Monday, January 25, 2016

Recap: Doctor Who "Aliens of London"

The first season of the Revived Series of Doctor Who gave us a two-parter that would end up winning a Hugo Award for “Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.” That’s no small feat.

But before I can get to that two-parter, I have to slog through this two-parter.

The first three episodes of this season form a rather loose, mostly thematic three-parter in order to introduce the audience to what they could expect from the series. The next two episodes, however, are a two-part conglomeration of things that people never want to see in Doctor Who again. Ever.

Be glad that the suits already ordered another season after “The End of the World” was broadcast, because this two-parter would have put the show back down the crapper.

Which is pretty fitting, considering the main source of “humor” in this episode.
The episode opens with a quick recap of the first episode, because it's not like we can actually remember what happened, like, three episodes ago.

...Actually, that was probably a valid concern. More people tuned in to watch the second episode than the first. Fine; snarky comment withdrawn.

So we cut to a summary of plastic people, panicking populace. And Rose running off randomly. Today? We cut to the consequences.

The episode proper begins with the TARDIS materializing in London. Rose wonders how long they've been gone.

Doctor: "About twelve hours."

Rose plans on popping home for a second to let her mom know she's alright after that plastic invasion thing, and that she's been... uh... traveling through space and time?

Rose: "No, I'll just tell her I've spent the night at Shareen's.

She runs up the stairs of the building to go visit her mom as the Doctor wanders around outside for a bit. On a nearby support column, he finds a missing persons flyer with a picture on it that looks an awful lot like Rose Tyler....

Wait a second....
The real Rose Tyler lets herself in to see her mom, who reacts as if she's seen a ghost, even going so far as to drop her tea and hug Rose while crying.

Hmm. Almost as if...
And the Doctor runs upstairs to explain that there's been a little snag in the plan.

Doctor: "Um, it's not twelve hours. It's, uh, twelve months. You've been gone a whole year. Sorry."

And that, time travelers, is why you should always check a newspaper before doing anything else. And seriously, don't grab a random stranger and yell "What year is it!?" because that's just rude.

After the opening titles, we cut to some little brat spray painting "BAD WOLF" on the side of the TARDIS as a bit of foreshadowing of the season finale. Russell liked it so much that he went ahead and inserted similar references into the rest of the season. Which was easy, because this was one of the first episodes to be filmed.

Have you no respect for classic British sci-fi, you brat?
Back inside, Jackie Tyler is giving Rose the business over disappearing for a year and returning like she's only been gone twelve hours. And she's not a fan of Rose's lame cover story, either.

Jackie: "What the hell does that mean, 'traveling'?"

Either that, or she grabbed the basketball and ran with it.
But now, there's a cop involved. Jackie wants him to get some real answers out of Rose, who still insists that she was "traveling."

Jackie: "With your passport still in the drawer?!"

Rose also claims that she was totes going to call, but just forgot.

Jackie: "What, for a year? You forgot for a year?"

Wait, Rose did call right after the Doctor souped up her phone. This will never be mentioned.

With Jackie angry and distraught that Rose isn't telling her the truth, the Doctor decides to chirp up and attempt to explain the situation without mentioning time travel. Unfortunately, when you take away the time travel and the wonders of the universe from the Doctor's story, you're left with an older man who whisked away a teenager to be his, in his own words, "companion."

Rozzer: "When you say 'companion,' is this a sexual relationship?"

As if. The BBC had an official "No hugging, no kissing" mandate in effect for the longest time.

Now it's the Doctor's turn to be yelled at by Jackie, mostly for being a 40-something-year-old man who waltzed in and spirited her daughter away with no warning. You know. Just in general.

Jackie: "What, did you find her on the internet?"

"No, she found me on the internet."
"Not helping...."
Jackie then asks the Doctor to prove that he really is one my giving him an injury to stitch up. Right across the jaw. Bam. I have no idea what happens next, because we suddenly cut to Rose and Jackie, emotional, crying and hugging in another room. I can only imagine that the cop got bored and wandered off, because he's nowhere to be seen.

