Disney’s Doctor Who – Episode 8 “Empire of Death” Recap & Review

Empire of Death

Episode 8 of Doctor Who begins with the Doctor encouraging everyone to get out the building. Just as they do, Sutekh blows dust out across the entire building. Mel and the Doctor leave on a scooter (Mel driving of course), while he radios through to Kate and tells her to try and contain the dog surrounding the TARDIS.

H.Arbinger, (also known as I.M. Abadguy) blows out the death dust, while Kate gives a final speech about birds singing again before everyone in Unit turns to dust.

The Doctor is at a loss, so obviously Mel speaks up and decides they need to fight back. Before that though, they need to escape this cloud of dust that’s consuming everything. Mrs Flood talks about her “plans” before she fades away too, as does Ruby’s mum who’s off in a taxi somewhere.

The Doctor and Mel make it back to Unit, despite the place being full of dust (how did they make it there without getting caught?) and they make it to the Tardis. After catching up with Ruby, the Doctor decides Ruby needs to think of her memories to matertialize the TARDIS, which is apparently “remembering itself”.

Sutekh shows up, along with a bit of member’berries by showing some of Tom Baker’s excellent episode on a TV monitor. It’s here we learn that Sutekh has been riding on the spine of the TARDIS all this time, evolving into his true godhood. He knows everything about the TARDIS now and can bend it to his will. Standing as his “empire of death”.

The Doctor promises that he will reverse this and prevent all life from being defeated, while Sutekh riffs that he’s been using Susan Twist as his conduit to blow dust across the universe. Although I guess we’re just going to forget the Flux, which apparently wiped out most of the universe and that’s never been reversed?

Anyway, the Doc, Ruby and Mel work together to use this “memory TARDIS” to fly off Earth. They talk about how Sutekh has been building in strength and how the Earth is dying so many times over thanks to Sutekh’s dust. The Doctor realizes the whole of time and space is dying, (again, no mention of the Flux) and he blames himself for everything being destroyed, given he travelled to all these places in the first place. And if you’ve been keeping score here, guess what the Doctor does next? Of course he cries!

Meanwhile, Sutekh ponders over the secret “the child carries” and he decides to set out and find what Ruby’s hiding. Apparently this is greater than the Time Lords. As for the Doctor, we cut back to him as he stops by a tent with a woman who has lost her memories. Her child is called Brindle Dee, and she can’t remember her husband. She remembers an opera house though, but that’s about it. The Doctor asks for metal, and after some back and forth, she hands over a metal spoon. This, apparently, will help save the world.

The Doctor cries again when he realizes Brindle Dee died a long time ago, and after telling the Doctor he has a nice face, she fades into dust. He returns to the TARDIS, and thanks to Russell T. Davies’ fantastic writing, he bashes Tom Baker’s Pyramid of Mars, claiming the Egyptian stuff was “cultural appropriation”.

Anyway, as Ruby starts to think back on her past, and the pair use this metal spoon. the Doctor believes that Ruby’s mother is the one thing he can’t comprehend. Sutekh doesn’t know who Ruby’s mother is, and this appears to be the reason why they’re both still alive. As for Mel, she ends up being contacted telepathically by Sutekh, who decides that she can find family through time and space.

As they talk, we see glimmers from 73 Yards, with the alternate timeline. Now, it would appear that the compulsory DNA testing in the 2046 timeline is a clue here and they need to head forward through time. Their idea is that Ruby’s mother will be registered by that point and they can trace their ancestry back that way. Apparently it’s preserved in death as the Doctor once landed there. So it’s a fixed point and apparently not dead.

Through all of this, Melanie has been infected by Sutekh, who tasks her with finding out who Ruby’s mother is. They show up at the Ministry of Health and bust into the office, determined to find the DNA. Whilst there, Mel acts really shiftily, struggling to keep herself sane. Sutekh’s voice echoes in her mind.

The Doctor focuses on Ruby. After pricking her finger and drawing blood, they use the console to search through 76 million people. He does then turn and see Sutekh has taken over Mel’s body, who holds the Doctor at the point of death. Just like that, they’re brought over to Sutekh.

Sutekh wants the name of Ruby’s mother, but as she presents the monitor… she smashes it on the ground. The Doctor and Ruby work quickly, having figured out Mel was infected by Sutekh back at the Ministry of Health, and use a red rope, the gravity glove and a whistle to control the TARDIS and send Sutekh back into the Vortex.

As Sutekh flies through the vortex, it reverses everything. Everyone returns from their dust deaths including Ruby’s mum. With the world saved and Sutekh gone, having given “death to death”, they bring life to the whole universe again. Which I’m guessing here also reversed the Flux?

The Doctor decides he must become a monster after fighting one. Will he cry again? We’ll have to wait and see. Instead, he monologues Sutekh and cuts the rope, destroying the beast and sending it into the vortex.

With Sutekh gone, everyone is back, including Susan Twist. She’s back and part of Unit. Ruby’s mum complains about having to walk home, after initially being in the taxi, while the DNA retrieval for Ruby is at 100%.

So who is Ruby’s mother? Well apparently she’s an ordinary woman. Her name is Louise Alison Miller and she works as a nurse. Her stepfather was trouble and hid the pregnancy. Her mother is 35 now, but 15 when she gave birth to Ruby. Her father was also 15.

Louise is a nurse and she’s very ordinary. Apprently she was the most ordinary person; just a scared woman making her baby safe by leaving her behind. Because everybody else thought she’d be super important, it immediately made her more important.

As for the pointing, she was actually pointing to a lamppost behind the TARDIS, with the words “Ruby Rose” written on. She was naming Ruby. Anyway, they head off to visit Louise from afar, and the Doctor points out she’s had 7000 days to come meet her but never bothered in all that time. Ruby doesn’t mind though, and zhe heads into the coffee shop where her mum is playing on her phone and stares at her.

Ruby suddenly points out that she’s Ruby Road, her long-lost daughter and the pair have a reunion. She’s then brought in to Ruby’s house to meet her foster mother. They’re also on the verge of meeting with her father, William. As a result, Ruby and the Doctor both realize that the former’s life is back in the real world and not with the Doctor anymore. When Ruby leaves, the Doctor (yep, you guessed it!) cries.

Up on the roof, Mrs Flood breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience, deciding that his story will end in terror.

The Episode Review

So the finale of Doctor Who bows out a very disappointing season with a fitting anticlimactic, poor reveal that’s likely to leave a bad taste in many people’s mouths. If that wasn’t enough, the show also struggles to do anything with its big bad, or produce a story that’s, y’know, coherent.

Sutekh is defeated with a red rope and a whistle, with the Doctor deciding to trick the God of Death by putting a rope over it and using the TARDIS to smash through the Vortex, all the while seemingly reversing everything (including the Flux) to bring the universe back to its former glory.

The episode itself borrows heavily from Classic Who too, with lots of Member’Berries in the form of actual footage from Tom Baker’s era. And then we get that comment about cultural appropriation, which feels like a big dig at Classic Who which, again, isn’t needed.

The whole show has been a completely catastrophe, with a couple of stand-out moments in an otherwise dour and pointless show. If this has proven anything, it’s that sometimes you don’t want your favourite creators coming back to beloved IPs.

Doctor Who’s ratings have been drastically dropping all season long, and now that the final numbers have come in, and the finale seems designed just to troll people after such a big build-up, it may well be the final straw for many. All in all, Empire in Death is a mess and a massive disappointment.

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