1879 Scotland, ninjas, werewolves, a werewolf cult, a country manor, and Queen Victoria. She's headed to Balmoral, they're headed to a Blockheads concert in 1979, somehow they all end up at the house where the werewolf ninja cult is holding all the people and staff hostage. Two awesome things -- the Koh-i-noor diamond, and walls painted in mistletoe oil -- prove to be the things that save a few people in the house, including the Doctor and Rose, and even the Queen. Oh, and there's a giant steampunk telescope which, used in conjunction with the diamond, sends werewolves to space. If you can't laugh at yourself, I think, you do yourself a great disservice sometimes. And if you're looking to take umbrage, you do those around you no less. Queen Victoria does three -- make that four -- shocking things: she bestows honors on the Doctor and Rose, x-treme banishes them in a very unamused fashion, passes down lycanthropy in the royal bloodline, and establishes Torchwood to protect Britain against alien threats even unto the Doctor himself. Since the only thing she doesn't do, really, is make fun of continuity wonks, she gets to keep her crown. Queen Victoria's got nothing on nerds for "we are not amused," but she does have a lovely wardrobe and a regal manner.
Once there was a girl, a single daughter, who became heiress presumptive of the Commonwealth at eleven years of age. There was no law regarding child monarchs at that time, so she was just kind of the Queen for a second, until the Regency Act put her mum in charge. When asked how she'd be, as the Monarch, Drina replied, "I will be good." And she tried, all her life. When Drina was sixteen, by providence divine she met a man named Albert and they fell very much in love. She was the one to propose, and even if he wasn't interested at first, they ended up in love. He was in league with magic, and believed in spirits and all manner of strangeness; she never really believed but took comfort in the magic and strangeness of love. But everything ends: the Prince Consort died in 1861, when Victoria was forty-two years old. It blew her mind and she wore black for the rest of her life; her seclusion meant that everyone took to calling her the Widow of Windsor: "O what to her shall be the end? And what to me remains of good? To her, perpetual maidenhood, And unto me no second friend." She took to spiritualism and the ouija, and all the time she thought it was just silly, just a lark -- but the truth was that it was a way of getting back that magic, that strangeness. It was false, an approximation, like going on the Doctor Who ride at Universal rather than being with the Doctor himself. But it was something.
She loved the poem "In Memoriam A. H. H.," by Alfred Lord Tennyson. The poem's even longer than this recap. It is very homo and very emo, and it was written for Tennyson's friend Arthur Hallam, and included in its lines popular and beautifully stated sentiment that survives to this day. She took solace in this very long poem after Albert's death; its strangeness and magic were another kind of approximation, a ouija in meter and rhyme, but it was something: "Next to the Bible, 'In Memoriam' is my comfort," she wrote. In 1862, the year after Albert's death, Victoria procured a meeting with Tennyson himself, to thank him. I don't know how the meeting went, but I'll bet it was awkward: the two of them, in love with men who had passed through strangeness and beyond the veil. If you don't know the poem, you should read it because it is awesome, but I caution the spoiler-free that it's the key to the season, like the Zoroastrian and Gnostic stuff last year -- which is weird, considering that this is a half-assed last-second episode with all the obnoxious jokes that RTD tends to leave in when he doesn't have the time to second-guess himself -- and you might be better off not reading it. (Which is annoying because it proves I actually am making this shit up sometimes, but still it works out perfectly: obnoxious just like astrology, which is bullshit except for how it always happens to be true.) But beyond the fact that we'll be talking about the poem for the remainder of the season, here's why I'm going on and on about it at the moment: "Who trusted God was love indeed, and love Creation's final law? Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw, with ravine shriek'd against his creed? Who loved, who suffer'd countless ills; Who battled for the True, the Just?" The answer to that question, which contains the title of the episode, is answered best by the episode -- and by the heartbroken, lonely woman, who walked in strangeness and magic, and had it taken from her.