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Doctor Who brought back another Doctor, and it's about time

This week’s episode brought back a familiar Time Lord just when we thought the series might have forgotten about the storyline…

Published: Sunday, 14th November 2021 at 7:20 pm

It’s fair to say that this week’s Doctor Who was fairly packed with content, delving into the past and future of our four leads (The Doctor, Yaz, Dan and Vinder), the mysterious Bel (Thaddea Graham) and sprinkling a load of Daleks, Cybermen and creepy flashbacks on top.

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But perhaps the most exciting moment for fans came with the shock return of a familiar face – specifically the face of Jo Martin's “Fugitive” Doctor, introduced in 2020 as a forgotten former incarnation of the Doctor and who now returns when the current Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) is thrown back into her old timeline.

Unpicking exactly why all this happens is… complicated… so we won’t dwell on the hows and wherefores here. Basically, the salient point is that while the Thirteenth Doctor is picturing herself liberating the Temple of Atropos, it was actually the Ruth/Jo Martin Doctor carrying out the mission.

This is revealed in Once, Upon Time when the Thirteenth Doctor catches sight of herself – or rather, the earlier version of herself – in a reflective service within the Temple itself. Oddly, the reflection also talks back to her.

“Who the hell are you… and what are you doing in my reflection?” Martin's Doctor asks, later berating Jodie Whittaker's Time Lord for the reckless actions that landed her in this timestream and flickering in and out of focus, sometimes replacing the Thirteenth Doctor as she relives the memory.

It’s a great surprise cameo, not just because it’s nice to see the Jo Martin Doctor again – though it is – but also because it gently confirms that showrunner Chris Chibnall isn’t leaving any plot threads behind. Before this series, it hadn’t yet been confirmed whether Martin would return to reprise her role, or even where she’d fit in – but now it’s clear she’s part of Chibnall’s endgame for Flux, even if it’s not entirely clear what that is just yet.

The Fugitive Doctor (Jo Martin) in Doctor Who

The Fugitive Doctor (Jo Martin) in Doctor Who

New baddies Swarm and Azure (Sam Spruell and Rochenda Sandall) aren’t part of just any piece of the Doctor’s past- they faced that Doctor, suggesting that Martin’s Time Lord will continue to have a role to play as Whittaker’s incarnation hunts for answers about those crucial years.

With only six stories left before Chibnall and Whittaker leave the show behind (including next year’s specials), every episode counts for wrapping up the pretty complicated plot threads introduced in series 12. Jo Martin’s quick cameo does a lot to show that the series isn’t forgetting what fans still want to know – a little like her short appearance in series 12 finale The Timeless Children.

Whether her story will all be satisfied by the end of Flux, or whether the 2022 specials will need to tie it off remains to be seen – but at least it looks like we won’t be left hanging after all.

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Doctor Who airs on Sundays on BBC One. For more, check out our dedicated Sci-Fi page or our full TV Guide.

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