Tales From /lost+found 103: Ghost in the Machine

1×02 November 1, 1996
Ghost in the Machine (Serial 2, Episode 2)

Setting: Seattle, WA, Present
Regular Cast: Hugh Laurie (The Doctor), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Lizzie Thompson)
Guest Starring: Allan Royal (Professor Talman), Eric Balfour (Bryce), Jeffrey Combs (Vardan Commander)

Plot: To the surprise of Professor Talman, the Doctor manages to reassert control of himself after infecting Lizzie. His Time Lord mind can contain the Vardans temporarily. Assuming Lizzie will soon be under Vardan control, Talman retreats from the server room. The Doctor determines that the Vardans have spread far enough that Lizzie’s virus would need to destroy Earth’s entire technological base to eradicate them, and even this would not stop the Vardans who have transferred into human minds. Already, the number of infected humans is growing across campus. Lizzie offers to remain behind because of the Vardan in her mind. Remembering how the Vardan-controlled robot had reacted to the ultrasonic test chamber, the Doctor reasons that Vardans can be rendered dormant with certain frequencies, and programs his sonic screwdriver to act as a Vardan-repellant to buy Lizzie time. The Doctor and Lizzie avoid the infected and make their way back to the lab, hoping to refine the virus so that it can destroy Vardans but leave the internet intact. They find Talman already there, in the process of connecting the Chair to the internet so that the rest of the Vardans can transfer into human bodies. Lizzie pushes him into the chair and the Doctor uses the virus disk on it, causing the virus to be uploaded to Talman’s mind, which frees him of the Vardans but also erases his memory, leaving him in a child-like state. Lizzie hacks into the campus PA-system allowing the Doctor to broadcast an ultrasonic pulse that puts all the Vardans on campus into hibernation. They are found by Bryce, who has also been taken over by a Vardan. His cochlear implants protected him from the hibernation signal. Threatening to reactivate Lizzie’s Vardan, he forces the Doctor back to the lab and into the Chair.  Bryce and Lizzie watch on the screen while the Doctor, in his own mindscape, faces off against the Vardan Commander in his true form. The Doctor brags that his mind is too powerful for a single Vardan to control. The commander responds by using the Chair’s internet link to summon all the Vardans from the internet to colonize the Doctor’s mind and steal his Time Lord knowledge. The Doctor uses his mental defenses to confine the Vardans to the parts of his mind containing his encyclopedic knowledge of the universe, leaving his personality and free will unoccupied. While arguing with the commander, he makes a strange reference to his coat pocket, which Lizzie understands as a message to her. In the Doctor’s coat pocket, she finds a note explaining that she is not really infected; the Doctor tricked the Vardans by infecting the mental copy of herself created when they had used the Chair together earlier. Since Bryce now holds no power over her, she punches him. The Doctor had manipulated the Vardans into concentrating their entire invasion force into several specific areas of his brain, and on his signal, Lizzie uses the virus on the Chair to erase those regions, wiping out the Vardans. The commander promises to start again with the remaining Vardans in the Mindscape, but the Doctor explains that the mindscape itself is part of the Chair, rather than part of his mind. Lizzie pulls the memory circuits out of the chair, trapping the remaining Vardans in inert silicon. The Doctor modifies Bryce’s implant to make it vulnerable to the hibernation pulse, and declares that, without any conscious Vardans to send the reactivation signal, the infected humans can live out their lives as harmless carriers of the inert Vardans. The Doctor has sacrificed most of his knowledge of the universe to defeat the Vardans, but he doesn’t mind, as he’d gotten bored with knowing everything already and looks forward to learning it anew. Lizzie finds that she intuitively knows where his TARDIS is and what it is, because of her experiences in the Doctor’s mindscape, so he offers to take her with him. Lizzie asks the Doctor his name, and he evades the question, but his reaction hints that he may have forgotten it himself.

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