Doctor Who vs. Sutekh

Doctor Who vs. Sutekh June 17, 2024

The latest episode of Doctor Who, “The Legend of Ruby Sunday,” began to bring the season arc towards resolution with the mystery (okay, the legend) of Ruby Sunday, the mystery woman who appears in each episode, and more. The episode opens with the Doctor arriving at UNIT headquarters to ask for their help identifying a woman he has been encountering everywhere. It turns out they’ve been watching another woman matching that description, Susan Triad. S. Triad is an anagram of TARDIS, and Susan is the name of the Doctor’s granddaughter. This could be his only surviving relative reaching out to him. More likely it is a trap.

Despite the fact that most current viewers of Doctor Who have seen few or no episodes of the classic series, and even those who have may not have seen the earliest, the show has been enjoying making connections. Mentioning the Doctor’s granddaughter of course takes us right back to the beginning. “The Legend of Ruby Sunday” took the show’s starting point and asked the question that has been on everyone’s mind ever since. No, not “Doctor who?” although Susan Triad asking that in the episode is perfect. That question was of course voiced by Ian in the pilot. I was referring however to the question that is voiced by Kate Stewart. “If you have a granddaughter that means you have kids!” The Doctor’s reply reveals so very much and hopefully sets the stage for something that the show will eventually explore. He says, “not yet.” Those two words tell us that the Doctor is aware that sometime in the future he will have children, and by means of time travel those children will entrust their daughter into the care of their parent in the distant past, long before they were born, before even the Doctor had departed from Gallifrey. (At least, it seems safe to assume that it was the Doctor and Susan that we saw departing Gallifrey together in “The Name of the Doctor”). Until such time as we get an official story, it will be fun to speculate about this.

There are other great moments in the episode. When the Doctor says “I bring disaster” Kate Stewart replies, “For what it’s worth, I think you bring joy.”

The other major connection to an earlier episode is only revealed at the end, as we discover that Harriet at UNIT is Harriet Arbinger, H. Arbinger, the harbinger of a god. But which one? (You’d think that by now at least UNIT would have learned or been warned to be wary of people with the surname Arbinger.) The “one who waits” waits no more. Which deity is it? Sutekh, whose name may not be immediately familiar to all contemporary fans but who will be immediately recognized by fans of the classic series from the episode “The Pyramids of Mars.”

Here is a bit of dialogue from the episode “The Pyramids of Mars”:

SARAH: Just how powerful is Sutekh, Doctor?
DOCTOR: He’s all-powerful. If he ever gets free, there isn’t a lifeform in the galaxy that could stand against him.
SARAH: What, not even your lot, the Time Lords?
DOCTOR: Not even our lot.
..Sutekh was only defeated in the end by the combined might of seven hundred and forty of his fellow Osirans led by Horus.
SARAH: The seven hundred and forty gods whose names were recorded in the tomb of Tutmoses the Third.
DOCTOR: Could be.

At a later point in the episode the Doctor says to Sutekh, “Your name is abominated in every civilised world, whether that name be Set, Satan, Sodos.” Sutekh on the other hand says, “Your evil is my good. I am Sutekh the Destroyer. Where I tread I leave nothing but dust and darkness. I find that good.”

Those who are interested can find information about Seth/Sutekh as depicted in Egyptian sources. Within the world of the show, the impressions we got from “The Pyramids of Mars” was that these gods were yet another alien life form, even if a powerful one. Russell T. Davies seems happy not to insist on keeping things pseudoscientific. It will be interesting to see how much religion plays a role in the season finale. By the end of “The Pyramids of Mars” Sutekh seemed to have be dead, Osirans living thousands of years and the Doctor trapping Sutekh where time itself could defeat him. Of course, as we know from the Master’s regular reappearance, all that is needed is to say “somehow I escaped” and back a character comes. Presumably an in-show explanation of this will be provided in terms of the references to Sutekh as “the one who waits.” Mrs. Flood also seems to be aware of what is happening, and it will be a nice twist if she turns out to be the Doctors granddaughter Susan. If so, I suspect that we won’t get a happy reunion, but a sad final line from her after the Doctor departs in the TARDIS. “I still can’t believe he didn’t recognize me.”

I’ve occasionally been right on target with my guesses about what the show would do next but I have also been very wrong. What do you think awaits us from the one who waits in the conclusion of this season of Doctor Who, the first to feature Ncuti Gatwa in the titular role? I’m enjoying the more recent episodes after the very first seemed to veer too much into silliness, something that to be sure has always been part of Doctor Who, but not in episode after episode in large doses.

One more question: should I develop my thoughts on religion in Doctor Who into a book, perhaps in the form of an episode by episode guide?

Doctor Who: Pyramids of Mars

"James James McGrath can you help your fellow Christian here help me out a bit ..."

Biblical Prequels, Sequels, and Such
"Neither "the Bible" nor God is an attempt to rule our lives by some constitutional ..."

Same-Sex Relationships and the Bible: A ..."
"Bob, you, and we through you and your partner, are blessed. Thank you!Infinity and eternity ..."

Same-Sex Relationships and the Bible: A ..."
"Thank you. If we have any intelligence at all as Children of God, we must ..."

Same-Sex Relationships and the Bible: A ..."

Browse Our Archives