Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS – Episode Review & Analysis

bbc.co.uk

Ah, ah, ah… spoilers

We’re on board a the USS Nostromo a salvage ship floatin in quite a pretty part of space. On board are three individuals displaying all the scifi cliches of a messy workspace, family photographs pinned in prominent places and wearing boiler suits and vests. ALERT – INCOMING SALVAGE. The trio discuss the alert and it is revealed that one of their number is an android. Oh dear, I hope he doesn’t malfunction a la Ash.

Guess Who? Yup, our favourite odd couple are having a few cross words. The Doctor is offended that Clara thinks the ex-girlfriend TARDIS is a little jealous so he offers to help them get acquainted. Odd that he would do this considering he cannot figure out that enigma that Clara is – he isn’t sure about her. Clara has a play but obviously something goes wrong, some smoke, some bangs, Clara picks up what looks like a hand grenade (silly girl) and an explosion follows.

CREDITS

The two ships have collided, making a mess on board the salvage ship and the trio try to break in. Intriguingly, the android says he can feel that the TARDIS is in pain. Oh no, nobody tell Spike Lee as he tends to get upset at the “Magic Negro” stereotype. Already though there seems to be something not quite right about this android – the others are so keen to point out over and again YOU’RE ONLY A ROBOT.

Realising there is a fuel leak, they decide that the best thing to do is dump it onto space but then the android spots some shoes. They realise that they might have killed somebody here so they agree the cover up only to be interrupted by The Doctor who goes through the obligatory introductions. It seems that this is his fault – sort of – because he switched off the shields that would have prevented something like this happening. Doh! Then he realises that Clara is missing – she’s on board the TARDIS! The Doctor wants to get on board but is advised against it – the fuel is leaking and chances are she’s already dead. He argues and wins in the end, promising the space rats “the salvage of a lifetime”…. no, he isn’t giving up the TARDIS to a group of scavengers?! NOOOOOOO!!!

Clara is inside, she wakes up to that ominous and lonely sounds of the Cloister Bell. She gets up, looks at the devastation and then goes to great lengths to remind us that she burnt her hand picking up the hand grenade. She finds a door with a red light above it, decides that it would be dangerous to open it but does so anyway. There’s some old style corridor-running before she finds some rather deep scratches on the wall.

Back on the salvage ship, the crew are arguing about the dangers of going on board the TARDIS while The Doctor enquires for why an android needs the PPE that the others are using – he is fobbed off with a quick answer that he doesn’t quite believe. They break in, the formulaic shock at the size of the TARDIS ensues and The Doctor reveals his foxy nature – their mission is to find Clara in 30 minutes or he’ll blow up that TARDIS and he has no intention of letting them have it!

Clara is discovering all sorts of interesting things in a Harry Potter-esque room when something comes in. It chases her through successive corridors and she finds other interesting things – including the swimming pool that Amy referred to a couple of times. She ends up in the sexiest looking library in all of science fiction and takes another look at the burn on her hand (don’t forget about it viewers!) but now it looks like backwards writing. While in there, comes upon a book The Time War oooo-errrr, this is not going to go well.

Meanwhile, The Doctor and the scavengers have begun their search. A scan of the ship reveals technology they had never experienced before. Against his better judgement (again) The Doctor agrees to the team breaking up. One half of the team promptly attempts to locate anything not nailed to the floor so they can steal it. Who guessed that would happen? Eventually they find a room in which there is a post-modern impressionst tree and they try to steal a piece of that too before The Doctor comes along and explains what it is and why they shouldn’t take it. It is apparently a machine that makes machines – (perhaps the device that reconfigures and repairs the TARDIS every so often? Possibly, but then why has it never repaired the Chameleon Circuit?) He takes a bit and the TARDIS reacts rather angrily by hiding the door. One of the scavengers threatens to blow a hole in the wall but the TARDIS relents and lets them out.

Clara is being chased around the library by the strange burnt scratchy creature when a jar with “Encyclopaedia Gallifrey” gets knocked over and she hears whispery voices that attracts the creature. She manages to slip away. to find the control room – but with no door. She moves again to find another control room. Weird! The Doctor and the team are also experiencing some weird duplicated hallways – The Doctor tells them that the TARDIS is spinning a maze and they will never find her unless they put the circuit back. They relent and tell the third member of their crew to touch nothing but he ignores them, climbs down a ladder, slips and is apparently attacked by the creature. The other two argue and The Doctor berates them before informing them of the other life forms on board. He doesn’t know what they are which means they weren’t being stored down there (I realise this is out of order slightly so sue me – it works best this way sometimes).

There is now an added complication though that the TARDIS has created an extra dimension to protect The Doctor and the crew member who tried to return the circuit – The Doctor calls it an “echo room” and realises that Clara is in the room with them but in another dimension. After some wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey stuff he pulls her through and shocked, she punches him on the arm. Not really his fault, he didn’t steal the circuit did he!

