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File:Midnight 8344.jpg

  Now listen, all of you, for all we know that's a brand new life-form over there, and if it's come inside to discover us, then what's it found? This little bunch of humans. What do you amount to? Murder? 'Cause this is where you decide, you decide who you ARE.

A "companion-lite" Psychological Horror Bottle Episode by Russell T. Davies, written as a contrast to the "Doctor-lite episode" that directly follows it.


The Doctor and Donna go to an alien spa on a beautiful but uninhabitable planet called Midnight -- because, all world-saving and death-avoiding aside, they really are just travellers. Donna relaxes at the hotel while the Doctor goes on a little sightseeing tour to a waterfall made entirely of sapphires.

"What Could Possibly Go Wrong??" asks the Doctor.

The shuttle bus takes four hours to get to the waterfall. The Doctor very quickly decides to tamper with the truly awful in-flight entertainment system and befriends all the passengers instead. There's the haughty professor, his timid but clever assistant, a bickering married couple and their moody teenager (who also plays Merlin), a bored hostess, and a newly single woman named Sky Silvestry who really hates being newly single.

The fun begins an hour or so into the trip. The shuttle bus stops for no apparent reason halfway to the destination and, because the local star doesn't emit regular sunlight but super-deadly radiation, they can't leave the bus. The Doctor convinces the crew to open the blinds for a moment, and the driver sees something running towards them from the horizon. The something proceeds to bang on the sides of the bus, mimick the passengers' attempt at contact by knocking in response to their own knocks, and finally rips off the drivers' side entirely. Sky freaks out, thinking that it's her ex-wife coming to kill her, and the creature is drawn to her screams... and possesses her.

Sky, hunched on the floor, starts talking. She repeats anything anyone says. The Doctor is intrigued, if a bit scared, and tries to make contact with whatever's inside her. It's only when Sky starts talking in sync with her fellow passengers that everyone realizes they're in a horror story.

The Professor's assistant recites lines from Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market", which doesn't exactly make things less creepy. Also, Rose briefly shows up on a screen, screaming at the Doctor. Again. He doesn't notice.

The Doctor still tries to befriend the creature, knowing there's a good chance that it's just scared, or curious, or trying to be nice. The passengers, however, take a vote to throw Sky into the sunlight. And while the Doctor tries to talk sense into them, the creature realizes that the Doctor is the cleverest person on the bus, and begins talking in sync only with him.

And now, the entire Bus Full of Innocents is suspicious of him because of what are usually his strengths: his cleverness, his confidence, his take-charge attitude, and the breadth and depth of his knowledge all mark him out as something other than human. Which he is, and that's the most dangerous thing to be in a mob of terrified humans. Nothing a sonic screwdriver could fend off.

He never gets a chance to convince them otherwise, because they're all Dangerously Genre Savvy -- just without the knowledge that the Doctor is this story's hero, making them Wrong Genre Savvy in all the worst ways. Oh, and Sky is now talking before the Doctor talks. She's stolen his speech. And he's paralyzed, forced to repeat everything she says, while the monster merrily pretends that Sky's completely back to normal. It's inside him, she says. It's inside him, the Doctor hears himself repeating. Cast him out into the sun, she says. Cast him out into the sun, the Doctor repeats. The people grab him and drag him towards the door. Molto Bene! Allons-y! she says. Molto Bene! Allons-y! he repeats helplessly... which is when the hostess finally realizes just what's going on, and sacrifices herself to throw Sky into the burning sunlight.

This isn't one of those times when the Doctor just gets up and pretends he's fine. He's deeply shaken and absolutely terrified by what could have happened.

Twenty minutes later, the rescue team arrives, and the Doctor has learned a few painful lessons about mob mentality. This episode marks the beginning of a shift in the Doctor's attitude: he realizes that while Humans Are Special, all Humans Are Bastards when they get scared.


