|Previously on Doctor Who: Aliens faked an alien invasion. I swear, it makes sense in context.|
You want to know how he escapes?
You really wanna know?
Well, using all of his cleverness and hundreds of years of accumulated alien wisdom, the Doctor.... takes his ID card off. I can only imagine how people felt after waiting a week for that. Well, probably less underwhelmed than you'd think, since the Doctor's immediate survival was actually spoiled by the "Next Time" bit after the last episode. Oops.
Doctor: "Deadly to humans, maybe."
Except that he's just holding the card up now, so he's still touching it. And it's still clearly shocking him, meaning that he isn’t out of the woods just yet. Prolonged electric shock can still prove deadly, even if it doesn't kill you at first.
|I would laugh my butt off if he keeled over halfway through gloating and turned into David Tennant.|
|First of all, how does that work? Second of all, why does that work?|
Elsewhere in Downing Street, Rose and Harriet Jones escape the “Blaine” alien while Mickey saves Jackie Tyler from the alien in her apartment by hitting it with a chair. But before they rush off, he snaps a picture, just in case.
|"This pic's going straight onto YouTube!"|
"YouTube is for videos, Mickey."
"...I knew that."
Over with Rose and Harriet, Harriet suddenly decides that they need to head back into the meeting room and grab the Emergency Protocols. Getting chased by Blaine the Slitheen makes her change her mind.
And I know that this is probably something I should mention when I talk about the effects in the Review, but this chase scene is bad. Really bad. Like, Classic Series shoestring-budget bad.
There's a rather infamous Classic Doctor Who serial called "Warriors of the Deep." In that episode, the Doctor is basically stuck in an underwater military base fighting fish-men. The bad guys have a secret ace up their sleeve with a creature from the depths called "the Myrka." In real life, the Myrka was a rubber costume with two men inside. They could barely tell where they were going, and the paint and glue fumes from the costume weren't exactly helping their mental state.
|Pictured: Michael Grade's answer to the question "Why did you cancel Doctor Who?"|
That's not even a joke.
Rose and Harriet are being chased by an alien that looks pretty good until it has to actually move around (whereupon it becomes obvious that it's a clumsy suit being worn by somebody who probably can't see), but the alien in question is also slowly jogging behind them with its arms in the traditional "Rawr! I'm a spoopy monster!" pose.
|I've worked in a haunted house with better monster costumes.|
And to make it even worse, in the middle of the chase, we suddenly switch to a CGI version of the costume that doesn't actually look like the costume it's supposed to look like.
Anyway, as they escape the CGI abomination, the Doctor brings the troops into the meeting room, only to find that both aliens are now back in their skinsuit disguises. The troops quickly examine the bodies while Green spins a yarn about how he called for help while the Doctor was busy killing all these people with lightning.
Doctor: "I think you'll find the Prime Minister is an alien in disguise. ...That's never gonna work, is it?"
Doctor: "Fair enough."
"I don't suppose you'll let me try to unzip his forehead?"
"Worth a shot."
As Rose and Harriet hide in another room, Arquist uses his alleged authority under the Emergency Protocols to tell the cops that they now take orders directly from him. Arquist and Green enter the elevator to go after the Doctor, but one officer tells Green that he needs to be moved from this location.
Green: "Sergeant, have you, um, read the Emergency Protocols?"
Sergeant: "No, sir."
Green: "Then don't question me."
Green gives the order to shoot the Doctor on sight, and the troops lock down the ground floor while Green and Arquist head up to fight the Doctor, farting all the way.
Green: "I'm getting poisoned by the gas exchange."
What the heck is this "gas exchange," other than an excuse to have stupid toilet humor? What gas? "Exchange" kind of suggests that air is leaking into the suits, as well. Is this how they breathe in the suits? You'd think they'd want to take the suits off if that's the case.
Green: "I need to be naked."
Well, then. Maybe that is the case.
Arquist: "Rejoice in it. Your body is magnificent."
