Doctor Who: Fugitive of the Judoon

Doctor Who: Fugitive of the Judoon January 27, 2020

The Doctor Who episode “Fugitive of the Judoon” starts off with a fairly straightforward premise by series standards—“a platoon of Judoon near the moon“—but gets wibbly wobbly timey wimey by the end. And since my own life got timey wimey as I traveled to Australia, and given the big reveal in this episode, I thought I’d blog about this one right away, and come back to the one before it, which I’ve still yet to blog about, “Nicola Tesla’s Night of Terror.”

The seemingly typical premise of the episode “Fugitive of the Judoon” is that the Judoon are after a fugitive and quarantine an area on Earth while they seek the person they are looking for. We are introduced to Lee and Ruth, and several clues are sent our way hinting that Lee might be the one they are seeking. But it turns out, as we will soon learn, that Lee is protecting Ruth from a secret that she herself doesn’t know. Before the Judoon execute him, he sends her a text telling her to seek the light and break the glass. The text activates some kind of memory in her and she is able to beat the Judoon.

Meanwhile, the Doctor’s companions start being swept up one by one…by Jack Harkness! He cannot get a good lock on her because of the Judoon quarantine field, and so Jack kisses Graham thinking he is the Doctor. When he learns that the Doctor isn’t a he, Jack says he can’t wait to see.

Ruth and the Doctor take sanctuary in a church. When the Judoon show up, the Doctor says, “This is a place of worship. Show some respect.” Ruth rips off the horn of the Judoon captain, saying that bullies always have a weak spot. The Doctor criticizes the move saying that ripping off a Judoon’s horn is the worst possible insult. Ruth sits on the step where the apse begins in the church.

I was already beginning to pick up, between Jack’s repeated experiences of mistaken identity, the biological encryption used to hide from the Judoon, and the local shopkeeper’s file and suspicions about Lee, I was already picking up on the fact that this episode is exploring identity. A clincher that would prove still more poignant later was when the Doctor told Ruth that she was someone other than who she believed herself to be. Ruth said, “I don’t want to be that person.” The Doctor replied, “You don’t have a choice.”

Meanwhile, before he runs out of time, Jack sends a message to the Doctor: Beware the lone cyberman. Don’t give it what it wants. Something was sent back in time to defeat them, and now they’re a defeated empire. We’ll surely be hearing more about this.

The big reveal seemed like it might go in a particular direction. As Ruth breaks the glass, we see something we witnessed in Human Nature/Family of Blood and Utopia: a chameleon arch had been used to hide Ruth’s true identity even from herself. She’s thus clearly a time lord, and so I thought she must be the Master. That the Doctor dug up a buried police call box outside didn’t immediately contradict this, since the Master has on occasion made their TARDIS look like the Doctor’s.

But it turns out, Ruth is the Doctor.

Obviously the Doctor played by Jodi Whitaker is confused. It isn’t the first time the Doctor has encountered a different regeneration–but why does neither remember the other?

There is some great Doctor-with-Doctor dialogue that ensues as they meet another Gallifreyan who has been trying to track down the Doctor as fugitive, an encounter into which the Ruth-Doctor carries a laser rifle. 

“Don’t take the moral high ground with me.”

“The Doctor never uses weapons.” “I know. Shut up.”

“I know my own life. I know what I’ve done.” “One of us is wrong.”

And then later:

“Something’s coming for me.”

“I’ve lived for thousands of years.” 

Lest we were still in disbelief, the end credits are unambiguous, telling us “and introducing Jo Martin as the Doctor.”

Can the Doctor forget her past faces and lives, having lived so long? Is this another sign that the current story is heading for the Carmel Masterplan or something like it? That isn’t the first time this possibility was broached. “The Brain of Morbius” suggested there might be prior regenerations. An interview clarified that that was indeed the intent.

I’m looking forward to seeing where they go with this. What about you? Are you excited by the storytelling possibilities, and the way they may bring to the fore explicitly something that the show hinted at as long ago as the Tom Baker era?

 

 

 

 

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  • Biblical reference to Ruth who did not want to be part of her people anymore but rather her mother-in-law’s people.

  • Scurra

    To be honest, I’m having more fun watching parts of fandom melt down with the prospect of yet another change to “canon”, if only for the hilarity of the concept that Doctor Who has a “canon” at all. (I think that any of us who were early retconners understood this, which is probably why we persist in trying to do it.)
    But this is entirely in-keeping with the modern history of the show – RTD stuck a fake regeneration in and Moffat introduced an entirely unknown Doctor, and the over-reactions of fandom to both of those things were spectacular to observe.
    I’m quite willing to wait and see what Chibnall has planned. And I won’t be at all surprised if it isn’t all neatly wrapped up at the end of this season (again, probably much to the rage of certain sections of fandom), but is meant to be part of a longer storyline.

    Me; I’m speculating that Whitaker is not, in fact, the Doctor and that we’ve been watching one of the biggest fake-outs ever attempted on British tv. But that would be ridiculous. Surely…?

    • I can’t imagine how Whittaker could not be the Doctor given we saw the regeneration. But the ridiculous is not out of the question on Doctor Who…