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doctor who rogue 1.png

‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Rogue’ Gives Us Cosplay, Birds and Perfect Snogging

By Hannah Sole | TV | June 10, 2024 |

By Hannah Sole | TV | June 10, 2024 |

doctor who rogue 1.png

Previously, on Doctor Who: Fifteen and Ruby tried to save a bunch of terrible, ungrateful people from being eaten by slugs, and yes, I am still mad at Lindy.

This week: Our TARDIS BFFs go out dancing in 1813 and are confronted by some shapeshifting aliens doing ultimate Bridgerton cosplay. Spoilers are ahead!

Now, this is the RTD Doctor Who I know and love, and I am Here For It.

First, we have a real sense of Fifteen and Ruby as friends and as time-traveling adventurers, having some fun and getting into some escapades. After breaking our hearts with Haunted Ruby Mode in ‘73 Yards’, getting to see Mischievous Ruby in action is a treat, whether that’s putting down a wannabe rake, gossiping with a Duchess or giving modern pep talks to an alien disguised as a heartbroken debutante.

Meanwhile, Fifteen’s spotted a brooding outsider at the ball and quickly strikes up a flirtatious battle of wits with Rogue (Jonathan Groff), the time-traveling bounty hunter, who is a calmed-down version of Captain Jack Harkness: mysterious, twinkly-eyed, morally questionable, with a love of gadgets and Kylie Minogue. Diet Coke Jack is hunting a shapeshifting alien when he meets Fifteen, and technically he’s not wrong when he assumes he’s found his bounty, but a bit of peril and some dancing later, Fifteen shows him a floaty head montage of his previous incarnations, outs himself as a Time Lord, and they team up to try and catch the other shapeshifting alien. Or aliens, I should say, because there’s a whole family of them doing what Fifteen and Ruby are doing, ie time travelling, dressing up, trying to blend in and having a splendid time. However, the Bird People Alien Fam are murdering people rather than using accessories to help them blend in.

The Chulder are messy birds who love drama, you see, and as a result, they are as hilarious as they are murderous. They take over the appearance of the ‘characters’ they find the most entertaining, and fight over who gets to be the coolest. Plus their bird faces are hysterical (I’m looking at you, Eyebrow Bird Man). To lure them out and trap them in Rogue’s special banishing gadget, Fifteen reasons that he and Rogue need to make themselves the Main Characters in this show, and decide to draw the eye by making a very special scene: dancing with each other in full gorgeous Pride and Prejudice ‘the rest of the room fades away’ style, then staging an argument that turns in to a proposal from Rogue, down on one knee, ring in hand and everything. Gasps abound. The Chulder are hooked, and so are we. There’s just a few more of them than our heroes expected, and they flee for a while to reconfigure the gadget for multiple Bird People.

Back in the ballroom and ready to go, Fifteen is horrified to see Ruby amongst the Bird People, and weeps to think of the promise he made to Carla, and to think of another companion, lost in battle. (“She lives on as a Bird Person!” “Well that’s alright then!” possibly echoing in his ears.) Now he’s really mad. He and Rogue activate the banishment gadget, locking all of the birdies in the trap, except not really, because Ruby was just cosplaying as a Bird Person (how do you like it, huh?) and now he’s the one who would kill her if he presses the Big Red Button.

Of course, he can’t do it, so Rogue gives Fifteen a farewell kiss and sacrifices himself to free Ruby and take down the Bird People. With one more twinkle of the eye, he’s gone, banished to an unknown but barren planet in another dimension. (“He’s still alive!” “Well, that’s alright then!”)

Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey Stuff

The TARDIS seems to still be suffering with some kind of time indigestion; she’s been making suspicious groans since Donna spilled coffee in OG TARDIS and that’s got to add up to something.

Ruby’s earrings come in pretty handy in a crisis, whether that’s needing to know the steps to a dance, or entering ‘battle mode’ — I wonder if Fifteen had these made as a direct response to the Toymaker’s parade of sad puppets from ‘The Giggle’.

The Doctor is a Kylie fan; did that happen before or after Ten met Astrid on the Titanic?

Contrary to some reports, this is not the first gay kiss in the Whoniverse. Come on, now.

Captain Jack had some pretty epic snogs with Captain John and Ianto in Torchwood, but even if we discount the spin-offs, it’s still not the first gay kiss in Doctor Who. Captain Jack kissed Nine. And Graham! Is it the first gay snog in Doctor Who? Still no. Pretty sure Bill and Soggy Heather got in there first. But maybe it’s the first fully romantic snog between two men, one of whom is the Doctor? That’s not as catchy. But it was a damn fine snog, so points for that.

Groff’s Rogue is a delight, and I hope Fifteen beats the odds to find him again. Rose found a way back, after all! There are a few fans online speculating that he is a younger version of Jack, but this doesn’t really seem plausible, even though I’ve called him Diet Coke Jack. Can you imagine Real Jack managing Big Spoilers like River?

The Chulder are so committed to Bridgerton cosplay that they have got the musicians doing string versions of modern pop tunes. I caught Billie Eilish and Lady Gaga, but I am sure there were more!

Wait, if they love Bridgerton so much, what was Bird Lady expecting to see when she thought Fifteen and Rogue were hiding in the carriage?

Who-cons are going to get very meta after this, aren’t they?

Richard E Grant’s face appeared in the floaty head montage, so the Shalka Doctor is now officially canon!

This isn’t Indira Varma’s first rodeo in the Whoniverse; she was Suzie in Torchwood.

Twist Bingo: Appearing in portrait form here, and recognised by Ruby once again.

Next week: The two-part finale begins, and we will finally get the twist with Susan Twist, who is playing a character called ‘S Triad’. Yes, that’s an anagram of TARDIS, and RTD loves an anagram; Torchwood’s first appearance was as a decoy anagram title for top secret Doctor Who scripts, which then became It’s Own Thing. RTD’s given us another clue about Triad — it’s the name of the operating system that UNIT uses. Twists are afoot!