I’ve taken my time over Fugitive of the Judoon. I’m still struck by how good I thought it was and have rewatched both to make sure and pick some details for this review. Lots and lots to talk about, all well spoilered elsewhere so I will cover everything that occurs to me. Doctor Who at its best? I think so!
Who is the Fugitive of Judoon?
I can’t do this wonderful Vinay Patel / Chris Chibnall story full justice in a review short enough to read so I’ll concentrate on:
- The Judoon story
- Captain Jack’s Cybermen arc
- The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker)
- The Doctor (Jo Martin)
- Lee and Gat (and Marcia)
- The Companions
The Judoon story
So. Judoon who stop using the Judoon speak and get a decent translator. Works for me even if it’s not what we’ve seen before. What we have seen before and portrayed here is the ruthless, almost simple-minded dedication to duty and disregard for collateral damage. Spot on.
I fell for all the red herrings. Lee was so obviously up to something I didn’t consider he might not be the fugitive once he made comments about humans in the cafe.
I then got distracted by Captain Jack (see below) and completely didn’t twig Ruth was a Time Lord right up to the striking of the glass. By the time I processed that the TARDIS had popped up, great debate between Doctors, showdown with Gat and dump Jodie back in Gloucester. Cue a row with the companions (Ryan in particular) and one very dazed Doctor and a distraction in the form of the start of the next episode (a very old-school ending not often done this century).
Captain Jack’s Cybermen arc
So, John Barrowman (plus hair dye) back as Jack and as full on as ever. Huge drops of exposition and this might the series 12 arc with the Timeless Child part of a bigger arc extending (???) into series 13.
It’s been ten years. John is older and even in Torchwood Children of Earth he was getting the odd grey hair. Not quite Face of Boe but maybe Jack lives obvious hair dye?!
I’m pleased to see him, he didn’t dominate the story, and I assume he will pop back and meet Jodie. This gives us the second returning character who knew the Doctor as a man (after the Master).
Still to get someone like Osgood or River!
The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker)
Jodie was excellent here and the put down of Ryan felt plausible to me. She went through a lot in this story and has a puzzle with no obvious solution as well as more mysteries than she knows how to deal with. For now. Will the Doctor go for help? Is she outgrowing the companions?
There was a lot of emotion, puzzlement and being bullied by a brash / rude version of yourself (and one you didn’t know existed) takes a lot. Almost like The Three Doctors when each derides their future selves. This had teeth though.
I’m very happy to see a moody, angry Doctor and the relationship with the companions is long overdue and overhaul.
This Doctor also needs a purpose. She seems to be hiding on Earth (every episode so far this series) and drifting. Well, as they say (said) on Gallifrey – No More!
The Doctor (Jo Martin)
Gosh and wow. A sterling performance and plenty to think about. Jo Martin convinced me and I do like the TARDIS she had (and can control). On first watch I was drifting towards a missing series 6b Doctor (see my thoughts). Now I’m a little bit more parallel world / alternate timeline thanks to Jodie’s closing comments about time swirling.
On a second watch there are clues. First Gloucester was used to film The Next Doctor (though that’s not an in-story thing). The opening dwells overlong on a watch – the last important watch was a chameleon arch fob watch, though this wasn’t.
Next and it’s a biggie – Ruth looks in a mirror with a hexagonal frame! Yes a TARDIS hint if we need one! Later when Lee died Gat even made a comment about ‘faithful companion’.
The contrast in personalities was high – birthday Ruth was almost skipping on her way to stand in the square drumming up punters for her tour. A complete contrast to the Doctor she became. My only complaint is she seemed unmoved by Lee’s death despite obvious affection between the two (Lee seemed to have all his memories).
Meanwhile just what is her arc? Who is she working for (or was working for?) Why is she on the run (and typical of the Doctor!) and where is she off to next? More important – will we see here again this series? She can do Venusian Aikido so another bonus!
Lee and Gat (and Marcia)
First Marcia, the old lady knitting away who then gets by the Judoon. What if she too were a Gallifreyan watching over the Ruth Doctor? She distracted the Judoon with the ultimate sacrifice. An idea too far? Perhaps, but as we’ve learned now with Chris Chibnall anything is possible.
I liked both Lee and Gat. Great acting (Neil Stuke and Ritu Arya) and a real shame they died. More encounters with either would be great and Gat did evil Time Lordy without the extreme behaviour of the Master.
Some attempt to give them a purpose mostly taken over by being Captain Jack’s messengers. I still think it wouldn’t take much to write them out but at least the story makes it clear they aren’t happy. Yaz seems to have more depth to her in this story, bit still not enough for me. It’s my only negative!
There we have it – lots to consider, and probably in my top few stories since 2005. I may reconsider when it all gets explained, but for now I can’t wait for the rest of the series. And series 13!