Doctor Who: Rogue Review - 7 Ups & 3 Downs

Rogue unashamedly revisits Doctor Who's 2005 - 2010 period, but this time the Doctor really dances.

Doctor Who Rogue Jonathan Groff
BBC Studios

After two experimental episodes that have sidelined Ncuti Gatwa due to scheduling conflicts, he's back, for a deceptively back-to-basics Doctor Who adventure in Regency England.

Rogue is a real showcase for Gatwa's Doctor, reminding us what we've been missing the past two weeks. Never one to be outshone, Millie Gibson also gives a terrific performance, responding to the freshness of writers Kate Herron and Briony Redman's script.

And then there's the strongest guest cast we've had so far in the 2024 season. Jonathan Groff and Indira Varma are the stars of the show, but supporting actors Paul Forman and Camilla Aiko are fantastic as Lord Forman and Emily Beckett.

While many will call Rogue a filler episode before the big feast of the season finale, that does it a disservice. Rogue is a groundbreaking episode of Doctor Who that takes the LGBTQ+ subtext of the Jodie Whittaker era, and makes it the entire text. As the Doctor and Rogue size each other up, Herron and Redman's script goes where Chris Chibnall was afraid to go... makes the Shalka Doctor canon.

10. UP - The Doctor and Rogue

Doctor Who Rogue Jonathan Groff
BBC Studios

Let's get this out of the way first, Ncuti Gatwa and Jonathan Groff are electric together in Rogue. While Rogue's American accent and dodgy background led us all to think he's the new Captain Jack, the rug is pulled to reveal that he's actually the new River Song.

After flirting with Queer desire during the Chris Chibnall era, Doctor Who is unashamedly exploring it in RTD2. The electricity between Gatwa and Groff crackles, from the flirty Kylie Minogue sequence to the quieter moment where they bond over their tragic pasts.

However, Groff and Gatwa's standout scene isn't their overwrought tearful goodbye - we'll get to that later - it's that sublime dance sequence, beautifully directed by Ben Chessell. The moment when the lights come down is very romantic, and unlike anything we've seen in Doctor Who before.

The Doctor and Rogue using the "scandal" of two men romantically dancing to lure the villain to their fate is an inspired moment that plays on the sexual repression of the time, and the plot mechanics of countless period dramas.

As Indira Varma's Duchess observes, "This is new" and here's hoping we see much more of this side to Ncuti's Doctor as the era continues.

In this post: 
Doctor Who
Posted On: 

Citizen of the Universe, Film Programmer, Writer, Podcaster, Doctor Who fan and a gentleman to boot. As passionate about Chinese social-realist epics as I am about dumb popcorn movies.