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    Doctor Who “Rogue” REVIEW

    This week brings us a brand new Doctor Who adventure in the form of Rogue from writers Kate Herron and Briony Redman. Doctor Who “Rogue” features parties, weddings, bounty hunters, and a spot of murder on the dancefloor. What’s not to get excited about? The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby (Millie Gibson) land at a party in 1813 hosted by a mysterious Duchess (Indira Varma). However, party guests are being murdered, and there’s something very sinister afoot here. Can the Doctor and Ruby stop everything before it’s too late?

    Thankfully, they’re not alone. The enigmatic bounty hunter Rogue (special guest star Jonathan Groff) is on the hunt and about to change the Doctor’s life forever. Preview clips have shown Rogue and The Doctor having a very interesting dynamic, so I’m excited to see how this plays out through the episode. With a whole episode seemingly named after him, let’s see what Rogue the character and “Rogue” the episode have to offer the Whoniverse!

    WARNING – Full spoilers below for Doctor Who “Rogue”

    Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor and Jonathan Groff as Rogue in Doctor Who: Rogue (via BBC Press Office)

    The Party

    The episode opens at the Duchess’ party in 1813. In terms of production design, I thought the episode looked absolutely gorgeous. The Doctor and Ruby looked like they were having fun on the dancefloor, and as a result, so was I as a viewer. While the music was largely nothing too special here, packing the floor full of professional dancers to fill out the scene was a genius move. It’s a touch that really makes the set come alive.

    It doesn’t last for too long, though. Ruby is soon pulled away by the Duchess to mingle at the party and find a potential suitor. She introduces him to Lord Barton (Paul Forman), who by this point is a costume being worn by the bird aliens. They’re wandering the party, killing people and wearing them as costumes. In this way, they’re not too dissimilar to the Slitheen. Although, the Chuldur are hellbent on world domination. Tonight this party, then onto London, the monarchy, and the war cabinet. It’s difficult to take something so over the top seriously, but it was fun.

    Then the Doctor picks up a trace of some anachronistic technology, and finds the mysterious Rogue perched over the balcony. He’s using it as a vantage point, looking over the whole party. Just suspicious enough for the Doctor to go an introduce himself. This is where the preview clip comes in. Their conversation is filled with romantic tension, both at least a little interested in the other. However, it was a little drowned out by an orchestral rendition of Bad Guy by Billie Eilish. While well made, it was anachronistic, and it overpowered the conversation, making it hard to focus on.

    Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday and Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor in Doctor Who: Rogue (via BBC Press Office)

    The Bounty Hunter

    The Doctor and Rogue make for quite the team, with a lot of tension between them at the start. They both think that the other is the one killing people. Rogue actually almost kills the Doctor, reading him as a shapeshifter, just like the Chuldur. Of course, the Doctor’s not going to die this episode. He uses all the tricks up his sleeve, from psychic paper, to using his sonic screwdriver to blast a Kylie Minogue song. While he’s clearly desperate to save his own life, it’s some very obvious flirting going on here as well.

    As a final note on the section set on Rogue’s ship, I’m sure we all remember the day that the Morbius Doctors were canonised in “The Timeless Children”. Given they were also was intended as pre-Hartnell Doctors, it wasn’t the end of the world. However, the inclusion of Richard E Grant among the faces of the Doctor is another thing entirely. “Scream of the Shalka” was always intended to star an alternate Ninth Doctor, so where exactly does he fit in the timeline now? As something that’s likely never going to be expanded on, it’s a confusing and muddled nod to what is now discontinuity.

    Throughout the rest of the episode, him and the Doctor make for a great pair. The two stars have great chemistry together, it’s clear that he’s really shaking up the Doctor’s life. The Doctor even offers Rogue a place in the TARDIS, which has possibly the coolest lighting situation yet, something I found both warm and intimate. They clearly want to spend a lot more time together. He’s the highlight of the episode, and easily one of the highlights of the season for me.

    Jonathan Groff as Rogue in Doctor Who: Rogue (via BBC Press Office)

    The Wedding

    Ruby’s “death” at the hands of Lady Beckett (Camilla Aiko) was something I didn’t buy for a second. Although seeing Ruby get to pretend to be an evil was fun. There were shots of Ruby throwing books in self defence shown in the trailers, so it was very obvious what had really happened. While it didn’t last too long, it did end up causing the episode’s climax. Again, we get to see an angrier and darker side to Gatwa’s Doctor as he believes his companion to be dead.

    Outside of the fact that they find it a fun climax to their little games, quite what the Chuldur want to hold a wedding for is beyond me. There’s no point in them marrying, it doesn’t help them achieve their goals. Especially if one of the people being married is Ruby, someone that they understand is some kind of time traveller from the future. She definitely has no useful connections in 1813 to help them on the way to world domination.

    That being said, the scene with the vicar was hilarious. You know what they say, if you can’t get the vicar to marry you, assimilate the vicar! It was a great send up of a wedding that was a real standout joke of the episode. However, there was something interesting through the episode. Everyone’s favourite cameo of the week, Susan Twist, was physically absent for this episode. She only appears as a portrait hung on the wall. Not sure what that has to do with her keeping an eye on the Doctor and Ruby. It makes me slightly more intrigued about what’s going to be revealed next week.

    Indira Varma as the Duchess in Doctor Who: Rogue (via BBC Press Office)

    The Sacrifice

    The sacrifice Rogue makes to save Ruby is touching. Although I do wonder if it would have been possible to get Ruby off the platform without someone else taking her place. Regardless, after a heartwarming and sudden kiss between the Doctor and Rogue, he swaps with Ruby and presses the button himself. His last words to the Doctor are “find me”, a hopeful sign that we’ll see him again someday. The Doctor’s still keeping an eye out, and has added Rogue’s ring to his jewellry collection. I’d love for it to become a mainstay of his costume from here on out.

    The relationship between the Doctor and Rogue turning into a romance wasn’t exactly surprising. Right from when they first met, you could cut the tension with a knife. It’s very nice to see some positive queer relationships, especially ones that the Doctor’s involved in. I think back to when Russell T Davies called the LGBT+ representation in Disney+’s “Loki” as feeble. Well, here’s that season’s executive producer and director making this. It’s an absolutely glorious, a positive leap in the right direction.

    Finally, the end credits contained a touching credit to William Russell, who played Ian Chesterton between 1963 and 1965. He sadly passed away earlier this week at the age of 99. It was nice to see the show pay tribute to him. Although it would have been nice if this tribute was also included in international releases. He was a big part of the show, so his tribute only being available within the UK presents a growing access problem for international audiences. Tales of the TARDIS had the exact same problem, although it’s now affected the main show and not just a spinoff.

    Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who: Rogue (via BBC Press Office)

    Conclusion

    “Rogue” was an episode I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced. The return of Indira Varma as the Duchess, getting a turn as a proper Doctor Who villain. Plus the superstar presence of Jonathan Groff as Rogue, who I’m a massive fan. I had every reason to be excited. Thankfully, I thought the episode delivered on everything. A thrilling adventure, with enough music fun, that introduces someone I hope becomes a recurring character for the Doctor. Rogue’s somewhere between River Song and Captain Jack, an infinitely charming love interest for our Doctor.

    The episode left me wanting more of him, and I hope he comes back sooner rather than later. Groff was perhaps one of the most memorable supporting guest stars the show’s had in a long time. It’d be a real shame if he wasn’t in more episodes after this. Although, between now and his hopeful return, the Doctor has much bigger problems on his hands. Next week, the season finale begins! Something powerful has been waiting, some horrifying secrets from Christmas are set to be revealed, and remember: there’s always a Twist at the end!


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