The Eighth Doctor narrates.
He finally takes Charley to her romantic rooftop rendezvous
: Singapore, New Years' Eve 1930. While she's off partying with her date, Alexander Grayle, the Doctor meets a man who hates him — Sebastian Grayle. This rather conceited man claims to have killed the Doctor in his own personal future. He also informs the Doctor that they're currently in an alternate timeline, and that the Time Lords have long since been replaced in this timeline by a much more powerful race.
The Doctor manages to get the TARDIS out of the alternate timeline with relatively little effort, and deduces that Charley's date is Sebastian Grayle's relative. With a Grayle tissue sample extracted from her mouth, they set out to track down Sebastian Grayle through history. For once, they actually plan ahead, and after three weeks of research, they end up in Roman Britain. Grayle, an aspiring priest of Mithras
, makes first contact with his masters, and disrupts a ceremony celebrating the legendary slaying of the bull. The Doctor decides he's got a licence to meddle with time today (what with the alternate timeline and all) and evacuates the temple with the help of a friendly British Roman priest named Lucillius. Charley steals an iron holy sword from the temple and takes it along. (Also, there's a Dalek, but that's not important just yet
Charley wonders whether the Doctor thwarting Grayle's plans is what will cause him to kill the Doctor in the first place. The Doctor tells her not to think about it too hard, because her brain would turn into a spiral staircase and she'd get lost trying to climb it, then tells Charley an old Gallifreyan nursery rhyme
Zagreus sits inside your head,
Zagreus lives among the dead,
Zagreus sees you in your bed,
And eats you when you're sleeping.
Grayle's next contact with his masters is set during Edward the Confessor's reign, albeit an Alternate History
version. Grayle has taken The Slow Path
and is not
pleased to see the Doctor. Neither is the very clever political genius Edith Swan-Neck (quite happily playing The Beard
to her friend Edward in this timeline), who it turns out was once engaged to the Doctor before he hastily ran away and left her at the altar. Edward, however, turns out be the Doctor's close friend, and they stop Grayle's plans (involving shiploads of plutonium) in this era using the holy temple sword.
Their third stop is with a conman in Regency England
, posing as Richard Martin, and his supposed daughter Lucy. Their con mark Grayle — Lucy's fiancee — is now several times older than the Doctor. When confronted, Grayle kills "Richard" and tries to sacrifice Lucy to his masters, and opens up a time portal which spits out a giant metallic egg. The Doctor finally puts all the pieces together. Bulls, horned artifacts, one loyal follower, human sacrifice... it's the Nimons
Retreating into the TARDIS, the Doctor makes a fake Heroic Sacrifice
and lets himself and the aliens get sucked into the time vortex without protection. He's able to steer them to Roman Britain, where he falls out of the sky in front of his friend Lucillius... about an hour before he'll have met Lucillius the first time around. The Doctor pretends to be a messenger of Mithras, and Lucillius mobilises an army to kill all the aliens using the iron temple sword. The Doctor, meanwhile, hastily visits Grayle, moments before Grayle pledges his life to his masters, and convinces him (with the help of some of future Grayle's gold) to lead a virtuous life instead. When future Grayle barges in on them (thanks to the TARDIS' fast return switch), original Grayle is horrified to see what he'll become, and murders his future self.
The timeline restores itself as best as it can, Lucy is taken home, "Richard" is alive again, and all's well that ends well, except a being with Charley's appearance shows up and eats Lucy and "Richard"
.As for all those continuity errors...
- Accidental Marriage: "I must have mumbled..."
- Action Dress Rip
".. Oh my."
- Alternate Timeline: Edith Swan-Neck was the consort of Harold Godwinesson, not Edward the Confessor. It was a different Edith, Edith of Wessex, that was Edward's wife. Benjamin Franklin is mentioned as an American President when he never was. This actually becomes relevant as it is a sign of the damage the Anti-Time has done to the Web of Time, and foreshadowes the Anti-Time Crisis.
- Altum Videtur: Peppered in the speech of the people in the Roman era.
- Bat out of Hell
- Bigger on the Inside
Grayle: "Quite spacious."
