The Doctor and Rose end up in a small exploration station on a planet (impossibly, we're told) in orbit around a black hole. Cut off from communications, they are forced to join the crew's duty roster once the TARDIS is lost in a quake. Which would be bad, but is not as terrible as the fact that apparently the DEVIL, LITERAL ACTUAL, is down in a horrible pit directly below them. Into which the Doctor descends with crewman Ida, continuing the tradition of substituting ladies of an age for Rose at every possible opportunity. Other stuff going on: the Ood, a tentacular slave race with whom Rose identifies but who are possessed slightly by the Devil throughout and then possessed hardcore by the Devil at the end; Toby, the uptight/adorable xenolexicoarcheologist who goes very Devilly; and the rest of the crew, who are almost certainly doomed. What does Rose have to say? Not much, since her magical cell phone just stopped working, her time machine just fell into an earthquake, and her Doctor just jumped in after it. But she's got more mascara than you've ever seen, and she's proven herself capable before, especially in Buffy-adjacent stories like this one. Lovely music, the most terrifying scenes I've ever been through -- including previous title holders the Klockwork Klowns of Space France -- and a very scary finish leading up to the conclusion in two weeks.
Used to be that stories had a beginning, a middle, and an end. A child grows up, becomes a hero, and all the Gods give him gifts. He accomplishes tasks, saves the world, touches magic, and passes it on. And then he is brought low, goes down into the bad places, his body gets ripped apart. He dies. That's the difference between myths and entertainment. An entertainment that's shooting for myth is in a tricky place for that reason: you want to tell the whole story, you want the romance and the superpowers and the clap on the back, but nobody wants to hear the other side of it any more. So you tell the whole story, the ramp up and the ramp down, and you're going to lose some people. Everybody wants to see Neo flying around and being godlike and all Ayn Randish; nobody wants to see him betrayed, blind, in Purgatory or in Hell, or dead. I think probably the sucky part is the more important part, considering the way entertainment caters to us now. But it's confusing and it's difficult and it's not a story we've remembered how to hear, and that presents us, as viewers and people, with an equally tricky task. You can throw up your hands and say it's not a good story. You can get pulled in, and learn to hate the story; it's the story's job to remind you that things happen, whether we want them to or not -- that What Is is more important than what we want, or wanted, because at the end of the day, What Is is all we have, and it's not going to turn around and play your game. Adulthood means playing the game of What Is, and becoming more in the process -- changing. And that's the easiest thing in the world to forget, which means it's the most important thing to remember. If a story is aiming that high, it has a duty to come in and grab us when we've forgotten it's going to be okay. I like this story, and I think it does that, but just in case: it's going to be okay. But first, it's going to be really bad. That starts now.
The TARDIS appears in a tiny closet, groaning and wheezing, struggling to set down in this place, rejecting it like a bad graft, which is what it is. The Doctor and Rose step out and look up at her and wonder about it, giggling: "I dunno what's wrong with her, she's sort of...queasy. Indigestion, like she didn't wanna land." And that's not a frigging sign of something? Even Rose is like, "If you think there's gonna be trouble, we could always get back inside and go somewhere else..." And she and the Doctor both burst into laughter, because nothing bad ever happens to them, and their laughter is psychotic and neverending. The Doctor knocks around inside the cupboard and eventually gets the door open: "Some sort of base -- moon base, sea base, space base. They build these things out of kits." It looks like Firefly had a baby with Red Dwarf. Rose listens to the storm, outside, and they enter another room. The corridors are glowy and pulsing. "Human design," explains the Doctor. "You've got a thing about kits. This place was put together like a flat-pack wardrobe, only bigger. And easier." They finally come out into a canteen area, and the Doctor finally recognizes the design: "Oh, it's a Sanctuary Base!" Anything but, though if you're ignoring the TARDIS these days, I'm sure you're well past listening to me. "Deep Space exploration," the Doctor explains to Rose. We've gone way out. And listen to that, underneath...." He points downward, gesturing for Rose to listen; we hear the hum of drilling. "Welcome to Hell," says Rose, and the Doctor says it's not that bad. It is. She giggles and points at the wall: WELCOME TO HELL is scrawled across the wall, with scary language underneath. The Doctor stares at it, and they both draw closer. "What does that say?" They stare at it; it refuses to resolve. "I thought the TARDIS translated everything, writing as well? We should see English." Welcome to Hell: the untranslatable. Brought by a reluctant angel. "Exactly," says the Doctor. "If that's not working, then it means this writing is old. Very old. Impossibly old." The Doctor loved the impossible once; he just forgot the etymology.