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Rose: Doctor, they've got guns.
Doctor: And I haven't. Which makes me the better person, don't you think? They can shoot me dead, but the moral high ground is mine.
The episode begins with a voice-over of Rose recounting that nothing happened the first nineteen years of her life, but that it changed when she met the Doctor, who she thought she'd travel with forever. She then talks about ghosts, Torchwood and the war, and says that the story she is telling is of how she died.
The TARDIS shows up in a park near Jackie's flat so that Rose can visit her mother and do some laundry (apparently the TARDIS lacks a washer / dryer). Jackie greets them and asks if they want to stay and see her visiting father, which confuses and concerns Rose, as her grandfather died when she was ten. An insubstantial grey "ghost" appears and Jackie introduces it to Rose and the Doctor. The concerned Doctor finds out from watching television that this is happening all over the world, and with Rose and an unwilling Jackie in tow quickly traces the source of the "ghosts" to a building that houses the Torchwood Institute, a secret British government organisation with a mandate of protecting the United Kingdom and Earth at any cost (originally conceived by Queen Victoria after her encounter with the Doctor in 1879).
It is Torchwood who are causing the "ghost shift" as they try to tap into a source of extra-dimensional energy. They also show the Doctor a mysterious globe that he informs them is a "void ship", a craft designed to travel the non-existent space between parallel dimensions. The Doctor tells the head of Torchwood, Yvonne Hartman, that the void ship's entry into the Earth dimension damaged the barrier between universes, and that each time they activate a ghost shift, they are damaging it further, which will eventually cause the barrier to collapse. She agrees to delay the next ghost shift, but several technicians have been taken over by Cybermen from the parallel universe of Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel and activate it anyway.
This brings some 5,000,000 Cybermen across the dimensional gap all over the world, even inside Torchwood, where they begin changing the operatives, including Yvonne, into Cybermen. In the void ship room Rose meets Mickey, who has also crossed the dimensions, and they watch as the void ship begins to open. Mickey tells Rose that the Cybermen left their original dimension some time ago, then hoists a weapon designed to kill them, only to stare in disbelief with Rose as a group of four Daleks emerge from the void ship.
Dalek Sec: Location: Earth. Life-forms detected! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!
- Affably Evil / Benevolent Boss: Yvonne "If it's alien, it's ours" Hartman takes care to remember the names of her employees and doesn't bat an eye at office romances ("And they think we haven't noticed").
- An Astral Projection Not a Ghost: The "ghosts" are actually Cybermen trying to break through from Pete's World.
- Brutal Honesty: No, Jackie, the Doctor does not think dead relatives coming back is beautiful. In fact, it's horrific.
- Catch Phrase: "I should say "Allons-y" more often..." He will, but he won't find anyone called "Alonso" to say it to for a while.
- Call Back : The way the Cybermen hiding in Torchwood reveal themselves is a homage to the way the Mondas Cybermen clawed their way out of their pods in Tomb of the Cybermen.
- That sarcophogus at Torchwood looks...somewhat familiar.
- Continuity Nod: The Gelth from "The Unquiet Dead" are mentioned as a possible explanation for the ghosts.
- Dead Line News: "They're not ghosts! They're metal men-AAAGH!"
- Doing in the Wizard Humans are convinced that their loved ones are returning as ghosts. The Doctor is convinced there's a scientific explanation. Of course, the Doctor is right.
- Evil Versus Evil: Cybermen versus Daleks.
- The Exit Is That Way: "No, Doctor!"
- Foreshadowing: The Doctor thinks that departed loved ones returning to Earth is horrific. We find out why in "The End of Time".
- It Got Worse: Okay, there's an army of five million Cybermen spread across the whole world. What next?
- It Was His Sled: See the picture up there? It's a massive Spoiler. The production team kept the fact the Daleks were in this series a huge secret, and when they turned up it was a massive shock . These days, this two-parter is generally known for being Daleks v Cybermen.
- I Will Show You X:
Doctor: Lead on. But not too fast. Her ankle's going.
Jackie: I'll show you where my ankle's going.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: The Doctor passes Jackie off as an aged-up Rose so the real Rose can sneak out of the TARDIS unnoticed. When they get found out...
Doctor: Please, when Torchwood comes to write my complete history, don't tell people I travelled through time and space with her mother.
Doctor: I've got a reputation to uphold.
- Mundane Utility: Jackie remarks that some of the technology Torchwood has developed would be great for carrying her shopping home.
- No Except Yes
Yvonne: They're invading the whole planet.
Doctor: It's not an invasion, it's too late for that. It's a victory.
- No Sell: Rose discovers that the agents of Torchwood have enough psychic training to resist the Doctor's psychic paper.
- Oh Crap: Played for laughs when the Doctor realises Jackie is still on-board. Played straight when he realises the Cybermen didn't make the Void Ship, and when Rose and Mickey find out who's inside.
- Retroactive Recognition: Series 3 co-star Freema Agyeman shows up as Martha's strangely-identical cousin.
- Shout-Out: To Ghostbusters, appropriately enough.
- Also to Ghostwatch.
- Sinister Geometry: The Void Ship. "It upsets people because it gives off - nothing. It is absent."
- Uncommon Time: The music playing as the "ghosts" shimmer into Cybermen is in 5/4.
- Wham! Line: "The Sphere is not ours."
- ↑ Well, mostly. For some reason, a clip of someone getting shot by a Dalek gun from Doomsday turned up in the Next Time trailer for this episode at the end of Fear Her. So some people worked it out. But it was meant to be a surprise