Doctor Who, The Christmas Invastion. S2 Ep1. Written by Russell T. Davies
So, it seems that British TV shows do a Christmas special episode, perhaps a gift to the viewers. We have those in the US… A family: grandpa/ma, a mother/father/both, her/his/their grown unmarried daughter and the daughter’s illegitimate child son (almost always a son, for great grandpa.) Daughter comes home from the city/country, harried and tired/happy and relieved. Child son and great-grandpa/ma bond over building trains and astronomy, but child son is secretly unhappy/worried/angry. Mother and daughter are always/sometimes butting heads/get along brilliantly. Some drama happens. Here to help is a single man named Jackson/Dylan, who can help/love/make laugh the daughter/help with the son/protect the grandfather. (Oh yeah, he might be a single father.) Daughter and Jackson/Dylan hook up. There may or may not be talk of God, but there is definitely talk of the “Christmas spirit.” All ends well looking outside with arms around each other. Great grandpa is wearing a Santa hat. There are fuzzy shots and coffee/sweater/snow shots.
They all suck.
After seeing this, I see the British have a different idea of a Christmas special, and God bless them for it. After several viewings (because, remember, I didn’t like Barty Crouch Jr. usurping Eccleston’s throne) I can say that this episode is a good transition into the new Doctor.
The episode opens like it did in the pilot episode – starting in space and panning to Earth. Jackie is readying the house for Christmas, and Mickey is at work in the garage. They hear the TARDIS land, and converge on the little square outside Jackie’s building where the TARDIS usually lands. It crashes through the clouds and against buildings until it lands. Barty Crouch Jr. comes out all gleeful breathless energy, “Here we are then! London! Earth! Solar system! I did it!!” Seeing Jackie and Mickey, Barty becomes manic: “Jackie, Mickey, blimey! No, no, no, no. Hold on. Wait there. I’ve got something to say. There’s something I had to tell you. Something important. What was it? No, hold on, hold on… Oh, I know! Merry Christmas.” And he passes out on them.
Credits. A red and blue traffic jam. (It looks and sounds a little different – less low budget than it did. Perhaps it picked up more popularity and so got more money.)
Rose “Don’t Ask Me” Tyler comes out of the TARDIS and asks what happened. Mickey and Jackie deny knowing and ask about the Doctor. (Because they see Barty.) Rose says, “That’s him, right in front of you. That’s the Doctor.” (No. You mean Barty.)
Jackie asks, indignant “What do you mean that’s the Doctor? Doctor who?” (Geddit?) They bring the Doctor to Jackie’s flat and dress him in pajamas that belonging to Howard, Jackie’s current beau. Rose is checking him over as she explains regeneration to her mother. “Both working…” She says after putting the stethoscope to his chest in two places.
Jackie asks, “What d’you mean both?”
“Well, he’s got two hearts.”
Jackie denies it quickly, but Rose insists. There’s a pause. “Anything else he’s got two of?” (HA! I love Jackie.) They both leave the bedroom, Rose leading, and neither of them seeing a wisp of yellow light (vortex energy) that Barty exhales and then floats off. Rose is quite distraught that the Doctor “left her,” and she’s angry with him for changing. A lot of the episode is centered around this.
On TV in the living room, Rose learns that Harriet Jones (from the farting aliens!) is the new Prime Minister. On the screen, she and a project director Llewellyn talk about the space probe just about to land on Mars. No such luck, we see, as the probe is swallowed up by an island-like spaceship. (Show of hands: Who else hates the word “probe?”)
Later that evening, Rose and Mickey go Christmas shopping, but are attacked by masked Santas that are armed with lethal musical instruments. (Okay. I played the flute for eight years, and there is no way I could have played with a mask on. But these are all brass instruments – do you think that’s significant?)
Rose realizes that it’s something alien, and therefore must have to do with the other alien in her life. They get home, and Rose comments to Jackie about a new Christmas tree in the living room. They realize they don’t know who bought it, and suddenly, it comes to life, whirling around with razor-sharp branches.
