The Doctor bends to the task of breaking in, but John Smith's already inside: "Oh, front door. I'm good at doors." He asks if the Doctor's breaking into the house with his sonic screwdriver, and the Doctor holds it up proudly. "That's a screwdriver. How's it sonic?" The Doctor raps his screwdriver against the doorframe: "...It makes a noise?" The Doctor is showing cracks in his performance.
"It started with a murder," the Doctor says, rifling through Fairchild's things, and John Smith nods, happily. The worse it gets, the more he loves it. "I mean, bad. But whose?" Mr. Jackson Lake, mathematics teacher from Sussex, came to London three weeks ago, subsequently "died a terrible death." Was it Cybermen? "It's hard to say, his body was never found, but that was the first of the secret murders, which were followed by abductions. "Children," the Doctor says in a hush, "Stolen away in silence."
The Doctor and Mr. Smith are in the home of the latest murder victim, Reverend Aubrey Fairchild. "Found with burns to his forehead, like some advanced form of electrocution." John Smith crosses his arms, and nearly his eyes, trying to work it out. What was important about the Reverend? The Doctor finally looks over at him and notes how he asks so many questions, John Smith. "I'm your Companion!" Companion to an ersatz brummagem Doctor in the Home Counties, a human Doctor, a good strong man not yet beaten down. A man with his memory taken? Just a man, to take the reins for awhile.
"The Reverend was the pillar of the community, a member of many parish boards. A keen advocate of children's charity." But why would the Cybermen want him dead? And what's the connection to the first death? (None of these questions means anything, and their answers even less; as a mystery, it's not even trying. I think this, combined with the wack wackiness of the Cybershade chase, is the reason I'm so lukewarm on this episode. I never like the Christmas Specials, but this one... Well, better than the Kylie one, at least. But as a bridge to the 2009 Specials it works. It certainly underlines where our boy's at, post-Donna, and how scary and sad it's still possible to get, which is all the mandate required. Still, ugh.)