Doctor Who – Series 1 – The Long Game, Written by Russell T. Davies
I was kind of bored with this episode, but bouyed from the Dalek episode and knowing that it’s futile to try to stop watching Doctor Who, I plugged through.
The episode opens on a news report and scans around a new set as we hear the TARDIS land. The Doctor expositions that they’ve come to Satellite 5, a space station that’s 200,000 years old. They direct and tell all the news. He directs Rose “Keep to the Right” Taylor to “let him out,” referring to the Young Buck from Utah, whose proper name is Adam. I’m not going to call him that, however, as I think my own name is more befitting. You be the judge.
Young Buck steps out of the TARDIS, jaw agape in newbie wonderment. He asks where they are, and Rose parrots the details the Doctor gave her while the Doctor looks on proudly. She’s showing off. You go, girl. They all approach a window and look at the Earth, during “the fourth great and bountiful human empire.” Exposition that this is the point at which the Earth was at it’s height, with ninety-six billion inhabitants and five moons.
Credits. A red and blue swirling birth canal.
The three are walking along as the Doctor sings praises of this empire: culture, good food, advanced technology. Then the market open, crass and greasy, giving lie to everything the Doctor said.
The Doctor suddenly gives Young Buck some money, who asks how it works, and the Doctor (in prolly the best lines of the episode), says “Go and find out, stop nagging me. The thing is, Adam, time travel is like visiting Paris. You can’t just read the guidebook; you’ve got to throw yourself in. Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, get charged double and end up kissing complete strangers, or is that just me?” Yeah. Paris was like that for me, too.
He smiles until they leave, and then his face falls because Things are Not as they Should Be. He approaches two women, Cathica and Suki, to ask them questions. (The first is played Farida Mugisha from Lie to Me and the second was Cassandra Austen in Becoming Jane, who I LOVE!) The Doctor starts asking them detailed questions about the place. They pass a bank of television screens from which the Bad Wolf channel is broadcasting the Face of Boe just announced he’s pregnant. They’re pretty reluctant to answer his questions, but then realize he may be a secret shopper from On High, someone who will help them get to floor 500, where the “walls are made of gold.” They whip themselves into shape to get promoted.
In a shadowed room, presumably On High, Simon Pegg surveys this scene and decides something is “fictional” about it. And he would know from fictional, because On High is a freezer. Not literally, of course, but the room is ice blue and the people sitting there with him are frost covered, like that old block of hamburger. Simon Pegg commands a security check.
Cut to a lunch room where people with various tattoes and hair colors stuff their faces gracelessly. Rose tries to get Young Buck to try different foods. Young Buck is adjusting to all the differences and Rose lets him use her phone to reconnect with home, like she did when she watched the Earth death. Rose gets up to give him privacy and doesn’t see Young Buck pocket her phone meaningfully. Ruh roh.
Cut back to On High. The security check comes back that things are okay, but Simon Pegg’s not having it. He instructs the frozen people to check again. Rose and Young Buck join them.
Cut to a where the Doctor has followed the women to a white room where people are sitting in a circle like they’re gonna sing Kumbaya. Cathica leads the group: “Ladies, gentlemen, multisex, undecided or robot.” (Way to model inclusion, there.) She went to a chair in the middle of the circle, where she snaps her fingers and a little metal trapdoor opens on her forehead. The group puts their hands down on ‘connection ports,’ and a beam shoots from the ceiling to where Cathica’s trapdoor has opened. Of course, our good Doctor knows what this is: The people have chips in their brains that connect them to her and her brain processes what they tell her. I would hate to be on that team.
Back to On High where the second analysis confirms a security breach, determines that Suki is the impostor, and she gets promoted to floor 500. So now we know that maybe a promotion isn’t really a promotion. Cathica is jealous and pretty ugly about it. As Suki says goodbye to everyone, Young Buck is creeped out by the “head thing” he just saw and wants to take a time out “on the observation deck.” Rose gives him the TARDIS key in case things are too much and wants to retreat somewhere familiar, and Young Buck walks off, chuckling to himself. Ooh, he is so slick, isn’t he? Suki goes upstairs, and Cathica tells the Doctor and us that people don’t come back from floor 500. Suki arrives excitedly, though her face falls once she feels the cold. As she’s investigating, she finds skeletons in a Kumbaya circle like we saw earlier, and freaks out.
