So much TARDIS on this week’s episode of Doctor Who!
The Doctor is still trying to get his beloved ship to get along with his new mysterious companion. To that end, he puts the old girl in Basic mode so that he can try to teach Clara some rudimentary flying techniques. Of course, since the shields are down in Basic mode, this allows a nearby salvage vessel to snare the TARDIS with a magna grab. That might work on a regular ship, but it makes everything go all to the dickens on the TARDIS. Once she’s “safely” onboard the salvage vessel, she spits out the Doctor, but Clara is still trapped inside the rapidly degenerating ship. The Doctor promises the Van Baalen brothers (whom I’ve nicknamed Angry, Tall, and Data, for lack of better data until much, much later in the episode) the “salvage of a lifetime” if they’ll help him rescue Clara from the depths of the TARDIS. As an added incentive, he locks them all in with him and sets the self-destruct for 30 minutes.
Clara, meanwhile, is exploring the TARDIS and allowing us to see places we’ve only heard mentioned until now. Somewhere around the Warehouse 13 room, she figures out that she’s not alone down there. There’s some sort of creature following her, and it doesn’t seem particularly pleased to see her. On top of it all, she’s managed to burn her hand pretty badly in the accident, and the burn seems to spell something out.
The brothers decide to split up so as to find Clara and start dismantling the ship at the same time. Angry sends Tall to take apart the console, which leads poor Tall into the depths of the ship and the waiting jaws of yet another of the creatures. At the same time, Angry continues to establish his place as the [feminine hygiene product and the bag it comes in] by tearing out part of an important TARDIS system, blithely ignoring Data’s concerns about the ship’s suffering.
By this point, everyone on the ship is aware that there are at least four of the creatures roaming about. Clara finds her way back to the console room, but it isn’t the same console room that the Doctor, Angry, and Data have found their way back to. It’s an echo that the TARDIS has created in an effort to keep them all safe. The Doctor manages to pull Clara into their particular echo, and the entire party heads for the centre of the TARDIS, a star continually suspended on the cusp of becoming a black hole. The Doctor realizes that the damage to the TARDIS is causing it to leak time, both the past and the future. The creatures are in fact the Doctor, Clara, and the Van Baalen boys, burned past recognition by spending too much time in proximity to the star. He manages to break the cycle enough to escape with Clara, but the salvage brothers aren’t fast enough. They turn into their creature forms and live out the time loop that sees them fall into the burning sun.
The Doctor and Clara make their way to the Heart of the TARDIS. The engine is suspended mid-explosion, with shrapnel hanging in the air. Of course, Clara’s burned hand is the key to getting everything back to normal. It’s a message to the Doctor from himself. He creates a sort of reset button and throws it into the rift at the exact moment that everything went pear-shaped earlier. That gives the past-Doctor what he needs to restore everything and erase all the things that happened over the last hour, from the death of the Val Baalen brothers to Clara reading his real name in the library. There are still echoes left behind, though. Angry is nicer to Data, and Clara feels remarkably safe on the TARDIS now.
I loved this episode deep in my fangirlish little heart, if for no other reason than getting to see so much of the interior of the TARDIS. Seriously, I have every intention of watching this one again, just to see what I missed. One of the things that Moffat is really doing right during his tenure, in mine own humble opinion, is treating the TARDIS more and more like her own character. I have to admit, having the TARDIS not like Clara actually makes the companion a little less likeable to me, and that’s kind of brilliant. You know the TARDIS isn’t going to randomly dislike someone (Honest to Whedon, Moffat, if there’s no real reason for the TARDIS’s disapproval…), so there has to be some tie to the mystery of Clara’s previous deaths. So much love!
On the other hand, what was with the not-android brother plot? What end did that serve, really? We already knew that Gregor was kind of a [nickname for Richard]. Why throw in the brother-hazing subplot? Other than that, absolutely brilliant episode.
Next week is “The Crimson Horror” and the return of Madame Vastra, Jenny, Strax, and Clara’s governess dress.
The Doctor: “I can feel a TARDIS tantrum coming on.”
Things to Ponder:
- I want to know how the Heart of the TARDIS that we saw in this episode compares to the Heart of the TARDIS that turned Rose Tyler into the Bad Wolf. Considering that no one in the episode came out with glowing godlike powers, they would seem to be two very different things.
- Who else badly wants to read that copy of History of the Time War?