Recap: Doctor Who S27 E11 "Boom Town"

aka: Doctor Who NSS 1 E 11 Boom Town
Breath spray. A genuine weapon against the Slitheen.

"What are you captain of? The innuendo squad?"
Mickey (to Jack)

Six months later. The Doctor, Rose, and Jack pop back to 21st-century Cardiff, so that Rose can meet up with Mickey, the TARDIS can refuel from the Cardiff rift, and mischief can generally be gotten into. Also, Jack isn't getting any from Rose, or from the Doctor, which annoys him and amuses everyone else. (But the Doctor merrily flirts with him, which annoys him even more.) Still, our three travellers have bonded together in a way that really irritates Mickey, who is getting a little sick of all the inside jokes and all the flirting with each other that the three of them can cook up.

Mickey's state of mind is understandable, but he's being a bit of a jerk about it — especially uncool since today, the usually dour Ninth Doctor is relaxed and grinning (probably still enjoying his victory from the last episode), and it's a beautiful sight to behold. But perhaps Mickey's not entirely at fault, because ultimately what really harshes the Doctor's mellow is the sight of Margaret the Slitheen (from "Aliens of London" / "World War Three") as the mayor of Cardiff.

Oh, and she's presiding over the final stages of Cardiff's new nuclear power plant, a project she's been shepherding since its inception and which could not possibly go wrong. With all the safeguards and design reviews the power plant has had, for it to get this far it'd have to have been designed to fail! And indeed it is, as Margaret plans to use the inevitable explosion to propel her to anywhere in the universe that isn't Wales. Oh, and it's called "Blaidd Drwg"; Welsh for Bad Wolf. For the first time, the Doctor realises that those words are following them.

The gang chases Margaret, captures her and imprisons her in the TARDIS to await transportation to her home planet, where she's been convicted in absentia and faces the death penalty. She talks the Doctor into taking her out to dinner (using a pair of Jack's Time Agent handcuffs to prevent escape), where she alternates between trying to guilt-trip him and kill him.

She reveals that she's developed human feelings (which is true), that she's been trained to kill all her life (which is true) and that she's now trying to better herself and live in peace forever (which is a filthy lie). The Doctor defeats her by making her stare into the living core of the TARDIS, which causes her to revert to egg form. Problem solved!


