As promised, the Judoon returned to Doctor Who on Sunday, along with a few other surprises in an episode that truly left me intrigued about the overall season arc. “Fugitive of the Judoon” still has a lot of the problems intrinsic to Thirteen’s era and it relies a bit too much on the kind of stunts clearly designed for extra media coverage. But in the process it established the beginning of mysteries I truly want the answers to.
Spoilers after the screenshot
It was nice seeing Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) again and it was a stark contrast between him, a charming and capable companion, and the three current deadweights. I actually started to wonder if Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yas (Mandip Gil) are even real.
Seriously. Think of that weird pep talk they give the Doctor (Jodiw Whittaker) at the end of the episode, how they start buttering her up when she’s depressed. What if the Doctor had spent an extraordinary amount of time alone and finally started to crack, the need for companionship becoming so great that she invented the three of them? That would explain why they’re so bland and usually seem to have nothing substantial to do. But I guess then we’d have to ask who Jack was talking to.
It’s weird he and the Doctor never meet in the episode. I wonder why. Unless the encounter between Jack and the companions is an edited memory of the Doctor’s. Which is one possible reason she doesn’t remember the incarnation introduced in the episode.
I really want to know why they don’t recognise each other. Introduced as Ruth Clayton, this woman claiming to be the Doctor—confirmed by a scan from the sonic screwdriver—is played by Jo Martin, a black woman. It’s plausible—the Third Doctor hears voices from previous incarnations in “The Time Monster” and one of the voices is a woman. There’s a throwaway line Twelve has where he mentions being a little girl. The fact that Ruth/Doctor doesn’t recognise the sonic screwdriver suggests she’s from before the Second Doctor but the fact that her TARDIS is stuck as a police box suggests she comes after the First Doctor. We saw One regenerate into Two so there’s not really an eligible gap period as there is between Two and Three or between Eight and Nine. So my theory is that she’s a Second Doctor from an alternate timeline.
Maybe this is why she doesn’t seem quite as quick-thinking as the Doctor usually is. Maybe it’s just that Jo Martin isn’t a particularly good actress, which was my read on her at the beginning of the episode. It’s a shame they couldn’t have cast someone closer in status John Hurt. If they wanted a black British woman, my pick would’ve been Thandie Newton. Then again, maybe they felt that kind of casting should be reserved for events as big as an anniversary special. But it’s weird seeing the Doctor played so blandly.
And what about the Judoon? I like how, for the most part, they weren’t shown as simple villains but actually had motivations and rules. Though I feel like it shouldn’t be so easy to remove one of their horns. Does Ruth/Doctor have super strength? Another mystery.