***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Doctor Who through Series 12 Episode 5 follow. Spoilers***
If you were anywhere near social media this past Sunday, chances are you — like me — were quickly and abruptly (if only figuratively) slapped in the face with a huge Doctor Who spoiler. While at first, I experienced a mild flash of anger, I quickly self-admonished — after all, in this day and age, one must realize that rolling by Twitter in particular anywhere near showtime means certain spoiling; Facebook, slightly less, though you’re still taking a risk. In the interest of self-flagellation (again, metaphorically speaking), I must confess that even I have — in the throes of Game of Thrones ecstasy — unthinkingly posted a spoiler on Facebook and though quickly deleted and apologies made, the memory still brings rise to a cheek flush. All that said, it’s still shocking when we’re live-spoiled, isn’t it? And perhaps even more so when we’re not.
Which brings me to …
… Doctor Who, “Fugitive of the Judoon”, which was simply one of the best, most surprising hours of this series I’ve ever seen.
No, really. Because despite the spoilers all over the Twitterverse, Chris Chibnall still had a wonderful, glorious, über intriguing something (someone) lying in wait.
But first, the big Spoiler — and the typically grand entrance of an old friend.
Yes, that’s what was blasted and heard the world around; Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) popped in for a quick …
smooch, and to give Thirteen a message. Only, he was a little confused about just who she is.
After Graham cleared up that the Doctor wasn’t an old white guy again and before Jack had to make a quick escape, he left a very particular message for Graham to pass on: “Just tell her, beware the lone Cyberman“.
Jack goes on to explain that the empire of evil that is the Cybermen is finally in ruins, but that a single unit has been sent back across time and space — that the Doctor must not — “Don’t give it what it wants, at all costs.” And with that, Jack peaced out just before the spaceship’s security system nanogenes — teeny tiny robots first introduced along with Harkness in “The Empty Child” that can reconfigure bodies — overtook him.
Now, thrilled as so many of us are to see Captain Jack back again, would you believe that he wasn’t actually the hour’s biggest surprise?
It’s true, it’s true! And the next unexpected event is even — I almost can’t believe I’m saying this — more exciting than a bisexual kissbomb.
You see, while Yasmin, Ryan, and Graham were being introduced to Jack, the Thirteenth Doctor was bumping into a couple of old friends, herself.
In the course of investigating the presence of the Judoon (alien rent-a-cops), the Doctor comes in contact with Ruth Clayton played by Jo Martin, who you might recognize as Fleabag‘s Pam.
And why is that such a big deal, you might ask? Well (just watch the episode, it’s great!), in the interest of getting to the point, Ruth had temporarily forgotten (due to the Chameleon Arch, a type of tech that allows one’s essence to be stored, identity hidden even from oneself, and gives the user new memories) a rather important fact about her true identity …
It was clear from her first moment onscreen that Ruth was someone special, but knock me over with a feather, I was not expecting that!
And what a brilliant turn of events this is, as both Thirteen and whatever number Ruth Clayton’s iteration is do not remember each other. Indeed she is another true Time Lady:
…she is definitively the Doctor. There’s not a sort of parallel universe going on, there’s no tricks. this alternate version of the Doctor.” (Chris Chibnall)
As Thirteen surmises, because Galifrey is destroyed, Doctor Ruth (that seems wrong, but I couldn’t help myself) can only be from her past, though Thirteen believes she remembers her entire past and doesn’t recall this new iteration of herself.
I think after “Fugitive of the Judoon” we could all use a little mind check, because for the life of me, I can’t fathom what could be going on …
What I do know is that this was the most exciting hour of the show in ages and I simply cannot wait to see the next one.
Oh and by the by, not only is Jo Martin the first black woman to play the Doctor, this hour (as well as the wonderful “Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror”) was directed by a woman — Nida Manzoor.
Doctor Who returns to BBC America and BBC One this Sunday with “Praxeus”.