Series Twelve, Episode Five
You will have expected Judoon, considering the title. The title also had “there’s going to be a twist” vibes, and there was a bit of publicity along those lines. But this turned out to be a much more significant episode than you usually get at this point in a series!
It begins in present day Gloucester. A seemingly perfectly ordinary day, with tour guide Ruth Clayton (Jo Martin) getting ready for another week. (“All right, Monday, do your worst!”). But the Judoon are homing in on this area from above…
Meanwhile, on the TARDIS the Doctor’s friends are still wondering what is the matter with her – she’s been distracted and downbeat for a while. The Doctor isn’t telling them much at all, other than she is constantly searching for The Master (she thinks he’s almost certainly escaped from the Kassavin dimension). But in any case, this will all have to wait, as the TARDIS gets a warning about the Judoon. They have put a force field around Gloucester and are going down there!
The Judoon are here searching for a fugitive, and scan people, then stamp them when they find out they aren’t who they looking for. They have no jurisdiction on Earth, but this isn’t stopping them enforcing their own laws, which include killing people for minor offences – they kill a stubbon old lady named Marcia for running away from them, and an envious cake shop owner named Allan for shoving one of them lightly. The Doctor comes down, and tells them they have no jurisdiction on Earth, but the Judoon insist they need to find their fugitive.
Graham finds himself beamed up on a space ship – and the occupant of the ship is Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). Jack initially thinks that Graham is the latest incarnation of the Doctor (that’s why he beamed him up).
The Doctor, Ryan and Yaz find the specific area the Judoon are homing in on. It’s the house of Ruth and her husband Lee (Neil Stuke). Ruth and Lee have their bags packed and want to leave, but the Doctor says that’s not possible, as the Judoon are already on to them. The sonic screwdriver can’t detect anything unusual at all about Ruth or Lee. There’s nothing unusual in their house either, apart from a small grey box which isn’t from Earth.
The Judoon are outside the house, and throw a small, spiky ball through the window, which gives a countdown for them to give themselves up or the Judoon will come for them. Lee thinks he should go, telling Ruth he “made a mistake”. Yaz though thinks that as she is also a police officer she might be able to reason with the Judoon, so she and Ryan go out. However, both are beamed up onto the space ship Jack and Graham are on. Lee surrenders to the Judoon, and the Doctor and Ruth escape. Lee sends a text message to Ruth before the Judoon come in.
The Judoon are in fact working for someone else – Gat (Ritu Arya). She says she’s been searching for Lee from galaxies away, and found him due to the grey box, which contains service medals. However, she seems suspicious that all is not what it seems, before saying “You got so close to escaping” and killing Lee!
The Doctor and Ruth run away to Gloucester Cathedral, but are surrounded by Judoon. Lee wasn’t who they were searching for after all – it was Ruth! She manages to get a gun from the Judoon, and pull off the leader’s horn! The Judoon teleport out, and the Doctor demands answers from Ruth. For one thing, what she has just done would be considered a huge insult to the Judoon meaning a situation that was just “business” will now be personal. But for another thing, who is Ruth really to have done all that? Ruth claims she doesn’t know either, she only remembers having an ordinary life and being an ordinary human. Ruth gets Lee’s text message, which reads “follow the light, the glass”. This jogs a distant memory in Ruth of the lighthouse where she grew up.
It turns out Jack stole the space ship, and the real owners are coming for it. He has to teleport out, but he programs it to land back in Gloucester so Graham, Ryan and Yaz can get off safely, and leaves them with a cryptic message to pass on to the Doctor, “Beware the lone Cyberman”.
The Doctor and Ruth go to the lighthouse. Ruth says that her parents are buried there, Ruth was left the lighthouse in their will, and she kept the lighthouse but moved to Gloucester. The Doctor doesn’t think that story adds up at all, and soon after they get to the lighthouse she goes to the gravestone. It is blank. The Doctor decides to dig up whatever is underneath that gravestone. Meanwhile, Ruth hears a voice telling her to break the glass and follow the light. She does just that, and a lot of orange light comes at her.
