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‘Doctor Who’ Finale Recap: Answers Through the Tears

‘Doctor Who’ Finale Recap: Answers Through the Tears


If Ncuti Gatwa’s first full run of episodes manning the TARDIS has been characterised by something, it’s large swings.

Over the course of this season, the “Doctor Who” showrunner Russell T Davies has explored racism, queer love, the menace posed by know-how and even fandom itself, with episodes starting from the abstruse (“73 Yards”) to the unusually saccharine (“Space Babies,” which I’ve largely suggested buddies skip).

The season has, at occasions, felt overstuffed, but it surely’s been the overhaul “Doctor Who” wanted after dropping some momentum underneath its earlier showrunner, Chris Chibnall. Davies’s ambition is simple, and the penultimate episode — through which the evil god Sutekh returned after practically 50 years — was one of many boldest, scariest “Doctor Who” episodes in years.

While the finale doesn’t fairly preserve the stress, “Empire of Death” continues to be an efficient and satisfying finish to the season. The episode opens with a number of unfastened ends to tie up: Sutekh must be stopped, and we nonetheless want to find the identities of Ruby’s mothe and her neighbor Mrs. Flood (Anita Dobson).

The motion picks again up in medias res, with Sutekh’s hollow-faced, red-eyed servants Susan (Susan Twist) and Harriet (Genesis Lynea) uncurling their palms and blowing out a brown mud that turns everybody it touches to ash. Kate (Jemma Redgrave) and her staff at UNIT, Britain’s supersecret extraterrestrial job pressure, are rapidly destroyed.

Mel (Bonnie Langford), who was one of many Doctor’s companions within the Nineteen Eighties, pulls him onto her orange scooter and a swerving digital camera follows them via the streets of an apocalyptic London. In UNIT’s Time Window, Ruby (Millie Gibson) continues to be making an attempt to recreate the reminiscence of the evening she was deserted as a child, however the Doctor arrives and informs her they’ve bought “worse issues.”

Sutekh (voiced by Gabriel Woolf, who additionally performed the villain the primary time round,) has captured the TARDIS, and he greets the Doctor as an “outdated pal” earlier than dropping a bombshell: Sutekh wasn’t destroyed by Tom Baker’s Doctor again in 1975, however clung onto the TARDIS throughout the Doctor’s subsequent travels via time and area, biding his time. Wherever the Doctor landed, Sutekh replicated and deposited new variations of the mysterious lady now often called Susan to convey endless destruction to each planet, in each timeline.

The Doctor, Ruby and Mel take refuge in a “remembered TARDIS,” made up of earlier iterations of the spaceship. It’s held collectively by a know-how, first seen within the current Christmas particular referred to as “clever rope,” and it’s packed to the rafters with trinkets from Doctors’ previous.

The Doctor normally places on a courageous face and hides his emotion, however all through this season, Gatwa’s Doctor has embodied the total spectrum of human feeling. As he watches the damaging mud blowing throughout Earth from area and blames himself, he emits a guttural sob of anguish.

The unanswered query of Ruby’s origin nonetheless hangs within the air, and Sutekh calls for the reply. The Doctor and Ruby need to know, too, and journey with Mel to the 12 months 2046, the place they monitor her down her DNA data in a Department of Health database.

When Ruby reads her mom’s title on the display screen, she appears to be like extra perplexed than ever. She turns round to the fearsome sight of Mel, who now has the identical skull-like face as Susan and has been possessed by Sutekh as a proxy via whom he also can be taught Ruby’s mom’s identification.

Mel transports the Doctor and Ruby again to Sutekh, the place the god makes use of his powers to bend the Doctor to his will. Angrily branding Sutekh a “nice large god of nothing,” Ruby hooks the Doctor’s clever rope onto Sutekh’s bejeweled collar, whereas the Doctor blasts the unique TARDIS away from Sutekh’s grasp.

“I’m again!” trills the Doctor in a playful singsong tone, as he clips the clever rope onto the TARDIS and he and Ruby fly off, dragging Sutekh together with them like a canine on a leash. It’s a climactic second, solely undermined by some distractingly rudimentary visuals. I can solely assume that Episode 7 used up the inexperienced display screen price range.

The Doctor watches via the TARDIS’s open doorways as Sutekh’s claws catch on the material of time, reviving all of the folks beforehand turned to mud. The Doctor and Ruby have fun — however now the Doctor should destroy Sutekh and decrease himself to the monster’s stage. “You win, as a result of I satisfaction myself that I’m higher than you,” the Doctor shouts. He cuts the rope, and Sutekh is consumed by flames.

Next, the query of Ruby’s mom. The reply is slightly underwhelming: She is an extraordinary lady, referred to as Louise, who was simply 15 when she gave Ruby up.

Ruby is, after all, joyous. But she can be confused. How may the destiny of the universe hinge on this lady? Well, the Doctor explains, Louise was vital “as a result of we expect she’s vital.” She was vital to Ruby, and subsequently the Doctor, and in flip, Sutekh.

After so many complicated theories all through the season, it’s a considerably simplistic reply. Ruby reunites together with her mom at a coffee store, in a real tear-jerker of a scene.

“I’ve proven you monsters and planets and legends, however this? Honey, your journey is simply starting,” the Doctor tells Ruby as she leaves the TARDIS, however he guarantees that he’ll see her once more.

And that, declares a voice over, is how “the story of the church on Ruby Road involves an finish.” Ruby is gone, for now, though casting bulletins from the present’s producers have acknowledged that Gibson and Varada Sethu, one other returning actress, will each be companions subsequent season.

There is one remaining unanswered query: Who is Mrs. Flood? She is the one chatting with us within the voice over, it seems. The digital camera pans as much as the roof of Ruby’s home, the place an older lady is standing in a white fluffy coat, holding a parasol as she stares down the lens.

Of the Doctor, she teases: “I’m sorry to say, his story ends in absolute terror.” The shot zooms in on Mrs. Flood’s darkly rimmed eyes and purple lipstick-smeared mouth. She grins, and ends the episode with a chilling “Night, evening” — a promise of extra creepiness to come back when “Doctor Who” returns for Season 2.

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