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Doctor Who season 14’s episodes, ranked

Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson stand in the TARDIS in Doctor Who.
BBC Studios

And just like that, the latest season of Doctor Who has come to an end. The long-running BBC sci-fi series kicked off its current, Russell T Davies-run era late last year with a trio of David Tennant-led 60th anniversary specials that were, in turn, followed by the show’s 2023 Christmas special, The Church on Ruby Road. That episode formally introduced viewers to Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor and his first companion, Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson), and it set up a series of cosmic, time-hopping adventures to come.

The season that has since aired didn’t prove to be the full-blown home run that some may have wanted. It did, however, successfully breathe life back into Doctor Who and brought with it more than a few memorable new entries in the series’ ever-growing list of great installments. With that in mind, now that Gatwa’s first Doctor Who season is over, here are all nine of its episodes — ranked from worst to best.

9. Space Babies

The Doctor and Ruby stand in a hallway together in Doctor Who.
BBC Studios

Space Babies is an admirably weird, zany sci-fi adventure that doesn’t ultimately go anywhere particularly interesting or surprising. Its plot, which follows the Doctor and Ruby as they find themselves trapped on a baby factory that is being stalked by a slimy monster, is fairly tame and by-the-numbers by Doctor Who standards. It gives the episode plenty of opportunities for both tension and humor.

Like a lot of the Russell T Davies-penned episodes of Doctor Who that don’t totally come together, though, it’s a tonally odd piece that never really finds its footing or a rhythm that works. As its season’s first non-holiday special installment, it’s a bit of a letdown. Fortunately, the season only really got better from this point on.

8. The Church on Ruby Road

Ruby and the Doctor smile while tied to a post together in Doctor Who.
BBC Studios

Like 2005’s The Christmas Invasion, The Church on Ruby Road tries to deliver all the moments of wintery cheer that every Doctor Who Christmas special should while also introducing the show’s latest iteration of the Doctor. To The Church on Ruby Road‘s credit, there’s an excited energy coursing through the entire episode that is extremely endearing, and both Gatwa and Gibson emerge as equally luminous, likable figures early in its runtime.

However, the scenes featuring its singing, time-traveling goblin villains, who feast on both the temporal power of coincidences and the flesh of human babies, are too absurd and ridiculous even for Doctor Who. The episode, consequently, gets Gatwa and Gibson’s Doctor Who era off to an uneven start — one that leaves you hopeful but anxious to see what they do next.

7. The Devil’s Chord

The Doctor and Ruby walk through a rooftop doorway together in Doctor Who.
BBC Studios

Rounding out the season’s lackluster opening trio of episodes is The Devil’s Chord. Featuring a scene-stealing supporting turn from Jinkx Monsoon as the villainous Maestro, the 1960s-set installment is better and more well-realized than both The Church on Ruby Road and Space Babies.

It overstays its welcome, though, and pushes itself to such an ill-fitting blockbuster scale that its final acts ends up becoming more mildly irritating than thrillingly entertaining. It’s an episode that is brimming with genuinely astonishing stylistic touches and moments of formal experimentation, but it doesn’t know when to slow down or stop, and that greatly limits its overall impact.

6. Dot and Bubble

Lindy stands in an elevator doorway in Doctor Who.
BBC Studios

A Black Mirror-esque exploration of the dangers of social media bubbles, this Doctor Who episode starts off strong and only gets better in its final 10 minutes. Set in the futuristic, domed city of Finetime, the episode follows Lindy Pepper-Bean (Callie Cooke), a resident of Finetime, as both the Doctor and Ruby try to save her from an invasion of human-eating, bug-like aliens by chatting with her through her VR social media network.

Penned, once again, by Russell T Davies, Dot and Bubble is the slowest episode of Doctor Who‘s latest season, but its slow-burn nature pays off in spades when Davies makes the bold choice to reveal that the person the Doctor has exerted so much effort to save is, in her own way, just as monstrous as the creatures he’s tried to protect her from. The twist in question brings Dot and Bubble to a conclusion that is as dark as it is scathing, and which gives the episode’s larger themes the edge they demand.

5. Rogue

The Doctor and Rogue smile at each other in Doctor Who.
BBC Studios

Written by Loki season 1 director Kate Herron and Briony Redman, Rogue is silly, romantic, light on its feet, and so, so much fun. Set in the early 1800s, the episode follows the Doctor and Ruby as their trip into the past is disrupted by the presence of murderous, shapeshifting aliens who, like them, are desperate to live out their own, Bridgerton-inspired fantasies.