And so, the two take off their skinsuits as the elevator elevates. Meanwhile, Blaine enters the room that Rose and Harriet are hiding in. As the elongated arms and neck of the costume lazily flop around, she vocalizes her excitement over this little game of hide-and-seek, despite the mouth of the costume not moving at all.
...Did I mention that these costumes were terrible?
The Doctor runs down some stairs, only to hide when Arquist and Green emerge in their aliens forms, ready to hunt. They meet back up with Blaine, and have a little conversation about how great hunting is, and how easy humans are to find the longer a hunt goes because they smell like fear. Blaine quickly finds Rose behind the curtain, but Harriet rushes out and starts screaming "Take me first!" with her arms spread out like she's doing Shakespeare, and top-of-her-lungs delivery like she's doing Brian Blessed. Thankfully, before that combination can launch into a blustery iambic monologue, the Doctor arrives with a fire extinguisher to blind the aliens for a second, allowing our heroes to escape.
Doctor: "Who the hell are you?"
Harriet: "Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North.
Doctor: "Nice to meet you."
They discuss their new plan of heading into the cabinet room to find the Emergency Protocols while the CGI aliens chase them down some identical looking hallways. They manage to beat the aliens there, and the Doctor tells them to stop because he's holding... alcohol. The Doctor claims that he can use his screwdriver to triplicate its flammability and burn them all alive, and uses this claim to demand to know who the heck he's dealing with, while also revealing that he's not human himself.
Harriet: "But he's got a Northern accent."
Rose: "Lots of planets have a North."
The Doctor recaps the story as he knows it. They have a ship hidden in the North Sea, and they've murdered some elected officials and faked a crashing ship. Who are these aliens, and what are they trying to do? As for "who," they again identify themselves as the Slitheen. In a nice touch, that's not their race, but their family name.
As for "what".... well, they don't get that far before they realize that the Doctor's sonic screwdriver can't actually do what he claims.
Doctor: "Oh, well. Nice try."
Instead, he offers Harriet a drink.
Harriet: "You pass it to the left first."
As the aliens generally snarl and fail to kill the Doctor by standing there, he goes on about the history of the building and why he's standing within the four safest walls in Great Britain. Then he demonstrates this by activating the cabinet room's lockdown procedure, with three inches of steel protecting them from the outside world in all directions.
Doctor: "They'll never get in."
Rose: "Then how do we get out?"
Well, at least the panic room isn't locked from the outside. So this episode did one thing right.
|Boy, if only you could remotely call your TARDIS, or teleport into it.|
You know, those abilities you have yet to pull out of your own butt.
So, the roads are apparently clear of traffic. None of the outside scenes show any traffic. At all. And more Slitheen are arriving at Downing Street, meaning that the roads must be relatively clear. So... what happened to all those politicians who were stuck in traffic? The ones that are actually supposed to be in charge? Even though there was a week between the airing of the episodes, they were written at the same time. How do you forget a plot point you just wrote?
As the disguised Slitheen all file in, Arquist gives some more orders to the sergeant.
Arquist: "Now that the Doctor's been neutralized, the upper levels are out of bounds."
Oh, just... what?
Let's look at this from the sergeant's point of view.
He knows that none of his men took down the Doctor. And he knows that Arquist and Green went upstairs to where the Doctor was without military backup, and now the Doctor's been "neutralized." As far as this sergeant knows, General Arquist just killed somebody and is telling him to keep people away from the body. Heck, as far as he knows, the acting Prime Minister may have just killed a dude with his bare hands.
Before the sergeant can even think about blowing the whistle, or organizing some kind of coverup that results in BBC reporters broadcasting the truth across London again, Arquist tells him to get things ready for an announcement by the acting Prime Minister. The Slitheen all head upstairs and take off their skinsuits, which is a stupid idea that is just begging for someone to walk in on them naked.
Elsewhere in London, Mickey is at his apartment, making Jackie tea, even though she'd like something stronger. But Mickey tells her that he's seen her after a couple drinks and refuses. But he does take this opportunity to rant against the Doctor and the death and destruction that follows him around.
