By Heather S. Vina
Written by: Gareth Roberts
Recap: It’s a London department store – Sanderson and Grainger – closing up for the night. The lights are flickering and one of the clerks, Kelly (Holli Dempsey), complains about it to her supervisor. She hints that she’s going to be late for her date if she has to cash out. Shona (Seroca Davis), the supervisor, tells her that she will do it, instead, and for Kelly to head out to her date.
A little flat in London. It’s Craig (James Corden) and Sophie (Daisy Haggard) from “The Lodger” (5.11), and they’re still together and happy! How sweet. I really liked those two. I’m so glad they’re still together. Anyway, she’s telling him about dinners, and how she numbered them, and he’s reassuring her that he can “cope” on his own. Seems she’s going away for a weekend for a rest. She and their families are worried about him being on his own. There has to be more to it, since Craig is an adult and has been on his own for years before he and Sophie hooked up.
Back at the department store, Shona is frustrated to find the dressing room trashed. Seems Kelly left more for her to do than cash out. Kind of a rude one, Kelly is. She hears a strange noise in one of the dressing rooms. She calls out to the person she thinks is in there and tells them they have two more minutes.
Back at Craig and Sophie’s, Craig is calling up his mom and telling her that he can cope on his own; there’s no need to worry. He tells her that no one is coming to help him. As he does, there’s a knock on the door. Craig gets off the phone with his mother and opens the door, shocked to see the Doctor there! He asks the Doctor how Sophie could have possibly reached the Doctor to check up on him, but the Doctor has no idea what he’s talking about. He’s just there for a “social call”.
The Doctor awkwardly asks Craig how he is and tells him that he, himself, is fine, then says goodbye. However, just as the Doctor’s turning away, the lights start flickering and he senses that something is wrong. He rushes into the house with his sonic screwdriver drawn and scans the place. He realizes that Craig really isn’t on his own and questions Craig, who is trying to shush him. He heads for a door.
Back at Sanderson and Grainger, Shona is continuing to clean up the hallway, and the lights are continuing to flicker. It’s clear to the viewer that Shona is in some kind of horror situation, but not to her, as she keeps calling out to the person in the room!
The Doctor bursts into the room and shouts, “Whoever you are, get off the planet!” Alas, the Doctor is shouting that at a baby boy, who has woken up and is starting to cry. And we finally learn the reason why everyone is so worried about Craig “coping” on his own! It must be his first weekend alone with the baby, with no Sophie around. It’s quite a young baby. Maybe about 6 months old.
Shona continues heading towards the dressing room. As she opens the curtains, we see what is there at the same time as she does: a Cyberman! It looks a bit beat-up, too.
Back at Craig and Sophie’s, Craig is explaining to the Doctor that this is his first time alone with his son and he’s having a hard time being with the baby by himself. Seems the baby is crying all the time. Despite everyone telling him that his fatherly instincts will kick in, Craig’s hasn’t yet, and he feels like he doesn’t know what he’s doing. The Doctor does his magical “shush” move on the baby, which stops him from crying.
Craig tells the Doctor that the baby’s name is ‘Alfie’, and the Doctor informs Craig that Alfie prefers ‘Stormagedden, Dark Lord of All’. The Doctor speaks Baby (mentioned previously in 6.07, “A Good Man Goes To War”). He informs Craig that Alfie considers Craig and the Doctor both “Not Mum”, and everyone else as “peasants”. Alfie’s a budding little dictator!
Craig asks the Doctor why he’s there. He checked out the neighbours on either side; he checked out the top floor of the place. No aliens and everything’s real. The Doctor informs him that he’s just there for a pop-in, kind of a farewell tour, and then he’s off to see the “Alignment of Exedor”: 17 galaxies in perfect unison. It only happens at a very specific time and the Doctor is just right on schedule for seeing it.
The Doctor picks up a newspaper to check the date, but then sees something in it that worries him. He sets it down and tells Craig he’s just in for quick visit: “Never mind that.” Craig calls him on it, pointing out that he has his “noticing face on” and Craig has nightmares about that face. The Doctor denies this, uses the “shushing” move on Craig when Craig asks why the Doctor said, “Farewell tour,” and then heads out.
