In the tenth episode of the first series of Doctor Who, the Doctor begins to figure out why the empty “zombies” act so much like children. When the truth of the source is revealed, it leads to awkward times with Nancy and Jack Harkness. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
I’m glad that I liked this episode so much because the second part of the last double-episode wasn’t quite as satisfying as the first one. We’ve got just as much character growth and emotion power as the first half, and all of it hangs under the dread of the Empty Children.
The Doctor takes a gamble during the continuation of the cliffhanger from “The Empty Child” by speaking to these weird zombie-like creatures as if he is their mummy. It works and, unbeknownst to him, it actually helps calm down the one that is after Nancy. It’s weird how right then and there, that is sort of the answer to everything, but I never picked up on it until the final reveal at the end of “The Doctor Dances.”
Jamie, the lead Empty Child, is controlling all these beings and this leads to a GREAT scene where they realize they’re standing inside his room. THANK YOU, STEVEN MOFFAT. Will these nightmares ever leave my subconscious? No, they won’t.
When Harkness teleported without them, I actually believed for a moment that he wouldn’t return. I know he liked Rose, but certainly not enough to care about saving them. (I was wrong.) Further proving that he always seems to know what to say or do in the right moments in order to win people to his side, Harkness plays Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” in an attempt to block out Jamie’s use of the radio to track our heroes.
This is when the title of this episode is finally explained. I’ve really grown to love how Rose and the Doctor interact with each other and, fresh off a round of flirting with Harkness, Rose is suddenly motivated to challenge the Doctor to dance with her. I get the feeling that she is truly attracted to Harkness, but she enjoys the company and dependability of the Doctor more. The Doctor’s clearly aware of this, as we watch him stumble just a bit trying to remember how to dance. Unfortunately, this adorable scene is interrupted when Harkness teleports them onto his ship.
On that ship, by the way, we do get some more background into the Captain. While the Doctor is amazed with the nanogenes on board, Harkness explains what exactly caused him to go on the run: the Time Agency stole two years of his memories. Seriously, guys, Moffat must have a heart of terror, because these two episodes he’s written are full of things that terrify me to no end. Thought stealing? Gas mask-growing zombies? Spooky children? Typewriters working on their own??? Oh god, this man is nightmare-inducing.
Nancy isn’t out of the clear either. Unfortunately, she knows the real key to all of this; Dr. Constantine had warned the Doctor that she knew more than she was letting on. When she tells the other children that they’re not safe with her, I wondered why Jaime was specifically targeting her over everyone else. Was it just because they were siblings? But it didn’t explain much of how this all happened. The key to it all is at the bomb site, surely, so Nancy heads there to doâ€¦well, I’m not sure what. I wondered if maybe Nancy wasn’t human, but the next scene confirms that she is very much a person and very much living in fear of whatever transformed. Nancy gets captured by soldiers at the site and then HANDCUFFED NEXT TO A GUARD WHO IS SICK WITH THE INFECTION. No, really, Steven Moffat, get out of my brain. It’s so horrible! I seriously could not imagine a more terrifying situation than being stuck with a living, walking disease that is highly contagious and completely fatal. (Sort of fatal? Whatever, STILL AWFUL.)
The resolution of all this does go by pretty fast but I was surprisingly still satisfied with the way things wrapped up. In short, the main plot is explained by those amazing nanogenes that were aboard Harkness’s ship: when the boy died in the air raid, he was wearing a gas mask. The nanogenes simply assumed this was part of the make up of humans, so it was never purposely killing them this entire time: IT WAS TRYING TO HEAL THEM. Again, I’ll say it a million times, but Steven Moffat, the things in your head scare me. How fucked up is that? The “villain” for this episode was never once trying to harm someone.
As for the strange behavior between Nancy and Jamie, we sadly learn that social shame caused Nancy to lie about who Jamie was: she is actually a teen mother, frightened by society into admitting who this boy was. The wonderful thing about the Doctor is how sympathetic and open he is to her, essentially assuring her to tell Jaime she is his mummy. There’s a great subtext to this scene about how Nancy should be proud of being a mother and that it’s really other people’s fault for the pain she’s gone through with her son. THEN THERE ARE HUGS AND MY HEART WARMS AND I ALMOST FORGET THE HORRIFYING THINGS IN THIS TWO-PARTER. I said almost.
The time for the German bomb to fall on the site is at hand and Captain Jack Harkness uses the Chula ship to trap the bomb in a tractor beam; he bids Rose and the Doctor goodbye, as he’ll be leaving to dispose of the bomb somewhere far out his space. Imagine my surprise, then, when Rose, on board the TARDIS, wonders why Harkness said goodbye to them at all. As it turns out, Harkness gets stuck with the bomb, unable to get rid of it and unable to leave his ship.
The Doctor to the rescue! The episode ends with Rose and the Doctor gaining a new companion via teleportation. It also ends with one of the stronger images of the series yet: The Doctor and Rose, finally dancing smoothly together, as Captain Jack Harkness watches on.
- “Just this once, everybody lives!” I didn’t notice it, but someone has died in practically every episode so far. It’s a nice change of pace.
- “Oh, I know. First day I met him, he blew my job up. That’s practically how he communicates.”
- “I’ve traveled with a lot of people, but you’re setting new records for jeopardy friendly.”
- “Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks, ‘Ooh, this could be a little more sonic’?”
- “Who am I to argue with history?” “Usually the first in line.” SICK BURN.
- Why is John Barrowman’s face so goddamn perfect? Like, HOW IS SKIN THAT PERFECT?
- A new companion!! Yay!