We open this sequel to “Aliens of London” with action so electric you can see it on the screen! Really, the UNIT experts and the Doctor shake with visibly crackling current from Green’s attack through their ID badges. Silly Slitheen, thinking they could wipe out the Doctor along with the others! The attack’s “deadly to humans, maybe,” but obviously not to Time Lords (I personally think it’s because the Doctor needs no ID, baby!).
The Doctor throws his electrified badge at Asquith’s collar (which till now, despite all the hint-dropping about gas-exchange and seeing the aliens were bigger outside of their skin-suits, I’d been thinking of as a kinky alien accoutrement). Both aliens yowl.
Upstairs at Downing Street, Blaine’s jolted as well, letting Rose and Harriet escape. Even the alien menacing Jackie shakes from the electrical jolt though he’s at the estate. Then, an utterly fabulous Mickey moment: despite all Jackie’s angry gossip he runs to her rescue, slamming a chair against the Slitheen attacking her. As she flees, he stops to snap a picture with his phone, grinning for a moment before running like hell.
“Those aliens you’ve got, they’re inside Downing Street,” the Doctor instructs the guards. “Come on!” Again, everyone hops right to it when the Doctor issues orders. But soon Green and the General, having wrestled the electrified collar off and back in their human disguises, claim the Doctor killed the experts. “The Prime Minister is an alien in disguise!” the Doctor cries, indignant. “That’s never going to work, is it?” he says in an undertone to a guard, who shakes his head. “Fair enough,” he shrugs and runs.
Moments later the Doctor is cornered, backed against a wall by the disguised Slitheen and the military figures. “Under the jurisdiction of the Emergency Protocols, I authorize you to execute this man!” Asquith shouts. But the Doctor still has a word of advice for those executing someone by backing him against the wall: “Don’t stand him against the lift!” Oh my god, luckiest almost-execution ever! The lift opens and he escapes.
Green orders the upper floors under quarantine, instructing the military “if the Doctor makes it downstairs, shoot on sight!” On the lift, Green complains, “I’m getting poisoned by the gas exchange. I need to be naked.” “Rejoice in it, your body is magnificent,” Asquith assures him (I’m still not disallowing a kink function to those collars, okay?).
“Human children, where are you?” Blaine, divested of her skin-suit, calls out as she scours a room for Jones and Rose. “Happy hunting?” the other two inquire. “The more you prolong it, the more they stink of sweat and fear,” she exults. When they nab Rose, Harriet Jones yells, “No, take me first!” because she is AWESOME LIKE THAT.
The Doctor arrives, spraying the aliens with a fire extinguisher. As he and Rose and Jones bolt he asks, “Who the hell are you?” “Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North,” she blurts, and seriously, new meaning to “fast friends”: they become friends as they are running like hell before reaching the Cabinet Rooms to find the Emergency Protocols.
The Doctor halts the Slitheen, threatening to turn port super flammable with the Sonic Screwdriver (and now I must invent a drink called the Sonic Screwdriver). The aliens grudgingly offer information. Slitheen is their family name, not a species. It’s not an invasion but a business venture. “What are you if not human?” they demand of the Doctor. “Who’s not human?” Jones asks, alarmed. “He’s not human,” Rose whispers. “Can I have a bit of hush?” the Doctor asks, irritated. “But he’s got a Northern accent,” Harriet Jones murmurs to Rose, who replies, “Lots of planets have a North.”
The Slitheen call the Doctor’s bluff on his blow-everyone-up-with-port-plan, so he activates the three-inch steel walls designed to seal off top government officials from danger. Great, they’re safe! They also can’t escape. Whoops.
“More new arrivals” at 10 Downing Street, reports a newsman mystified by the inclusion of more (rather large) minor officials. Green and Asquith have summoned “the family”. The Slitheen assume the Doctor is neutralized, and get ready to meet before Green makes his address as Prime Minister. There’s a horrible/hilarious transition with Blaine cheerfully helping to hang up everyone’s skin-suits. Worst cocktail party ever.
Mickey and Jackie, having sneaked by the military posted around the estate, head to his place. No one will seek her out there since they know she hates him, but they can’t get help: “Who do we trust? For all we know they’ve all got big bog monsters inside them.” Even inside Mickey’s flat, though, they’re endangered. The Slitheen sergeant sniffs out Jackie, and tells the other constables to head back so he can hunt.
