**Warning! Here there be spoilers! DO NOT read ahead if you have not watched through Series 6, episode 4 of Doctor Who. If you have, or don’t care, read on, but don’t get mad…**
Neil Gaiman hit it on the head with this highly anticipated episode. We knew it was coming since before the fifth season aired, and it does not disappoint–although it really does not do what I expected. But really, when does Neil Gaiman do what people expect? I loved this episode, which really cuts to the core of Doctor Who, featuring the most constant star of the show: the TARDIS.
The Doctor gets mail! This mail comes in the form of a hypercube, a small box in which Time Lords store telepathic messages so that they can communicate with each other in periods of extreme danger–sort of black boxes for their consciousnesses. This hypercube contains an SOS from a Time Lord whose voice the Doctor recognizes, and it brings them to the House (voiced by Michael Sheen), a sentient junkyard planetoid which exists outside the universe. At the same time, the TARDIS‘ matrix disappears, leaving the Doctor, Amy, and Rory inside a powerless blue box.
As they begin to explore the planetoid, they are greeted by a raving woman, followed by a motley trio, two human-like beings and an Ood–Uncle, Auntie, and Nephew. Idris (Suranne Jones), the raving woman, kisses the Doctor, then bites him, babbling all the way. Amy and Rory are then locked in the TARDIS, which has a new consciousness in place of the TARDIS matrix–House has switched the TARDIS consciousness out, placing himself into it, and he intends to make Amy and Rory his entertainment. He messes with their minds, torturing them as they wander aimlessly throughout the corridors.
Meanwhile on the planetoid, Idris begins to make a bit more sense, and she reveals herself as the TARDIS–her consciousness was transferred into the body of Idris. House has lured Time Lords and their TARDISes to his planetoid throughout the centuries, feeding off of their energy. However, when he realized that the Doctor was the last of the Time Lords, he knew he had one last chance to escape, so he stole the TARDIS. The Doctor and Idris cobble together a new TARDIS from the scraps in the junkyard and they chase down the stolen one, rescuing Amy and Rory in the nick of time. Also, we have a brief return to the control room used during the Eccleston/Tennant/Davies years, which was stored in the TARDIS’ memory, as Amy and Rory are telepathically guided by the TARDIS to safety from House, which is a nice touch.
Honestly, Neil Gaiman has penned an astonishingly good episode. It was frightening, suspenseful, very funny, and quite touching. Gaiman puts a new spin on the story of the beginning of the Doctor’s relationship with the TARDIS. At the end of the second Doctor‘s (Patrick Traughton’s) run in 1969, he is confronted by the Time Lords for having stolen the TARDIS. Here, the TARDIS claims to have chosen the Doctor because she wanted to see the universe. This is the first time that the Doctor has been able to actually communicate with his beloved TARDIS. They have the chance to get to know each other; witty banter flies back and forth as they rehash much of their former history. It really is the love story of a man and his blue box. She is there while the companions come and go. Finally, as she forces House out of her matrix and re-establishes control over herself, the TARDIS and the Doctor have some really touching, heartfelt moments. She voices the thing that we all knew, as well: She doesn’t always take the Doctor where he wants to go, but where he needs to go. They are the perfect team, and they love each other–he even calls her sexy when no one’s looking.
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Next Episodes: “The Rebel Flesh & The Almost People“