Doctor Who: The 4 Most Popular Theories About Jo Martin's 'Fugitive Doctor'
Fans Imaginations are running wild.
After a few less than stellar episodes through the first half of Series 12, Doctor Who is finally back on-form in 'Fugitive Of The Judoon', bringing the return of Jack Harkness, and an epic plot twist that could change what we know about the early history of our favourite Time Lord.
Ruth, the fugitive of the episode's title, is apparently a past incarnation of The Doctor, except strangely, The Thirteenth Doctor doesn't recognise her at all. Naturally, fans have quite a few theories about this new 'Fugitive Doctor' and where she might fit within The Doctor's regeneration cycles.
Here are a few of the most popular.
1. The Fugitive Doctor is pre-First Doctor
Most of the earliest theories proposed the idea that The Fugitive Doctor came before William Hartnell's First Doctor. This, coupled with the fact that the Thirteenth Doctor does not remember being the Fugitive Doctor, have lead some fans to believe that these events tie-in to The Master's comments from earlier in the series.
"Everything you think you know.. Is a lie!"
Perhaps the things The Doctor doesn't know could include some of her own previous lives.
The major point counting against this theory comes in the form of the Fugitive Doctor's TARDIS. In existing canon, The TARDIS does not become it's iconic Police Box shape until after it was stolen by The First Doctor. Also, the Police Box form was not something The Doctor chose, but the result of a malfunctioning chameleon circuit.
This makes it more likely that The Fugitive Doctor existed sometime after The First.
2. She is from a parallel universe
Some Whovians have suggested that The Fugitive Doctor may be from an an alternate or parallel universe. The show has dealt with Parallel universes before through the episodes set in 'Pete's World', a Universe where Rose Tyler's Father, Pete, never died, instead becoming a successful businessman. Pete's World did not have a Doctor until The Tenth Doctor left his Meta-crisis there with Rose, but other universes with alternate Doctors could, theoretically be possible, and the idea of parallel worlds was referenced again, very briefly, in the 'Spyfall' two-parter.
This theory seems to have come mostly from fans that would rather not have the current timeline or regeneration cycle altered, and show-runner Chris Chibnall has already debunked it.
"The important thing to say is – she is definitively the Doctor. There’s not a sort of parallel universe going on, there’s no tricks."
Even if he hadn't, there is little to no evidence pointing in this direction.
3. The Fugitive Doctor is from a Divergent Timeline.
Another theory is that The Fugitive Doctor exists in a divergent Timeline. As The Tenth Doctor explains in 'Blink', time, in the Doctor Who universe, does not move in a straight line. While there are some fixed points, things that must happen and always will happen, everything else is in a state of flux, meaning that some events can be changed. The idea of diverging timelines has been discussed already in series 12, in the final scene of 'Orphan 55'.
The Doctor explains to her distressed companions that the events of the episode are a part of one possible timeline, and therefore one of multiple potential futures for Earth. Other possible futures have been seen throughout both classic and NuWho.
If the possibility of diverging Timelines is true for the rest of the Universe, then why not for The Doctor? Previously, the fact that The Doctor is a Time Lord and beholden to certain Time Lord rules might have prevented this. However, once again, The Master's comments in 'Spyfall' open things up quite a bit. Everything we think we know about Gallifrey, the Time Lords, and maybe even The Doctor herself is now up for debate. The rules as The Doctor knows them may not even be rules at all.
There could be a diverging timeline where The Doctor's sequence of regenerations unfolds differently. If this were the case, it would still fit with Chibnall's comments on the subject. Jo Martin's Doctor would still be 'definitively The Doctor', she would just be a Doctor shaped by different experiences than the Doctor we already know.
4. The Season 6b Theory
Finally, some fans believe that The Fugitive Doctor fits into the 'Season 6b theory'. The original theory proposes that there is a window of time after The Time Lords catch up with The Second Doctor, but before he is forcibly regenerated into the Third, where The Time Lords have kept the Second Doctor around to carry out missions for them. It is during this period that the classic story 'The Two Doctors' takes place.
Some Whovians now believe that The Fugitive Doctor fits into the 6b theory, as a secret incarnation between the Second and Third Doctors. The actual moment of regeneration from The Second Doctor to The Third was never seen onscreen. Instead, the Third Doctor simply stumbles out of the TARDIS at the beginning of his first story, 'Spearhead From Space'.
The only other occasion in which a regeneration was never seen onscreen was the transition between the Eighth Doctor and The Ninth. This situation was eventually used as an opportunity to slip John Hurt's War Doctor between them. It is possible that the writers have now taken advantage of this situation a second time to insert the Fugitive Doctor between Two and Three.
This would explain why The Fugitive Doctor fled her 'job' with Gat, and why she described it as 'not something she'd applied for, or could ever leave'. The job was a punishment. It's also entirely possible that the Time Lords altered The Doctor's memories when they caught up with her again, which would explain why The Thirteenth Doctor does not remember The Fugitive.
There are plenty of other theories cropping up, but these four are the most common, and probably the most likely to be true. Hopefully we'll know more before Series 12 comes to an end.