The Doctor explains the collars work as compression fields, shrinking the aliens down to fit them inside humans, but producing that awkward “gas exchange problem”. Rose jokes about the farting thing (really, how could you not?) and Harriet Jones scolds her: “Excuse me, people are dead. This is no time to be making jokes.” Harriet Jones isn’t famous, is she? No, no, backbencher here. But somehow the Doctor knows her name.
Though the Protocols are redundant (everyone named is dead), Rose suggests maybe they contain launch codes; they could use those to kill the Slitheen. “You’re a very violent young woman,” Jones says. Anyway, the UN holds the codes (“And I voted against that, thank you very much!”). The Doctor frantically brainstorms what the Slitheen might want with Earth, what asset they’re after. “Gold, oil, water,” HJ says rapidly, prompting the Doctor to admire her and again wonder how he knows her name.
Lucky the Doctor turned Rose’s craptacular cellphone into an interstellar superphone in episode 1.02. Now she can get a signal in the iron-clad room, and view Mickey’s photo of the electrified Slitheen at the estate. On speakerphone, Mickey blurts they’re “proper alien, all stinky and wet.” “Just shut up, don’t talk, and go to your computer,” the Doctor orders. Though it pains him to say this to Mickey/Rickey, “I need you.” I do love me some Doctor/Mickey moments!
Wheee, I’m clapping my hands at Mickey hacking into the armored government website with the Doctor’s prompts and helping to save the day! This episode would be a favorite for me on the Mickey moments alone. When Rose offers theories Jackie scoffs at this whole new set of airs and graces. “I’ve seen this life of yours, Doctor,” Jackie admonishes him, changing targets. “And maybe you get off on it; maybe you think of it as all clever and smart, but answer me this: is my daughter safe?”
Mickey accesses the signals from the Slitheen’s spaceship while Jackie reluctantly answers the door. Of course it’s the Slitheen. “Mickey, I need that signal,” the Doctor says, but Rose wants them to escape, never mind the signal. Unfortunately the Slitheen’s blocking the door. “You’re supposed to be the expert,” Harriet Jones tells the Doctor. “Think of something!” Mickey wields a baseball bat, telling Jackie in the kitchen they’ve barricaded themselves in, “Don’t look back, just run” (*draws hearts all around Mickey*). “That’s my mother,” Rose implores the Doctor.
To find a solution, Harriet Jones and Rose throw out as many facts as they can summon: the Slitheen are green, they’ve got pig technology, slipstream engines, and hunt like it’s a ritual. “Narrows it down!” the Doctor agrees after each point as he concentrates. Jones offers a key fact: “Did you notice when they fart, if you’ll pardon the word, it doesn’t just smell like a fart, if you’ll pardon the word,” but more like… “Bad breath”, Rose supplies. Hee, Harriet’s so polite! Calcium decay, the Doctor realizes, and places them: they’re from Raxacoricofallapatorius. Well, okay then!
Recognizing the aliens helps to tell Mickey and Jackie to gather everything acidic in the kitchen. When they throw a mixture of vinegar, pickled egg and pickled onion juice at the Slitheen, he blinks and explodes all over them. “Just like Hannibal,” Harriet Jones exclaims, explaining Hannibal crossed the Alps by dissolving boulders with vinegar. “Well, there you go then,” Rose says agreeably and they toast each other with port.
Slitheen Green, sensing his fellow’s death, growls, “That’s the last piece of luck anyone on this rock will ever have!” He addresses the world outside 10 Downing Street, imploring the UN to release the nuclear codes. “Our inspectors have searched the sky, and found massive weapons of destruction,” that could be deployed in forty-five seconds. Oh, hell, the Slitheen are Tony Blair in bed with the United States all over again.
The Doctor realizes the Slitheen are making it up, going for spectacle to heighten alarm and cause World War Three. Their spaceship’s signal in fact is an advertisement for fuel: they’ll sell the Earth piece by piece once it’s been turned into radioactive chunks. He opens the steel doors to tell the Slitheen he’ll stop them. “What, you? Trapped in your box?” they gloat. They should know better than to taunt a guy who travels in a box, yo!
A new day dawns, and a reporter solemnly says, “Yesterday saw the start of a brave new world. Today might see it end. The streets are deserted; everyone’s home waiting as the future is decided in New York.” Jackie and Mickey watch the news, silent and tearful as they hear “once the codes are released, humanity’s first interplanetary war begins.”
