Ncuti Gatwa and Jonathan Groff in

Doctor Who‘s latest episode, “Rogue,” begins with a familiar sight to Bridgerton fans: Two well-dressed Regency-era gentlemen stroll down a quiet lane before a towering, glowing estate. It’s 1813 in Bath, England. But be warned, aristocratic fuckbois aren’t the only villains here. 

Season 14, episode 6 begins with an outraged Lord Galpin accosting the rakish Lord Barton, declaring, “You have dishonored my sister!” It’s a serious charge in such times, as such gossip could destroy her marriage prospects. (Pen! Looking at you!) Yet Barton responds with some jaw-dropping cheek: “Lord Galpin, remind me to which dishonouring are you referring? The one in the kitchen? In your study? In the stables?” 

Barton expects this conflict will end in a traditional duel. Little does he know, Galpin — “all noble and serious” — isn’t what he seems. He’s an alien body-snatcher known as a Chuldur. And he’d rather play this smug cad than the good gentleman. So a bit of murder and shape-shifting, then in his new form, he chirps, “Now I get to be the bad one.” 

And off we go, in a Bridgerton-inspired adventure of murder, romance, envy, and cosplay! But amid this episode’s Easter eggs, there are far more than Bridgerton references. Let’s dig into the hidden gems and burning questions of “Rogue.” 

“Oh my Bridgerton!” 

Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson dance in "Rogue."
Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson dance in “Rogue.”
Credit: Disney+

That’s the exclamation Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) makes as she and the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) twirl around the ballroom, dressed to the nines and hitting all the one-two-threes of this formal choreography. It turns out the TARDIS has telepathic movement tools for its travelers. “It’s like instant Strictly,” the Doctor notes — referencing Baz Luhrmann’s feature directorial debut, Strictly Ballroom, which centers on dramatic ballroom dancers. 

Elated to be waltzing in the real-world inspiration for the beloved period romance series Bridgerton, Ruby is giddy to chat it up with ladies and lords — including the body-snatched Barton (Paul Forman) and bookish wallflower Emily Beckett (Camilla Aiko). Meanwhile, the Doctor has his own Bridgerton-like romance, meeting the dashing Rogue (Hamilton‘s Jonathan Groff), a strong-jawed, time-traveling bounty hunter on the search for the deadly shape-shifter seen in the beginning.

Between Rogue and the Doctor there be white-hot chemistry, swoon-worthy banter, a proposal, a kiss, and a wedding — though that last bit is more Doctor Who, as it’s a trap and tragic. Then, of course, we discover these alien imitators are actually even more fanatical about Bridgerton than Ruby! Murderously so! 

But you know what else is strictly Bridgerton? That orchestral score! 

Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” and Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” get the Bridgerton treatment. 

The hit Netflix series has driven fans wild with a soundtrack that reimagines modern pop hits — like “abcdefu” by GAYLE and “Happier Than Ever” by Billie Eilish — as soaring orchestral scores that play at balls and beyond. With “Rogue,” Doctor Who plays this musical gambit with two well-chosen tracks. 

First, when the Doctor first meets Rogue in the balcony above the ballroom, Eilish’s “Bad Guy” plays as an orchestral tune, reflecting how both men believe they’ve found this adventure’s villain. 

Later, when there’s a flashback to Ruby outwitting the Chuldur in the library, “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga plays over the companion going “Battle Mode.” Here, the song reflects how Ruby put on a ruse to pretend to have been body-snatched to avoid detection by the other Chuldurs. 

Wait. Who are the Chuldurs?

The Chuldurs hunt in "Rogue."
The Chuldurs hunt in “Rogue.”
Credit: Disney+

This species is new to the Doctor, so “Rogue” defines all we know about them. They are shape-shifters who wear the “look” of their victims like outfits. The Doctor compares them to cosplayers, who like to live in the skin of interesting characters. Except unlike human cosplayers (many of whom love cosplaying the Doctor and his friends and foes), the Chuldurs kill their inspiration, leaving them a desiccated husk. 

These bird-like creatures are prolific killers who live up to 600 years. They recognize each other by scent, sometimes travel in packs, and they love the show Bridgerton. 

Who is Rogue? What happens to Rogue?

Jonathan Groff is Rogue.
Jonathan Groff is Rogue.
Credit: Disney+

At first glance, he seems Doctor Who‘s answer to Star Wars’ Han Solo: A universe-bounding bounty hunter with an American accent, a cool spaceship, and a habit of saying “I know” at heroic/emotionally tense moments. (Notably, the Star Wars movies and TV shows are also available on Disney+). But long-time Whovians might also be reminded of one of the Doctor’s most alluring companions: Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). American swagger, unabashed queerness, and a penchant for violence defined this World War II soldier turned time-traveling antihero. And his ability to pop in and out of the Doctor’s adventures could be a good sign for Rogue. 