Jackie: "D'you know, what terrifies me is you still can't say! What happened to you Rose? What could be so bad that you won't tell me, sweetheart? Where were you?"

The actress, Camille Coduri, is doing a wonderful job conveying raw human emotion, but the effect is like Jackie seems to think that she's in Coronation Street instead of Doctor Who. Of course, the entire situation here is frustrating because neither Rose nor the Doctor will simply show her the time machine.

The main reason for them to maintain this secret is to create drama. Which would be nice if the episode were about that drama. As you'll soon see, the drama will keep getting set aside so the story can make with the sci-fi. Which, to be fair, is why I'm watching a science fiction show. But come on, if you're going to make a point of setting up interpersonal drama, then stick with it at least. Instead, Rose and the Doctor will make a point of keeping the TARDIS a secret... for a few minutes. Then later in the episode Jackie will find herself there and make the deception pointless.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Sometime later, Rose and the Doctor are up on the roof. Which… what? Jackie is clearly distraught and assumes that something terrible happened to her daughter. So naturally, she's allowing Rose to hang out on the roof with the man who led her to parts unknown for a year. I mean, Rose won't tell anyone what happened and the Doctor used the word "companion." Jackie's probably under the assumption that her daughter was either a sex worker for a year, a junkie, or probably both. Why isn't Jackie pressing charges? Where the heck is that cop?

Actually, forget the cop, let's go back to that other thing I said. Even if Jackie isn't going to press charges because... well, Rose is a legal adult and does have the right to run away with strangers, despite her mother's wishes... I'm pretty sure that Jackie wouldn't approve of Rose spending alone time on the roof with the Doctor. Even if she can't legally keep him away from her daughter, you'd think Jackie would fight against their alone time tooth and nail.

Except that the two need to be alone for plot reasons. They need to discuss pointlessly keeping the TARDIS a secret. And to keep Jackie away from an upcoming event, but I'm getting ahead of myself yet again.

Rose is trying to come to terms with the situation, saying that she can't tell her mother the truth, while failing to provide and actual reason why they can't just take her down to the TARDIS.

Rose: "And I missed a year. Was it good?"
Doctor: "Middling."

"You missed the launch of YouTube. You might want to wait a couple years, though.
It won't have its renaissance for a while, yet."
They discuss the other snag in their plans. They wanted to leave again, but that might not be the best idea, considering everything that's happened.

Doctor: "Well, she's not coming with us."

This gets a good laugh out of Rose as she imagines what that would be like.

Doctor: "I don't do families."

"Spoilers."
Rose: "She slapped you."
Doctor: "900 years of time and space, and I've never been slapped by someone's mother."
Rose: "Your face...."
Doctor: "It hurt!"
Rose: "You're so gay."

A lot of people got all offended and junk by that line. The ironic part is that the man who wrote it, Russell T. Davies, is actually gay. He just likes riling people up.

Rose: "When you say '900 years'...."
Doctor: "That's my age."
Rose: "You're 900 years old."
Doctor: "Yeah."

You know, I never completely understood why exactly they decided to retcon the Doctor's age for the new series. In the Classic Series, we only got a few hints here and there until the Doctor occasionally outright admits his age, like in his seventh incarnation, where he outright stated he was 953. And it was a plot point there, since his age was used as a passcode.

If I had to guess, I'd say it probably was to make it easy for the audience to remember. If the Ninth Doctor is 900, then you can just have him get 100 years older by the time he regenerates! (Spoiler alert: This is not what they do.) Or maybe they wanted to make the Doctor younger and sexier by taking off a couple hundred years, I don't know.

Anyway, Rose's experiences are really starting to sink in for her as she realizes that she can't tell anyone about what she's seen. Not a single person on Earth, especially London, can relate to the thrill of having seen evidence of aliens with their own eyes.