Jackie: "Has he got a great green thing inside him, then?"
Mickey: "I wouldn't put it past him."
But Mickey admits that if anyone will know how to fight these aliens, it's the Doctor. Suddenly, it all catches up with Jackie, and she starts crying. Mickey manages to cheer her up a bit and tells her that since she hates him so much, nobody would look for her at his place.
Jackie: "You saved my life. God, that's embarrassing."
|"I kind of thought it was my finest moment, but... if you say so."|
As the Downing Street Slitheen prepare for their announcement, the Doctor drags away the body of Indra and places it by the Prime Minister. Harriet Jones realizes that she never knew his name, even though she had given him a cup of coffee. As the Doctor acts busy to make the scene look visually interesting, he explains that the Slitheen couldn't just use the Prime Minister as a disguise because they were too fat to fit inside him, even with the "compression field" they use to slim down a bit.
Doctor: "That's why there's all that gas; it's a big exchange."
What does that mean?
Rose makes a joke about fitting into some smaller clothes, which kind of alarms Harriet. After all, people are dying, and Rose is joking? But Rose explains that when you're friends with the Doctor, you get used to it.
Harriet: "Well, that's a strange friendship."
The Doctor manages to avoid any implications of this by asking Harriet Jones if she's famous. She's not, but the Doctor swears that he's heard the name before....
Harriet finishes up reading the Emergency Protocols, and says that every single person listed in them who could possibly help is dead downstairs. As an alternative, Rose asks if there are nuclear launch codes in there that they could use to wipe the Slitheen out.
Harriet: "You're a very violent young woman."
And the answer is no. Now, you might be wondering exactly why there's nothing regarding nukes in the Emergency Protocols, not even as a last resort.
Harriet: "Nuclear strikes do need a release code, yes, but it's kept secret by the United Nations."
Doctor: "Say that again."
What, it wasn't dumb enough the first time?
Harriet: "The British Isles can't gain access to atomic weapons without a special resolution from the U.N."
What the f…? Go on.
Harriet: "The codes have been taken out of the government's hands and given to the U.N."
Okay, time to learn, readers.
Nuclear weapons are powerful. Scary powerful.
But they are no longer as effective of a negotiating tool as they once were, now that a lot of countries have them. If you point your nukes at someone else, then you'll probably end up with nuclear weapons pointed at you. It's not the best system of checks and balances, but now that the nuke genie's out of the bottle, it's kind of a necessary evil. The only way to level the playing field with a country that has nukes is to have nukes of your own. And even then, actually using your nukes would be a stupid idea, because then everyone else would fire off their nukes, and it would end badly for everyone.
Mutually assured destruction.
Nuclear weapons are mostly used to say, "Hey, don't nuke us. We'll nuke you back. Can we talk?”
And nuclear disarmament is a dangerous game because we've all seen that bit in the movies where two people toss away their guns, only for the bad guy to whip out his secret second gun. Imagine that, but with nukes.
And the United Kingdom gave their nuclear codes to the U.N., apparently. And there has to be a special resolution from the U.N to get the codes back. Meaning that if, say, Latveria ever felt like nuking the United Kingdom, their missiles would probably destroy the British Isles before the U.N. could actually give the U.K. their retaliation codes.
Long story short, the U.K. is now like a cowboy in the Old West who has to go buy a gun if a standoff suddenly happens.
Anyway, the Doctor tries to figure out the Slitheens’ plan. He deduces that they're not here to conquer the planet, so they must have some kind of other goal. Money, probably. Which means that Earth has something they need. But what?
Rose's phone rings despite the lockdown, because the Doctor souped up her phone in a previous episode.
Harriet: "Then we can phone for help! You must have contacts."
Doctor: "Dead downstairs, yeah."
What? Those nobodies that were unceremoniously offed?
