Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S04E05 – The Poison Sky

In the fifth episode of the fourth season of Doctor Who, the Doctor and his companions have to work together to counter the disastrous plans of the Sontarans. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

I think that the small details in “The Poison Sky” are what make this episode work. As a grand statement, and in terms of the larger plot, this episode is a bit of a letdown. It never reaches precisely the same heights as the first half of the story. (This was a common complaint from me during the first two series of the show, but series three seemed really on top of the ball in terms of multi-part storytelling.) But it seemed full of clever nods to past stories and the future as well, so I don’t want to be too quick to discount it as a whole, either.

The cliffhanger of “The Sontaran Strategem” is resolved in a painfully obvious way: BREAK THE WINDOWS. Anticlimactic? Sure. It seems there’s a lot of that here, but, again, this isn’t necessarily a bad episode at all. We see that Martha’s cloning was done as an attempt to infiltrate UNIT, but I did love that the Doctor figured out that this “Martha” was an imposter pretty early on. I don’t think I would have believed the idea that the Doctor could be fooled by her for more than a few minutes. By hinting that he’d figured it out so early, it actually added an interesting tension to the story. If the Doctor knew Martha was a clone, then what was he planning the entire time? A great deal of time is spent on this idea of filling in the missing pieces, but I found myself…disinterested? Is that the word? I didn’t dislike it and I still think the Sontaran story is really fascinating at heart, but not one of the revelations seemed all that mind-blowing.

What I did find interesting were the small things. The Doctor’s disgust and repugnance with guns is so wonderful. Here’s a hero of sorts who flat-out refuses to use guns himself, who balks at them being used in situations where there’s always another solution. I don’t think of it as any sort of commentary on gun use or ownership. Instead, I feel like it’s a way to criticize the dependence on guns in cinema and television. Once you remove the option to just shoot your enemy, what options do you have to defeat them?

It’s weird writing this review because I am struggling to find things to talk about. We knew the Sontarans could clone and survived/procreated that way, so the Doctor figuring out the gas was meant to accent that seemed pretty obvious. The Doctor clearly couldn’t die and once he told Rattigan to do something clever with his life, it seemed obvious that Rattigan would take the Doctor’s place on board the Sontaran ship. I loved the visual effect of the atmospheric converter causing that fire above the entire word and it seemed like yet another over-the-top thing the Doctor does to save the world.

So let’s just get to the few awesome things I wanted to discuss. I know this is a short, short review so far, but I really don’t want to force myself to write about things I’m not inspired by.


  • “ARE YOU MY MUMMY?” Holy god, I laughed so hard I had to pause the episode. BRILLIANT.
  • Rest in peace, Ross Jenkins, with your distracting side-character-attraction. Rest in peace.
  • So…..Sontarans can be shot to death? Clearly they have the advantage and use much better weapons, but I thought there were a lot tougher than that.
  • I have no idea who the Rutans are. Don’t tell me if it comes up in the future.
  • Is there a specific reason that the Doctor seems kind of hostile towards UNIT? He doesn’t necessarily seem excited about working with them again.
  • God, how weird must it be to watch your own clone die in front of you?
  • Did I miss something from the conversation between Wilfred and Donna at the end? It felt like we came in at the end of it, but they were talking about not telling Donna’s mom about the Doctor, right?
  • So, an interesting thought. Did the Doctor just annihilate the entire Sontaran race or just a great deal of them? I found this interesting because there was no one to stop him from doing so.
  • Ok, so the end of this episode is pretty exciting. I wasn’t surprised that Martha said she wasn’t going to continue on, but NOW SHE DOESN’T HAVE A CHOICE! So where are they going to and why did the TARDIS take them there automatically? Also:

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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277 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S04E05 – The Poison Sky

  1. Spugsy says:

    Definitely a good episode; Donna proves again what a great character she is, ROSE, Martha’s amazing and Rattigan comes good!
    <img src=""&gt;

    And the Doctor mentioned the Brigadier from Classic Who (including The Three Doctors!)-I was sad to hear of his death:

    • Angie says:

      I didn't realize he passed away! :'( When this episode first aired and they were talking about UNIT, I was hoping he'd make an appearance (other than a shout-out). That would have been so great.

    • calimie says:

      Oh, I wish he could have been in this episode. How sad it is to hear this.

    • flamingpie says:

      I second this recommendation. And maybe the next old Who serial should be one with the Brig.

    • Openattheclose says:

      I realized after I posted this that it might be considered spoiling. Since I don't think Mark is planning on watching SJA (he totally should), I'm not sure if it is or not? Can a mod please delete it if it is?
      Nevermind, I am silly. I forgot that I can delete it myself!

    • MowerOfLorn says:

      I heard about his passing. We've seen the death of a good man and actor.

  2. arctic_hare says:


    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    Don't ever scare me like that again, Wilf. I MEAN IT. And give me all the hugs. 🙁

    Other stuff:

    – R.I.P. Ross Jenkins. T_T We hardly knew ye, but what we did know was made of eternal win.


