June 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Doctor Who “Rogue”

The Doctor finds love while dealing with aliens with shapeshifting aliens.

Hey, American Jonathan Groff is on-hand as an alien bounty hunter and British Indira Varma returns to the Doctor Who universe, but I suspect that won’t be the reason this episode gets a lot of attention.

It’s 1813, and the Doctor has taken Ruby back in time, to a time when that old lady’s face appears in a portrait instead of in-person, because Ruby is a big fan of Bridgerton, a show I have never seen.  She has some psychic earrings on that automatically teach her how to dance in a big fancy party, and there’s some mention of a self-defense mode that she will use later in a fake-out scene.  But there are also these alien bird people who are also fans of Bridgerton, still a show I have never seen, and they can copy other people.  The process kills the human, but these aliens are…well, Ruby says they’re cosplaying, and that turns out to be true.  Varma starts off the episode as a human duchess and later becomes a victim, spending the rest of the episode as a bird person.

But Groff…he’s an alien bounty hunter, looking for these murderous bird-people, and initially mistakes the Doctor for one, almost sending the Doctor to an alien prison or a volcano or something with a teleporter, and the Doctor only eventually convinces the guy that he, the Doctor, is on the level, all in a scene where Groff’s Rogue’s ship brings up the faces of all the previous Doctors…including the War Doctor, the Fugitive Doctor, and a Doctor played by Richard E Grant that is an interesting enough story that I won’t be going into right now if ever.

That seems to fairly standard Doctor Who material, with plot developments like Ruby’s one friend among the locals turning out to be a bird person who wants to play as Ruby (hence the self defense material from the earings) and the Doctor’s showing Rogue the inside of the TARDIS.

None of that is why this episode will be going down in Doctor Who history.  No, that would be due to the fact that the Doctor and Rogue fall in love and even exchange a kiss before Rogue goes with the bird people to a prison planet to ensure Ruby doesn’t.

I can see this moment being a bit controversial.  Ncuti Gatwa and Groff are both LGBTQ+ actors.  They have good chemistry.  The scenes where the two flirt and even when Rogue pulls out an engagement ring, these are good moments.  Someone is bound to complain about a same sex kiss.  Some others might even object to the idea that the Doctor would find love at all because, well, the Doctor is not really that sort of character who finds romantic entanglements.

Personally, I get that.  The Tenth Doctor’s relationship with Rose Tyler as a couple was the thing I liked least about that era.  But the Fifteenth Doctor has already shown signs of appreciating the male form, so that’s not a problem.  I just have one personal problem with this:  I really don’t like the Love-at-First-Sight trope.  That’s longstanding.  I even complained about it when I was writing up Merlin episodes, and that was a heterosexual match-up.  The Doctor and Rogue may have great chemistry (and they do), but I have a hard time believing the Doctor and Rogue were that much in love with each other after knowing each other maybe an hour or two.

That said, it was nice that Ruby saw right through the Doctor’s efforts to pretend he was fine after Rogue disappears to…somewhere.  The Doctor can make like he’s fine.  Ruby knows better.  She’s truly a good friend.

A good friend who has maybe two episodes left.  Might have been nice to get to see her and the Doctor working together more…