Those guys downstairs were never seen before this episode; they weren't his Classic Series backup. The Doctor has a veritable army of allies he can call up!
- Liz Shaw, a scientist whom he worked with at UNIT.
- Sarah Jane Smith, investigator and template for most modern companions.
- Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, who has fought more alien invaders than any other human.
- Ace McShane, the only human to ever beat a Dalek to death.
|This is Ace killing one of the Doctor’s greatest foes with a baseball bat.|
Bring her in on this one, Doctor.
I get that Russell T. Davies wanted to start the Revived Series without relying too much on older continuity, but still. A nod wouldn't go amiss.
Rose tells the Doctor that the call's from Mickey, and he sent her a picture of a Slitheen. In no time at all, the Doctor has Mickey on the phone and starts giving him instructions.
Step 1: Head to the website of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce.
Mickey does what the Doctor says, but the site wants a password.
Doctor: "Buffalo. Two Fs, one L."
That's a terrible password. Like, literally, the worst.
Doctor: "Just repeat it every time."
So, just repeating the word "buffalo" allows access into the U.N.'s official database on aliens. Fine, whatever. I don’t have to go into detail about passwords for you to know that “buffalo” is a terrible one to use for every security login.
|And it's not like Mickey is a hacker extraordinaire. The guy's using Internet Explorer, for Pete's sake.|
Jackie: "Just answer me this. Is my daughter safe?"
The Doctor doesn't answer.
But Mickey finds what he needs, and follows the Doctor's instructions. He finds a recording of the signal from the Slitheen ship in the North Sea and the Doctor decodes it as some kind of repeating message as somebody rings Mickey's doorbell.
|Cheese it! The cops!|
|Why didn't anyone notice the aliens unzipping in 10 Downing Street at any point if that's how bright it gets?|
Doctor: "So, judging by their basic shape, that narrows it down to 5,000 planets within traveling distance."
Oh, 5,000. That'll be a walk in the park.
Rose: "They're green."
So's Aldebaran whiskey. Such insight, Rose.
Rose: "Good sense of smell."
Doctor: "Narrows it down."
Rose: "They can smell adrenaline."
Doctor: "Narrows it down."
Harriet: "The pig technology."
Doctor: "Narrows it down."
Rose: "The spaceship in the Thames, you said 'slipstream engine'?"
Doctor: "Narrows it down."
Finally, Harriet puts the final piece in place: that stupid "gas exchange."
Harriet: "Did you notice, when they fart- if you'll pardon the word- it doesn't just smell like a fart- if you'll pardon the word. It's something else. What is it?"
Oh, great. They're identifying the aliens based on the smell of their farts.
Why is that a sentence I ever had to type?
Rose: "Bad breath."
Harriet: "That's it!"
Doctor: "Calcium decay! Now that narrows it down!"
Bad breath is caused by germs, food particles, and a few other sources. Calcium decay is not one of them.
The Doctor narrows down the calcium-based life forms to one planet: Raxacoricofallapatorius. The Doctor tells Mickey and Jackie to get into the kitchen and find some vinegar. Apparently, ascetic acid melts them. After a few jokes about how men aren't good at housekeeping, they manage to splash a buttload of various pickled foods on it. And I have to admit, the Slitheen's reaction is the one time the alien's facial design actually sort of works.
|"Uh... buh... what? What!?"|
|"I just... you threw food at me? The hell?"|
|"I mean, you've got a whole rack of knives right there!"|
|"Hit me with a chair, break a bottle on my head! I mean, put some effort into it!"|
|"I will never feel clean again."|
Green: "I felt it."
There was a disturbance in the Force, or something. Whatever. I honestly don't care, because we're about to open up a brand new box of issues.
Green heads out to give an impassioned speech to the cameras. I'll skip the touchy-feely faux-patriotic bullcrap he spouts and cut to the chase.
Green: "Our inspectors have searched the sky above our heads, and they have found massive weapons of destruction, capable of being deployed within 45 seconds."
Oh, nutbunnies, this episode's political.
