Donna: It's weird, but... being with you, I can't tell what's right and what's wrong anymore.
Doctor: It's better that way. People who know for certain tend to be like Mr Halpen.
The Doctor and Donna land on a gorgeous snowy world — your favourite alpine vistas, cranked up to 11
—somewhere in the distant future. It is the Oodsphere, home planet of the Ood, the apparently willing slave race we first met in "The Impossible Planet
"/"The Satan Pit
All is not well on the Oodsphere. Ood Operations, the Ood suppliers to the galaxy, are sitting on a disturbing fact: Ood everywhere have been going berserk and killing their masters. The only symptom is that the Ood's eyes will turn red just before it snaps.
The Doctor and Donna sneak off to interview some Ood, but the only hint the Ood themselves can give is that "the circle must be broken"note
. The Doctor and Donna discover, to their horror and disgust, that the process that wild Ood undergo to turn them into slave Oods is... lobotomy. The communication orb isn't just an addition to their bodies: it's a replacement
for their second, external brain. The Doctor gently connects to Donna telepathically and makes her hear the collective mind-song of those Ood that are still intact.
But even the unaltered Ood are being restrained somehow — something is holding back their song. That's when they come across the third
brain of the collective Ood consciousness, a giant mass imprisoned in a ring of machinery and electricity — the circle which must be broken.
They save the Ood using the tried and trusted method of blowing things up
, hear their Song Of Freedom, and receive in return a cryptic message about the Doctor's song ending soon.
- Batman Gambit: Ood Sigma's "hair tonic".
- Body Horror: Halpen's "hair tonic" turning him into an Ood. His hair and scalp peel away revealing an Ood head, and tentacles spill out of his mouth, followed by a brain.
- Call Back: The destruction of the circle around the third brain is very similar to a scene from the classic series.
- Chekhov's Gun: The drinks Mr Halpen keeps knocking back are blatantly going to bite him somehow. Boy, do they ever.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive
- Continuity Nod: Oodsphere being in the same system as Sensphere, home-world of the Sensorites.
- Distressed Dude: The Doctor tied to a pole.
- Fantastic Racism: Emphasised by the fact that the whip-happy slave overseer is a black guy, and the PR representative who is tasked with justifying slavery to the audience is Indian.
- Foreshadowing: The Ood refer to the Doctor and Donna collectively as the Doctor-Donna. It takes the rest of the series for the Doctor to figure it out, but when he does, he thinks it's all quite clever.
- Happiness in Slavery: Subverted after being set up way back in "The Impossible Planet".
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Mr Halpen is Percy/Captain Darling!
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The overseer who tries to gas the Ood ends up being the only victim of the gas.
- Ignored Epiphany: The PR representative.
- Improperly Placed Firearms: Guards with M4s and a guy with a PPK; in the 42nd Century. Though it is currently believed that small arms have hit a peak where making them any more powerful would make them uncontrollable.
- Karmic Death: The PR rep is zapped after rejecting the Doctor's offer to stop the injustice against the Ood, and the overseer is gassed to death with the same gas he tried to use on the ood.
- Karmic Transformation: Halpen.
- Long Speech Tea Time: Donna's first impression of the Oodsphere is that it's freezing. The Doctor encourages her be more awestruck by the setting, consider how last week she was in Chiswick just getting up, working, coming home, watching telly and going to bed and now she's travelling across space and time to land on alien worlds... then finds she's gone back into the TARDIS to get a coat.
- Ma'am Shock: Inverted — Donna reacts to being called Miss. "Why do you say Miss; do I look single?"
- Never Trust a Hair Tonic: Mr Halpen's hair tonic... isn't.
- Pet the Dog: Despite his attitude towards the Ood at large and his general asshattery, Halpen seems to be genuinely quite fond of Ood Sigma for most of the episode.
- Railing Kill: When Dr Ryder reveals he's a Friend of the Ood, Halpen pushes him over the rail and into the Ood brain.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning
- Retro Rocket: Of a similar design to the one from the last Ood episode. Donna approves ("You've got a box, he's got a Ferrari!").
- Reverse Mole: Dr Ryder.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: "Pleased to meet you, Doctor Noble, Mrs Noble."
- Shout-Out: The "comedy classic" Ood is programmed to say "D'oh!" when it drops something.
- We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future
- The X of Y
- Zerg Rush: A perpetual favourite of berserk Ood.
There's a better / home a-waitin' / In the sky, Lord, in the sky