A Doctor a Day – “Boom Town”
Using the new Doctor Who Limited Edition Gift Set, your noble author will make his way through as much of the modern series as he can before the Christmas episode, The Snowmen.
A recent enemy returns, as does a recent friend, and Cardiff’s new Mayor is determined to turn it into a…
by Russell T Davies
Directed by Joe Ahearne
“They were French – It’s not my fault that ‘Danger – Explosives” was only written in Welsh.”
Six months after the events of Aliens of London / World War Three, the TARDIS lands in Cardiff, last seen in the past on Christmas Eve. The rift under the Sneed Mortuary is still there, sealed, but still leaking energy, perfect for refueling the TARDIS. Of course, the chance of a do-nothing holiday on Cardiff Bay is out of the question. Margaret Blaine, former MI5 higher-up, liaison to the Prime Minister, and one of the few survivors of the destruction of Number 10 Downing Street, has become lord Mayor of Cardiff, and has pushed through plans for a massive nuclear power station to be built in the center of town. Margaret is also Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen, last survivor of the alien family who had planned to destroy the earth and sell it for scrap in the aforementioned adventure. Cardiff is Plan B. A nuclear meltdown right over the Rift would work like hitting the flaw of a diamond with a chisel – it will, in short, end badly. Her plan was to use the resulting energy to power a stolen teleporter, to get off the planet, and not care much about the danger in her wake.
The plan now is to take her back to Raxacoricofallapatorius, but when they learn that the family Slitheen were all sentenced in absentia to the death penalty, their resolve is shaken. Over a long evening of re-charging the TARDIS, Margaret talks The Doctor into taking her to a local restaurant for a last meal. She pleads her case that she’s changed…in between attempts to kill him, of course. Just as she begins to weaken his resolve, her trap is sprung – the teleporter starts to feed off the power in the TARDIS, resulting in the same getaway and end of the world scenario. Only one thing can stop her, the TARDIS itself.
(Witty tmblr-pics via expelliarmus.tumblr.com)
Davies does a good job of showing the softer side of a Slitheen (obvious physical attributes aside, of course) – the scene where she chose to spare the young reporter who’s learned about the danger of the project once she learns she’s with child is rather touching. And it’s that hesitation that affords her a second chance at the end, as opposed to the fate of her brothers.
The rift in Cardiff makes a number of reappearances in the series, including being a recurring plot device in Torchwood. Timeline-wise, Captain Jack Harkness is likely right under the current one’s feet – Torchwood Three is hidden directly under the Millennium Center, and Jack has (will be…has been…) been the head of it since 2000. At this point in history, the events we’ve seen in the spin-off series have yet to occur, but Jack’s down there, making trouble. and secretly saving lives. It’s fair to assume they stayed out of the way of these events, Jack already knowing it’ll get sorted by his earlier self.
It’s become somewhat common for the episode before the season finale to be more light-hearted, sort of as a sorbet before the last course. Even with the threat of massive death, this episode is packed with laughs, from the witty dialogue to the wonderful slapstick of Noel Clarke as Mickey. It’s also the opportunity to bring the “Bad Wolf” theme out into the open. “Blaidd Drwg”, the name of the project, is Welsh for “Bad Wolf”, and while The Doctor waves it off, it’s clearly mentioned to bring it into the light for the audience’s sake. It’s also our first exposure (not directly, thankfully) to the heart/soul of the TARDIS, who we’ll meet in a much more personal form in a few seasons. So even thought it’s not obvious, this episode does a good job of setting up the info needed for the finale. It’s also the last time we won’t know what the pattern is. With the next season, the search began for clues to the Big Bad theme before it even began. Details are now pored over as to what they could mean, and the Internet’s desire to know everything right now becomes harder and harder to fight. the latest season has tried to buck the tradition by not featuring a carry-through theme, but rumors are already circulating that the Christmas episode will feature an enemy that will carry through the rest of the season. We’ll know in a couple week’s time, but till then, it’s fun to just enjoy the episodes one by one, not worrying about how the story will be carried through weeks away, just enjoying this one.
- A Doctor a Day – “Aliens of London / World War Three” (comicmix.com)
- A Doctor a Day – “The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances” (comicmix.com)