Doctor Who Fugitive of the Judoon
Review by Paul Bowler.
The Judoon are back! Stomping their way into Series 12 of Doctor and present-day Gloucester, in Fugitive of the Judoon. This time the Judoon are hunting someone on the run. So the Doctor and her friends arrive amidst the chaos caused by the intergalactic police forces presence on Earth, and must act quickly to bring the situation under control. But who is the mysterious fugitive and why are the Judoon so intent on finding them?
Fugitive of the Judoon marks the welcome return of the Judoon, first introduced to Doctor Who back in 2007’s Smith and Jones, and seen most recently in 2015’s Face The Raven. Written by Vinay Patel (Demons of the Punjab, 2018), her second story for Doctor Who makes excellent use of the Judoon‘s return to the series, its filled with fun moments, whilst also brining some new aspects to the creatures and their motives. With location filming in Gloucester, Fugitive of the Judoon is probably the most contemporary story so far in Series 12, and director Nida Manzoor strikes just the right balances between the episodes lighter tone, humour and action.
Indeed, the Judoon make a surprisingly effective challenge for Jodie Whittaker’s 13th incarnation of the Time Lord, Whittaker’s Doctor shines with strength and warmth throughout this episode as she tackles the aliens rampage, and there’s also some great confrontations with Judoon Captain Pol-Kon-Don (Paul Kasey) – voiced by Nick Briggs.
The Doctor and companions Ryan (Tosin Coyle), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) continue to show what a great and resourceful TARDIS team they make in Fugitive of the Judoon. Prior to the TARDIS intercepting the Judoon’s warning signal, the Doctor’s “fam” notice how preoccupied she’s become, and when they confront her the Time Lord confesses that she’s been trying to locate the Master. The Doctor believes he may have escaped the Kasaavin’s dimension because of the personal nature of the message he left – although she still doesn’t tell her companions that her homeworld of Gallifrey has been destroyed. Fugitive of the Judoon also leads to a surprising blast from the past for the Doctor’s new companions when first Graham, followed later by Ryan and Yaz, are unexpectedly teleported to a spaceship piloted none other than Captain Jack Harkness!
Yes that’s right Captain Jack, played by the brilliant John Barrowman, returns to Doctor Who after nearly a decade in Fugitive of the Judoon having commandeered a space vessel complete with a Quantum Scoop, and an important message for the Doctor. Seeing John Barrowman return as Captain Jack was a great surprise and made for some of the episodes standout moments, especially when Jack thinks that Graham is the Doctor! But with naoprobes set to bring Captain Jack’s mission to an impromptu end, he quickly informs the Doctor’s companions they must warn the Time Lord to beware of the lone Cyberman. It seems an Alliance of some kind has virtually annihilated the Cybermen, using something they sent back through time and space to destroy them, all save for one!
The guest cast features Jo Martin as Ruth Clayton, a Gloucester tour guide, and Neil Stuke as Lee, Ruth’s husband, an interesting everyday couple living seemingly ordinary lives in the cathedral city of Gloucester. The Juddon are not here for a tour of the local attractions though. At first everything points towards Lee being the alien fugitive the Judoon are after, and it seems they will stop at nothing to apprehend him. However, when the mysterious alien woman who hired the Judoon, Gat (Ritu Arya), intervenes and Lee is killed it becomes clear that Ruth is the one the trigger the happy rhino-faced space police are actually looking for.
Although the Judoon have featured a few times in Doctor Who, Fugitive of the Judoon is the first time they’ve really played a major role in a story for a while, and Vinay Patel‘s wittily crafted script brilliantly showcases these gruff alien space police as their mission causes them to lock horns with the Doctor. The scene when the Judoon corner the Doctor and Ruth in the cathedral is another highlight. Their scans see through the tour guides biological cloaking field, fortunately Ruth is beginning to remember her true identity at this point, and spectacularly turns the tables on the Judoon.
