Share and Follow
The Doctor gives one of those big grandstanding “you can do better, humans” speeches Ten was always fond of, but mellows long enough to have a proper catch-up with Mel – anyone have a Sabalom Glitz namedrop on the cards for this week? What about Donna Noble, UNIT operative? (Big Finish have an ongoing UNIT audio series… Dare we hope?) While Kate prepares to knock a satellite out of orbit using a galvanic beam in the hopes of restoring normalcy, the Doctor and Donna hop into the TARDIS to find the origin point of the Giggle.
While they’re searching, Donna brings up one of Davies’ favourite talking-points: the Doctor is really quite bad at coping with the legacy of his companions. More than that, she describes him as “staggering along”, and the Doctor reiterates that he no longer knows who he really is. It makes me wonder if all this is leading towards a less haunted, unburdened Doctor in episodes yet to come – perhaps even a Doctor without memories. A fresh start, with the weight of the Time War, the Confession Dial, the Timeless Child and the Flux cast away so that the Doctor can find hope in the stars once more.
Before the Doctor can look forward, though, he’s forced to stare back into his earliest days, and into the mocking visage of the Toymaker, released into our universe thanks to the Doctor’s invocation of superstition last week. Drawn into the Toymaker’s domain, the Doctor and Donna find themselves in what’s basically that one corridor from Scooby-Doo; an endlessly-looping maze of doors that underscores just how far from reality they are.
While separated in this nightmare labyrinth, the Doctor meets Baird’s transformed assistant, but it’s Donna who steals the show when she’s confronted by Stooky Sue and the rest of Bill’s creepy doll-family. Faced with rhyming, wailing, clutching ventriloquist dummies, Donna Noble, temp from Chiswick… grabs Stooky Sue, rhymes right back in her face, and then smashes her to pieces against the nearest wall. “Anything to add?” she thunders. I, personally, have no notes.
Presumably to demoralise them, the Toymaker next summons Donna and the Doctor to a one-man show where he runs through the fates of the Doctor’s recent companions. (Except, well, I couldn’t help but laugh when he had to skip over Graham, Ryan, Yaz and Dan, because by contrast they’re all absolutely fine.) It’s another mention of the Flux that really triggers the Doctor, though, and he swiftly challenges the Toymaker to a game.
A game he immediately loses. Whoops. We do get a few factoids to chew on first, though. The Toymaker claims to have saved the life of the Master (Sacha Dhawan’s incarnation, one assumes) only to have sealed him away in his gold tooth, which is frankly grim. And once again, there’s talk of a Big Bad yet to come – someone from whom even the Toymaker will run away…