Doctor Who
The Empty Child (1)

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: B+ | 5 USERS: A+
YOU GRADE IT
Jack Attack!

After another commercial, the radio goes nuts as Nancy puts a cloth over some food on the table. "Please, Mummy. Please let me in." She turns to look at the radio, and the child talks about being scared of the bombs, and begging, and then there's a crash in the hall, and the shadow of the child on the wall. "Mummy...Mummy..." Without a place to hide, Nancy dives under the table. The first time I saw this, I didn't think the mystery inside the mystery was worthwhile because you would never figure it out, but now I'm not so sure. He just keeps telling you. I wanted to mention that last week was about reconnecting with the father -- the real father; the man behind the mask. And there's a way in which this story -- the Doctor as the Orphan of Gallifrey, losing Rose to a better version of himself, identifying his own existential need to survive through heroism in Nancy's activities, the ego in survivor guilt -- dances around motherhood in a much less direct way. But it's not just about finding your mother -- it's also about claiming your power. Being the mother. The mother that would roar and would not let Hitler take her, or her children. About Nancy's need to mother those around her, while this beastly child is begging her for the same. About the way Nancy and the Doctor are more alike than anything -- and maybe Rose and Captain Jack are the same; maybe they're just looking for somebody to tell them what to do, or tell them that they're wrong -- but there's no power in doing so. Again, the characters (doubled this time) are confronted with decisions they can't reasonably be asked to make, sacrifices no one should have to make, and again -- like saving Pete Tyler, pushing out into the street beside him before it's too late -- learning that grace is what enables you to get there. And that the dividends are miraculous. So don't be worried. You can be scared, but don't be worried.

Captain Jack scans one of the bodies and sees the impossibilities; the Doctor asks him straightaway what kind of Chula ship it was, exactly, that landed here. Rose breaks in -- "He said it was a warship. He stole it..." -- and the Doctor asks, again, what kind of warship it must be. He's figuring something out. Captain Jack hates it, and won't answer. "This started at the bomb site," the Doctor harshes out. "It's got everything to do with it. What kind of warship?" And Captain Jack admits that it was an ambulance. He shows them, on his wrist panel, the piece of space junk they followed through the Time Vortex: "I wanted to kid [no] you it was valuable. It's empty; I made sure of it. Nothing but a shell. I threw it at you. Saw your time-travel vehicle -- love the retro look, by the way; nice panels -- threw you the bait..." Rose looks up at this, finally. "I wanted to sell it to you and then destroy it, before you found out it was junk." Rose asks about the "warship" factor. "They have ambulances in wars," spits Captain Jack, and wanders a few steps away, annoyed. Mostly, I think, with himself. "It was a con. I was conning you -- that's what I am; I'm a con man. I thought you were Time Agents, but you're not, are you?" Rose admits that they're just freelancers, too. "Should've known. The way you guys are blending in with the local colour -- I mean, Flag Girl was bad enough, but U-Boat?" He gestures to the Doctor's fantastic coat; they both look down dweebishly. Captain Jack insists that what's going on has nothing to do with the ship. Which makes Rose wonder, Excellently, exactly what it is that's going on. Captain Jack: "Human DNA's being rewritten. By an idiot. Some kind of virus...converting human beings into these things. But why?" Almost there.

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