The Hungry Earth (first view)
See? We told you too much drilling was a bad idea.
So, the Doctor promises to take Amy and Rory to Rio (year unspecified). He misses, a bit … Now, I know he (X) managed to take Rose and Martha and Donna and all various places, though he missed occasionally; he did hit the London Olympics on target. Why is it that since this last regen, he can’t seem to hit the broad side of a continent? Or a century? I mean, Cwmtaff, South Wales, 2020 is not the equivalent of Rio, at any time of year … It has its own loveliness, though, even a bit ravaged:
There is a lovely scene of a father (Moe) reading with his son (Elliot), or trying to; we find out later the reason Elliot would rather listen to his books than read them. The only reason this scene isn’t lovely is that anyone who’s watched any amount of Doctor Who begins to have a premonition about ten seconds into any sweet moment that at least one person involved in this bit of character exposition will be dead in a minute or five. Moe is a miner, and almost late for work; when he gets there he finds that the day shift has set a record, drilling down deeper into the earth than anyone ever has before: 21 thousand kilometres. Woo. The day shift goes on home, and Moe settles in with his book (The Gruffalo, if I saw the title right – aw!) – – until all sorts of alarms and bells and whistles go off. And a couple of minutes later (in a suitably creepy moment) he’s sucked into the earth.
Enter the Doctor and company (Companions), expecting – well, “Behold, Rio!” Instead, they have 2020 Wales, with bits of blue grass and the ground feels funny, to the Doctor at least. And a moment of weirdness where Amy and Rory wave at … Amy and Rory, across a field. The Doctor won’t let them go meet themselves, due to you can’t do that – “Humans – you’re so nostalgic!” – but you can’t expect me to believe 2020 Amy and Rory were visiting Wales just to catch a glimpse of their younger selves.
As the Doctor loves a “big mining thing”, they’re going to go check it out – but first Rory realizes that Amy has on her engagement ring – and that won’t do. What if she loses it? He takes it back into the TARDIS while Amy goes off to catch up to the Doctor, and thereby, in retaining the ring, loses Amy – for a while, at least. Poor Rory. Can’t he just get to go to Rio and enjoy himself?
The Doctor is faced with a fenced-in area, with a posted sign: Restricted Access; No Unauthorized Personnel. To the Doctor, signs like this carry the invisible postscript “Oh, except for you, of course, Doctor”.
Amy: That is breaking and entering!
Doctor: What did I break? Sonicking and entering, totally different.
And thus did River Song verb the sonic screwdriver, and it stuck.
I thought this was interesting: the Doctor sticks a few blades of grass in his mouth, trying another taste test, and spits them back out again like a two-year-old with a spoonful of mashed carrots – or a tenth-regeneration Time Lord with an apple (or yogurt, or bacon, or beans, or bread and butter) – – “Oh, please – have you always been this disgusting?” “No, that’s recent.” Heh.
While Rory is off being mistaken for some sort of CSI (“Next week, on CSI: TARDIS…”) and exploring graves which Moe’s wife (Ambrose? Really?) and son have become concerned may be, well, eating the bodies buried there, the others are getting into trouble…
The ground’s attacking…
Don’t let go.
… She’s gone. The ground took her.
Tony: You’re not making any sense, man.
Doctor: ‘Scuse me – I’m making perfect sense. You’re just not keeping up.
Doctor: Why here, though? Why did you drill on this site?
Nasreen: We found patches of grass in this area containing trace minerals unseen in this country for, oh, twenty million years.
Doctor: The blue grass. Oh, Nasreen – those trace minerals weren’t X marking the spot saying dig here, they were warnings: stay away…
While they were digging down, someone has been digging up, and they “Should be here in, ooh, quite soon”. A forcefield dome forms over the mining site and surrounding tiny village: no one can go out or get in, and communications are cut off as well. The Doctor kind of wonderfully tests the shield using a slingshot… And then leaps into action.
Doctor: I need a map of the village marking where all the cameras are going. (Just to keep the kid occupied?)
Elliot: I can’t do the words. I’m dyslexic.
Doctor: Well, that’s all right – I can’t make a decent meringue. [me either] Draw like your life depends on it, Elliot!