    – Doctor… shut up. I don't like guns or anything either, but what exactly do you expect UNIT to do? What do you expect the Earth to do? How are we ever supposed to defend ourselves when you're NOT around? Please, think this through and check your ego at the door.

    – I need to watch Classic Who with the Brig now, and feel bad that I haven't before. ; ;

    – I feel kinda bad for the clone!Martha. And that had to be seriously weird for the real one.


    – Bye-bye, Rattigan.

    – HO NOES WHERE IS THE TARDIS GOING? Though yay, Martha's sticking around a bit longer!

    • FlameRaven says:

      Doctor… shut up. I don't like guns or anything either, but what exactly do you expect UNIT to do? What do you expect the Earth to do? How are we ever supposed to defend ourselves when you're NOT around? Please, think this through and check your ego at the door.

      This, so much. First off, the Doctor has no place bitching about humans and violence and guns when he manages to kill thousands/hundred thousands/millions of invading aliens all the damn time. When I saw this site was going to do Doctor Who, I seriously considered counting up all the genocides/mass murders the Doctor is responsible for. (I think I lost track after 4-5, and that was just Season 2). So seriously Doctor, shut it.

      Second, sometimes you really do need to just make sure an enemy is dead. Probably the best example of this I can think of was the Master– he was flat-out insane. Killed over a billion (!) people on Earth, tortured everyone on the Valiant for that year, and planned to destroy what, half the universe? Or all of it? I'm sorry, Doctor, but locking him up was just not going to cut it.

      • psycicflower says:

        <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic"> To both you and artic_hare. The Doctor has made it clear multiple times in the past that guns are bad but it just feels a bit too over the top and judgemental in this episode.

      • shyguy3450 says:

        I came to post a similar rant about the gun issue, but I guess I was beaten to it. I can see not liking guns, but seriously, this is coming from the man who routinely blows shit up, and proceeds to explode/burn the whole ship of Sontarons. Hell, he traps people inside of mirrors: that’s a lot more disturbing to me than carrying a gun for your own safety against someone who is trying to kill you.

    • Angie says:

      I agree with this entire comment. And do, DO go back and watch episodes with the Brig. He's wonderful and such a good foil for the Doctor.

      All my grandparents have passed away, and Wilf is like the consummate grandad. He's like my pretend surrogate TV grandad.

    • calimie says:

      Gaudy!! One of my first crushes! As hot as Ross.

      Donna is perfect just like she is now. She's wonderful and I want to be her.

      • arctic_hare says:

        Gourry is amazing, I love him dearly. <3 I love the whole cast of Slayers, really. Such a wonderful show!

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      – I need to watch Classic Who with the Brig now, and feel bad that I haven't before. ; ;

      Back when we were geeking out about the Brig when Mark watched The Three Doctors, I posted this list of his appearances:

      2nd Doctor:
      The Web of Fear
      The Invasion

      3rd Doctor:
      Spearhead from Space
      The Silurians
      The Ambassadors of Death
      Terror of the Autons
      The Mind of Evil
      The Claws of Axos
      The Daemons
      Day of the Daleks
      The Time Monster
      The Three Doctors
      The Green Death
      The Time Warrior
      Invasion of the Dinosaurs
      Planet of the Spiders

      4th Doctor:
      Terror of the Zygons

      5th Doctor:
      Mawdryn Undead
      The Five Doctors

      7th Doctor:

      The Sarah Jane Adventures:
      Enemy of the Bane

      With further Big Finish audio additions…

      Sixth Doctor:
      The Spectre of Lanyon Moor

      Eighth Doctor:
      Minuet in Hell

      The Coup
      Time Heals
      The Wasting

      Also his first appearance was as Brett Vyon in The Daleks' Master Plan.

      • nyssaoftraken74 says:

        We could do with a list of how many of these are available on Netfilx, if Mark is relying on that.

        • PeterRabid says:

          The ones that are available on Netflix Instant are:

          Spearhead from Space
          The Three Doctors
          The Green Death

          Yeah… they don't have the most extensive collection of Pertwee era serials for instant viewing, but most of the DVDs are available.

          • nyssaoftraken74 says:

            Oh dear. The choice is that bad? 🙁 Still, a couple of good ones there.

            • PeterRabid says:

              Yep. They're all good ones, but I'm just a few Four serials away from running out of Doctor Who on Instant. There are other ways of watching it, but this is the easiest and fastest way. :/

        • maccyAkaMatthew says:

          Anyone can search Netflix, so I prepared a list of what's available to paste into the comments when Mark did another voting post. Then I broke my wrist, so I emailed it to him (it was long and had a lot of links so I was concerned about many posts I'd have to split it over). Here are the relevant bits, bold titles are available to stream (not many):

          Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton)

          Season 6 (1968-69, 7 stories)

          3: The Invasion (8 parts)

          Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee)

          Season 7 (1970, 4 stories)

          1: Spearhead from Space (4 parts)
          2: Doctor Who and the Silurians (7 parts)
          4: Inferno (7 parts)

          Season 8 (1971, 5 stories)

          3: The Claws of Axos (4 parts)

          Season 9 (1972, 5 stories)