Okay so Clara is back so The Doctor should now turn off the self-destruct. Though he reveals he was bluffing, it turns out that the TARDIS wasn’t – the destruct sequence is running down anyway and the only way they can stop it is to go to… dum dum dum (yes they put that in) The Centre of the TARDIS(c). In a panic, Clara gets separated from the others again and sees some past echoes of her and The Doctor until he turns up and explains all this to her. Moving on, they are confronted by one of the creatures all the while seeing more echoes.

They are now close to the core and the TARDIS is doing everything to stop them getting there, including shoving metal pipes through the wall. Unfortunately, one of these skewers the android through the shoulder. Something is wrong, his one remaining companion won’t cut his arm off… because he’s not an android! They gave him upgrades “for a joke” Vicky Pollard style – some joke. While The Doctor races into the core, the two brothers have a heart-to-heart. They didn’t do it for a joke, he was horrifically injured in an accident and they gave him the upgrades so he could function as normally as possible.

The Doctor returns and takes them into the core, giving them an explanation of how the TARDIS will explode, rather than stopping it from happening. But the creatures turn up prompting Clara to demand what they are but the scanner the scavengers have reveals it… it’s her! So The Doctor must now go in for the big reveal all the while these “future echoes” are bashing the doors down to get to them. They break in and the group manage to fight them off before finding their way right into the heart of the TARDIS.

The Doctor presses Clara for an explanation for who she is, Clara is none the wiser – she is terrified to hear that she has died twice already at opposite ends of the universe and different places in time. The Doctor is relieved, he has finally accepted that she is “just a girl… an ordinary girl”. Together, they jump into the canyon and find themselves in a frozen point in time during the explosion of the TARDIS. He doesn’t know what to do until he spots her burn mark. Now he knows how to stop this, hurrah!!!!! All he has to do is find the rift. They return to the console room and find Amy’s crack the time rift. Clara says that she doesn’t want to forget any of what happened and then presses him about the book she saw, including his name. He insists that she will not remember.

The Doctor steps into the rift and explains to his other self how to put everything right again. Good old Doctor! But of course he has to step back through because there’s no time or place for two incarnations of the same Doctor. Time resets, Star Trek style, and the two ships pass by.

The Doctor closes by asking Clara how safe she feels and she tells him to stop being so weird.

Analysis

The TARDIS is becoming increasingly antsy and we can no longer put this down to the grouchiness of her age, random events or simply The Doctor’s boyish tinkering. Something is wrong with her and this has been the case since this Clara arrived on the scene. We are getting yet more insistence that she is “just an ordinary girl” and the revelations that he presents her with has shocked her no end. He accepts her normality but clearly this is not going to be the end of it, merely that The Doctor is going to try to ignore the alarm bells in future. He is confident that the memory wipe will be thorough – leaving her to discover that information all over again.

It is nice to see some genuine friendly non-sexual affection here. They seem to have a strong platonic bond that is different from that he felt toward Amy and Rory. They were like mates but with Clara – they act like brother and sister a lot of the time. This is a new dynamic for a companion and I don’t recall any other instance whre they have felt like siblings. Their hug is heart-warming and genuine without any sexual connotation whatsoever.

I found the non-android issue confusing at first. It seems they convinced him he was an android for no other reason that shits and giggles? Why not tell him the truth from the beginning, that he was their brother and had suffered injuries? What advantage was there in telling him that he was an android rather than a cyborg? That I found hard to swallow and was an unnecessary plot device that they did nothing with – other than to reveal that they were all three brothers in the end *YAWN*

And finally, that book – The Time War – what did she read aside from his name? I guess time will tell but if she forgets then it will mean discovering it all over again.

Next week, we return to Victorian London and some zombies in a workhouse!

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4 thoughts on “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS – Episode Review & Analysis

  1. I enjoyed this one, not as much as ‘Hide’ but it was good. I felt the resolution was too cliched, but the journey was good. I didn’t really understand the need for the brothers at all to be honest, other than turning into monsters, but they were amusing at times. I’m intrigued as to the mention of his name in the Time War. So I have a theory that his name was used to Lock it and if his name is uttered again, the Time War will begin again.

  2. I may be barking up the wrong tree entirely, but…did anyone else sense a slight Wizard of Oz vibe in this one? The three brothers: scarecrow (no brains), lion (coward), tin man (no heart – i.e. the android) and Clara as Dorothy and The Doctor as the Wizard of Oz? And the TARDIS seeming like magic (or indeed a ‘pissy fit’) to us mere mortals but really being product of advanced technology that we cannot fathom and that even the Doctor struggles to understand? Also with the beginning and the feet poking out from under the Tardis…?

    Maybe I’m just over-analysing as usual 😀

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