TV Recap / Review: The Doctor and Ruby Encounter Shapeshifters and a “Rogue” Bounty Hunter in This Week’s “Doctor Who”

We’re heading back in time to the age of Bridgerton in this week’s episode of Doctor Who. As is typical with Doctor Who, things are not all as they seem, as the Doctor and Ruby arrive at an 1813 ball. There, a mysterious bounty hunter named Rogue will change the Doctor’s life forever. See just what happens in my spoiler-filled recap of the appropriately titled “Rogue.”

The episode begins in Bath, England in 1813, where two gentlemen are seen walking and arguing about one having dishonored the other’s sister. After one challenges the other to a duel, the one is revealed to be not of this world, and picks up the other. A bolt of electricity goes through the unsuspecting human, and when the dust is settled, the alien has assumed the form of Lord Barton (Paul Forman).

Following the title sequence, we pick up on the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby (Millie Gibson) at the aforementioned ball. Dressed to the nines, they are dancing among the elite attendees. Ruby even says to the Doctor that this is “so Bridgerton” – something that might become surprisingly relevant as the episode continues. The Doctor gave Ruby psychic earrings, which allows her to dance along without even learning the moves.

They are then approached by the Duchess (Indira Varma) who takes Ruby off to find a suitor, while the Doctor spots someone else that seems a little out of place. After turning down a romantic proposal from Lord Barton, Ruby walks off and spots a portrait – one that looks very much like the mystery lady the duo have been spotting throughout the season. Ruby asks the Duchess who she is, and she is supposedly the Duke’s late mother.

The Doctor approaches the “out-of-place” man, who is standing on a balcony watching over the party. This man is Rogue (Jonathan Groff). Rogue tells the Doctor that they should go outside, and it’s immediately apparent that the Doctor might quickly be developing some feelings here. Then, the Duchess, who is following Lady Wallace just to say something rude about her gown, finds one of her staff, and is displeased to see her outside among the fancy people. Turns out this member of her staff is another alien shapeshifter, who then proceeds to kill the Duchess and assume her form.

Ruby follows the fake Lord Barton and a lady he is trying to court, Emily Beckett (Camilla Aiko), into another room. When it seems as if he is about to kindle with her, Ruby accidentally knocks over a bunch of books. Ruby and Emily have a discussion about life and ladyhood in the 1800s, with Emily being amused by Ruby’s 21st century quirks and words. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Rogue discover the dead Duchess, something that Rogue seemingly knew about. He notes that this murder was done by someone with technology far beyond that of Earth’s. They both point fingers at each other for having committed the act, before Rogue pulls out a rather large gun.

While walking back to Rogue’s cloaked and rather large spaceship, he reveals that the aliens are Chulders, a race of shapeshifters. Rogue imprisons the Doctor in a triform thinking he is a Chulder, and the Doctor tries multiple ways to get out, from the use of his sonic screwdriver to even a little more flirting. Hilariously, he keeps playing Kylie Mingoue’s “Can't Get You Out of My Head” over the ship’s speakers in an attempt to annoy Rogue. Finally, a proper scan reveals the Doctor as a Time Lord, with all of his past selves floating around.

Now that Rogue seems to trust him and he’s been freed, they head back towards the party. But not before stopping by the TARDIS, mainly so the Doctor can show off. The Doctor insists that they don’t kill the Chulder, and that it be transported to a barren dimension with no one to hurt and no way back. The Doctor and Rogue then have a heart to heart about their past, with both of them speaking of having lost people. The Doctor invites Rogue to “argue with him across the stars” when they are done here, and as the two get closer, it appears that something romantic might be about to happen.

They are interrupted by an alarm, which sets them off back into the ball where they meet up and devise a plan with Ruby and Emily. The Doctor theorizes that the Chulders are essentially doing an advanced form of cosplay, instead stealing bodies and living off the drama a la Bridgerton. They need to devise a juicy scene that would draw the Chulders out, and the Doctor comes up with the perfect idea of he and Rogue dancing together – something that would have been frowned upon in the 1800s. Following some manufactured drama, Rogue pulls a fake proposal, offering the Doctor a ring. The Doctor says that he can’t and appears to be actually distressed, before running out of the room. This works, as the Chulders begin chasing after them, but there’s just one thing. There’s far more of them than they expected, with a grand total of four chasing after them. Narrowly escaping their grasp, the Doctor is able to add a little “zizz” to make Rogue’s triform be able to carry all four Chulders. However, they only have one shot to make it work.

Meanwhile, after much confusion on Emily’s part, Ruby decides to reveal to her that she’s from the future. Unfortunately for Ruby, it turns out Emily was a fifth Chulder all along, and she appears to take on Ruby’s form. The Chulders storm into a room, wanting to create a grand finale for their event, and in their true bird-like form, they terrify the other guests. The Doctor finds out that Ruby has seemingly been killed by a Chulder, and he flashes back to a moment with Ruby’s mother Carla (Michelle Greenidge), where he promised to her that he will keep Ruby safe. After an emotional moment, the Doctor asks Rogue how long a Chulder’s lifespan is, which he replies with 600 years. To that, the Doctor coldly says “good, it’s a long time to suffer.”

The Doctor confronts the Chulders just as Ruby is about to marry Lord Barton, threatening to use Rogue’s triform to trap them. All five of the Chulders are trapped within the triform, but Ruby reveals that it is really her, having used the psychic earrings to fight off the Chulder, who then comes running in to attack and take over the Doctor’s form. The Doctor is left with a conundrum, save Ruby and let the Chulders free, or condemn them all to some barren planet. After an emotional goodbye and even kiss from Rogue, he takes it upon himself to budge Ruby out of the way, trapping himself with the Chulders.

Following the events, the Doctor and Ruby are sitting outside and while the Doctor laments on losing Rogue, he quickly decides to mentally move on to the next adventure, in typical Doctor fashion. Ruby says that he doesn’t have to be like this, but he says he has to be, because that’s just what he’s like. She gives him a hug and the Doctor puts on the ring given to him by Rogue, with the hope that the two may one day be reunited.

This was quite the fun episode of Doctor Who, with a surprisingly deep ending to it. I really enjoyed the idea of the Chulders, as a pretty logical extension of cosplaying taken to the extreme. This episode will undoubtedly go down in the history books as being the first time the Doctor has fallen for a man, and I think the story handled things pretty well. It will be interesting to see if we see any more of Jonathan Groff’s Rogue in the coming seasons.

As the “next time” preview indicates, we may finally be getting some answers regarding the mysterious woman as the epic two-part season finale kicks off next week. Come back next week as we delve into “The Legend of Ruby Sunday.”

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Luke Manning
Luke is a fan of all things theme parks and self-proclaimed #1 fan of Joffrey’s Coffee, who lives in Kissimmee, FL