Previously: Two dream worlds and lots of stuff about Amy choosing a man.
The Hungry Earth
Marines: South Wales. A father sits outside with his son, trying to get him to read. The boy says he can’t do it, but dad encourages him to keep trying. Mom comes outside and hands Dad his lunch, telling him he’s going to be late for his shift. Dad says goodbye to his son with a kiss on the head and then we watch him bike to work, which is some sort of plant.
Anna: Bonus points for reading the Gruffalo. A+ kids’ book.
Dani: Very touching. This guy is obviously destined for some horrible, tragic end.
K: Dammit, Moffat. There are so few decent fictional fathers on TV.
Mari: Inside the plant, a man and a woman watch the progress of stage four of something expectantly. Stage four is achieved, which we learn means that they’ve drilled 21 kilometers into the Earth. The man and woman celebrate and the woman, Nasreen, calls someone to report the achievement. The man uses the PA to announce the achievement to the whole plant and thanks everyone for their hard work. Nasreen asks the man, Mac, how much further he thinks they can go. Mac excitedly says into the unknown and they hug.
Dad from earlier, Mo, saunters in and congratulates everyone with hugs. He relieves them for his shift. Later that night, we see him monitoring things when suddenly, the whole room starts shaking. The video feed from the underground rooms cuts out. Mo gets up to investigate, and the lights start flickering above him like YOU GON DIE.
Anna: Yeah he might as well have a neon sign over his head that reads “DOOMED”.
K: It’s very Supernatural, really. Never trust a shaking room or a flickering light, yo.
Mari: Mo finds a hole in the ground, steaming and somehow thinks it’s a good idea to stick his arm in the hole to investigate? Like what’s your arm gonna do, bro, except get GRABBED.
Sure enough, something grabs him and pulls him down.
Dani: I mean, sorry to see you die and stuff, but THAT’S WHAT YOU GET for sticking your arm in random, steaming holes, Mo.
Anna: THAT’LL LEARN YA. Can’t say Doctor Who doesn’t teach some good life lessons.
Mari: DOO WEE OOOH.
The TARDIS lands and we hear the Doctor grandly announces “behold! Rio!” This is decidedly not Rio. Amy complains about how she’s dressed for Rio and this a graveyard and not a beach. The Doctor is distracted because the ground feels weird and there are patches of blue grass all over the graveyard. It’s 2020, 10 years in Amy and Rory’s future.
K: This is kind of horrifying to me because I still think of these episodes as, like, airing five minutes ago but LOL NOPE. Ten years in their future is right around our corner hahahaha this is fine.
Anna: It’s weird as hell, agreed. Like watching back “Fear Her,” where 2012 is the future, and then going into a bit of a self-reflective spiral wondering how you got so old so fast… or is that just me?
Mari: Nope, #relatable.
Amy notices that there are two people on a hill in the distance, waving to them. The Doctor pulls out his binoculars and says it’s future them, probably come to relive some of their glory days.
Anna: Knowing the future is a burden– I won’t say much except “ugh, yet another plot hole I didn’t even realise existed.”
Mari: Amy realizes this means that they are still together in 10 years, and Rory tells her not to sound so surprised. Seriously, we had a whole damn dream episode that was about Amy ~*realizing*~ she loves Rory.
Dani: This is so frustrating because it seems like the entire reason for this whole seeing-their-future-selves plotline is to drag the love triangle back out of the bin. We get it, show. You like love triangles. Move on.
Anna: PUT IT BACK IN THE BIN WHERE IT BELONGS.
Mari: Amy wants to go talk to future her, but the Doctor says that would get too complicated. (A: Even without future plot holes.) Besides, he’s spotted the big mining plant, and he’s intrigued. The Doctor runs toward it.
Rory asks Amy how the Doctor is gonna get them home if he can’t get them to Rio. She’s basically like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ it’ll be fine. She starts to run off after the Doctor, but Rory stops her, because he notices that she’s wearing her engagement ring. Amy thought he wanted her to wear it, but he says she could lose it. (If you lose a ring in the future, is it really lost?) Amy cutely calls him a spoilsport and surrenders the ring. Rory tells him to go ahead, and he’ll catch up with her and the Doctor. He turns toward the TARDIS to put the ring away.
Nasreen is near the man-eating hole. Mac comes in and says that the drill has shut down and there’s no sign of Mo. But hello, what’s that big hole doing there? Nasreen says she doesn’t know.
