With only one week left to go, our friends at Doctor Who pieced together a lovely bit of storytelling when they brought back our old friends Craig and Sophie for “Closing Time.” Come along, readers, there are mysteries to solve.
Even being one of those jaded people who is nearly 100% convinced they’re not going to kill off The Doctor, the way these episodes are playing out has me a little worried. It’s not often I find a show good enough to get me to rend my garments, this little British gem does it every time.
On Saturday we traveled with the Doctor (or IS he?) to visit his former roommate, Craig, who you’ll remember from one of the better episodes in the first season, “The Lodger.” Craig and his special lady friend Sophie are now living together in a freestanding home with no aliens, but they do have an adorable baby, Alfie. Who calls himself Stormageddon, but only when he’s talking to the Doctor, who can translate baby. The Doctor has dropped in on his farewell tour, and has plans only to stay for a short span, before a series of compelling and mysterious events lead him to stick around and investigate, with the help of Craig and Stormageddon, I mean Alfie.
Sopie has gone away for a weekend holiday, and Craig has insisted to everyone the couple knows that he’s perfectly capable of taking care of Alfie on his own. The Doctor shows up just in time to almost get them both killed, or protect them both from being killed, depending on how you view the story.
I am a big fan of pairing up Eleven and Craig, because Craig does such an excellent job of showing us exactly how weird our good Doctor is. When he’s all busy being a hero to Amy and Rory, and a goofy paramour to River, it’s easy to forget that he’s alien. Standing next to Craig, not so much.
The Doctor arrives just in time, as Craig thinks he’s rubbish at being a dad, and can’t make wee Alfie stop crying. The Doctor quickly translates that Alfie misses his mom, thinks both Craig and the Doctor are “not mum” and everyone else is “peasants.” Babies’ deceptive cuteness blinds us to their tyrannical tendencies. Eleven shushes Alfie, and later Craig, and his shushing is powerful, rendering both of them speechless, temporarily.
The mystery that keeps the Doctor around is causing both temporary power fluctuations and strange disappearances from the mall. We’re already privy to the fact the mall is crawling with Cybermen, who appear to be snatching up mall workers from the dressing rooms. Instead of leaving, the Doctor gets a job in the toy department at the center of the action. If Eleven couldn’t be a trans-dimensional time traveler in a little blue box, toy shop curator would be his second choice, I’m pretty sure.
Craig and the Doctor take a broken elevator, which is in fact a disguised teleport to a rather struggling Cybermen ship. The Doctor tries to distract Craig by declaring his love and nearly kissing him. Craig turns around anyway, and sees that they are no longer in the shop. The Doctor sonics an oncoming Cyberman just in time, and they’re teleported back to the shop.
Eleven tries to send Craig and the baby on his way, but Craig assumes the safest place to stand is right next to the Doctor, because the Doctor always wins. They head to the mall to do a little Scoobying. The Doctor discovers that there is a silver, robotic rat wandering the store, Craig gets himself in a bit of trouble when he starts asking questions in the ladies’ underpinnings department. The Doctor smooths things over for him, and learns that another person has disappeared from the dressing rooms. They investigate, and find the Cybermen’s secret door.
Later, the Doctor sees Amy and Rory, when a little girl asks Amy for her autograph. As it turns out, Amy is now the face of Petricio perfume, “for the girl who’s tired of waiting.” I’m assuming this will be important later, but for now it’s just confusing.
The boys manage to capture the Cyber rat, which I think the Doctor calls a Cybermat, but don’t quote me. It’s like a metal fish thing, with a deceptively cute face, which masks a big honking set of teeth. They take it back to base, which is Craig’s house. Craig darts out to get some milk from the market, leaving Alfie with the Doctor. When Alfie starts crying, the Doctor comforts him and is adorable. The Cybercritter sneaks up on them, and they run. Well, the Doctor runs, Alfie is along for the ride. They get themselves locked out of the house while fleeing, with the sonic screwdriver on the wrong side of the door. Craig comes home just then and ends up battling with the Cybercritter. The Doctor bundles Alfie up and puts him in his swing, then dives through the glass patio door to save Craig. The both fight the critter, but the Doctor prevails, hitting him with the right combination of sonic magic to kill it for real this time. Later on that evening, the Doctor tells Craig that he’s supposed to die the next day, but Craig has fallen asleep on the couch.
When Craig wakes up, he finds a note (In the Doctor’s amazing handwriting. I notice these things.) telling him goodbye. Craig isn’t having it, and goes off to the mall to help the Doctor. Craig gives Alfie to a nice shop lady, and heads to the dressing rooms/Cyber ship to help. Unfortunately, the Doctor has already gotten himself captured, and the Cybermen quickly overtake Craig and declare him as the new leader in their fight against mankind, as soon as they turn him into a Cyberman. It almost works, too, but CyberCraig hears baby Alfie crying and blows up the whole ship. With love.
Back at his house, the Doctor has jumped back and forth in time to tidy up Craig’s house before Sophie comes home. He, Craig and Alfie have a proper goodbye, and Eleven borrows a stack of TARDIS blue envelopes. (We know what those are for!) The Doctor sneaks out seconds before Sophie returns, to a spotless house and a brand new Craig. Alfie also speaks his first word, “Doctor.”
For the last few minutes of the show, we jump way forward in time, to the place where River has just been made a Dr. all her own. She’s studying the Doctor, and is approached by our old friend, Nanny TighPatch, who introduces River to her “owners”: a pair of Silence, and tells her it’s time to get to killing the Doctor and fulfilling her destiny. The force her into an astronaut suit, and we see her floating to the surface of Dead Doctor Beach. Was anyone shocked at this reveal? I feel like this twist has been pretty obvious since the crash of the Byzantium.
One more episode this season, although we won’t have long to wait before the big Holiday special, I’ll be right here, next week, to talk all about it. The episode’s title: “The Wedding of River Song.”
Maybe we’ll find out the answers to a couple of mysteries next week, hm?