Long time Whovians knew Rogue wouldn’t make it through the episode as soon as the Doctor suggested, “Let’s argue across the stars.” For all his virtues, he’s not good at keeping companions around for long. So, when Ruby becomes snared in the modified triangle trap, which was intended to launch only the Chuldurs to a “random barren dimension” with “no way back,” it was basically a guarantee that Rogue would sacrifice himself to save Ruby. But for as impossible as the Doctor says it will be to track his latest lost love down, there’s always hope in Doctor Who. “Come find me!” Rogue had challenged him. And the Doctor has done that plenty, be it crossing paths again and again with the galavanting Harkness or his late and always dynamic wife, River Song. So, I’d wager we’ll see Rogue again. 

Dungeons and Dragons take a turn. 

Trapped in Rogue’s molecular bond snare, the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to look for a way out and sees a set of odd-shaped dice. Well, they’d be odd if you aren’t familiar with the decades-old role-playing game. “Did you get your name from Dungeons and Dragons?” The Doctor asks Rogue, referencing a class of character known for cunning. 

In response, Rogue confirms this by saying, “Roll for insight” — a reference to the dice-rolling on which Dungeons and Dragons is played! Could this be a Toymaker connection? 

What’s the deal with the empty wallet? 

Ncuti Gatwas is the Doctor.
Ncuti Gatwas is the Doctor.
Credit: Disney+

The Doctor typically relies on three tools: his wits, his sonic screwdriver, and running. But throughout the seasons, he’s also been known to pull out a very special billfold that might seem like it’s brandishing blank paper. This is “psychic paper.”

First appearing in Season 1, episode 2, “The End of the World,” it essentially works as whatever credential the Doctor and his companions need to get him behind velvet ropes or closed doors. Per the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), the psychic paper is in the eye of the beholder. Whatever authority the onlooker would respect will be the credentials they see. 

So, what does it mean that Rogue saw “You’re hot?” Is it that the psychic paper had gone buggy with all his tech about? Or perhaps that the Doctor was “flustered,” impairing its effect. Or maybe both Rogue and the Doctor have in common that they aren’t much for authority. 

The many faces of the Doctor make an appearance…But hang on.

To prove to Rogue he’s not a Chuldur, the Doctor employs some quick thinking to manipulate the bounty hunter’s tech to reveal his many past Time Lord faces. Gatwa’s is the Fifteenth incarnation of the Doctor. So before him came a long line of beloved actors. Spotted in the line-up are Fourteen/Ten (David Tennant), Thirteen (Jodie Whittaker), Twelve (Peter Capaldi), Eleven (Matt Smith), Nine (Christopher Eccleston), the War Doctor (John Hurt), and many from the series’ original run, including Tom Baker. But eagle-eyed Whovians will note a face that’s harder to identify, but may hold clues to where the show is going next.

Susan Twist spotted.

For a full rundown on this curious recurring character, you’ll want to read our Susan Twist explainer. But in this episode, there is no “Twist” in the end (credits), as the actress only appears as an oil painting in the duchess’ home.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory gets a callout. 

The Doctor scans the ballroom.
The Doctor scans the ballroom.
Credit: Disney+

After Rogue and the Doctor have joined forces, the latter invites the former back to his, singing this famous lyric as he welcomes Rogue into the TARDIS: “Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination!” The line comes from “Pure Imagination,” a song that first was sung by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, then reprised in the 2023 sequel Wonka by Timothée Chalamet. 

As we saw in “Boom,” the Fifteenth Doctor tends to sing in moments of emotion. Here, rather than a sad song of soldiers, he expresses his joy in sharing his personal wonderland with his new friend. Even the doctor’s velvet purple coat seems a nod to Wilder’s Wonka’s sense of style. 

Kylie Minogue and Indira Varma return to Doctor Who.

Indira Varma as the duchess.
Indira Varma as the duchess.
Credit: Disney+

If you’re wondering how Doctor Who can justify recognizing that Bridgerton exists while casting Bridgerton actors this very season, you should read our spatial genetic multiplicity explainer. This handy guide to the casting curiosities of the Whoniverse also laid out how Aussie pop goddess Kylie Minogue exists in the show both as a herself — of which the Doctor is a noted fan — and as Astrid Perth, a one-off companion who fans went absolutely mad for.

This sci-fi term also could explain the return Indira Varma, who previously played the duplicitous Suzie Costello in the Doctor Who spinoff series Torchwood (now streaming on Max). Here Varma plays the snotty duchess turned Chuldur leader, getting to enjoy a taste of Bridgerton drama and classic Who monster of the week mayhem. 

As for Minogue, her music bursts forth on Rogue’s spaceship, suggesting that he and the Doctor have an appreciation for her jams in common. But it’s not just any Minogue song that has the Doctor singing along. Sure, Rogue is all dedicated to shipping the Doctor off to extermination for the assumed crimes of murder and body-swapping. But “I Just Can’t Get You Outta My Head” is a bop that reflects the undeniable connection between these two time-traveling men, who — surely — will traverse time and space to meet and kiss again. Right? 

How to watch: New episodes of Doctor Who drop every Friday night at 7 p.m. ET on Disney+, where available, and simultaneously at midnight on BBC iPlayer in the UK. The season finale airs June 22.

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