Once outside, the Doctor moves towards the TARDIS, but no matter how much he tries, he can’t deny that he is sensing something is wrong. He pulls out the Sonic Screwdriver and does a quick scan. There’s residue of a patino energy reading. He tries to convince himself to ignore it, that he’s done saving them, but alas, it’s the Doctor.
The next day at Sanderson and Grainger, Craig and Alfie find the Doctor working in the toy department! Seems he didn’t head off to the Alignment of Exedor, after all, but instead, got a job at the department store. While talking with Craig, the Doctor sees something scurry down the end of the aisle and follows it. Craig corners him and demands that he tell him what is going on. The Doctor finally admits to Craig that what he noticed in the paper were reports of several missing people that the police haven’t connected yet, and that he realized that the power fluctuations started happening around the same time as those people disappeared.
The Doctor leads Craig and Alfie to a broken lift, and fixes it with the Sonic Screwdriver. He gets Craig and Alfie on, but ends up getting on, as well, as Craig presses him on what’s going on. The Doctor tells him that someone’s been using a teleport in this area. He informs him that it could be disguised as anything. Hmmm…like a lift, maybe?
While on the lift, the Doctor, Craig and Alfie are transported to the Cyberman ship. The Doctor tries to distract Craig from seeing where they are by confessing that he “loves him.” However, Craig turns around and screams at the sight of the Cybermen. The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to reverse the lift back to the department store. He tells Craig that they were Cyberman and he fused the teleport so that they can’t use it again. But they will come back and he has to find them before they do. He urges Craig to take Alfie and go, but Craig informs the Doctor that he’s seen enough to know that people who aren’t around the Doctor are killed, and he and Alfie are safest right next to the Doctor. The Doctor gives in and they go back to the Department store to investigate.
Well, Craig is partially right about the safest place being next to the Doctor. If you’re a Companion, you’re golden. If you’re just a ,drop-in guest, then you’re probably dead meat. Just ask Rita and Howie last week. Though Gibbis fared okay.
Anywho, the Doctor, Craig and Alfie head back into the store, where the Doctor sends Craig and Alfie off to investigate, informing Craig that people like to talk to someone with a baby. Which is why he usually brings a human with him. The Doctor stops to ask a fellow worker, Val (Lynda Baron), if she has seen anything unusual around the place. At first, it appears that the only thing she can supply him with is a bit of gossip about fellow workers. But she soon brings up a “silver rat” running around the place, decidedly peaking the Doctor’s interest.
In the women’s undergarments department, Craig almost gets himself thrown out when his interrogating skills make him appear to be a pervert in front of Kelly, the clerk from the opening scene. The Doctor rushes over and manages to stop Craig from being thrown out by George (Chris Obi), the security guard. Both George and Kelly greet the Doctor with enthusiasm. Between them and Val, the Doctor has become very popular in the mere day that he’s been working at the store!
Kelly starts going on about how stressful her day has become, since Shona hasn’t shown up for work. The Doctor immediately latches onto this and asks her when she last saw Shona.
The Doctor and Craig head off into the dressing room where Shona disappeared. The Doctor scans the room and realises that a Cyberman took Shona. He tells Craig about the Cybermen and the Cybermats: Cybermats are infiltrators who come in ahead of the Cybermen and collect power. But the Doctor doesn’t know why they would have picked a department store to infiltrate, when a power station would have been a better bet. He informs Craig that they are going to stay around the store until dark and then catch a Cybermat. Craig is worried over another possible invasion and gets upset with the Doctor. Alfie interrupts with a need for a diaper change and Craig takes off to change him, leaving the Doctor in the hall.
Waiting for Craig, the Doctor is shocked to see Amy and Rory walking towards him. The pair don’t see the Doctor and are interrupted by a little girl, who asks for Amy’s autograph. The Doctor watches them until they leave then turns around to see Amy’s face staring at him from an advertisement for a perfume called “Petrichor”, made for the “girl tired of waiting.” “Petrichor” is the word for the smell of dust after a rain, which was one of the passwords used in “The Doctor’s Wife” (6.3). The one thing I can’t figure out is if Amy is just a model in the ad for the perfume, or if the perfume is hers. I’m kind of surprised she took up perfumery, but, from the fact that the name of the perfume is a word that only she and Rory would know, I lean towards it actually being her perfume.
