DISCLAIMER: This recap of Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 7, “The Legend of Ruby Sunday,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril. 

Holy guacamole, Batman. The penultimate episode of Doctor Who Season 1 (and the first half of the two-part season finale) brings thrills and suspense in equal measure. Russell T Davies pens a solid outing. We zero in on the two great mysteries of this season — Ruby’s identity/parentage and Susan Twist. This culminates in the reemergence of a former Doctor Who villain, Sutekh. 

Millie Gibson delivers standout work, especially during the first Time Window scene. Her vulnerability pierces through the heart. “The Legend of Ruby Sunday” moves at a steady clip and keeps us on our toes. It’s damn entertaining. 

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UNIT 

We open with the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Gibson) landing the TARDIS at UNIT headquarters. The Doctor introduces Ruby to Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), Rose Noble (Yasmin Finney) and The Vlinx. Then, he and Ruby meet Harriet (Genesis Lynea) and Morris Gibbons (Lenny Rush). The Doctor whips out his sonic screwdriver to show UNIT footage of the woman he and Ruby keep seeing throughout time and space. Yes, it’s the Susan Twist of it all. 

Kate Lethbridge-Stewart stands outside at night with her hands on her hips on Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 7, "The Legend of Ruby Sunday."

DOCTOR WHO Season 1 Episode 7, “The Legend of Ruby Sunday.” Photo credit: BBC/Disney+.

Sure enough, Kate and UNIT know who this woman might be. They show the Doctor and Ruby video of Susan Triad (Twist), the CEO of S Triad Technology. She’s poised to release a free app to the world soon (although I don’t recall the episode explaining what it is specifically—just that it’ll be life-changing). The Doctor realizes that “S Triad” is an anagram for TARDIS. Of course, UNIT already figured that out. Ruby discovers her name is Susan, which reminds our titular Gallifreyan that he has a granddaughter named Susan. Could that be her? 

Susan Triad 

Kate explains their search for secret alien software has been fruitless. In addition, Susan herself seems to have a squeaky-clean record. Mel (Bonnie Langford) is undercover with Susan right now. Ruby doesn’t understand how the Doctor doesn’t recognize his granddaughter. He explains that Time Lords can change their faces. They do this when they’re dying and need to regenerate or if they’re hiding. Ruby makes him promise not to change his face. Our Time Lord reassures her that he’s sticking with this one for a long time. (Famous last words?)

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We see Mel with Susan right now. According to Kate, Susan is quite nice. At 3 pm, Susan plans to address the world and introduce her innovative technology. Meanwhile, the Doctor brings another issue to UNIT’s table: Ruby Sunday. The mystery surrounding her biological mother and birth still confounds the Doctor. He adds that he can’t hop back in the TARDIS and return to Ruby Road on Christmas Eve 2004 because he can’t cross over his timeline. He’s time-locked himself out. 

Rose Noble sits at a computer in UNIT headquarters while looking up at something on Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 7, "The Legend of Ruby Sunday."

DOCTOR WHO Season 1 Episode 7, “The Legend of Ruby Sunday.” Photo credit: BBC/Disney+.

Harriet reveals there’s CCTV footage of Ruby’s mother dropping her off at the church. Ruby chimes in that she has a VHS tape of said footage; however, it’s black and white and quite grainy. Rose accompanies Ruby back to her flat to grab the tape. Elsewhere, Susan reads her speech for her global press conference. We learn the tech is called Triad. Mel shakes Susan’s hand, grabbing a DNA sample to send to UNIT for examination. 

He Waits No More 

Later, Carla (Michelle Greenidge) finds the VHS tape of the CCTV footage for Ruby. “The legend of Ruby Sunday,” she calls it. Carla asks Mrs. Flood (Anita Dobson) to stay with Cherry (Angela Wynter) while she accompanies Ruby back to UNIT. After Ruby, Carla and Rose depart, Cherry asks Mrs. Flood for tea. Mrs. Flood refuses to make her one, instead talking about a “storm coming in.” “He waits no more,” she warns as the sky darkens. Who is Mrs. Flood? 

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Next, Kate and the Doctor talk about his granddaughter, Susan. She assumes he must have kids if he has grandkids. Kate asks why the Doctor hasn’t gone back to see Susan. The Doctor asserts he “brings disaster,” so he steers clear of her. 

Mel returns to UNIT headquarters, where she embraces the Doctor. She brings the DNA sample she acquired from Susan. The Vlinx runs a test, confirming Susan is human. Ruby and Rose return with the VHS tape. The Doctor asks Kate if UNIT has a Time Window. Kate reminds him that he told UNIT in the ’70s not to have any time technology. Of course, UNIT didn’t listen, though. Oh, and the doc gives Carla clearance to enter UNIT, something even the prime minister doesn’t have. 

Morris Gibbons stands on a scooter outside at night while looking alarmed on Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 7, "The Legend of Ruby Sunday."

DOCTOR WHO Season 1 Episode 7, “The Legend of Ruby Sunday.” Photo credit: BBC/Disney+.

Time Window

Then, our Time Lord examines UNIT’s Time Window. He laughs out loud at it. It’s not the latest and greatest, but it’ll do in a pinch. He also meets Colonel Chidozie (Tachia Newall), who guards the Time Window. Morris takes the VHS tape and feeds it into the Time Window. The Doctor asks Ruby to recall what she knows about her birthday. Snow starts falling around them as it has all season. Morris remarks that it’s all the stranger because he hasn’t turned on the machine yet. 