Of course, she says this right before a spaceship takes out Big Ben and crashes into the Thames.
Rose: "Oh, that's just not fair."

Well, spaceships are pretty infamous for destroying famous landmarks.
As Rose and the Doctor run off, we see that traffic in London is quickly backed up as the military comes along to take charge of the situation. They prevent Rose and the Doctor from going any further, but the Doctor couldn't care less. Mankind's first contact moment, and he's there to see it! And it's taking him completely by surprise! Those are rare when you have a time machine.

Rose wants to take the TARDIS and get closer, but the Doctor thinks that perhaps adding another spaceship into the mix might not be the best idea.

Rose: "So, history's happening and we're stuck here."
Doctor: "Yes, we are."

So Rose gets an idea of how they could actually watch it: TV. So they head back to Jackie's place and watch the news on her tiny little TV. Ignoring the fact that Jackie is letting the Doctor back into her home (because she certainly hasn't been objecting to the Doctor spending time alone with Rose), does the Doctor not have a TV in the TARDIS anymore?

The First Doctor once turned on the monitor and watched a clip of the Beatles on Top of the Pops, and the Doctor will have the capability to monitor several channels at once, if this line from "The Power of Three," a later episode, is any indication.

Doctor: "I'll have the TARDIS set for every Earth news feed."

And it would solve a problem that the Doctor’s about to have. Maybe the Doctor had a phase where he streamed Netflix in the TARDIS instead of watching standard channels?

Apparently, the panic is worldwide. The President of the United States is even going to address the nation.

Newscaster: "But the Secretary General has asked that people watch the skies."

For Dragon Flyz in particular, or just in general?

(Originally, there was a joke here where I made fun of Russell T. Davies's lack of knowledge regarding American governmental positions, which only served to illustrate my lack of knowledge regarding U.N. positions. Instead, please enjoy the above obscure 90s reference.)

Even though the other people in the room are being loud, the Doctor... okay, no, I can't ignore it. Jackie Tyler is right there, like, a few feet from him. Why the heck did she let the Doctor back into her home? Why is she letting him watch TV in her living room?

The news says they found a body, which gets the Doctor's attention. And only the Doctor's attention.

See, a few of the neighbors have gathered 'round at Jackie's place to just kind of hang out while the news happens. And that makes sense; they're all gathered 'round to watch the news and be all like "Aliens? What's all this blarney?"

But only the Doctor is actually watching the TV. Everybody else is hampering his ability to do so.

But I guess that still makes sense. After all, Rose just returned after being missing for a year. It makes sense that they'd want to see how she and Jackie are doing.

But... no. That's not even the case.

They're just hanging out. Having a party. Making small talk.

Jackie: "Oh, guess who asked me out? Billy Croot."

Jackie Tyler.

Last time we saw you, you were bawling your eyes out, wondering why your daughter is keeping secrets. In the scene before that, you brought in a cop and punched the Doctor in the face for taking Rose away from you. There are aliens in London and a man who may have abducted your daughter in your living room.

And all you can talk about is Billy Croot?

What is wrong with you, Jackie?
The news says that the body is being taken to a UNIT mortuary, shortly before a little boy grabs the remote and changes it to Blue Peter, a kids' show. So I guess there's one other person there interested in the TV. The Doctor manages to get the remote back in time to see that the alien body has been taken to Albion Hospital. And the building is quickly evacuated as the rather overweight General Asquith (Rupert Vanisttart) arrives on the scene. No, I'm not fat-shaming him; that's actually a plot point.

I have to say, though, the military is dropping the ball on this whole cover-up. Sure, they're denying everything, but this reporter not only figured out where they took the alien body, but he's broadcasting the location over the news to the whole country. Looks like somebody's going to end up mysteriously dead simply because the people in charge couldn't hide a single body. I mean, you'd think that transporting the world's first confirmed alien carcass would include multiple decoy vehicles sent to multiple locations. But don't worry, there are bigger fish to fry. Or certainly fatter ones....

