s perfect.

    By “right wing” I mean alt-right. I mean (by UK standards) actual conservative. He fucking SIDED WITH AMAZON. There are many other things like this through his first season in charge, but that’s the one I still can’t just let go. It’s absolutely astonishing. It’s like the Doctor arrives on a planet, finds Thals being herded into gas chambers, and the big twist is the “help” note that brought her there was sent by a Dalek… so she helps the Dalek. I just couldn’t even.

    And that whole season just looked to me like he was running an elaborate con. A joke at the expense of particularly dimwitted people on the right AND left. The dullards on the right would scream about the dark skins of the companions and the presumed penislessness of the Doctor, and the people on the left who were paying attention would hate the ineffectual over-pacifism, the siding with Amazon, the patronising of a bereaved man, so much else that led me to say the not only is Whittaker not “my” Doctor, I don’t believe she was even playing the Doctor. It was a different character, fundamentally, in many ways. I’m not convinced it still isn’t. We’ll see.

    As for your list of favourites, everyone’s taste is different. I can respect your position on Smith and Tennant without agreeing with it wholely. Most of the rest I either agree with or can see why. It does seem a shame you left Sylvester McCoy completely off the list, though. The first Doctor with something other than an RP accent. Blaming him for the cancellation?

  10. says

    Leaving off McCoy was an oversight. Unfortunately, he’s the one era I haven’t watched in full, yet. What I have seen, however, puts him between Davison and Smith in my list.

  11. sonofrojblake says

    One other thing -- “my” Doctor is obviously Tom, but specifically Hinchcliffe-era, rather than Williams/Adams. There’s an argument to be made that there are really three Tom Baker Doctors -- the dark, brooding, Hammer-horror-inflected Hinchcliffe era, the lighter, funnier Williams era brought on at least in part by the depredations of the dreadful harridan Whitehouse, and the mordant, snappy JN-T era. I like them all, but in descending order.

    Then again, the JN-T era Doctor uttered one of my all time favourite lines of the show, and an example of the kind of line they do very well, but very rarely. Occasionally a line will come up that just… suggests… so much, without giving anything specific away. The problem is, it’s easy to write a line that tries for that effect and fails. The whole “Timeless Child” thing is aiming for that, and missing, IMO. RTD got it -- I got chills when Ecclestone faced down a Dalek and said “You know what they call me, in the ancient legends of the Dalek homeworld? The Oncoming Storm.” Two sentences conjour so much -- practically the idea of Daleks telling each other ghost stories round a campfire, and that they’d be poetic enough to come up with a name for their nemesis so suggestive of vulnerability when they are, by definition, space-worthy flying tanks. But back to my favourite line -- Adric (the little shit) is pestering the Doctor about the Master in “Logopolis”. The Doctor suggests that the Master knows what he’s going to do. Adric says “You mean he can read your mind?”. With an obvious irritation that might well have had a root in the reality that everyone on set hated Matthew Waterhouse, especially Tom Baker, the Doctor snaps back “He’s a TIME LORD!… In many ways we have the same mind.” Again, it suggests so much without really meaning anything or getting followed up on. Done right, I bloody love that stuff.

  12. brucegee1962 says

    a) It was somewhat disappointing that these two intelligent Doctors don’t immediately triangulate their memories and figure out when they bifurcated. Sure, they didn’t have a lot of time, but “How many reincarnations have you had so far” doesn’t take long to get out. Ah, well, plot reasons I suppose.

    b) Martin’s outfit. Wow. As in, wow. THAT is a Doctor Who outfit and a half. Also, wow.

  13. says

    brucegee1962 @ # 13:

    a) I can’t recall any Doctor questioning another Doctor like that. Granted this is a bit of a different situation, but otherwise it actually filled many of the “multi-Doctor story” tropes, that one included.

    b) Agree. That was proper fancy n’ shit. I loved it.

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