Friday 24 May 2024

Story 291: Fugitive of the Judoon

In which the Doctor discovers a terrible truth about her own past...
Ruth Clayton is starting a new career as a tour guide in the historic city of Gloucester. It's her birthday, and husband Lee will collect her cake from a local café owned by a man named Allan, who has always carried a torch for her. He is quite obsessed, and has even amassed a file on Lee in an attempt to drive a wedge between them.
Unbeknownst to all, a Judoon spaceship has arrived in orbit above Earth and its commander - Pol-Kon-Don - has targeted the city. 
In the TARDIS, the Doctor's companions are concerned about her recent subdued behaviour. As they try to get her to talk about this, an alarm sounds - warning them of the Judoon presence. They have set up a forcefield around the centre of Gloucester, but the Doctor is able to get the TARDIS through, materialising at the back of Allan's café. On learning that aliens have arrived, Lee rushes off to find his wife. 
As the Doctor, Yaz and Ryan leave the café, they fail to spot Graham being teleported away.
Ruth is confronted by a platoon of Judoon, who are searching for someone - scanning individuals in the area. She witnesses an old friend killed when they try to walk through the forcefield.
The Judoon track their fugitive to the café, where they kill Allan when he challenges them.

Ruth goes home to find a panicked Lee packing hurriedly to leave. The Judoon home in on their flat, as does the Doctor, who has identified a strange energy signal.
She uses her psychic paper to convince the Judoon that she has legal status here, ordering them to hold back whilst she investigates the property. The commander gives her a few minutes before they move in.
Graham, meanwhile, has found himself on an alien spaceship, where he is confronted by a brash American - Captain Jack Harkness. He initially thinks that Graham is the Doctor, as that was who he was trying to teleport. The spaceship comes under attack by its owners, as Jack had stolen it.
In the flat, the Doctor discovers an alien artefact hidden amongst Lee's belongings. The Doctor has scanned him and Ruth but they show as human. Everyone decides to split up, with the Doctor taking Ruth to the nearby cathedral whilst Lee keeps the Judoon busy. Yaz and Ryan go outside to further delay them - only to be teleported to Jack's ship.
Lee is left alone to confront the Judoon, who are joined by a woman named Gat. It is clear that Lee knows her. As he is not the fugitive they seek, the Judoon refuse to arrest him - but Gat shoots him dead anyway.

Jack tells the Doctor's companions that he will get them back to Earth shortly, but they must give her a warning. She is to beware a lone Cyberman and deny it something it seeks. They are then teleported back to Earth.
At the cathedral, the Doctor and Ruth are traced by the Judoon. On learning of Lee's death, Ruth suddenly attacks Pol-Kon-Don, displaying martial arts skills which surprise her, and shock the Doctor. She even snaps off the Judoon commander's horn - a mark of great disrespect.
They escape and reach Ruth's car. She is experiencing strange flashbacks to a building - a converted lighthouse on the coast where she used to live. Knowing it to be significant for what is going on, they head there.
The Doctor finds a grave belonging to Ruth's parents which she is curious about. She begins to dig down, and is shocked to discover a buried Police Public Call Box.
In the house, Ruth has been hearing voices, and is compelled to seek out a fire alarm button. She smashes it.
As the Doctor ponders the presence of what appears to be her TARDIS, Ruth emerges from the house, her personality quite changed. She announces that she is the Doctor, and this is her concealed TARDIS.
Once they have gained entry to it, the Doctor realises that she is indeed a Time Lord - her identity hidden by a Chameleon Arch. Ruth is adamant that she is the Doctor, and the pair wonder why neither can remember the other. 

Now that she is no longer protected by the Arch and the TARDIS reactivated, the Judoon identify the ship and beam it onto their craft.
The Doctor discovers from Gat that Ruth is indeed an incarnation of herself. She is also Gallifreyan - an officer with a group known as the Division. She has been hunting for the Ruth-Doctor.
From what they say, the Doctor realises that the fugitive Doctor originates from her past, rather than some future incarnation which she initially thought. This makes her existence all the more puzzling as she has no memories of her. She is able to show Gat that Gallifrey no longer exists as she shares her memories of her recent visit, though she refuses to believe this.
The Doctor then witnesses her other self seemingly trick Gat into destroying herself. She fires a weapon which has been programmed to reverse its blast. The Ruth-Doctor points that she did warn Gat not to shoot, but the Gallifreyan refused to heed her warning.
The spaceship has now moved out of Earth orbit, and the Doctors point out that the Judoon no longer have jurisdiction here. Both Doctors return to Earth in the fugitive Doctor's TARDIS, where the Doctor is reunited with her companions.
Back in her own TARDIS, they warn her of their meeting with Captain Jack and his warning. Attempts to get the Doctor to talk are thwarted by another alarm sounding - indicating multiple threats across the globe...