Once inside, away from the cameras, the General takes a look at the alien's body.

General Asquith: "Good God.... And that's real?"

The doctor on duty, Dr. Toshiko Sato, (Naoko Mori) says that the x-ray confirms that the corpse is real, and she's summarily instructed to hide the body until the experts can be flown in. Before Asquith leaves, Dr. Sato wants to know if one of the rumors is true. The one about the Prime Minister. The General doesn't answer.

Back on the TV, it seems that the Prime Minister hasn't been seen in a while. Luckily, some other politicians are arriving at 10 Downing Street. The first one to arrive is Joseph Green (David Verrey), MP for Hartley Dale. According to the newscaster, he's in charge of monitoring sugar standards in exported confectionery. As he gets taken upstairs, a woman approaches him (Penelope Wilton) and introduces herself as Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North. She has some kind of appointment about something, but people seem to be under the impression that the crashed spaceship is more important. Go figure.

Anyway, Indra Genesh, a junior secretary with the Ministry of Defense, informs Mr. Green that, since the Prime Minister mysteriously vanished and the members of the cabinet are stuck in traffic, Mr. Sugar-Monitoring is now the Acting Prime Minister. He responds to this news by pausing a moment to fart.

Green: "Pardon me, it's just a nervous stomach."

Unfortunately, this is also a plot point.

So, thanks to BBC America, I’ve been learning a lot about British slang and politics. But this situation has me thoroughly stumped. I can only hope that this episode is not an accurate representation of UK government, because this is more of a mess than the US and the electoral college.

Does the UK not have a contingency plan for a missing Prime Minister? Do they not have helicopters or something to pick up the highest-ranking cabinet members from the traffic jam?

I know it's only 2005, so not everyone has an iPhone yet, but the cabinet members probably have cell phones. Why isn't anyone trying to contact them? Heck, why can't they just do their job over their cell phone? I know that it's not exactly the best option, but surely it's better than just handing the country over to the guy who decides how much sugar to put in exported Jaffa Cakes! Which are delicious, by the way. Just the right mount of sweetness. So good job there, Mr. Green.

The worst part is that this whole situation seems to predicated on the idea that you have to be physically inside 10 Downing Street, or at the very least London, to wield political power. Which is as ludicrous as saying that the U.S. President loses all his authority when he leaves the White House. Was Russell T. Davies under the impression that the Prime Minister loses his powers under the yellow sun of the Earth, like some kind of anti-Kryptonian?

And I'll admit that I'm not sure, but isn't there some kind of UK equivalent to Air Force One that the cabinet members can be taken to by helicopter or something?

Once upstairs, Mr. Sugar-Monitoring Green gets introduced to two people who seem like they'd have more authority than he does, but don't for some reason. Margaret Blaine (Annette Badland) of MI5 and Oliver Charles, who was in charge of transportation. According to them, they took the Prime Minister to his car, and they never saw from him again. Which isn't suspicious at all. The three of them are about to head into the meeting room, but Indra stops them so he can give them an important briefcase first.

Indra: "The Emergency Protocols. Detailing the actions to be taken by the government of Great Britain in the event of an alien incursion."

Great Britain has alien protocols? You know what? Makes sense. I've seen the Classic Series; after the Cybermen, Autons, and Zygons, they need all the plans they can get.

After farting a bit more, Green takes the briefcase and heads inside with the others, whereupon they all laugh with maniacal glee.

And also fart with maniacal glee.
Over with the Doctor and Rose, he's going out for "a walk," but Rose is concerned that he's just going to up and disappear in the TARDIS and do something cool involving that alien crash. But the Doctor insists that this crash landing was a genuine accident. And as such, the human race is going to have to figure out first contact by themselves. I say they should have Zefram Cochrane play some Roy Orbison.

