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2024-05-25 02:00:18| Engadget

The following contains spoilers for 73 Yards. Russell T. Davies admits his writing eschews narrative formalism in favor of things that just feel right. Two decades ago, his critics pointed to his use of deus ex machina endings as a stick to beat his reputation with. But were in a different era now, where vibes matter just as much as logic both inside the shows new more fantastic skew, and in the real world. 73 Yards is the vibiest episode of new Doctor Who so far, but I even found it easy to sit back and enjoy what it was doing. Doctor Who is a complicated show to make, and some series have started production on Day 1 a week or more behind schedule. To combat this, the show started making -lite episodes that didnt need the leads to be as involved. There are Doctor-lite episodes like Love and Monsters and Blink, and even companion-lite episodes like Midnight. This production process enables the star, or stars, to be off shooting Episode A while a guest cast takes the spotlight for the bulk of Episode B. Production of the new series began while star Ncuti Gatwa was still finishing the last of his work on Netflixs Sex Education. So while he appears in the opening and closing moments of "73 Yards", hes otherwise absent as the Doctor has been erased from history. It gives us the chance to see what a modern companion would do if left stranded in uncertain territory without her alien ally. The episode takes hard turns from folk and rural horror to kitchen-sink drama before becoming a light homage to Taxi Driver. Suffice to say, this is another episode you wouldnt watch with small kids. Bad Wolf / BBC Studios The TARDIS lands on a cliff edge in Wales, with the Doctor pointing out its another liminal space where magic is allowed to creep in. He even mentions the war between the land and the sea, name-checking a rumored spin-off fans discovered after scouring production documents. The Doctor talks about how great a country Wales is, except for Roger ap Gwillam, a Welsh politician who, two decades hence, will lead the UK to the brink of nuclear armageddon. He then steps into a fairy ring, disturbing its web, and disappears while Ruby reads the paper notes tied to it. The notes mention a Mad Jack, a scary figure that sounds like a villain from folklore. Suddenly, Ruby is alone on the cliff but can now see the blurry figure of an old woman waving her arms at her in the distance. Ruby tries to approach her but the figure remains the same distance away (the titular 73 yards) no matter where she goes. Believing the Doctor has ghosted her, she tries to solve the quandary of this figure on her own. Ruby approaches a hiker (Susan Twist) and tries to work out where shes seen her before (every episode thus far), but cant quite put her finger on it. She asks the hiker if shed be willing to speak to the old woman who is following her, but when the hitchhiker gets there, whatever she says is so horrifying that she sprints away from the scene in terror. Ruby heads to a pub in the nearby town where the locals mock her mistaking her hesitancy for condescension. She asks one of the patrons to go speak to the woman and, when he does, the same thing happens. Ruby gets home and asks her mum to try, this time holding a phone so Ruby can hear what shes saying. But the phone call is disrupted and her mum is similarly horrified by what she hears locking Ruby out of her home soon after. Kate Lethbridge-Stewart and UNIT are next to offer aid, right up until they encounter the woman, when they all abandon her. Bad Wolf / BBC Studios All the time, the old woman remains 73 yards away from wherever Ruby is, unnoticed by everyone else unless Ruby directs their attention to her. She cant photograph the woman's face it's blurry and cant get close enough to hear her ominous warning. In fact, even to the end of the episode, theres a lot of unknowns that are never resolved. Rubys strangely resilient, and once shes gotten beyond the abandonment, she looks to build a new life for herself. She treats her stalker as a friend, wishing her well as we cycle through a montage of the next chapter of Rubys life. She gets a job, moves into her own flat and goes through a series of breakups as she gently ages past 30, and then 40. Then, on the TV, she sees Roger ap Gwillam on the TV, who even mentions Mad Jack, and remembers both the Doctors warning and the messages in the fairy ring. It takes Ruby no time at all to be sure that her purpose in life is to save the world, and to avert Gwillams nuclear catastrophe. She signs up to Gwillams fascist political party as a volunteer and eventually reaches a position where shes close to the top. Gwillams rise is quick and its not long before hes promising to secede from NATO and put his itchy trigger finger on the UKs nuclear arsenal, ready to wage war on the rest of the world. Gwillams inauguration will take place at Cardiff City Stadium, while Ruby follows the politician along, lurking in the crowd. Bad Wolf / BBC Studios Ruby then starts to approach Gwillam, walking across the off-limits pitch at the stadium, and you expect her to pull out a weapon. But instead, she whips out her phone and starts measuring the distance between her and Roger until she reaches 73 yards. When she does, she gestures to the villain to notice the woman, and when he notices her, he hears the horrifying thing she says. The shock is enough to send Gwillam racing out of the stadium, resigning from the role of Prime Minister and preventing nuclear armageddon. But while Ruby hoped that would be the end of it, the figure remains with her for the rest of her life. Its only on her deathbed she realizes she can project herself back in time to act as a warning for the Doctor to not step in the fairy ring. She does so, preventing the accident in the first place and paradoxically nullifying the entire time stream in the process. History carries on its merry way and all is well for now. But given the risks of paradoxes in Doctor Who, and the general sense that history is unraveling, it might not augur too well for whats going to happen in the future.


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