Doctor Who 73 Yards Plot Explained - The Meaning of Susan Twist & Episode Ending

By Sam Hargrave Posted:
Doctor Who Disney Plus

The latest episode of Disney+'s Doctor Who, "73 Yards," left fans confused by its twist ending and the appearance of actress Susan Twist.

Warning - The rest of this article contains spoilers for Doctor Who Episode 4, "73 Yards."

Doctor Who's 73 Yards Ending & Meaning Explained

Doctor Who, 73 Yards, Ending, Woman
Doctor Who

"73 Yards" was a unique outing for Doctor Who with a tale that took Ncuti Gatwa's 15th Doctor out of the picture and left the focus on Millie Gibson's Ruby Sunday.

After the Doctor stepped on and broke a fairy circle on the Welsh coast, the Time Lord hero went missing. This left Ruby stranded and alone while being followed by a mysterious female figure from exactly 73 yards away.

The mishap sparked a trend that followed Ruby for the rest of her life where anyone who spoke to the stalking woman, even her mom, became terrified of her. Some theorized this may be what caused the Doctor's disappearance as he was the first to speak to the woman and run far from Ruby.

It was from this point that the Welsh locals in a nearby pub convinced Ruby that breaking the fairy circle had released the mystical Mad Jack. They explained how the circle was "binding his soul to rest in peace," but it appears the group was merely messing with Ruby and revealed it to be a joke.

Many years later, Ruby came to use her cursed follower for good, to position him perfectly to scare the 2024 politician Roger ap Gwilliam. This was a man hellbent on becoming Prime Minister of the U.K. and sparking nuclear conflict.

By the time Ruby became an elderly woman, having lived her whole life in this Doctorless timeline, she appeared to die of old age in her hospital bed after being gradually approached closer by her follower. It was by this point Ruby herself appeared to become the stalker and gave a warning not to step on the circle.

It is unclear exactly what mysticism may have allowed Ruby to travel back to this earlier point, but some have theorized it may relate to the larger mystery surrounding her background. She has already demonstrated some strange powers in making it snow, so perhaps time travel may be among them too.

A more supernatural explanation says that in breaking the fairy circle, Ruby was effectively cursed for the rest of her life. That was until she used the curse for the good of stopping Roger ap Gwilliam, from which the spirits gave her a second chance to warn her past self and change the course of events.

The theme of small changes affecting the timeline has been explored this season in the premiere, as Ruby stepping on a butterfly turned her into a very different-looking creature until the Doctor was able to resurrect it and restore the timeline.

While it may initially appear as if the Doctor and Ruby released something supernatural by stepping on the circle, the real explanation may be grounded in sci-fi as a minor change to the timeline shifted the course of events.

Ever since the 14th Doctor invoked a superstition at the edge of the universe in "Wild Blue Yonder," the Whoniverse has been opened to the supernatural. That has been explored already with the Toymaker, Maestro, and a race of goblins featured in "The Church on Ruby Road."

Doctor Who's Susan Twist Mystery Explained

Doctor Who, 73 Yards, Susan Twist
Doctor Who

"73 Yards" featured an appearance from an anonymous hiker, played by British actress Susan Twist, who crossed paths with Ruby after the Doctor's disappearance and was ultimately the first to flee from the older Ruby.

This becomes notable as Twist has now racked up six appearances in the last seven episodes of Doctor Who, playing a different character with each. She made her debut as Isaac Newton's maid Mrs. Merridew in "Wild Blue Yonder" before returning in "The Church on Ruby Road" and every episode since.

Twist has also been confirmed to appear in Episode 5, "Dot and Bubble," as another new character called Penny Pepper-Bean. Going off her track record this season, most fans are expecting Twist to return in every remaining episode before the grand reveal surrounding her character's mystery comes in the finale.

In "73 Yards," Ruby had a vague recognition of Twist after seeing her as the face of the Villengard ambulance AI in "Boom." Now the two have interacted face-to-face, it will be intriguing to see how their future interactions are affected. 

A poster on the wall of showrunner Russell T. Davis' office (via Doctor Who Production News) revealed Twist will play Susan Triad. The mysterious woman will likely be the founder of Triad Technology, which has been seen advertised and mentioned in several of Doctor Who's latest episodes.

The initials of S. Triad are, intriguingly, an anagram for TARDIS, the name of the Doctor's time-and-space machine that allows him to wander reality. The curious naming of the mysterious tech giant has sparked theories of how she may connect to the Doctor's people, the Time Lords.

It seems tough to imagine Twist will prove to be anything other than villainous when Doctor Who reaches its season climax. Perhaps she will find herself entangled in the mystery of Ruby Sunday and her biological mother.

Doctor Who is streaming now on Disney+.

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Doctor Who's 2024 Release Date Schedule of Episodes on Disney+ (Confirmed)

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- In This Article: Doctor Who (Series 14)
Release Date
May 10, 2024
Ncuti Gatwa
- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.