To convince Rose that he won't disappear, the Doctor hands her a TARDIS key and walks off into the streets, where all kinds of parties are being held to celebrate the aliens having landed. As he nips off into the TARDIS, having lied to Rose, her boyfriend, Mickey spots him. He runs toward the TARDIS as it disappears, crashing into the wall like a cartoon character.

As the Doctor flies around, we cut to Harriet Jones at Downing Street, trying to bribe Indra with a cup of tea. But he still won't let her into the meeting room. Not even with her speech about ordinary life having to continue in the face of this brave, new world, yadda yadda. When Green, Blaine, and Charles emerge from the meeting room, she tries to get them to listen about some proposition she has regarding hospitals.

Green: "By all the saints, get some perspective, woman! I'm busy!"

Well, he has a point. Aliens don't come along every day. Except for the Doctor.

As the three politicians and Indra walk off, Harriet enters the unlocked secret meeting room and slips her proposal into the open briefcase before getting curious and taking a look at the Emergency Protocols.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sato is walking around the morgue, doing morgue things, when all of a sudden, the alien bursts out of cold storage. Yeah, you can tell that Sato here really isn't a very good doctor, because she can't tell a dead thing from a live one. Lucky for her, the Doctor's here, too, and ends up getting caught by a buttload of soldiers by stumbling upon them.

The Doctor's reaction reminds me of Tom Baker. I like it.
But when Dr. Sato screams, he blurts out "Defense Pattern Delta," which I guess means that he's in charge of them now, because they rush down to the morgue with him. Uh, guys, did you all just forget that you had your guns pointed at this guy? It's not like the Doctor even whipped out the psychic paper, or an old UNIT security clearance, he just sort of takes command.

The Doctor tells the soldiers to create a lockdown perimeter, and they do just that while he investigates the alien sneaking around. The terrified little alien looks just like a pig, freaking out one of the soldiers enough to shoot it when it tries to make a break for it. The alien looks for all the world like somebody stuck a pig in a spacesuit, which... yeah, we'll see.

As the overweights in charge return to the meeting room, Harriet hides in the closet. General Arquist is there to yell at them all for how they've been handling the situation. And get a load of this. When the General asks why the Cabinet hasn't been airlifted in...

Green: "I canceled it. They'd only get in the way."

Okay, this addresses my earlier question asking why they weren't airlifting in the cabinet.

New question: How do these bozos have the authority to forbid airlifting in the cabinet? So, if you have to arrive at 10 Downing Street to take your rightful command from the temporary leaders (which is stupid, but just go with it), then why would you ever give the temporary leaders the authority to keep you from entering 10 Downing Street? That's like having a panic room that locks from the outside!

And the stupidity reaches a boiling point when Green, Blaine, and Charles start farting away, giggling and cracking stupid "jokes."

Blaine: "I'm shaking my booty!"

Pictured: The expression of the audience.
In the face of such terrible "humor," General Arquist invokes his right, as detailed in the Emergency Protocols, to relieve Green of command.

Green: "That's... hair-raising."

And to prove it, he raises his hair by unzipping a zipper that clearly wasn't there a second ago. And the other two follow suit, as Harriet watches from the closet. And whatever was beneath their skins begins to attack the General.

You'd think the zipper on his head would be a giveaway. Luckily, it only appears when he unzips.
Over with the Doctor, he's talking to Dr. Sato, who explains that she just thought it was a piglike alien, not a modified pig stuck in a spacesuit. Because that's what it is, a surgically-altered pig posing as the pilot of a crashing ship. Which means that the crash was faked. Which means that the Doctor can get involved now.

Good night, sweet pig. And flocks of bacon sign thee to thy rest.
But the technology involved in altering the pig is far beyond what Earth can actually manage. Meaning that this fake alien was faked by aliens. Dr. Sato turns to ask the Doctor why they would do something like that, but he's already in the TARDIS, flying away.

