Doctor Who 1.10 – The Doctor Dances

For a gas-mask-y future, join the zombie’s land army!

When we last left the gang, they were in mortal peril from an advancing gas-mask zombie army!  As the drones approach calling “Mummy?”, the Doctor yells out, “Go to your room!” Everyone looks confused, including the zombies, who head-tilt in unison.  Jack and Rose do their part by standing about looking befuddled and pretty.

But aha, the Empty Child that’s menacing Nancy also head-tilts!  So an order given to one of the zombies goes out to the entire crowd.  What a bunch of conformists.  “I’m very, very cross!” the Doctor barks again yelling, “Go to your room!”  It’s another chance to witness the Doctor step in anywhere and assume authority over everything.  *swoons a bit* The zombies shuffle off to their hospital beds.  “I’m really glad that worked,” the Doctor confides to Jack and Rose.  “Those would have been terrible last words!”

Back at the house with cupboards jammed full of canned mushy peas and other English delights, the Empty Child also turns to go to its room.  Which is in the hospital.  Where our pals are.  Whoops.  Nancy sinks on the floor in distress and grief.  Meanwhile, the Doctor grills Jack about how his con works.  It would have been the “perfect self-cleaning con,” because the goods would go boom when the Germans bombed them.  Hey, just like a gig in Pompeii, but “you’ve got to set your alarm for Volcano Day,” Jack says, snickering.  The Doctor, however, is not amused, because this is Volcano Day as far as he’s concerned.

The All-Clear sounds.  Nancy realizes she’s got to leave the house, but she’s stymied by the appearance of a little boy in a gas-mask.  Nope, not her little Empty Child, but one of the kids emerging from the family’s bomb shelter.  “What’s she nicked?” the mother yells as they sic themselves on Nancy.

The Doctor & Co. head upstairs to where Patient Zero stayed.  The Doctor asks Jack if he’s got a blaster; if so, they’ll find out exactly how Jack’s space junk hurt that first victim.  Uh, Sonic Screwdriver? Rose reminds him.  But the Doctor’s got a little point to prove.  Gee, Jack, where’d you get your fancy-schmancy square-blasting gun?  Oh, the Weapon Factories of Villengard, Jack confides.  You probably haven’t heard of ’em.  Pfftt, the Doctor totes knew about them before you did.  “There’s a banana grove there, now,” he mentions airily.  Ahahaha, Jack, the Doctor destroyed your little munitions supplier just for fun, okay?  Kids, you don’t need space blasters to look cool — plant a banana grove, and stay in school!

“Something got out of here,” Jack realizes once inside the room, something “powerful and angry”.  The walls display chalk drawings, mostly of stick figure females.  When Jack understands a child was housed here, he can’t understand how a child could cause this destruction.  The Doctor starts Dr. Constantine’s tape-recorded interview with the patient.  “Are you aware of what’s around you?”  “Are you my mummy?” the child asks.  “Doctor, I’ve heard this voice before,” Rose realizes.  “Why doesn’t he know?”  I’ll take a minute here to adore how Rose always asks absolutely the right questions.

Back at Canned Good Row, the father threatens Nancy with the police, and rails how the “sweat on my brow” paid for the food.  “Want anything else?” he asks sarcastically about her robbery.  Yup, Nancy wants wire cutters, a torch, and bring on more mushy peas!  When the father blusters, she lets on she’s been watching the place.  “Half the street thinks your missus must be messing about” with the butcher to get all this food.  “But she’s not, isn’t she?  You are.”  Wow, the stunned look on his face says she nailed it!  “Oh, look,” she says sweetly, because Nancy is kickass, “there’s the sweat on your brow!”  Shh, I’ll just play a tiny violin song for the poor heartsick butcher, who no doubt knows in his heart-of-hearts that Mister Sweat on His Brow doesn’t love him for him.

“Can you sense it, coming out of the walls…can you feel it?” the Doctor demands.  I really don’t mean it as an insult, but Jack looks like braining hurts him.  “Funny little human brains. How do you get around in those things?” the Doctor snaps.  “When he’s stressed he likes to insult species,” Rose explains to assuage Jack’s hurt feelings; he should hear the Doctor rail about species he’s better than when he cuts himself shaving!

The Doctor gives Jack the business about his space junk landing on one of the kids who was “living rough”.  “It was a med ship, harmless,” Jack insists.  It altered one of the children, though.  The child isn’t angry, the Doctor realizes (he’s so great thinking on his feet); it’s terribly afraid.  “It’s got the power of a god,” the Doctor exclaims, realizing, “and I just sent it to its room.”  Eeek?

