Tonight’s Doctor Who marked the midpoint of the season, but it also may end up being its highpoint. Not only did the hour, titled “Fugitive of the Judoon,” feature the return of John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness for the first time in a decade, but it also unveiled a brand new incarnation of the Doctor that we’ve never met before.
The titular fugitive of the Judoon, hiding in modern-day Gloucester from brutish space police, turned out to be Ruth Clayton. Though she appeared to be an entirely ordinary woman, the Doctor discovered that she had a second alien identity and biology hidden behind her human facade. In a stunning twist, it was revealed that Ruth was a Time Lord in disguise, having used a Chameleon Arch – a piece of Gallifreyan tech from the Tennant era – to make herself human. But she wasn’t just any Time Lord. She was specifically a hitherto-unknown regeneration from the Doctor’s past.
Needless to say, this is a mind-blowing rewrite of Doctor Who lore. What’s more, this also marks a groundbreaking first for the show. Jo Martin, previously best known for BBC hospital drama Holby City, is now the first ever black person to play the Doctor. Jodie Whittaker obviously made waves herself when she was cast as the first female Doctor in 2017 and fans were hoping that the next version of the character would be a person of color, and it happened even sooner than we thought.
Martin’s Doctor is no doubt tied into the ongoing story arc established in the season premiere. Sacha Dhawan’s Master revealed to the heroine that their people had hidden their darkest secret from them, editing it out of their memories. It now seems this involves removing the Doctor’s memories of an entire lifetime she never knew she lived. All this only adds to the evidence that the Doctor herself is the much-discussed “Timeless Child” at the heart of the mystery.
Expect more answers – and probably more from Martin as the Nth Doctor – as Doctor Who season 12 continues.