          5: The Time Monster (6 parts)

          Season 10 (1972-73, 5 stories)

          1: The Three Doctors (4 parts)
          5: The Green Death (6 parts)

          Season 11 (1973-74, 5 stories)

          1: The Time Warrior (4 parts)

          Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison)

          Season 20 (1983, 6 stories)

          3: Mawdryn Undead (4 parts)

          20th Anniversary special (1983)

          The Five Doctors

          Seventh Doctor (Sylester McCoy)

          Season 26 (1989, 4 stories)

          1: Battlefield (4 parts)

    • Starsea28 says:

      Doctor… shut up. I don't like guns or anything either, but what exactly do you expect UNIT to do? What do you expect the Earth to do? How are we ever supposed to defend ourselves when you're NOT around? Please, think this through and check your ego at the door.

      As Harriet Jones might have said, before he went and deposed her.

    • NeonProdigy says:

      Thanks a lot arctic_hare.

      Here I am, wanting to comment on today's review… and then I see a picture of Gourry being absolutely adorable and get distracted.

      …Is it sad that I now want to recommend Slayers to Mark on the Suggestions page?


      • arctic_hare says:

        High-fives for another fellow Slayers fan! 😀 And no, it is not sad, it is very very natural and good!

  3. PeterRabid says:

    I had some notes for this episode, but as soon as I heard the bad news they were thrown out the window.

    Nicholas Courtney died yesterday at the age of 81. He played Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, that witty, skeptic military man we all know and love.

    Courtney acted alongside all of the first eight Doctors, including audio plays. He even played a separate character in The Daleks’ Master Plan, an ally of William Hartnell’s Doctor. He wrote two autobiographies: “Five Rounds Rapid!” after his infamous line from The Dæmons and the updated version “Still Getting Away With It.” After Doctor Who, Courtney regularly appeared at conventions and was honorary president of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society.

    My only wish is that the Brigadier hadn’t been “stranded in Peru” for this episode. Nicholas Courtney will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with his family.

  4. Tauriel says:

    If I remember correctly, the Rutans are old enemies of the Sontarans from the classic series. They haven’t appeared in NuWho so far.

  5. Albion19 says:

    Oh man when they brought up the Brig I got a little teary eyed. RIP Nicholas Courtney 🙁

    What the heck at the end!

  6. kytten says:

    Yeah, you know how I was disappointed with Episode 1 of this two parter? I was with this episode too, but they were roughly equal in terms of disappointment for me. Though, there were still some lovely touches.

    Mark, he hasn't destroyed a whole species this time, the Sontarans are grown to order clones and have a home planet. This lot would have been grown on the spaceship on the way here.

    As for his unhappiness about working with Unit, well, while he liked The Brigadier, and the team, he was never that cheery about working with them in the first place. The Dr dislikes military organisations intensely. But the older Unit were calmer, in a way. Less gung-ho. They fit in with the Dr's view more.

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      &gt;Mark, he hasn't destroyed a whole species this time, the Sontarans are grown to order clones and have a home planet. This lot would have been grown on the spaceship on the way here.

      Yes, and compared to the casualties they must sustain every day of their 50,000 years of war, the Sontaran High Command probably won't even notice. Which ties in to what Mark was saying about Sontarans being killed by bullets. Sontaran warfare is clearly based on the idea that it doesn't matter how many casualties they sustain, there are always more, and if an army has an infinite supply of reinforcements, they'll probably win in the end.

      Even so, when General Staal complained about not being allowed to take part in the Time War, I can't imagine they would have lasted long if they *had* joined in!

    • RJM says:

      Yeah. Even Bambera's UNIT, while more modern, was less gung-ho. (Speaking of which, Mark should totally watch Battlefield for his next classic who, so he can get some more Brig in. And Seven 'n' Ace, of course.)

  7. Wookie_Monster says:

    Most meh episode of the season, still but watchable.

    I had completely forgotten this ep had a cliffhanger at the end. Where are they going? Well, knowing this show, probably to A REALLY WEIRD PLACE.

    • Openattheclose says:

      This is why I love this Series. The "most meh" episode is still pretty good! Series 4 is awesome.

      • CJBadwolf says:

        I find myself unable to skip over any season with Donna. My least favorite episodes this season are still better than good episodes of other shows I like, and my favorites (the solo character stuff) are yet to play. Full. Of. Win.

    • Starsea28 says:

      Oh yes. Very very weird.

  8. Hypatia_ says:

    Usually, I really like the Doctor's aversion to guns. However, it bugs me that he gets all on UNIT's case about them using weapons. What, exactly, does he expect them to do? They don't have the knowledge he does that allows him to defeat various alien menaces using a banana and some string or whatever the hell his most recent clever plan is. UNIT's job is to defend Earth, and as Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North/Prime Minister said back in "The Christmas Invasion", he's not always around. It just seems a bit self-righteous to me (which is kind of in character for Ten, but it still bothers me).

    • hassibah says:

      Well in this case I'd rather them not use something that he knows doesn't work and gives their enemy a pretext to slaughter them. Next why not send a band of 12 year olds to fight them.
      oh wait…

    • bookling says:

      You're right that it is kind of self-righteous, but I really appreciate that there is a hero on such a big TV show who is so anti-guns. Especially compared to American TV, that is really refreshing.