- Blood Magic: The Romans sacrifice what, we hope, are animals.
- Blue and Orange Morality: What is morality to an immortal?
- Brick Joke
Charley: "Another mouse?"
- Call Back: To the most famous line from the Nimons' first appearance: "WEAKLING SCUM!"
- Clarke's Third Law: A Dalek shows up, randomly, and gets mistaken for a Demon.
- In fact a lot of the story seeps in this. The Nimon being vanquished by Plutonium based weaponry created some Greek Myths.
- Comically Missing the Point: Doctor.
- Complete Immortality: Sebastian Grayle.
- Though the Doctor does say that after 750 years Grayle is showing signs of ageing round the eyes. Being a Time Lord, he notices this more.
- Con Man: The Doctor's not Charley's papa And neither is Martin Lucy's.
- Continuity Nod: The Doctor initially thinks that Grayle must be confusing him for some other Time Lords, and explains that "I'm not the one that says you must obey me, I don't meddle, and I'm not a glamorous woman at the moment." These are references to the Master, the Monk, and the Rani.
- The TARDIS' fast return switch makes another appearance.
- The Hellfire club gets referenced.
- Deal with the Devil: Grayle with the Nimon, who are even called demons. The way he is siding with the supposed enemies of his God further emphasises this.
- Disney Villain Death: Grayle falls off a cliff in Dark Age Europe.
- Ditzy Genius: Eight is really on a roll in this episode. When first confronted by Grayle, he thinks Grayle seems a pretty nice chap and offers him his hat. When Charley says she looks forward to more nice period dresses, Eight tells her it would be a look a bit conspicuous on him.
- Duel to the Death
- Evil Gloating: Sebastian has his Masters reinstert an old timeline so he can face the Doctor and gloat.
- Exact Words: "A banquet to remember."
- Faking the Dead: Edith
- Fed to the Beast
- Foreshadowing: The first part of the adventure mentions the Minotaur and Demon Bulls quite a bit.
- Also, there's a Dalek. And the Zagreus rhyme.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Sebastian Grayle goes from a poor Roman Decurion to an utterly evil figure over a thousand years old who is helping aliens conquer the world.
- Future Me Scares Me: To the point where Grayle kills his future self.
Past-Grayle: He was... e-evil. The worst kind of man. I couldn't let him kill you. How I could turn into that- that thing? No honour, no love, no humanity...
- Go Look at the Distraction
- Gorgeous Period Dress
- Happily Married: King Edward and Queen Edith.
- Have We Met Yet?: The Doctor to Grayle when they meet in the faked Singapore.
- He asks it again when meeting him in the Roman era, just to make sure.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: The Doctor shouting: "GERONIMOOOOOO!!"
- A Roman soldier living for hundreds of years while time is being torn apart.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Plutonium kill the Nimon.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: The Masters.
- Human Sacrifice: Grayle is more than willing to kill off any amount of people to achieve his goals for his Masters.
- I Am A Humanitarian: The Nimon
- And what the hell ate Lucy and Martin at the end
- I Ain't Got Time to Bleed
- I Love Nuclear Power:: Grayle tries to kill off Queen Edith and King Edward with Plutonium necklaces, as well as a larger part of soldiers with false equipment.
- I'm Mr. Future Pop Culture Reference: Charley promises to teach the queen the Charleston once she's in Bruges.
- Indy Ploy
- Lady Macbeth: Edith.
- Let's Mock the Monsters: The Doctor mocks the Nimon quite extensively when they first show up, mainly because they're nearly powerless and need equipment that Martin had stolen.
- Mayfly-December Romance: Grayle had 12.
- Mr. Fanservice: Even in a sound-only medium, Paul McGann still manages to lose his shirt. Twice. It's lampshaded. Also, according to Charley, Eight just naturally smells like honey.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Gralae sees Grayle and can't understand drove him to this.
- Narrator: The Doctor narrates a large part of the story. To someone else than the audience.
- Nice Hat: The Doctor wears one when leaving the TARDIS.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: See Sequel Hook
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: By creating the new timeline, the Doctor can escape it, and undo the damage Sebastian caused.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Grayle acquires this.
