Doctor Who’s Sutekh Twist Makes You Fall For An Old Trick Rtd Used In 2005


Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies used the same trick he did in 2005 to misdirect the audience before season 14’s major twist. Davies is known for writing season-long mysteries; often, seemingly irrelevant information turns out to be a major clue. Many of his best Doctor Who stories involve misdirection, wordplay, or seemingly throwaway lines that are actually the key to unraveling the truth. Thus, it is difficult to guess what’s important and what’s meaningless in any given episode of the series, sparking speculation between each installment until the final reveal.

Davies first introduced his style of Doctor Who mystery in 2005, when the words “Bad Wolf” kept appearing everywhere until they were finally revealed to have been written by Rose Tyler after she looked into the Time Vortex at the core of the TARDIS. In 2005, he also used one specific trick to great effect; a similar clue appeared during Doctor Who season 14, this time misdirecting the audience to make it harder to guess the shocking reveal at the end of an episode. Though, this time, he had Doctor Who’s UNIT explain that the phony clue was obvious earlier in the same story.

Doctor Who’s “S Triad” Anagram Is Deliberate Misdirection After RTD’s 2005 Trick

The Letters Spelling TARDIS Was a Red Herring

Doctor Who audiences were primed for an anagram clue when the series first premiered. In 2005, tapes of filmed material were marked with the “Doctor Who” anagram “Torchwood” to prevent any leaks before the footage was broadcast. Russell T. Davies then used this same anagram to create the Torchwood Institute on Doctor Who and the 2006 Torchwood spinoff. After the connection between Torchwood and Doctor Who was revealed, it made it clear that searching for anagrams could help solve mysteries Davies might write.

After Suketh was revealed as the latest villain, it became clear that Doctor Who season 14 was a sequel to 1975’s “Pyramid of Mars.” However, Davies tricked the audience by presenting the character of “S Triad” (Susan Twist). This name was an obvious anagram of TARDIS, and with the character’s given name being Susan, both the audience and the Doctor fell into the trap of assuming her real identity was Susan Foreman, the Doctor’s granddaughter. This effective misdirection, based on Davies’ previous anagram trick, made the reveal that S Triad was really Sutekh more shocking.

Davies further misdirected the audience by having the Doctor and Ruby discuss whether Susan could be alive during “Devil’s Chord,” which set the expectation that Susan would appear by the end of the season.

UNIT HQ’s Reaction To The Anagram Pulls The Rug On Doctor Who’s Audience

The Characters Had Already Figured That Out But Didn’t Know What It Meant

UNIT said the anagram was obvious when the Doctor pointed it out. That offhand comment could have been interpreted as a dig at the Doctor’s assumption that he was the only one who could solve this extremely easy puzzle. However, this line of dialogue may also have been another example of Doctor Who breaking the fourth wall, this time to tell the audience that this anagram was far too easy to be the solution to the mystery. Thus, UNIT’s comment primed the audience for the surprise twist at the end of the episode.

The S Triad anagram was an example of how to lead the audience down the wrong path to make the ultimate reveal of the truth more satisfying.

Doctor Who season 14 made the most out of its short season, setting up the mystery of who Susan Twist’s character was alongside the question of who gave birth to Ruby and why they abandoned her and sprinkling clues throughout each episode. Russell T Davies proved he was a master not only of writing an intriguing mystery but setting up elaborate red herrings. The S Triad anagram was an example of how to lead the audience down the wrong path to make the ultimate reveal of the truth more satisfying.