DOCTOR WHO "Empire Of Death" Recap: Ruby’s Mother Finally Revealed In High-Stakes Season Finale - SPOILERS

DOCTOR WHO "Empire Of Death" Recap: Ruby’s Mother Finally Revealed In High-Stakes Season Finale - SPOILERS

The season finale of Doctor Who is now streaming on BBC iPlayer and Disney+, and we’re taking a deep dive into the episode, revealing the identity of Ruby Sunday’s mother, the big bad’s fate, and more.

By JoshWilding - Jun 22, 2024 12:06 PM EST
Filed Under: Doctor Who

This article was originally published on Head there now for more Doctor Who updates! 

Russell T Davies' return to Doctor Who has drawn praise and criticism alike, but the first season has now concluded and its finale, "Empire of Death," answered some big questions...all while leaving us with quite a few others. 

As we saw last week, Sutekh - a classic Whoniverse villain - latched himself on to the Tardis. When the episode begins, he proceeds to use the Susan Triads he's spread throughout time and space (everywhere he and the Doctor landed) to spread his Dust of Death, killing everyone. 

However, Sutekh has grown obsessed with learning the secret of Ruby's mother and, rather than kill her and the Doctor, he briefly allows them to escape. 

In doing so, they use a "Memory TARDIS" to travel into the future where they hope to find DNA records revealing the identity of Ruby's mother. It was all a ploy to lure Sutekh and the original TARDIS to them, and the Doctor proceeds to drag the monster through the time vortex, bringing "death to death" and restoring the people and planets he's killed. 

Then, forced to betray his principals (meaning Sutekh ultimately wins), the Doctor strands him in the vortex where the villain is killed. 

The day is saved, but who is Ruby's mother? Just an ordinary woman named Louise Miller. She had Ruby as a 15-year-old and left her at the church because she came from an abusive home. As the Doctor explains, the mystery of Ruby's mother only became important because, as is so often the case throughout history, importance was placed on a simple figure, creating a myth more powerful than even a God like Sutekh.

That proved the villain's undoing and, as the episode ends, Ruby is happily reunited with her birth and adoptive mothers and making plans to track down her dad. Unfortunately, she has to leave the Doctor and they bid farewell before promising to see each other again. 

In a final tease, the mysterious Mrs. Flood once again breaks the fourth wall and warns the audience that the Doctor's story will still end in "absolute terror."

It looks like she's been setting up as the true big bad of Davies' latest Doctor Who run as, earlier in the episode, the mysterious neighbour declares, "Tell your maker I will come to storm down the gates of gold and seize his kingdom in my true name."

There are once again some hints about the importance of "73 Yards" and we still don't know whether there was any significance to the "Mavity" scene in the 60th Anniversary Specials starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate. And what of the Fourteenth Doctor who still resides on Earth?

With another Doctor Who Christmas Special coming later this year before season 2 launches in 2025, we may get more clues soon.

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PaKent - 6/22/2024, 12:12 PM
Doctor Woke Season Finale!
Blergh - 6/22/2024, 2:32 PM
@PaKent - missed chance to call it “Woketor Who”.
LukeCage2155 - 6/22/2024, 3:15 PM
@PaKent - User Comment Image
PaKent - 6/22/2024, 5:01 PM
@Blergh - Lol!! And i thought i was crossing the line
AC1 - 6/22/2024, 12:14 PM
Bit underwhelming but overall a fun finale
TheVisionary25 - 6/22/2024, 12:37 PM
@AC1 - definitely seems somewhat divisive going by the reception I have seen

I need to see it again and perhaps even do a series rewatch but there’s a lot that worked for me in the season and some that didn’t

I do think 8 episodes a season is not enough genuinely
AC1 - 6/22/2024, 1:35 PM
@TheVisionary25 - yeah I think I agree with you there, there were things that worked quite well and things that seemed a bit nonsensical including most of the stuff revolving around Ruby's mum in the finale - I get what RTD was going for, that it was a normal thing that'd been blown out of proportion by Ruby and the Doctor letting their imaginations run wild because they're so used to extraordinary things happening, but it doesn't really make sense when it's so heavily linked to what Sutekh was doing throughout the episode and even things like the Time Window apparently not being able to show her face, even just visual stuff like her wearing a cloak and pointing so ominously at the sign she was apparently naming her daughter after - and how does that even work, there was no one there so how did the social workers who found the baby know to name her after the road as per her mother's wishes?

And yeah 8 episodes doesn't feel like enough when they're going as high concept as having the Doctor face Godlike beings - it felt like they needed at least another episode between the penultimate episode and the finale so it ended up feeling kinda rushed, and when you start an episode with everyone dying it pretty much screams to the audience that everyone's gonna be brought back at the end so it all felt surprisingly low stakes.

