The Games, Mrs. Hudson, Are On

Doctor Who S1 Ep 12 Bad Wolf. Written by Russell T. Davies

I like to see fandoms collide, hence my title. A Sherlock line used to refer to both the situation for our heroes as well as the conclusion of this story arc, which has been building all season.

The Doctor awakens in a Big Brother-like house on Channel 44000. Rose wakes up on a The Weakest Link-type set. Jack wakes up in another show I don’t recognize (I find out its “What Not To Wear” on TLC), and a “defabricator” strips him naked.  Aren’t we going to buy him a drink first?

When he realizes he’s on TV, he smiles, smirks a bit and tells his android stylists, “Ladies, your viewing figures just went up.” (Is that all that went up? Heh.) John Borrowman is an attractive man, and he can act the part of a “player” without being too smarmy, which is nice.  A player with a heart. (And actually, I heard that he originally did this shot fully naked and in view, but the censors didn’t allow it.)

Back with the Doctor, one of the housemates gets voted off, and then zapped into oblivion. None of the contestants get to choose to be on or not on the show, and only single winner gets to live, so the other 10 housemates (or so) die.  What a crappy game show. The Doctor figures that Rose is in another one and makes mischief in the house to be selected for evection.

Back on WNTW, Jack is having fun playing dress up, until he realizes his stylists are willing to start cutting parts off him to make him attractive, the ultimate in body modification.  (So like in the Capital in the Hunger Games. Another fandom.) He pulls a weapon from I-don’t-even-want-to-know-where and blows their heads off.

For Rose’s part, she’s having a blast playing The Weakest Link.  She doesn’t know any of the answers to the questions, not being a native of the 2001 century, though she answers one about the Face of Boe like a boss. We hear another person answer “Torchwood” to a question about an Old Earth institution. (This is the first time we hear of Torchwood, ever, and the only time in this episode. But it will be important.)

Rose is giggling until she realizes that losing a round actually means disintegration. The guy playing next to Rose is stressed, but he tells her he has a plan: vote everyone else off so that at the end, he’ll be up against Rose and he’ll win, ‘cause she’s stupid. Jerk.

He says that then he’ll collect his prize – credits – from the Badwolf Corporation who runs the game.  At this point, she remembers all the times in her adventures that she’s seen the name “Bad Wolf.” She starts to realize that Bad Wolf, whatever that is, is in charge and that her presence is planned.

Back in the house, the Doctor is waiting to be evicted, but when the timer runs out to blast him, nothing happens. He laughs at the powers-that-be because he realizes this means they want him alive. He figures out a way out of the little zapping closet he’s in, and one of the housemates comes with him, Lynda-with-a-y.

They exit into a central chamber which the Doctor recognizes as Satellite 5, but a century after their first visit. The Doctor begins scanning for both an exit and his friends in any of the hundred deadly games. Lynda turns the lights on in the chamber and reveals the logo of the Badwolf Corporation, the sight of which gives the Doctor pause.

In the control room, the programmers are surprised by the new players and trying to see how many there actually are, but the Controller is denying them access.  The Controller is a pale woman with unusual eyes (who looks like a friend from college, though I feel bad for saying that) who is hooked up to dozens of cables to the station. Freaky!  Makes me think of the Farm on New Caprica on Battlestar Galactica. (A fourth fandom.)) Boo.

The Controller herself is constantly monitoring the transmissions that flow through her and muttering almost agitatedly to herself. She reminds the controllers to pay attention to the impending solar flare.

Jack has converted the defabricator beam from the show into a ray gun, and finds the Doctor on an observation deck, where Lynda fills the Doctor in on what has happened to Earth since his last visit.

To the Doctor’s horror, instead of human development having got back on track, things became worse. All information broadcasts ceased, the whole planet froze, and society collapsed. Humans are still the sheep that just go along to get along, endlessly watching the games. The Doctor realizes that the station is transmitting more than just games, and that whatever the Bad Wolf is, it is manipulating him.

Back to Rose, she loses the final round of her game just as the Doctor, Jack and Lynda burst into the studio. Rose runs to the Doctor to warn him about a disintegrating beam, and she’s shot, turning her into a pile of dust.

Numb with shock, the Doctor does not put up resistance when the guards arrive and take all of them away. The Doctor remains silent when the guards process and interrogate the three of them, but just when they are about to be transported Somewhere Else, he gives a signal. He and Jack knock out the guards, grab weapons and head up to the Controller, the woman all plugged in.

The Doctor demands to know who is in charge, but she doesn’t answer. We learn that she was installed as a little girl, and has been plugged in for so long that all she sees is programming. What a crappy way to live. Jack is still snooping around and finds the TARDIS.  When he goes in to activate the console, he finds something shocking.

The predicted solar flare happens and messes up the transmission. She unexpectedly calls for the Doctor, explaining that while the solar flare is happening, her masters can’t read her thoughts. She brought him to the Satellite and hid him in the games, but she can’t tell the Doctor who her masters are. She can tell him that they’ve been hiding and shaping the Earth for centuries, but they fear the Doctor.  The flare passes, and Jack returns to the Doctor to tell him he learned that the disintegrators didn’t actually kill people, but just transported them somewhere else. Hooray! Rose is still alive.

And now we go to where she’s regaining consciousness on an alien spacecraft, where a strange humming sound fills the background. She sees one of the inhabitants of the spacecraft approaching her, and she backs up against a wall in shock as she recognizes a plunger-like hand a Dalek.

On the station, the Controller tells the Doctor where Rose was taken, even though it means her masters will know she screwed them over. A moment of defiance, of free will. Beautiful. As she shouts the answer, the Controller is teleported and ends up on the same ship as Rose. She gloats to her masters about how she killed them, and she herself is killed.

The Doctor is still at the station and trying to find out where the people are sent, a point on the edge of the solar system.  It appears to be empty, but after the Doctor cancels the shielding signal, he can see a fleet Daleks almost half a million strong. (I read that, when this part was revealed, the choir in the background is singing “What is happening” in Hebrew.)

The Dalek open communications, with a lead Dalek ordering the Doctor not to intervene with the Daleks or they will exterminate Rose.

“No.” Is all the the Doctor says.

“Explain! Explain!” The lead Dalek cries. (It’s funny, actually.  I know you’re not supposed to laugh at these guys, but they’re hard to take seriously with their metallic voices and accents, and they’re so indignant with their whisks and plungers.)

The Doctor is all defiant and tells them that he’s going to get her out of the middle of the fleet, save the Earth and then kill every last Dalek in existence.  They take this as a hostile action and a leader orders an invasion of the Earth. Many more Daleks gather for the invasion, all chanting their battle cry: “Exterminate, exterminate, exterminate…”

Oooohhhh, cliffhanger!!

Okay, your turn.

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