The three retreat to the bedroom, the “Christmas tree” in hot pursuit. Rose places the sonic screwdriver into still-comatose Barty’s hand and asks him to help her. Instinctively, Barty rises as the tree bursts through the door and disintegrates the tree with the screwdriver. He then strides outside the flat to see who was remotely controlling the tree. From ground level, the Santas stare up at the Doctor, (freaky! To see all those masked faces looking up in the same direction!!) but leave when Barty points the sonic screwdriver at them. Barty identifies them as “pilot fish,” (Sounds like a U2 song) and then collapses in pain. Rose woke him too early and he’s still regenerating. The energy that leaked from him earlier told the pilot fish his general direction. (Is that like smelling gas emitted from 20,000 feet away? Ew.) He’s beginning to explain how pilot fish are not good, but is distracted by an apple in the pocket of the robe that he’s borrowing from Jackie’s boyfriend. “He keeps apples in his dressing gown?”
“He gets hungry.” Jackie explained.
“What, he gets hungry in his sleep?”
“Sometimes.” (Oh alright. Heh.) Then he has a pain in his head and crumples to the ground, still conscious. Jackie drops to just in front of his face, and the two have such a cute and rapid exchange that reinforces my love for Jackie and makes me dare to believe I can deal with Barty as the Doctor. Then he loses consciousness.
In the capital, the first signal from the Mars probe is being promised to all the viewing public at home. Unfortunately, it shows a distinctly alien face, and suddenly they go into damage control overdrive. We see Llewellyn taken to the Tower of London, which houses a facility run by the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, or UNIT. (A reference to earlier Doctors.) There, he meets the Prime Minister and her aide, Alex, who tells him that the cover story is that a student in a mask hacked into the television signal. Random Technician explains the signal came not from Mars, but from a ship approaching Earth.
Rose and Mickey see the news broadcast, and then Mickey hacks into the government computer system to see what they’re up to. Through this, they see another message from the aliens in the alien language. Normally, Rose would understand this, because the TARDIS translates it, but because Barty is unconscious, that happy function isn’t working.
Back at UNIT, military man Blake orders the use of translation software, and PM Jones quietly asks Blake if Torchwood is ready. She knows she’s not supposed to know about them, not even the UN knows, but she does and they need Torchwood, or rather, a weapon that was engineered from a crashed spaceship one/ten years previously (“Aliens of London”) The translation software starts to work, and they hear that the aliens are the Sycorax and they are claiming Earth as their own, demanding surrender of the “cattle,” which baffles UNIT. Jones declines to surrender, instead warning the Sycorax that the planet is armed. The Sycorax leader raises his hand and a small blue light radiates around it. We see this effect several people, 1/3 of the world’s population, to be exact, start to walk, trance-like, to the edge of the nearest building.
The staff realize that family groups are affected, though not married groups, and determine its something about the blood – A+ blood, specific ally. At this point, Llewellyn’s face falls. “This is all my fault.” He said that he had included a little info about Earth on Guinevere One – music and different kinds of samples, including A+ blood. The Sycorax are using this blood as population control.
Barty is still not responsive in the Taylor’s spare bedroom, and Jackie is leaning over him, stroking his hand and talking to him sweetly, “What can I get you? Just tell me?” It was just a few moments, but so sweet, like a mother to a child. Rose sees them from the doorway and starts to cry, upset that she’s lost her Doctor. Mickey comes from behind her and says, “You really do love him.” She doesn’t answer, but turns into him, crying, and they hold each other while they cry. Very sweet.
Desperate now, Jones gives an emergency broadcast on television, making a weak joke that it’s isn’t the “Queen’s speech.” She pauses, and then asks an unseen aide “Have to asked about the Royal Family?” After a few moments, her face falls and she says “Oh. They’re on the roof.” Just then, the shockwave rattles everyone in the city, the effect of the Sycorax ship entering the atmosphere. (Does that kind of thing really happen when something big comes into our atmosphere?) Cut back to Rose who says that they’re on their own because this new Doctor is… not her Doctor. (Because he’s Barty!) She doesn’t know what else to do, and asks Mickey and Jackie to help move Barty to the safety of the TARDIS. Jackie gathers food and other supplies, including a flask of tea. (Mickey: “Tea. While we’re waiting for the world to come to an end. Very British.” Hee.)
The Sycorax transport PM Jones, Alex, Blake and Llewellyn up to their ship. The Sycorax leader removes his helmet, revealing a skinless face surrounded by a mantle of bone. His hand hovers over a large glowing button and he demands immediate surrender from Harriett Jones, or he will order the humans to jump. Both Llewellyn and Blake try to reason with the Sycorax, but are reduced to a pile of bones by the leader’s energy whip.
