There’s a Doctor Who marathon on Space today, so I decided that I could “waste” a little time today revisiting old favorites.
When I turned it on, “The Unquiet Dead” was just starting, which is Season 1 of New-Who, Episode 3. Within the first couple minutes I saw a very familiar face – Eve Myles from Torchwood! I’d watched the episode when it originally aired, and didn’t realize she was another recycled actress. By that (if you don’t already know) I mean that Doctor Who often reuses their actors within the series and spinoffs as entirely new characters. Like Peter Capaldi! She plays Gwyneth in this episode, which is really funny if you realize she plays Gwen in Torchwood.
The episode features the 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) with her first venture into history, 1869 to be exact. This is another one of those episodes in Cardiff, which annoys me to no end. All of time and space and he spends an awfully lot of time in Cardiff.
Either way, early on there’s signs of trouble in a theatre (a ghost, it appears) and the Doctor comes running. The locals seem to be more interested in insulting his clothing than asking for help. Meanwhile, his trusty sidekick manages to get herself kidnapped. In chasing after her, the Doctor realizes he’s sharing a coach with Charles Dickens. I love the awkward conversation with the Doctor gushing over Dickens. It reminds me so much of the Who fangirls out there. I know, I know, people think I’m one of them. For the record, I’m not. I just appear to be.
Rose finds herself in a room with a couple of walking dead (guess zombies have been around a long time), while the Doctor and Dickens arrive just in the nick of time. In usual form, he talks to the ghost-like creatures, who leave the bodies. Time for the uncomfortable conversation about what happened and the “dead” folks with Mr. Sneed, the man running the funeral parlor.
Now we’ve got a mystery on our hands.
Gwyneth and Rose have a little chat where they appear to be friendly, which gets weird when Gwyneth seems to see modern day Cardiff through Rose’s eyes and gets frightened by Rose’s future. This is the first time “Bad Wolf” is mentioned. Of course the Doctor catches the tail end of it, just in time to question her and suggest a séance. Oh yes, because this seems like a good idea.
Sure enough, they make contact with the Gelth. They said that they had bodies prior to the time war, but they lost them and became these unembodied creatures, trapped in a rift. The Doctor says that Gwyneth can help them bridge the gap with the rift and use the dead bodies until they can go somewhere else. Since Gwyneth grew up on the rift she has a connection with it. They determine the weakest part is in the basement (the morgue), so they go there to open it. Once the process begins, they reveal themselves to be truly evil and it comes out that they’re trying to take over the planet.
Rose and the Doctor find themselves trapped in the basement, while Dickens runs outside. He realizes they are effected by the gas, so he shuts off the lanterns, turns the gas on full and draws the Gelth out of the corpses. Gwyneth can’t leave or send them back, so she gets out her matches to blow the building and kill them. The Doctor realizes that Gwyneth has actually been dead since the rift opened and has somehow remained herself, so he thanks her and runs, allowing her to destroy it all.
Once he’s out, he has to explain to Rose and Dickens what he believed happened. It’s another one of those moments for Rose… the kind where she has to accept something that just doesn’t seem possible.
To wrap things up, Dickens is inspired to write the “truth”, and says goodbye to the Doctor and Rose. They jump into the TARDIS and the Doctor explains that he’ll never have time to write his new stories because he’ll die first. They head off to their next adventure while Dickens has a new outlook on life.
I know in the next episode they return Rose home, where she’s only supposed to have been missing about 12 hours. Wouldn’t you just love to have that option? To leave, have a marvellous adventure, and to return 12 hours later? Now in reality it was an “oopsie” and it was 12 months, but still…