Doctor Who: The Legend of Ruby Sunday – season one episode seven recap

<span>We learn her identity at last! Millie Gibson, Ncuti Gatwa and Bonnie Langford in the Legend of Ruby Sunday.<br></span><span>Photograph: Sophie Mutevelian/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios</span>
We learn her identity at last! Millie Gibson, Ncuti Gatwa and Bonnie Langford in the Legend of Ruby Sunday.
Photograph: Sophie Mutevelian/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios

Finally, we discover the identity of the mysterious woman who has been appearing with the Doctor and Ruby all through this season’s adventures, and it turns out that Susan Triad (Susan Twist) has been a pawn all along. It was also very amusing that a lot of things that had been the subject of frenzied online speculation – was S Triad an all-too obvious anagram of Tardis? – were dealt with in the first couple of minutes, with everybody standing around essentially saying to the viewer “Well … obviously!”

This was very much the act one set-up of a two-part story. Mel (Bonnie Langford) had far more to do than she did when she returned for the 60th anniversary, and having her undercover in the Triad technology company was a good way of illustrating how Unit utilises the Doctor’s former companions once their travels have ended. Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) again flashed some of the anger and disgust we saw when she rejected Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) in 73 Yards.

It was a little obvious that the two members of the Unit bridge crew we had not encountered before were going to end up Sutekh-fodder. And the fact that both Rose (Yasmin Finney) and Morris Gibbons (Lenny Rush) were working for Unit does raise some questions about child labour laws in the Whoniverse.

Having a VHS cassette as the vital bit of tech to drive the plot forward was a lovely nod to the series’ own wilderness years, when VHS was the only medium Doctor Who existed on – even if the time window then being able to extrapolate a 3D hologram environment from the tape was quite the technobabble stretch.

There has been some criticism that Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor has leaned too much into his emotional vulnerabilities – the character has ended up crying in nearly every episode – but this was a commanding turn from the moment he arrived at Unit. He might have been all smiles and hugs, but there was no doubt he was instantly in charge.

Sum it up in one sentence?

The Doctor and lots of people we’ve already met this season spend 48 minutes gathering together for a cliffhanger reveal.

Life aboard the Tardis

It was not so much life aboard the Tardis as life around the Tardis, as we discovered that the Doctor’s time ship has been hijacked by the immortal god of death, Sutekh. There have been some grumblings in fandom that although this run of the show has the largest and arguably most spectacular Tardis interior set in the show’s history, Gatwa and Gibson have barely shot a scene in it.

Fear factor

So much was invested in building up to the reveal at the end that this episode lacked any real chills along the way. For younger viewers, though, the sequence with Ruby’s creepily hooded mysterious mother and the subsequent death of Col Chidozie (Tachia Newall) may have offered some frights.

Mysteries and questions

With all the misdirection about whether Susan Triad would turn out to be the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan, it is easy to forget that Mrs Flood (Anita Dobson) is upstairs with fellow EastEnders alumni Cherry Sunday (Angela Wynter), and being menacingly weird. She couldn’t be, could she?

And there is still little clarity about who or what the Vlinx is, and whether it is just rights issues that has stopped that talking computer analysis role being played by, say, K9 or Mr Smith, the supercomputer from the Sarah Jane Adventures.

Deeper into the vortex

  • Ruby Sunday is not the first companion to get her name in an episode title. Rose, Smith and Jones, Amy’s Choice and both The Wedding of River Song and The Husbands of River Song have previously bestowed that honour. The first time it happened was in the William Hartnell era, with a 1965 Christmas Day episode called The Feast of Steven which featured Peter Purves as companion Steven Taylor.

  • Gabriel Woolf is reprising his role as the voice of Sutekh, which he last played in the Pyramids of Mars in 1975. He’s 91!

  • Kate tells the Doctor he expressly forbade time window technology in the 1970s, throwing further confusion into the Unit dating controversy about whether the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker Unit stories were set in the 70s or 80s. Of course, since the Grand Serpent time-travelled his way through Unit’s established history in Survivors of the Flux, maybe the answer is … both?

  • No fandom obsesses over TV ratings more than Doctor Who. Dot and Bubble had consolidated seven-day viewing figures of 3.38m … among the worst Doctor Who has ever had. It was also the overall highest rated show in the UK that day. Make of that what you will.

  • Some extra-curricular activity this week. The animated version of lost 1966 story The Celestial Toymaker is out on DVD. Central villain the Toymaker returned in Gatwa’s debut last year, The Giggle. In the UK, there is a new Tales of the Tardis on BBC Four at 8pm on Thursday 20 June, with the synopsis “Far away in time, on board an old Remembered Tardis, the Doctor and Ruby pause in battle to reflect on their recent adventures.”

Next time: Empire of Death

The thrilling conclusion of a season that has rushed by far too fast. Vworp Vworp!