In London, Rose and Mickey have moved Barty into the console room of the TARDIS and Jackie went back to get more supplies. Mickey tries to use the TARDIS scanner to tune into what is happening, and this advanced technology is detected by the Sycorax and brought on board their ship. Rose decided to help her mother get more supplies, and screamed when she found she was on the Sycorax ship. Hearing this, Mickey rushes out after her and drops a flask of tea that Jackie had brought on board. This tea spills and starts dripping through the grilles at the base of the console next to the Barty’s unconscious form. Barty breathes in the fumes created as the tea sparks against various components.
Outside, Rose is trying to command the Sycorax to leave Earth. “I, um, I address the Sycorax, um, according to… Article 15 of the Shadow Proclamation. I command you to leave this world with all the authority of… the Slitheen Parliament of Raxacoricofallapatorious, and, um, the Gelth Confederacy, as, uh, sanctioned by the Mighty Jagrafess, and, ooh! the Daleks! Now leave this planet in peace!” Her voice falters as she again says“In peace.”
There’s a long pause, and the Sycorax start laughing at and taunting her. But after a few minutes of this, she realizes that she’s hearing English, which means the TARDIS translation is working again, which means Barty is awake. On cue, the doors of the police box open and Barty stands there, smiling broadly as he says, “Did you miss me?”
The Sycorax leader snaps his energy whip at Barty who catches and breaks it. Barty bluntly tells the alien to wait while he gets more important things out of the way, namely, getting reacquainted with his friends. This is where we start to see
Barty’s this Doctor’s personality. “Harriet Jones!” he cries. At first she doesn’t accept it’s him, but after he mentions things from their last encounter, she gives him a hug, thanking him for his congratulations on becoming Prime Minister.
The Doctor turns to Rose.” Now, first things first. Be honest, how do I look?”
“Good different or bad different?”
He takes on a face as though he afraid to hear her response: “Am I… ginger?”
She looks up at his hair, “No, you’re just sort of… brown.”
He groans like a child denied sweets. “Aww, I wanted to be ginger. I’ve never been ginger.” He turns his attention on her and leans into her. “And you, Rose Tyler, fat lot of good you were. You gave up on me.” He takes a step back and looks up, talking to himself. “Ooh, that was rude. Is that the kind of man I am now? Am I rude? Rude and not ginger?”
He said it was the tea that fully revived him. The Sycorax leader is getting increasingly annoyed with this disruption and roars at the Doctor, “I demand to know who you are!” The Doctor roars back, imitating him: “I don’t know!” (Snort. That was funny.) Then he begins a rapid-fire monologue which will characterize his stint on Doctor Who. “See, there’s the thing. I’m the Doctor, but beyond that, I – I just don’t know. I literally do not know who I am. It’s all untested. Am I funny? Am I sarcastic? Sexy?” [He winks at Rose] “Am I an old miser? Life and soul? Right-handed? Left-handed? A gambler? A fighter? A coward? A traitor, a liar, a nervous wreck? I mean, judging by the evidence, I’ve certainly got a (something that I don’t understand.)” Then he approaches the button that the Sycorax leader was threatening to push earlier, and then continues: “…And how am I gonna react when I see this? A great, big, threatening button. A great, big, threatening button which must not be pressed under any circumstances, am I right? Looks like some sort of control matrix. But what’s powering it?” He looks underneath it. “Blood?” (He takes a taste of the red liquid.) “Yep, blood. Human blood. A positive… with just a dash of iron. Agh.” Wipes his finger on his robe. “That means…[thinking]…blood control. [He’s suddenly pleased.] Blood control! Oh, I haven’t seen blood control for years! So you’re controlling all the A positives. Which leaves us with a great, big, stinkin’ problem. I really don’t know who I am. I don’t know when to stop. So if I see a great, big, threatening button which should never ever ever be pressed, then I just want to do this!” and he slams down on the button. (Watching it now, knowing the 11th Doctor, I can hear how much this sounds like the 11th Doctor, like something he’d say!)
Like a breath exhaled, all the possessed people on Earth are suddenly released from the Sycorax control and step back from a building’s edge. “See, that’s all blood control is – cheap bit of voodoo,” the Doctor explains. “Scares the pants off you, but that’s as far as it goes. It’s like hypnotism. You can hypnotize someone to walk like a chicken or sing like Elvis, you can’t hypnotize them to death – survival instinct’s too strong.”
The leader reminds the Doctor that they can still take the Earth by force, the Doctor answers “Well, yeah, you could, you could do that, course you could, but why? Look at these people, these human beings, consider their potential. From the day they arrive on this planet and blinking, step into the sun,…” (I tune out here and roll my eyes to such degree that I have to stop typing to massage them back into place.)