The Doctor glumly tells Rose, Harriet Jones, Mickey, and Jackie there’s a way out and always has been. But if he uses it, Rose might die. “This is my life, Jackie,” he explains. “It’s not fun, it’s not smart. It’s standing up and making a decision because no one else will.” He hesitates, but “It’s not your decision, Doctor, it’s mine,” Harriet Jones says briskly. Way to step up, HJ! As the only elected official there, she demands he go ahead.
Meanwhile, the Slitheen gather waiting for the UN call in the Prime Minister’s office, excited to get the codes and turn the Earth into fuel product. “Victory should be naked,” Green intones, and all the Slitheen unzip to display their green globular glory. They’re by far the most self-important and banal aliens we’ve met so far, destroying the Earth for cash money rather than a grand plan. Still, their exultation in their icky form is all sorts of hilarious.
Using the Buffalo password, Mickey launches a missile at 10 Downing Street. As Jackie looks askance at herself for not stopping him and the missile shows up on radar, Rose refuses to pack it in. She leads Harriet Jones and the Doctor into a cupboard, hoping a small space within the armored room will be safe. “Nice knowing you both,” Harriet Jones says politely. They hold hands to await the blast.
Jackie watches the missile from the balcony while the Slitheen, petty to the end, squabble over the available skin-suits when they realize they might want to split.
Fireballs tear through the building as the missile hits, but the Doctor, Rose, and Harriet Jones are ultimately safe. “Made in Britain,” Harriet Jones says proudly stepping out of the armored room. “Someone’s got a hell of a job sorting this out,” so maybe Jones should have a go at the now-vacant Prime Minister position. “I’m only a backbencher,” Jones demurs, taking off toward the reporters shouting, “The Earth is safe!”
“I thought I knew the name,” the Doctor tells Rose. “Harriet Jones, future Prime Minister. Elected for three successive terms, the architect of Britain’s golden age.” “Mankind stands tall, proud, and undefeated,” she tells the reporters. “God bless the human race.” Her grin of relief is fabulous.
“Harriet Jones, who does she think she is, taking all the credit,” Jackie complains at the estate. “My daughter saved the world!” She’s so cranky and proud! “The Doctor helped a bit,” Rose says mildly. If there’s no use getting rid of the Doctor since Rose is “infatuated”, Jackie proposes they have a proper sit-down and shepherd’s pie so she can ask him all the questions she has. “He’s finally met his match,” Rose says with a laugh.
The Doctor calls from the TARDIS. He’ll be ready to go after he sends a signal replacing the Slitheen’s ad, “in case any bargain hunters show up.” “My mother’s cooking,” Rose protests. “Good! Put her on a slow heat and let it simmer.” He doesn’t do domestic, he reminds her. Besides, there’s a cosmic disturbance he can ride to anywhere in the universe. “It’s your choice.” Jackie finds Rose packing and pleads, “Don’t go, sweetheart; please don’t go,” but Rose has already chosen.
Mickey’s gone down to the shop, and shows the Doctor the newspaper headline: Alien Hoax? “There’s a scientific explanation for that,” the Doctor offers. “You’re thick.” He hands Mickey a disc containing a virus to erase all traces of him online. What’s more, he offers Mickey a place on the TARDIS. “This life of yours, it’s just too much,” Mickey admits, asking him please not to tell Rose he refused. I’m so torn; I’d love Mickey along for the ride, but I like the point this isn’t a life for everyone.
Poor Jackie offers all sorts of life-changing resolutions to get Rose to stay. “Now you’re stuck with me,” Rose tells the Doctor, hefting her bag of clothes at him. When Rose suggests inviting Mickey, the Doctor plays the heavy as agreed and refuses. “He’s a liability. I’m not having him on board.” Mickey and Rose kiss goodbye while Jackie worries what might happen. Rose doesn’t want her to fret. After all, it might only be ten seconds on Earth by the time she returns.
Jackie and Mickey wave and watch the TARDIS dematerialize. “Ten seconds,” Jackie says quietly, looking at her watch. Rose still isn’t back. Jackie leaves while Mickey lingers outside, loyal and perhaps a little regretful of his decision. And huzzah, the Doctor and Rose head off to their next adventure! Join me tomorrow for the week’s last recap, “Dalek”!