Season 1

Episodes 1 & 2: Space Babies / The Devil's Chord

Episode 3: Boom

Episode 4: 73 Yards

Episode 5: Dot and Bubble

Episode 6: Rogue

Episode 7: The Legend of Ruby Sunday

Episode 8: Empire of Death

Christmas special: Joy to the World

60th anniversary specials

Special 1: The Star Beast
Special 2: Wild Blue Yonder
Special 3: The Giggle
Christmas special: The Church on Ruby Road

Flux / Series 13

Chapter one: The Halloween Apocalypse
Chapter two: War of the Sontarans
Chapter three: Once, Upon Time
Chapter four: Village of the Angels
Chapter five: Survivors of the Flux
Chapter six: The Vanquishers
New Year's Special: Eve of the Daleks
Spring special: Legend of the Sea Devils
BBC centenary special: The Power of the Doctor

Series 12

Episode 1: Spyfall part one
Episode 2: Spyfall part two
Episode 3: Orphan 55
Episode 4: Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror
Episode 5: Fugitive of the Judoon
Episode 6: Praxeus
Episode 7: Can You Hear Me?
Episode 8: The Haunting of Villa Diodati
Episode 9: Ascension of the Cybermen
Episode 10: The Timeless Children
New Year's special: Revolution of the Daleks

Series 11

Episode 1: The Woman Who Fell to Earth
Episode 2: The Ghost Monument
Episode 3: Rosa
Episode 4: Arachnids in the UK
Episode 5: The Tsuangra Condundrum
Episode 6: Demons of the Punjab
Episode 7: Kerblam!
Episode 8: The Witchfinders
Episode 9: It Takes You Away
Episode 10: The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos
New Year's special: Resolution

Series 10

Episode 1: The Pilot
Episode 2: Smile
Episode 3: Thin Ice
Episode 4: Knock Knock
Episode 5: Oxygen
Episode 6: Extremis
Episode 7: The Pyramid at the End of the World
Episode 8: The Lie of the Land
Episode 9: Empress of Mars
Episode 10: The Eaters of Light
Episode 11: World Enough and Time
Episode 12: The Doctor Falls
2017 Christmas special: Twice Upon A Time

Series 9

Episode 1: The Magician's Apprentice
Episode 2: The Witch's Familiar
Episode 3: Under The Lake
Episode 4: Before The Flood
Episode 5: The Girl Who Died
Episode 6: The Woman Who Lived
Episode 7: The Zygon Invasion
Episode 8: The Zygon Inversion
Episode 9: Sleep No More
Episode 10: Face The Raven
Episode 11: Heaven Sent
Episode 12: Hell Bent
2015 Christmas special: The Husbands of River Song
2016 Christmas special: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

Series 8

Episode 1: Deep Breath
Episode 2: Into The Dalek
Episode 3: Robot of Sherwood
Episode 4: Listen
Episode 5: Time Heist
Episode 6: The Caretaker
Episode 7: Kill The Moon
Episode 8: Mummy on the Orient Express
Episode 9: Flatline
Episode 10: In the Forest of the Night
Episode 11: Dark Water
Episode 12: Death In Heaven
2014 Christmas special: Last Christmas

Series 7

Episode 1: Asylum of the Daleks
Episode 2: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
Episode 3: A Town Called Mercy
Episode 4: The Power of Three
Episode 5: The Angels Take Manhatten
2012 Christmas special: The Snowmen
Episode 6: The Bells of Saint John
Episode 7: The Rings of Akhaten
Episode 8: Cold War
Episode 9: Hide
Episode 10: Journey to the Centre of the Tardis
Episode 11: The Crimson Horror
Episode 12: Nightmare in Silver
Episode 13: The Name of the Doctor
50th Anniversary special: The Day of the Doctor
2013 Christmas special: The Time of the Doctor

Series 6

Episode 1: The Impossible Astronaut
Episode 2: Day of the Moon
Episode 3: The Curse of the Black Spot
Episode 4: The Doctor's Wife
Episode 5: The Rebel Flesh
Episode 6: The Almost People
Episode 7: A Good Man Goes To War
Episode 8: Let's Kill Hitler
Episode 9: Night Terrors
Episode 10: The Girl Who Waited
Episode 11: The God Complex
Episode 12: Closing Time
Episode 13: The Wedding of River Song
2011 Christmas special: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe

Series 5

Episode 1: The Eleventh Hour
Episode 2: The Beast Below
Episode 3: Victory of the Daleks
Episode 4: The Time of Angels
Episode 5: Flesh and Stone
Episode 6: The Vampires of Venice
Episode 7: Amy's Choice
Episode 8: The Hungry Earth
Episode 9: Cold Blood
Episode 10: Vincent and the Doctor
Episode 11: The Lodger
Episode 12: The Pandorica Opens
Episode 13: The Big Bang
2010 Christmas special: A Christmas Carol