Anyway, later that night, the Doctor and Craig investigate the closed store. Down in the basement, George is investigating something when the lights flicker. Back upstairs, the Doctor catches a Cybermat and deactivates it when it tries to attack him. Craig freaks out over the near-attack, but both are distracted by George’s scream. The Doctor rushes on ahead and finds George unconscious on the ground. He moves to help him, when he gets knocked out by the Cyberman.
Craig and Alfie find the Doctor and rouse him. Seems the Cyberman took George. The Doctor tells Craig that the Cyberman looked damaged and the only reason he’s still alive is that the Cyberman’s arm was broken. Craig is worried they are outnumbered and convinces the Doctor to head back to their “base” – Craig and Sophie’s flat.
Back at the flat, Craig leaves the Doctor alone with Alfie, while he heads off to get some milk. As soon as Craig leaves, Alfie starts crying and the Doctor goes to try to comfort him. The poor baby has some nightlight mobile shining in his face as he’s trying to sleep; no wonder he’s crying! I’d be crying, too, if I had light-up stars moving around and shining in my eyes when I’m trying to sleep!
The Doctor tries to comfort Alfie, but ends up giving a depressing speech about the soul-sucking things Alfie has to look forward to when he grows up. But he stops himself and admits he was crabby. He’s feeling old and tired. He picks Alfie up and tells him that he has his whole life ahead of him; he can even walk amongst the stars. The Doctor changes Alfie’s stars nightlight to show the real universe and it is quite beautiful. Now, that would be a nightlight worth having!
He tells Alfie that, when he was younger, he dreamed of walking among the stars, and it’s safe to say that he lived his dream. As he’s telling him this, the Cybermat has reactivated and made its way up the stairs. The Doctor hears it behind him and manages to stun it, running out of the room with Alfie. However, in his rush out the back door, he drops the Sonic Screwdriver, locking him and Alfie out of the house, just as Craig is walking in the front door!
The Doctor tries calling Craig to warn him away from the house, but Craig doesn’t answer the phone as he lets himself back into the house. The Cybermat attacks Craig, so the Doctor breaks through the glass sliding door to save Craig (He leaves Alfie safely in the jumper seat outside). Between the two of them, they manage to subdue the Cybermat long enough for the Doctor to “kill” it.
The Doctor works on the Cybermat. While he does, he tells Craig that it was his fault that Craig and Alfie were in danger, that he’s stupid and selfish, that he puts the people around him in danger. Craig tells him to stop beating himself up. If he hadn’t been there, the whole world would have been in ruin. The Doctor tells him that, soon, he won’t be there. His time is running out. He brings up the “Silence will Fall when the question is asked” prophecy. He tells Craig that “tomorrow is the day” that he dies and he can’t put it off, anymore. He looks over to see Craig’s reaction, but Craig has fallen asleep with Alfie on his chest.
That morning, the Doctor heads out with the reprogrammed Cybermat, leaving Craig and Alfie behind. Craig is woken by the sound of Sophie leaving a message on the voice machine, telling him that she will be back later on that day. Craig finds a note from the Doctor on the refrigerator, informing him that he’s gone off to stop the Cybermen.
At the department store, the Doctor realizes that the Cybermen have created a corridor from their ship to the dressing room where Shona disappeared from. Their ship isn’t in space; it’s underneath the store.
Craig and Alfie make it into the store, where Craig runs into Val, who informs him that the Doctor headed in the direction of the dressing rooms. Craig hands Alfie off to Val and then heads in that direction.
In the ship, the Doctor is confronted by the Cybermen. The Doctor deduces that the ship crashed with no survivors. But when the Council put the power cables above the ship, they revived it. The automatic systems did their best to build a Cyberman out of spare parts and activated it. The Doctor informs the Cybermen that they have a choice: Deactivate themselves or the Doctor will. But the Doctor is outnumbered and the Cybermen gain control of him.
Craig rushes in and tries to save the Doctor with a hand scanner, but ends up getting captured, as well. Since the Doctor is incompatible, the Cybermen decide to use Craig as their leader. Helpless, the Doctor watches as they strap Craig into the conversion chamber. His reprogrammed Cybermat is easily crushed by one of the Cybermen and the only weapon left to the Doctor is his voice, as he urges Craig to fight the Cybermen’s efforts to strip away Craig’s emotions. The Doctor tells him that he believes in him; he believes in the human race. He always has. He’s going to die tomorrow, but he doesn’t mind, if Craig just “proves me right” that the human race can overcome anything.
