Doctor Who 2.09 – The Satan Pit

Oods cluster round him, like moths to a flaaaame,/And if The Beast burns, the Doctor’s not to blaaaame!

As everything on the Impossible planet goes nutso, security head Jefferson opens fire.  When the three Ood attacking destroy another Random Guard with their Drink Orbs of Doom, Jefferson kills them.  In the Control room, Zack seals the doors before more Ood attack.

 Agreeing with Jefferson they need to initiate Strategy 9, Zack asks if Rose has heard from the Doctor.  No, radio silence — until the Doctor finally checks in, telling them the seal at Point Zero is open, but nothing’s coming out.  “You could’ve said, you stupid,” Rose rails, her undoubtedly awesome stream of cussing cut off by a zap of feedback.  Kiss your mother with that mouth, Rose?  And in fact, we know she does!

The Captain orders Ida and the Doctor to withdraw, but Ida goes all renegade and turns off her wrist comm.  The Doctor agrees he’d check out that Pit “in a second,” a move he declares “so human!”  It’s the back-of-the-head impulse to explore “where angels fear to tread.” But, “For once in my life…I’m going to say retreat,” he admits reluctantly.

“He’s clean,” Rose insists, blocking Jefferson from shooting Toby (he’s no longer covered in demon scribble).  At Point Zero, Ida explains Strategy Nine: the crew assembles safely under lockdown, and the other airlocks open.  The remaining Ood would be sucked into space.  “So we’re going back to a slaughter?” the Doctor asks.

You know, what bugs me isn’t only how everyone already treats the Ood like animals (witness Jefferson saying the “livestock” were “contaminated” last ep; even the Doctor’s word “slaughter” reinforces the idea of killing domesticated creatures), but that this strategy to expel the Ood already existed.  Remember, up to this point they showed only total compliance and eagerness to serve.  It’s a vicious, paranoid world up there on Sanctuary Base 6.

The Ood continue to serve as possessed mouthpieces for The Beast, rattling off the names of various devil figures.  Which religion’s beast are they, the Doctor asks.  “All of them!” the Ood/Beast replies.  “What, you’re the truth behind the myth?” the Doctor scoffs, to which the Ood chant, “This one knows me as I know him.  The killer of his own kind.”  Eep.  He’s been chained to the center of this planet, banished by the Disciples of Light before “time and space and matter” existed, before the universe was created.

“All of you, so small,” the Ood/Beast say scornfully, calling out Zack on his fear of commanding, Jefferson on his conflict with his wife, Ida for her daddy issues, Danny because he’s a liar (presumably about knowing the first thing about ethical treatment of anyone, I’d wager), Toby because he’s a VIRGIN WHO CAN’T DRIVE, and Rose, the “lost girl” the “valiant child” who will soon die in battle.  Confusion erupts, everyone talking at once.

The Doctor orders everyone to stop, explaining the Beast play on their most basic fears.  “That’s how the devil works,” Danny says.  “Or a good psychologist,” the Doctor points out.  They’ve got to focus instead on their strengths: how daring this mission is, how brave they all are, how brilliant their ambitions, how they’re stronger as a group while the Beast is alone.  At this, the cable to the capsule holding the Doctor and Ida breaks; they escape to the ground at Point Zero before the weight of “miles of steel” hit.  They’re stuck, with only 55 minutes left of air in their space suits– eeee, classic sci-fi!!!

The Ood have gotten hold of bolt cutters, and in 8 minutes they’ll reach Jefferson and the others at Door 25.  Everyone stalls, shocked, but Rose rallies them to “think your way out of this!” The Captain channels the rocket fuel for power:  “let there be light!”, Danny searches for a way to incapacitate the Ood, and Rose, clearly in charge of the whole shebang, sets Toby to translating more demon script.

Ida, edgy with the prospect of oxygen running out, proposes they use those “miles of steel” of cable to lower her into the pit, “even if it’s the last thing we ever achieve.”  It’s half of a good plan; the Doctor goes instead of her.  Above ground, Danny figures out broadcasting a flare will disrupt the Ood’s telepathy; they must, however, transmit from Ood Habitation.  Hey, Danny, that place you had the Ood standing was where they live?  That didn’t look like a habitation so much as a skeevy locker room.  Just saying.

