If only I had a TARDIS of my own, I'd be able to go back and do these recaps on time. As it is, i have to rely on notes and my memory. In a way, I'm glad I'm doing these together though, as the two episodes show an interesting (some would say disturbing) new facet of the character of The Doctor.
The Beast Below is the first episode, from a couple weeks ago, and lucky for me I took notes. This is Amy (you know what, I'm calling her Amelia, I like it way better)...*ahem* Amelia's first official adventure as a Companion...and she's still in her pajamas. We don't start with her though, we start with the Good Ship UK, as Britain has launched a miniature version of itself into space, looking like a cross between Jabba's Sand Barge and the skyline from Blade Runner. Inside, a small child has gotten a bad grade. Call The Doctor! Even in the future, gingers are creepy and bad at school. But you know what's even creepier than a ginger kid? The world's most nightmare-inducing Zoltar machine, that's what! The dumb kid gets in the elevator against his friend's very good advice, and he drops down an ominous red shaft...and awesome credits.
The Doctor lays down the rules: Observe only, never get involved. Pardon me as I roll my eyes in a most upwards fashion. This rule gets broken more than the Prime Directive. Amelia describes the Doctor as "Detached and cold". This will be important. You might want to write it down. The Doctor does some of his wacky hijinks, grabbing a glass of water, setting it on the ground, and looking at it. He is observed by some weird hooded guys with robes and skate keys around their necks. And the creepy Smilers are still everywhere. Three faces? That's too creepy.
Meanwhile, a weird masked lady is in a room full of glasses of water. More on this later.
Amelia does what all good Companions do; gets in places she's not supposed to be. In this case, she picks a padlock (in the 29th Century? Buh?) with a hairpin, and finds...a big scorpion tail? The Hoodies find her and blast her with their +2 Ring of Sleeping. Somewhere else on the ship, The Doctor is poking around with his sonic screwdriver, and bumps into the Lady in Red. Why is the water important? Because it doesn't vibrate on the deck. Meaning the ship isn't moving. Also, all the power couplings and junction boxes are fakes. The ship is moving, but with no engines.
Back with Amelia, she's in a room with a tv screen a "protest" button, and a "forget" button. She watches a video with the horrible truth of Starship UK, and then...well, apparently she presses the forget button, because she wakes up and gets to see a message from herself. A tearful message, telling her to stop The Doctor from investigating any further. Like really tearful. Like, good acting job. The Doctor shows up, hits protest, and a trapdoor opens in the floor. The Doctor and Amelia drop down into the trash compactors from Star Wars, and they both really got slimed. Not a trash compactor though...it's a tongue. A giant tongue. Then The Doctor induces vomiting in order to get out of there. Gross, yo.
And holy crap, the Smilers can get out of the booth! That is some nightmare fuel right there. Red Riding Mask is "Liz Ten", aka Elizabeth the Tenth (~!). The three of them make it to the top of the Tower of London, to find out the horrible secret which Amelia chose to forget: The British Empire is riding on the back of an enslaved Star Whale (oooh, awkward name), whose pain centers are directly being shocked in order to act as a gas pedal. How very "Encounter at Farpoint" of them. The Doctor uses some screwdriver action to let the people in the room hear the screaming of the Star Whale, and Liz watches her own video, with her own set of choices: Forget, or Abdicate. Turns out, Liz is around 300 years old, and everytime she makes her way up to the Tower, she chooses to forget, have herself wiped, and get rejuvenated so she thinks she's a new Queen. It's amazing what kind of drama you can create with a couple of tap lights and some stick-on letters, by the way. All the CGI in the world, and $20 at Hobby Lobby can create an episode's worth of dramatic tension.
Now here's part one of the "This Doctor is fucking nuts" theory. The Doctor starts going all ranty, mad at being put in this situation of having to choose between the Star Whale and the Starship UK. Similar to his raving at the end of "The End of Time", btw. He prepares to lobotomize the Star Whale, allowing them to continue to use it as an engine without the beast feeling any more pain. He also rails at Amelia for choosing to forget, which seems a little harsh. New Companions just take some breaking in, I guess. In the end, however, it's Amelia who flashes through a realization montage, and uses Liz's hand to push the "Abdicate" button. As it turns out, the Whale volunteered to save the people of Britain because it couldn't stand to see the children die. Even with all the pain it's been caused, the love it has for children was enough to keep it on its mission of mercy. Back on the TARDIS, The Doctor gets a phone call from Churchill, and we see...a Dalek? Buh?
Oh, and there's a crack on the ship, similar to the one from Amelia's house.
And that brings us to:
Victory of the Daleks.