Uh, what’s that fthwooping sound?  Throughout they’ve heard the child calling for his mummy, but seems the tape ran out thirty seconds ago. “I’m here now, can’t you see me?” the Child asks impatiently behind them.  Eeeeeek, scariest toddler ever!  Jack prepares to blast his way out, but the Doctor switched his gun with a banana, haha!  I love how he has props to keep taunting Jack about those banana groves of Villengard even in the middle of this scary Empty Child-ness.

In the hall Jack snatches the blaster to pull a “digital rewind” — actually quite cool, as it rebuilds the wall here he blasted it earlier.  He and the Doctor bicker about bananas and weapons while the gas-mask zombies surround them; the Child summoned them because it is them.  Rose interrupts their sonic pissing contest, blasting the floor out from under their feet so they escape to the floor below.

“Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks, this could be more sonic?” Jack complains about the Doctor’s paltry little device.  Meanwhile, as they hide in a storage room from more zombies, Jack’s blaster has run out of juice.  All those special features drain it, and he couldn’t send for another because someone blew up the factory.  “First day I met him, he blew my job up,” Rose commiserates.  “That’s practically how he communicates.”  Doctor, it’s a bit ham-fisted to flirt by exploding buildings, okay?

“Assets, assets,” the Doctor demands; they’ve got to use something to escape.  Well, Jack’s got a banana (I bet he does!) and the Doctor mentioned how he could put up shelves…  The whole assets conversation “went in a flash, didn’t it?” Jack points out.  “Where’d you pick this one up?” the Doctor sulks at Rose.  “She was hanging from a barrage balloon, I had an invisible spaceship. I never stood a chance.”  There’s that Jack swagger!  The Doctor breaks down the situation.  One, they’ve got to get out.  Two, there’s no way out.  Has he missed anything?  Well, “Jack just disappeared,” Rose points out.  Smooth!

Back at her hidey-hole, Nancy finds her Lost Boys and Girls playing with a typewriter.  “You can’t even read or write,” one scoffs while another pecks out a letter to his father (oh god, his father is very likely dead *heart-clutch*).  “I don’t need to; I’ve got a machine,” the other boy retorts (he and Jack would get on well).  Nancy goes all Tough Love: they’ll have to look after each other now.  “People don’t always come back.”  She’s off to the site where the Empty Child was found.  But “you’re the one that keeps us safe,” one pleads.  Then the manual typewriter gets on the creepy train by typing all by itself.  “As long as you’re with me, he’s always coming,” she says, ripping the typing paper out.  Poor Nancy.  “Plenty of greens. And chew your food,” she advises and leaves.  They look at the discarded page, filled with “Mummy?” seeking all-caps.

“Why is it the great looking ones?” who always vanish into thin air, Rose wants to know.  While the Doctor tries not to be insulted, Rose clarifies, “I mean, men.”  Ouch.  Jack radios in; his ship emergency-teleported him back.  He’s speaking to them over Om-Com (what now?)  Funny, that: the Child can Om-Com too, the Doctor notes.  “You mean, he can phone us?” Rose asks.  “And I can hear you!” the Child broadcasts.  “Time to find you!”  Eeeeek!  Jack blasts a little Glenn Miller to block the signal.  “Our song,” Rose says sheepishly when the Doctor glares.

While the Doctor uses the Sonic Screwdriver on the concrete and window bars, Rose rolls around in a wheelchair.  The Doctor doesn’t trust Jack, but she does because he saved her life: “Bloke-wise, that’s up there with flossing.”  True that.  Mainly she trusts Jack because “he’s like you.”  Awww.  (Rose really does have her Doctor-type, doesn’t she?  Same reason she liked Adam.  Oh, how Rose utterly misjudged Adam).   Well, except for the “dating and dancing”.  “You just assume –” the Doctor blusters, finally saying, “You just assume I don’t dance.”  I think you meant another d-word there, Doctor.  He’s been around 900 years after all, but though he’s “got the moves…I wouldn’t want to boast.”  “Show me your moves,” Rose coaxes him.  “The world doesn’t end because the Doctor dances.”

He finally steps down and takes her hands.  Hey, not a cut or a bruise on them, despite the barrage balloon business.  “Captain Jack fixed me up,” Rose mentions, deciding, “I think you’ve experiencing captain envy.”  While the Doctor complains Jack’s not even a real Captain, Rose observes, “You’ll find your feet at the end of your legs.  You may care to move them.”  Hee!  No, really, if Jack was a Captain, he was de-frocked.  “Actually I quit,” Jack notes. “No one takes my frock.”   Though they haven’t noticed they teleported, they’ve joined him in his spaceship.

