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(Review) Doctor Who: Rogue

This week sees the arrival of perhaps the most anticipated episode of the season.  The Doctor and Ruby face unexpected dangers while participating in their own version of Bridgerton.  We have romance, terrific costumes, and an alien threat.  Does "Rogue" live up to the hype?  Let's discuss...

Warning:  Spoilers ahead

"Rogue" is set at a duchess's party in 1813 in Bath, England.  The Doctor and "Lady Ruby Sunday" are already enjoying the dancing while looking amazing in their outfits, unaware of a murder which just took place outside.  The duo expects to be participating in some harmless fun for a bit.  However, that changes once the Doctor is made aware of the presence of a handsome bounty hunter named (you guessed it), Rogue, played by the dashing former Hamilton/Mindhunter star Jonathan Groff.

The Doctor is immediately infatuated with Rogue, and teases him about his brooding nature.  However, the bounty hunter, who is clearly also interested in his new acquaintance, is a little more reserved at first.  That's because he's mistaken the Time Lord for the current alien threat on Earth.  The Doctor goes along with the incorrect belief for a little while, as he tries to learn more about Rogue and who he's actually tracking.  All we'll say about the point when the Doctor finally reveals his background is that it triggered goosebumps here.  (We initially missed something important about this moment, and it raises allllll sorts of questions.)

While the Doctor and Rogue get to know each other, Ruby unknowingly interacts with some of the aliens.  She also spends much of her time explaining to a woman named Emily Beckett (played by Camilla Aiko) that there can be so much more to life than simply being married to a man.  Emily is fascinated by Ruby, which eventually turns into its own problem, which is too bad, because the women seemed to be getting along so well.

Once the Doctor and the bounty hunter finally clear up the confusion about the actual threat to the planet, the two men have a heart-to-heart discussion of loss while they strategize inside the TARDIS (which finally gets some overdue attention after the past few weeks.)  Ncuti Gatwa and Jonathan Groff have an off-the-charts chemistry that is mesmerizing to watch.  You can feel their pain about their absent loved ones.  There's a discussion of future adventures together.  You know that's not going to happen, which is a real shame, because this pairing is special.

The Doctor, Rogue, Ruby, and Emily all meet up to discuss the current situation before putting their plan into action.  Ruby soon finds herself in a situation of great peril.  That eventually triggers the Doctor's memory of promising Ruby's mom Carla that he would keep her safe.  (A promise which the Doctor should never make.)  We get a quick glimpse of the depth of 15's anger.  This incarnation loves to put on a happy face, but he still has a terrifying level of rage inside of him.

The Doctor is eventually asked to sacrifice Ruby to save the Earth.  He can't do it, so Rogue makes his own difficult choice instead, right after the two men engage in a passionate kiss.  It was always clear that the bounty hunter wouldn't be sticking around, but we would love to see Rogue make another appearance at some point in the future.

Ruby tries to console the Doctor afterwards, but the Doctor is already trying to move on, because that's his survival mechanism.  Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson have done a remarkable job of quickly establishing their characters' friendship.  It feels like they've been traveling together for years, not less than a full season.

"Rogue" has a lot of similarities to "The Girl in the Fireplace."  However, while the plot may be largely familiar, the depths of the feelings along the way elevate this episode to elite status.  You feel the love (be it romantic or friendship) in your bones.  The potential and real losses feel immense, thanks to remarkable performances by all of the actors.  Plus, you'd have a hard time finding a more stylish setting, and kudos as well for including Billie Eilish's "Bad Guy" and Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" in the soundtrack.

Add it all together, and "Rogue" is the first masterpiece of the current Doctor Who era.

Of course, we have to mention that there's another Susan Twist appearance.  Judging by the trailer for next week, we're about to finally find out why she's been in every episode this season.

See you then!

 

Doctor Who Rogue"Rogue" is breathtaking.  (pic via digitalspy.com)

 

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