Subject: On episode endings [SPOILERS this time]
Posted on: 2024-06-27 09:38:10 UTC

Nice catch on the title-drop; I'm not sure we've ever had a season where they title-dropped every episode before. It's certainly never been so prominent.

SPACE Babies aside, I feel like the endings have been the weakest parts of most of these episodes, so I wanted to share my thoughts on them specifically.

Space Babies: "The snot monster is people too!" I don't know why the Doctor concluded this. The snot monster is functionally a fire alarm - it makes the kids do what the system wants by scaring them - but we don't assume our fire alarms must be sentient. I'm also, still, really really annoyed by "the partly-open airlock sucks the Doctor against the door, not towards the opening".

The Devil's Chord: okay, but seriously: you don't crow about 'needing a genius', and then a) only explicitly connect that to the Doctor (not the Beatles), and then b) have the task given to the Actual Beatles be 'add one note to the mysteriously floating chord, no penalties for failure, just try again'. I'm also frustrated by the fact that we established early on that history had changed (the Doctor says "that didn't happen", something about Finland) - but never went back and fixed it. I guess the Cold War was hotter now, oh well, on to our next adventure right???

Boom: kiss kiss. It was quite silly that the emulated human had access to the entire global weapon operating system, but... literally the point of the episode is that the weapons are built on the cheap and badly, this is exactly the sort of stupid design flaw we should expect. (As a side note, why didn't the Doctor do anything about Villengard? Because he already did, back in Stephen Moffat's first episode.)

73 Yards: How did it all work? Magic. Kate told us that to our faces: UNIT carry salt now, remember? Empire of Death later establishes that 73 yards is the radius of the TARDIS' perception filter field, so presumably the episode combined two effects: a magic trap which blipped the Doctor out of existence, and the TARDIS pulling Ruby back from the end of her timeline to try and avert its Doctor's disappearance. In that light, the question of 'what she was saying' is clearly wrong: the people who encountered Her witnessed her entire timeline at once, it would drive anyone to run screaming. (It's quite funny that she says 'yards' - Britain has been metric for long enough that even I don't use yards much, and Ruby is much younger.)

Dot and Bubble: It's only purity if it's from the purity region of Finetime; otherwise it's just sparkling racism. It's kind of weird that the survivors just... get away with being horrible people? They go off to found a colony, they're fine. But I think that's part of the message too, because rich kids.

Rogue: No questions. I liked the payoff on the combat earbuds. (The reason Rogue is so very Jack Harkness Redux is that John Barrowman turned out to be A Huge Problem. Quite funny that RTD chose to so blatantly replace him; I wonder whether it was partly to draw attention to Barrowman's actions.)

The Legend of Ruby Sunday: "I bring Sutekh's gift of death to all humanity." Oh my gosh this was so fun. I was cackling like a loon. Sutekh?? Really?! I have the DVD of that old story; it includes a whole spoof documentary about Sutekh, so all I could think was "I bring Sutekh's gift of cookies...". Disappointed that it wasn't Susan, though maybe that means she's coming next season. Carole Ann Ford is still alive and all.

Empire of Death: Okay, so yeah. Sutekh hung to the side of the TARDIS for a thousand years or so in the time vortex, but this time doing so was fatal? Why, exactly? And Doctor, "bringing death to death" doesn't sound as cool as you think it does. My best explanation for this is that by killing Sutekh in the vortex, the Doctor wiped the effects of Sutekh's actions from history, though that doesn't explain why everyone still remembers. Nor does it explain why he died, nor why the Doctor jumped straight to murder as a solution. (It's as bad as that time Thirteen decided treason against Space Amazon was a capital crime.)

But also, what was up with the Ruby reveal? Her mother is just nobody, fine. So why did the Doctor's memories of his encounter with her keep changing? Why did it keep snowing? Was Ruby just So Adopted that she broke reality because the Doctor told her she was special?

My best guess here is a combination of Sutekh and that time window. When the Doctor landed outside the church, Sutekh sensed the future use of the time window. Maybe he didn't understand what it was - he just felt the Doctor and Ruby were there one and a half times each - or maybe he knew exactly what it was, and how desperate the Doctor must be to use it. That convinced him that Ruby Sunday must be super special (and therefore a threat). The snow Ruby kept manifesting was actually Sutekh trying to force her memories to manifest in reality, so that he could figure out who she was.

Does that line up with what the Doctor said? Not really, but remember Rule One: the Doctor lies. Specifically he lies to make Ruby feel better. (Just like he lied about thinking she shouldn't go and see her birth mother; that's not a conversation you have after you take her directly to the woman, so it was either a lie or the Doctor really not understanding humans... or bad script-writing.)


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