      • Hypatia_ says:

        Yeah, I really do like that part of his character, it's just that he gets all over UNIT and then doesn't really give them any alternative besides "Wait for me to fix things."

        But it would bug me even more if the Doctor had no flaws :-).

      • FlameRaven says:

        I'd be more okay with his anti-gun sentiment if he weren't such a hypocrite. Sure, the Doctor never shoots anyone, but he's totally okay with blowing them up in various ways, so…. his message rings a little hollow for me.

      • notemily says:

        Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the same way. There's even a line in one episode where she holds up a gun and says "These things? Never helpful."

        On the other hand, a good rocket launcher can come in handy on occasion…

    • Anon says:

      I love the fact he hates guns, its ridiculous when you think about the number of tv shows that actually use guns. That and most of them don't actually show the consequences of using guns, generally its only the bad guys that get shot or the hero takes one in the shoulder or leg but recovers.

  9. wahlee says:

    These episodes are pretty good. Not fantastic, but not horrible either. But they are worth it for one reason and one reason alone:


    Most awesome callback ever, y/y?

  10. NB2000 says:

    Sylvia Noble actually being a half decent person? MY GOD HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? A brief moment of awesomeness for a rather unlikeable character (is it physically impossible for her to go one episode without making some sort of dig at her daughter? I think it might be).

    Speaking of her daughter. DONNA FTW! BACK OF THE NECK! ITA with the Doctor she is brilliant.

    Poor Ross Jenkins 🙁 He was nice! He really should have tried to get out of the way instead of standing there to get shot though.

    Rattigan is still an annoying prat but he does at least try for redemption at the end, the slightly ridiculous "Sontar-Ha!" chanting was almost worth it for his final use before the explosion.

    TARDIS!love time: "I haven't got a remote, though I really should." YES YOU SHOULD SO GET ON THAT!

  11. Selthia says:

    Disclaimer: I hope this isn't spoilery, feel free to delete if you think it is, mods.

    To answer your question regarding the Doctor and UNIT's relationship:

    I might be remembering this wrong, but I think the Doctor is less than thrilled to be involved with UNIT because it may remind him of when he was exiled to Earth during his Third incarnation, and because UNIT has a tendency to fire first, ask questions later. (I'm thinking of the 4th Doctor's first episode and UNIT's involvement with the Silurians (Third Doctor).

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      That would probably explain his aversion to guns, too.

      • Selthia says:

        Yeah it would.

        Craig Ferguson summed this show up best: "It’s all about the triumph of intellect and romance
        over brute force and cynicism."

      • jackiep says:

        He's always had an aversion to guns (except on the rare occasions when he's needed to use one). He does owe UNIT (which is why they have called on him occasionally in an emergency) but he never liked the fact that he a) worked for the military and b) technically wasn't in charge. When they have called on him for help he's usually been arsey about it (at least until the monsters turned up).

        His relationship with The Brig went through various phases until it became a genuine friendship. At least one serial had the Doctor making digs throughout about warmongering, guns and the like and ended up with him having a go at the Brig for waiting until the last possible minute before turning up and shooting the thing attempting to kill the Doctor!

        It's a long one, but it's worth watching The Silurians for an early adventure when the Doctor and UNIT are just really starting to learn to work together.

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      The Doctor always grumbled about shooting things out of hand and blowing things up as a way to solve a problem, but I think the sheer scale of UNIT now magnifies that. Guns make killing too easy – it's a lot easier to accidentally shoot someone with a gun than it is to accidentally run someone through with a sword – and I think the Doctor feels it becomes too much first option rather than last resort.

      But here's a thought: The Master designed the Valliant, which was a fairly crucial turning point. So someting good came out of the whole Saxon business, after all.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        Oh shit, I never thought of that!

        • nyssaoftraken74 says:

          Ah, you see, I connect all these things, random things because I'm clever. Do you hear me? I'M CLEVER!! *stamps foot*


          • NeonProdigy says:

            Are you cleverer than me? And do you feel the need to say that you are as I walk out on your crazy "Terraform and Populate another planet" plan?


            Is "cleverer" even a word? It doesn't sound like one, yet my spellcheck recognizes it. Ironically, my spellcheck doesn't recognize the word spellcheck…

            • nyssaoftraken74 says:

              Yes, `cleverer` is a word, but `spell check` is two seperate words, or possibly hyphenated. I can spell – I just can't type. 🙂

  12. Hotaru-hime says:

    I love how Donna is always awesome, regardless. And I was pretty much only concerned with Donna and Wilf… and then of course, Rose's face.
    In reference to UNIT, Nicholas Courtney, who played the estimable Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart with the Second and Third Doctors, passed away a couple days ago. He was 81 years old.

  13. psycicflower says:

    ‘Times like this I could do with a Brigadier’ 🙁

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic"> Never change Donna, never change.
    ‘Tell him he’ll have to answer to me.’
    'You go and see the stars. And then bring a bit of 'em back, for your old Gramps.' You don't get to change either Wilf.

