Ruby knocking on the TARDIS in "73 Yards" on Doctor Who
(BBC/Disney+)

‘Doctor Who’ Gave Us Some Political Wish Fulfillment

“73 Yards” is the fifth episode of the new season of Doctor Who and left the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) nowhere to be found. But it also gave Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) the time to dazzle. Shining a light on the terrifying landscape of politics, the episode has an important message.

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Ruby and the Doctor land the TARDIS in Wales in the present, where Ruby is abandoned when the Doctor disappears, and a mysterious figure begins following her at a distance of, you guessed it, 73 yards. Thus begins a showcase of Millie Gibson’s brilliance as she spends the episode isolated from everyone she loves.

All of this is, seemingly, for a purpose. The Doctor had mentioned Roger ap Gwilliam (Aneurin Barnard) prior to leaving Ruby on her own, a prime minister who nearly brought the world to extinction with a nuclear war and was a menace to society. The Doctor accidentally tells Ruby about him, citing “spoilers” when he realizes she’s from 2024 and not 2046, like Gwilliam. Still, Ruby knows who this man is and remembers what the Doctor told her, and decides to do something about it.

It’s an all too real fear

ruby in the street crying on doctor who
(BBC/Disney+)

So much of this episode is spent with Ruby alone, and yet you’re captivated by what is happening. The fear is two fold: It is the fear of isolation and the political fear of a monster in power that you cannot do anything to stop. In our current world, this feeling is all too familiar given the impending election in the United States where neither candidate is who most want to vote for, and Great Britain’s past with prime ministers isn’t much better.

But this episode is that odd little bit of wish fulfillment that I think many of us currently need. Ruby sees an opportunity with Gwilliam and begins working for him, rising up the ranks of his people until she’s right there at his side, as decades pass by without the Doctor’s return. And just when Gwilliam is about to win his election and begin the reign of terror the Doctor spoke of, she weaponizes the mysterious figure that’s been following her.

Roger ap GWilliam standing at a podium in doctor who
(BBC/Disney+)

We learn by the end that the figure was Ruby Sunday herself, but the episode was a look at a terrifying reality that could unfold in politics, as well as a change to them that I think many of us want to see. Although, by the end of the episode, after Ruby has grown old, time is reset to her arrival in Wales with the Doctor, and the Doctor again mentions Gwilliam as the most dangerous prime minister of all time, so it remains to be seen what, if anything, was accomplished and where this storyline will go in the future.

Was Ruby’s lifetime of solitude for nothing? Was it just to remind us all to fight back against men like Gwilliam, even if they seem inevitable? I wish that someone would scare these men in power from ever running—that some unknown figure could tell them to run away, and we’d all be better for it. But alas, we just have Ruby Sunday living our dream.


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.