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The Bridgerton episode of Doctor Who has arrived, and it's the most fun (and loving) episode of the show this year

The Doctor adores Bridgerton, just like you (and some homicidal shape-changing aliens)

Doctor Who 'Rogue'
Image credit: BBC/Disney+

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And, as the season starts to draw to a close, we finally get something that fully feels like the Doctor Who of old — in one of the few Disney+ episodes not written by returning showrunner Russell T. Davies, notably. Does the fact that it’s newcomers to the series writing this one allow it to feel old school without feeling like a retread? Who knows, but it’s a surprisingly welcome episode — and, bluntly, a delight in seeing the Doctor act like the Doctor again, too.

Not to mention… a Doctor in love. (Or, at least, intense like.) Let’s just get into it, shall we?

Spoilers for the Doctor Who episode ’Rogue’ follow. It would be most improper to continue reading if you didn’t desire to find out the secrets of this particular party.

Why must I be a Time Lord in love?

Doctor Who 'Rogue'
Image credit: BBC/Disney+

Fittingly for a Bridgerton-themed episode, it’s only right that romance was at the heart of ‘Rogue’ — and, unusually for a Doctor Who story, it’s a romance that the Doctor seemed very eager about from the get-go: not for the Fifteenth Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) the long, drawn out relationship of the Tenth Doctor and Rose, or the time-traveling bickering of the Eleventh (and Twelfth!) Doctor(s) and River Song. We don’t even get the tentative, frustrating relationship of the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz. Instead, this Doctor has a whirlwind romance with alien bounty hunter Rogue that… Gatwa and guest Jonathan Groff mostly get away with, somewhat surprisingly.

It’s possible that this is another sign that this Doctor doesn’t have the existential weight and exhaustion of his predecessors (see also: the Doctor in a club in last year’s Christmas Special, or the plain silliness of ‘Space Babies’ or ‘The Devil’s Chord,’ in places; let’s note that this Doctor likes to dress up when headed to new locations), or perhaps a fun poke at the Doctor’s own narcissism, in that Rogue was, let’s be honest… very similar to the Doctor in a lot of ways. Did the Doctor find it easier to open his hearts to someone so quickly because they reminded him of himself? Maybe not the best thing, my time-traveling companion…

Nonetheless: the chemistry between the Doctor and Rogue was fun enough that we can only hope that Groff is brought back for a second date pretty soon. That’s not too much to ask, is it…?

(It’s also fun to see the Doctor make out with another man just a week after the episode that ended with a reminder that racism is just stupid; there’s a portion of the Doctor Who fandom that is not going to be excited about this new season at all by this point…)

It’s the Bridgerton episode, we get it

Doctor Who 'Rogue'
Image credit: BBC/Disney+

There’s something genuinely thrilling about quite how shameless ‘Rogue’ is about leaning into the Bridgerton of it all, repeatedly namedropping the show even as it purposefully ticks off all the genre tropes in a very self-conscious manner. Of course, by the episode’s end, we find out that all of that was very intentional as all of the main players of the story were more aware of the fictional version of the period than the reality, and all were, in their own ways, fans living out their fantasies in real time.

It’s always a danger for shows like Doctor Who — which have intense and long-lived fandoms of their own — to tackle the idea of fandom as the engine for a story; it can often lead to either awkward judgment or, worse, an insincere embrace of the very concept of being a fan just to ensure that their own faithful viewers don’t get upset and turn off. ‘Rogue’ rebranding its alien bodysnatchers as intergalactic cosplayers — and then all but saying that Ruby and the Doctor are doing the same thing, in their own way — proved to be a fun take on the idea that was slightly (but only very slightly) more nuanced than might have been expected. That, in the process, it’s provided some genuinely wonderful new visuals for real life cosplayers to tackle at future conventions just feels entirely appropriate.

(Talking of fandom… the origin of Rogue’s name was just… kind of great, right…? Between that and the Kylie playlist, no wonder I want to see him again soon.)

Meanwhile, in the rest of history…

This episode was so light on the season-long storyline that we didn’t even get a full appearance from Susan Twist as a mysterious old woman this time around. (She did show up as a figure in a painting in the background, however; there’s always a twist in the… end of the shot…?) Honestly, as a viewer, I found myself really enjoying a breather from what has been building in the rest of the season, and it was timed perfectly, with the two-episode finale beginning next week. But for now, the only true twist (sorry) from tradition we received was that it wasn’t the “Doctor-light” episode that felt like a break, but the episode that’s featured the most from the Doctor that we’ve seen in the last three weeks. And this one wasn’t even arguing that humanity is the worst monster around, either…!

Doctor Who continues next week with ‘The Legend of Ruby Sunday,’ described by Disney+ with the following text: “The Doctor and UNIT investigate Ruby's past. But as the Time Window reveals horrifying secrets from Christmas Eve, the mysterious Triad Technology unleash the greatest evil of all.” I can’t be the only person wondering if “Triad Technology” has any connection to the triform transport from this episode, can I…? If nothing else, here’s looking forward to finding out what Susan Twist has been up to all season.

If you want to start watching Doctor Who and don't know where to start, check out our handy Doctor Who watch guide. Or maybe you're already finished with the show - We've got the perfect Ten shows to watch when you're done watching Doctor Who guide for you too. If you're already heads over heels for the Fifteenth Doctor and want to learn more about the actor playing him, check out what he's been in before here. Or maybe you just need to figure out how the new series numbering is going to work (Are there really gonna be two series 1s? Yes.) - if so, this is the explainer you want.

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