Recap: Big Finish Doctor Who 051 The Wormery

Mickey, a former barmaid, tells the story of Bianca's: a 1930's Berlin cabaret dive where the truth really could be found at the bottom of a glass. Since the entire bar was bugged for the titular Bianca's entertainment, anything said by anyone who entered the bar was recorded. Now, decades later, she digs out the tapes from behind a few bottles and plays them for a mysterious stranger, Mr. Ashcroft...

The TARDIS parks the Sixth Doctor in the basement of Bianca's, where he proceeds to enjoy the booze, try and take his mind off his recent trial, and bump into a supremely drunk Iris Wildthyme. Iris claims to be on a mission, which involves getting so drunk on the local tequila that she starts to hear voices.

Six quickly discovers that the bar isn't just a dive, but a structure cannibalised from an old TARDIS, built on a temporal nexus point. Bianca's plan is to connect its exits to as many times and places in the universe as possible. That way, Bianca claims, she can make the entire world enjoy her Glamorous Wartime Singer career. The Doctor and Iris notice a few more things about the bar that are disctinctly off: people have more than one shadow, Iris feels suspiciously at home in the strange place, Bianca has some of Iris' clothing in her wardrobe, two renowned temporal engineers (Allis & Ballis) are hanging out at the bar and acting shifty, the Doctor is suddenly madly in love with Bianca (to Iris' great distress), and Bianca's makeup kit has a talking space worm in it.

Bianca's accomplice, Henry, gets Iris to do the big musical number at midnight. She does a fine job, but her singing merges with the voices in her head and sends the bar patrons into a violent frenzy. Iris discovers that the voices are caused by the worms, and amplified through the tequila distilled by the bar: the worms have two opposing factions, one trying to unite the universe with order through Bianca, the other with chaos through Iris. The worms are mighty creatures whose power comes from resisting all evolution and staying as biologically simple as possible.

Once confronted, Bianca tries to hypnotise the Doctor into murdering Iris, and nearly succeeds. The Doctor realises why: Bianca is Iris' very own Valeyard, Iris' future self who plans to steal Iris' remaining regenerations by killing her. And the bar isn't just a TARDIS... it's what's left of Iris' TARDIS. Not sure whether to feel sorry for Iris or be upset about her copying his whole life again, the Doctor tries to come up with a plan. But before he can get around to saving the day, the opposing factions of worms convince Iris and Bianca to do a big musical number together, supposedly in order to combine order and chaos and bring balance to the universe that way. Henry's proven himself too sneaky to ignore, as are the shadows in his employ, and the song is meant to combat him while mitigating any risks. The shadow creatures are the potential of the worms' evolutionary cycle; in a way, a sort of Valeyard to the worms, the dark essence of what they refused to become, and are possessing people to try and gain a semblence of life for themselves. Unfortunately, this also means that the song the worms will unleash will merely help the shadows spread throughout the universe, which is exactly what the shadows were aiming for to begin with.

With events coming to too high a crescendo, the Doctor rushes Mickey and himself into his TARDIS, and has Iris get everyone down into the cellar. As Iris and the other patrons destroy the bottles of booze and the worms within, the Doctor timerams the bar and causes a massive explosion, which also seals off the Negative Space Wedgie Bianca had been harnessing. The end result leaves Bianca's an utter wreck, with all the patrons, shadows and worms back in their proper places in time, the whole thing something that never properly existed. Henry fades away like a shadow and Bianca disappears in the rubble of her bar, potentially ready to come back and try again against Iris. Mickey is left with a rudimentary Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory and a whole lot of tapes pulled out from the rubble - all that is left to prove Bianca's ever existed.

Her mysterious listener, Mr. Ashcroft, speaks up for the first time in this story and promises to take care of the recordings. He's the Seventh Doctor.

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