‘Doctor Who’ Brings Back Major Villain From Decades Past — Susan Twist’s Characters Explained

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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 7 “The Legend of Ruby Sunday.”]

Doctor Who digs deep for the MAJOR reveal we’d been waiting all season for as “the one who waits” has been teased (since the 60th anniversary specials!) and Susan Twist has been appearing as different characters every episode. Bonnie Langford is right when she tells TV Insider that this is “exciting and exhilarating and all those things”—there’s no other way to describe it!

The latest Twist character is in the present day, under investigation by UNIT, bringing Jemma Redgrave, Langford, and Yasmin Finney back as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, Mel Bush (who’s undercover), and Rose Noble, and introducing Lenny Rush as Morris. The most substantial of Twist’s characters, Susan Triad, runs S Triad Technology—and it looks like the name of the company is an anagram of TARDIS. Furthermore, with her name the same as the Doctor’s (Ncuti Gatwa) granddaughter … could this entrepreneur (of whom UNIT’s research has produced nothing) be that Susan regenerated? Kate questions why this is the first time she’s hearing about him having a granddaughter, and the Doctor admits his concerns about ruining her. But he knows he’ll recognize her if he looks her in the eye.

Mel returns to UNIT, reunites with the Doctor (we love how joyous him seeing both Mel and Rose again is) and reports that the daily sample says that Susan is human. But Kate has a theory that she can change; for example, a caterpillar doesn’t know it’s a butterfly.

The other mystery of the season is just who left Ruby (Millie Gibson) as a baby at that church on Christmas Eve (and why it keeps snowing around her now). All she has is a VHS tape, but fortunately, UNIT has the technology to enhance it (that’s an understatement) and possibly see her birth mother’s face. Her adoptive mother, Carla (Michelle Greenidge), insists on joining her, leaving Mrs. Flood (Anita Dobson)—who warns “there’s a storm coming in” and “he waits no more”—with Cherry (Angela Wynter).  With that, everyone travels downstairs to the Time Window, with only the Doctor, Ruby, and one of UNIT’s soldiers inside.

Michelle Greenidge as Carla and Millie Gibson as Ruby in 'Doctor Who' Season 1 Episode 7 "The Legend of Ruby Sunday"

BBC / Disney+

This technology projects images from the past in 3D, and usually it’s just glimpses, but remember there’s something special about this night (a fixed point) and Ruby—it starts snowing around them before it has even been turned on! Once it is, it’s like they’re there, and Kate admits she’s never seen the Window this strong. They see the woman who left Ruby at the church, but are unable to glimpse her face; they can’t move, because it’s important to keep everything as it was. They see the Doctor arrive in the TARDIS, as he did to save baby Ruby from the goblins, then the mystery woman stops (Carla suggests she’s crying, after giving away her child) before turning to point … at the Doctor? Behind him? The UNIT soldier moves to look behind the TARDIS, on the Doctor’s orders and against Kate’s, but doesn’t see anything. Ruby’s mother leaves, then a giant black smoke thing, glowing red appears … and the soldier is taken.

Scanning this creature gives readings of hot, cold, radioactive, dead, everything, according to Morris. “It’s been waiting for so long,” says the voice of the missing soldier … and then the Time Window explodes and the room returns to as it was. The soldier’s body is found, covered in ash, looking like he’s been dead 100 years. The Doctor tells Mel to take him to Susan Triad. Once in her company’s building, he punches the elevator door and sits on the floor. Mel assures him he’s not responsible for the soldier’s death and encourages him to fix it; if Susan is his granddaughter, that might be key to this. It’s just what he needs to hear.

“She’s sort of old school, and she wants him to understand that, yes, he can have feelings, but sometimes you have to put those aside and you have to get on with a job. And so she says, stop it. Get on with it,” Langford tells TV Insider before revealing a funny behind-the-scenes moment from filming that scene that she couldn’t share before.

“That was a working building and we were overrunning a bit. So instead of being there after lunch, we were there about five, six o’clock when everyone was leaving their offices. Fortunately, we were rehearsing. The camera was to my right, but obviously, I was looking directly at Ncuti and then at this elevator, and as we are rehearsing, he’s doing this beating [on the door] and then he sits down on the floor and the elevator door open and there’s a guy there and he’s just trying to leave his office,” Langford recalls with a laugh.

“And his face was an absolute picture because he just went like this,” she continues, showing how he gasped, “and shut the lift doors again. It was the funniest thing. Of course, I’m the only one who knew what was going on, and so I was trying to carry on doing this whole thing. As we’ve cut from the scene, I’m howling with laughter. Also, this poor man is terrified because he’s just realized he’s opened the doors while we are filming and he doesn’t even know what we’re filming, but he just knew he shouldn’t be there. We did manage to find him again. He’d gone back up 16 floors and come back down.”

After that moment, Mel introduces the Doctor to Susan, but while she doesn’t recognize him, she does remark that she’s been unable to sleep due to recent dreams—of all the characters played by Twist the Doctor and Ruby have encountered.

Back at UNIT, the image of that smoky creature survived on the VHS, though it wasn’t there before. Harriet analyzes the recording, and it turns out the creature was wrapped around the TARDIS … which currently sits right there in UNIT and is once again making that noise it has been as of late, including “Wild Blue Yonder.” (There’s a 99 percent probability of a trap, Morris informs them.) What if the shape is still there around the TARDIS and they just can’t see it, Kate worries. The Doctor says to clear the area.

A life form registers in a scan of the TARDIS (like it’s woven into its fabric, part of it), as Susan’s voice suddenly changes as she practices her speech. The Doctor orders Ruby to return to the Time Window.