Back in the store, Alfie senses something is wrong and starts crying. His voice is heard over the security cameras and the Doctor despondently calls out to the baby, telling him that he’s sorry – he can’t help Craig. One Cyberman informs the other that the cries are the cries of “fear” and are irrelevant, as they start the next conversion phase on Craig.
But the cries aren’t irrelevant to everyone.
The Cybermen are confused, as the emotional systems reboot themselves, and the Doctor realises that Craig is hearing Alfie’s cries. He urges Craig on, telling him that he wanted to prove he is a dad and that there’s no better time than right now to do that. The Doctor gleefully informs the Cybermen that a baby is crying and they had better watch out, because Daddy is coming! Craig starts breaking out of the system and the Doctor urges him on, telling him that Alfie needs him. As the Cybermen start feeling the effects of the emotional backlash from Craig, the Doctor breaks away from them and helps Craig finish breaking free from the machine. He informs Craig that the Cybermen are about to explode. He manages to fix the teleport and transport them back into the store before the ship explodes.
I don’t care how borderline corny some may think this scene is, or how corny it might be to some that the Power of Love saved the day and overcame the Cybermen, but this scene totally made me cry. It was beautiful. I think it was so beautiful because it’s the Doctor, who encompasses love for all beings, and it’s Craig, who is loveable and sweet and earnest. And for me, there really is nothing more beautiful than a parent’s all-encompassing and all-powerful love for their child. It’s what gives some people the strength to go on, when, if they were on their own, they might just give up. So, I loved it.
Anywho, Craig and Alfie are happily reunited, and the Doctor informs Craig that Alfie is giving him a “10 out of 10” review! Craig muses that he destroyed the Cybermen with love. The Doctor starts to inform him that it wasn’t really love, but then stops himself on Craig and Val’s looks, and agrees with Craig.
Later, the Doctor informs an uncaring Kelly that the store was insulated from the ship’s explosion and everything should be fine structurally. Craig has a new shirt, provided by the shop. Val asks if Craig and the Doctor are married, and the duo finally realize that she thinks that they are a couple. Craig laughs and tries to correct her, turning to the Doctor for help, but the Doctor is gone.
Back at the flat, Craig is shocked to see that the place has been cleaned up and is now spotless. From the back doors, the Doctor comes in and tells him that he “does come back.” He went back in time a few hours and got the place cleaned up. Craig is touched that he used up his time to clean up the place before Sophie got home. The Doctor informs him that he couldn’t let him get in trouble; they’re mates. Alfie gurgles. The Doctor tells Craig that Alfie is quite proud of his dad and now prefers being called “Alfie” instead of “Stormagedden”.
The Doctor informs him that it’s time for him to go, but Craig is worried about him. He knows that there’s something wrong. He offers his help to the Doctor, but the Doctor informs him that no one can help him now. He grabs some blue envelopes off the mantel and tells Craig that he needs them. When Craig asks where he’s heading to, the Doctor tells him, “America.” Craig tells him to wait “one second” and rushes to get something. He quickly returns with a Stetson from a stag party he once attended and the Doctor gleefully puts it on. He thanks Craig and heads out, just as there’s a knock on the door. Seems Sophie forgot her keys! The little family have a very happy reunion and Craig tells Sophie that nothing really happened while she was gone. However, Alfie blows this falsehood, when he finally says his first adult word: “Doctor”.
Outside, the Doctor sadly touches the TARDIS and calls her “old girl”. They’re due to have one more trip together. He turns to three children who are playing ball down the street. They walk up to him, staring curiously. He tells them he’s the Doctor and he was “here to help.” And they are very welcome. He tips his hat to them.
In a voiceover, we hear those three children as adults, flashing back to what they thought at that moment.
The first girl talks of how he looked so happy, but sad at the same time. The little boy talks about how he was just a kid and he thought he was a cowboy on his way to a gunfight. The third child, a girl, just liked his hat.
