Doctor Who – The Legend of Ruby Sunday – Review – The God of Gods

Spoilers

Russell T. Davies tries his hands at a series finale villain that isn’t the Daleks, the Cybermen or the Master, or both at the same time, in a move that brings back Sutekh; revealing his fondness for anagrams. We’re back in the hotseat again when the TARDIS arrives; screeching and crashing, as odd as it’s been acting all series, at the hotseat of it all. Rose is there, working for UNIT, and so too is Morris, a 13 year old child genius, wheelchair bound. Kate Stewart’s recruitment policy probably breaks multiple employment laws and employing children needs to get UNIT investigated; but I do like the turnaround that “especially not the Prime Minister” is allowed to get into the building when even Ruby’s mum is dragged along. It’s a way to get the band together for the finale in one building – a set-up for the horrors of what is to come.

There are two mystery women, two mystery answers. Who is Ruby Sunday’s mother? And who is Susan Triad? We’ve seen her show up on screen time after time; in various different forms, and the off-screen adventures that The Doctor has also encountered her in add to the what-if scenarios of a 13 episode run, but also showcase her true variety as a character. Russell’s fondness for anagrams points Susan in the direction, sharing the first name as The Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan, with the name Triad being an anagram for TARDIS – and it’s something that UNIT clocked on immediately and started investigating – proving that they’re much smarter than The Doctor was expecting, but it’s an anagram-within-an anagram. She’s not The Doctor’s granddaughter – she’s an emissary for Sutekh, the God of all Gods – continuing the tradition of following on from the Gods of Music and the Toymaker that we’ve had in the past, but Sutekh might be the scariest of all.

This is the best that Kate Stewart has been written ever; she’s been used in the past as a way to make The Doctor seem right; but now, working with The Doctor, she brings out his vulnerability. Of course – to her, The Doctor is seen as a bringer of joy and hope – the bond that both of them share is shattered when The Doctor requests, in the Time Window, that one of her soldiers breaks the rules to try and get a better view at Ruby’s mother – not at Ruby’s mother, but what she’s pointing at. Turns out she’s not pointing at The Doctor at all, but instead something else. It’s a chilling sacrifice and Kate saying that they have a staff member down helps emphasis just how even the little touches can have the biggest impacts; with Ruby and Ibrahim bonding over accents giving depth to him before his death.

It feels weirdly paced, though. The Legend of Ruby Sunday is very rushed towards the end in its attempt to bring Sutekh into the picture and maybe there’s a bit too much in the way of introduction? We have Morris, Heather Arbinger, Mel, Rose, it feels a bit like UNIT could’ve maybe shortened down their team a bit. It echoes Power of the Doctor, such a wide sprawling ensemble it feels like a moment and so callbacks it feels like despite being an introduction to the new era; more of an appreciation of the old. We don’t get much in the way of closure and if anything we get more answers – all this mystery and don’t forget, Mrs. Flood is there as well, left to watch over Ruby’s grandmother with a chilling fourth-wall break that’s so much more sinister than any we’ve had in the past. Just who is she, really? The mystery of Ruby’s mother and the mystery of Sutekh having now been answered leaves several questions waiting to unfold. It almost feels too much – especially with a common criticism of this era is that it’s been rushed.

The little touches of humour in the bleak moments make this episode so fun! The fact that UNIT are gunning for Elon Musk was such a nice little touch – and the horror that Triad would be the Who-world equivalent of Musk; so they’d be seeing him everywhere. And The Doctor’s passion for everyone that he meets is infectious, his enthusiasm affects everyone in the room. I really loved the quirkiness of Mel and her vibrant, camp energy that she brings back – and the fact that she’s stuck around for so long, too, it’s been a real blessing – she’s the Sarah Jane of this era and her role is key; and the Ace of the era of the 13th Doctor. Mel has had roles with 13, 14 and 15 now it’s so commonplace to bring her back. Plus it’s such a great callback to Spearhead from Space, when The Doctor and UNIT worked together so well.

So where then, do we end on? We end on The Doctor and Mel in Triad’s chamber, Sutekh revealed, having been surrounding the TARDIS the entire time – and Harriet Arbinger’s name, yet another anagram – becoming his Harbinger. Ruby is in the Time Window again, with another UNIT soldier, and there’s still Mrs. Flood, out there, waiting to be revealed to The Doctor. We’ll see where things go from here – with the finale airing at the BFI next Friday, I can’t wait to revisit this and watch that back to back on the big screen.

VERDICT: 7/10

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