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Doctor Who Is Getting to the Bottom of Several Mysteries in “The Legend of Ruby Sunday”


<i>Doctor Who</i> Is Getting to the Bottom of Several Mysteries in &#8220;The Legend of Ruby Sunday&#8221;

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Doctor Who Is Getting to the Bottom of Several Mysteries in “The Legend of Ruby Sunday”

We finally know who the Doctor is up against for the finale, and we bet you didn't guess who...


Published on June 17, 2024

Credit: BBC / Disney+

Ruby (Millie Gibson), the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa), and Mel (Bonnie Langford) staring in horror in Doctor Who's "The Legend of Ruby Sunday"

Credit: BBC / Disney+

The One Who Waits is waiting no more, and you might be surprised to learn who he is…


Colonel Ibrahim (Alexander Devrient), and Morris (Lenny Rush) watching the Doctor give information out in Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) Who's "The Legend of Ruby Sunday"
Credit: BBC / Disney+

The Doctor heads to UNIT—which contains Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, Rose Noble (Yasmin Finney), Morris Gibbons (Lenny Rush), Colonel Christopher Ibrahim (Alexander Devrient), and Harriet Arbinger (Genesis Lynea) in HQ today—to ask them for help with the woman that keeps appearing in his travels. The group is generally unsurprised to see her pop up; they’ve been tracking a woman on Earth who looks the same, a Susan Triad (Susan Twist), who is the leader of Susan Triad Technology. They’d already flagged her because “S Triad” is an anagram for TARDIS, and they figured that meant something. Mel (Bonnie Langford) has been undercover working with her PR team, and has found her to be very… nice. The Doctor has a thought that perhaps Susan could be his granddaughter, owing to her having the same name, leading to a conversation with Ruby about regeneration.

The Doctor then introduces Ruby to UNIT, explaining all the strange happenings that have occurred around her. The group thinks that they might be able to shed some light around Ruby’s parentage, so Ruby heads home to pick up the VHS tape of the CCTV footage from the night she was dropped off at the church. Carla insists on coming with Ruby, and the Doctor gives her UNIT access to Kate’s dismay. They leave Cherry at home with Mrs. Flood, who proceeds to be very unconcerned with taking care of Cherry; Mrs. Flood claims that she’s always “hidden away” for whatever reason, but that now there’s a storm approaching and “He waits no more.”

The Doctor asks if UNIT has a Time Window, even though he long ago made them promise never to mess with time technology. Of course they have one, though it’s very bare bones. They use the tape and Ruby’s memories to help the window along, producing a landscape of that night. Though Ruby’s mother is there, she has a hood up and no one can see her face regardless of the angle. When the Doctor arrives to stop the goblins in the past, Ruby’s mother seems to point at him, or possibly beyond him. Colonel Winston Chidozie (Techie Newali) goes to investigate and walks behind the TARDIS. The Doctor then leaves and the TARDIS disappears, with Ruby’s mother now gone—but directly behind where the TARDIS had been is a fiery swirling vortex using Chidozie’s voice.

The Time Window overloads and shuts down, leaving behind only Chidozie’s body, which has practically turned to dust. The Doctor goes with Mel, who is preparing Susan Triad for the launch of a major free technology she’s offering to the world. When he has a little breakdown before meeting Susan, Mel helps him buck up and keep going. The Doctor meets Triad and knows she’s not his Susan, but when she mentions trouble sleeping, he asks if she’s been having dreams of the other places he’s seen her. It’s clear that she has, but she rushes away to begin her presentation.

As UNIT analyzes the data from the window, they realize that the swirling vortex had the TARDIS at the center of it. It occurs to them that the entity they saw is now in their time and around the TARDIS itself. They analyze the ship and find the entity is there and invisible. Harriet starts speaking strangely and it becomes clear that she’s the harbinger (H. Arbinger) of The One Who Waits, who appears to UNIT and reveals himself to be Sutekh (Sue Tech, get it?), the god of death. The god has Susan possessed as well and she kills her assistant mid-broadcast, then reaches for the Doctor…


The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) shaking hands with Susan Triad (Susan Twist) in Doctor Who's "The Legend of Ruby Sunday"
Credit: BBC / Disney+

I missed finale lead-ups like this. No one does mounting tension quite like Davies, and he’s really good at one thing that always works on me: Keeping the viewer looking so many directions at once that you don’t really have enough time to figure out what’s going on until it’s right on top of you.

Of course, if you’re familiar with the serial that Sutekh heralds from—Pyramids of Mars—you know this is gonna get gnarly. The Fourth Doctor failed to prevent the escape of Sutekh from a prison created by brother Horus, but he solved that initial problem by messing with the time tunnel that would release him by essentially making it so long that Sutekh would die of old age by the time he emerged. Sounded good at the time, but now he’s free of it and unsurprisingly pissed and ready to wreak vengeance on the one who did this to him.

As a general side note, the Pyramids of Mars serial is casually racist in a way that many earlier Who stories unfortunately were—yes, they did that thing where they posit that the ancient Egyptian gods (and their tech) were obviously aliens. (They did it before Stargate, too, which is always funny to me.) Sutekh and Horus are Osirans (which, that’s also cringey), a race which is largely gone from the universe… but Sutekh is still kicking and trying to get free to conquer all with death.

So far I’m appreciating the revival because Davies is very clearly showing us in no uncertain terms that alien or not, Sutekh is, in fact, a god, on par with any other god. To that end, the reveal of Sutekh has a great deal in common with the way that they released the Devil on the show in season two’s “The Satan Pit,” particularly with Harriet’s litany proceeding it. But even with that coming for the season finale, there’s so much else going on that needs unpacking, starting with Ruby’s mother and the possibility that maybe Susan could somehow be related to all of this? Or to Ruby herself?