From here Fugitive of the Judoon plunges down the rabbet hole and the pace hardly lets up for a moment. A journey to a lighthouse and a blank grave, where a buried TARDIS with a rather classic looking interior is discovered, which all leads to a tense showdown on the Judoon spaceship, and the shocking revelation that not only is Gat a Gallifreyan, but that Ruth was actually a Time Lord in hiding is and really another incarnation of the Doctor! To say that Doctor Who continuity just got turned inside out during this moment is something of an understatement here, there were countless time twistingly referential nuances woven into the story, and I’m still not sure how I feel about all these jaw-dropping surprises. It was fun, if a little bewildering, to have so many unexpected surprises in Fugitive of the Judoon. No doubt Chris Chibnall will probably deliver some Moffat style temporal twist that will ensure that everything in Fugitive of the Judoon eventually makes sense, but until then there are lots of questions that will remain unanswered – for now at least.
I thought Jo Martin was great casting as Ruth /The Doctor though. Her dual roles in this story were cleverly scripted, and her performance as another incarnation of the Doctor alongside Jodie Whittaker’s startled 13th Doctor was riveting! Quite how Jo Martin’s incarnation of the Doctor fits into the series’ extensive web of continuity remains to be seen. Fugitive of the Judoon seems to hint that she’s an earlier version of the Doctor, possibly earlier than any we’ve seen before! I still think this is unlikely. Could this second female Doctor in fact really be the first female Doctor, and how could the 13th Doctor have forgotten about her? Could it be that Ruth is a secretly unacknowledged version of the Doctor like John Hurt’s War Doctor from the 50th Anniversary story The Day of the Doctor (2013), or is she bizarrely linked somehow to the unknown Doctor’s we briefly glimpsed in The Brain of Morbius (1976)? We never actually saw the 2nd Doctor, Patrick Troughton, regenerate on screen in The War Games (1969) either, so maybe Ruth existed before we saw Jon Pertwee’s 3rd Doctor begin his exile on Earth in Spearhead From Space (1970)? My money is on Ruth being from some other dimension, especially with the return of the Master, Jack and now Ruth’s debut as a hitherto unknown version of the Doctor, it really does seems that time is indeed swirling and closing in around the 13th Doctor and her friends. Blimey, I could speculate about this all day, and don’t even get me started about the unexpected return of Captain Jack Harkness – heaven only knows where he fits into all this!?
With the Judoon menace eventually sent packing, the Doctor is reunited with her companions and I really liked how everyone compared notes back on board the TARDIS. The Doctor is still reeling just as much as Ryan, Yaz, and Graham are about Ruth’s real identity, but the bond between this TARDIS team feels stronger than ever now as they set off to investigate multiple alerts detected across three continents on Earth.
I was expecting Fugitive of the Judoon to be a fun and frivolous story, nothing more. Instead this marvellous adventure by Vinay Patel and director Nida Manzoor turned out to be a riotous mid-season roller coaster ride that had me hanging on every word. Fugitive of the Judoon has given Series 12 of Doctor Who a thrilling boost with its game changing shocks, surprises and Judoon near the Moon.
It was wonderful to see John Barrowman as Captain Jack again as well. My only gripe was that he didn’t actually meet the 13th Doctor, so fingers crossed he will be back at some point in Series 12 to team-up with Jodie Whittaker’s incarnation of the Time Lord.
As you all probably know, I’m a big fan of the Cybermen, they are my favourite Doctor Who monster. So you can imagine the references in Fugitive of the Judoon to the fate of the Cybermen and Jack’s dire warning about the universe being in peril, insisting that that the Doctor mustn’t give the lone Cyberman what it wants, has me considerably intrigued – even more so than all the shenanigans involving Ruth’s incarnation of the Doctor and her place in the grand scheme of things. Fugitive of the Judoon was a fun, mind-bending episode for sure, Series 12 really seems to be hitting its stride now, and I can’t wait to see what dangers await the Doctor and her companions when they eventually face the lone Cyberman!
Images Belong BBC
About The Author
Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook