Tales from /lost+found 118: Through the Looking Glass

7×03 July 19, 2002
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (Serial 96)

Setting: The Outer Wastes, Unknown Time
Regular Cast: Rowan Atkinson (The Doctor), Scarlett Johanssen (Alice), Lee Thompson Young (Leo)
Guest Starring: Katherine Heigl (Ruth)

Plot: For her first trip in the TARDIS, Alice suggests they visit the Roman Empire. The Doctor agrees, but is clearly distracted. Pressed by Leo, the Doctor admits that he is troubled by Varnax’s dying words. Since his regeneration, he is increasingly aware that his memories of the Time War are misleading or missing. His companions ask whether he could return to the Time War to answer his questions. The Doctor explains that the Time War is encysted by a barrier of “crystallized time” and inaccessible. But he remembers the Outer Wastes, a place outside the web of time, where he might be able see through the barrier and witness the events of the war. Alice and Leo agree they should go, even after the Doctor warns them that the Outer Wastes are a dangerous place, populated by detritus ejected through rifts in space and time. The Doctor has to delete part of the TARDIS’s mass to generate the extra thrust to break free of the web of time, and they arrive on a kind of floating island made of an agglutination of asteroids and planetary debris. It is inhabited by displaced people from all of history: scientists experimenting with time travel, explorers who fell into black holes, survivors of planetary catastrophes. The denizens have long been hostile and factionalized as they compete for scarce resource, but have recently banded together in the face of a common threat thanks to the influence of a mysterious leader about whom they are reluctant to speak. Against the warnings of the inhabitants, the Doctor attempts to scale the mountain at the island’s center, where he hopes he will be able to use a temporal scanner to view his home planet. The Doctor and his companions are attacked by the monster feared by the people. The Doctor recognizes it as a Chronovore, a beast from Time Lord mythology. Alice is injured, and Leo is separated from the others and becomes trapped in a cave trying to protect her. The Chronovore closes in on the Doctor, but is repelled when the leader appears between them as an indistinct, ethereal humanoid shape. She vanishes before the Doctor can attempt to communicate. The Doctor takes Alice back to the encampment for medical help. He learns that while the leader can not communicate directly, it has been encouraging them to work together through its ability to scare off the beast, creating sanctuary for those willing to form a community. The Doctor theorizes that it appeared to them because Leo risked his life to protect Alice. In the cave, the leader appears to Leo. It is unable to interact with him physically, but seems desperate to communicate with him. With nothing better to do, and unsure if it understands him, Leo tells the being about his adventures with the Doctor and about his lost love. In the encampment, the Doctor tries unsuccessfully to rally a search party to find Leo. When he explains that the Chronovore is drawn by the Doctor’s unique biology as it thrives on temporal energy, however, the denizens reluctantly decide to sacrifice the Doctor to the creature. He is forced back to the mountain, where the leader appears. Shamed, the townspeople flee. The leader leads the Doctor to the cave where Leo is trapped. The monster attacks while the Doctor is pulling Leo up, but the leader fends it off. The three return to town together to find that the Chronovore is attacking. The Doctor thinks he has figured out the leader’s nature, and rallies it to attack the creature directly rather than simply scaring it away. The Chronovore attempts to consume the leader, and explodes in a massive release of temporal energy. The leader was saturated with unstable temporal energy which the Chronovore consumed, causing “fatal indigestion”. The leader is really Ruth, now restored to corporeality. The destruction of the Chronovore creates a beacon, and the Doctor’s scanner reveals more Chonovores in the Wastes that will be drawn to it. He sacrifices a further quarter of the TARDIS’s mass to create a kind of barrier that will protect the island, even though this blocks his view into normal time. Since the Doctor isn’t certain whether she will remain stable if she returns to the web of time, Ruth and Leo decide to stay in the Outer Wastes to help build their community. Recalling his promise to find them a place to get married, the Doctor uses his standing as a ship’s captain to marry Ruth and Leo before he and Alice make their farewells and depart back to normal space-time.

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