Russell T. Davis just spent a couple episodes punching us repeatedly in the feels. Now it’s time for him to completely terrify us!
The Empty Child
A Mysterious Cylinder is flying through the Time Vortex. The Doctor and Rose follow it all the way to World War II, where the Blitz is on and a small child in a gas mask keeps walking around asking people if they are his mummy, and the Doctor gets a strange call on the phone outside the TARDIS, which isn’t actually hooked up, where the little boy also asks if he is his mummy. A girl named Nancy appears and warns the Doctor away.
Rose, meanwhile, has somehow become entangled on the rope from a barrage balloon, and is now dangling in mid-air in a t-shirt plastered with the British flag while Germans are bombing things. Great!
Hold on and think of England!
Lucky for Rose, Captain Jack Harkness spots her and rescues her using a tractor beam from a Chula warship he is piloting. This is presumably supposed to make absolute sense. While Rose and Jack get their flirt on, the Doctor follows Nancy and a group of children to a house abandoned during the raid, where they are eating the food that was left out. After trolling a while, Gas Mask arrives again, following Nancy whose brother has died. She tells the Doctor not to let the gas-masked boy touch him, because he will turn into the same thing. She also knows that the cylinder that fell from the sky is connected to the little boy.
While this is going on, Rose discovers that Captain Jack is a former time agent who now has something interesting to sell. Rose pretends to be a time agent in turn, and says she’ll need to consult with the Doctor. They find him at a hospital near the cylinder crashed, where Doctor Constantine is caring for patients with…unusual symptoms. See…their faces have started morphing into gas masks…and the first patient that showed the symptoms was Nancy’s brother Jaime.
With that, Doctor Constantine and the other patients morph and corner the trio, all asking for their mummy, while Jaime finally finds Nancy…
YOU GUYS THIS EPISODE TERRIFIED ME. SERIOUSLY. It’s relentlessly creepy, and set with the backdrop of the London Blitz, where everything is dark and bombs are exploding everywhere, the atmosphere is perfect. Also, the visuals for the transformation is horrifying. You can hear their skulls cracking as they morph! It also introduced the delightful Captain Jack, who I wish would show up again. Alas, he seems to be relegated to the Ninth and Tenth Doctor eras. (I haven’t seen Torchwood yet. That’s on the list.) This is super-creepy, and the follow up is just as amazing. (Incidentally, Colin Baker says it’s the best Doctor Who story ever. And because Colin Baker is awesome, I immediately believe him.)
The Doctor Dances
The Doctor has an idea, you guys. He figures, all these people are infected by Jaime, why not pretend to be an angry parent? He sends Jaime to his room. Downside? They are standing in Jaime’s room. Forethought, Doctor. Forethought.
AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU'VE DONE.
Luckily, Captain Jack manages to teleport them all back to his ship. While the Doctor takes advantage of the advanced healing on the ship, nanogenes, Jack explains what happened to him: he decided to leave the Time Agency after he discovered he had two years of missing memories, which does not sound like the start of a Slender Man vlog at all.
Planetside, Nancy has warned the other children away and is captured trying to reach the crash site. Despite noticing their comrade behave oddly and ask about his mummy, they still leave her locked up with him, because of course they do. When our trio arrives, they find that everyone is changing, indicating the problem is airborne. Nancy has escaped the soldier by singing a lullaby, and the Doctor discovers the cylinder at the crash site is an old Chula medical ship. He makes the connection with the nanogenes and realizes that the ship’s nanogenes are attempting to heal people, but are basing the healing off of Jaime with his gas mask.
In an attempt to get inside, an alarm goes off, and all the transformed people arrive, asking for their mummies. (Can I just say how hard it is to use the phrase “mummy” in connection with moms without laughing really hard? British slang. Always fun.) Nancy finally confesses the truth: she’s older than she looks, and she’s actually Jaime’s mother, but hid it because she had him when she was a teenager. When she tells Jaime the truth, the nanogenes switch to using her as a template for the healing, and everyone is restored to normal. (Although why they don’t use her mental template like they did with Jaime is one of those questions that don’t get asked.) Before leaving, the Doctor sets the medical ship to explode and destroy that technology, keeping it in line with the historical explosion at the site.
And then you realize you're still out of tissues from Father's Day...
Then, the Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack have a dance party ending. No, really.
Everything about this gif is wonderful.
This was an amazing two parter. Apart from that plothole I mentioned, it was creepy, tense, and eventually heartwarming.
You remember that Cardiff rift at the BBC quarry? It’s super important still, in case you were wondering. The Doctor, Rose, and Jack arrive to let the TARDIS refuel, to let Rose actually have a relationship with her “boyfriend”, and discuss Jack’s sexual frustration since the TARDIS is still basically a monastery.
He then attempted to flirt with the TARDIS, and took three days to recover from his injuries.
Also, it appears that the Slitheen, still using the name “Margaret”, has become Cardiff’s mayor. They track her down, and a wacky chase scene ensues, in which Margaret climbs out a window and gets cornered in the courtyard. The Doctor discovers her plan-build a nuclear power plant in such a way that it will melt down, open the rift, and-you guessed it-destroy the Earth. The Doctor wants to take Margaret back to her home planet of Word I Can’t Pronounce, but Margaret is under a death sentence there. So he decides to be nice and take her to dinner first, where she talks about her Bad Childhood, declares that she is becoming Welsh, and insists that she totally wants to turn over a new leaf, you guys. Totally legit.
I mean, except for the part where she tries to kill the Doctor multiple times. Other than that.
Jack, meanwhile, is hooking up Margaret’s teleporter (that’s not what it’s called, but we’re just going to call it a teleporter) to the TARDIS, Mickey and Rose talk about their not-relationship, and the teleporter redirects the TARDIS energy into the rift, thereby opening the rift and-you guessed it-destroying the Earth. The Doctor is less than amused.
It ends in the heart of the TARDIS opening up and turning Margaret into an egg and Rose realizing that hey, just maybe she hasn’t been treating Mickey quite right.
Also, the nuclear station was supposed to be called the Welsh phrase for “Bad Wolf”. Tune in next time to figure out just what the heck this “Bad Wolf” thing is about, and also the end of the brief Ninth Doctor era.