Doctor Who Season 14 Episode 4: ‘73 Yards’ recap and ending explained

Jessica Cullen
Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor in Doctor Who

The newest episode of Doctor Who is a haunting and emotional solo adventure for Ruby, with a twist ending that might leave you scratching your head. Luckily, we’ve got the ‘73 Yards’ ending explained right here.

Four episodes into Doctor Who Season 14 and the new take on the long-running sci-fi is finally hitting its stride. ‘73 Yards’ is the most successful episode of the bunch so far (just read our ‘73 Yards’ review to find out why!), producing a darker, lonelier mystery for Ruby Sunday.

But a paradoxical ending and an alternate future (not to mention a missing Doctor) might have raised a few questions. If you need a breakdown of what exactly happened at the end of the Doctor Who episode, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s everything that happens in the ‘73 Yards’, and the ending explained. (Warning: major spoilers ahead!)

How does ‘73 Yards’ end?

‘73 Yards’ ends with Ruby using the stalker woman to her advantage, forcing the evil Prime Minister Roger ap Gwilliam to resign, and closing the time loop to return to the past. 

Okay, this all sounds a bit complicated. And it kind of is, since ‘73 Yards’ plays with timelines and paradoxes. Let’s start by recapping what happened in the episode: Ruby and the Doctor landed on the Welsh coast, but the Doctor disappeared in the blink of an eye. 

Ruby can’t get into the TARDIS, and she quickly discovers she’s being stalked by a mysterious figure, who forever follows her, always standing exactly 73 yards away.

Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who

The enigmatic figure has one haunting detail: whenever someone else comes up to her to try and work out what’s going on, she tells them something unknown to us and Ruby — something that causes them to run away, screaming in fear.

After the woman causes Ruby to be abandoned by everyone she meets, including a UNIT agent and her own mother Carla, she’s completely alone and without a clue. 

Ruby finds Mad Jack

Decades pass and Ruby reaches her 40s. She’s tried to move on with her life but is forever distracted by the ever-looming figure. But when she sees a politician by the name of Roger ap Gwilliam on TV, she suddenly realizes what she must do.

You see, Roger ap Gwilliam is the politician that the Doctor offhandedly mentioned to Ruby would one day become Prime Minister, and an evil one at that. On TV, Gwilliam mentions that he used to be nicknamed “Mad Jack”, which also matches the legend that the Welsh locals warned her about when she stumbled into a pub all those years ago after first losing the Doctor.

It’s now that her mission becomes clear: she has to put a stop to Gwilliam before he comes to power.

Ruby’s political takeover

Ruby spends years volunteering for Gwilliam’s campaign trail, watching and observing as he rises to power and wins the election. Along the way, she meets fellow volunteer Marti, who catches Gwilliam’s eye and later on confirms to Ruby that “he’s a monster.”

Aneurin Barnard as Roger ap Gwilliam in Doctor Who

One day, Gwilliam’s team (including Ruby) make their way to a football stadium, where he’s due to give a speech. Ruby’s informed by one of his team that Gwilliam has purchased nuclear codes from Pakistan, and he’ll soon declare the UK as independent from NATO. 

Ruby, realizing that destruction and devastation is imminent at his hands, understands that it’s down to her to stop him, and now is the moment. She walks onto the pitch, drawing attention from the team and security. As she walks along the grass, armed guards approach her, warning her not to go any further. 

Ruby lines up the mysterious woman (who has still always followed her) so that she’s behind Gwilliam. All the while, the guards are threatening to shoot her down. She then walks backward until she reaches the 73-yard mark away from him. Gwilliam, seeing the woman, speaks to her. Then, like everyone else, he looks horrified, running away in pure terror at the sight of Ruby.

Ruby grows old

Shortly after, Gwilliam announces his resignation from office. When asked why, he simply says: “Ask her! Ask her!” Ruby, having saved the world on her own, settles down and continues to age, the figure always lingering 73 yards away.

Ruby grows into an old woman. Eventually, she returns to the TARDIS with her carer, and tells the machine that it never snowed again, and that she still has hope. Later, in her care home, Ruby is put to bed. Before she goes to sleep, she tells the nurse: “Everyone has abandoned me my whole life, but I haven’t been alone for 65 years.”

Not long after Ruby falls asleep, she’s awoken by the sensor lights coming on. She’s met with a shocking sight: the woman is no longer 73 yards away. In fact, she’s in the room. In a terrifying sequence, the woman approaches closer and closer, approaching with every light flicker…

‘73 Yards’: Who was the woman following Ruby?

The end of the episode reveals that Ruby was following herself, having aged into an old woman, through some sort of paradoxical time loop.

We know this for a few reasons. One: the woman watching Ruby is wearing Ruby’s ring. Two: At the end of the episode, we see the younger version of Ruby and the Doctor as they arrive in Wales through the stalker’s own eyes, with Old Ruby’s voiceover saying: “And look at me, I was so young.”

Millie Gibson and Ncuti Gatwa as Ruby and the Doctor in Doctor Who

What’s not completely clarified is the how. How does the timeline actually work? What was Ruby saying to all those people to make them run away? Perhaps it’s a scenario that’s better received when not overthinking it. 

Regardless, when Young Ruby and the Doctor go to the fairy circle that he initially broke in the past, she stops him from walking through the cotton string as he once did. In avoiding this, the Doctor doesn’t disappear like he did before. Instead, they pay their respects to the circle and move on, starting a new adventure with no knowledge of Ruby’s other timeline.

That’s the ‘73 Yards’ ending explained! For more, find out when the new episode of Doctor Who is out. You can also check out our ‘The Devil’s Chord’ ending explained and our ‘Boom’ ending explained for more details. 

Don’t miss our explainers on Susan Twist and the biggest Doctor Who Season 14 theories!

Sign up to Dexerto for free and receive:
Fewer Ads|Dark Mode|Deals in Gaming, TV and Movies, and Tech