Tropes

  • Alliterative Name: Sky Sylvestry
  • Alone in a Crowd: The Doctor at the end, sitting in the aisle of the bus.
  • Arc Words: The Medusa Cascade, and a disappearing planet.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Subverted. The Doctor does his usual thing with psychic paper, bluffing his way into the cabin and generally making it clear that he knows what he's doing... which leads the passengers to suspect he has something to do with the alien.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Big time. This episode does not end on a happy note.
  • Bottle Episode: Takes place almost entirely in a single room. There is a minimum of special effects, most restricted to CGI scenery.
  • Break the Cutie: The Doctor and Dee Dee to a lesser extent. Here's hoping she told the Professor where to stick his research...
  • Burn the Witch
  • Bury Your Gays: Played with here by gay author Russell T. Davies. Sky's ex-partner was female, and the hostess notably addresses her passengers as "ladies and gentlemen and variations thereupon".[1] Neither of these things is Played for Laughs -- it's just considered normal by everyone and never commented on. The fact that Sky dies isn't because she's not straight, but simply because within the context of the plot, the Doctor relates to her most and tells her he lost someone too recently.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: Horrifyingly subverted.
  • Can Only Move the Eyes
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Doctor's catchphrases.
  • Continuity Nod: The Doctor says Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, Donna Noble in rapid succession.
    • He also mentions a friend in another universe, which COULD refer to Romana and K9 rather than Rose, depending on how you take the Expanded Universe as canon, but as he's stated time and again that every Time Lord is dead, it's likely Rose.
  • Death in the Clouds
  • Death World: The "ex-tonic" sunlight destroys any living creature within seconds -- in theory.
  • Deconstruction:
    • As well as everything that goes wrong for Ten in this, nobody believes him when he says his name is "John Smith".
    • Has a similar plot to RTD's "Voyage of the Damned", but handled very differently. Also goes a long way to turning over most of the hallmarks of the programme so far; the Doctor fails almost completely, we never learn anything about the alien (not even if it's actually dead or not at the end!), all the Humans Are Bastards at one point or another, and there's no running up and down corridors to boot!
    • Even Catchphrases and a Running Gag get a dark twist.
    • And the Doctor's usual methods of sorting out an alien problem, i.e. getting a close look at it, talking to it, etc. backfire completely
  • Demonic Possession: Kinda-sorta.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: We spend five or ten minutes meeting the apparently nice other passengers before everything goes wahoonie-shaped.
  • Driven to Suicide: Word of God says that Sky planned to kill herself at the waterfall.
  • Eldritch Abomination: One theory for the nameless thing that succeeds where gods and monsters have failed in utterly breaking the Doctor.
  • Enclosed Space: Nothing can leave the bus without being destroyed by the sun.
  • Evil Gloating: This is the alien's undoing.
  • Face Revealing Turn: Subverted, which makes it even worse.
  • Fighting From the Inside: Presumably the reason the Doctor pauses and stumbles over words when the alien is making him repeat things, and certainly the reason he manages to hook his foot around the leg of one of the seats.
  • Foreshadowing: When the Doctor knocks on the door, and the creature knocks back, count the number of knocks. Even the closed-captioning calls attention to this one.
    • Also, when the Doctor is possessed he mentions darkness and diamonds, which is something the Toclafane talked about. What do these foreshadow? The Master .
  • Go Through Me: "If you try to throw her out that door, you'll have to get past me first!"
    • So they do.
    • Also, before the bus gets moving, the Hostess mentions that, should the need to use the emergency fire exit arise, "passengers [go] first", a dumb joke on the fact that the planet has no air. The Hostess is the only character (aside from the Monster of the week) to actually use that door.
    • The in-flight entertainment system, consisting of several media playing at the same time, is also foreshadowing for the creature talking in sync with people.
  • He Had a Name: Variation.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Every word out of Sky's mouth post-whatever it was that happened.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Hostess.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Very uncharacteristic for this show, and especially this Doctor, who up until now has had a great love and admiration for humans as a species. This episode flips that all upside down, leaving the Doctor shaken and disturbed in the aftermath. It can be argued that the Tenth Doctor is never quite the same after this experience.
  • Invisible Monsters: The creature that possesses Sky is never seen. A few vaguely humanoid shadows are seen from the cockpit, but not by the viewers, and that's all.
  • Ironic Echo: "Don't. Don't do that", is one for previous episodes.
  • Just a Kid: Jethro's mother dismisses him as "Just a boy" when his opinion differs from her own. Especially ridiculous because he looks like he's at least seventeen.
  • Kick the Dog: The Professor gets one when he angrily tells Dee Dee that she's "average at best". Then it turns out she's right.
  • Ladies and Germs
  • Locked in a Freezer
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The whole spiel by the passengers on how suspicious The Doctor is.
  • Madness Mantra: A brief one that shows how horribly rattled the Doctor really was.

  " It's gone. It's gone. It's gone, it's gone, it's gone. It's gone, it's gone, it's gone..."

  • Meaningful Name: Pr. Hobbes, named after Thomas Hobbes, the English philosopher who believed that "man is a wolf to man". Turns out he was right.
  • Mind Rape: The terrified, utterly broken look on the Doctor's face will probably stay with you for a while.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Rose appears on the television screen mere moments after The Doctor looks away from it.
  • Mouthful of Pi: The Doctor rattles off the square root of Pi to an impressive length while investigating Sky's condition. The passengers find this almost as weird as her being possessed.
  • No Name Given: The Hostess. Very pointedly lampshaded. Also in the credits she is just called "Hostess".
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Made all much worse because this is the ONLY enemy / creature in the show history that is never identified somehow.
    • Not only that, but what makes so much worse is that we don't even know... if the creature is capable of spreading paranoia or if it was just human nature.
      • We also have no idea if it's trapped on Midnight or if it can manifest in other places. And the way that the creature describes itself, speaking of being from the "Dark and the cold", is eerily similar to creatures like Death and Abaddon from Torchwood and The Beast.
  • One Word Title
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The whole beginning of the episode seemed to play like a Hollywood romcom.
  • Perky Goth: Jethro. He wears leather cuffs and black nail polish.
  • Psychological Horror
  • Psychotic Smirk: Dear Lord, but the creature pulls it off when its plan is working almost perfectly.
  • The Public Domain Channel: The entertainment screens on the shuttle bus only show old black-and-white Earth movies. Unlike most examples of the trope, the characters are aware that they're old movies, and aren't especially entertained.
  • Running Gag: The usual humour of "No... no, don't do that" is pretty thoroughly murdered, though.
  • Shout-Out: To Christina Rosetti's poem "Goblin Market".
  • Something Only They Would Say: "Allons-y!" finally tips off one of the passengers that it's not Sky talking, it's the alien, stealing the Doctor's voice.
  • Stop Copying Me: Played for every last drop of Surreal Horror.
  • Tempting Fate: Lampshaded by The Doctor

  Taking a big spaceship with a bunch of strangers across a diamond planet called Midnight... what could possibly go wrong?

Notes

  1. This is presumably more because the passengers might not all be human; the Doctor isn't, for a start.
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