Title: “Fear Her”
First Aired: 12/15/06
Doctor Who journeys to near-future London, just in time to enjoy the 2012 Olympics. The residents of the seemingly normal neighborhood where the TARDIS lands, however, might as well be living in the cursed village of Midwich. As the Doctor and Rose soon learn, all have plenty of reason to “Fear Her.”
This silly entry into an otherwise stellar season opens with scores of likenesses of missing local children being plastered on lampposts and telephone poles around the cul-de-sac. When yet another child vanishes into thin air, all signs point to a brooding housebound girl named Chloe as the culprit.
Little Chloe, who recently suffered both physical and emotional trauma at the hands of her late abusive dad, has the ability to transfer people into her own private fantasyland of love simply by drawing them, just like Simon. As if that 24-colors-of crazy-per-box bit of logic wasn’t tough enough to digest, Chloe has also drawn her dead father’s likeness on the inside wall of her closet, and devil-daddy is steadily gaining the power to return to life.
Beyond the obvious element of the missing urchins, the Doctor instantly knows something’s amiss. For starters, there’s a tangible heat drain in the neighborhood, and a foul whiff of metal wherever a child has vanished. When Rose gets savaged by a crazed kid’s scribble — created by one of Chloe’s angry scrawls — the Doctor realizes that funky stank in the air is graphite. Not since Sonny Malone got kissed by a muse in Xanadu has an artist wielded such awesome power!
Before the episode’s halfway point, the Doctor figures out that Chloe is behind the disappearances. Well, not Chloe so much as the desperately lonely alien child who’s inhabiting her. Turns out she’s under the control of an Isola, a race of bipolar spores who are intensely happy when surrounded by their family units, and dangerously miserable when separated from those they love. Since getting yanked to Earth by a shift in the solar winds, this little glowworm has been the latter, and has steadily worked to collect a new family around her. Ergo, the missing kids. But Isola family clusters number in the billions, and the 80,000 spectators who vanish without a trace from the Olympics are just the beginning.
The Doctor theorizes that if he and Rose can get the spore back into space, all will be well. First, they need to locate the seed pod in which the Isola crashed to Earth. The pod is sucking up all the heat in the area as it attempts to recharge its batteries. Rose locates the pod under new pavement laid for the Olympic torch relay. She also finds that the Doctor and the TARDIS have vanished– drawn into the fantasy land of Chloe/Isola’s insane need to be loved. Worse, the horror in the closet has finally broken loose, and is ready to unleash fresh whup-ass upon Chloe and her mother.
Despite its convoluted and ridiculous plot, “Fear Her” isn’t an unwatchable episode. The alien menace and its human host both come off as extremely sympathetic, and the Doctor delivers one of his best, quirkiest lines ever while waxing poetic about his hairy, manly hands. (David Tennant, you are just so ugly-sexy!) There’s also a chilling sequence at the episode’s resolution that finds the Doctor and Rose staring up into the sky at a dazzling Olympic fireworks display. The Doctor envisions powerful explosions, again telegraphing that a storm of global proportions is sweeping ever nearer. The world of Doctor Who will never be the same again after the first bellow of thunder.
Next up: The Cybermen + the Daleks = a war of the worlds, with Earth as its unlucky staging ground.