An Intergalactic Fugitive
Tripwire’s man in Los Angeles Robert Cave takes a look at the fifth episode of Doctor Who, which was on BBC1 last Sunday. Warning: spoilers ahead…
Season 12, episode 5
Fugitive of the Judoon
Writer: Vinay Patel and Chris Chibnall
Director: Nida Manzoor
Well, that was certainly intriguing. This week’s episode was positively chock full of revelations, setting up an array of further mysteries for later in the series, or perhaps, future series. Indeed, the main plot, which focused on another legally questionable Judoon incursion onto the Earth, seemed almost superfluous by comparison.
The lovably ridiculous space rhinos made their debut in the heady days of the Russell T. Davis era, which saw the whole show regenerated for twenty-first century audiences, and his influence could be felt throughout from the Judoon themselves to the Chameleon Arch from the School Reunion/Family of Blood and the nanogenes from The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.
The profusion of references to multiple previous stories, most of which were first broadcast over a decade ago, came so thick and fast that I found myself beginning to wonder if more casual viewers might feel a little lost, but while they tickled and rewarded longer-term fans they were never so obtrusive as to detract from the main thrust of the action and the next surprise.
The return of John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness was completely unexpected, not least because current showrunner Chris Chibnall, like Steven Moffatt before him, had seemed so intent on drawing a line between their own era and what came before. Of course, Jack’s appearance actually made much more sense when I remembered Chibnall’s work on the first few seasons of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood. How will he fit into the current show remains to be seen, but I am very interested to find out. It was certainly fun to see him interacting with the Doctor’s current crop of companions before delivering his ominous warning about the lone cyberman.
Then we get to the bigger surprise, the revelation of Jo Martin as another surprise incarnation of the Doctor. The immediate fan-teasing mystery of exactly how Martin’s Doctor relates to Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is a question the writers seem to take great pleasure in as they proceed to provide multiple layers of evidence that Martin IS the Doctor without, actually resolving how the pair of them fit together.
There is no shortage of theories. My suspicion, largely based on the line in the episode Orphan 55 about possible futures, is that Martin’s Doctor is a fugitive from another Gallifrey from elsewhere in the multiverse, but we shall have to wait and see.
While I am excited by this new Doctor’s arrival and (relatively) relaxed over the place in the show’s admittedly convoluted continuity, I was a little more anxious about her portrayal and the overall direction of narrative more generally. I’m not talking about where the story is going but the shockingly violent path it appears to be taking to get there. Four different characters are blasted to death over the course of the episode, and while Jodie’s Doctor is suitably aghast at the new Doctor’s complicity in one of these very little is said about the demise of Lee Clayton, (Neil Stuke), the new Doctor’s human companion who literally lost his life protecting her. It just left me feeling very ambivalent about this new Doctor. That might be the point – after all our Doctor has on occasion behaved quite badly at points in previous incarnations, or could it be that this new Doctor is not to be trusted? Could she even be another regeneration of the Master? It’s not like the Doctor hasn’t failed to identify their former friend in recent years. Who knows, eh?
Either way. I’ll definitely be watching next week, but you all knew that anyway.