Itâ€™s a normal day at Jackie Tylerâ€™s Powell Estates flat: The kettleâ€™s on, the washingâ€™s been done, and Roseâ€™s grandfather will shortly be stopping by for a visit. Thereâ€™s only one problem with that last bit — Granddad Prentis has been dead for a decade. Just as Rose suspects that her mother has lost her mind, a shimmering apparition morphs into existence in the kitchen. The ghostly visit only lasts for a few minutes, but itâ€™s long enough for the Doctorâ€™s ears to wiggle. A jury-rigged scanner pinpoints the source of the disturbance that is allowing millions of phantoms to wander the planet — footprints of creatures from another dimension that Earth people imagine are the souls of their beloved dead.
A short TARDIS ride leads the Doctor, Rose, and Jackie to the heart of the Torchwood Tower and into the clutches of the deliciously bitchy Yvonne Hartman, the paramilitary unitâ€™s top nut. Yvonne applauds the Doctorâ€™s arrival, while also placing him under arrest and impounding the TARDIS. The stronghold, the ultimate result of Queen Victoriaâ€™s 1879 decree to protect the British Empire, is packed with seized alien technology galore, including a mysterious sphere presently being studied by Torchwoodâ€™s leading labcoat, Rajesh Singh. The Doctor recognizes the sphere as an interdimensional craft that punched a hole into our reality like a cannonball, creating a tear in the fabric of space. Turns out, Torchwoodâ€™s brain trust identified the rip and built the tower around it. Since then, theyâ€™ve been mining energy from the tear, while studying the ghosts that have filtered through via a device that shifts the gap open.
Everyone will soon be made painfully aware that sinister enemy agents have infiltrated Torchwood during the dimensional shifts. After three of Hartmanâ€™s command personnel are compromised, they work to widen the tear. As a result, the next ghost shift has devastating consequences for the people of Planet Earth. The ghosts shimmer into clarity, revealing themselves not as loved ones, but an army of Cybermen from the alternate reality portrayed in “The Age of Steel.” Deep in the Towerâ€™s bowels, the sphere gyroscopes open. The Doctor’s theory that the Cybermen lobbed the cannonball through the two realities gets shot down when a quartet of Daleks surge forth from within — the Cybermen only followed the Daleks through the tear.
Millions of Cybermen swarm across the globe. The Daleks, shepherding a mysterious Time Lord device called the Genesis Ark, trap Rose, Singh, and undercover agent Mickey, who has also come through the tear, in the locked-down underground lab. To be continued…
Given the hints and hype that have steadily built toward this episode, the first installment of the two-part season ender could have suffered from expectation overkill. It doesn’t. From the opening teaser, in which Rose voices over the details of how she first met the Doctor and how she “died” during the slugfest that pits the franchiseâ€™s two metal megavillains against one another, the episode rivets.
Next up: Cybermen and Daleks and Torchwood. Oh my!
Totally Frakked: Doctor Who — When Parallel Worlds Colllide
The city of London gets blitzed yet again after not one, but two mechanical armies lay waste to Torchwood Tower. The Doctor, Jackie, and Torchwood schemer Yvonne Hartman find themselves staring down the barrels of deadly Cybermen arm lasers. Meanwhile, down in the basement lab, Rose, Mickie, and Doctor Singh stare into the crosshairs of four Dalek laser arms. It doesnâ€™t get much worse than this for our favorite time travelers — or much better for viewers who tuned in for the second installment of the Doctor Who season finale, “Doomsday.”
As previously seen in “Army of Ghosts,” the Daleks rocketed into our dimension using a ship capable of punching through the barriers of different parallel universes. The Cybermen, driven off the alternate Earth in “The Age of Steel,” followed. So did Roseâ€™s ex Mickey and a small contingent of soldiers from the alternate Torchwood, the secret paramilitary unit charged with protecting Great Britain from extraterrestrial baddies. By the start of this episode, battle lines have been drawn, and deadly salvos are being fired left, right, and center.
Rose confronts the Daleks, who reveal themselves to be members of the Cult of Skaro, a robotic shadow group akin to The Knights Templar. The Scare-O cult is charged with protecting an ancient Time Lord construct called the Genesis Ark, which is vital to their plans to restore the Dalek race. The Daleks suck the juice out of Singhâ€™s head to gain intel on their new surroundings, but spare Rose and Mickie because of their tactical value. Apparently, the Daleks need somebody to lay a hand on the Time Lord device to open it. And since Daleks donâ€™t have handsâ€¦
Upstairs, the Cybermen receive their marching orders. They quickly take control of the planet and begin hacking brains out of bodies and stuffing them into robot suits. In the heart of her own powerful command center, Yvonne Hartman is taken away for upgrading. Whereâ€™s Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart of U.N.I.T. when you need him? The Cyber Leader also sends Jackie into the chop shop, but Jake from the alternate Earth shows up with a contingent of freedom fighters to liberate her. The two robotic menaces meet in the wreckage of Torchwood and briefly consider forging an alliance. The always arrogant Daleks, however, snort at the idea of making strange bedfellows of such primitive metal trash.
Mickey accidentally plants his paw on the Genesis Ark, and the stakes are quickly upped. The Ark, like most powerful Time Lord technology, is bigger on the inside than the outside. It turns out to be a prison ship filled with millions of Daleks. The Cybermen fight back. Soon, the streets of London are ablaze, with humanity caught in the crossfire.
Eventually, the Doctor, Rose, Jackie, Mickie, Jake, and alternate dad Pete Tyler meet up and leap back to the relative safety of alternate Earth. But the Doctor and Rose refuse to abandon our fair world, and devise a scheme to defeat the mechanical menaces. Crossing between realities has left a residual energy signature on their bodies that can be used to suck them back into the void. The Doctor and Rose succeed in reversing the ghost-shift energy device, but Rose is caught in the vortex and spirals toward certain death. At the last second, Peter leaps in, grabs hold of Rose, and leaps them both back to alternate Earth. The rip seals behind him, leaving the Doctor and Rose separated forever from this point forward.
Thanks to the TARDIS’s awesome bandwidth, Rose and the Doctor are given the chance to say goodbye. He informs her that the authorities on our Earth have listed her as a casualty of the Cybermen/Dalek War, thus fulfilling the ominous prophecy of her “death” that began way back in “The Satan Pit.” Rose tells the Doctor that Jackie is pregnant, thanks to Pete and their renewed vow of love for one another. The tearful farewell between alternate universes plays out longer than the last act of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and culminates with Rose admitting her love for the Doctor. As he struggles to get similar words past his lips, the link between dimensions collapses, leaving the two companions (and probably every viewer save the most hardened of hearts) bleary-eyed. The die has been cast. Rose revolves to face her reunited parents and Mickey for her new life on alternate Earth, and the Doctor tromps around the TARDIS’s control board, alone. So very alone.
Or so he thinks.
“Who the hell are you?” shrieks a woman who appears seemingly out of nowhere, dressed in a wedding gown. Her name is Donna, and sheâ€™s destined to become the Doctorâ€™s new traveling companion.
Next season: In “The Runaway Bride,” The Doctor and his feisty new friend face off against the carnivorous Queen of Racnoss.