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Next, our time-traveling duo sees the church on Ruby Road in 2004 materialize around them. Ruby’s birth mother is there. She wears a long-hooded cloak. The Doctor notices that a shadow seems to shroud her. Ruby lunges toward her birth mom, but the Doctor urges her to remain still. They can’t afford to mess with a fixed point in time. He asks everyone to try to glimpse her face. Unfortunately, it’s covered by the hood of her cloak. 

After a few minutes, the TARDIS appears in the CCTV footage. The Doctor emerges. He’s there to save Ruby from the goblins. Ruby’s mother whirls around and points at him. Chidozie moves carefully through the Time Window to see what Ruby’s mom points at. So far, he can’t see anything. 

Susan Triad stands on a stage while wearing a tan suit. A screen with the words "Triad Technologies" is behind her on Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 7, "The Legend of Ruby Sunday."

DOCTOR WHO Season 1 Episode 7, “The Legend of Ruby Sunday.” Photo credit: BBC/Disney+.

A New Entity

Suddenly, a smoky, monstrous shape takes form. It pulsates and swirls in front of the Doctor and Ruby. Kate asks Chidozie to give her a report, but he’s nowhere to be found. However, he does seemingly communicate with Ruby. Chidozie claims it’s “seen” him — right into his soul. “And it’s so old,” he adds. “It’s been waiting for so long.” Is this The One Who Waits? 

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Then, an explosion rocks the Time Window and the equipment used to power it. It wipes away the 2004 CCTV footage. Kate and the Doctor notice Chidozie’s corpse. It looks like he’s been dead for hundreds of years. Kate reveals it’s all hands on deck — she orders her team to work on identifying this mysterious entity. Meanwhile, the Doctor accompanies Mel to S Triad Technology to watch Susan speak to the world.

The Doctor beats himself up for Chidozie’s death and that creature’s appearance. He wonders if Susan is connected to this as well. Mel urges him to keep going. Kate contacts the Doctor, informing him that the entity burnt itself out of the Time Window. However, it now exists on the VHS. Strangely enough, it wasn’t there before. 

Mrs. Flood sits on Cherry Sunday's bed as the latter shrinks back, looking alarmed, on Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 7, "The Legend of Ruby Sunday."

DOCTOR WHO Season 1 Episode 7, “The Legend of Ruby Sunday.” Photo credit: BBC/Disney+.

Who Is Susan? 

Next, Mel introduces the Doctor to Susan minutes before she’s scheduled to speak. Susan doesn’t recognize him. She admits she hasn’t been sleeping much lately. He asks if her dreams consist of Pacifico Del Rio or Finetime. Or any of the characters she’s been throughout the season. Susan looks shocked. Clearly, she has dreamt about these things. Unfortunately, she’s pushed onto the stage before the Doctor can continue questioning her. 

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Later, Kate gives the Doctor and Mel an update. This time, our titular Gallifreyan’s TARDIS appeared a second time on Ruby Road, 20 meters to the north. Oh, and the entity is wrapped around it. Kate wonders if said entity surrounds the TARDIS now as it’s parked in UNIT. Maybe they can’t see it. The Doctor orders Kate to evacuate the area in case this is true. 

Kate sends all non-essential staff away, meaning Carla must leave. Ruby embraces her before kicking her out. The Vlinx conducts another test, revealing a lifeform around the TARDIS. It also starts emitting a noise with which the Doctor is all too familiar. 

Ruby sits on a bed with her mom Carla while deep in conversation on Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 7, "The Legend of Ruby Sunday."

DOCTOR WHO Season 1 Episode 7, “The Legend of Ruby Sunday.” Photo credit: BBC/Disney+.

Harbingers

During her speech, Susan starts to stray from what’s on the teleprompter. She recalls her vivid dreams about other lives. At UNIT, Kate orders whatever surrounds the TARDIS to show itself. Suddenly, Harriet starts intoning an ominous monologue. The Doctor asks Kate for Harriet’s surname. As it turns out, it’s “Arbinger.” She’s the Harbinger like the little boy from “The Devil’s Chord.” Could Mrs. Flood also be a Harbinger? 

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We see the text on the teleprompter change to whatever Harriet’s speaking. The entity is channeling itself through her. Mel tells the Doctor there’s something wrong at UNIT. They need to act quickly. Susan unravels onstage, falling prey to an anxiety attack over her dreams of those other lives. “Who am I?” she asks. The Doctor realizes that this entity is another god. Harriet, or the Harbinger, rattles off a list of gods from the pantheon, including the ones we met—The Toymaker and Maestro. 

The Doctor and Mel rush to Susan’s side, as does her assistant. Suddenly, the same smoky, monstrous, pulsating shape materializes around the TARDIS. However, it takes on a more defined form. The letters in the S Triad Technology logo are arranged to form the name of a villain the Doctor knows well: Sutekh, the god of death.

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Sutekh 

Whovians will remember him from “Pyramids of Mars.” Sutekh looks like a jackal as he curls around the TARDIS. Susan and Harriet’s faces look skeletal and demonic. Susan touches her assistant, and he turns into dust. “I bring Sutekh’s gift of death,” Susan says. I’m guessing Susan is also a Harbinger. 

Meanwhile, Ruby returns to the Time Window, which looks like Ruby Road from 2004. Snow falls around Ruby. Her mother, still hooded, reappears, walking toward her. 

The Doctor shakes Susan Triad's hand while Mel stands behind him.

DOCTOR WHO Season 1 Episode 7, “The Legend of Ruby Sunday.” Photo credit: BBC/Disney+.

Susan and Harriet claim they bring Sutekh’s gift of death for the Doctor and everyone in his “vile, incessant universe.” Susan reaches a bony hand toward the Doctor to touch him, and…

…To be continued. Ah!

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