“He is hidden in the howling void,” Harriet says, as if under control of something else. “He is hidden in the tempest, he has braved the storm and the darkness and pain and he whispered to the vessel. All this time he whispered and delighted and seduced and the vessel did obey, so none shall be more mighty and none shall be more wise than the king and the lord of time was blind and vain and knew nothing.” Who is this Harriet? Her full name is Harriet Arbinger … as in Harbinger, used to warn of gods’ comings (just like the “young boy” with Maestro).  “I am the loss. I am the never. I am the night. I am the terror. I am returning,” reads the teleprompter in front of Susan.

With Ruby back in the Time Window, it starts up again (though it was broken) and returns to Christmas Eve.

Susan asks, “Who am I?” and falls to her knees, and the Doctor warns those around not to touch her.

“There is the Toymaker, the god of games. There is Trickster, the god of traps. There is Maestro, the god of music … and the three-fold deity of malice and mischief and misery,” Harriet continues as something manifests around and on the TARDIS. “And standing on the high is the mother and father and other of them all. For the god of all gods has returned and his names are many. … His one true name forever more is… Sutekh.” They had the wrong anagram for S Triad Technology. (And Carla was right to say it’s the Beast when the creature first appeared in the Time Window.)

'Doctor Who'

BBC / Disney+

With that, a creature roars on top of the TARDIS, and Susan is transformed. “Sutekh is the god of death and by his hand, all creation shall fall into dust and ashes and ruin,” says Harriet. That’s what happens when “Susan” grabs the man next to her. The creature on the TARDIS laughs. “I bring Sutekh’s gift of death to all humanity,” “Susan” says.

“I am Sutekh, the god of death,” says a chilling voice (Gabriel Woolf) as we see Ruby in the Time Window and her mother(?) approaching. “I am the night. I am the terror. I am the loss. And all life will perish at my hand.”

“Did you think I was family, Doctor?” the one the Time Lord briefly thought could be his granddaughter. “I bring Sutekh’s gift of death for you and for all your tiny, viable, incessant universe…” To Be Continued…

Sutekh appeared in the “Pyramids of Mars” episodes of Season 13 (1975), with the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker). The Osiran (a powerful and intelligent humanoid of god-like power) had plans to destroy all life in the universe. Woolf voiced Sutekh then as well—and The Beast in Season 2‘s “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit” with David Tennant‘s Tenth Doctor and Billie Piper‘s Rose Tyler.

This is “even before my time, a very old adversary,” Langford says of her reaction to reading that reveal in the script. (Mel traveled with Colin Baker‘s Sixth and Sylvester McCoy‘s Seventh Doctors.) “It’s interesting, isn’t it? Because you think, are you going back so far that we’ve now become so immune to fear and horror and anything because also we get so many opportunities to see special effects that are way, way beyond anything that was possible in the ’60s and ’70s? And there are things that you think need to stay in their era to make them as impactful.”

'Doctor Who'

BBC / Disney+

She continues, “But I think with this, they really have been able to go into the whole fear and trepidation of an adversary who knows no boundaries and will go to every length for this power. And it’s basically trying to say to people, particularly young people, careful what you do with your power. It can be very toxic, and it comes in all forms and all guises, and we have to be ready for it. And it can even be within us. It’s interesting how we respond to an old adversary. I don’t think anyone is expecting that to come, those people who know about Doctor Who and those people who don’t, I think they’ll just gather the fact that this is a real badass and we have to get rid of him. But we don’t know how has he suddenly come back? So it’s all that investigative stuff, which I rather enjoy.”

Looking ahead to next week’s finale, “Mel is dedicated to work for UNIT and she’s very happy there. I think she’s in a good place, but whether or not she carries on bumping into the Doctor, who knows, as they say,” says Langford.

She points out that Mel is “very much connected” to the Time Lord. “She would do anything pretty much if he asked her to. She’s very dedicated and thrilled to be back working with him again. But she’s also part of UNIT, so she has her job there. As far as this season is concerned, yeah, she would support him in every which way she can. And she does almost to the point of more than you would expect any person to do. But she has such faith in his integrity and his desire to make the universe a better place that she’s banking on him to do his utmost, and yet it gets to the brink of everything. And she also tries to broadcast to him that he needs to go ahead like she does in the [scene at the] elevator when she’s telling him, come on, you’ve got to get on with it. She’s also prepared to say, it’s over to you now, you have to finish this and hopefully make it right. And whether or not that succeeds and he succeeds in doing so…”

Langford calls the finale “epic but also very personal,” pointing to Ruby’s story in particular. “She just wants to find the missing link. She wants to understand why she was left on a doorstep like all foundlings do. You want to fill in that narrative of your own personal story. So there is something beautiful about the fact that it’s really just uncovering those uncharted waters for yourself as a person, but then also incorporating that personal feeling within something that is so much bigger than anybody could possibly imagine and that could be the end of everything… It’s about running the course of that personal story of this person who just wants to be able to fill in those gaps and hopefully make a happy ending, and then the world and the universe and what we are within it and how we affect that and also how we can manage to keep uncover some mysteries, but keep that going,” Langford says. “We’ll never probably find the ultimate happy ending and we’ll never possibly find a finish to all of it because one thing always leads onto something else and something new. There’s always hopefully a future.”

What did you think of the Sutekh reveal? Did you figure it out? What’s your theory about Ruby? Let us know in the comments section, below.

Doctor Who, Season 1 Finale, Friday, June 21, Disney+

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