In the future, River Song finishes looking through the folders of the children’s eyewitness accounts and pulls out her TARDIS blue journal, reverently touching the pages that list the time and place of the Doctor’s death. From out of the shadows, a voice is heard repeating the “tick tock” rhyme. It’s Madame Kovarian (Frances Barber) and she has two Silence with her. River doesn’t recognise her. Madame Kovarian informs her that she won’t; they’ve been so careful with her head. River sees the Silence and freaks out, asking who they are. Madame Kovarian informs her that they are her “owners”. River turns back to her and immediately forgets the Silence.
Madame Kovarian congratulates River on being made a Doctor of Archaeology today and asks River if she understands what the time and place of “Lake Silencio” is. River tells her that it’s rumoured to be where the Doctor dies, but it’s just a story. Madame Kovarian informs her that, on that day, an “impossible astronaut” will rise from the deep and strike the Time Lord dead.
Two men enter the room with an astronaut suit and Madame Kovarian informs River that she never really escaped them; they always knew where she was. River tries to fight them, but she is overpowered. As River is tranqued, Madame Kovarian informs her that she made her who she is, the woman who kills the Doctor. And she starts to recite the rhyme again:
“Tick Tock, goes the clock,
And all the years they fly.
Tick Tock, and all too soon,
Your Love will surely die.”
River wakes up in the suit, underneath the ocean. The children’s voices take over the singing now.
“Tick Tock, goes the clock,
He cradled and he rocked her.
Tick Tock, goes the clock,
Till River kills the Doctor.”
Recap: Another excellent episode. It’s funny. When I saw the previews for this one, it seemed more like a standalone episode, which was surprising to me, considering it’s the penultimate episode of the season. But it actually turned out to be much more important, and much more connected to the season-long arc, than I thought it would be.
First off, I just adored having Craig back! I fell in love with him during his first appearance in “The Lodger”, and I loved the sweet relationship that developed between the Doctor and him. Watching it continue – with the Doctor, Craig and Alfie – was just heartwarmingly sweet. James Corden and Matt Smith have excellent chemistry together, and James is a wonderful guest star. He brings the right amount of comic timing, and warm heart, to the show. I really wouldn’t mind seeing him back, at all.
I adored the stuff with Baby Alfie, both with his dad and with the Doctor. The stuff with the Doctor translating for Alfie, AKA Stormagedden, was hilarious and cute! I really do love the idea that the Doctor can speak Baby!
I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of Sophie, but at least seeing her in the beginning and the end, and knowing that she and Craig are making it, was a really nice turn.
I loved the quiet sadness of the Doctor in this episode. Russell T. Davies should take notes on how you handle the Doctor handling his imminent death. Unlike Davies with Tennant’s last run as the Doctor, Moffat is handling this the way that it should be handled: with the Doctor being sad and mournful, but not pathetic and whiny, as Davies made Ten out to be. Unlike Ten, Eleven actually knows that he’s supposed to be “dying”. There’s no help of regeneration in there; this is final, the real deal. And he still does a farewell tour, but unlike Ten’s tour, it feels less self-serving and pathetic, and more about saying goodbye and taking a moment to mourn the loss of his life. I prefer this run so much more to the end run of Tennant’s Ten, which actually soured me on Ten and Tennant’s version of the Doctor, sadly enough.
According to the person who wrote up the Wikipedia entry for this episode, this version of the Doctor is 200 years older than the version who dropped off Amy and Rory. Which would fit with the fact that the Doctor who ‘dies’ in “The Impossible Astronaut” claimed to be that much older than the one who had traveled with the duo previously. But, unless I missed it, it’s never stated in the episode, itself, and I kind of cry foul on that point. For 200 years, the Doctor has been traveling along, having adventures, and we will never see them? He suddenly moves from 900-something to 1100-something years old? That’s the one part that I don’t like, is feeling like we went from 0 to 60, all off screen in the space between two episodes. Foul.
I loved seeing how the Doctor got the blue envelopes, and how he got the Stetson, though! Perfect that they came from someone he considers a “mate”.
Nice little cameo from Rory and Amy. I guess they are getting along well enough, especially if Amy is either modeling or creating her own perfume. Still strange that she’s creating perfumes, when we never knew she had this interest or inclination before. But then again, all we knew about her before was that she worked as a kiss-o-gram. Maybe once she was able to complete her issues with the Doctor, and settled down with Rory, she discovered a love of making scents. Either way, it was nice that the Doctor got to see the two for a second and I love the past episode usage in the name of the perfume – and the catch phrase used to sell it.