  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: In-universe, Mickey is a bit surprised that the TARDIS's disguise is based on a real thing.
  • Arc Words:
    • The Nuclear Plant project is named "Blaidd Drwg", which means Bad Wolf. This is the episode where the Doctor first notices the phrase "Bad Wolf" following him around.
    • Margaret points out that the Doctor messes with people's lives so much, one of the reason he is always running is because he "daren't look back". Davros mocks the Tenth about this in "Journey's End" and the Dreamlord tells Amy this about the Eleventh in "Amy's Choice".
  • And Your Reward Is Infancy: Margaret gets to try her life over again as an egg.
  • Batman Gambit: Margaret's Evil Plan relies on several most likely outcomes. In order:
    • Getting elected.
    • That everyone who finds out the truth will come to her first, being the decision maker she's the logical choice.
    • That the hi-tech people who capture her will use the extrapolator.
    • That she has a hostage or is otherwise able to recover the extrapolator between the Rift opening and the plant exploding.
  • Becoming the Mask: Margaret has been in her human disguise for so long that she's starting to empathise with humans, particularly the Welsh.
  • Bi the Way: The Doctor enjoys his first flirt (of many) with a male companion in the new series. This is a beautiful case of Adaptational Sexuality, as the Eighth Doctor was portrayed as very bisexual in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels (and Eight was the first Doctor to be explicitly shown having any kind of sexual or romantic interest in anyone at all). Also a case of Author Appeal for gay Show Runner Russell T Davies.
  • Bottle Episode: While it predates the "Doctor-lite" trend, this was openly the first season's money-saver. The monster and guest star are both returnees, and most of the action is in the TARDIS or contemporary Cardiff.
  • Break Them by Talking: The Doctor's reply to Margaret's Hannibal Lecture is more mean-spirited than the usual Kirk Summation.
  • Breather Episode: A relatively silly episode following directly after The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances.
  • Character Development: The Doctor had been (mostly) vegetarian since "The Two Doctors", but orders a steak in this episode. This was deliberately done by Russell T Davies, who didn't want to just blindly inherit John Nathan-Turner's concept of the series.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • That extrapolator's going to come in handy in a couple of episodes (and once or twice after that).
    • Both the Time Lords handcuffs and Cardiff's nuclear power plant become hugely important in the Torchwood season 2 finale, "Exit Wounds".
  • Continuity Nod: At one point Margaret mentions venom grubs and the Isop galaxy.
  • Cool Board: The extrapolator's intended purpose is a "pan-dimensional surfboard", which Margaret can use to ride the shockwave of an exploding planet back to "civilization". The Doctor takes the extrapolator once she's regressed to an egg, and generally uses it as a force-field generator for the TARDIS.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: The hilarious demise of anyone who might find out the Cardiff reactor is rigged to explode. The list includes explosives, an electrified swimming pool, Blon personally running someone over in "low visibility", and:
    Cathy Salt: And then just recently Mr. Cleaver, the government's nuclear advisor?
    Margaret Blaine: Slipped on an icy patch.
    Cathy Salt: He was decapitated!
    Margaret Blaine: It was a very icy patch.
  • Debate and Switch: The episode sets up the moral dilemma of whether the Doctor and his friends will be as bad as Margaret if they take her home to be executed, but Deus ex Machina ending means they no longer have to worry about it, and the dilemma remains unsolved.
  • Deus ex Machina: An interesting variant in that while it's clearly an out-of-the-blue version in this episode, its appearance here acts as justification for the one in the season finale.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Margaret's plan for escaping the Earth also means annihilating it.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Of course the whole Slitheen family is evil, Margaret included, but she makes it clear early on that she really grieves for them and that she didn't see them as evil...
    Margaret: I had quite a sizeable family, once upon a time. Wonderful brothers. Oh, they were bold! But all of them are gone now. Maybe you're right. Maybe I'm cursed.
  • Evil Plan: Margaret rigged the nuclear reactor to explode immediately while she used the extrapolator to ride the enusing wave back to outer space. After her capture it transforms into guilt-tripping her captors into releasing her.
  • Explosive Leash: Jack provides the Doctor with one to keep Margaret from fleeing during her last meal. Bondage jokes aside, it's another reminder that Jack got up to some shady stuff before meeting the Doctor.
  • Foreshadowing: Three seasons in advance, at the end of Jack's story.
    Mickey: I knew we should have turned left!
  • Genre Savvy: The Doctor is very good at predicting Blon's moves. From guessing that she was having her secretary stall him while she fled out the fire escape, to the entire dinner conversation where he kept casually defeating her attempts to poison him while they chatted.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    The Doctor: Cardiff. Early 21st century and the wind is coming from the... east. Trust me, safest place in the universe.
    Margaret Blaine: This nuclear power station right in the heart of Cardiff City will bring jobs for all!
  • A God I Am Not: Nine says he'd make a very bad God (Eccleston played Simon Baxter, the Son of God in Russell T Davies' The Second Coming). Blon thinks he's closer to A God Am I territory than he'd like, given the effect he has on everyone around him.
  • Going Native: Margaret / Blon — even while planning to blow up the entire planet, she mentions that the London government wouldn't notice if South Wales fell into the sea. "Oh. I sound like a Welshman. God help me, I've gone native."