Fugitive of the Judoon was written by Vinay Patel and Chris Chibnall, and was first broadcast on Sunday 26th January 2020.
It's clear that the things people remember this for - Captain Jack and the Fugitive Doctor - are Chibnall's contribution, so Patel doesn't really add a great deal.
The episode introduces Jo Martin as the Fugitive Doctor - a previously unknown incarnation who predates the First Doctor as portrayed by William Hartnell.
It's hardly original, Steven Moffat having created the War Doctor for Day of the Doctor, after Christopher Eccleston refused to return to the series. He was explained as a Doctor who had gone to war, and therefore been psychologically suppressed by the Doctor as he had taken up arms. As a man of violence, he didn't even deserve the name of Doctor for what he had done.
As such, the War Doctor could be accommodated in canon by fans without too much of a fuss. It pushed all the new Doctors along, numerically, and had implications for the 12 regenerations rule, but it was always known that ways round this would be found when the time came.
Chibnall's actions were far more controversial, in that he undermines the entire history of the programme to date. The Hartnell Doctor was no longer the first. There was at least one incarnation before this - the first non-male / non-white in story-telling terms.

We are also introduced to a new Gallifreyan group called the Division, who appear to be militaristic and interventionist, coming across as some sort of security force.
The problem with creating prequels, as any fan of the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises could tell you, is that they are extremely difficult to shoe-horn into established lore. It's near impossible without breaking something somewhere else.
ST: Enterprise struggled to include fan-pleasing aliens whom we knew weren't encountered by Starfleet until ST: The Next Generation, whilst ST: Discovery shows technology far in advance of the original 1960's series. Revenge of the Sith does not provide a seamless segue into A New Hope.
Here we are expected to believe that the Division have singularly failed to identify and capture the Doctor in any of her subsequent incarnations, despite being time-travellers. (The same problem arose with Torchwood - another prequel mess-up as the organisation stupidly failed to capture the Doctor in any of his many visits to contemporary Britain, even during his lengthy exile).
How could Gat be "time-locked" to early Gallifrey and not be aware of its destruction - known to the Doctor in her "present"?.
We also have the problem of the Police Box-shaped TARDIS. It is an unquestionable fact that the TARDIS took on different shapes under the First Doctor prior to becoming stuck in its iconic form only after Totters Lane. We may not have seen this, but the Doctor and Susan clearly state it.
Are we to believe that the TARDIS became stuck as a Police Box twice?
Then there's the issue of the First Doctor and Susan leaving Gallifrey in The Name of the Doctor, in a TARDIS which is suggested by Clara - highly unlikely to be the one used by the Fugitive Doctor.

As well as Martin, who was a regular on Holby City, we have Neil Stuke playing husband Lee Clayton. He is scanned as human and was presumably the Fugitive Doctor's companion, and has been fulfilling a role similar to that held by Martha whilst the Tenth Doctor was John Smith. His origins are never fully explained - other than he was some kind of soldier.
Stuke came to fame mainly through comedy roles, the first of which was the sitcom Game On. He played boss CJ is the ill-advised remake of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.
Playing Allan is Michael Begley. He previously portrayed Mulligan, one of Captain Avery's crew in The Curse of the Black Spot.
Gat is Ritu Arya, who has appeared in Humans and The Umbrella Academy.
The lead Judoon is played by Paul Kasey, as he had done in Smith and Jones and other Judoon appearances. Nick Briggs inevitably provides the vocals.
The other significant thing about this episode is its re-introduction to the parent series of Captain Jack, as played by John Barrowman. He had not been seen since the final instalment of Torchwood: Miracle Day.
Having first appeared in a Steven Moffat story, return appearances were often expected throughout his tenure as showrunner, and indeed some stories did toy with having him back - such as him being one of the gang the Doctor put together in A Good Man Goes to War.
His mention of a lone Cyberman introduces a new element to the overall season story arc.

Overall, it's a frustrating episode. Perfectly fine as a stand-alone adventure with the Judoon, but it's the implications for the entire history of the series that cause disquiet. The feeling is that it is a seismic change which has damaged rather than enhanced the programme, and was really quite unnecessary. The War Doctor showed that you could take big risks and shake things up with the show, without unduly upsetting fans. (And it did upset fans - and has continued to do so ever since). Non-fans would have had no interest whatsoever in any of this.
Things you might like to know:
  • A working title for this story was Semper Fidelis - the Latin motto of the city of Exeter, as this was its original location.
  • The story was originally intended as the very first of the Jodie Whittaker / Chibnall era - meaning that the latter wasn't always intent on his first season having no continuity to previous stories.
  • In this earlier version, Ruth would have been a future Doctor and instead of a husband had a grown son who knew her true identity. There were no Judoon involved. A new alien race called the Karreg took their place.
  • To conceal his return, Barrowman was credited as "Roy Lester" in advance paperwork for the story. This is an anagram of "Rose Tyler".
  • To explain his presence in Cardiff, he told everyone that he was carrying out renovations to his house there - work which he actually undertook in the end.
  • His scenes were filmed by a different director. The spaceship location was Clifton Cathedral in Bristol, with the altar disguised.
  • Whilst filming did take place in central Gloucester, the fight with the Judoon actually took place in a Cardiff church - St German's. Gloucester Cathedral has allowed filming - it features in the Harry Potter films.
  • Pol-Kon-Don was named after fan Paul Condon who had recently passed away. He was a friend of Chibnall's.
  • This Judoon differs from others in that it has a mohawk hairstyle, and is said to be female.
  • There's a shot of the Doctors at the TARDIS which clearly shows the back of the prop - something which hadn't been seen since the days of the classic series. Not a deliberate homage.
  • The West Usk Lighthouse near Newport can be hired out as accommodation and as a wedding venue. The accommodation is no longer in the lighthouse itself, but in an adjacent cabin.

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