    I actually have a bit of problem with the Doctor's attitude towards UNIT and guns in this episode. It just feels like a bit too much when practically every time he speaks to a UNIT character he has to say don't use guns. I mean he even said it to Ross when he was just going to get a car. He was hardly about to start brandishing it at innocent people demanding transport. I actually cheered a little when UNIT brought down the Valiant and got out the big guns to take back the factory themselves with their own initiative. The fact of the matter is UNIT is a military organisation, of course they'll have guns and of course they're going to use them against the race of aliens attacking the entire planet whose existence is apparently all about war. They can't just sit there and do nothing. The Doctor isn't always going to be there or able to save them. I should probably add that I don't actually like guns. Like with Martha in TSS, he's just a bit too over the top with judging others in this two parter for my liking.

    I like how clear it is to us that the Doctor knows that the clone isn't really Martha, aside from her Donna's gone home, but also asking if she's called her family and Tom or if she has any ideas. I also like how Martha uses the fact the clone has her memories to get her to help them. Still loving Donna and Martha as friends and the fact Donna even invited her along.

    Woot for the news people. I have a real soft spot for them whenever they turn up.

    • kaybee42 says:

      I love that the American news always says something like "It's being likened to a biblical plague. Some are calling it 'the end of days'" cause that's exactly the stereotype I imagine if asked to think of American news! Do they really always relate stuff to Christianity, any Americans?

      • Openattheclose says:

        It depends on the circumstances, but IMO if the events of this episode really did happen? Yeah, most would be saying exactly what the American newscaster does in this episode, especially Fox News.

      • FlameRaven says:

        Not always. I think it would depend a lot on what part of the country you're in– The South gets the most flack for that kind of thing (there's a reason it's called the Bible Belt), but basically the trend is that rural areas, which is most of the country, are more conservative and religiously inclined. The East/West coasts and cities are less so.

        Large broadcasts, however, might use the biblical plague analogy regardless, just because it's something a vast majority of the population would understand immediately.

        Take all of that with a grain of salt, though– I don't really get my regular news from the TV, partly because I don't have TV and partly because the quality is just not that good.

        I do find myself wondering though if one reason the Doctor never seems to visit the US (outside of obvious budget issues for the BBC) is his aversion to guns. We do have a lot of them around.

        • nyssaoftraken74 says:

          This is something I warned to ask myself: How accurate are the American newcasts? The BBC ones all seem to be `things are bad, but lets all stay calm` whereas the US ones are, `OMG the world is going to end and we're all doing to DIE!!!!!!`

          • FlameRaven says:

            Accuracy of reporting seems to depend on who owns the network and what spin they feel like putting on the information– the worst case being Fox News, which is pretty unabashedly just a branch of the Republican party. (However, Fox network owns a lot of local news stations as well, and they're okay.) I think quality of reporting has gone down across the board since the 24-hour newscast became common.

            US news does seem to be widely regarded as not terribly good– maybe not inaccurate, but not very thorough. I heard recently that in coverage of the revolution in Egypt, for example, stations were grabbing almost anybody and putting them on to give an opinion, even people with no real knowledge of Egypt or the situation. Most people I know who are interested in quality reporting tend to get their news through NPR or the BBC, or through online sources.

            On the other hand, that's for everyday news. In a major crisis, I want to think the news would do better– coverage of 9/11 was pretty thorough, for example. But then, the way news works has completely changed in the last 10 years.

      • electric ashera says:

        I just love how there is only one American newscaster, ever, in the Whoniverse.

    • Openattheclose says:

      Your Wilf and Donna love is beautiful <3

      I love that he knew it wasn't Martha too. It's kind of a call back to New Earth, although I think he realized it sooner here.

    • notemily says:

      Oh Wilf, I will bring you back ALL the stars.

  14. petite-dreamer says:

    "Where are they going?" *flails about in anticipatory glee*
    ahldhglshdflkhdglahsdfjsf YOU ARE NOT PREPARED 😀

    Also, guys, guys, at this rate Mark will watch episode 12 on a Friday. Do you realize what this means? He will have to wait an ENTIRE WEEKEND to watch 13. HOW WILL THAT EVEN BE POSSIBLE.

  15. hassibah says:

    My favourite moment not mentioned is when the Soltarans start doing their dance and the doctor switches it to cartoons till their done.

    plus Donna "I can't open it I need three fingers"
    "Donna, you've got three fingers"
    "oh, right"

    Rattigan and his breeding program is like over the top saturday-morning-cartoons kind of evil scientist stuff and I can't really see any normal sociopath acting like him, but it's all good.

    /Paraphrasing till I can rewatch.

  16. jackiep says:

    The plot may have been predictable, but the this is really about character.

    Rattigan, starts with the vibe of a father – son relationship with Storr then betrayed. Meanwhile, his little band of geniuses show themselves to be all human when it comes to a) danger to their families – they have loved ones and clearly love them and b) revulsion at Rattigan's breeding scheme.