Amelia has managed to find some clothing, thankfully, and they've arrived in the midst of the London Blitz, in which the Germans were making bombing runs on London before we got involved in WW2. History lesson over, and I probably got at least one thing wrong. Anyway, some convenient German planes arrive just in time for Churchill to show off his new toy, which lasers the planes right out of the sky. What is it? What could it be? Well, last week's preview and the title of the episode kinda give it away. Yep, it's a Dalek. All painted up in olive drab and with a little Union Jack decal on it. How adorable. Predictably, The Doctor flips his shit and starts screaming to everybody, including the Dalek himself.
According to Churchill (and by the way, I still have no consistent opinion on the actor who played Churchill...just keep wavering), the Dalek is an "Ironsides" invented by a friendly scientist who also has some ideas about gravity bubbles and other fun superscience gizmos. We get a few minutes of The Doctor and Churchill arguing over whether the Daleks are too dangerous to trust, vs whether using them as a means to an end (defeating the dirty Germans) is worth saving lives. Finally, The Doctor goes on Loud Shouty Rant #8 of the episode, getting right in the Dalek's face, and screaming "I am The Doctor, and you are the Daleks, my greatest enemy" (i'm paraphrasing because I lost my notes for this episode). The Dalek does the equivalent of high-fiving itself, crowing "Testimony accepted", and going all "Hells yes, we're the Daleks". The science nerd goes on about how he created the Ironsides, but the Dalek zaps his hand right off (I am your father), showing that he's actually a robot created by the Daleks as their own cover story. The Daleks take off for their Dalek ship that's hiding out in space. The Doctor hops in the TARDIS and follows. Action Doctor!
The Daleks get ready to zap the Doctor, but he pulls out the self destruct for the TARDIS, your classic Mexican Standoff. The Daleks needed the Doctor's testimony because they have a sample of original Dalek genetic material, but the Doctor's word is the only thing that will make the OG Daleks recognize the knockoffs as "real" Daleks. The Doctor can't stop them, and they have another gun in this standoff; overriding the lights in London and giving the Germans a clear shot at all the really good targets. Meanwhile, the EZ Bake Oven goes off, and six shiny new Daleks (in all the new Power Ranger colors) roll out and exterminate the old and busted versions of themselves.
Also, I would pay any amount of money for a voice modulator app that made me sound like a Dalek. I would use it for EVERYTHING.
Okay, so we have new Daleks, a new Doctor, and oh yes, a new Companion in danger of being shelled. To save her, The Doctor gets the kids back on Earth to refit some fighter planes with some of that fancy new technology, and they make strafing run in space to try and take out the "Take over the lights" beam coming from the Dalek ship. The Doctor manages to shut down the shields, and the lights go back off in London Town. The Daleks figure out that the self-destruct device is actually a cookie (a jammy dodger), which I TOTALLY CALLED. Only because I love those kinds of cookies though. The Doctor is ready for the good guys to blow up the Dalek ship, taking out the last of the Daleks, but they have one last secret: a doomsday corridor (seriously, I love the confluence of British words and scifi terms) that powers the robot scientist. If The Doctor lets the Daleks die, then Earth gets blowed up. The Doctor, wait for it, isn't happy about making an impossible choice between getting rid of his greatest enemy, and wiping out humanity.
The Doctor makes the right choice (as we are still here), and heads back to deal with Mr. Bomb. The Doctor tries to make him remember the humanity that the Daleks programmed into him as a way to counter the detonation, but he's only partially successful. It's Amelia (remember this) who is able to complete the process by having him remember love, not pain as The Doctor tried to do, and the pain of that love is what causes him to seize the humanity within and reverse the process of exploding.
The Daleks escape, London will survive, and the scientist has a chance to go back home and look up the girl he fancied all those years ago (but not really, but yeah really). Churchill picks The Doctor's pocket for the TARDIS key, but Amelia's Kiss-o-Gram training allows her to see it. Foiled again, Churchill! Oh, and there's another crack. That'll come home to roost.
Okay, so two episodes down, with very similar themes. This Doctor needs help both times from Amelia in order to provide a dose of humanity and solve a problem. This Doctor likes to throw tantrums. This Doctor is frustrated by difficult choices. Where have we seen this before? Well, it happened right after four knocks, back in the finale of the David Tennant run. My theory; Tennant's rage at having to leave so soon because of his need to save human lives has held on and lodged deeply into his next regeneration. His last line "I don't want to go" is echoing inside his own brain, and manifesting itself in anger and frustration. This Doctor is in need of some saving, and Amelia is looking to be the one to do the job. Will this be a torrid Doctor/Companion love affair? Possible, although part of me hopes not. Still, it is a new way to explore The Doctor Who mythology, so why the hell not?
Next week (by which I mean, this week), the return of the creepy angel statues from "Blink", possibly the greatest episode of Doctor Who ever. Good return, or once too often to the well? We'll find out together. Well, some people have already found out, but I'm just going to wait for Saturday, so no spoilers, plz.