Anchored by Gatwa’s playful chemistry with guest star Jonathan Groff, who nearly steals the episode as a time-traveling bounty hunter, Rogue is the platonic ideal of a standard, mid-season Doctor Who episode. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it isn’t so cheeky as to be distracting, either, and its final minutes are just twisty enough to send the episode out on a high.

4. Empire of Death

Ruby and the Doctor stand in an office together in Doctor Who.
BBC Studios

Empire of Death, the second half of Doctor Who season 14’s two-part finale, is a deeply atmospheric, surprisingly moving hour of television. It follows the Doctor, Ruby, and Mel Bush (Bonnie Langford) as they hide away in a “memory TARDIS” and try to find a way to reverse the effects of Sutekh’s dust of death. Set in a universe that has gone quiet from widespread loss and bone-deep despair, Empire of Death not only forces Ncuti’s Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor to outsmart one of his most powerful enemies for the second time but it also pushes him to make the darkest decision of his Doctor Who tenure to date.

The episode is, for the most part, completely thrilling and engaging. Its placement this low on this list is, therefore, due to the strength of the remaining entries, its own inability to replicate the same sense of terror and operatic drama as its immediate predecessor, and the slightly anticlimactic nature of its final reveals regarding Ruby’s mysterious mother.

3. The Legend of Ruby Sunday

Ruby, the Doctor, and Mel stand together in Doctor Who.
BBC Studios

The Legend of Ruby Sunday is a masterclass in steadily building tension and dread. After repeatedly teasing the arrival of a powerful god known only as “He Who Waits” across its first seven chapters, Doctor Who season 14 finally reveals its Big Bad’s identity in an episode that is perfectly paced, edited, and, in its closing minutes, absolutely chilling. The episode’s high point is undoubtedly its climactic sequence, which brings a relatively obscure Who villain named Sutekh back into the fold with an entrance that is about as dramatic and terrifying as any of the show’s antagonists have ever received.

As expertly conceived and constructed as the episode’s climax is, though, its preceding minutes are full of noteworthy moments, including a digital reconstruction of Ruby’s origin story that is both eerie and heartbreaking. The Legend of Ruby Sunday also gets bonus points for giving Jemma Redgrave what might be her best swing at bat yet as the occasionally frustrating but increasingly likable Kate Lethbridge-Stewart.

2. Boom

The Doctor stands on a landmine in Doctor Who.
BBC Studios

A nervy slice of pure, unbridled tension courtesy of former showrunner Steven Moffat, Boom is about as outright assaultive as an episode of Doctor Who will ever get. As concise, economical, and spare as its title suggests, the episode follows the Doctor as he tries to figure out how to step off a futuristic landmine without killing himself and everyone else present on the war-torn planet he and Ruby have found themselves on.

Like a lot of great Doctor Who episodes before it, Boom serves as a showcase for both its writer and star. It gives Ncuti Gatwa more to do emotionally than practically any of the season’s other installments, and the actor doesn’t let the opportunities presented by Boom pass him by. He chews his way through every one of the episode’s tense beats — all while standing almost the entire time on one leg, no less — and helps push Boom to the explosive, gripping heights that so many longtime Who fans went into it hoping it would reach.

1. 73 Yards

Ruby knocks on the TARDIS' doors in Doctor Who.
BBC Studios

A Doctor-lite episode, 73 Yards follows Ruby after the accidental breaking of a Welsh fairy circle seemingly erases the Doctor from existence, locks her out of the TARDIS, and results in her being relentlessly stalked from a distance by an older woman whose mere presence makes anyone who gets close to her run in fear from Ruby herself. A melancholic, haunting meditation on the very human fear of being abandoned, 73 Yards bounces effortlessly between genres — transforming seamlessly from a Welsh folk horror tale to a Dead Zone-esque sci-fi political thriller to a dramatic meditation on growing up, aging out of your old fears, and reconnecting with your younger self.

The episode’s circular conclusion answers just enough questions while also creating entirely new ones. In doing so, 73 Yards leaves the door open for repeat viewings and different interpretations — guaranteeing that viewers will return to it in the years to come just to experience its many mysteries and emotions, as well as Millie Gibson’s astonishing central performance, all over again. As a result, of all the episodes that Doctor Who has produced over the past six months, 73 Yards has the best chance of being remembered in 10 years as one of the show’s very best.

All nine episodes of Doctor Who season 14 are streaming now on Disney+.

Alex Welch
Alex is a TV and movies writer based out of Los Angeles. In addition to Digital Trends, his work has been published by…
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