Back at Rose and Jackie's place, the party's in full swing... until Mickey drops by to sour the mood.

Rose: "I was gonna come and see ya...."

Oh, shut up, Rose. You should have called him. You saw what happened with your mom, and you decided to not let your boyfriend know that you're safe?

Some lady says that someone owes Mickey an apology... then clarifies that she means Jackie. But Jackie defends whatever she apparently said.

Jackie: "Be fair, what was I supposed to think?"

I don't know, what did you think?

Mickey explains to Rose that after she disappeared, they naturally suspected the black boyfriend. He was taken in for questioning no fewer than five times while Jackie started up some rumors about him around the building.

"Oh, I wrongfully accuse Mickey once while spreading rumors about him killing Rose, and I'm the bad guy?"
Mickey has become a pariah, all the while waiting for Rose to return with the Doctor for a whole year. Jackie's a little upset that Mickey knew about the Doctor this whole time, and Mickey tries to get his revenge. He tells Rose that he saw the Doctor's box whoosh away. And when Rose rushes downstairs to double-check, he follows her down to rub it in her face. A bit petty? Yes. But come on, Mickey's suffered for a whole year, and Rose is just like, "Oh, whatever, don't worry, I'm back. It's fine."

Jackie follows them downstairs just in time to see Rose not only say that the Doctor isn't her boyfriend, but that the Doctor's much more important than that. Before Mickey can properly react to this insult, the key glows, and a familiar whooshing noise is heard. Rose tells Jackie to go inside, but she refuses. And so, she sees the TARDIS return in all its glory. And if they'd shown her this earlier, then maybe she wouldn't be as angry about the whole situation.

They all head inside the TARDIS. The Doctor apologizes that he lied about taking a look at the "alien," but tells Rose that the whole thing was a fake. And as he begins talking....

Rose: "My mom's here."

Instead of explaining the situation to Jackie and Mickey, the Doctor just gets grumpy.

Doctor: "Don't you dare make this place domestic."
Mickey: "You ruined my life, Doctor. They thought she was dead. I was a murder suspect because of you."
Doctor: "You see what I mean? Domestic."

Well, screw you too, Doctor.

Mickey: "I bet you don't even remember my name."
Doctor: "Ricky."
Mickey: "It's Mickey."
Doctor: "No, it's Ricky."
Mickey: "I think I know my own name."
Doctor: "You think you know your own name? How stupid are you?"

Just... whah... I don't.... Eh... Buh... ... Excuse me a moment, I need to go to my happy place.

Mark Hamill, take me away.
So let me explain what's wrong with this.

The Doctor, as a character in general, is not supposed to be mean. He's aloof, he's a jerk, he's dismissive... but he is not malicious. The Doctor making fun of a man who has suffered as much as Mickey has is pretty out-of-character in and of itself. But the Doctor caused all his suffering, which means that the Doctor is just adding insult to injury, acting cruel and cowardly.

Jackie runs back inside as Rose chases after her for a few feet... then apparently decides that it would be more fun to talk to the Doctor about the spaceship crash. Apparently, it was a real ship with a fake pilot that was launched with such a trajectory that it would crash down in London.

Mickey: "Funny way to invade, putting the world on red alert."
Doctor: "Good point."

As they watch TV in the TARDIS (meaning that the only reason the Doctor watched TV at Jackie's place was so Rose could be left behind to encounter Mickey), Jackie sees a number on her own TV screen to call with any information about aliens. And call she does, spilling the beans about the Doctor and the TARDIS, which raises some red flags, setting off an alarm in Downing Street. And Jackie reports the Doctor to them without even stopping to make sure that Rose isn't swept up in the whole thing again. Way to go, Jackie.

Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor is continuing to be an ass to Mickey, calling him "Ricky" again and... well, here's an example.

Doctor: "If I was to tell you what I was doing to the controls of my frankly magnificent time ship, would you even begin to understand?"
Mickey: "I suppose not...."
Doctor: "Then shut it, then."