The choice to make Ruby’s biological mother within in the Time Window like something directly out of a horror movie was an excellent ploy, and so effective as a red herring during the entire sequence. Also, the introduction to that with the Doctor knowing that UNIT has been experimenting with time tech despite his mandate, and then coming in to laugh at their shoddy work was beautiful. Fifteen is just so good. (Also, this week’s outfit? The costume changes have been brilliant, but to have him go full modern rockabilly right now was a thing I was not prepared for, you gotta warn me.) I also need to give a moment to the fact that Kate seems to have finally internalized the fact that she’s going to be spending her entire career working with and around her childhood hero, and that means she’s allowed to hug him, and will now do it whenever she thinks either of them need it? I sniffled.

Gibson turned in a stellar performance here, but the one place in the episode where I actually cried was when Carla started talking about Ruby’s mother weeping at leaving her child behind, and trying to call across time to a woman she doesn’t know to tell her that she took care of her daughter and that she was safe and loved. We still have no idea who Ruby’s mother is, but Carla Sunday instantly feels this need to bond with her, to empathize with her, to assure her that her child has this wonderful future ahead of her. Carla is incredible. Also, the Doctor just fully granting her access to UNIT when he used to be such a grump about any companion’s mother hanging around, this is growth, yet again. We love it.

I do need to take a moment and acknowledge what a big deal it is that we now know for sure that (1) Susan is a Time Lord, which wasn’t a given, and (2) the Doctor hasn’t actually had kids yet. That’s… so good? It gives the story an entirely new weight and makes so much sense out of the Doctor’s relationship with Susan back when he show started—there were many questions about how they wound up traveling together that needed answers, and now we’ve got new but far more interesting ones.

For example… when the Doctor has kids eventually, will it be a version of them who has recovered all their memories? Because if so, that makes the Doctor’s choice to run away with his grandkid that much more heartbreaking; he’s just started in on a forced regeneration cycle with his memory erased and is subconsciously reaching for a part of himself that knows who he is. Moreover, did Susan know her grandfather before meeting this version? Because she either came with him to get to know him better, or she came with him because she knows about this time in his life, and is actively choosing to safeguard him at a point when he’s vulnerable and relearning who he is. Like… do you see? The possibilities here are endless and so good.

Also we have to talk about Mel! Mel being such an absolute star, who can wriggle her way in anywhere because she’s peppy and sunny and generally wonderful. But she still gets that moment when the Doctor is drowning in his feelings to stand there and tell him that the universe doesn’t have time for it, he can go down that well after the work is done. From anyone else that would feel unnecessarily callous, but from her it’s just a reminder of all the things she’s already been through with him—she knows how he gets, and that he needs the tweak sometimes. (Six could be so dramatic; she’s dealt with far worse.) It’s a moment borne of their specific history, which is something the show has been so great at tackling of late. You can see it when she turns away and continues on, and he just… grins. He adores her and she’s right and he would never let her down. That was how they worked.

But who is Mrs. Flood? Because I don’t buy that she’s just an agent of Sutekh, something else is going on here. And we’ve only got one more episode, so I’m guessing not all the mysteries will be solved.

Time and Space and Sundry

Ruby (Millie Gibson) and Rose (Yasmin Finney) standing side by side in Doctor Who's "The Legend of Ruby Sunday"
Credit: BBC / Disney+
  • Okay, but if Ruby turned out to be Susan’s daughter, and the Doctor was accidentally now tooling around with his great-granddaughter, I would love it? That’s a genuinely beautiful loop around for the show to take, a great way of rebuilding the original (OG 1963) dynamic of the series in an entirely new way. It’s fine either way, but I’m excited at the prospect.
  • The Doctor asks about Rose’s mom and her “uncle” and I desperately wanted her to say “Mum’s on holiday with uncle because if he’d gotten wind of the stuff with Susan Triad, he’d be living under a desk here driving everyone mad, so her job is to distract him until you figure this out.” Because you know that’s exactly what’s happening. (Also, Rose and Ruby bonding is my other favorite thing, yes, more.)
  • Sorry, but the Doctor and Colonel Ibrahim clearly have a thing going on the same way Ten did with Ross. The Doctor loves very specific UNIT boys…
  • Apparently Lenny Rush was going to be one of the voices in “Space Babies,” but the producers were so impressed with him that they wanted to give him a bigger role. Which then further plays into UNIT employing various brilliant and disabled folks, which is continuing to make me so very pleased.
  • Davies does love his wordplay/anagram stuff (there was the Yana thing and the “Bad Wolf” prevalence, and so on), and I genuinely never want him to stop doing it? Especially because the twist in this is down to the Doctor being so grandiose in his own legend-ness that he effectively mutes his best asset: UNIT also comes to the same anagram conclusion with S. Triad, because to them, he is the greatest thing in universe. It never occurs to them that it could be something else, and it also never occurs to him because of course it doesn’t.
  • The person doing the voice of Sutekh is in fact Gabriel Woolf, the man who played the part way back in 1975, so this return was literally a half-century in the making—the man is now 91 years old. I am… so happy about this? I might explode.

Finale’s coming. How do you stop a god of death? icon-paragraph-end

About the Author

Emmet Asher-Perrin


Emmet Asher-Perrin is the News & Entertainment Editor of Reactor. Their words can also be perused in tomes like Queers Dig Time Lords, Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Uneven Futures: Strategies for Community Survival from Speculative Fiction. They cannot ride a bike or bend their wrists. You can find them on Bluesky and other social media platforms where they are mostly quiet because they'd rather talk to you face-to-face.
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