The promise that this season of ‘Doctor Who‘ was going to be different finally comes to the fore. ‘Fugitive of the Judoon’ starts as an alien-of-the-week episode then quickly becomes something much more significant. Now we’ll spend the remaining five episodes uncoiling what we found out here. And boy, did we find out a lot here.
Ko Fro No Mo
The Judoon’s reappearance in the episode was an excellent way to lure back in people that are still wanting ‘the old’ ‘Doctor Who’ back. Their appearance, like most of their presentations before, is almost of no consequence. Anyone could have been hunting the fugitive. The call back to Martha’s days aboard the TARDIS though might have been intentional. There is also a more significant call back to her time with 10 in the episode. With all of the bombshells and hints of the bigger arc of the season, ‘Fugitive of the Judoon’ feels more like a Russell T. Davies episode than the last ten years combined. That isn’t a bad thing considering the somewhat alienated section of fandom still upset that the Doctor is now a woman.
This Watch Is Me
Here’s where the spoilers start, so if you haven’t watched ‘Fugitive of the Judoon’ yet, I’d highly recommend doing so now. We meet Lee (Neil Stuke) and Ruth (Jo Martin), a couple that appears to be hiding something. Lee especially comes off as secretive, and the episode does an excellent job of misdirecting here. I suspected he might be another version of The Master which makes the reveal all that more intriguing.
Eventually, Ruth is revealed to be an incarnation of the Doctor themself. Though through some twist, she is from 13’s past. A past that viewers haven’t seen before, so there is bound to be something here. An alternate timeline or a history that will never be is yet to be determined. The Judoon are under the command of Gat (Ritu Arya) who, in turn, is working for a client from Gallifrey. Gat has worked with this mysterious new Doctor before and has been sent by Gallifrey to assassinate her.
The Doctor we know and love would have dealt with this with quick thinking and a clever turn of phrase. This new Doctor is something more hardened by her experiences, though. Her dispatching with Gat sets up a crisis of identity for 13 and a darker season than we’ve had before. Not that 13 hasn’t already been moody since The Master’s revelation that everything she knows is a lie. Now there is some evidence that might be true since she has no idea who this new Doctor is.
Sorry, Old Man! I Gotta Go Meet A Girl
We also get a surprise visitor from the past, because all the other revelations in this episode weren’t enough. In this day and age, it’s nothing short of shocking the production team was able to hide the return of Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). His mistaking Graham (Bradley Walsh) as being the Doctor provides a moment of comic relief. His surprise and glee to find that the Doctor is now a woman should hopefully start to turn some minds still set against the idea. Jack also brings a message to the arc of the season, adding a new wrinkle. There is a lone Cyberman and the Doctor best be wary, giving it what it wants promises significant danger. It would have been nice to see The Doctor and Jack reunited but that is undoubtedly coming.
‘Fugitive of the Judoon’ packs a season’s worth of jaw-dropping moments into one of the tightest hours we’ve had in a while. Arcs in the world of the show can be dicey with the payoff not being as exciting as the clues. Hopefully, Chris Chibnall is up to the task. He’s given us a lot to work with so far. It’s sure to satisfy those still longing for the explosive moment to explosive moment of the David Tennant years. It also does what ‘Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror‘ failed to do and trusts that character growth can make an interesting story.