What's even worse is Rose's apology. Or lack thereof.

Rose: "He's winding you up."

Yes. Yes he is. "Winding up" the man whose life he'd ruined for about a year. All fun and games.

Mickey: "Every day, I looked. On every street corner, wherever I went, looking for a blue box for a whole year."
Rose: "It's only been a few days for me."

That has nothing to do with it. The fact that you have only been gone a few days does not change the fact the Mickey was wrongfully accused, threatened, paranoid, and desperate for a whole year. A year he spent waiting for you to come back from your travels with a stranger.

Nothing that happened to you, Rose, can change what happened to him. He's saying "You two ruined my life" and she's replying "Not my problem."

This is skipping ahead in the show's history a lot, but screw it, I'm doing it anyway. Two Doctors from now, there will be an episode called "The Girl Who Waited," about one of the Doctor's companions, Amy, falling into a different time frame and spending decades fending for herself, when it's only been a few hours for the Doctor. And you know what? The show treats that like some great tragedy. Here, the same basic thing is treated like a misunderstanding. Is it because Mickey's black?

Actually, no. You know what? I originally typed that as a joke. And yet, the only black character in the series so far is treated like a piece of crap whenever he shows up. So you know what, Russell T. Davies? Maybe you should have spent a little less time adding cheap jabs at religion and instead took some time to think about how you were treating the only minority character in England's most iconic science fiction show.

"I... just... wow. Sorry, I don't usually get criticized that fervently."
"You get used to it."
Whatever; back to Rose and Mickey.

Mickey: "Not enough time to miss me, then?"
Rose: "I did miss you."

Which is why you never even mentioned him once since you left 2005.

Rose: "So, um, in twelve months, have you been seeing anyone else?"

"What part of 'waiting for you' did you not understand?"
Mickey: "No. Mainly because everyone thinks I murdered you."
Rose: "...Right."

Mickey asks her if she'll stay this time, but the Doctor interrupts the moment by announcing that he's tracked the spaceship's trajectory to its point of origin: Earth. Makes me wonder why nobody picked up on this craft as it left Earth.

Doctor: "Whoever those aliens are, they haven't just arrived, they've been here for a while."

"Hey, Russell, do you mind if I use that someday?"
"What, aliens hiding silently on Earth?"
"Oooh, 'silently.' Silent. Hmm...."
Back at Downing Street, Charles is no more. The alien inside him has shed his skin and is now wearing General Arquist's skin, and will now have General Arquist's voice for the rest of the two-parter, even when not wearing his skin. And to prove that General Arquist has been taken over, he farts.

Blaine: "We've really got to fix the gas exchange. It's getting ridiculous."
Green: "I don't know; it seems very human to me."

And yes, that's the only real explanation for the farting. A "gas exchange." And they don't even have the excuse of being literal gas aliens like the Gelth.

Anyway, they hide Charles' skin in the closet while Arquist laments his new identity.

Arquist: "I quite enjoyed being Oliver. He had a wife, mistress, and a young farmer. God, I was busy."

Well, looks like they all now have alien STDs the likes of which only Captain Kirk has seen before.

As they leave the room, Harriet examines the discarded skin while the aliens in charge head out to find Indra waiting for them. He informs them that they have a Code 9, meaning that their emergency call monitoring has a confirmed Doctor sighting. All they know is that he's the ultimate expert in aliens, and they need to bring him in on this.

Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor changes channels until he spots some footage of the UK bringing in UNIT's alien specialists. And Mickey reveals that he's done some research, uncovering the Doctor's past with UNIT.

Mickey: "You look deep enough on the internet or in his history books, and there's his name. Followed by a list of the dead."

Yes, because "The Doctor" is such an uncommon phrase, you know?

The Doctor decides to not offer his help because they wouldn't recognize his current face. He decides to "go undercover" and not use the TARDIS. They're going to take Mickey's car because "the roads are clearing." Those exact words.

