Doctor Who in Review: Season Four, Episode #3 – Ood Get Even
The hit BBC series Doctor Who is now in its fourth season on the Sci-Fi Channel, and since we’re all big fans here at ComicMix, we’ve decided to kick off an episode-by-episode analysis of the reinvigorated science-fiction classic.
Every week, we’ll have our best Who-philes go through the most recent episode with a fine-tooth comb (or whatever the "sonic screwdriver" equivalent might be) and call out all of the continuity checks, names dropped and storyline hints we can find to keep in mind for future episodes. We’ll post our analysis each Monday, so you have ample time to check out the episode once it airs each Friday at 9 PM EST on Sci-Fi Channel before reading our review.
Missed a week? Readers can view past "Doctor Who in Review" features via the links at the end of this article.
Keep in mind, we’re going to assume readers have already watched the episode when we put fingers to keyboard and come up with our roundup of important plot points. In other words, SPOILER ALERT!
Let’s begin now, shall we?
Season Four, Episode #3: "Planet of the Ood"
IN BRIEF: The Doctor and Donna Noble set the TARDIS controls to random and end up on the "Ood Sphere," where the Ood (who we were first introduced to two seasons earlier in an episode titled "The Impossible Planet") are being sold as slaves throughout the human-colonized planets. Much like their last encounter with the Ood, the species’ hive mind becomes possessed, bodies begin piling up, hints are dropped about The Doctor’s future and the time-traveling duo save the day.
SNOW DAYS: Upon arriving on the wintery Ood Sphere, casual viewers might chalk up The Doctor’s excitement over the snow to a bit of Timelord quirkiness, but for those following the new series will certainly recall that the last few times The Doctor has encountered the white stuff, it hasn’t been natural snow. During the first Christmas Special, "The Christmas Invasion," the "snow" was actually the burnt remains of the Sycorax ship after it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere, while in the next Christmas Special, "The Runaway Bride" (which also features the first appearance of The Doctor’s current companion, Donna Noble), The Doctor used the TARDIS to create a snowfall. In the most recent Christmas Special, "Voyage of the Damned," the "snow" was actually ballast from the space-faring version of the Titanic.
The lengths we go for a White Christmas, eh?
WE HAVE TO STOP MEETING LIKE THIS: After leaving the TARDIS, The Doctor and Donna encounter a near-frozen Ood in the snow. During their first encounter with the Ood, the low-level telepathic field the Ood used to communicate was hijacked by a malevolent force that used them to kill members of the space station crew where The Doctor had landed with his former companion, Rose Tyler. When explaining all of this to Donna, along with the sudden aggression they witnessed with the frozen Ood, The Doctor refers to that malevolent force as "The Devil."
"It must be something different this time," theorizes The Doctor. "Something closer to home."
The Doctor’s decision to sacrifice the Ood during his last encounter with the species always struck us as a bit cold and unlike him, so it’s good to see that the creators of the series seem to feel the same way and have offered up this adventure as a sort of conscience-clearing return to his relationship with the species.
BEEN THERE, SENSED THAT: Inside the Ood Sphere factory, when The Doctor is able to determine exactly where the Ood Sphere is located, he remarks that he’s visited this area before – that they are near the "Sense Sphere" region. This is a reference to an adventure from the first season of the original series, in which The First Doctor encountered a species called The Sensorites who, much like the Ood, shared a low-level telepathic bond.
Series executive producer Russell T. Davies has stated that The Sensorites were a major influence on the creation of The Ood species.
QUESTIONS UNANSWERED: While figuring out where they’ve landed, The Doctor also remarks about when they’ve landed, saying they’ve traveled to the year 4126 – part of a period he calls "The Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire." According to The Doctor, the human race now "stretches out across three galaxies." Of course, this begs the question, "What about the First Great and Bountiful Human Empire?"
This episode also features another reference to the mysterious disappearance of bees on Earth, something that was previous hinted at in the first episode of this season ("Partners in Crime"). According to Donna, "Back home, the papers and the telly, they keep saying we haven’t got long to live. Global warming, flooding, all the bees disappearing…"
"Yeah, that thing about the bees is odd," remarks The Doctor.
MAKING UP TIME: For those wondering when this Ood-related adventure occurs in the overall timeline, The Doctor’s previous encounter with the Ood (in the episodes "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit") actually occurred after "Planet of the Ood." During the two-part episode, the acting captain of the space station refers to the date as sometime in the year 4200.
THE CREATURE REPORT: What to say about the Ood? The makeup effects remain pretty darn good for this species, and the "red eye" effect is just as menacing now as it was in their first appearance. The concept of the Ood carrying their secondary brain in their hands – necessitating, as Donna points out, the trust they show other species – is an interesting twist on a species that seemed like nothing more than a plot device the first time around.
Kudos go out to the Doctor Who FX crew, however, for the the scene in which CEO Klineman Halpen transforms into an Ood. According to reports, this scene had to be edited heavily to make it more palatable for family audiences. Judging by how our stomachs turned at the edited version, we can’t imagine how graphic the scene must have been in its original version.
THE ODD COUPLE: The Doctor’s relationship with Donna continues to be a departure from that of recent companions, as the two continue to engage in a bit more verbal sparring than we’ve seen in this dynamic previously. In one example, when The Doctor compares the enslavement of the Ood to the current sweatshop industry on Earth, Donna questions The Doctor’s reasons for keeping companions on his travels.
"Is that why you travel around with a human at your side?" she asks him. "It’s not so you can show them the wonders of the universe – it’s so you can take cheap shots."
Later in the episode, Donna tells The Doctor that she wants to go back to Earth and her own time after discovering that the things you learn during adventures around the universe don’t always give you a warm feeling. In fact, sometimes they’re downright depressing. Donna’s excitement and subsequent disillusionment regarding her experiences alongside The Doctor seem to be another recurring theme this season.
THEME SONGS: So, with three episodes down, we’re still wondering what this season’s "Bad Wolf," "Torchwood" or "Harold Saxon" could be. Even though it wasn’t mentioned in this episode, could the "Shadow Proclamation" play into the season-ending storyline this time around? What about all of the disappearing planets mentioned thus far? During the season’s first episode, "Partners in Crime," we learned that the Adipose species lost their breeding planet, which prompted them to use Earth as a substitute. In the last episode, "The Fires of Pompeii," we were told that the Pyrovile no longer had a home planet to which they could return. Coincidence?
HINT OF THINGS TO COME: When The Doctor and Donna are preparing to depart the Ood Sphere, Ood Sigma tells The Doctor, "I think your song must end soon."
Puzzled, The Doctor responds, "Meaning?"
"Every song must end," answers Sigma.
Could this be the final season for David Tennant as The Tenth Doctor? We mentioned this rumor a while back when we first heard about it, and this only adds fuel to the fire. Of course, we also heard that Jason Statham was in the running to play The Doctor at one point, so we’re not sure what to believe these days.
FIRST THOUGHTS ON THE NEXT EPISODE – "THE SONTARAN STRATEGEM": Martha’s back, and she’s been busy since the last time we saw her in Doctor Who. Apparently, so have the Sontarans.
Want to know what you’ve been missing? Check out all of the past "Doctor Who in Review" features via the following links: