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.
- Abhorrent Admirer: Iris is this to the Doctor. She claims she doesn't find Six all that appealing, though. He seems a bit put down by this.
- Added Alliterative Appeal
- Ambiguously Gay: Henry.
- Apocalyptic Log
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The German accents in this episode are pretty terrible.
- Bad-Guy Bar
- Brainwashed and Crazy: A speciality of the worms, although the Anti Faction are more focused on the "crazy" part of the trope. Their victims include the Doctor, Iris (at least twice over), and even Bianca.
- Booze-Based Buff: The house special at Bianca's grants the worms influence over those that drink it, acting as a booster circuit of sorts. However, as the shadows are the worms' displaced futures, the buff works for them too, allowing them to possess the patrons of the bar.
- Call Back: The Doctor mentions recently having been the potential vessel for an evil entity.
- Camp Gay: Allis & Ballis (both played by the same actor).
- Clingy Jealous Girl
- Compelling Voice: Bianca.
- Designated Girl Fight
- Dirty Old Woman
- Dragon with an Agenda
- Drowning My Sorrows
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Doctor is forced to use one to seal off the wormholes running to and from Bianca's; emphasis on kaboom.
The Doctor: "Kaboom's as apt a word as any to describe it, were painted on an awning a million miles long and a billion miles high!"
- Evilutionary Biologist: A species of evil worm like creatures with psionic powers wish all other species to evolve to become like them.
- Fun with Acronyms
- Future Me Scares Me: Bianca is Iris' own personal Valeyard.
- The shadows to the worms as well, enough that the two factions unite to avoid risks.
- Glamorous Wartime Singer: Bianca (though a few years before the war would break out properly).
- The Glomp: The Doctor mentions he's usually on the receiving end of these from Iris.
- Hearing Voices
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Fans of Channel4 show Eurotrash may recognise Bianca's voice as that of voiceover lady Maria McErlane.
- Kick the Dog: Henry started as a companion of Bianca, and his tinkerings with her TARDIS allowed much of her plans to come to pass; however, as her plans come closer to fruition, her ego gets the better of her.
- The Dog Bites Back: This makes it all the more easy for Henry to usurp her plan for himself, and the shadows.
- Lady Drunk: Practically anyone with two X chromosomes in this story (and most with one), though the award goes to Iris for fainting mid conversation, waking up, and then repeating the act three times in short order.
- Mickey's an odd variant; though she mentions at the start of the audio that she had been drinking while on the job (as was practically everyone else), later on she mentions she never touched the house special.
- Leitmotif: Iris' song from this episode later became her theme tune in her own spinoff series.
- Left the Background Music On
- Living Shadow: An alien species in cohorts with Henry.
- Mad Oracle: The shadows act as them, speaking in song lyrics and with lyrical voices while knowing what the worms would do to a T. Considering that they were what the worms would become, it makes sense they'd know how the worms would act. They still need Henry to act for them, however, and to discover the knowledge they need from the patrons.
- Magic Music
- Measuring the Marigolds: Back on Gallifrey, the First Doctor once wrote a paper dissecting the concept of love on a neurological level, proving that the whole idea is nothing but chemicals. His teacher gave him a rubbish grade and told him he'd missed the point.
- Mission from God: Iris is on one. So's Bianca.
- Miss Kitty
- Mysterious Past: Six tells Iris he actually went and checked the record on Gallifrey to see if she's even a Time Lady to begin with. There's no mention of her anywhere. Counts as a bit of a Mythology Gag, since Iris originated in a series of wildly unrelated non-genre novels before becoming a Doctor Who character.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Henry's plan was going so well, with Iris and Bianca singing together and ready to spread the shadows throughout the cosmos. Unfortunately, he had the bad form to brag about this to Bianca and Iris; though Bianca brushed it off, it brought Iris down enough that she had the sense to actually stop singing.
- No Body Left Behind: Henry fades away like a shadow.
- No Indoor Voice: Iris.
- Not So Different: The Doctor and Iris. Bianca is even her version of the Valeyard. The Doctor complains about plagarism when he discovers this.
- Ominous Floating Building: Bianca's floats in SPACE.
- Only Sane Woman: Mickey, full stop. It helps that she hasn't been drinking the house special like near every other character, and thus isn't being influenced by any of the parties who use it.
- Order Versus Chaos: The Pro Faction and the Anti Faction of the worms; the distinction is lost by the last quarter simply so they can survive.
- Our Wormholes Are Different: Especially when paired with psychic worms.
- Painting the Medium: Most of the audio is presented by two characters listening to various audio tapes, with the recordings made from microphones planted in Bianca's. Naturally, considering what happened to Bianca's in the end and their age,, when some of the tapes prove to be broken or stretched, causing certain segments to be cut away from to fix the break or skipped over entirely, Mickey providing exposition concerning the missing details.
- Psychic Powers
- Remember When You Collapsed A Star System: Alice and Ballis' methods of temporal-spacial stability have a few kinks to work out.
- Replacement Goldfish: Apparently, after Jo left the Third Doctor, he asked Iris to become his companion for a while. Iris interpreted it as a marriage proposal. Three promptly retracted the offer.
- Sequel Episode: To The Ultimate Foe.
- Shout-Out: At one point the Doctor is asked what's so bad about getting drunk. His reply?
- Squee: Iris lets out one after the first two words of this sentence from the Doctor;
The Doctor: I propose...
The Doctor: ...a small campaign of action.
- Slipping a Mickey
- Smoking Is Glamorous: Fittingly applied to Bianca, being a beautiful cabaret singer and all. Iris, the one she got the habit from, is...decidedly not as glamorous.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: Bianca's bar is caught up in one, by virtue of sitting on a nexus point. It allows the Doctor's TARDIS to land inside of it without causing a timeram (by both occupying all spacial coordinates and none at the same time), as well as to open up wormholes to all times and places. This is also what causes its downfall, as when the nexus is sealed off the bar ends up as a pile of rubble and not ever really having existed. The tapes and Mickey's memories are all that are left of the place.
- Theme Twin Naming
- Those Wacky Nazis
- Time Crash: Bianca's bar is a TARDIS, and it would have caused one of these if it hadn't been for Henry's modifications. The Doctor causes one to keep events from spiralling too far out of control.
- Tomboyish Name
- Visual Pun: The Doctor's entrance involves one.
- Wham Line: A very sneaky one, because one needs to recognise the voice actor in order to get the joke. The final line of the episode is Mr. Ashcroft finally speaking, telling Mickey that he'll take care of the tapes. (He's the Seventh Doctor.)
- The World Is Always Doomed: Invoked Trope.
- You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Mickey uses some of the Doctor's Techno Babble to explain what happened in the end being a load of jargon, but on a human level it seemed like Stuff Blowing Up.