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The Doctor: You’ve seen it out there. It’s beautiful.
Donna: And it’s terrible. That place was flooding and burning and they were dying and you stood there like… I don’t know, a stranger. And then you made it snow. I mean, you scare me to death!
The plucky and rather rude bride -- one Donna Noble, of Chiswick -- demands to be put back on Earth right now, damn it. She's getting married! Unfortunately, our old friends the pilot fish (see The Christmas Invasion) have come back to help the Monster of the Week by kidnapping Donna. Fortunately, the Doctor convinces her to jump into his TARDIS out of a speeding car. Which is quite an accomplishment, seeing as the Doctor just told Donna that his last companion girl is now "gone" and she found Rose's vest in the TARDIS, meaning she's pretty convinced that the Doctor is a deranged serial killer. The (still Christmas-themed) pilot fish also crash the wedding reception, which is being held without Donna, who is rather indignant upon discovering this.
She and her fiance, Lance, go along with the Doctor to help find out what's going on. They avoid the "pilot fish" and find a Racnoss nest inside a Thames Flood Barrier, in the basement of the company where Donna temps. Which, unbeknownst to Donna, turns out to be part of Torchwood.
Turns out Donna's fiance was actually the consort of the Racnoss Empress, who truly makes Evil Is Hammy into an art form. Lance had been feeding Donna Huron particles in order to make her a catalyst and trigger a ship. That ship will carry a whole nest of Racnoss babies in the Earth's core up to the surface of the Earth. And, in the Empress' words, "Racnoss are born starving!" That's right: they would eat everything on Earth.
The Doctor uses Huron particle trickery to save his and Donna's lives, and they rush off to work on defeating this new menace. He also shows Donna the beginning of the formation of Earth, which turns out to have formed around the gravitational field of an ancient Racnoss nest. The Empress decides that she'll need a new "key" -- and lucky her, she has Lance right there! One of the pilot fish grabs Donna and drags her away.
The Doctor realizes a bit too late that Donna's awfully quiet, and next thing we know, Donna and Lance are tied up in a web over the tunnel to the ship. The Empress messes with them for a bit, before she decides that she doesn't approve of Lance's treatment of Donna. So, like any sane, rational alien lady, she cuts him down -- dropping him into the pit for her children. She monologues a bit, before turning and revealing one of the pilot fish as a masked Doctor, who gets Donna down from the web. Guess what? The Doctor has pockets! The Doctor gives the Empress one last chance, but turns out to be very firm on his new "one chance only" rule he instated earlier this season. He murders the entire nest of Racnoss babies by flooding it and setting everything on fire at the same time, completely horrifying Donna. Oh, and draining the Thames. She tells him to stop and get out, and (as we learn much later) does the universe a huge favor in the process.
Donna tries to come to terms with the fact that her fiance was just using her for her Huron-particle-catalyzing body. She goes home, turning down the Doctor's offer of traveling with him and leaving him alone (at least, for now). But not before telling him he should find someone, because occasionally, he needs somebody to stop him.
- Actor Existence Failure: Geoff Noble's actor, Howard Attfield, died after he was set to return in series 4.
- All Webbed Up
- Arc Words: Torchwood and orders from "Mr. Saxon".
- Badass Boast:
- Bad Santa: The pilot fish, again.
- Book Ends: the last time we see Donna, she will be a bride again.
- Bigger on the Inside: The Doctor's pockets. Really, it explains an awful lot.
- Big No: The Racnoss Empress. "MYYYYY CHIIIIIIILDREEEEEEEEENNNNN!"
- Bridezilla: Guess.
- Chekhov's Gun: Donna calls the Doctor 'a Martian', which seems like a throwaway gag but leads to the Empress of the Racnoss underestimating him.
- The Doctor also utilizes the Extrapolator from Boom Town.
- Christmas Episode / An Asskicking Christmas
- Continuity Nod: A rather nice one in Torchwood: Miracle Day. When the centre of the Earth becomes important to the story, Jack wonders if the Racnoss Empress is responsible.
- Death Glare: The Doctor gives one to Donna. It shuts her up.
- Don't Make Me Destroy You A bit of a Tenth Doctor trade mark - he generally give the baddies a chance to walk away.
- Evil Is Hammy: The Empress of the Racnoss, bringing Chewing the Scenery to simply epic levels. To the point where one wonders if the Racnoss actually subsisted on scenery that they chewed up, instead of meat, as they insist.
- Evil Laugh: The Racnoss Empress. "Kakakakakakaka!" Lance has a more...normal one.
- Failing a Taxi
- Horde of Alien Locusts
- Human Resources: It's in the job title!
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The British tanks. How can you miss an object that big? Especially considering what goes up must come down – over densely populated London.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: "This time, it's personnel!" Cue laughter from the villains and absolutely no one else.
- Internal Homage: Donna's ends up in the TARDIS the same way companion Lucie Miller does in Big Finish Doctor Who. Just like Lucie, she's not the least bit impressed by the Doctor. (Lucie assumed he was a "hippie ponce", Donna assumes he's a deranged serial killer.)
- Landmarking the Hidden Base: The Racnoss has set up shop in an abandoned Torchwood base under the Thames flood barrier. Donna is incredulous, the Doctor (who's used to it), less so.
Donna: What, there's like a secret base hidden under a major London landmark?
Doctor: I know, unheard of...
- Missing Floor
- Missing the Good Stuff: Donna was hungover and out of town for the Sycorax and in the middle of nowhere in Spain for the Cybermen.
- Morality Chain
- My Name Is Not Durwood: More like my planet is not Mars, throughout the episode, until the end.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Doctor drains the River Thames. Granted, it was to save the world, but that's a whole ecosystem literally gone down the drain.
- Not That Kind of Doctor: The Empress, possibly due to her sheer age, is one of the few aliens who doesn't seem to know that "the Doctor" refers to a rogue Timelord and assumes he's a physician.
- Oh Crap: The Racnoss Queen, after the Doctor finally corrects Donna's mistake. Namely, his planet of origin.
- Phlebotinum Analogy: "I'm a pencil inside a mug?"
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lance gives a heartbreaking one to Donna after his Face Heel Turn.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves / Even Evil Has Standards: Lance is fed to the young Racnoss because the Empress doesn't approve of males who mistreat their mates.
- Running Gag: "POCKETS!"
- Sure Why Not: In-universe. The Doctor decides to run with Donna's accusation of him being Martian when he uses the Sonic Screwdriver on an ATM since it simplifies matters.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: At the reception. (Murray Gold's "Love Don't Roam")
- Tranquil Fury: The Doctor, and it really freaks Donna out. Turn Left reveals that he would've died along with the Racnoss if she hadn't snapped him out of it.
- Unreliable Narrator: Donna's description of how she and Lance got engaged. She was the one who proposed after six months of acquaintance and nagged until it was accepted, not the other way around as she tells it.
- What the Hell, Hero?: A relatively gentle one when Donna says she can't travel with the Doctor and that he needs someone who can stop him doing the kinds of things he does.
- You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Donna's reaction to the TARDIS chasing her taxi down the motorway.
- Your Mom: "And that goes double for your mother!"