Rory puts the ring back in its box and smiles at it fondly. When he exits the police box, Mom from the cold open (Ambrose) is waiting for him. She thanks him for coming and introduces her son Elliot. Rory looks real uncomfortable with this case of mistaken identity, but follows Ambrose when she tells him the thing he needs to see is over here.
Dani: I love how she doesn’t even question the sudden appearance of a police box outside the church, like these things just APPEAR out of thin air all the time.
Anna: I think the TARDIS just comes with a built-in “oh, okay, sure” filter. ~~~Maaaaagical~~~ Time Lord technology that makes side characters just accept its presence without further question.
Mari: Is there any other explanation?
The Doctor sonics his way onto the drilling plant premises. Amy tells him it’s breaking and entering (…um, doesn’t he do this like once an episode…), but the Doctor assures her that he didn’t break anything. He soniced and entered and it’s different, thank you very much. The Doctor looks back before he enters the plant and asks if Amy is sure Rory will catch them up.
Cut to Ambrose showing Rory a family plot in the graveyard where her aunt Gladys was buried. (K: There’s something oddly soothing about the name Gladys being said in a Welsh accent…) (A: The entire Welsh accent is soothing. That idyllic scene at the start was practically ASMR.) Her husband died two weeks ago and they always wanted to be buried together. Trouble is that when they went to bury Alan, Gladys was missing, body, coffin and all. The grave appeared untouched from the top, and yet, the remains are gone. Rory looks flabbergasted.
In the plant, the Doctor asks Amy if she can feel how weird the ground feels yet. She has no idea what he’s talking about. The Doctor finds Nasreen and pretends to be from a, uh, digging stuff ministry ahem. (A: Maybe the TARDIS’ oh-ok-sure BS filter extends to the Doctor too.) He quickly gets to assessing the situation: hole in the ground, funny readings on the equipment, and soon more strange steam coming up from the ground. The Doctor starts talking real fast like he does, wondering why the ground is moving just under this room. Things start shaking again and more holes open up in the room. The Doctor suggests they run.
On the way out, Mac gets his foot stuck in a hole. The Doctor looks back and tells Amy to stay away. She won’t, and hops over to help Mac, but ends up stuck in a hole herself. The Doctor goes back for Amy and Nasreen goes back for Mac. Nasreen manages to get Mac out, but Amy is pulled further into the ground. She begs the Doctor not to let her go, and he promises he’d never. (D: I mean, she weighs like nothing. PULL HARDER, idiot.) (A: In said idiot’s defence, he also weighs nothing so there’s hardly any leverage. He’s like a jumble of twiglets in a tweed jacket.) The Doctor tells Nasreen and Mac to shut down the drill and they run off to do so. But Amy keeps getting pulled deeper and she can’t hold on. Her eyes fill with tears as she says that she doesn’t want to suffocate under the earth. “Tell Rory…” she says, though the Doctor cuts her off with his desperate “no, no, no!”s And then Amy is pulled under.
The Doctor tries to sonic the Earth where she just was, but nothing happens. Everything has gone still. Nasreen and Mac run back in, having successfully shut down the drill. They ask where Amy is and the Doctor explains that the ground ate her.
Back in the graveyard, Rory is in the empty grave, jumping by way of investigation. (D: Man, I love Rory. He just goes with the whole policeman thing and it’s ADORABLE.) Elliot asks if he wants sugar for the tea his mom is making, and then starts going off about how clearly the graves are eating people.
The next scene is a bitch to recap because it’s just the Doctor running around saying half sentences that don’t mean anything to anyone, including Mac and Nasreen, who are probably brilliant in their own right, but get condescended to by the Doctor because they don’t understand what he means when he babbles about bio-programming and jungle planets and using bio-signals to resonate the internal molecular structure of natural objects.
Anna: “I’m making perfect sense, you’re just not keeping up.” Aka, Moffat’s blanket response to criticism of his writing.
Mari: The n the Doctor starts shushing them while asking if he’s going mad. Why can he still hear drilling? He puts his ear to the ground and realizes it’s coming from beneath them.
K: My favourite part of this is that Mac is all “That’s not possible…” in response. DUDE. You just saw the ground swallow someone whole. Like…???
Anna: Doctor Who drinking game: take a shot every time a human character refuses to believe in aliens/ghosts/general ooky spooky weirdness despite having just encountered said aliens/ghosts/ooky spooky weirdness right in front of their face.
Mari: Woah there. We want to live.