She finds where Simon Pegg is waiting for her amidst the frozen people. As they stand facing off from each other, Simon Pegg replays her floor 500 interview, accuses her of lying and then shows another video of her as a guerilla fighter. She suddenly pulls out a gun, a different person. “Who controls Satellite 5?” She asks. Suddenly, we realize that there is more to Suki (like we couldn’t love her enough) and something really bad is happening. (Sidebar: I would think that she would have been different on her way up, figuratively girding her loins in case something Bad went down, like it did.) Simon Pegg raises his hands and starts laughing. He points to a source of the unintelligible comments, before which he grovels and simpers, a ball of slime with teeth on the ceiling. She tried to shoot it, unsuccessfully, and it kills her.
As Cathica and the Doctor are running around, she realizes that he isn’t evaluating her. He askedafew questions Cathica can’t answer, and he’s like, “But you’re a journalist.” He suggests a conspiracy. The Doctor accuses the great and bountiful human empire as being stunted, that something’s holding it back about 90 years, about the time that Satellite 5 started broadcasting. He doesn’t know what, though.
Cut to Young Buck who decides to get a trapdoor put in his head so he can use Rose’s cell phone to leave information on his parent’s answering machine. ‘Cause that won’t go wrong. Young Buck is a Dumb Buck.
Cut to Farida getting curious and rooting into things, which Simon Pegg can see. Rose and the Doctor are trying to figure things out, and Cathica wants “nothing to do with it.” Rose asks her to at least get them to turn the heat down and asks why its so hot. That’s something else Cathica doesn’t know, which the Doctor mocks. Eventually, he realizes that the Satellite is hot because all of the cooling is going to floor 500, (which is why it looks like a freezer) where something is generating a great deal of heat.
Back to Dumb Buck in a robe, where he has decided to get a forehead trapdoor to get all the information they have. A staff person is next to him, and explains she tells him a “click” of the fingers open the trapdoor. (In England, they call a snap a click?) He snaps, and a hole opens to his brain. He throws up, and it comes out in an ice cube. Ew.
Rose and the Doctor reach floor 500, find Simon Pegg and see where Suki’s body is working. Compassionate Rose goes to her and they realize she’s dead. The Doctor looks up and sees a slimy blob with teeth snapping at them. He guesses that thing is in charge of Sattelite 5, but it corrected. That thing is in charge of the human race, according to Simon, and has been for almost 100 years. The Jagrafess of the Holy. (Max for short?) We see Cathica go back to the closet where she starts Being Subversive.
Rose and the Doctor are chained together while Simon Pegg tell them the Master Plan. (Okay. I first saw Simon Pegg in Shawn of the Dead, and I hate zombie flicks, so I wrote him off. I saw him in Star Trek and watching him in this, he’s really good. I think I need to reevaluate my position on him.) Society goes on, and from time to time, someone notices that its weird, but the computer system allows Simon to see doubts inside people’s brains, and crush it. “The ultimate in mind control.”
Cathica makes it to the 500th floor and is on a mission. She goes to the room where Rose and the Doctor are questioning Simon Pegg about how this works and he confirms that he represents banks that prefer a long-term investment.
Dumb Buck again calls again to his parents to use their answering machine. He starts streaming info into his head hole, and records the sound, which he says he can translate. But instead of getting information, he’s actually giving Simon Pegg information about the Doctor, which Simon Pegg didn’t’t know before. Simon Pegg also pulls the key to the TARDIS out of Dumb Buck’s pocket to take the TARDIS.
Just in time, Cathica overhears this, starts thinking independently and reverses the cool air from floor 500. The Jagrafess is killed. Simon Pegg suddenly says he resigns, but as he walks out, he’s tripped by the formerly dead Suki, also thinking independently, who reaches out and grab his ankle. The Doctor goes to get Cathica and says the human race should accelerate and all back to normal.
The Doctor is furious with Dumb Buck. They take him home and destroy the answering machine. Rose and the Doctor move to get back in the TARDIS, but he’s scared that they’re going to leave him like this, with a head hole. The Doctor says it ensures it will keep him living a private life. Dumb Buck begs to keep traveling with them, but the Doctor shuts him down. “I only take the best; I’ve got Rose.”
His mum comes home, snaps her fingers, and freaks out.