Doctor Who: The Legend of Ruby Sunday review: What legend?

The following contains spoilers for The Legend of Ruby Sunday.

Given that we learn very little about what the legend of Ruby Sunday actually is in an episode full of misdirection, the biggest one has to be its title. Instead, the first part of the series’ two-part finale is an hour to build a sense of dread that spills over in its final moments. I can cheat and say that The Legend of Ruby Sunday is just “” — the first half of the 2006 season finale — with a bigger budget. Except for the big bad who reveals himself at the end, he’s a villain from a cut deeper than the usual corners. Doctor Who history.

The Doctor and Ruby arrive at UNIT HQ to inquire about Susan Twist, a mysterious woman following them in space. Meanwhile, UNIT is tracking someone named Susan Triad, a British tech billionaire who will announce her gift to humanity that day. Even the shenanigans at UNIT determine that S.TRIAD is an anagram for the TARDIS, and the Doctor speculates that the Triad, or the mysterious woman in general, may be his granddaughter.

But there’s also the matter of Ruby’s parentage, which gives the Doctor a reason not to confront the Triad. The Doctor, Ruby and a UNION soldier enter the time window – the lower level holodeck – to see who left Ruby on the steps of the church. But the date is a little confused, and Ruby’s faceless mother — unlike what we saw in “The Church on Ruby Road” — turns and points ominously at the TARDIS. It wasn’t long before the TARDIS was engulfed in a black cloud of evil that no one knew what to do with.

The Doctor then meets with the Triad before taking the stage, causing him to remember all of his other selves. Whenever a Triad dreams, he somehow becomes aware of those countless alternate selves. And as he takes the stage, the Doctor asks the team at UNION HQ to scan the TARDIS. He likewise becomes enveloped in an invisible cloud of malevolence that threatens everyone in the area.

Susan on stage during Triad Susan on stage during Triad

Bad Wolf / BBC Studios

[ASIDE: This is the . And this is the second time that they’ve totally misunderstood how to stage one that looks even remotely evocative of what they’re parodying. I know the conventions of the tech keynote have mutated since the Steve Jobs era, but they’re not even trying.]

UNIT employee Harriet Arbinger (Wait… Triad starts muttering about a dark prophecy as he leaves the script. As the TARDIS is menaced by a giant animal head surrounded by Egyptian iconography, the Doctor, standing nearby, watches as it transforms into a skeletal monster. It turns out that Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter, is innocent, not even a major component of the story. First seen in 1975, the innocent chosen by the mighty Egyptian God Sutek” Cue the credits.

It’s a subtle synopsis, as these scenes play out slowly as the tension builds. The Legend of Ruby Sunday takes its time and lets you gently twist the screw until you’re almost happy when the big reveal happens. It’s a very engaging ride in the first hour, although I don’t think it’s worth much by the time you come back to it for the third or fourth time. But again, that was a problem with episodes penned by Russell T. Davies. It’s also a good way to order juice for next week’s finale .

“The Pyramids of Mars?” Was it easy to guess that we would bring Sutex back after walking once in the movie? The rumor mill has certainly been pulling in that direction over the past month, and it’s not like we haven’t picked up a hint or two along the way. Long-time Davies fans will remember Vince watching Part 1 at the end of the first episode. Strange as the people. We’ve already lifted an entire scene from The Pyramids of Mars – the jump to a bleak future – in The Devil’s Chord.

Ruby, The Doctor and Mel's character.Ruby, The Doctor and Mel's character.

Bad Wolf / BBC Studios

If you’re not familiar, The Pyramids of Mars is a classic and another blockbuster series from the pen of the best writer of the 20th century, Robert Holmes. At the time, Holmes was the series’ script editor and commissioned a story from writer Lewis Griefer. But Griefer’s material was so weak that Holmes and producer Philip Hinchcliffe decided it needed to be replaced. So Holmes was tasked with writing an entirely new episode in a short amount of time. The finished episode was given the pseudonym Stephen Harris, but it is all under the title of Holmes. Unfortunately, due to various credit rules, the end credits of The Legend of Ruby Sunday actually credit Lewis Griefer as Sutek’s creator and leave out Holmes, which feels pretty rude.

But let’s leave that little injustice aside and go to the final.

Susan Twist Corner

  • Looks like we have the answer to Susan Twist being a misdirection.

  • Gabriel Wolfe, who voiced Sutex in 1975, now returns to voice him.

  • When Mrs. Flood was released to look after Cherry, she was clearly aware of Sutex’s return and seemed to be overjoyed at it. But he didn’t seem aware, so it’s likely that he represents a different villain from the series’ past.

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