"Ursula, get your stuff. Mr. Skinner, are you coming? Not to the Chinese, if you don't mind, just sort of...walking out." Funny. Although it automatically means Skinner's death, clearly. Skinner smiles brightly and says that he's ready to go; Victor calls him back for just a second. "We're walking out," Skinner explains, and Victor teases him with the information. Before the internet, fandom had no vulgate: just cardinals, chef-to-server ratios. Bosses and bitches. Information and the proper use of it was the order of the day, if you wanted to stay connected. You had to follow the rules. It killed the show, in the end, for sixteen years. Or as my friend Ken said best, because he knows what he's talking about and I don't: "You find the fans and then you get hit with the ultimate temptation: access. You become part of larger fandom and suddenly ideas become facts, theories become reality, opinions become standardized. This is wonderful. Why? Because everybody says it is. That? Oh that's rubbish. Why? Because everybody says it is. Opinions, interests, and personalities become part of the larger fandom: absorbed. And it stops being an interest or a fun hobby, becomes part of you, and you of it. How often do you see arguments about a shared hobby turn into outright anger, even hatred, amongst fans? At a convention, an internet site or a pub? Most Doctor Who fans, by and large, escape the Absorbaloff trap because the series itself celebrates individuality and thinking outside of the conventional; grace allows you the virtue of saving yourself by remembering what you are in the first place: that small boy who started this journey all those years ago. If fandom can stop, step back, and remember itself as a group of similar-minded friends, then LINDA stays united forever." I like the last bit best, but you already knew that. "I've got numbers for Bridget!" Victor promises. "I've kept records, I've got old numbers." He rummages in his bag. "We could track her down. Together! You and I!" Loneliness. They exchange glances; Skinner falls for the oldest trick: "That's more like the old team spirit. You two have a nice time." Ursula tells Skinner she hopes he finds Bridget, and Elton promises to email him. Victor calls Skinner forward, to the sudden desk, and reaches out.
Elton and Ursula walk briskly along the road, holding hands, touching, discussing prawns. They don't hear Skinner screaming; that's what Victor does. Ursula realizes that she's forgotten her phone and heads back inside LINDA HQ, Elton behind, joking: "So much for the big exit..." Coming down in the clunky old elevator, Ursula calls out that she's certainly not staying, and notices that Skinner's gone. Victor is at his desk, reading the paper: news of the empire. The country is in chaos, four months of government paralysis, someone named "Saxon" leading the polls with 64% of the vote. I hope he's a good man; I doubt it somehow. Victor's voice is strange, panicky, as he tells Elton and Ursula to get the phone and leave. Victor tells them that Skinner's off to the toilet, but Elton, confused, reminds him that they haven't got any: "We have to use the pub on the corner." Victor hides behind his newspaper: "Well, that's where he is, then." Skinner's voice issues from somewhere, squelchy-sounding, begging for help, which catches Ursula's attention; Victor tells her to ignore it. "Help me!" says Skinner, more loudly, and Victor tells him to shut up. Ursula zeroes in on Victor's hands, green Slitheeny claws, and he reveals himself suddenly: a blobbish green alien, fat and moist, with a mullet-hawk of black hair and that horrible Mike Myers fake Scottish accent: "You've dabbled with aliens...Now meet the genuine article!" Ursula is disgusted; Elton calls him a "thing." "This thing is my true form! Better than that crude pink shape you call a body." Skinner's face pokes out of Victor's giant green belly, asking what's happened. "Mr. Skinner! What've you done to him?" Victor licks his lips: "I've absorbed him." From Victor's back, Bridget calls out to Skinner, and they call for each other desperately. Elton asks for Bliss, and Victor -- this part's charming -- lifts one giant buttock: "You really don't want to know," says Bliss, and Victor drops down on her again. Not. Necessary. Elton names him: "Are you some sort of...Absorbathon? An Absorbaling?...An Absorbaloff?" Victor nods, happy with the last one. Ursula orders him to let them go, but Victor preens: "Oh, but they taste so sweet. Just think about the Doctor...Oooh, how will he taste? All that experience, all that knowledge...And if I've got to absorb Jackie Tyler to get to him, then so be it." I dare you.