The Cybermen weren’t quite as scary as they have been, but that was all right, since they were a damaged battalion and this episode wasn’t about overpoweringly powerful bad guys. It was about bonding and heart, and the Doctor learning from someone earnest like Craig that he doesn’t bring trouble by simply being there; he saves people from the troubles that are already there. And if he weren’t there to save them, then they would all be dead. It was something that the Doctor really needed to hear and it was perfect coming from someone like Craig.
I loved the comedy touches in this episode, and I loved the spookyness and creepiness of the end scene, and Madame Kovarian catching up with River. Poor River. She thought she had escaped, but she hadn’t. They always had her on a short leash. It was heartbreaking, watching her try to fight and being devastated by the idea that she was going to kill the Doctor.
And those “tick tock” rhyming songs still creep me the heck out!
So, next week is it. Next week, we find out how the Doctor escapes from his “fixed point in time” death. If the death of the “best man she has ever known” that River is responsible for, and in prison for, is really the Doctor’s. If the Doctor and River are really married.
And what the question is that everyone is afraid of being answered.
Next week: “The Wedding of River Song”.
The Doctor: Oh, you’ve redecorated! I don’t like it.
Craig: It’s a different house. We’ve moved.
The Doctor: Oh, yeah, that’s it!
Craig: Doctor, what are you doing here?
The Doctor: Social call. I thought it was about time I tried it out.
The Doctor: So, when you say, ‘On your own….’
Craig: Yes, I meant ‘on my own’ with the baby, yes! ‘Cause no one thinks I can cope on my own, which is so unfair because I can’t cope on my own with him; I can’t! He just cries all the time! I mean, do they have off switches?
The Doctor: Human beings? No, believe me, I’ve checked.
Craig: No, I meant babies!
The Doctor: Same difference.
The Doctor: So, what did you call him? Will I blush?
Craig: No, we didn’t call him ‘The Doctor!’
The Doctor: No, I didn’t think you would.
The Doctor: Yes, he likes that, Alfie, though personally, he prefers to be called ‘Stormagedden, Dark Lord of All’.
Craig: Sorry, what?
The Doctor: That’s what he calls himself.
Craig: How do you know that?
The Doctor: I speak Baby.
The Doctor: No, he’s your dad; you can’t just call him ‘Not Mum!’
Craig: ‘Not Mum?!”
The Doctor: That’s you. Also, ‘Not Mum’, that’s me. And everyone is… [Alfie gurgles] ‘Peasants’. Well, that’s a bit unfortunate.
The Doctor: Just go; stop noticing. Just go; stop noticing. Just go; stop noticing. Just go…stop it! Am I noticing? No, no, I am not. And what I am not doing is scanning around for electric fluctuations. Oh, shut up, you; I am just dropping in on a friend. The last thing I need right now is a patino teleport energy. I’m going. Do you hear me? Going! I am through saving them. I am going away, now.
The Doctor: I’m the Doctor. I work in a shop, now. I’m here to help. Look -they gave me a badge with my name on it in case I forget who I am. Very thoughtful, as that does happen.
The Doctor: Well, look around; ask questions. People like it when you’re with a baby. Babies are sweet; people talk to you. That’s why I usually take a human with me.
The Doctor: It’s a papoose.
Craig: Why do I need a papoose?
The Doctor: Alfie wants you attached to him. You are far too slow when he summons you.
The Doctor [to the Cybermat]: Safe mode, clever me. Come along, Bitey.
Craig: Cybermen. They blew up. I blew them up with love.
The Doctor: No, that’s impossible and, also, grossly sentimental and overly simplistic. You destroyed them because of the deeply ingrained, hereditary human trait to protect one’s own genes, which – in turn – triggered a…um…yeah. Love. You blew them up with love.
The Doctor: I noticed that Stormagedden is very quiet and happy. [Baby gurgles] Oh, he prefers the name ‘Alfie’, now. [Baby gurgles again] And he’s very proud of his dad.
Craig: He calls me ‘Dad’?
The Doctor: Yes, of course he does…now.
You can buy this episode, and the rest of season 6, on Amazon.com.