    Sylvia: shows where Donna gets some of her awesomeness from . She's got an axe by the door. Why? Burglars!

    Donna: none of this mooning over the Tardis key, "Back of the neck" with the Sontaran guard. Having to be prompted that she has three fingers.

    Martha: sympathy for the clone, how horrible is that? Watching yourself die? Nearly getting lost in the Doctor's coat. She puts a consoling hand on the Doctor's arm just as Donna whacks him one.

    The Doctor: He really does notice the smallest details about Martha (which rather indicates that he was trying to not apparently notice her previous crush on him). Looks genuinely shaky upon return from the Sontaran ship.

    Mace: Earns the Doctor's respect. Using the Valiant to disperse the fumes, working out the need for stainless steel bullets.

    The joy of the Sontaran as he realises he's about to be shot in the face (not dishonourably in the back) by a brave warrior who plays by the rules. Of course, he only dies because he requests the honour of fighting without his helmet.

    Oh and nice little roll call of the Countries bringing their nuclear weapons online. NIce nod to Countries which officially don't have nuclear weapons but either do or are working on it ("South Africa online, Pakistan online, North Korea online…")

    • notemily says:

      About Donna's three fingers: one of my friends watching this episode pointed out that you basically have to make the Vulcan salute in order to open that door.

  17. flamingpie says:

    RIP Ross Jenkins.

    You captured our hearts with your distracting gorgeousness.

    You made us laugh with glee at your hilarious pun.

    You rocked that red beret like no other.

    You spoke for us all when you called that sontaran a baked potato.

    Your death touched us all, and came much too soon.

    Goodnight sweet prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

    ….preferably not that kind.

  18. echinodermata says:

    Oh, Rattigan. Plotting to kill the planet, pulling a gun on his friends, he designed a mating program! And then he cries pathetically in the transporter thing when he realizes he's been betrayed. But he does end up sacrificing himself, whether it's because he just wants revenge or because he wants to save the man that's cleverer than himself. He's actually a character that I find pretty interesting, and I kind of wish we got to see more of him in this episode, though there's not much room for him.

    Okay, so this isn't that great a two-parter, but it has its moments:
    <img src=""&gt;
    A+ to Tennant for that line.

    "DONNA: But it's Sontaran-shaped, you need three fingers.
    DOCTOR: You've got three fingers.
    DONNA: Oh, yeah!"

    "You might as well have worn a T-shirt saying "clone". Although, maybe not in front of Captain Jack."

    And then the sky igniting is pretty visually stunning. AND MORE ADVENTURES WITH MARTHA YAY!

  19. swimmingtrunks says:

    Okay, I haven't rewatched these last two episodes because I've been busy, but there is one moment that I will forever remember and love: Donna giving the Doctor a whack after Rattigan pulls him from his suicide mission. The Doctor has been doing slightly suicidal things for a while now, and it was so refreshing to see it not entirely met with feel-better hugs and tears. Trust Donna to be the voice of reason, and that action says so much. She goes softer afterwards, but I think it's really important that the Doctor knows not only that people care about what happens to him, but that all this self-sacrifice can be really self-centered, considering those who care for depend upon him.

  20. jackiep says:

    "Although, maybe not in front of Captain Jack." HA HA HA. I'd forgotten that line. Brilliant!

  21. nanceoir says:

    Before I started watching this show for real, I saw the last couple acts of this episode on the SciFi channel before Battlestar Galactica. (I'm, like, 99% certain, anyway.) I've often wondered if that's part of the reason I lovelovelove this Doctor and this Series so much. I mean, they say you always remember your first Doctor. Then again, this Series is so fantastic, that I think I'd've loved it regardless.

    Anyway. Donna crying or tearing up? Awful. Wilf crying or tearing up? Horrible. Them doing it in the same episode? OH GOD NO!

    Also? "Back of the neck!" I love that. Donna, you're brilliant.

    Oh! This summer, I was singing Mozart's Requiem in a local community choir, and every. single. time. the word "dona" came up, I'd have a mini-flashback to this episode and smile. Which isn't really appropriate to a requiem, but whatever. DONNA NOBLE FOREVER!

  22. Favorite things: Wilf's alive! Donna being awesome as usual. I love how the Doctor encourages her to be her best. They're such cute bffs, no? Sontaruns are still adorable and creepy at the same time. "Are you my mummy?" and then the commanders wtf face when he said that. Trust me dude, you don't want to know and yes, he is slightly crazy. Also, hello random Rose cameo meant to drive us crazy.
    Quote: "The bravery of idiots is bravery none the less."

  23. jennywildcat says:

    Favorite Things –

    – WILF IS OKAY!!! YAY!!

    – The Doctor "changing the channel" when the Sontarans start their little chant – *giggle*

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    – Donna: "Back of the neck!" complete with a quiet little victory dance – YES!!

    – Martha: "I feel like a kid in my dad's clothes" Donna: "Well you're definitely getting over him then." XD

    – Doctor: "Times like this I could do with the Brigadier." *sniff* It's okay, Doctor. He's kicking ass in heaven.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension">

    RIP Nicholas Courtney aka Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. *salute*

    – Was there something else? Oh yes – the TARDIS taking off on an unexpected adventure. YOU ARE NOT PREPARED!! *squee*

  24. Fusionman29 says:

    Good to see you loved the Are You My Mummy bit.