“You guys are so sweet,” Jack teases Rose and the Doctor.  It took him a while to override the ship’s security protocols to beam them up.  “Maybe you should remember whose ship this is,” the Doctor scoffs, but “Oh, I do,” Jack tells him.  “She was gorgeous.”  What a thieving charmer!  Soon the nanogenes in Jack’s ship heal the Doctor’s burns from the console.  They need to head back to the crash site now, the Doctor orders.  Just a mo while Jack gets the nav-comm back online: “Carry on with whatever it was you were doing.”  “We were talking about dancing,” the Doctor says defensively.  “It didn’t look like talking,” Jack contributes.  “It didn’t feel like dancing,” Rose adds.  Everyone, stop ganging up on the Doctor!  He’s sensitive!

Nancy uses the wire cutters to break into the site, but gets immediately.  Jack’s friend Algy and his men handcuff her to a table in a tent with an ailing soldier. “Not with him,” Nancy pleads, for he’s displaying the soon-to-turn-zombie symptoms.  She begs the man to let her go: “in a minute you won’t be you anymore; you won’t even remember you.”  Though she tries to keep him talking, he soon stammers out “Mummy!” and chokes up a gas-mask.

“So you used to be a time agent, and now you’re trying to con them,” Rose notes, trying to figure out the sexy fit enigma that is Captain Jack Harkness.  It’s actually not for the money. They stole two years of his memories, and understandably, “I’d like them back.”  If the Doctor doesn’t’ trust him, “for all I know, he’s right not to.”  Aaaand we have backstory!

Rose proposes to distract the guards at the site, but Jack spots Algy and says, “Trust me, you’re not his type.  I’ll distract him.  Don’t wait up.”  Awww, yeah!  The Doctor tells a surprised Rose Jack’s a fifty-first century kind of guy.  “He’s a bit more flexible when it comes to dancing.”  But Jack’s sassy “Hey Tiger, how’s it hangin?” gets in return a boner-killing, “Are you my mummy?” Ew.  Poor Algy quickly chokes out his own gas mask.

“The effects have become airborne,” the Doctor realizes.  Well, crap.   The sirens blare; the bomb Jack’s mentioned is on its way.  Hardly the worst of their problems: if the contaminants keep spreading, it’s the end of the entire human race.  “And can anyone else hear singing?” the Doctor asks.  It’s Nancy, who managed to lull the soldier to sleep with “Rock a Bye, Baby.”  The Doctor sonics off her handcuffs, and she joins them as they search for the Chula ambulance.  Jack prods it and sets off the emergency protocols.  In the hospital, the Child cries out, “Mummy!” and his army of zombies starts pushing against the gates.

Rose and Nancy head off to mend the barbed wire.  When Rose tries to convince Nancy she’s from the future, “what future?” Nancy asks sorrowfully.  “But you’re not — German,” Nancy finally says.  “The Germans don’t win,” Rose tells her.  “You win!”  Nancy looks stunned as I break into a rousing rendition of the four lines of “Rule Britannia!” I happen to know.

“It’s empty,” Jack says when they pry the ambulance open.  “What do you expect in a Chula medical transporter?” the Doctor quizzes, calling on Rose.  “Nanogenes!” she says (second try, but still!).  “Oh god,” Jack murmurs.  The Doctor catches us up: nanogenes brought Jamie back to life.  They don’t know what a human’s supposed to look like, so they took for their model Jamie, gas mask, injuries, scar and all.  “The entire human race is going to be torn down and rebuilt in the form of one terrified child looking for its mother, and nothing in the world can stop it!”

“Rose!” Nancy yells, seeing the zombies assembling.  The nanogenes have equipped them for the front line: “they’re good little soldiers, waiting for their commander.”  “The Child?” Jack asks.  “Not the ‘child’, Jamie,” Nancy corrects him angrily.  Bit close to the volcano for Jack, the Doctor asks archly.  “He’s just a little boy who wants his mummy,” Nancy says, crying.  “There isn’t a little boy born who wouldn’t tear the world apart to save his mummy,” the Doctor agrees.  “And this little boy can.”

“It’s all my fault,” Nancy sobs.  No, that can’t be, the Doctor begins.  Then he takes another look at her.  How old was she five years ago — 15, 16?  Old enough to give birth, anyway.  Jamie isn’t her brother, he’s her son.   “He’s going to keep asking, Nancy; he’s never going to stop,” the Doctor says, and even in this crisis he manages to sound kind.  “Nancy, the future of the human race is in your hands,” he urges her.  “Trust me, and tell him.”

“Are you my mummy?” the child asks again, and Nancy finally breaks down, crouching to hold him.  “I am your mummy.  I will always be your mummy.  I’m so sorry,” she says through her tears.

