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 "I am the only one left now. I raise these stones to my wife, Astrid. May she forgive my sin. The day grows dark, and I sense the evil curse rising from the sea. I know now what the curse of Fenric seeks: the treasures from the Silk Lands in the east. I have heard the treasures whisper in my dreams. I have heard the magic words that will release great powers. I shall bury the treasure for ever. Tonight, I shall die, and the words die with me."

The Doctor and Ace step out of their TARDIS into a 1940's English naval base, where Dr. Judson is using his ULTIMA machine[1] to crack inscriptions written on a Viking crypt. The inscription turns out to be a trigger for the eponymous curse and the awakening of an ancient evil named Fenric. What follows is a Gambit Pileup between Fenric and the Doctor.

Oh, and there's vampirism in the form of Haemovores and Character Development on the part of Ace.

Watch it here

Tropes used in Doctor Who/Recap/S26 E3 The Curse of Fenric include:
  • Eighties Hair: Two of the Haemovores' victims have this. In the 1940s.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Most of the runes being translated by Dr. Judson tell the story of a Viking who was part of the raiding party who acquired the 'treasures' that included Fenric's resting place... and the terrible misfortunes that befell them. It ends bleakly.
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her: Or rather, Break Her Heart To Save The World, which doesn't make it any less painful.
  • The Chessmaster: The Doctor, to the point where even Ace is frustrated by his scheming.
    • In Part 4, he and Fenric become literal Chessmasters.
      • Contrast with the fact that the events of this episode are because Fenric wasn't actually a Master of Chess when they first met
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Played straight, then horribly subverted with Reverend Wainwright's death.
  • Culture Clash: Kathleen is insulted when Ace (being from The Eighties) assumes that she wasn't married, despite her having a child.
  • Dawson Casting: Jean and Phyllis, who are supposed to be teenagers, although both actresses were in their early twenties at the time of filming.
  • Death Notification: Kathleen gets a telegram notifying her of her husband's death.
  • Demonic Possession: How Fenric manifests.
  • Dirty Communists: Averted. At first, it seems the Russians are an antagonist force, what with them performing a covert mission in England, and attacking Royal Marines, and holding up the Doctor and Ace at gunpoint. As the story develops, we gain more sympathy for them, they become protagonists and the Royal Marines end up as antagonistic Mooks until they join forces.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Fenric is supposed to have been something from the dawn of time, possibly even earlier.
  • Exposition of Immortality: Fenric makes a speech about how long he's been trapped in the bottle since El-Doktar confounded him with the "contest of traps." The Haemovores are all dressed in period costume appropriate to the time period they became Haemovores in. Ingiger (the Ancient One), is a double subversion of this; it was brought back in time thousands of years by Fenric and has subsequently lived for a thousand years since following the flask to Maiden's Point from the Orient.
  • Heel Face Turn: The Ancient One agrees to help the Doctor after realizing that Fenric was using him.
  • Grand Theft Me: Fenric. Takes over Millington's body, then Judson's, then Sorin's.
  • The Grotesque: The Ancient One, the head Haemovore.
  • Kill'Em All: Because it's not Doctor Who if the bodies aren't piling up.
  • Kneel Before Zod

 Fenric: The choice is yours, Time Lord. I shall kill you anyway, but if you would like the girl to live... kneel before me.

Ace: I believe in you, Professor.

Fenric: Kneel if you want the girl to live!

Doctor: Kill her.

  • Immune to Bullets: Bullets slow the Haemovores down, but can't kill them.
  • It Won't Turn Off: The ULTIMA machine.
  • Large Ham: Jean and Phyllis are two juicy slices of utter ham.
  • Last of His Kind: In the far future, pollution destroys all life on Earth except for the Ancient One.
  • Les Yay: Jean and Phyllis, with each other and to a lesser extent with Ace.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Ace realises that Kathleen is her grandmother.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Ace twice gives the villains the key piece of information they need to advance the plot.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Or rather, Alien-Viking-Fish-Vampires.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: The story is set in and around a military base in northern England but most of the cast make no effort to sound northern; possibly justified as below, in that most of the action is set at a military base which wouldn't necessarily be populated by people from the local area. Jean and Phyllis in the script are also supposed to lose their London accents after they get vampirised but on screen they continue to sound as if they've just come from the set of Grange Hill.
  • Ominous Fog
  • Oop North: Meant to be set in northern England, although few, if any, of the guest cast try to sound northern. Faintly justified in that it's mostly set on a naval base during World War II; plenty of possibility for none of the sailors and marines stationed there to be from the local area. A lot of the characters aren't locals - Millington, Judson; even the Reverend Wainwright's distinctly non-Northern accent could be explained by him having gone to public school and learning to speak proper, like.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Besides acting more like zombies than vampires, Haemovores can be blocked by a psychic barrier created by one's faith.
  • Out of Order: This was intended to be shown before "Ghost Light", so that Ace telling Kathleen about her fear of haunted houses would have been Foreshadowing.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The Doctor's habit of not telling anyone else what's going on comes back to bite him big time.
  • The Radio Dies First: Enforced
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The eyes of every person Fenric takes over turn red.
  • Shoot the Dog / Break Her Heart To Save Her / "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The Doctor tells Fenric that he only took Ace in because he knew Fenric's curse was inside her, all while insulting Ace and making her cry. He had a good reason, but ouch.
  • Shown Their Work: 1940s computing is surprisingly accurately shown, and so are most of the details of period cryptanalysis. German cryptography really did depend on rotors, as shown, and the rotor diagram on Judson's blackboard is extremely simple but essentially accurate. On the other hand, translation of an ancient script is not "decryption", and the Prisoner's Dilemma name-checked by the Doctor and Judson in part 1 is not an algorithm but a well-known problem in game theory.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Exploding chess sets.
  • The Scottish Trope: "Let the chains of Fenric shatter."
  • Sealed Evil in a Can
  • Stable Time Loop: Ace causes her own existence by sending her mother and grandmother to London.
  • Temporary Love Interest: Sorin is Ace's love interest for about...30 minutes.
  • Those Two Girls: Jean and Phyllis. They don't really do much, at least not while they're alive.
  • Three-Month-Old Newborn: Audrey (who is played by a baby BOY)
  • To Know Him I Must Become Him: Millington has his office decorated with Nazi emblems and furnishings as a means towards this trope.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Both the British and Soviet forces know that Haemovores are running around the area and killing people. Clearly, the logical thing to do is start attacking each other. In defence of the British, they're commanded by Millington, who is quite quite mad.
  • Underwater Ruins: An ancient Viking ship sucks Viking descendants down into the water, killing them and turning them into Haemovores when the curse activates.
  • The Virus
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ace lets the Doctor have it (several times) for concealing vital plot-related information from her. In particular after she accidentally tells Judson how to release Fenric.
  • World War Two: Russian soldiers! The ENIGMA machine! Military bases! Nazis are absent, though.
    • However there is a massive portrait of Hitler in Millington's office.
  • The X of Y


  1. That would be Alan Turing and the ENIGMA machine.
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