History Retconned? Just Who Is Jo Martin’s Doctor? 5 Theories
Feature by Craig Sightings.
Well done, Chibnall. After giving us almost nothing to chew on during Series 11, I haven’t stopped thinking about “Fugitive of the Judoon” and the revelation that Ruth is actually another unknown Doctor. My brain has been going into overdrive mode like in the good “old” Moffat days. So here are five theories to ponder…
A Doctor from a forgotten Pre-Hartnell Cycle
Let’s get the most contentious one out the way first. “Ruth” claims that Thirteen is “in [her] future, not the other way around”. She doesn’t have the Sonic and her TARDIS interior resembles a much earlier design. Therefore, suggesting “Ruth” comes way, way before Jodie Whittaker’s incarnation. Thirteen says that can’t be the case as she knows her past and doesn’t remember “Ruth’s” incarnation. Fans know it too.
We all know the established order of the Doctors and evidence suggests it’s unchangeable at this point. We’ve seen the regenerations; we saw all Doctors gloriously assembled in the 50th anniversary. Clara visited the Doctor as a young boy, and also went into the Doctor’s timestream helping all past incarnations.
The Deadly Assassin also set up that the Doctor has 12 regenerations, meaning 13 lives. In “The Time of the Doctor” the Doctor (Matt Smith) reveals he is in fact on his final life (counting both the War Doctor and Tennant’s “Meta Crisis” regenerations). Of course, the Time Lords ended up granting the Doctor a second cycle of lives, which is what the Doctor is on now. With all that in mind, it seems there’s no way “Ruth” can be casually inserted into the first cycle of Doctors.
Is it possible then that the Doctor has somehow forgotten a whole cycle of lives before Hartnell? There are obviously still several inconsistencies this would create (the TARDIS was not a police box when Hartnell first stole it, so how can “Ruth’s” be?), as well as the fact it would mean Hartnell would no longer be the “original, you might say”. It would also mean the numbering of the Doctors would be even more screwed up (technically John Hurt’s War Doctor is the actual ninth Doctor, and with this theory he’d become the 22nd!). This change would be a hard one for many fans to accept as it radically retcons 56+ years of canon and causes all sorts of mess as a result, as well as essentially erasing the First Doctor as we knew him. But Chibnall certainly doesn’t seem to be afraid of a bit of fan controversy…
Whittaker Lies – A Future Doctor
Perhaps Jodie Whittaker has been telling a few white lies about coming back for Series 13. What if she’s actually leaving at the end of the already-filmed special and this is a sneaky little way of introducing her replacement early? After all we did get a glimpse of Peter Capaldi in the 50th anniversary special before his tenure began. In this instance we would also have to assume that “Ruth” was just incorrectly theorising that Thirteen was from her future. And that “Ruth” had somehow lost memories of her past self.
Chibnall lies – An Alternate Timeline/Parallel Doctor
I know Chibnall has claimed “Ruth” is not from a parallel universe, but I also remember when Steven Moffat used to say things like that when he wanted to preserve secrets. Could “Ruth” be the First Doctor, but from an alternate universe or perhaps timeline? This doesn’t mess with canon in a way that would risk upsetting the show’s history (and fanbase). Doctor Who has also experimented with both alternate universes and timelines in the past, so it’s certainly within the rules of the show. Some have even speculated that Jodie has been in a parallel universe since the very start of her era when she fell out of the TARDIS.
Ruth the Rani
Ah, this old favourite. Ever since the show returned, fans have speculated on this renegade Time Lord returning whenever a mysterious character crops up. True to form I’ve already seen theories that, regardless of what Chibnall says, it’s all a trick. And that Ruth is in fact the Rani exiled to Earth and having a bit of fun messing with Thirteen by posing as the Doctor (perhaps allied with the Master). It doesn’t explain the identical Sonic scan, but it could be another fake reading. The “R” necklace being another clue hidden in plain site (rather than just standing for Ruth). Ruth has definitely been portrayed so far as a more aggressive character and certainly seemed to like guns more than the Doctor.
The Timeless Child
Another mystery that needs addressing ever since Chibnall introduced it in “The Ghost Monument”. The “Timeless Child” was of course finally brought back up in Spyfall by the Master. It seems likely it’s all connected somehow. In a brief flashback scene in the opening two-parter of Series 12 we caught a glimpse of a young girl. Could this actually be a much younger “Ruth”? This could tie into the first theory that this is the new original cycle of the Doctors. Forgotten for some reason.
Only time will tell!