New NuWho the Review – Empire of Death

today29 June 2024 5

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It all led to this...

The TARDIS with its eerie groan, the mysterious identity of Ruby Sunday’s mother, and the enigmatic Mrs. Flood with her strange habit of breaking the fourth wall.

Episode Six, titled ‘The Legend of Ruby Sunday,’ left me confused. The episode built up to a big reveal, but what was the legend of Ruby Sunday? All I saw was a lot of running around without a clear explanation. Reflecting on ‘The Empire of Death,’ I’m still wondering what the point was of having Rose Temple-Noble in the two-part season finale. She had no dialogue and was just in the background, looking pretty. Yasmin Finney is stunning, but her character deserved more.

The ending of Episode Six revealed The One Who Waits, who is none other than Sutekh, the God of Death. Naturally, the action ramps up immediately. Sutekh has risen, Susan Triad is a puppet under his command, Harriet Harbinger announces his arrival, Ruby is sealed in UNIT’s time window, and the universe hangs in the balance.

It was a treat to see the Remembered TARDIS in this episode. Fans will recognize this version of the time machine from the omnibus specials released last year, aptly named ‘Tales of the TARDIS.’ The set was filled with Easter eggs from the Doctor’s past adventures, which I loved.

However, the overall experience of this season finale left me a bit disappointed. We had six episodes of mystery surrounding Ruby Sunday’s mother, only to find out she’s an ordinary person. They travelled to the distant future and back to discover her identity, only for Davina McCall and her team to be unable to track her down. Ruby also insulted Carla by referring to her biological mother as her “real mother.” Who actually raised you, Ruby?

The twist of Susan Triad working for UNIT was predictable. And she isn’t even the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan Foreman. She just shares the same name. Is Davies planning a family reunion in the future? We’ve been teased about the Time Lord’s relative, but surely we deserve to see her on-screen instead of relying on Big Finish audio plays and colorized archive footage.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, but the episode left me feeling “meh.” There’s definitely room for improvement. If we had 13 episodes, I think Russell T Davies would’ve had a much bigger canvas to cover this story arc. Ruby will be back next series, so her story isn’t over yet.

I’m also unsure about Sutekh traveling in the TARDIS since his first encounter with the Doctor in 1911. And who is Mrs. Flood? Breaking the fourth wall again, dressed as if she’s about to sing a Christmas single with East 17. Theories about her identity abound: she could be the Rani, Romans after her white fur coat reminiscent of Romana’s in ‘The Ribos Operation’ (1978), or possibly the Mistress of the Land of Fiction, hence her ability to break the fourth wall.

In conclusion, the season finale was disappointing. Some aspects felt pointless, making the story fall apart. It could’ve been better.

Doctor Who returns Christmas Day in ‘Joy to the World,’ written by Steven Moffat, unless there’s a Children in Need mini-sode!

Written by Daniel Price
Images from BBC Pictures

Written by: Ian.Lamsdale

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