The Doctor discovers Ambrose (is it a Welsh thing to name girls Ambrose?) loading tools into her front seat – anything that might be used as a weapon. Can’t blame her – scary times, and they have her husband as well as a girl she doesn’t even know – but the Doctor doesn’t roll that way. “Oh, Ambrose. I’m asking you nicely. Put them away.” And he smiles. This Doctor’s smile is more of a tool for him than just a smile …
And there is a moment in which Elliot and the Doctor can have a heart to heart: Elliot wants out of this tiny village, pretty or not. He’s going to go off one day. Which is exactly how the Doctor felt, and exactly what the Doctor did… “Do you ever miss it?” “So much.” Ow. Then comes the exchange featured for months now in trailers:
Is it monsters coming? Have you met monsters before? … Are you scared of them?
They’re scared of me.
The church door sticks. (Villagers also took shelter in the Leadworth church in “Amy’s Choice”. Innnteresting.)
Rory: Can’t you sonic it? ( )
Doctor: It doesn’t do wood!
Rory: That’s rubbish!
Doctor: Oi! Don’t diss the sonic!
The Doctor is going to need a massive single-handed victory soon, I think. Amy’s been largely responsible for a lot of the wins this season series, and the Doctor has had some serious gaffes, above and beyond Wales-not-Rio. Not least of these latter is the fact that he was the last to see Elliot – was, in fact, the one Elliot told about going to get his headphones. Yes, I have every faith that the Doctor will get him back, along with everyone else – but that was a mistake, and a big one. His confidence doesn’t seem to have suffered, Dream Lord aside, but mine is starting to wobble. Like a Weeble. And I don’t like it. The Doctor’s not infallible, and I’d never want him to be – but he’s not usually this much of a … screw-up.
The glimpses of the “monsters” zipping across the screen reminded me of the glimpses of Prisoner Zero – and were at least as creepy.
Using a fire extinguisher and a meals-on-wheels truck, the Doctor (and Rory!) capture one of the monsters (not before one of them catches Tony with a … literal tongue-lashing) – though the Doctor does seem destined never to complete a high five, for in the midst of the one with Rory they hear the other two monsters leaving. Still, one is good, and they hoik it to the church crypt, where he goes down to interrogate it.
Alaya: I am the last of my species.
Doctor: Really? No… Last of the species – the Campori (?) Defense. [Can’t read my own writing there…] Hah – As an interrogation defense it’s a bit old hat, I’m afraid.
Alaya: I am the last of my species.
Doctor: No. You’re really not. Because I’m the last of my species, and I know how it sits in a heart. So don’t insult me.
I didn’t write much down for the rest of the episode, except to note “Silurian – Homo reptilia”. He takes it upon himself to go down in the TARDIS and simply walk into the Silurian settlement and negotiate. The others aren’t thrilled at the plan, though Nasreen gives him a round of applause at the inspirational speech I didn’t write down – and then invites herself along (after a very sweet goodbye to Tony). (Sweet moment alert!) I wonder if they’re intentionally not letting anyone say “It’s bigger on the inside!” Poor old XI. The TARDIS gets a bit (a lot) out of control (again), and they both end up on the floor -and she reaches over and snaps his suspender. Loved that. She’s pretty great … and having just said that, I now begin to anticipate her death.
(There was something missing from that scene, and I can’t remember what it was. It might have simply been “It’s bigger – !” We’ll see on the re-watch.)
Meanwhile, Alaya is not happy about being held prisoner by apes – or perhaps, bitterly, she is, because she tells Rory and Ambrose and Tony that she knows that one of them is going to kill her, which will spark off all-out war. And she even knows which of them will kill her. My money’s on Ambrose, though Tony – who now has some unpleasantness spreading from the wound on his neck, which he is keeping hidden from the others – is a pretty good contender. I don’t think it will be Rory – he’s a lover, not a fighter – which probably means he’ll be the one.
Meanwhile, Amy has found herself prisoner – and strapped onto a board next to Moe – who has been dissected. Alive. And here comes the vivisectionist. Oh dear. This isn’t going to be any fun for anyone – save perhaps the Silurian.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Nasreen begin to explore someplace more than 21 thousand metres down. The Doctor has been anticipating a colony of about a dozen Silurians … and, somehow, no one should be surprised when he’s off by a couple or six zeroes.
I have a very strong feeling that at least one of these folks will not survive “Cold Blood”, part two of the Silurian story. My bet is on Tony and Nasreen, with a side bet, sorrowfully, on Rory … Elliot, I firmly believe, will be fine. The show does still have an audience among kids – they can’t kill a kid. This isn’t Torchwood.
I’ll find out Sunday. (It airs Saturday on BBC-A; it hits On Demand Sunday, usually.) I’m hoping this is going to be one of those posts that looks kind of silly later.
But I doubt it.
(I will hereby refrain from any commentary whatsoever on oil drilling and any sort of disaster. Except to say … huh.)