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From the moment “The Church on Ruby Road” premiered on Christmas last year, it was clear we were in a new era of Doctor Who. There was a new Doctor, a new companion, and a new central mystery: Who is Ruby Sunday, and where did she come from? But aside from that, the series also managed to sneak in a classic Doctor Who plot device: a strange woman who says something cryptic at the end of the episode.

Now, with the season finale here, that strange woman is back, but in a completely new light. Mrs. Flood’s (Anita Dobson) role in “Empire of Death” is interesting to be sure, but still, the same mystery persists, but this time, we have some more clues, including an ending that teases big twists to come. Spoilers ahead.

At the end of 2023’s “The Church on Ruby Road,” Ruby’s neighbor, Mrs. Flood, closed out the episode by looking directly at the audience and saying “Never seen a TARDIS before?” After that, fan speculation ran rampant, suggesting she was another Time Lord (the Master, the Rani?) a former companion, or even the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan.

But with the fandom occupied with another strange woman mystery — the reappearance of Susan Twist in every single episode — everyone’s Mrs. Flood theories were put on the back burner. But, in Episode 7, “The Legend of Ruby Sunday.” Mrs. Flood was asked to watch over her Ruby’s adopted grandmother, Cherry Sunday and things got weird again. When Cherry asks for a cup of tea, Mrs. Flood responds “Would you, sweetheart? Well, we’d all like a lot of things… that aren’t going to happen.” She goes on to warn that, “He waits no more,” a reference to the coming threat of Sutekh.

At first, it seemed like Mrs. Flood was just one of the harbingers that Sutekh sent, but in Episode 8, we learn that, though she seems very aware of what Sutekh is doing, she isn’t part of his squad. Before the deadly dust sweeps over their area and makes them disintegrate, Mrs. Flood recommends that Cherry prays before wistfully saying that she “had such plans.” Plans for what? Plans beyond Sutekh? Plans within plans?

By the end of “Empire of Death,” the Doctor brought everyone back to life including Mrs. Flood. So now, it seems, we will in fact, see those mysterious plans. In fact, the last scene suggests we’ll see Mrs. Flood sooner than rather than later. After the Doctor leaves and Ruby is reminiscing with her entire family, we hear a familiar voice.

“And that’s how the story of the Church on Ruby Road comes to an end,” Mrs. Flood says. “With a very happy ending for little Ruby Sunday.”

We see her on the roof, wearing a white fur coat with a hood, and carrying a suitcase and an umbrella. She continues: “But life goes on, doesn’t it? Ruthlessly. And what happens, you might wonder, to that mysterious traveler in time and space known as the Doctor? I’m sorry to say his story ends in absolute terror. Night night.”

So what does this mean for the future of Doctor Who? Considering Mrs. Flood’s winter wear, this may all be set-up for the Doctor’s next adventure: the 2024 Christmas special entitled “Joy to the World.” Tellingly, Mrs. Flood appears to be moving, which could suggest she’s going to try and be closer to the Doctor in the future.

Whether or not Doctor Who will pay off this mystery remains to be seen. The show has a history of not clarifying certain mysterious characters in the best, with Claire Bloom in “The End of Time” being a chief example. But, with Mrs. Flood talking directly to us, and teasing future knowledge of the Doctor, it seems that we’ll have some answers to her dark powers sometime in Season 2.

Doctor Who is now streaming on Disney+.

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