Doctor Who, S2E4. The Girl in the Fireplace. Written by Steven Moffat.
I know a lot of people love this episode, but I don’t think it’s all that. I think it’s disjointed and has some good parts and good characters, but the mash-up is both trite and awkward, and I don’t love this episode. I usually skip to my favorite parts.
Open on a beautiful house that appears to be on fire and dozens of people are running out screaming. Cut to a man quick-stepping down a hall expositing that “the creatures” are coming and they must get out. (In a British accent… In France…) He enters the bedroom of a beautiful woman and warns her. She says,”The clock is broken.” The English Frenchman is getting annoyed with her, and she turns to him, and assures him there is a man coming to help her, that he has watched over her her whole life. He wonders who it is and she says, “The only man, save you, I have ever loved.” He makes a face and she reminds him: “You have your duties. I am your mistress. Go to your queen.”
She crouches before the crackling fireplace and calls into it. “I need you now! You promised! The clock on the mantle is broken! It is time! Doctor!”
Credits. Down a blue garden hose.
Three thousand years later. The TARDIS lands on an abandoned spaceship. The Doctor, Rose “Two Teeth” Tyler, and Mickey “Musn’t Wake Mummy” Smith walk out and Mickey’s excited to be on a spaceship. Rose wonders if there’s anything on board.
“Nah, nothing here. Weeeellll, nothing dangerous. Weeeelll, not that dangerous.” This doesn’t do Tennant’s delivery justice, but this is something (we later learn) this Doctor says often when he is backtracking his false bravado, and it’s cute.
The Doctor turns the spaceship on and they all look around. The Doctor notices all kinds of work has been done on the ship, work he doesn’t understand, then he realizes a lot of power is being pushed through the ship. Then they smell a Sunday roast. Where from?
Oh, that’s where. A fireplace. An 18 century fireplace with a roaring fire. The Doctor peers in and talks to a little girl in 1727. Exploring further, he finds a little switch and the fireplace rotates, and he’s in the bedroom. The little girl is asleep and he pokes around. She wakes up and he reminds her, “Fireplace man. We were talking a few moments ago.” She says, “Monsieur, that was weeks ago. That was months.”
Okay, so time is moving at different speeds here.
He notices there’s a clock ticking loudly and knows that something must be in her room. And indeed there is, a clockwork android, which tries to attack the Doctor. The Doctor is all “nothing to see here” by telling the little girl it’s just a nightmare, something even monsters get. “What do monsters get nightmares about?” She asks. “Me!” He says. Nice.
He realizes the android is there for the little girl, but she’s not ready yet. So they’re waiting for her to ripen, like a banana.
He brings the android to the spaceship and freezes it, then goes ga-ga looking it over. “Oh, you are beautiful! No really, you are, you’re gorgeous! Space-age clockwork, I love it, I’ve got chills! (All this in his upper register – he’s so geeked out.) Listen, I mean this from the heart- and by the way,” he says, pointing at his chest, “count those – it would be a crime, it would be an act of vandalism to disassemble you. But that won’t stop me.”
He brings up the sonic screwdriver and the android unfreezes and dissolves from the ship. Rose and Mickey go off to do something the Doctor told them not to… I’m not really paying attention.
The Doctor goes back through the fireplace to see if the fireplace girl is okay. She’s fine, and rapidly growing up into a beautiful and coy woman who makes the Doctor flustered. She studies him a bit, then kisses him. During the kiss, a man is calling for her, “Madamoiselle Poisson.” Then she runs off, leaving the Doctor dazed, and then he comes to. “Poisson? Reinette Poisson? No! Later Madame D’Etoiles, later still mistress of Louis the XV, uncrowned Queen of French? Actress, artist, musician, dancer, courtesan. Fantastic gardener!” So.
Then, back on board the spaceship, the Doctor finds a horse on board. Random.
Rose and Mickey, in their wanderings, realize parts of a human body are fixed into the ship (ew).
He steps out of the ship and into a beautiful garden, presumably in France, and listens to Reinette talking with her friend. (Who is played by the actress who played Guinevere in Merlin and I love her.)
The Doctor meets Rose and Mickey on the ship and, while looking through a one-way mirror, expositions what’s going on. A ticking becomes louder and the both realize a droid is in the room with her. The Doctor goes in to stop it, which it does and talks to the droid figuring out what happened. The droid says it use the body parts of the crew to patch up the ship, but it couldn’t get back. It needs one more part… from Reinette.
There’s a cute quick exchange between Rose and the Doctor when she realizes he’s named the horse. “No, you’re not keeping the horse.” “I let you keep Mickey!” the Doctor points out indignantly. Hee. Like a pet.
He’s able to stop the droids from killing Reinette, and he promises to come back for her, and he does, but too late. Happily, though, she dies of old age. Not cannibalism. She left him a letter, of course.
As the light in the fire dies, the TARDIS dematerializes, revealing that it stood in front of a picture of Reinette. As the TARDIS leaves the scene, the name of the ship can finally be seen on the outside: SS Madame de Pompadour.
So, again, I thought it was really disjointed and I hate the theme of the Doctor promising to come back for people and then not coming back, or not in time. And he knows that he might not get back, but he doesn’t tell the truth about that. No. He promises that he’ll be there.
I like Reinette when I see her, but as a character she’s forgettable – I never remember how cool she is. So I don’t love this episode.