Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Doctor Who 12x05 Recap: “Fugitive of the Judoon” (Are You the Doctor?) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]

“Fugitive of the Judoon”
Original Airdate: January 26, 2020

Ruth is just a happy, super friendly tour guide in Gloucester. It’s her birthday. Everything is lovely. Except not so much. High above Earth, the Judoon are lying in wait. They’re trigger-happy, intergalactic police for hire who don’t care about collateral damage or civilian casualties as long as they fulfill their contract. And they’re looking for someone on Earth.

In the TARDIS, the Fam question the Doctor about her unusually odd behavior as of late. She’s been going to Gallifrey on her own. She’s been feverishly searching for the Master. The Fam have been excluded from all of this because they “ask too many questions,” though Graham reminds her they do it because they care about her. The family meeting is interrupted by the Judoon’s warning signal as they beam down to Earth, where they begin scanning people to root out the fugitive.

Lee, Ruth’s husband, picks up Ruth’s birthday cake and mutters something disparaging about “humans” under his breath, which means he definitely isn’t one. Upon seeing the Judoon, he hurries home. Just as the Judoon are going to fire a dangerous weapon at Lee and Ruth’s flat, the Doctor intervenes and convinces them to let her arbitrate. They give her five minutes.

Ruth immediately lets the Doctor into the flat but both humans register as, well, human, which is puzzling. A search of the flat uncovers an alien box that Lee recognizes and Ruth doesn’t. Lee convinces them to make a run for it while he deals with the Judoon. He surrenders to them but someone new is with the Judoon, a Commander Gat. She’s tracked him using the broken service medal inside the box. Although Lee is not the fugitive, Gat kills him.


Around this time is when the Doctor, Ryan, and Yaz realize Graham isn’t with them anymore (and they really don’t seem worried about that). In fact, he’s been beamed aboard some other ship and a very familiar voice is flirting with him over the intercom. It’s Captain Jack Harkness! “You missed me, right?” he says and I really, really did. He immediately kisses Graham because he thinks he’s the Doctor. “Loving the grey at the temple. Kinda distinguished. And still sexy.” Graham is confused and I am so, so happy.

Of course, Graham quickly corrects Jack, who is thrilled to learn the Doctor is now female. He’s piloting a stolen ship and trying to scoop the Doctor up to give her a message, but he ends up beaming aboard Ryan and Yaz instead. Now he has three companions and still no Doctor. To make things worse, the owners of his ship want it back and they’re using nanogenes to get rid of Jack. Before he disappears, he tells the trio his message for the Doctor: Beware the lone Cyberman and don’t give it what it wants, no matter the cost. Something has been sent back in time that could revive the empire of the Cybermen. Jack promises to see the Doctor again (yay!) and sends the companions back to Earth before he disappears.


Alone with the Doctor, Ruth receives a last text from Lee, which she conceals. The Judoon surround them and in a snap, Ruth takes out the squad with insane fighting skills. She’s the fugitive. She’s also just as stunned as I am about what happened. The Doctor believes another identity is concealed in Ruth and Lee’s text triggered it. They decide to drive to the lighthouse where Ruth grew up. On the wall is a button that says, “Break the glass,” which was in Lee’s text. Ruth does and energy floods into her. The Doctor scans the graves of Ruth’s parents and finds a TARDIS buried there instead. Ruth walks up behind her, now in an awesome blue suit with a massive gun in her hands. She re-introduces herself. “I’m the Doctor.” OMG?!?

They teleport into Ruth’s TARDIS, which is in the retro style of the First Doctor (and also Clara Oswald’s TARDIS, just sayin’). Ruth prepares for Gat’s arrival but the Doctor is still super confused. Neither woman believes the other is them. “And how did I end up like that? All rainbows and trousers that don’t reach?” Ruth cracks. She believes the Doctor is in her future, but the Doctor has no memory of being Ruth. The sonic screwdriver confirms they’re the same person, though. Ruth used the Chameleon Arch to disguise herself as a human with Lee as her protector. Gat is her former boss and she’s pissed.

The Judoon pull the TARDIS aboard their ship and Ruth confronts Gat, who is ready to kill her. Against Ruth’s instructions, the Doctor reveals her own identity, which causes confusion among the Judoon and fear in Gat. The latter is also a Time Lord, which means the orders to hunt down the Doctor are from the past because, once again, Gallifrey is destroyed. The Doctor and Gat even mind meld so she can prove it. But Gat has her orders from a not-yet-identified contractee and shoots Ruth’s gun. It backfires and kills her, which was Ruth’s plan. She and the Doctor escape the Judoon, who still have an outstanding contract to bring in the Doctor so we haven’t seen the last of them.

Ruth drops the Doctor near her own TARDIS and they each acknowledge that one of them must be wrong about being the Doctor. Haunted yet again by unanswered questions, the Doctor reconnects with the Fam. They tell her Jack’s message about the Cybermen. She tells them about Ruth. Something massive is coming for her, the Doctor says, and she tries to keep the Fam out of it: “You don’t know me. Not even a little bit.”

But they protest. “You’re the Doctor,” Ryan says. “Whoever you were in the past or are in the future, we know who you are right now.”

“The best person we know,” Graham adds.

They remind her they’re family and they want to stay with her for whatever is coming.

Final Thoughts:
  • This is the best episode of Chris Chibnall’s Doctor Who. Hands down, no contest. There were some very affecting episodes in series 11 and some amazing moments but no episode has been as entertaining and surprising the entire time as this one. No episode has felt so Whovian. Any lingering doubts I’ve been having are gone. If this is the way series 11 keeps up, it’s going to be incredible. This was such a huge step up from the standalone, monster-of-the-week episodes that have mostly made up series 10 and 11. More like this in the future, please!
  • Captain Jack Harkness is back!!! I am SO HAPPY! Within two minutes I was convinced that he needs to be brought on full time to this show. While I’ll never stop being bitter than he and the Twelfth Doctor never met and that he was left out of the 50th Anniversary episode, this was a fabulous comeback. 
  • Here’s the only downside to Jack’s return: it made it even more clear that Chibnall and his writers don’t know what to do with the three current companions. They once again had little to no effect on the plot. Jack had a bigger role in the episode and he didn’t even meet the Doctor. I love Ryan, Yaz, and Graham but honestly, if series 13 was the Doctor and Jack in the TARDIS together, I would be ecstatic.
  • I really, really thought maybe there was a connection to Clara Oswald that was going to come out of this episode. She is out there somewhere with a TARDIS after all, although it’s stuck looking like a 1950s diner on the outside and retro on the inside. 
  • Graham: “This ain’t your ship?” Jack: “You think I’d choose this look? It doesn’t even have a bar!”
  • “Doesn’t time fly when you don’t have all the answers?”
  • Jack, about the companions: “Seriously? Three of you? I had a dream about this once.”
  • Jack: “Oh, she likes them mouthy then, huh?” Ryan: “Yeah, one up from cheesy.”
  • Ruth: “Is there even a word for how dumb you are?” The Doctor: “Doctor.”


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