    Now trivia. Somewhat.

    A. The Brigadier is said to be stranded in Peru. He has obviously been knighted as Colonel Mace refers to him as “Sir Alistair”. This is the first reference to the character in Doctor Who since the 1989 story Battlefield.
    B. UNIT uses the Valiant to blow away ATMOS’ gases. When the Doctor admires the ship and Colonel Mace asks if he has a taste for it, the Doctor is quick to reply “Not at all. Not me.” This can be interpreted as masked reluctance from the Doctor to acknoledge any similarities between himself and The Master, who was very keen on the Valiant. Most likely, though, it was simply the Doctor reacting to the unpleasant memories of his year spent in captivity aboard the vessel.
    C. The Valiant’s laser is similar to that of Torchwood 1’s one used against the Sycorax, which in turn was very similar to the Death Star’s laser from the Star Wars movies. (DW:The Christmas Invasion)
    D. When the Doctor cuts off Staal’s speech on the video screen in mid flow, a clip from CBeebies cartoon Tommy Zoom is featured. The original plan to use a clip from Shaun the Sheep fell through.

    Anything I missed?

    • doesntsparkle says:

      I think that Donna was originally supposed to throw her shoe at the Sontarans blow hole, but Catherine Tate insisted on wearing tennis shoes, so it didn't make the sound that they wanted/

    • Matt says:

      The UNIT code names, "Greyhound", "Trap 1", etc are a direct call back to original UNIT code names from the Pertwee era. One thing that the modern series does consistently well are the little references to the original series that are instantly recognisable to old fans but don't get in the way of the story for new viewers.

  25. fakehepburn says:


  26. Starsea28 says:

    This episode doesn't really have much narrative tension, does it? I was a bit miffed that instead of Martha, we get her clone, although it did show how much the Doctor paid attention to her. On the other hand, since Martha put her family before him, he would have to be a complete idiot to miss the clone's complete lack of concern. I have my issues with the Tenth Doctor but he's not an idiot. He is incredibly self-righteous, however – his rant about guns is as bad as his criticism of Martha for working with UNIT when he got her a job in the first place.

    Donna being awesome as usual. Ross being sacrificed and the Doctor being extremely upset about it. Martha being swept off her feet by the TARDIS (and not her pilot). Guess the TARDIS missed her, too. 🙂

  27. Minish says:


    You bastards!

    No. No, Ross isn't dead. He's just hiding. Yeah, that's it. He just took a little nap in the hallway and now he's hiding. THIS IS DEFINITELY TRUE DON'T CONTRADICT ME.

    On the whole, though, I really liked the two parter. I think Rattigan spoiled it for me a bit, though. You could totally tell he wasn't American and it was so distracting. Also, him honestly believing he could recolonize a new planet seem really implausible.

    And "Are you my mummy?" BRILLIANCE AND A HALF.

  28. Karen says:

    FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU. So due to real life commitments and responsibilities, I am once again later than usual to the party, but I had a nice little comment all typed up and ready to post. BUT THEN MY COMPUTER CRASHED AND I LOST IT. Ugh. I am NOT reuploading those pictures again. And I am going to try to reconstruct my original comment from memory. FML.

    I like that Sylvia is the only one who thinks to break the window. What a heart pounding conclusion to the most thrilling and suspenseful cliffhanger this show has ever seen. Lol. Dear Doctor Who, if you must construct some elaborate and silly scenario in order to make the end of the first episode of a two-part story a cliffhanger, sometimes it is better to just not have one at all.

    You know, I just had a new thought rewatching this episode this time around. In the last episode we were introduced to the idea of Martha as a soldier, but then I think by bringing in clone!Martha who really IS a soldier, we can see that it just isn’t true. Our Martha isn’t really a soldier. She’s not a Sontaran.

    I think that the Donna stuff is all pretty great in this episode. The moment with the key is particularly striking to me. In contrast to with Martha whose key receiving moment was made into this big reverent deal, when the Doctor tries to make a thing of it, Donna drags the Doctor back to reality. I also love Donna taking the Sontaran out with the hammer.

    Doctor: Times like these, I could do with the Brigadier. No offense.
    Colonol: None taken. Sir Alastair is a fine man, if not the best. Unfortunately, he’s stranded in Peru.


    Rest in peace, Nicholas Courtney. He was on my mind yesterday due to Mark being on this two-parter, so when I heard the news the Nicholas Courtney passed away yesterday, I was really sad and a bit shocked. The Brig is one of my favorite characters from Old Who. You will be missed and remembered, Mr. Courtney.

    I think that the ultimate conclusion to this story is actually quite sad. That moment when the Doctor says goodbye to Martha and Donna is so sweet (even if the audience knows that the Doctor isn’t going to die 5 episodes in to a series), but Luke taking the Doctor’s place is really touching. Luke wasn’t evil. He did some bad things, but in the end he gave up his life so that no more people would have to die because of his dealings with the Sontarans.