But it's still been fun, which is a lot more than can be said of Doctor Who for the last few years, so it's an endearing watch even if some of the writing has been a bit iffy. I'd like the series to get to a point where it reaches new heights narratively and becomes truly great, but for now it's just been nice to just watch it and have a bit of fun!
TheVisionary25 - 6/22/2024, 2:14 PM
@AC1 - I agree with that for the most part , especially the hooded cloak and pointing just felt dramatic for no reason now

She could easily have worn a hoodie lol

I didn’t mind Sutekh also being curious because it adds to the idea of important being added to something that maybe isn’t meant to be that
MrDandy - 6/22/2024, 4:33 PM
@AC1 - Yeah, they absolutely need to expand the episode count back to 12 episodes again. 8 is way too short. That was one of my biggest issues with the season.
Twenty23Three - 6/22/2024, 12:15 PM
Things were looking like it would be a good series… then they completely miffed the landing. Terrible Finale
batman001 - 6/22/2024, 12:23 PM
The reveal of Ruby's mother was bit underwhelming and the writing in certain scenes could really have been alot better but the episode and the acting as whole was genuinely really good and it really does get you excited for both series 15 and the upcoming Christmas special as well.
TheVisionary25 - 6/22/2024, 12:25 PM
I had some issues with the finale but I did like it overall tbh..

I enjoyed the Sutekh stuff even though I wish he had more screentime and particularly liked the resolution of that with The Doctor dragging him along as a dog on leash to various points in the universe and time to bring “death to death” thus undoing the chaos he had caused (I can understand if some found his demise too quick though)

Now in regards to Ruby’s mother , I’m cool with it being nobody special and just this regular woman who was a scared teenager from an abusive home but the stuff like her ominously pointing only to reveal she’s pointing at The Ruby Road sign so that they would name her Ruby felt as bit forced & hokey honestly (in hindsight , we didn’t need it in order to more mystery).

Overall , it still had effective thrills and good character moments imo with both Millie and Ncuti continuing to show how they are the absolute highlights of this new era

Idk if this season is one of my favorites but I still found it to be a good one and a return to form for the series after the Chibnall era which I wasn’t a big fan of tbh.

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AC1 - 6/22/2024, 1:45 PM
@TheVisionary25 - I read this after replying to your other comment and I realise we've basically said the exact same things 😂

Yeah, definitely a lot more fun with RTD back compared to Chibnall's run, Sutekh stuff was definitely the best part of the episode just wish there was more focus on it - if anything I feel like either the stuff with Ruby's mum shouldn't have been connected to the Sutekh plot at all if the resolution was going to be that her mum was just a normal girl (and they shouldn't have made things so ominous and unrealistic like her being in a cloak or the ominous pointing or the Time Window not being able to detect her properly), OR if it was going to be connected then it should've remained unresolved this season and been an arc that continued into next season with a more suitably sci-fi/fantasy explanation.

I'd kinda hoped that if there was going to be a more high-concept reason behind it, after all these years we'd have found out it was actually Jenny who'd left Ruby there, and all the times they've talked about Susan this season would've been foreshadowing the reveal that, unbeknownst to each of them, this run had focused on The Doctor travelling through time with another granddaughter.
TheVisionary25 - 6/22/2024, 2:16 PM
@AC1 - oh man , I like that!!

I think I more or less agree with your thoughts.

I am very intrigued by Mrs Flood though , she could be another one of these gods or maybe even a Timelord.
TheVisionary25 - 6/22/2024, 2:19 PM
@AC1 - I do think the emotion was well done though and that’s where RTD has always shined imo

Tbh , that’s what might matter the most.
AC1 - 6/22/2024, 4:11 PM
@TheVisionary25 - yeah I'm curious about Mrs Flood too, she seemed pretty evil when it looked like she was in cahoots with Sutekh but then she was celebrating when everyone was revived so it seemed more like she was possessed like Susan Triad, Harriet, and Mel; yet she still broke the fourth wall and made an ominous statement about the Doctor's future at the end so it's really hard to even try and guess what's going on with her 😂
AC1 - 6/22/2024, 4:12 PM
@TheVisionary25 - yeah the emotional, character side of things has been so much better since RTD came back!
TheVisionary25 - 6/22/2024, 4:15 PM
@AC1 - honestly , I’m done speculating with Ms Flood

I legit have no clue right now so I’m just willing to go on the ride and see where it leads

Yeah , I agree plus Ncuti & Millie just elevate that aswell and honestly even make up sometimes for the flaws in the writing.
Gambito - 6/22/2024, 12:44 PM
Good actors but this show is soooo boring it’s nothing new to the franchise it’s like one step above power rangers rn, pointless story
braunermegda - 6/22/2024, 1:05 PM
I was so hyped after sutekhs revelation and I was devastated after this finale, soooooo boring. Should have been at least three episodes, one revealing, one happening and one with consequences and solving. It's the god of death, for christ sake. Also Ruby's mom was soooooooo poor written, they build an entire plot around that and it ends very simple, but not a simple well written at least. I only enjoyed Boom and legend of ruby rose from this season, tbh. I know the Christmas special will be better because Moffat wrote, but I genuinely hope season 2 gets better, even if it means they go back to 10 episodes and make things easy. After 8 episodes I still don't feel the doctor is emotionally attached to Ruby enough because gives the impression they didn't do much together.
Blergh - 6/22/2024, 1:26 PM
I feel this was RTDs way of commenting on the “Who are Rey’s parents” drama. Haven’t seen it yet but from what I heard I’m sure I’ll love it.