The Doctor jumps up and sonic-hacks into all of Nasreen’s files. He tells them “well done” on drilling down so far and asks why they chose this spot. Nasreen says that the blue grass that grows here contains trace minerals unseen in the country for twenty million years. “Oh, Nasreen” the Doctor condescends. (A: Rude.) “Those trace minerals weren’t X marking the spot, saying dig here. They were a warning.” Turns out, while they have been drilling down, something has been drilling up.
On the computer, the Doctor pulls a file that shows a network of tunnels all the way down and a heat signature the Doctor realizes is transport. Something is coming up and it’ll be here in 12 minutes. The Doctor tells them to pack the equipment and run.
Outside, Mac and Nasreen are still asking reasonable questions like “what the…” and “who are you…” They get distracted by something that looks like red lightning in the sky. The Doctor grabs a slingshot out of his jacket pocket and shoots a rock so far into the sky like okay Doctor. Nice super strength there. (D: OH SURE you can shoot rocks a thousand feet into the sky but you can’t manage to pull one girl out of a hole?) (K: Also, PUR-LEEZE. Matt Smith has wet spaghetti noodles for arms.) It hits an invisible force-field, which is bad news, because now they are trapped in this town and something is coming up from underground.
Rory finds the Doctor and tells him about the graves eating people. “Not now,” the Doctor says, even though this is a key clue to the whole ground mystery but okay ignore him. (A: LITERALLY. It’s to do with the freaky ground, Doctor, you might wanna listen instead of dismissing it on the basis of “it’s Rory and I find him mildly annoying because the plot says so.”) The Doctor explains about how trapped they are because they couldn’t even use the TARDIS to escape the force field. Rory asks where Amy is and the Doctor gets all sad-angry and tells everyone to go to the church. When it’s just him and Rory, the Doctor promises that he’ll get Amy back. He tried to stop the ground from eating her, but he couldn’t. He’ll get her back, though, and he wants Rory to stick with him because he needs him alongside him.
Anna: A lot of Doctor Who seems to hinge on the Doctor expecting trust when he’s done literally nothing to earn it. It’s not exclusive to Moffat-Who, but it does go unchecked a loooot more often here.
Mari: Too true. The lopsidedness of these relationships is very clear here when we have an extra yell-y condescending jerk for a Doctor. Two seconds ago it was all “shut up not now Rory” and now it’s all “I need you with me.” Puh-lease.
Somewhere underground, Amy is scanned by a green light.
Outside the church, Ambrose asks Mac (her dad) where Mo is. Mac kind of ignores her, so Elliot guesses that something’s happened to his dad.
Inside the church, Ambrose has been caught up on the ground eating people thing. She’s skeptical, but Nasreen tells her it’s totally true because she saw the ground grab Amy and Ambrose herself saw red lightning. Elliot asks if the Doctor can get his dad back. The score plays a version of my favorite, favorite “I Am the Doctor,” and really that’s the highlight of this scene.
K: It’s the highlight of the Eleventh Doctor’s run, to be honest…
Mari: Now that everyone is on board with believing the Doctor, he tells them they need to listen to him all the time always, starting now. First up, he wants every phone, camera, recording or transmitting device they can find.
We cut to the graveyard and the Doctor says he wants the whole area covered with sensors. They all work to set the equipment up, apparently in a matter of minutes. Seems legit.
Dani: They make a big point of only having like 11 minutes, and then there’s a huge pile of electronics from them canvassing the village and the countdown clock is at 8 minutes. It’s annoying because I wouldn’t even have noticed it if they hadn’t been so deliberate about the countdown.
K: SERIOUSLY. He tells Rory that they’ve got 9.5 minutes, then they talk about Amy being gone, have a conversation about the need for electronics and sensors, set them all up, and then there’s 6 minutes to go??? Uh… Y’ALL. I know the Doctor can time travel, but even he’s not THAT good.
Mari: The Doctor asks Elliot for a map of the village, marked with where all the cameras are going. Elliot can’t do the words, though, because he’s dyslexic. Somehow, the Doctor compares that to his inability to make a decent meringue, and somehow that’s inspiring to Elliot who runs off to draw like his life depends on it.
Dani: Betting the lives of everyone on some random kid’s ability to draw a perfectly accurate map… classic.
Mari: Preparations continue, as does the inexplicable countdown. The Doctor lets himself into Ambrose’s Meals on Wheels van. She comes out with some extra tools of her own, including a gun and a cricket bat. The Doctor tells her that’s not the way he does things. Ambrose is confused because the Doctor said they’re meant to be defending themselves. “Oh, Ambrose,” he says condescendingly. “You’re better than this.” “I’m asking you nicely,” he says with a murder stare. “Put them away.”