A plan forms: they’ll sneak through tunnels meant for machinery while the Captain aerates them with oxygen so they can reach the Ood Habitation.  Down at Point Zero, the Doctor stands at the edge of the open pit, talking about “that itch” to “go down, go down, go down.”  Ida says it’s their “genetic heritage”, so humans will push themselves to explore.  But it’s deeper than that, the Doctor realizes:  “It’s the urge to fall,” he says as he leaps into the pit.

Ida puts the brake on then lowers the Doctor down into the abyss.  On the base, armed with the code for the flare broadcast, the others sneak into the tunnels on all fours (and, being human, make butt jokes).  Danny panics in the small spaces, especially as the Ood break into the tunnels; their progress depends on Zack aerating one tunnel (and compressing the previous one) manually, so they can’t easily move ahead.

As the Ood get closer, Jefferson insists on taking a defensive position while the others scuttle ahead.  Zack gives Jefferson orders to move, but Jefferson keeps shooting at the Ood, taking a few out.  His bravery costs him; he reaches the next vent door as it’s closing.  Zack tells him regretfully he can’t save him.  “And quite right too, sir,” Jefferson agrees.  Since he bought them some time, he asks a favor — Zack should cut off the air so he’ll die of asphyxiation instead of getting attacked and killed by the Ood.  “Godspeed, Mr Jefferson,” Zack says, making the deceased report “with honors”.

Zack opens the next gate for the rest, but crap, there’s a gaggle of demonic Ood on the other side!  Rose breaks her way up; the others follow, but not before Toby, the last one and almost caught, turns red-eyed again and goes all “sshh!” conspiratorially to the Ood.  This I don’t get.  Because they’re all The Beast, right?  Do they really need to wink and nudge if they’re sharing the original demonic consciousness?

Danny and the others rush to Ood Habitation and insert the code for flare broadcast, switching the BASIC Ood level to Zero.  The Ood clutch their heads, collapsing; even the Ood who broke in to face Zack fall to the ground.

As he’s lowered downward the Doctor considers how legends of a million worlds share the image of a devil.  Could The Beast be the “original” — if not the actual Devil, at least the original idea of evil?  The cable runs out; there’s no way of telling how much further the Pit goes.  The Doctor proposes he detach the cable:  “Call it an act of faith.”  Yes, The Beast’s claim to exist before the universe doesn’t fit what the Doctor believes, but that’s why he travels, “to be proved wrong.”  As Ida pleads for him not to go, the Doctor asks if she sees Rose, “Just tell her — tell her — oh, she knows!”  He detaches the cable, falling into darkness.  Badass!

Ida opens her wrist comm to tell everyone the Doctor fell into the pit.  “He said your name,” she tells Rose.  Zack undertakes yet another thankless Captain task, telling Ida there’s no way for them to reach and rescue her.  “You should see this place,” she says, looking at the ornate statues and caverns.  “It’s beautiful.”  The only thing for the rest to do is declare the mission unsafe.  “Just go.  Good luck,” Ida tells them.

Rose refuses to leave the Base with the others; the Doctor waited for her.  Even if he is dead, as Zack says, she can’t leave him all alone down there.  Zack, frustrated by losing “two people” (his crew members; I guess it wasn’t such a big deal losing the Random Guards), makes another Captain-ly decision.  Rose is to come whether she likes it or not:  Danny and Toby restrain her, and Zack drugs her for the rocket trip to Earth.

The Doctor opens his eyes.  The glass from his helmet shattered, but he can breathe.  He tries to call for Ida to let her know to take her helmet off.  On the rocket, Danny warns Rose is going to be a “problem passenger.”  Sure enough, when she comes to, the first thing she does is grab the bolt gun with its one bolt Zack had held as a last resort against the Ood.  “Is that what your Doctor would want?” — for Rose to shoot him, Zack asks.

The Doctor examines a cave painting of The Beast before spotting a pair of urns.  When he touches one, they glow, illuminating a hidden portion of the cave and casting light on the enormous Beast chained to the wall.

Tale older than time! Song older than rhyme! The Doctor and the Beeeaaassttttt!

On the rocket, Toby giggles like a freak, because he’s red-eyed and evil if he isn’t currently scrawled with demon script.  Even if the Doctor doesn’t believe in Satan, “I accept that you exist,” the Doctor tells the Beast.  But why can’t the Beast talk now, when he was so voluble and snarky before?  It’s just the body that’s chained, the Doctor realizes:  “What happened to your mind?”  He looks upward, murmuring, “Oh, no.”

