Understand right now that if you really, really don’t like spoilers and you’ve not watched this episode, that you should go away now and do something else as this review consists of nothing really but spoilers. I’m serious — just go away.
So if you’re still there, grab your favourite libation and settle in, as this is going to take a bit. The BBC itself has never been shy on giving away what’s coming up in an episode as they they did when the Ninth Doctor encountered his very first enemy and they named the episode in the opening credits “Dalek”, a name that went out in the press materials before hand. One would think that they really don’t think that their audience cares about spoilers, which obviously some of you don’t as you’re still here, and I’ll bet haven’t watch this episode yet.
Over at File 770, the place for discussion of all things concerning SF and the fandom community around it, there’s been some angst over spoilers, with some arguing for at least a month before they’re discussed with this series. Sorry I’m not in favour of that, as the Doctor Who global fan community in the era of the rebooted series has shown little taste for waiting for discussing an episode.
So “Fugitive of The Judoon” has a mcguffin of a plot line of those rhinoceros-like alien bounty hunter seeking a human on Earth. (Sure, that plot got used sort of before in the two part Tenth Doctor story, “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood”. Looking human doesn’t mean in the Who verse that you are human.) But first let’s note that our favourite member of Torchwood makes a return here.
Yes, a certain and much loved Captain Jack Harkness is back with a cryptic message for The Doctor to be explained later in the series. (Hopefully.) But that’s a minor spoiler I’m giving away compared to the next one. Although it is welcome to see Harkness here, the biggest story herein, and one that begs for future development, which I’m sure will happen, is the introduction of Jo Martin as a previously unknown incarnation of The Doctor.
Yes, I know the War Doctor got retconned into the history of The Doctor but that was simple compared to this incarnation. First, being a black female, (yes another spoiler but if you’re offended by these, I know you never started reading this essay) she set off a lot of well-deserved squeeing among the Whovian fandom that wasn’t white, male, older and hostile to change. I approve myself and definitely will buy a Funko Rock Candy figure of her if one gets made.
Second, and more importantly, she comes from the distant past of the timeline of The Doctor. She doesn’t remember the Thirteenth Doctor existing, doesn’t know what a sonic screwdriver is, and that suggests she may precede all the Doctors we now know to exist. Missy, the female Master, says she knew The Doctor “when he was a little girl” and though the Master lies more than not, Missy may well be telling the truth this time. This Doctor, who like the Tenth Doctor was hiding on Earth in human form, is also puzzled that the current Doctor has her TARDIS but that the TARDIS looks very different, again suggesting that she’s a much earlier Doctor.
So unless she’s from another universe, not an impossibility, I grant, given the Rose and alternate Tenth Doctor storyline, was there an entire set of regenerations preceding the ones we know about it? Why doesn’t the present Doctor know her? Just how much does each Doctor retain of his or her previous incarnations? Does a specific incarnation of a Doctor cease to exist when a new incarnation happens? This story suggests strongly, as previous have, that all Doctors exist simultaneously. Wrap your head around that idea.
And now mull why none of them have encountered Her before. Just because she’s made use of a Chameleon Arch, which is an acknowledged part of Time Lord history to come home, as the Tenth Doctor will do later on, from her perspective, to become human doesn’t explain why Thirteen doesn’t know Her.
I’ve spoilered the episode from the very beginning of this review by having a photo at the top that shows Her with the usual suspects. Doctor Who in the age of the global net is one of the shows whose fandom revels in spoilers. Casual watchers might get pissed when they think they’ll learn such things before they watch an episode, but I’m convinced hardcore Whovians aren’t so concerned. And the BBC seems to share that as THEIR Press Department barely, just barely, avoids giving away major spoilers.
Now who’s already talking about the next episode?