Question: If the roads are clearing, how come the Cabinet members' cars won't be arriving at Downing Street? They were stuck in traffic last we saw them.

Either way, the Doctor's decision to drive is only in the script so they can walk outside and be ambushed by UNIT. Mickey somehow manages to hide behind some bins and not be seen as the Doctor is ordered to stay where he is.

Wow. He's like a ninja.
Doctor: "Take me to your leader!"

Rose and the Doctor get a police escort to 10 Downing Street to join the other alien experts.

Doctor: "Who's the Prime Minister now?"
Rose: "How should I know? I missed a year."

They arrive at 10 Downing Street as the Doctor poses for the press. They head inside as the police talk to Jackie Tyler. Specifically, one police officer. A fat guy. With a rumble in his tumble....

Back at Downing Street, Harriet Jones fails to get into the secret meeting, as does Rose. They accomplish this by... walking in the door they weren't allowed inside, in full view of the guards and the guy telling them to stay out.

He's watching them do it!
I have to say, though. I can only imagine who the Doctor is meeting within the walls of 10 Downing Street....

"Excuse me, can you point me to the meeting room?"
"Do I look like a fucking map?"
"Not really, now that you ask."
"Then fuck the fuck off."
"...Well, that's uncalled for."
"Bored now. Fuckity bye."
"Hi, sorry, can you tell... Wait, weren't you just swearing at me in the other room?"
"You mean Tucker's office? No. People ask me that a lot."
"Ah. Never mind. Hi, I'm the Doctor."
"John Frobisher. Can I help you?"
"Just looking for the meeting room."
"Down the hall. On the left. Sounds exciting, all that alien business. I wish I could be a part of something like that."
"Yeah, well, careful what you wish for."
Anyway, the Doctor finds the room full of ID-card-wearing alien experts and reads through his little pamphlet on the situation while Harriet and Rose hide elsewhere. Harriet tells Rose that she has some important information about the aliens before breaking down, crying.

Back with the Doctor, he starts taking charge of the meeting by letting everyone know that a satellite detected a blip in the North Sea a while back, before everyone got distracted by the alien spaceship. Harriet shows Rose the skinsuit of Charles, and they end up finding the body of the Prime Minister in a cupboard. I’m not sure how to criticize this. On the one hand, the cupboard isn't the first place you'd look for a Prime Minister.

On the other hand, nobody looked in that cupboard all day?
Indra comes in to realize how bad he is at his job, shortly before the Doctor figures out the aliens' plan: Fake a crash, get all the alien experts in one place, and...

"Checkmate."
Margaret Blaine finds Indra, Rose, and Harriet.

The fat officer with Jackie unzips his forehead.

Blaine follows suit.

Green farts.

Doctor: "Excuse me, do you mind not farting while I'm saving the world?"
Green: "Would you rather silent, but deadly?"

Arquist unzips his forehead and take his good, sweet time crawling out of his skinsuit, as do Blaine and Fat Cop. The aliens take so long to squeeze out of their people suits that somebody could have ran out of the room, said "You want aliens? You've got 'em; they're in Downing Street," and had the military shoot these space invaders dead before you could say "Nanu nanu."

Blaine: "We are... the Slitheen."

But no one moves a muscle, allowing Green to press a button and electrify all the alien experts with their IDs, while Blaine and Fat Cop move in on their targets. And what do our aliens actually look like?

Baby-faced rubber suits. Was it worth the wait?
So, why are they even revealing themselves to kill the humans at all? I get they they're super-strong aliens and can squeeze the life out of pitiful humans. But, uh, guns are faster. And less revealing. Why would you reveal yourself as an alien to the people you were about to kill when the army's on the lookout for killer aliens?

But that only the least of this story’s problems. Next time, we’ll see the unsatisfactory resolution to this chaos in “World War 3." Spoiler Alert: World War 3 does not actually occur next episode.

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