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Arc Watch: Doctor Who: “73 Yards” & “Dot and Bubble”

Missed last week — I was busy turning in my graduation project. But let’s catch up.


  • Sweet Christmas Baby:
    • 73 Yards: The Woman who follows Ruby says something to people, including Carla, to make them run away from Ruby, abandoning her forever, explicitly weaponising her anxiety about having been abandoned and not knowing why. Ruby says she used to be able to make it snow “once upon a time,” making what seemed like a weird side effect of remembering her origin story more of a superpower.
      The Woman’s gestures and the words she mouth, though their content is not directly narratively… true, do feel like they connect to Ruby’s abandonment thematically: “Bless you. Thank you so much. That’s so kind of you. When you gave me that little thing, it was just so precious. How am I ever going to repay you.”1I try not to refer to behind the scenes material too much — what’s on the screen is what’s on the screen — but this is from the Doctor Who Unleashed for this episode.
  • Calm Down, The Actress Is Just Called That:
    • 73 Yards: Ruby explicitly recognises Susan Twist as the hiker.
    • Dot and Bubble: Ruby and Dr Who again recognise Susan Twist as Lindy Pepper-Bean’s mother, with Dr Who explicitly connecting her face to the one used by the Ambulance on Kastarion 3.
  • The Pretenders:
    • 73 Yards: The folks at the pub pretend to be both scared and simple, but instead are just bastards. Ruby pretends to be a conservative person to join the Roger ap Gwilliam campaign. Roger ap Gwilliam may or may not be Mad Jack, but all things considered, he’s extremely up front and not pretending to be anything he’s not.
    • Dot and Bubble: The folks in Finetime pretend everything is fine and normal but live in an explicitly segregated society. Lindy and Hoochy Pie pretend to care about environmentally friendly sourced clothing, but then Hoochy Pie eagerly declares she’ll buy a hundred. Ruby pretends to work for Finetime to talk to Lindy, and to be clueless to gently guide her to the conclusion she wants her to come to. Ruby and Dr Who pretend not to be in separate rooms. Dr Who pretends not to be fucking exasperated with these people, and condescends to Lindy. Ricky September had to change his surname to something weirder to access some of the privilege of Finetime. Ricky September pretends rescue is coming from the Homeworld, and that he hasn’t seen that everyone on the Homeworld is dead.
  • Still Figuring It Out:
    • Dot and Bubble: Dr Who is, for the first time we’ve seen, confronted with the reality of life as a Black man — the racist people of Finetime will simply distrust him for no reason other than the colour of his skin.
  • Original Owners:
    • 73 Yards: It doesn’t go anywhere in this episode, but Dr Who literally says the rumoured title of the UNIT spinoff “the war between the land and the sea” out loud.
  • How Much?:
    • The Devil’s Chord: Dr Who is shocked by how much Susan Twist as the Tea Lady charges for a tea.
    • 73 Yards: Ruby is shocked by how much the woman at the pub charges for a Coke.
  • The Mavity of the Situation:
    • 73 Yards: Ruby changes her timeline by becoming the Woman and stopping Dr Who stepping on the fairy circle. By stopping Dr Who stepping on the fairy circle, she may or may not prevent Mad Jack’s release, and may or may not prevent Roger ap Gwilliam’s rise to power. Though Dr Who no longer goes into detail about what makes him the most dangerous Prime Minister of all time, he does still say that bit. In the revised timeline, she says she’s been to Wales thrice instead of twice, but can’t quite recall the third time, which has been unhappened.
  • Those Who Step On It:
    • Space Babies: Ruby doesn’t look where she’s going and steps on a butterfly and the butterfly effect causes her to become a lizard person.
    • Boom: Dr Who doesn’t look where he’s going and steps on a landmine.
    • 73 Yards: Dr Who doesn’t look where he’s going and steps on a fairy circle.
  • Lady of the Water:
    • 73 Yards: Mrs Flood says the events of this episode are “nothing to do with me.”
  • Black Cats and Ladders at the Edge
    • 73 Yards: The stepping on the fairy circle erases Dr Who, locks the TARDIS, and sets the events of the story in motion. The folkloric legend of Mad Jack is… implicitly connected to Roger ap Gwilliam. The Woman is very much in the mode of Welsh folk horror. The cliffside the TARDIS lands at is at the border between the land and the sea.
    • Dot and Bubble: Finetime is surrounded by the Wild Woods, which Lindy expresses a light superstition-esque fear of. Hoochy Pie calls the idea of a box that’s bigger on the inside “voodoo.” She expresses their commitment to racial segregation as their “God-given duty to maintain the standards of Finetime,” their racism a religion that will get them killed.
  • UNified Intelligence and Skyscraper-Building Taskforce:
    • 73 Yards: UNIT continues to evolve, and is now explicitly a companion-recruiting organisation, which Kate calls a tradition.
  • Knowledge Lord:
    • 73 Yards: Dr Who references Roger ap Gwilliam for no particular reason — his dropping of future knowledge often seems to be connected to things that are about to happen to him, and some instinct in him may have been trying to warn Ruby.
  • Ruins of the Fourth Wall:
    • 73 Yards: Stepping on the fairy circle removes Dr Who and with him the title sequence.
    • Dot and Bubble: Dr Who and Ruby spend most of the episode talking to Lindy through the Dot and Bubble technology, essentially a cellphone, which is how many viewers will be watching this series.


Not really anything new for any of them, but I’ll just keep these at the bottom here.

  • Theory One: What character archetype in RTD’s take on Doctor Who does a lot of Waiting? Jackie, a year, not knowing. Francine, a year, for a shot. Sylvia, for Donna, for so long. What if the One Who Waits is the Toymaker’s mum?
  • Theory Two: Ruby Sunday is an experiment engineered (or, perhaps, a story told) to infiltrate the TARDIS. The nominative similarity with Mundy Flynn, played by future companion actress Varada Sethu, links them explicitly — Mundy may be another experiment in the series. They also feel like they’re in an RTD and Moffat mode, respectively — Ruby very much a Rose type, Mundy’s early appearance fairly explicitly invokes Clara. Keep an eye out for a funny grey-haired white guy called Tuesday.
  • Theory Three: I think Susan Twist is part of some kind of cosmic corrective, the spellcheck chasing down a typo. The cosmic corrective may be the result of the damage done to the TARDIS by Donna spilling coffee on it.


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    I try not to refer to behind the scenes material too much — what’s on the screen is what’s on the screen — but this is from the Doctor Who Unleashed for this episode.
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