Doctor Who Episode 3 Recap/Review: “Rogue”


Director: Ben Chessell
Writer: Kate Herron and Briony Redman
Cast: Ncuti Gatwa, Millie Gibson
Streaming Service: Disney+


The opening of “Rogue” is as Who as it gets with a murder using mysterious means and cryptic statements from the aggressor. From there, it starts to go in a very Bridgerton direction, which the show even points out. There’s pop music in classical arrangements, dancing, gossip, scandal, and a turn about the garden with a mysterious man (Jonathan Groff) that ends in a dead body and a dark, handsome stranger pointing a weapon at the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa). Okay, maybe that last part isn’t very Bridgerton-esque.

The Doctor (portrayed by Ncuti Gatwa, a black man with his hair tied back, wearing a plum waistcoat over a white shirt and trousers) begins a dance with Ruby Sunday (portrayed by Millie Gibson, a white woman with upswept blonde hair in a puffy yellow regency dress.) They're both smiling.
The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) share a dance; courtesy of Disney+

There are a lot of high points to the episode. The first is the frequently raised stakes as each additional member of the Chuldur family is revealed. Rogue thinks there’s one and he’s prepared for that even as we know there are at least two. At the confrontation, Rogue and the Doctor find themselves against four, and then of course Ruby discovers surprise, there’s one more. It keeps the dramatic tension active.

Indira Varma wears a bird-like face and makeup and green dress as she leads the avian alien Chuldur family in their hunt. Two other avian-faced are behind her, one in a white dress, and one in a dark suit.
The Duchess (Indira Varma) leads the Chuldur hunt; courtesy of Disney+

Romantic Tension in ‘Rogue’

Then let’s talk about the romantic tension. There have been a great many heterosexual kisses on Doctor Who, and Jack Harkness brought excellent queer energy to the show, but for the first time the Doctor showed interest in a queer relationship and it was engaging. The Doctor longs to belong, to connect, to not be alone, and here was someone much like them. Rogue’s suffered loss, flies around the galaxy on adventures, and sure, might not be doing it for selfless purposes but you can’t blame the Doctor for being intrigued. They also can’t be blamed for running when it suddenly went from fun flirtation to potentially serious, which fit the dramatic mood of the episode and the way 15 seems determined to not stop moving in case a painful reality takes that moment to sink in. 

Rogue (a white man with short brown hair and a long blue waistcoat) shares a scandalous dance with the Doctor (a black man with his hair tied back, wearing a plum waistcoat over a white shirt and white trousers.)
The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Rogue (Jonathan Groff) get scandalous; courtesy of Disney+

Ruby (Millie Gibson) had her moment to shine too, even if it felt a little manipulative on the show’s part to have shown the lethal shapeshifting lightning before a cutaway when that lightning actually never happened. She used a tidily foreshadowed mode on her jewelry so that she could act her way into stepping into the same trap the Doctor had stepped in earlier, to continue the season’s theme of stepping into stuff.

Storytelling and folklore also played their part. The Chuldur wanted to cosplay their way through the stories of the humans they killed, all the way to the end of the world. Rogue named himself from D&D, discovered when the Doctor spied a set of dice on his messy ship. It’s interesting to see all the many connections this season, not to mention the inclusion of Susan Twist in a portrait on the wall as yet another mother. It feels like it’s too obvious for her to be Ruby’s birth mother, like the showrunners probably have a larger plan for Twist’s twist, but at the same time we have ‘Space Babies’ reminding us of Doctor Who’s roots as a family show, meant to be enjoyed together. Maybe one of the mysteries should be one kids could guess. 

Rogue (played by Jonathan Groff, a white man with dark curly hair and a long dark coat) touches the Doctor's (played by Ncuti Gatwa, a black man with his hair tied back, in a dark waistcoat and white trousers) face gently and intimately.
Rogue (Jonathan Groff) rescues the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) from their dilemma; courtesy of Disney+


The one detraction from this episode, aside from the aforementioned lightning effects, was something I noticed and heard a few others notice. The show under Russell T. Davies seems to enjoy torturing the Doctor by making them choose between their best friend and saving the world. While this episode had a novel way of getting out of that dilemma, it doesn’t change the fact that we know the Doctor will freeze and be unable to make that decision. Putting them in that position again feels like overkill.

On the whole, “Rogue” was a fantastic regency romp that played well with the genre and acknowledged it when breaking it like with the dance. Rogue, the character, has a lot of potential if he returns and I genuinely hope he does.

This season continues to get better and better.

New episodes of Doctor Who airs every Friday on Disney+.

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