Inappropriate time to make the Doctor seem dangerous and slightly murder-y.
Dani: I dunno, I think I’m with Ambrose on this? Actual weapons just don’t seem that unreasonable in the face of unknown aliens kidnapping humans. Just me?
K: Not just you. Also, never underestimate the sense of security that wielding a cricket bat can provide.
Anna: Thirded, guys. If I were any of the people in this situation, I might believe the Doctor about what’s going on but I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. I’d at least do a Shaun of the Dead and bring the cricket bat so I could clonk an alien on the head if I had to.
Besides, I wouldn’t mind all of Eleven’s condescension if it was actually lampshaded, but instead they’re going out of their way to tell us the Doctor’s morally superior without actually showing any evidence. It’s frustrating as hell.
Mari: Elliot is done with his probably perfectly accurate map. He asks what the Doctor’s plan is, and it’s essentially to send a sonic pulse through the equipment to temporarily incapacitate whatever is coming. As the Doctor works, he tells Elliot that this must be a nice place to grow up. Elliot is less than enthusiastic about it. He wants to move to a city, soon as he’s old enough. The Doctor can relate. Elliot asks if he ever misses the home he left and the Doctor somberly replies, “so much.” (D: FEELS) (A: God damn it Moffat, don’t try to distract me with emotions.) Elliot asks if monsters are coming and if the Doctor is scared of the monsters.
Outside, Rory notices that it’s getting darker. He asks the Doctor how that’s possible. The Doctor says the aliens are making it dark on purpose, which must mean they are here.
The church starts shaking. Mac grabs Nasreen and kisses her. She is shocked, but Mac tells her she definitely knew. She kisses him back.
The Doctor, Ambrose and Rory run toward the church, but the door is stuck. Rory tells the Doctor to sonic it, but it won’t work on wood.
Anna: “Oi! Don’t diss the blatant plot contrivance!”
Mari: They all three push against the door and make it inside. The church starts shaking and there is some yelling and general confusion and then ZAP! All the lights go out. The Doctor says this is a purposeful attack. They start hearing some noises the Doctor identifies as the aliens coming through the final layer of Earth.
Ambrose notices that her son is missing (D: Bitch, it JUST NOW occurred to you to look for him? No Sandy Cohen eyebrows for you!) and the Doctor realizes that he let the little boy run back to his house in the middle of an alien attack.
Anna: Given how frequently he gets kids endangered in this damn show, if the Doctor had a Sandy-Cohen-eyebrow-ometer it’d be well into the negative by now. NEGATIVE EYEBROWS FOR YOU.
Mari: It’s what he deserves.
Elliot runs through the graveyard and something starts chasing him. He makes it to the church door, but it’s stuck again. He tries pushing while everyone inside tries pulling, but not in time. Something scans him with green light and by the time his mom gets the door open, he’s gone.
Ambrose runs out into the graveyard to look for her son. All she finds are his headphones. The alien knocks her over and scans her, but before she too can disappear, Mac comes and knocks the alien away. The alien flicks its very long tongue at him and hurts him. For some reason, the Doctor is just now catching up. He sends everyone to the church and gives another speech about how he’ll totes find everyone it’ll be fine.
K: LOL SUUUUURE.
Mari: The Doctor uses a pair of infrared sunglasses to find the alien. He realizes that the thing is cold blooded and he thinks he knows what it is. He lures it to the Meals on Wheels van, Rory pops out of the back, and they shove the alien in there. It immediately gets lighter and the force field disappears. The aliens are leaving and Rory thinks they’ve scared them off, but the Doctor thinks it’s just ’cause both sides have a hostage now.
Amy wakes up in some kind of glass coffin. She starts yelling at the aliens to let her out, pounding on the glass. The aliens get close to her coffin and shhh her. Then they pipe gas into the enclosure and Amy goes back to sleep.
Dani: I’m glad it was transparent, but even so I cannot watch people trapped in small, enclosed spaces. This gave me trauma flashbacks to the coffin scene in Kill Bill, which I did not appreciate.
Mari: I’m with you because I cannot do buried alive of any kind.
The Doctor and Rory have moved the Alien into maybe the basement of the church? IDK. Rory asks if the Doctor is sure about talking to the alien alone, and the Doctor reassures him.
