Recap / Big Finish Doctor Who 070 Unregenerate

This episode takes place right after "Time And The Rani", and is notable for inspiring "The Doctor's Wife".

The story begins with the Seventh Doctor locked in a mental asylum known as the Klyst Institute, having seemingly gone stark raving mad. He's babbling like a small child and very confused about the whole situation. His fellow inmates are people from a wide variety of different races, all of which were lifted from their regular lives just hours before they were supposed to have died: at some point in their lives, they all signed consent forms to be experimented on after their deaths, and although most of them thought it was just an odd joke, even the ones who took it seriously never had this sort of thing in mind.

Following prerecorded instructions from the Doctor, Mel hires a cabbie and follows Louis, one of the asylum's "recruiters," across town as he picks up his newest test subject - an old man by the name of Johannes Rausch, who last met this particular recruiter back in 1957 and is understandably taken aback to discover that Louis doesn't appear to have aged since then. Following the two back to the asylum, Mel and the Cabbie team up to infiltrate the building - which they manage with a little help from the TARDIS - but not before discovering that the building is just a fake and the real asylum appears to be underground.

After some creeping around, Mel and the Cabbie bump into an escaping inmate - a compound creature named Shokhra, an organic gestalt with no less than six consciousnesses. With his help, they eventually find the Doctor (who they take with them) and Johannes (who remains behind, firmly convinced that he's suffering from Alzheimer's). Chased by guards, they are forced to flee into an airlock and barely have enough time to put on the pressure suits provided before discovering that the Klyst Institute isn't underground at all, but is actually a Space Station somewhere beyond the Solar System. Elsewhere, Johannes is taken away by the guards for experimentation; moments after the first procedure is completed, he awakens in a screaming fit and attempts to tear his own face off. More disturbingly, it's remarked that Johannes himself is "gone."

After making their way back inside, Mel and the others are unexpectedly rescued from an incoming guard ambush by Professor Klyst, the chief researcher. She explains that the Doctor had successfully infiltrated the asylum and realised that the institute had been specifically established in order to transfer specifically-generated minds into new bodies. Unfortunately, this process overwrites the minds of the host boides, effectively destroying their identities - as was the case with Johannes; doubly unfortunately, the new minds cannot stand their new bodies, and all of them have been driven insane as a result. Indeed, this is the very reason why the Doctor ended up in his current condition: still suffering from regeneration trauma and firmly grasping hold of the Idiot Ball, he attempted to tamper with Klyst's machinery - but only ended up accidentally transferring one of the consciousnesses into his own mind, leaving his own personality crushed and slowly overwritten by the new tenant.

Fortunately, as it turns out, the Doctor's TARDIS has been able to provide symbiotic assistance and keep the new mind from going completely insane. In the meantime, Shokhra is able provide further aid by absorbing the Doctor's mind and body into himself for a while to share the burden of having an anguished mind roaming about inside them. At this point, however, the guards arrive and very nearly kill Shokhra in their attempts to recapture him, and in the confusion, Louis is fatally wounded... only to regenerate into a new form. Louis is a Time Lord, as are Klyst and all the other scientists at the asylum.

As it turns out, the Klyst Institute is an initiative created by the Gallifreyan Celestial Intervention Agency: fearing the threat posed by competing time travelers, they wanted to establish a race of time-sensitive individuals capable of infiltrating the societies that would eventually develop space/time travel. This way, if any cultures advanced enough to endanger Gallifreyan superiority, the CIA would simply have their infiltrators destroy their enemies from within. As such, the specifically-generated minds were actually the consciousnesses of infant TARDISes who have been removed from their developing bodies and deposited in the computer system, while the host bodies prepared for them were individuals who would have died on the day after their recruitment, ensuring that the Web of Time would not be disrupted by their part in the project. However, all of the experiments so far have been failures, since no species can properly contain a TARDIS consciousness without driving the new mind insane.

Elsewhere, Johannes unexpectedly awakens from sedation, seemingly much more lucid than before. Breaking out of the Institute, he arrives back on Earth and immediately makes a beeline for the Doctor's TARDIS - who he seems to recognize as a friend.

Back at the asylum, the Doctor has been restored to sanity, but unfortunately almost immediately ends up getting captured by the guards. With Klyst having long since given up on the entire experiment as a ghastly failure, security coordinator Rigun takes over, intending to have the Doctor sent back to Gallifrey and Mel and the Cabbie mind-wiped. However, the newly-regenerated Louis decides to conduct the interrogations himself, unwittingly giving Mel an opportunity to get under his skin by playing on his doubts over the project and his concern for Rigun. However, even with Louis changing sides, the odds are still stacked against them.

However, the sudden arrival of Johannes turns the tide in their favor: having been stabilized by the soothing influence of the Doctor's TARDIS, the new mind in Johannes' body has been able to adjust perfectly, and immediately leads an attack on the Institute with the aim of freeing his brothers and sisters from Time Lord captivity. Ultimately, the new Time-Sensitive proves too much for the guards to ward off; combined with a little intimidating gunfire from the Cabbie and Louis' sudden betrayal, the CIA are forced to evacuate the base - Louis stunning Rigun and dragging her away for good measure.

However, that still leaves a whole lot of baby TARDIS minds stored inside the asylum's inmates, going mad with the agony of being inside a flesh body. There's also a considerable amount of TARDISes still stored inside the computer system. Realizing that she can't afford to let the CIA begin the experiments again and that she herself represents the biggest source of information on the project, Klyst decides to make a Heroic Sacrifice by letting the TARDIS mind trapped in Shokhra take over her own body — the overwriting process immediately destroying all knowledge of the experiment, so that even the Time Lord mind probe experts could never retrieve the data.

The young TARDIS is much more at home in a Time Lord body than in any other species, and with some mentoring from the Doctor's TARDIS, she's soon able to feel relatively stable in her new form. She and Johannes decide to stay behind on the base to take care of the other TARDIS children and restore them all to sanity, with the Cabbie deciding to remain behind and help as well while they prepare to take the former asylum far beyond the reach of the Time Lords.