Doctor Who
The Girl In The Fireplace

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A+ | 6 USERS: A+
Let Them Eat Awesome

The Doctor triggers the fireplace again, switching into her world. The room in Versailles is completely dark. The Doctor eventually wanders out, into the halls and corridors of her. "...Reinette?" It is April, 1764. It's nearly nightfall, by the window, where Louis XV stands, beautiful and broken: "You just missed her. She'll be in Paris by 6." Tears of the widower, when he sees A late-lost form that sleep reveals, And moves his doubtful arms, and feels Her place is empty, fall like these...tears stand in his eyes. Louis stares at the Doctor, stepping toward him in wonder: "Good Lord, she was right. She said you never looked a day older. ...So many years since I saw you last, yet not a day of it on your face."

Once there was a boy they called "the Beloved," Louis XV, born in 1710. He met Reinette in his thirty-fifth year, and as we see him now, he is fifty-four years of age (although played by a hottie, like, a third that, thank God). Le Bien-Aimé was King of France, technically, from five years of age until death. He never had a mother, obsessed on his nursemaid, sought out the very best in feminine companionship his entire life, and died ten years after Reinette. He inherited the financial straits of his father and was indecisive in matters of state. The thing about Louis -- and Reinette -- was that they knew some bullshit was coming. They always had an eerie understanding of time. "Apres nous le deluge," they said. Everything's going to hell and there's nothing we can do about it. Such is dynasty. "I care not what happens when I am dead and gone," she said. The best thing anybody on this show should hear, and never will. By the end of Louis's life, he was known as Le Bien-Hai, the Well-Hated. In 1757, nine years before we see him now, he was stabbed in the side right here at Versailles, by Robert Damiens, with a penknife. (I don't know in what room.) The definition of the aristocracy remained -- as it was in our Louis's time and well before, and well since -- in the eye of the beholder. He died of smallpox at Versailles, and was the first Bourbon whose heart was not cut out and placed in a special coffer, per tradition. Our little systems did not contain him. They poured alcohol into his coffin and soaked his remains in quicklime; his late-night burial was attended by one courtier. The Estates-General were called in May 1789, and the Terror was underway by July, with the storming of the Bastille.

But that's twenty-five years and a grandson away. Louis walks slowly to a sideboard and removes a letter which has rested there for a few days at least: "She spoke of you many times." The Doctor fades into sadness, comprehending. "...Often wished you'd visit again. You know how women are," Louis adds dismissively, and hands the letter to the Doctor. Outside, there is the lash of a whip and a neigh. The sound of hooves, taking her away. Perhaps there is still time. "There she goes," says Louis, watching a carriage drive away in the rain. The King of France goes to the window, where the hearse is taking Reinette -- his best friend, his companion -- back to Paris for the last time. The Doctor stands with the King and watches the carriage, and the rain, his sober and solemn. They are men together, in their pain. Only moments are passing on the spaceship that is also a girl, who is dead. "Too young...too young. Illness took her in the end. She always did work too hard." She worked hard, all right: set the bar. I'd like to do half of what she did, in my time. The tears grow heavier but they don't fall. Louis turns to the Doctor, intimate in their pain, and asks what she said, in the letter. But this isn't about intimacy, this is about loneliness. The Doctor silently tucks the letter in his jacket without turning from the window. This is all the sharing of misery Louis will get tonight. "Of course," says Louis. "Quite right." They stand there, in their silence, and it's a sharing: a naming. It's a dance they do. And finally, the Doctor turns and walks away.

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