 Whoever created this planet and the black hole as the Beast’s prison made escape impossible — if he gets free, the planet gets sucked into nothingness.  “But an idea is hard to kill,” the Doctor says, thinking aloud as is his wont.  It can escape.  If the Doctor destroys the prison, the body and mind would go with it.  The Beast’s manipulating him even now; to destroy the planet, the rocket with Rose aboard also gets annihilated.  And the Doctor isn’t prepared to sacrifice Rose; it’s basically against every fiber in his being.

But as Rose reckons on the rocket that their escape was too easy, and Toby tells her to shut up the eff up because he’s all evil, the Doctor realizes the Beast’s plan relies on Rose being the victim.  The Doctor’s encountered all types gods in his travels, and if he believes in one thing “out of that whole Pantheon, I believe in her.”  He smashes the urn.

The rocket loses control; just as the planet is pulled, it’s yanked toward the black hole.  “This is your freedom: freedom to die,” the Doctor tells the Beast, who howls as flame bursts out all over him.  On the rocket, Toby, once again all inked up, breathes fire, and launches into a diatribe how he’ll never die and cannot be destroyed.

Burn out the day! Burn out the night!/Toby sees no reason to put up a fight!/He’s living for giving the Devil his due!/And he’s burning, he’s burning, he’s burning…for you?

But Rose thinks quickly, and shooting out the rocket glass with the bolt from her gun, says “Go to hell!” to Toby!Demon, unbuckling him so he’s sucked into space.

 “Some victory,” Zack says, though Rose insists “It’s what the Doctor would have done.”  Still, they’ll be the first people to fall into a black hole, and that’s something.  As the planet below shakes in a gravitational quake, the Doctor falls back — against the TARDIS, yays!  He manages to stabilize the rocket with his ship’s tractor beam, towing them in the right direction to fly for Earth.  And while they’re at it, how about a trade?  A slightly oxygen-starved but still living Ida for one Rose Tyler?

The Doctor could only save Ida; the Ood all perished with the planet.  And here’s where I rewound to verify that, yes, as Toby reassumes the full demonic persona, the poor, poor Ood come back to awareness as themselves and look around in confusion and fear, moments before they’re pulled into the black hole with the planet.  And that — well, it just sucks, is what it does.  If they were possessed, they wouldn’t have known; small mercies, I know, but how horrible that they comprehended their doom as their innocent selves?

What was that thing, anyway, Rose asks the Doctor on the TARDIS (after they have a cute reunion with her kicking her legs and him spinning her round).  Whatever it was, they defeated it; that’s good enough for the Doctor.  How about what the Beast said, that Rose would die in battle?  Oh, obviously it was lying, says the Doctor.  No worries about that, even though it was obviously telling the truth about Ida and Jefferson and Zack and Danny and Toby being A VIRGIN WHO CAN’T DRIVE!  Eep.

As Zack and Danny prepare to go, he asks who are the Doctor and Rose, really?  “The stuff of legend,” the Doctor says grandly before shutting off communication.  And as the rocket heads for Earth, Zack records Toby’s name as dying, “with honor” and begins to name each and every Ood (and this is where everything got blurry for me; I can’t help it, I’m very Ood-sympathetic) as also deceased “with honor”.  A little after the fact, but still.

Oooh weehooaaahh ooooooowoooo!  Now I’m back in the swing; sorry if the recaps this week were a little bit behind the normal schedule.  But we’re back on track next week with our Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday recap days as we pick up another adventure with Rose and the Doctor, 2.10 “Love and Monsters”!  See you then!

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  • Fabrisse

    This two parter really was classic sci-fi. I loved it.

    • I agree with you! It made me toe-wrigglingly happy!

  • Ellie

    I love this episode!

    I also love how, almost every series, there’s an episode where the Dr + Companion finds a human spacecrew, numbering about a dozen, and by the end of the episode there’s on average 3 left. They do like their high death tolls!

    Also love the ood.
    And the fact that this episode actually tries to go deeper than others, in terms of dancing around religion and things like that.

    Yay Dr Who :D

    • Okay, I hilarious read “human spacescrew” and nodded sagely, thinking, yes, a horror-sci-fi meld where they get picked off one by one is a space-screw.” I think I’ve invented a new term to drop in recaps!

      I have So Many Feelings about the Ood. I hope they turn up again!