Last week, Doctor Who and his traveling companion Rose found themselves stranded on a desolate planet locked in the event horizon of a black hole. The TARDIS pulled one of her classic disappearing acts. As if that wasnâ€™t bad enough, a sinister race of tentacle-faced Ood were on a murderous rampage through the planetâ€™s deep space research station. To top things off — and in keeping with this seasonâ€™s unrivaled thrill ride — the human exploration team digging around in the dark tunnels beneath the station unearthed the one and only devil himself.
The Doctor has gone up against “demonic” forces before. Remember the Fendahl? The Mandragora Helix? The Horns of Nimon? Those encounters, however, were explained away as sinister aliens masquerading as dark deities. This is the first time that the Time Lordâ€™s battle of good versus evil routine has been given identified as the real Satanic deal.
While Rose and the surviving human crew face off against the possessed Ood, the Doctor and Science Officer Ida head deep into the underground tunnels, where they confront the horned horror imprisoned there since before creation. The black hole, we also learn, is the prisonâ€™s ace-in-the-hole fail-safe: Should the devil snap his chains, heâ€™ll be sucked down the drain and out of this universe forever, a foreshadowing of what is to come as all Hell literally breaks loose.
As the premise of â€œThe Satan Pitï¿½? clearly shows, Doctor Who‘s producers aren’t playing it safe. The imagery of the ancient ruins deep beneath the planet is movie-quality, and the ticking-clock element maintains a heart-galloping pace throughout. At more than one instant of high tension, the episode is absolutely spooky. Itâ€™s also strangulatingly claustrophobic, especially when the Ood chase Rose and the humans through a network of air ducts beneath the station, and the Doctor tumbles down into the devilâ€™s lair.
Rose, Toby the Archaeologist, Zachary the Mission Commander, and Danny the Tech-head make it safely to the launch pad where an escape rocket waits. Deep in the pit, the Doctor finds Satanâ€™s King Kong-sized body chained behind a pair of mystical vases which, when smashed, will drop the planet into the black hole. The humans launch away from the planet, unaware that the devilâ€™s soul is riding shotgun — inside Toby. The Doctor makes the ultimate sacrifice and destroys the ancient pottery, thus sending Satan into the vortex. But he also dooms the escape rocket, which follows the planet down. The TARDIS returns in the nick of time to save the day, enabling the Doctor to rescue the good guys. The victory, however, is darkened by an ominous warning: Somewhere in the very near future, Rose is going to die. Could this be the first time the new Doctor Who is set for a change of companions, a common occurrence throughout his predecessors’ earlier adventures?
If there is any complaint about the episode, itâ€™s that yet again a zombified menace has been loosed to complicate matters for our heroes. Weâ€™ve seen this before in “New Earth” and “The Idiot’s Lantern.” The Ood, though, are particularly creepy, looking like theyâ€™d fit in well with the crew of the Flying Dutchman in the second Pirates of the Caribbean flick. As the tenth Doctor, David Tennant continues to prove that he’s perfect for the role (Christopher who?). The man can act, he can bellow and emote, and he looks hella cute whether dressed in a bulky spacesuit or his tatty suit coat and high tops.
Next up, the Doctor and Rose get stalked by an overzealous fan in “Love & Monsters.”
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