“Secrets make us safe” – The Doctor
“We’re not safe!!” – Clara
Wow. Just wow. This was an incredible episode. Probably the best so far in the back end of Series 7. Plus, we get to see a darker part of The Doctor that has not been shown in a long time.
We start out aboard the TARDIS where The Doctor is attempting to fix Clara’s relationship with his temperamental vessel. It seems that the two are not exactly cozying up to one another and The Doctor is desperate to make them buddies. So, he gets the brilliant idea to let Clara drive the TARDIS. Which sounds great until The Doctor lowers the defense system at the exact moment that a salvage team has decided to drag his ship in. Oops? We’re sure that there is a big “friendly button” somewhere to get them out of this mess.
The TARDIS ends up dragged into a salvage yard owned by the Van Baalen sons. Trapped there, The Doctor promises the low-rent outfit running the joint that the salvage of a lifetime lies beyond the TARDIS’ blue doors. They just have to come and get it.
Of course, it turns out that The Doctor was referring to Clara, who happens to be currently lost in what is apparently an infinite TARDIS. Oh, and we forgot to mention she’s trapped on a ship that doesn’t really like her too much. Bad news for Clara. Especially when there is a fuel line leaking poison into the air.
Of course, it ends up being even worse news for the salvage crew. They get to experience the scary and badass Doctor that we haven’t seen in a long time. This episode is interesting because is seems like Matt Smith is channeling the 9th Doctor. And trust us, that’s not The Doctor you want to be pissed at you.
So, The Doctor does exactly what the Ninth Doctor would do. He seals off the doors and sets a self-destruct timer for 1 hour. After some argument from the crew, he kindly resets it for only 30 minutes. If they find Clara, he won’t kill them all. Oh boy. He tells them to never go into a spaceship with a madman. Good advice.
We are then led to Clara who is trying to find her way out of the ship. Did we mention that she is also being chased by a monster? Kind of an important part. While wandering around the TARDIS, she manages to find a library and discovers a book called “The History of the Time War”. She reads a bit and seems a bit more enlightened. Quite a bit.
Her attempts to find her way around the TARDIS are disorienting for the viewer. The production crew does a great job of giving us a sense of claustrophobia, confusion and even fear for our time traveling heroes. When Clara and The Doctor finally do meet by up (after he saves her just in the nick of time from a monster), she is not too happy to see him. After all, good guys don’t have zombies on their ships. She has a point. She is drawing attention to something about The Doctor that we should probably examine in great detail. Is The Doctor a good guy? Especially after he threatens the lives of the salvage crew? This is a man who killed the Daleks and the Time Lords. This is a man who has been known to slaughter the children of his foes. This is a man who has even managed to scare more than one of his companions with his darkness. And in the last episode, Clara was warned about The Doctor’s icy heart. It has to be building up to something, but it is difficult to guess what at this point.
Well, maybe we judged The Doctor a little too soon. See, the self-destruct was more of a threat and less of a reality. He even shows us a good demonstration of how to look scary. It’s like the Kubrick Stare but more…timey whimey. Of course, there are still unexplained monsters roaming the ship. And The Doctor seems to know what they are but doesn’t seem too keen on sharing the information.
Inevitably, the monsters then start killing people. The ship is also leaking time all over the place. We HATE when that happens. So, on top of scary monsters roaming the ship, we also have echoes of The Doctor and Clara living out the past. Eventually, there is a chase scene that leads Clara to demand the truth from The Doctor. It turns out that these monsters are not from the past. They are echoes OF THE FUTURE. The Doctor had watched Clara die again; these monsters were she and the salvage team!
Miraculously, this leads to Clara and The Doctor having a nice chat where the truth is finally revealed. It’s not just The Doctor who’s been keeping secrets, but the salvage team as well. But again, there seems to be a theme of secrets and lying. Where is this leading? And is it going to be to a good place? Clara remarks that she is more afraid of The Doctor than any monster on the ship. She may have reason to be. Ironically though, she may not end up remembering anything that happens on this adventure.
What an incredible episode! We love that Clara finally confronts The Doctor’s obsession with her past. She may be, after all, just a regular girl. Of course, we are not really convinced.
There are several references in this show. First, Amy’s crack in the wall returns. The Doctor really embodies the Ninth Doctor in many parts of this episode. There is something about his scariness and his “let’s get this shit done” attitude that is really interesting to see Matt Smith pull off. He’s frightening and nasty in this episode. One could almost say, we see a hint of what might be truly evil in The Doctor.
We don’t want to spoil the ending, because it is so damn good. The question we had at the end was this: is the TARDIS still not getting along with Clara? And why? What does the TARDIS sense that we do not? Especially if Clara really is just an ordinary girl (not that we’re convinced).