Doctor Who series 14 | Rogue spoiler-filled review

Doctor Who Rogue
Share this Article:

Jonathan Groff joins Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson as Doctor Who’s latest – Rogue – takes us to 1813. With spoilers, our review.

Final warning: this review contains spoilers.

As we close in on the big finale for Doctor Who series 14/season 1, we get what’s effectively the last standalone episode in this current run. It’s the episode that both Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson admitted they had a blast filming at the premiere of the show, and it’s pretty easy to see why.

Here, we’re in Regency era England, in 1813 to be precise, a destination chosen what looks in reasonable part down to the opening up of the costume budget. There are a lot of unsung heroes in the Doctor Who production team, and it’s nice to see that the extensive credits at the end of each episode namecheck so many of them. In this case, the production design and costume work is exquisite, under the eye of director Ben Chessell.

Between them, they’re realising a script penned by Loki alumni Kate Herron and Briony Redman, that brings the Doctor and Ruby to a posh house in the country. There, they’re in the midst of a party hosted by Indira Varma’s Duchess of Pemberton, but wouldn’t you know it, it’s a party where people keep disappearing.

Not for the first time this series, we get the class system laid bare, perhaps a little less brutally then the end of Dot And Bubble managed, but still a world where snobbery is rife and people run the risk of being looked down on. Especially if two men start dancing in front of a bunch of people who like to tut whilst wearing pretty outfits. Imagine what’d happen if they snogged!

Rogue splits the TARDIS team up again fairly quickly. Ruby is left to discuss cosplay and make references to Bridgerton while she explores her pretty limited side to the story.

The central attraction though is the arrival of Rogue, played by Jonathan Groff. Rogue is a bounty hunter, and while he and the Doctor get in each other’s way at first, the attraction quickly blooms. Here, then, we get the teased moment where the Doctor’s life is set to change

But will it? I remember watching The Doctor’s Daughter, where the Doctor basically had a relative quickly engineered, and thinking that’s got to make a real difference somewhere down the line. I’m not sure it ever did. In the case of Rogue, there’s an actual romantic attraction here, and a name guest star in an era of the show where budget and long term future look more assured. My guessing, therefore, is it isn’t the last we’ve seen of Rogue. A longing for him would add another facet to a Doctor who’s been malfunctioning a bit in this series to date.

Then there’s Ruby. Right at the start of the series, the Doctor kept scanning her, and freeze frame as best I could, clues beyond that were not being given away. Here, she does a cosplay shuffle to get out of a tight spot – yet I wouldn’t be surprised if that turned out to be not entirely what happened. While it’s little spoiler to suggest she’s at the heart of the mystery of current Doctor Who, quite why is less clear. Is she alien? Is there a perception filter on her? Is her get out of trouble move in Rogue as clearcut as it looks?

The longer-term clues were back too, with Susan Twist making her now-customary weekly appearance, this time in portrait form. And a bit more music too. Given the running theme of music through this run, by this stage I’m not ruling out a return of the Maestro either.

One more thing while we’re on the topic: remember that butterfly at the start of all of this that Ruby trod on? Her appearance changed to resemble a make-up job that seemed mirrored in Rogue. That might just be me, but I wondered when – in Space Babies – the butterfly went splat if that might come back later in the series. It may do, it may not: just a thought.

Anyway: those are the underlying moments, though. In terms of the actual episode Rogue, I was a little more in the middle on it, in truth. I mentioned in the spoiler-free review of it that I’m a little sidelined, as I’ve never watched Bridgerton. The Netflix bonk-fest is liberally mentioned here (and Strictly Comes Dancing gets a namecheck as well. Oh, and Tarmac), and I’m sure that if you’re up to date with it, you’ll have got more out of Rogue than I did.

I’m assuming that the alliance to it went a little beyond the namechecks of it. All I can tell you is what I saw with my eyes: that this was for a good chunk a very lavish costume drama, with some top choreography and a nice old house for the large cast to enjoy.

The more traditional Doctor Who elements were a little more in the background. In fact, in the case of Rogue’s massive spaceship, it was cloaked in the back garden at first. Even then, the monsters came and went, and the story resolution slotted in where it was supposed to go.

Which left the standouts. Ncuti Gatwa, again, has quickly proven himself to be an excellent choice to steer the TARDIS. The production team, who are proving adept at extracting maximum value out of Disney’s extra money. And in this case, a charismatic supporting turn from Jonathan Groff, whose contract I’d imagine has a return clause in it somewhere.

After Boom, 73 Yards and Dot And Bubble – and it feels like we’ve been really spoiled these last three weeks – Rogue felt to me at least a lot more standard and in the middle. But it was comfortably enjoyable, set up a narrative thread for the Doctor that may or may not be feasted on again in the future, and leads us towards next week, when the fit is clearly about to hit the shan.

Two more episodes to go. At the aforementioned premiere, Russell T Davies was talking about a more traditional two part Doctor Who series finale. With the assorted threads underpinning the ten episodes we’ve had since the show returned piling up, he’s got a fair amount of work to get through…

Thank you for visiting! If you’d like to support our attempts to make a non-clickbaity movie website:

Follow Film Stories on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.

Buy our Film Stories and Film Junior print magazines here.

Become a Patron here.

Share this Article:

More like this