Something is happening in contempo Essex that involves the second-story of this house. It is bad news all around -- people go in and they don't come out -- but more directly for Amy and the Doctor, since this mysterious problem causes the TARDIS to take off with Amy inside, leaving the Doctor stranded. Amy spends the episode "helping" by every now and then talking to the Doctor through some kind of Gallifrey bluetooth, but mostly she's lovable and fun due to not being around that much.
The Doctor knows that whatever's upstairs in this house must be investigated without him doing any science fiction crap that will tip it off, so he spends the entire episode being "normal." Which would be adorable and funny on its own, but he's doing it by posing as the titular lodger, a roommate to the episode's main person, a big fat hottie named Craig (played by the big fat hottie from the surprisingly tender/smart Lesbian Vampire Killers).
Craig's got a crush on his mate Sophie, and she fancies him, but they're British so it's all kinds of complicated. The Doctor spends most of the time close-talking up in Craig's situation, and you pretty much think they're going to make out like the whole time. Eventually the sizzling gay chemistry freaks Craig out so bad he tries to toss the Doctor out onto the streets, but just then Sophie gets eaten by the thing upstairs, so the boys have to rescue her, in the process revealing Sophie and Craig's mutual adoration.
Every scene is funny without being broad, adorable without being saccharine, mature without being boring, light without being retarded... It's the most emotionally realistic the show has probably ever done, which is funny considering the climax is literally people tinkerbelling Craig to "Kiss the girl! Kiss the girl!" But maybe that just shows how unsubtle the show's been up to now.
I do realize that you can't have the Doctor dropping into rom-coms every week -- or walking around with shoes on his ears or whatever alien shtick -- but in a decibel-heavy season of pointless metaphors and unending concepts, between "Vincent" and now this I feel like we've gone from Jackson Pollack to, like, Aubrey Beardsley: From bright careless splashes of color to minutely ornamented, well-crafted story. It's encouraging, is what it is, and the Pandorica's never looked so intriguing. Well done, show.
The Doctor, with Amy's help, quickly identifies Essex as differing from the fifth moon of Sinda Callista, but before they can take off again, a strange gust blows him out of the TARDIS and she takes off on her own. Aw, damn. Amy's scared, but not too scared. He lies on the ground for a bit saying her name, and one assumes he gets a lot of shit done.
Next day, a mysterious voice is calling people to the top floor of a nearby building, in a very spooky way. They go up, but they don't come down. Downstairs, chums Craig and Sophie are thinking about having a quiet night at home. They're pretty much normal-looking people, cute like on TV but not cute for TV. I've loved Craig for a long time now, and since this episode is basically the story of the Doctor's intensely adorable love affair with Craig, I'm good to go. Oh, also, this is the best episode of this show, maybe since I started watching it but definitely this season.
Home is good, and home is bad. It's a puzzle-box that opens from the inside and a police box that opens onto everywhere at once. The Doctor has seen his home burn; he's watched her born and burnt by the sun. Now she's a little blue box and the little blue world she orbits, and the hearts of the ones he loves. One thing a wizard can do, that nobody else in the world can do, is shatter his heart into a million pieces, stow them all over time and space, and this also is a kind of home. This is the story of just one.
There's a leak coming down from the upstairs apartment where lives, Craig shrugs, "some bloke." They're disturbed by noises from the upstairs mysteries, and talk turns to Craig's search for a new roommate: "One furnished room, available immediately, shared kitchen, bathroom, with 27-year-old male nonsmoker, Â£400 per calendar month, suit young professional..." Sophie likes the sound of that guy, and tells Craig to find her a man, which before you even see his face you know where this is headed. "Yeah, otherwise you'll have to settle for me!" Oh dear. But she's like, "You'll have to settle for me first," so maybe there's hope. Well, with the Doctor there's always hope. That's the problem.
Phone rings and Soph says she's got plans, Craig, nothing too important, but the girl on the other line is unrelating: "Now she's having a Dylan crisis, on top of the Clare crisis. It could be another all-nighter. I'm sorry, but I really should go." They British out on each other that, hemming and hawing, and finally she gets him to say she can go, so she goes, and he fusses about -- van Gogh exhibit announcement, on the fridge -- and feels very unmanly. "Just tell her. Just tell her. I love you. I love you. Oh, just... 'Hey, I don't know if you knew...'"