  • Hannibal Lecture: After the TARDIS crew capture her, Margaret tries to guilt them into letting her go.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Twice. Although the second time Margaret spares her. Also, it's implied by the conversation with the reporter that it happened a lot more in the past.
  • He Knows Too Much: Margaret kills anyone who finds out that the reactor is designed to blow up.
  • Idiot Ball: Cathy the journalist is intelligent enough to figure out that something is wrong with the reactor, and that everyone who finds this out winds up killed in a suspicious manner (including one killed by the mayor herself)... then allows her to drag her alone to the toilets.
  • It's All About Me: The surviving Slitheen keeps trying to paint herself as a victim to the Doctor — being forced to kill at 12, that she'll suffer a horrendous execution, and so on. The Doctor calls her out on this. Earlier, she spares a potential victim, simply because the victim reminded her of her family. Oh, and she was going to destroy the Earth to get back home.
  • It's Probably Nothing: The Doctor and Rose finally notice the series' Arc Words and spend a minute or two getting more and more concerned about the implications until the episode plot grabs their attention again. But the Doctor dismisses it as "just a coincidence" and they never discuss "Bad Wolf" again for the rest of the episode.
  • Karma Houdini: Blon; despite her attempt to destroy the earth to escape, and all the people she'd killed, she still manage to get a good ending when she looks into the heart of the TARDIS and becomes an egg again, thus giving her what she wanted all along — a second chance.
  • Kirk Summation:
    • The Doctor reminds Blon that for all her pleas for mercy, she's doing it through the lips of Margaret Blaine, whom she killed.
    • Blon / Margaret gets one herself. After the Doctor takes her Pet the Dog argument apart, she retorts that only a killer himself would know the mind of a killer so intimately, and brings up his status as a Walking Disaster Area. "Playing with so many peoples' lives, you might as well be a God."
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: An inversion, with the villain in what's usually Bond's position.
  • Noodle Incident: Jack entertains the others with a story at lunch. We don't hear all the details, but involved a bunch of naked people and something with tusks.
  • Mook Promotion: Margaret, by virtue of being the only survivor of the Slitheen seen previously.
  • Not a Date: The Doctor and Margaret / Blon at her last meal.
  • Oh, Crap: Implied by the offscreen dropped teacup.
  • Pet the Dog: Margaret Blaine decides not to kill an Intrepid Reporter when she reveals that she's engaged and pregnant. Subverted when the Doctor accurately accuses Margaret of only doing it to balance the evil things she's about to do.
  • Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: Margaret / Blon tries this on the Doctor by poisoning his glass but it fails as he switches the glasses when he turns back to her.
  • Raise Him Right This Time: The Doctor and co. find someone to do this for Blon between episodes.
  • See You in Hell: Jack, once everyone's got their "assignment".
  • Self-Deprecation: As Doctor Who is currently mostly filmed in Cardiff...
    Margaret: It's Cardiff. London doesn't care! The entire west coast could fall into the sea and they wouldn't notice.
  • Still the Leader: Played for laughs. When Captain Jack comes up with a detailed plan for cornering Margaret...
    The Doctor: Excuse me, who's in charge?
    Jack: Sorry. Awaiting orders, sir.
    The Doctor: (looks straight ahead, goes all commanding) Right, here's the plan! (grins) Like he said. Nice plan.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Extensively. A particularly funny scene has Margaret continually teleport herself while running away from the Doctor, but a poke on the sonic screwdriver has her immediately re-materialise running towards the Doctor. Even funnier is, every time Margaret is forced to re-materialize, she appears slightly closer to the Doctor every time.
    The Doctor: I can do this all day.
  • Title Drop: Invoked when the Doctor gets in to see Margaret/Blon.
    The Doctor: Just go in there and tell her the Doctor would like to see her.
    Door guard: Doctor who?
    The Doctor: Just The Doctor. Tell her exactly that. The Doctor.
  • The Unfair Sex: Averted; when Rose gets upset over Mickey seeing another woman while she's been travelling with the Doctor, Mickey throws her own selfish and not-entirely-dissimilar behaviour back in her face.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: The Doctor's retort when Blon brings up how she spared the reporter.
  • Weirdness Censor: After the Doctor explains what a police box actually is, Mickey can't understand how people don't notice the anachronism. The Doctor responds with this trope.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Blon brings this up while talking about the Doctor's habit of saving the day and swiftly departing, suggesting that he's afraid to hang around long enough to see the potential consequences of his actions. This theme gets touched upon in the very next episode in a very big way.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Mickey really lets Rose have it in this episode, and you can't blame the guy. He spent a year not knowing where she was and everyone thought he'd killed her! She gave him a kiss and a smile and ran off with another guy, making him feel like he was nothing, and the worst thing is, she actually expected him to wait for her.
    • Margaret tries to give this to the Doctor during their "dinner date", trying to guilt him into letting her go. The closest she gets to making The Doctor reconsider is when she points out how the Time Lord's constant running and "never looking back" has had consequences.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: When everyone's angsting about having to take someone to their execution — even someone who's already tried to destroy a planet — Mickey tries to justify it with "She's not even human." It's clear he's only trying to convince himself. When he asked her if she'd really blow up a whole world just to escape, she replied "Like you'd step on an anthill."

Alternative Title(s):

Doctor Who NSS 1 E 11 Boom Town