SNEAK PEAK – Doctor Who “Rogue”

    Another week, another episode of Doctor Who. Newcomers Kate Herron and Briony Redman have written Doctor Who “Rogue”. They’re the first and only totally new writers to the show this season, an exciting prospect. It’s also an exciting-looking episode. The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby (Millie Gibson) land at a party in 1813. However, as with most episodes of Doctor Who, not all is as it seems. People at this party are being murdered, can the Doctor and Ruby find who’s responsible before it’s too late?

    It could be the mysterious Duchess (Indira Varma), who sounds like he’s hosting this party. Eagle-eyed Whovians may recognise Varma from her role as Suzie Costello in Torchwood. It’s the first time a former regular has returned as another guest character since the Skithra Queen (Anjli Mohindra) in “Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror”. The Doctor also needs to be content with mysterious bounty hunter Rogue (Jonathan Groff), who’s teased as about to change the Doctor’s life forever. It is a very exciting-sounding episode.

    But what more do we know of this episode? Let’s take an in-depth sneak peek at all of the preview pictures and trailers with a healthy dose of speculation. As always, real glimpses of the upcoming episode follow, so beware of any spoilers below.

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

    Preview Pictures

    Compared to last week’s “Dot and Bubble” preview, we have many varied preview pictures to dissect. There’s a lot of emphasis on the ballroom set. The room’s full of extras, dancing and partying like it’s 1999, or rather 1813. The production team did a great job filling out the room, making it feel like a real life party. Even the Doctor and Ruby will get to join in on the fun. The last few episodes, from being set on war-torn planets to being Doctor-lite, haven’t allowed the TARDIS team to have fun together. This looks set to change.

    We also get a look at the mysterious Rogue, who seems to be talking a lot with the Doctor. We know very little about him, and he seems to be more than meets the eye. I’m particularly drawn to the shot of him standing out from a crowd of people, getting weird looks from them. It seems that not only is Rogue set to shake up the Doctor’s life, but to shock and offend people in 1813. The synopsis reveals he’s a bounty hunter. Perhaps, like the Doctor, Rogue is also a man out of time?

    He’s not the only mysterious character in this episode. There’s the Duchess, who seems to be the host of the party. There’s shots of her in human form exploring her own party, mingling amongst the guests. Although soon everyone’s in danger when the Duchess and her friends reveal their true forms, those of humanoid birds. An interesting monster for this new Doctor Who series, the idea of a human disguise is pretty unique. I look forward to finding out what they want.

    Trailer Clips

    The Next Time trailer, which we saw at the end of “Dot and Bubble” poses a lot of interesting questions. Like in the pictures, there’s a lot of emphasis on the ballroom. It looks like we’re in for a dancing scene, which is quite exciting. Beyond that, we also get a look at Lord Barton (Paul Forman), who seems to be walking through the party crowd determined to meet up with someone. Both he and Emily Beckett (Camilla Aiko) are guest characters for the episode. Perhaps a romantic pairing of some sort?

    We also see Rogue pointing a gun at the Doctor. What triggered that reaction isn’t shown, but it tells us plenty that we need to know about Rogue. The weapon isn’t consistent with the 1813 setting, or even a 2024 setting. It’s a very futuristic gun, leading a lot of fun speculation on exactly who he is, more thoughts on that later. There’s also a shot of the Duchess’ transformation from human to bird which looks stunning. I hope that that the monster reveal is pulled off well, as this has potential to be an awesome moment.

    There’s also a hint as to what the episode’s plot might be. We see Ruby emphasising the episode’s similarities to popular Netflix series Bridgerton. However things soon take a turn for the worst. Before you know it, she’s walking arm in arm with a bird man. Then the Duchess exclaims that what the party needs is a wedding. Perhaps there’s some dastardly plot that involves the bird people marrying human beings in order to give their claim to Earth some amount of legitimacy. Lots to infer from that.

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    “Rogue” Theory Time

    There’s lots of things that the trailer implies that are especially interesting. Recently, a clip from the episode was released, containing what is presumably the first meeting of the Doctor and Rogue. Up on the landing, Rogue’s got a good vantage point, keeping a look out, expecting trouble. He doesn’t like it when the Doctor calls him out on this. While not a pleasant interaction, there is something kind of flirtatious about it. Whoever he is, he’s set to be an interesting love interest for the Doctor.

    In the clip, I also noted that Rogue emphasises the fact he’s “not a lord”, instead roaming around using one name, just like the Doctor does. It’s very unlikely, but I’d love for him to be some kind of Time Lord character, who’s rejected his heritage. It’s been far too long since the Time Lords were anywhere that’s not kept in a bubble at the end of the universe or destroyed. While probably not the case, it’d be a lovely departure from what the show’s done for years.

    People have also long since noted the character’s similarity to other guest characters in the show, particularly Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). While certainly not a recast Harkness, there are definitely some similarities. If not a Time Lord, perhaps with his futuristic weaponry and charisma, he could, like Harkness, be a Time Agent. Just what he’s doing in 1813 is a mystery, but he is set to change the Doctor’s life forever. It looks like we’re in story for a very exciting, and hopefully memorable, guest character.

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    “Rogue” looks like a very fun affair. It’s no secret that the last few episodes have been pretty dark. While bird monsters don’t necessarily make for lighthearted entertainment, this makes for a notable departure in tone. This is definitely helped by the change up in writers, adding fresh voices to the show. Hopefully this is something that only happens more often next season. There are also many interesting questions going into the episode, such as who Rogue is and what the Duchess and her bird-person friends want. Very excited about this one.

    Doctor Who started its new era on Christmas Day 2023 with “The Church on Ruby Road.” The episode saw Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson debut as the 15th Doctor and Ruby Sunday. Doctor Who premiered at midnight on Saturday, May 11th, on BBC iPlayer with a double-episode bill. The episodes will stream internationally on Disney+, Doctor Who‘s exclusive home outside the UK and Ireland, giving audiences a simultaneous global launch. Episodes will also air on BBC One each week in a primetime slot on Saturday evening.

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