- No Immortal Inertia: The Doctor has a blade which saps Grayle's immortality, and he says the years would "act their vengeance".
- Not So Different: An heroic inversion. The Doctor tries at one point to convince Grayle to give up his plot by pointing out how alike him and the younger Grayle was and they could have been friends under other circumstances.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Discussed. Charley asks the Doctor if he's going to use his usual tactic of acting like an idiot until people talk. He claims he has no idea what she's talking about.
- Outlaw Couple: Lucy and Martin.
- Outrun the Fireball: Leads to the first cliffhanger.
- Painting the Medium: When the Nimons finally appear in the third act, the Doctor asks them if they'd like to introduce themselves or if he should do the honours. It stretches the anticipation just a little further, leading to a magnificent reveal.
- Pride Before a Fall: The Doctor says this is the case of Sebastian Grayle in the Renaissance era.
Charley: "I don't know what's a Cretan Urn."
Doctor: "Less than a Grecian."
- Puppet King: Edward, at first. Before he married Edith.
- Regency England: Charley very happily bluffs her way through its social niceties, using her extensive knowledge of Jane Austen dialogue. The Doctor just groans.
- The Roman Empire: Roman Britain is the first stop for the Doctor and Charley while tracking down Grayle.
- Rubber-Band History
- Running Gag:
- Sarcasm Mode: Charley and the Doctor are in a dungeon. The Doctor tells her to cheer up, and goes "Oh look, there's a mouse!"
Charley: "...I'm deeply cheered."
- Sequel Hook: Who is the Doctor narrating to? How did the Doctor create the Temporal Paradox? And what ate Lucy and Richard?
- The Slow Path: Grayle is forced to take it after making a pact with his masters, leaving him several times older than the Doctor.
- Stable Time Loop: Somewhat. The Doctor only went back in time to stop Grayle because Grayle prompted him in an artificial alternate timeline in which the Doctor hadn't even met him yet. Grayle then develops a hatred for him eventually leading to him creating an artificial alternate timeline and oh dear I've gone crosseyed.
- Talking to Himself: Gralae and Grayle.
- Talking Your Way Out
- Tampering with Food and Drink
- Technical Pacifist: The Doctor
- Teleporters and Transporters: The Whoniverse Transmat system returns.
- This Is Reality:
"I can't believe we're actually manacled to a wall. I thought they only did that in cartoons."
- Timey-Wimey Ball: One of the most notorious offenders in the series' long history.
- What makes this more weird is that it's not clear where the Grayle the Doctor first met came from, since the evil Grayle from 1806 was killed by his past self and never lived in a timeline where the Nimons conquered Earth.
- Title Drop:
"My hand wants to reach for my mace and slay you, for all my seasons of fear
- Tricked Out Time
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Grayle considers his masters Gods.
- Supporting Leader: The Doctor is one for most of the story, manipulating time but letting others do the killing. Charley keeps insisting they could save a whole lot of time if he'd just let her do the killing, but he won't have it. He gets very frightened when he realises that he wants to murder Grayle after a while.
- The Unreveal: Why do Grayle's Masters need the machine, why can't they build a spaceship?
The Doctor: "I haven't got a clue."
- Waxing Lyrical:
Charley: Just passing by.
- We Are as Mayflies: Grayle sees everybody as this.
- What Is Evil?: "What is morality to an immortal?"
- When the Planets Align: Every 750 years or so,
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Sebastian Grayle does, hence his bargain with his alien masters. He hates being an immortal human and seeing every woman he loves die, so he's looking for a more ethereal kind of immortality.
- The Doctor admits that he actually pities Grayle in some ways, noticing that where his ability to regenerate allows him to occasionally change his personality and see the world with fresh eyes, Grayle is stuck being the same person forever, trapped in his own thoughts and becoming more and more embittered as the ages passes him by.
- Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Said almost literally by Charley.
The Doctor: (beat)
We do not shoot him.
- Would Hit a Girl: Or rather the future Grayle would kill women. This is used to show how he has changed over the years, which his past self picks up on to realise he has become evil.