The Doctor digs up the grave, and finds… a TARDIS! Then Ruth comes out, carrying a weapon, and introduces herself as…. the Doctor!
Inside, this does indeed look like a TARDIS. The Doctor doesn’t believe Ruth. After all, she is the Doctor! But then she and Ruth start talking at the same time saying each others sentences. They have the same mind! This certainly wouldn’t be the only time the Doctor has ran into another incarnation, but on this occasion neither of them recognise the other, which doesn’t make sense. As the Doctor puts it, “I should know you, or you should know me!”. One of them is from the Doctor’s past, and one of them is from the Doctor’s future, so they can’t both not remember the other.
Ruth’s TARDIS is taken by the Judoon ship. Ruth and the Doctor come out, and Ruth does recognise Gat, who is another Time Lord. The Doctor informs Gat of Gallifrey’s destruction, telling her “You are only serving at the glory of ash and bone!”. Gat refuses to believe it. Ruth hands Gat the weapon she has, and Gat ends up killed as the weapon backfires, something Ruth rigged it to do, but claims she didn’t intend for it to kill Gat.
Ruth drops the Doctor off back with her companions, who reunite on the Doctor’s TARDIS, and they tell her about Jack and what he told them. Unsurprisingly, the Doctor
is a little shaken up by all that has happened. “Time is swirling around me, something is coming for me” she says. Her companions tell her they will stick by her, as “Whatever you were in the past or are in the future, we know who you are right now!”, which is quite a touching statement really!
So… yeah, this episode was very much as “mind, blown” one!
I think it wasn’t much of a shock that the Judoon weren’t the main issue in this episode. Let’s face it, they’ve only really had one episode before, ‘Smith and Jones’, and they weren’t even the main villain in that, that was Florence Finnegan played by Anne Reid. Plus, that episode was mainly to introduce the new companion at the time, Martha Jones. Since then the Judoon have had cameo appearances, and in this episode once again they weren’t the main thing about it. What we had with this was “the real big deal is Captain Jack’s return – no, forget that, the REAL big deal is another Doctor!”.
Ruth turning out to be another version of the Doctor, and the fact neither she nor the current Doctor recognise each other raised a lot of possibilities. Is she a fake Doctor, or someone who thinks they are the Doctor but aren’t, such as Jackson Lake in ‘The Next Doctor’? Is she from a parallel universe? The showrunner of the current series, Chris Chibnall, has stated that none of those are true – Ruth is a canonical Doctor, proven by Jo Martin being credited, as well as playing Ruth, with “and introducing Jo Martin as the Doctor”, the same way John Hurt was credited as “and introducing John Hurt as the Doctor” in ‘The Name Of the Doctor’.
Ruth is an incarnation of the Doctor – but is she from the future or the past? Is she going to be taking over from Jodie Whittaker? The most likely answer to that one is no,because she seems to be from the Doctor’s past. She doesn’t recognise the sonic screwdriver, and she doesn’t recall Gallifrey ever being destroyed, when for the current Doctor that has happened twice.
Like John Hurt’s incarnation, the War Doctor, Ruth seems to be one that was retroactively added. The War Doctor is one which, in-universe, didn’t go by the name of the Doctor due to what he had to do in the Time War, and later incarnations don’t acknowledge. But they do remember him, so what’s going on with Ruth? Why can’t they remember her?
In any case, I like Jo Martin’s performance as the Doctor so far! One thing that is notable is that Jo Martin is not just the first black actor to play The Doctor, she’s the first POC at all to play The Doctor. OK, I think Lenny Henry has played The Doctor in a comedy sketch, and there might be other examples like that, but Jo Martin is the first canonically.
‘Fugitive of the Judoon’ very much has made an impact on the series, it has no doubt being a pivotal moment in it.