“Come on, please,” the Doctor mutters as the nanogenes surround Nancy and Jamie; if the bots can recognized the shared DNA, they’ll recognize her form is better, and change him rather than her.  “Oh come on, give me a day like this, give me this one,” the Doctor pleads.  When he takes the mask from Jamie’s face, he reveals a regular smiling little boy, huzzah!

What about the bomb? Rose reminds him.  “Taken care of it,” the Doctor says.  “Psychology.”  His relentless guilt-trip on Jack worked.  They spot Jack sitting astride the bomb — he makes for a far sexier detonation rider than Slim Pickins, I’ll tell you — in his own tractor beam.  He’ll get rid of it for them.  “By the way,” he tells Rose before he disappears, “Love the t-shirt!”

The Doctor gathers a ball of nanogenes.  “Software patch,” he tells Rose.  “I’m going to email the upgrade.”  He may not have Jack’s fancy (and fatigue-able *coughs*) scanners and guns, but “you want moves, Rose?  I’ll give you moves.”  In a wonderful twist, he sends the nanogenes out to heal the waiting zombie patients.  “Just this once,” he tells Rose, “everybody lives.”  And here I thought I couldn’t love the Doctor any more — HOW WRONG WAS I?  <3

“Back on your feet, Constant Doctor,” the Doctor merrily tells the healed and confused Dr. Constantine.  It’s a bit awkward they’re in an abandoned railway yard, but you know, cutbacks, the Doctor informs him.  Now not only are his patients better, they might find they’re quite a bit better than they were.  A woman hustles up to Dr. Constantine; it seems her leg’s grown back.  “There is a war on,” he says mildly.  “Is it possible you miscounted?” Heeee!

The Doctor calls out to all to beat the Germans, save the world, and “don’t forget the welfare state!”  He sets the ambulance to self-destruct, because there’s supposed to be an explosion here, and “who am I to argue with history?”  “Usually the first in line,” Rose notes.  Everything will work out now.  The nanogenes will help everyone they harmed and switch off at the Doctor’s orders.  Nancy and Jamie will go to Dr Constantine for help, and get help — the Doctor has helped Constantine discover a chance to act as father and grandfather again despite the loss of his own family. Look at him, Rose laughs, “beaming away like you’re Father Christmas!”  “Who says I’m not — red bicycle when you were twelve,” the Doctor replies.  Eeeee, this is 100% true to me now!  He’s on fire — ask him anything!  Er, what about Jack?

Jack, with the bomb on board, learns from his ship any attempt to jettison it will precipitate detonation.  With no escape pod, and the stasis decaying, “exactly how dead am I?” Jack asks.  “Termination of Captain Jack Harkness in under two minutes, 100% probability,” his ship informs him.  Though he’s visibly upset, he orders “emergency protocol 417,” a Martini with a bit too much vermouth.  He reminisces about the last time he was sentenced to death: after four hyper-vodkas for breakfast, he woke up the next morning in bed with both his executioners.  “Lovely couple,” he recalls.  “They stayed in touch.  Can’t say that about most executioners.”

Jack’s rather swingin’ imminent death gets interrupted when he notices his ship opens into the TARDIS.  “Well, hurry up, then,” Rose calls out and goes back to instructing the Doctor how to dance.  “Close the door, will you?” the Doctor complains to Jack.  “Your ship’s about to blow up; there will be a draft!”

You make Captain Jack feel like dancin’! As do many, many other species…

Much bigger on the inside, Jack marvels, and “you’d better be,” the Doctor shoots back.  Though Rose thinks this means the Doctor’s giving Jack permission to cut in, “Rose, I just remembered,” the Doctor interrupts, “I can dance!”  Jack might like this dance, Rose tells him.  “I’m sure he would, Rose. I’m absolutely certain,” the Doctor exclaims joyfully. “But who with?”

The Doctor, Rose and their new omnisexual fifty-first century companion TARDIS off into the night, oooo-wheee-whooo-ooo!  Join me tomorrow as I recap “Boom Town”!

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  • Ellie

    I don’t think I can say enough how much I really like this story and these two episodes. Mainly because of the dialogue between The Doctor, Jack and Rose. All the banana/sonic screwdriver/’dancing’ jokes going through them and great and I think really make this story stand out. It manages to be funny yet scary (they make gas masks so CREEPY) and patriotic (yay England), as well as having a good plot with a great ending.

    And it’s so true when the Doctor points out that, for once, everybody lives. There aren’t many Dr Who episodes where that is the case :P

    From this episode onwards I enjoyed the series so much more, I think I got into it and realised how entertaining it can be :D

    • There really is a wonderful camaraderie between the three of them, I agree!

      This arc makes for a near-perfect story — I’m not at all surprised it made you embrace the series more fully. It’s a good one for the must-see list of 5 or 10 eps to show people who are new to the series, to get them to watch the whole.