The Sycorax leader basically throws out a bully’s taunt “Whacha gonna do about it?” and the Doctor challenges him to a sword fight. (Harkening back to “The Shindig” in Firefly. “Use of a swat?”) The swordfight goes from inside the ship to its exterior, but the Doctor is clearly disadvantaged, and in the midst of it, the leader cuts the Doctor’s hand off. As the leader is doing a victory jig, the Doctor assesses the situation: “You cut my hand off! And now I know what sort of man I am. I’m lucky, because quite by chance, I’m still within the first 15 hours of my regeneration cycle, which means I have just enough residual cellular energy to do this!” He spontaneously grows his hand back. Then he announces in a weak cowboy accent: “This new hand, it’s a fightin’ hand!” The leader snarls at him “Witchcraft!” The Doctor smiles craftily and corrects him. “Time Lord.” (Oh my.
After defeating the Sycorax leader and holding him at sword point the ship’s edge, the Doctor offers him a deal to keep his life in exchange for obeying this “victor’s command.” “By the ancient rights of combat, I forbid you to scavenge here for the rest of time. And when you go back to the stars and tell others of this planet, when you tell them of its riches, [he’s backing up here to address all the Sycorax] its people, its potential, when you talk of the Earth, then make sure that you tell them this… [shouts] It. Is. Defended!”
The Doctor turns away to walk with Rose and joke about the sastsuma in the pocket of his robe. (I had never heard of a satsuma before and thought maybe I misheard. No. It’s a type of orange.) Behind him, the Sycorax leader is marshaling his strength and is preparing to administer a coward’s attack from behind. Without blinking, the Doctor calmly bounces the satsuma off a control button in front of him, opening a section of the ship’s wing beneath the leader, sending the alien plunging to his death. “No second chances.” He says, not looking back. “I’m that sort of man.” (Dang. How YOU doing’?)
They are in the Sycorax ship for a moment with a reminder not to bother the people of the Earth and then are transported back to London. PM Jones asks about other alien races, and the Doctor notes that there are thousands; the human race is getting active and being noticed. As PM Jones ponders this, visibly troubled, Alex receives a telephone call and quietly informs her that Torchwood is ready. She seems reluctant, but still gives the order to fire. She does this at the moment that the Doctor looks happily over at her, glad that their Earth will be safe.
Suddenly, five green beams converge as one over London, and the resulting energy burst destroys the Sycorax ship as it heads into space. It’s visible from Earth, and the Doctor turns on PM Jones “That was murder.” He says, pointing out that they were leaving.
“No, that was an act of defense.” She says, explaining that he’s not always with them and they need to protect themselves.
The Doctor says, “I gave them the wrong warning. I should have told them to run, as fast as they can. Run and hide, because the monsters are coming – the human race.” “
So what does that make you, Doctor?” PM Jones asks him with apparent calm, though you can tell she’s shaking in her boots. “Another alien threat?”
“Don’t challenge me, Harriet Jones,” the Doctor warned, “’Cause I’m a completely new man. I could bring down your Government with a single word.”
She looks up at him, still calm/scared and says, “You’re the most remarkable man I’ve ever met. But I don’t think you’re quite capable of that.”
“No, you’re right. Not a single word. [pause] Just six.”
“I don’t think so,” she says.
“Six.” He walks away from her and goes to her aide, whispering in his ear, “Don’t you think she looks tired?” (Watching this now, this exchange reminds me of Irene Adler telling Sherlock in the BBC version that she would take him until he begs for mercy twice. “I never beg for mercy.” “Twice.”) That episode of Sherlock was written by Stephen Moffatt, who also wrote this episode. Signature?
Cut to Jackie, Mickey and Rose serving Christmas dinner in the flat while the Doctor is primping and settling on a wardrobe. (In the TARDIS closet, we can see parts of consumes from previous Doctors. Kind of like playing Where’s Waldo?) He finally settles on a brown pinstripe suit and a long brown coat. He joins the others for dinner, and they watch Harriet Jones on the television, fending off rumors about her ill-health. They are called outside, where it looks like snow is falling. But no, it’s ash from the exploded Sycorax ship. They still dance in it. (Ew.) Rose and the Doctor shuffle feet and decide they’re still going to travel together and begin to plan their next destination. He assures her that it will be, in the words of his previous incarnation, “fantastic.” (Aww.)