Doctor Who Season 14’S Sutekh Almost Killed 1 Companion In Early Drafts, Says Showrunner RTD

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Following the surprise reveal of the classic villain, Russell T Davies reveals the Doctor Who season 14 finale nearly saw Sutekh kill a companion. Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor and Millie Gibson’s Ruby Sunday came face to face with the “One Who Waits” in the two-part finale “Legend of Ruby Sunday/Empire of Death”, where the ’70s villain finally enacted a terrifying, universe-spanning plan. Having clung to the TARDIS since his first defeat, Sutekh left behind copies of a woman named Susan Triad (Susan Twist) whenever the vessel landed, ready to bring death.

With Doctor Who season 14 completed, Davies revealed on “Empire of Death’s” BBC iPlayer commentary that Bonnie Langford’s Mel almost had a different fate. The showrunner stated Mel was turned to dust alongside the rest of the episode’s supporting cast before she was written to join the Doctor, as Davies felt her series history should mean she deserved a bigger role.

How Would Mel’s Alternate Fate Have Changed “Empire of Death?

Though Sutekh’s dust claimed the lives of several recognizable characters in Doctor Who’s season 14, including Ruby’s mother Carla (Michelle Greenidge), Cherry (Angela Wynter), the mysterious Mrs. Flood (Anita Dobson), and Kate Stewart’s entire team at UNIT, it is undoubtedly Mel’s death that would have been the biggest blow. Not only would it be a blow to those who have grown fond of the companion, but in “The Legend of Ruby Sunday”, Mel comforted the Doctor when his actions cost the life of Corporal Chidozie (Tachia Newall). As such, Mel’s demise would further his guilt.

While Mel’s potential demise would exclude her from joining the Doctor in the TARDIS and becoming one of Sutekh’s agents, earlier drafts in the episode would have accounted for this by having Sutekh reanimate civil servants to apprehend the Doctor in 2046 London. This idea was scrapped in order to accommodate for the quieter interaction between the Doctor and the Kind Woman (Sian Clifford). This change, however, ultimately would prove to be for Doctor Who season 14’s benefit, as Mel’s small arc across the finale of resisting Sutekh’s influence allowed Langford to give a stellar, emotional performance.

Though Doctor Who’s season 14 finale’s emotional core rests on the Doctor and Ruby’s relationship and her quest for her mother, the impact of Sutekh’s brief victory can be felt throughout the episode. From the death of reality itself to the Doctor’s traumatized response, the episode contains many chilling moments that tug at viewers’ heartstrings. While Mel would still face a tragic fate by becoming Sutekh’s servant, her death would have left viewers even more lost, as the episode would show not even the Doctor’s oldest friends are safe.

 

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