Down in the maybe basement (K: of don’t go in there?), the Doctor tells the alien that he’s here to talk. He approaches cautiously and announces his intention to remove the alien’s mask. He does so, revealing a reptilian alien he calls beautiful.
Anna: She kinda is, tbh. This is definitely one of the better updates of Classic Who monster makeup; the original Silurians looked like bloated goldfish-man hybrids covered in bubble wrap.
Mari: He also compliments her species’ mode of travel. After that, the Doctor asks a bunch of questions, but all Reptalien (D: good one) will say is that she’s the last of her species.
The Doctor suggests they start again without the lies. He asks her name (Alaya) and what woke her dormant tribe now (they were attacked). The Doctor connects this to the drill. Alaya says that her kind will wipe the human vermin and reclaim the land that they had total dibs on.
K: Maybe it’s my Australian-ness talking here, but my default reaction to this was “ANOTHER Indigenous group displaced by the English??” And now that I’ve had that reaction, I can’t unsee it. *shakes fist at colonialism*
Anna: As the resident Brit here I apologise on behalf of England for inspiring-slash-ruining many sci fi plots involving humans vs aliens. CURSE YOU COLONIALISMMMMMM.
Mari: The Doctor says it won’t be that easy because they are vastly outnumbered and they can’t just wipe everyone out. The Doctor asks for his friend back. Alaya says no. So, that’s the end of those negotiations, though the Doctor does say that he won’t allow her to cause a war. Alaya hisses that she’ll gladly die for her cause. What will the Doctor sacrifice for his? He gives her a small, sad smile.
We cut to the Doctor telling Rory that he’s going underground to talk to the aliens. Nasreen can’t believe that the Doctor is going to go negotiate with the aliens. He says they are more like “earth-liens” because the Silurians were here first. (A: “Reptalien” was better.) (M: Thank you.) The Doctor says that if their hostage lives, there is a chance of getting their friends and family back. So, while he’s gone, they have to be decent and not murder Alaya. Mac’s like, “…sure we can’t dissect it or something?” (D: DUDE. SRSLY?) So the Doctor has to give another rousing speech about not dissecting their hostage and being good people. Nasreen even applauds at the end, and even though it’s supposed to be funny, like we get it.
Anna: Yeah, that was on the nose even for Moffat’s usual clunkiness.
Mari: The Doctor goes to the TARDIS. Nasreen follows because she wants to go with. She won’t stand back while the Doctor goes deeper into the Earth. He tells her it’ll be dangerous, but she shrugs that so is crossing the road. Mack tells her to come back safe.
Inside the TARDIS, Nasreen has the requisite freakout. (K: She says the TARDIS is “fantastic!” and now I have Nine Feels.) (A: I didn’t, Kirsti, but NOW I DO.) Before the Doctor can do anything, the TARDIS gets hijacked and starts getting pulled down into the Earth.
In the church, Rory, Mack and Ambrose visit Alaya to basically be like we are totally not going to hurt you. Alaya predicts that actually what will happen is that one of them will kill her and ignite a war. Rory says that won’t happen, but Alaya claims to know them better than they know themselves. She knows which one of them will kill her.
Dani: Okay, but you just woke up from like several millennia of sleep, so… maybe don’t assume you know everything about everything?
Mari: Mack sits in front of a mirror and checks out where he got stung by the alien. The poison is spreading.
The TARDIS lands at the bottom of the Silurian tunnel. Nasreen and the Doctor exit and she asks why they aren’t burning up. The Doctor doesn’t know, but thinks it’s fascinating. She laughs a little at his happy-go-lucky enjoyment of wars and hostages, or whatever, and off they go.
Amy comes to again and now she’s restrained on a vertical examination table. She struggles a bit, but Mo is next to her, and tells her to just keep calm. I mean, she is about to get dissected while conscious, but you know, keep calm. (D: Stiff upper lip, Ames.) One of the aliens approaches Amy with a big ass syringe.
Anna: Yikes yikes yikes. I remember this bit giving me nightmares when I was younger.
Mari: As the Doctor and Nasreen walk through a tunnel, he explains that they are probably looking for a small tribal village of a dozen Silurian. Of course, he’s immediately proven wrong as they look down on a vast chamber. It’s a whole civilization.
Anna: DUN DUN DUN, who could have predicted this, etc.
Mari: And to that I add only: TO BE CONTINUED.
Next time on Doctor Who: The Doctor can’t take sides in the upcoming battle in Doctor Who S05 E09 – Cold Blood.