Doctor Who Recap: “Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS”

By April 28, 2013

Time can be rewritten, but things will always be lost in the process. Like the Doctor’s name.

Yes, that’s right, folks. This week, Clara peeked inside a book of Gallifreyan history…and learned the Doctor’s true name. Too bad she wasn’t allowed to remember it.

Teaching a newbie to fly the TARDIS is always a dangerous task (in fact, even the Doctor can barely pilot his ship; River Song has, to date, been the only one to fly it flawlessly). It’s even more dangerous when it involves shutting off the TARDIS’s shielding…just in time for a magna-grab from a salvage trip to snag them.

The TARDIS lands, damaged, in a junk pile, and while the Doctor somehow gets out unscathed, Clara isn’t so lucky. She’s trapped inside the ship…which happens to have at least one room on fire.

The Doctor promises the Van Baalen brothers and their android crewmember the salvage of a lifetime, enticing them into his damaged ship. Once there, however, he threatens them with a faux self-destruct sequence; they have an hour to find Clara, or else everyone dies. Don’t want to help? Make that thirty minutes.

Meanwhile, something’s following Clara through the TARDIS. She finds herself in the library–which, in fact, is something ala Beauty and the Beast: gigantic and multi-tiered. It’s also hiding some of the Doctor’s biggest secrets; on a golden podium lies The History of the Time War. “So that’s who,” says Clara; she’s found the page containing his name. And then there’s the Encylopedia Gallifrey…contained in bottles, not books. While hiding from the monster, Clara knocks against the shelf, and one bottle spills out a purple liquid/gas…releasing voices from the past.

In another part of the ship, one of the eager Van Baalen brothers finds the architectural reconfiguration system: living metal circuits. Against the Doctor’s protestations, he grabs one, further injuring (and angering) the TARDIS, who leads them in circles around the same corridors.

Big Brother Van Baalen, who has wandered off on his own, gets murdered by one of the mysterious creatures. Much to the Doctor’s shock, it’s the android who is distraught; the remaining brother only cares about the salvage. The creatures appear behind them, and the trio runs.

Having left the library, Clara ends up in the console room…but can’t find her way back out. All roads, it seems, lead here. The Doctor and the android arrive as well, but, alas–it’s not the same console room. Both are stuck in different echoes of the same place, created by the TARDIS to keep them safe. The Doctor manages to pull Clara through into his version of the console room…but only after she’s very nearly attacked by one of the monsters. She slugs him in the arm, demanding answers; why does he have zombie creatures roaming around the TARDIS?

The Doctor admits that the self-destruct sequence was a fake…but the TARDIS is on the verge of exploding after all; the engine’s been damaged. On their way to the heart of the TARDIS, Clara starts seeing echoes of the past; there’s a small fracture in time. Metal rods break off and pierce the corridors as they run, and the android is struck in the arm. He tells them to cut the appendage off, but the remaining Van Baalen brother refuses. Why? He’s not really an android; rather, he’s their youngest brother, with bionic eyes and a synthetic voice box, who lost his memory in a salvage accident.

The group runs into a room containing the Eye of Harmony. They can only stay a few minutes before they burn alive. The monsters return, pounding at the door. The Van Baalens’ scanner reveals the truth: one of them is a future Clara, dead from prolonged exposure to the Eye. The other, a siamese twin-esque monster, is the two remaining brothers, fused together in death. It’s not only the past that’s bleeding through, but also their future. The Doctor tries to break the timeline, but it’s to no avail; the brothers cling to one another and are transformed.

Clara and the Doctor run toward the heart of the TARDIS, only to find themselves on the precipice of a cliff. Convinced that they’re going to die, the Doctor gives in and finally asks her the one burning question he’s been trying to answer since “The Snowmen:” what is she?

Terrified when he tells her he’s met her twice before, Clara finally convinces the Doctor that, as far as she knows, she’s just an ordinary girl. They share a hug, and the Doctor realizes that the cliff is merely an illusion, and the pair jump. They wind up in the heart of the TARDIS, only to discover that the engine has already exploded. It’s frozen in time but will eventually burst.

Despairingly, the Doctor admits that the TARDIS has always been there for him, but now that she’s dying, he doesn’t know what to do for her. Clara takes his hand, and he notices a burn on her skin–one she sustained when grabbing an egg-shaped remote at the very beginning. Thrilled, he follows his sonic screwdriver to the time rift, carves a message on the remote, and prepares to send it through.

The Doctor tells Clara she’ll forget the day when it’s been rewritten, but she doesn’t want to. She tells him she knows his name, but he silences her. It needs to remain hidden, and, he reasons, if she forgets the events of the day, she’ll have no reason to seek it out again. He steps, screaming, into the rift, and comes out the other side, stepping into the events leading up to the TARDIS’s crash. He tells his past self that the remote will reset time, then tosses it into the console room.

Clara grabs the remote and it burns her, scorching the Doctor’s message into her hand. This time, he looks; it says “Big Friendly Button.” With a chuckle, he presses it, and the day is reset.