Yeah, it's an Iraq War allegory. And yes, this is a reference to when Tony Blair tried to get UN support for the invasion of Iraq with the whole September Dossier deal.
Tony Blair: "It concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons... that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated in forty-five minutes, including against his own Shia population, and that he's actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability."
And now that I think about it, the spaceship crashing into Big Ben being set up by aliens posing as government officials is probably a reference to the conspiracy theory that 9/11 was an inside job. Which could be seen as being quite tasteless. But now that this episode has revealed its political inspiration, it can finally deliver its intended message. Namely, that... uh... don't trust aliens with nukes?
Green claims that his "technicians" are "baffling" the alien probes for the time being, but in order to end this once and for all, he needs the nuclear codes from the UN.
Doctor: "There's no threat. He just invented it."
Harriet: "Do you think they'll believe him?"
Rose: "Well, you did last time."
So, I've been glossing over it so far, but whenever these three have discussed nuclear weapons, they keep mentioning a "last time" where something went wrong with whatever they were doing with their nukes. The episode treats it like a scathing criticism of a real life event, but I can't actually find anything that they could be referring to. And in the course of my recapping, I remembered that there was an episode of the Classic Series, "Robot," where the nuclear codes of America, Russia, and China were given to the UK for "safekeeping." And yes, the bad guys stole the codes.
So unless there was some ill-advised real life British nuclear strike that I'm unaware of, I'm forced to conclude that these references are just contextless nods to the Classic Series. Or maybe "last time" refers to the Tony Blair stuff this episode is based on?
I don't know; I choose to believe it's a reference to the Classic Series because it's all that keeps me going at this point.
Anyway, the Doctor opens up the deadlock seal and tells them that he figured out their plan. Get the codes, attack the Earth, the world retaliates, and then the impossible happens. The planet goes on sale. (The signal from the Slitheen ship is actually an advertisement.)
Blaine: "We reduce the Earth to molten slag, then sell it, piece by piece."
The nukes will turn the Earth into radioactive magma, which could be used as cheap spaceship fuel. While I appreciate what appears to be a nod to the MO of the Dominators from the Classic Series serial of the same name, at least the Dominators dropped a sci-fi "atomic seed" into a volcano, rather than assuming that the Earth's nuclear arsenal is enough to break the planet. It's not, by the way. Sure, there's enough to wipe out most-or-all humans through fallout if they're all aimed correctly, but not even firing them all in one place would be enough to put more than a crater into the Earth's crust.
And besides that, how are these other countries going to retaliate if the UN has their nuclear missiles? Does the UN only have Great Britain's nukes and no one else's? Or will the UN release everybody's codes in an all-or-nothing deal?
Doctor: "Then I give you a choice. Leave this planet or I stop you."
As they taunt the Doctor when they should be killing him, he reactivates the deadlock around the cabinet room. The sun rises over the United Kingdom as the UN gathers in New York to begin deliberating over whether or not they should release the codes. According to the newscaster, the UK has delivered undeniable proof that aliens have a mothership above London, which contradicts what we've seen on screen.
Why doesn't anyone with a telescope or a satellite check the skies and spot the conspicuous absence of spaceships? Just because it's invisible doesn't mean it won't show up on radar, something that big? The Slitheen can't claim the non-existent spaceship is cloaked like the Romulans, even if the Slitheen do have cloaking technology, explaining why no radars picked up their pig-ship leaving the atmosphere to fake a crash-landing, there's no way they can adequately explain the existence of their imaginary invasion ship poised above London like the flying saucer over the White House in Independence Day.
If the ship can't be seen, and allegedly can't be picked up on radar, then how do his alleged experts know where to aim the nukes? And exactly how is it that all the alien experts were killed, but the people running the country (in the inexplicable absence of the people who are supposed to be running the country) walked away scot-free? There are so many holes in their story that you could use it to strain peas.
Green, Arquist, and Blaine head to the Prime Minister's office to wait for the answer from the UN.
