The Legend of Ruby Sunday

Posted in Episode by - June 15, 2024
The Legend of Ruby Sunday

Aired 15 June 2024


Investigating Ruby’s past and the mysterious appearances of the same woman throughout their adventures, the Doctor and Ruby head to UNIT to find help in ‘The Legend of Ruby Sunday,’ the first of Russell T Davies’s two-part finale to this first Fifteenth Doctor run of Doctor Who.

In his previous tenure as showrunner, Davies made a habit of going bombastically big with visuals and emotions in his finales, and ‘The Legend of Ruby Sunday’ is no different. Although there is no explanation for why the Doctor should head to UNIT at this particular time since the identity of Ruby’s mother has been a mystery simmering since her debut and since the duo realized that one face seemed to be following them throughout the cosmos long ago with unseen adventures also referenced, the end effect is nonetheless an exciting one. UNIT at this point seems to be a well-established and well-known commodity proudly announcing its presence in the local skyline with non element of secrecy, and the return of Kate Stewart, Mel Bush, Rose Noble, Colonel Ibrahim, and the Vlinx manage to capture a sense of tight-knit family akin to the Third Doctor’s famed time with the organization despite the much larger scale of operations evident here.

Fittingly, it takes no time at all for everyone to know exactly who the Doctor is talking about when he describes the woman he has been seeing, UNIT having been following Susan Triad for quite some time as a mysterious acronym of her name looms large and the promise of her technology seems too good to be true. Susan Twist is wholly engaging in this role as she balances her character’s best intentions with the resulting enthusiastic attention coming her way as she prepares to address the United Nations. While it may have been somewhat odd to include the Doctor’s granddaughter in such a scenario after her name comes squarely into focus, not revealing her to be Susan ends up being even more odd in retrospect after she has been brought up multiple times in recent stories. The finale could, of course, turn things around yet again, but devoting such time to tease the potential return of such a vital person in the Doctor’s life simply to twist the knife in the Doctor’s hearts as he realizes that he has been chasing the wrong acronym out of hope is as satisfying with its payoff for the immediate future as it is empty with its lack of payoff of sixty years of waiting for the Doctor on-screen to reconnect with his family. Nonetheless, Triad not being the driving malevolent force and instead being an apparent pawn is a nice subversion of expectations that reframes this lingering story arc.

Of course, the return of the Osiran Sutekh is absolutely reason for celebration, being arguably the closest thing to a god the Doctor has ever faced and providing a natural progression from the recent godlike entities of the Toymaker and Maestro. The practical effects applied to Twist to signify Sutekh’s presence are genuinely chilling, and the return of Gabriel Woolf to voice Sutekh is another fantastic tie to the character’s past in 1975’s ‘Pyramids of Mars.’ Though this story is purely setup by nature, the chilling effects of the shadow surrounding the TARDIS and of the sudden deaths Sutekh can bring are superb, and though it remains to be seen if Sutekh remains in his CGI doglike form or takes on the more humanoid visage of his classic appearance, ‘The Legend of Ruby Sunday’ effectively sets up the threat of this godlike being by its end while leaving plenty of room for further development and exploration.

It does remain odd that the Doctor seems initially not to consider that his search for a woman he has never seen and for a woman he sees everywhere may be connected, but the Doctor’s foray into UNIT’s lashed-up time window technology to try to discover the truth behind Christmas Eve 2004’s events on Ruby Road is wholly satisfying. It seems fitting that this bold Doctor should overtly laugh at the state of UNIT’s attempts to make this technology work, knowing that this organization would have defied his orders from the 1970s to avoid this, but the incorporation of the grainy CCTV VHS footage that Ruby’s mother has kept all these years provides a wonderful means of bringing Michelle Greenidge as Carla directly into the fold along with the bevy of emotions that both Ruby and she have been holding within for all of these years since Ruby was adopted. The pointed question of what the memory of a time machine may be as the time window reconstructs that past Christmas Eve complete with the TARDIS is an intriguingly philosophical one, and while it likewise remains to be seen just how those past events have tied into the return of Sutekh, the cloaked visage of who is assumed to be Ruby’s mother turning to point at the Doctor within the time window is a startlingly effective visual that continues to layer further mysteries into this locale that the Doctor has already once visited. With Mrs Flood’s role in events also needing explaining as she ominously proclaims that he waits no more, ‘The Legend of Ruby Sunday’ successfully integrates many past storylines and mysteries while bringing plenty more into the fold. It can’t quite manage to balance its extended guest cast with Rose in particular being less prominently used, but it allows Ncuti Gatwa to showcase an impressive range of emotions as his hope and excitement turns to anger and despair and for Millie Gibson to truly dive into the turmoil that her unknown past continues to cause as an ancient and malevolent force is revealed.

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