Given the things said I’m sure we’ll see the Valeyard introduced, perhaps out of Gatwa’s Doctor and Tennants Doctor is used to regenerate into a second version of the Gatwa Doc?

Any word on The Master or Captain Jack? (I know, I know, Barrowman got canceled but still)

Mrcool210 - 6/22/2024, 3:14 PM
@Blergh - " feel this was RTDs way of commenting on the “Who are Rey’s parents” drama"

It's exactly that. He said as much in a commentary
Radders - 6/24/2024, 9:03 AM
@Mrcool210 - so he's trolling the audience? that always works - sadly its a self own because the reveal makes absolutely no sense and undermines the whole series
philinterrupted - 6/22/2024, 1:51 PM
I thought the reveal of her mother was anti-climactic. Other than that I mostly enjoyed the new season.
MrDandy - 6/22/2024, 4:10 PM
@philinterrupted - I may be in the minority but I’m glad her mother ended up just being a normal person. It grounded Ruby again and didn’t turn her into an overblown mystery box companion like Clara had been.
braunermegda - 6/22/2024, 4:27 PM
@MrDandy - but the problem is: she did extraordinary things all season. That automatically gives the impression she's extraordinary as well.
Apophis71 - 6/22/2024, 5:33 PM
@braunermegda - Still could be if we don't know who her Dad is, lol.
philinterrupted - 6/22/2024, 5:38 PM
@MrDandy - I get that. But, all of that mystical stuff happening around Ruby kind of falls flat for me when there’s no explanation other than she made her mom be important.

Plenty of kids are orphans and feel that their birth parents are importantly. But they don’t experience things like random snow.

Plus. The idea that her mom was dressed like a Sith Lord pointing to a road sign as if that’s how she’s naming the child, is so dumb especially if she’s just a regular, every day human.
WhateverItTakes - 6/22/2024, 2:14 PM
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Blergh - 6/22/2024, 2:33 PM
@WhateverItTakes - that’s what Rubys mom did and lived to regret.
marvel72 - 6/22/2024, 3:10 PM
The whole season has been filled with woke nonsense.

Just take a look at the viewing figures and compare them to previous seasons,they're f*ckin terrible but that won't be covered at all.
braunermegda - 6/22/2024, 4:27 PM
@marvel72 - why is it woke?
MrDandy - 6/22/2024, 4:05 PM
I thought the emotional payoff at the end was great and the best part of the episode. I always like seeing a classic Who baddie return as well. Overall a solid finale.
DocSpock - 6/22/2024, 6:46 PM
@MrDandy -

I have not called this season out for all the gay/DEI stuff. But I did say I didn't like this season very much as far as writing and direction.

I then got mass attacked with the racist, sexist, rainbow hater stuff anyway.

You can't win or have any meaningful dialogue with these SJW rainbow weenies.

MrDandy - 6/22/2024, 4:07 PM
They are certainly setting up Susan’s return and I’m 99% sure RTD is going to retcon her into being the real Timeless child. They should have made her the Timeless Child to begin with. Making it the Doctor was a terrible decision.
Apophis71 - 6/22/2024, 4:20 PM
@MrDandy - Unsure about her being the timeless child tbh but what ever after all the talk of her in the series it would be wrong to not reveal what happened to her at least. RTD did say however that they were going to deal with the whole timeless child stuff one way or another so it is possible.
MrDandy - 6/22/2024, 4:21 PM
@Apophis71 - personally think that making Susan the real Timeless Child is more satisfying. She is maybe not his literal grandchild but rather the tortured person that he steals away when he goes rogue and steals the Tardis at the start of the series.
MrDandy - 6/22/2024, 4:12 PM
Overall this series was a MASSIVE improvement over the last three seasons with Chibnall. Maybe not back to it’s glory days but I was entertained by most episodes and there were a few really good ones in there.
Scarilian - 6/22/2024, 6:40 PM
The writing was terrible. This series has been a disaster. The finale especially was a cluster[frick].

With low viewership in all formats, Disney likely won't be financially supporting the series past the contracted Series 15. As such I expect the show to either be massively downsized or be put on hiatus/cancellation after Series 15 ends.
Radders - 6/24/2024, 2:42 AM
A terrible end to a terrible season, it was all just contrivances and nonsense with a reveal that breaks the entire series.

Utter stupidity disguised as clever writing

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