Spoiler Alert

The first season of the Ncuti Gatwa era of Doctor Who has felt incredibly short. There’s a reason for that; it is incredibly short. Even so, the season-long mystery has been right at the forefront of every episode. Who is the lady played by Susan Twist who keeps appearing briefly? Why is she in so many times, places, and circumstances? And why did it take the Doctor and Ruby so long to realize it? Well, the penultimate episode, “The Legend of Ruby Sunday,” finally answered at least a few of these enigmas. We now know who the villain is! And it may require a bit of explanation.


There’s Always a Twist at the End

It may have taken you a little bit to notice, but Susan Twist played a small character in each of the previous episodes. She’s the old hippie who requests a song from Ruby’s band at Christmas. She played a nurse in “Space Babies” and a dinner lady in “The Devil’s Chord.” Infamously she was the face of the ambulance in “Boom!” and the hiker in Wales in “73 Yards.” Susan Twist even played Lindy Pepper-Bean’s mom in “Dot and Bubble” and was the portrait of the duchess in “Rogue.” As the song at the end of “The Devil’s Chord” proclaimed, “there’s always a twist at the end.”

This is Russell T Davies’ most shrewd season arc, because it gave the audience double and even triple bluffs. The actress is Susan Twist, and for decades fans have speculated that we’d eventually see the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan return. Could Susan Twist be the “Susan twist?” This episode tackles it head on.


S. Triad

While the Doctor, Ruby, and UNIT discuss who the mystery lady could be, the UNIT folks know right away. It’s Susan Triad, the famous tech developer who at that moment prepares to announce her biggest public offering yet. So there it is: Susan. The Susan twist must be that Susan Twist is Susan…TWIST! In addition, her name is Susan Triad. S. Triad is an anagram of TARDIS, which the crew rightly points out. This is too much! Susan Triad must have knowledge of the TARDIS and in fact is Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter.

One interesting wrinkle the show offers is that, while the Doctor has a granddaughter, he doesn’t have a son or daughter…at least not yet. The series has never discussed the Doctor’s children, or even really alluded to them existing, but he still has a grandchild. Ergo, through time and wime, he can raise a granddaughter before he has children…or whatever.


Sue Technologies

Ah, names. As Mel (Bonnie Langford) learns while undercover working for Susan Triad, she prefers to be called “Sue.” This was our first clue Susan Triad maybe wasn’t Susan TARDIS after all. As the rest of the episode explores Ruby’s past and whatever evil entity emanates through time and space, using the TARDIS as an entry point, we maybe forget what Susan Triad could directly be involved.

Alas, she is. And, for whatever reason, Susan Triad has been a sleeper agent the whole time. In fact, the real words we ought to have paid attention to were “Sue” and “Tech,” because in actuality, she is the reborn embodiment of Sutekh, the ancient evil that begat the ancient Egyptian god Set. Set, traditionally, is the god of deserts, storms, disorder, violence, and foreigners. (Foreigners?! The hell, Ancient Egypt?)

The episode closes with the entity of Sutekh, as embodied by a giant dog-headed cloud, and the skeletal face of Susan Triad, claiming victory. Also Harriett Arbinger, a member of UNIT, was annoying the “harbinger” of doom. H. Arbinger. Dumb.

Who Is Doctor Who‘s Sutekh?


Sutekh only appeared in a single televised Doctor Who serial. That was “Pyramids of Mars,” a Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith story from 1975. In it, the Doctor and Sarah end up in 1911 where English archaeologists (some might save tomb raiders, but po-tay-to, po-tah-to) unearth the burial chamber of Sutekh, the alien Osiran, whose race came to Earth and formed the basis for the pantheon of Ancient Egyptian deities.

Sutekh waged war against his kind, and 740 Osirans under the leadership of Horus managed to defeat and imprison Sutekh on Earth. Keeping him at bay is a beam emanating from a pyramid on Mars. Damn Edwardians and their obsession with digging up shit. The excavator, Professor Marcus Scarman, falls under Sutekh’s thrall and, using Sutekh’s robot mummies as muscle, attempts to fire a missile at Mars to destroy the pyramid. Naturally, the Doctor has to stop this, but not before he and Sarah have to beat the many obstacles and traps in the pyramid.

Actor Gabriel Woolf who voiced Sutekh in “Pyramids of Mars” reprises his role in “The Legend of Ruby Sunday.”

Has Sutekh Ever Shown Up Again?

As with just about every villain in the classic era of Doctor Who, Sutekh appeared in several novels and audio dramas as part of the show’s spinoff media. The series does namedrop Sutekh a fair amount, usually in relation to powerful, Lovecraftian gods who may or may not be the basis for the devil.

So Wait, Is Nobody Susan?

So here is where I think RTD is pulling yet another Susan twist. Given we’ve seen her a couple of times, and she has a very weird—possibly unearthly—quality to her, I think it’s much more likely Mrs. Flood (Anita Dobson) is actually Susan. She knows what a TARDIS is, and she definitely behaved incredibly strangely when Cherry Sunday (Angela Winter) asked for some tea.


I’m not saying she definitely is, but if anyone we’ve seen thus far seems like they could be the Doctor’s granddaughter in disguise, it’d be Mrs. Flood.

We’ll just have to wait and see how it all shakes out when “Empire of Death,” the finale of season one, premieres June 22 on Disney+.

Kyle Anderson is the Senior Editor for Nerdist. He hosts the weekly pop culture deep-dive podcast Laser Focus. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Instagram and Letterboxd.