    Also, surprise Rose sighting! 😀

  29. Pingback: Tweets that mention Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S04E05 – The Poison Sky | --

  30. xpanasonicyouthx says:


  31. Laura says:


    What indeed. Russell T Davies, how you torture us!

  32. will_da_zuner says:

    One thing that really annoyed me a lot about this episode is that the gas is at all levels of the atmosphere, not just way up in the sky, so at the end the fire should really spread to the ground and set ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING on fire and then the world would die in ENDLESS FIRE and ANRFUSDNGOIEDSAUhg augnsfv ow37. Lolwut. But whatever.

    • Openattheclose says:

      Yeah, that bothered me too. The shot of NYC makes it look like it's almost touching the (Dalek designed) Empire State Building. If it's that low, wouldn't it kill some high-flying birds? And set fire to any airplanes that are presumably in the air?

      • Matt says:

        I think there's a ear-blink*-and-you'll-miss-it half-line about how the Sontaran gas combusts at a much lower temperature, enabling to burn away without harming the surrounding environment.

        * Yes, I did just make that up.

  33. Mauve_Avenger says:

    "Did the Doctor just annihilate the entire Sontaran race or just a great deal of them?"

    Actually, when he teleported into the Sontaran ship to talk to General Staal, the Doctor said something like "You can just leave. The Sontaran High Command need never know that this happened."

    Which means that not only are there more Sontarans, there are higher military officers who're probably pissed that the Doctor just wiped out an entire regiment of their army, spaceship and all.

    • Matt says:

      This was ONE SHIP, which was part of the TENTH Battlefleet, and it wasn't even on front line operations. IIRC the Sontarans and the Rutans were the rulers of their respective galaxies, and the war was being fought over Mutter's Spiral (aka The Milky Way).

      Two things to take from this:

      1. In terms of damage done to the Sontaran war machine, this was barely a dent.

      2. Two galaxies fighting over another galaxy over millions of years, and still small fry compared the the Time War. Now that's textbook epic.

  34. Randomcheeses says:

    Ross!! Sadfaces FOREVER!!

    Also, R.I.P. Nicholas Courtney

    Reminding the Doctor that he left the oven on.

  36. Bobcat says:

    Ahhh! I adore this two-parter. Shame you're not quite as hyped, Mark. But ah well. Looking forward to seeing what you make of the next episode.

    Cheeky thought that just occurred, I think you're almost slightly blessed to be watching it so long after the curve. Being away from the publicity will probably have done you a world of good. I'm a bit of a spoilerphobe, but I knew about the ood long before POTO broadcast, and I knew about the Sontarans, and Pompeii. I quite like that you're being surprised by the surprises as they happen, rather than in a press release five months prior.

  37. qwopisinthemailbox says:


  38. sabra_n says:

    I wouldn't call this episode particularly epic, either. But hey, it's the first two-parter. Epicness is what starts happening more later in Who seasons. And "The Poison Sky" had its little merits, regardless.

    The foremost of these is, of course, Donna, who somehow manages to become more awesome with every passing minute of screen time. Catherine Tate absolutely owned the sequence in the TARDIS – Donna's fear and vulnerability, her courage, and her triumph all shone through with pitch-perfect clarity.

    I also appreciated Ten's pep talking so, so much – for all her guts and pride, Donna actually has abysmal self-esteem, and to have Ten boosting a companion up rather than putting them down as he did for a year with Martha was pure joy. Nothing in S4 makes me happier than Ten and Donna's friendship, and as long as it's on full display a mediocre plot like the one in this two-parter can slide.

    And while Ten was typically Ten-obnoxious about guns and UNIT, this time the text called him on it, hallelujah, in moments like his enthusiasm for the Valiant plan and Martha's conversation with him in "The Sontaran Strategem".

    And speaking of Ms. Jones, while it was adorable to see her shuffling around in the Doctor's coat, it's also kind of annoying that half of her big return story is spent with her unconscious. *facepalm* Oh well. The Doctor did thank her. And in case there was any doubt his time on the Valiant changed him – look at him hesitating and hesitating to press the button that would ignite the Sontaran ship. I could be uncharitable and say it was merely due to Ten's own fear of death, but since I actually like him this season…I'll call it the rebirth of his ethics. Hating guns is one thing – hating to kill is more substantive.

  39. Kraznit says:

    My favourite part was when the Valiant showed up. Yep, the Master inadvertedly gave humanity a weapon against other alien threats. And it's awesome.

  40. Beautiful Thief says:

    The "Are you my mummy?" bit was the best part. I couldn't WAIT until you saw that bit. The whole episode is pretty unremarkable, except THAT MOMENT. OH GOD. ajshdkfgsjdfbdf

  41. electric ashera says:

    And we'd probably somehow find it in our hearts to work with North Korea.

  42. Sierra says:

    I should have figured that the reason no one mentioned the "Are you my mummy?" callback yesterday was because it hadn't happened yet. So fantastic.

    As bad guys go, the Sontarans are pretty lame, but I love the continued awesomeness of Donna.

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