Blaine: "Oh, look at that! The telephone is actually red!"
You fools, that phone goes to Batman, not the UN!
Meanwhile, the Doctor has figured out a way of saving the day. But he doesn't want to use it because it puts Rose in danger.
Rose: "Do it."
Before I can make a joke about how Harriet probably has a few words to say about this imminent danger, she goes ahead and uses her authority to demand that the Doctor save the day while the Slitheen undress. The Doctor's plan is put into motion as the vote is imminent. He tells Mickey to input the word "buffalo" a few more times to hack into the Royal Navy and launch a missile at 10 Downing Street. As the music swells, he does so.
Rose herds the others into a doorframe under the logic that if it works for earthquakes, it'll work for missiles while the news comes in: The UN is releasing the codes.
As the naked Slitheen wait for the phone to ring, Mickey keeps the anti-missile defenses from doing their jobs. An officer inside Downing Street takes one look at the monitor showing an incoming missile, turns on the alarm, and heads straight for the Prime Minister's office, where he gets a bit of a shock.
|"In or out, sergeant. We're busy."|
Slitheen: "Oh, boll..."
And so, though the villains perish, our heroes survive not only the missile blowing up the building, but also the steel-reinforced room plummeting several stories to the ground. Harriet Jones takes command of the situation and goes over to try and help the rescue crews and the Doctor remembers where he heard the name from.
Doctor: "Harriet Jones: future Prime Minister. Elected for three successive terms, the architect of Britain's golden age."
As she talks to the media, Rose returns home and hugs her mom on the spot while the Doctor arrives at the TARDIS.
Later, Jackie talks about how much she hates Harriet Jones for taking all the credit when Rose helped save the world, but she just reminds her mom that the Doctor helped. They discuss him for a bit, and it seems like Jackie's starting to reluctantly warm up to him. She's even planning on inviting him over for dinner, because she's ready to finally listen.
The Doctor calls up Rose and tells her that they'll be ready to leave in a couple of hours, since he's busy undoing the Slitheen signal. Rose tells the Doctor about her mom's dinner plans, but he shoots them down. He'd rather go see a plasma storm in the horsehead nebula. And so would she. And so, Rose abandons her family and friends for a second time to head off on another adventure, even though her own mom is begging her not to this time.
Later that night, the Doctor has eliminated the signal as the little graffiti artist is made to scrub down the TARDIS. Mickey's there, too, incredulous that the world is shrugging the Slitheen invasion off as a hoax.
Doctor: "There's a scientific explanation for that. You're thick."
As a parting gift, the Doctor hands Mickey a little virus that's supposed to erase any mention of the Doctor from the internet. So... how did you program a virus to erase any mention of yourself, Doctor? It's not as if you have a very unique name. Also, there's going to be gaps in data that some people should notice. Maybe UNIT will say, "That's odd. We just lost all our data regarding that alien guy who helped us out in the '70s. Or maybe it was the '80s. I don't remember, the data's gone. Good thing we have hard copies on file." Maybe Wikipedia will see the virus's alterations as vandalism and revert the changes. Or maybe somebody has a backup of some of the data. Either way, you can bet your butt that this won't actually stick. The Doctor will still totally be Google-able after this episode. And Memory Alpha is going to be ticked off that they lost all their data on the Emergency Medical Hologram, believe you me.
The Doctor offers Mickey a trip in the TARDIS, too, but he declines. Rose says one final goodbye to her mom outside the TARDIS, waxing on about the wonders of the universe. Rose gives Mickey a goodbye kiss and tries to remind her mom that it's a time machine. She could be gone for weeks and be back in ten seconds.
After the TARDIS dematerializes, Jackie waits for ten seconds. Nothing happens.
And so, as our ordinary humans go back to their ordinary lives, the episode ends.
So… I hate to leave you all hanging like this, but my Review will have to wait until tomorrow. If you’re a time traveler, you can check it out right now in the future. If not, then there will be a link to the Review here in the future.