Recap / Doctor Who S27 E12 "Bad Wolf"

"He pulls a gun out of his ass and shoots them. [beat] No, really, he pulls a gun out of his ass and shoots them. I so wish Mary Whitehouse was still alive to see this; her head would pop off, spin around three times and land on her neck upside-down again."
Chuck Sonnenburg, SF Debris

Written by Russell T Davies.

The casual viewer might be forgiven for assuming that he's ingested the wrong substances and is hallucinating a Doctor Who/Big Brother crossover, but no — the Doctor really has landed in the Big Brother house. Of the 2002nd century. He's as confused as the casual viewer.

Rose, meanwhile, has ended up in a futuristic Doctor Who/The Weakest Link crossover; and Jack Harkness in a Doctor Who/What Not to Wear crossover staffed by female robots (with whom Jack flirts). The casual viewer may be forgiven for thinking that this is all rather strange . . .

No, it's a Massive Multiplayer Crossover. All three have landed in the Game Station, which the Doctor and Rose visited back when it was called Satellite Five. The Doctor expected history to get back on course once the Jagrafess was removed, but is horrified to learn that the power vacuum caused human civilisation to collapse instead. It's 100 years later, Earth is a smog-covered hellhole, and the giant space station is now a home for more lethal versions of 21st-century reality TV note . Anyone on Earth can be selected as a contestant and transmatted into a game with no warning, but the Doctor realises that any transmat beam capable of pulling him out of the TARDIS had to be far, far more powerful. Someone wants him here, and he's going to find out who.

The Doctor and Jack escape from their crossovers; the Doctor by realizing he's too important for the system to kill, and Jack by . . . see page quote. The Doctor also takes a girl named Lynda along as a future companion. They all rejoin Doctor Who, but Rose is still stuck inside her game, and she's losing. In fact, she's lost, and the host robot vaporises her. Christopher Eccleston conveys more hurt and loss with his eyes than most actors can on a steady diet of scenery.

The Doctor, Jack and Lynda (with whom Jack flirts) are informed that they will be taken to a lunar penal colony to be held without trial or appeal. They respond by breaking out in five seconds and making their way to floor 500 — still not made of gold — where the Doctor demands to know who's in charge and who just killed his friend. Unfortunately, the Controller — the human supercomputer in charge of the satellite, who was installed at the age of 5 — can only communicate with members of staff. One such staff member (with whom Jack flirts), however, has been keeping a log of mysterious encrypted signals and unauthorised transmissions, and he agrees with the Doctor's theory that this is just a cover for something else.

The TARDIS turns up in one of the storage bays, but the Doctor's mood doesn't improve until Jack shows him that Rose wasn't disintegrated, merely transported (hug time!).

A solar flare interrupts transmissions long enough for the Controller to explain that she brought them all there, and that she knows who's been behind everything in this period but cannot speak their name. All she can tell the Doctor is that they fear him. As the flare subsides, she is forced to stop talking so her mysterious bosses don't hear. The Doctor tries to figure out where the contestants are transmatted to, and the Controller, despite knowing her masters can hear her now, tells him most of the coordinates before she too is transmatted away. The Controller emerges surrounded by her unseen "Masters", to whom she gloats, saying that she has destroyed them. As soon as she mentions the Doctor, she screams in pain and her skeleton is briefly visible through her illuminated skin, before she collapses, dead.

Then Rose wakes up, face to eyestalk with a Dalek.

The Doctor's going to be having one of those Mood Whiplash days, because he's pinpointed the teleport destination and cancelled the cloaking signal. What does he find? A full Dalek fleet right on the edge of the solar system.


  • Arc Words:
    • Bad Wolf reappears once more, as the corporation that runs the Game Station.
    • The episode name.
    • This episode also marks the first appearance of what will become the main Arc Words for series 2 — Torchwood, appearing as one of the answers in The Weakest Link.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Jack's response to one of the technicians' protests.
    Technician: You're not allowed in there, Archive Six is out of bounds!
    Jack: [holds up guns] Do I look like an out of bounds kinda guy?
  • Ass Shove:
    Trine-E: But that's a Compact Laser Deluxe.
    Zu-Zana: Where were you hiding that?
    Jack: You really don't want to know.
  • Badass Boast: The Doctor's line.
    The Doctor: This is what I'm going to do. I'm going to rescue her. I'm going to save Rose Tyler from the middle of the Dalek fleet, and THEN I'm going to save the Earth, and THEN, JUST TO FINISH UP, I'M GOING TO WIPE EVERY LAST STINKING DALEK OUT OF THE SKY!
    Dalek: But you have no weapons, no defences, no plan!
    The Doctor: Yeah, and doesn't that just scare you to death? Rose?
    Rose: Yes Doctor?
    The Doctor: I'm coming to get you.
  • Big Budget Beef-Up: We get to see an entire fleet of Dalek warships for the first time, with legions of them screaming for the Doctor's blood.
  • Call Back:
    • The trip to Raxicoracofallapatorius follows on from the end of "Boom Town".
    • The answer to one of the questions in The Weakest Link is "The Face of Boe". Rose gets it right because she met him before.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: The Doctor to Lynda after he breaks out of the Big Brother house.
    "Lynda, you're sweet. From what I've seen of your world, do you think anybody votes for sweet?"
  • Confession Cam: Immediately after arriving on Big Brother, the Doctor is sent to this.
  • Continuity Nod: The Face of Boe is the eldest inhabitant of the Isop galaxy.
  • Crapsack World: Earth 200,100 has seen much better days. The exact specifics aren't given, but the last hundred years were "hell", and by now the planet's atmosphere is a sickly brown. The Atlantic is covered by a massive smogstorm that won't go away, with people getting the occasional notice of when it's okay to go outside. The Gamestation owners have so much control over the population they can sentence people to life imprisonment without trial or parole. The only thing to do is watch TV and pray to God you're not on the invite list.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Yeah, the Big Brother contestants get evicted all right. Evicted from life.
  • Deadly Game: Just about all the game shows in the episode ,except that the "disintegrator ray" is actually a teleporter. Not that it's much better than getting disintegrated when they're being processed into Daleks.
    The Doctor: What about the winners, what do they get?
    Lynda: They get to live.
    The Doctor: Is that it?
    Lynda: Isn't that enough?
  • Disintegrator Ray: The evictions and declarations of "You are the Weakest Link" appear to be this at first, but it's actually a harvesting tool for the Daleks.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: People who don't have a TV licence get executed.
  • The Dreaded: The Controller mentions that the Daleks fear the Doctor.
  • Epiphanic Prison: The same one from "The Long Game", except it's grown even worse.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Jack calls the trope out by name:
    Jack: Okay, "Defabricator". Does exactly what it says on the tin.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: "Oh, my masters. You can kill me . . . for I've brought your destruction."
  • Failed a Spot Check: Somehow Jack doesn't notice that chainsaw until it's almost used on him.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Good news everyone, the people who don't win on the shows do not get disintegrated on the spot. They just get teleported instantly to . . . the Dalek flagship. Well.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Parts of the Daleks' leitmotif is heard, Trine-E and Zu-Zana glide round like the Daleks, the Anne-Droid's Disintegrator Ray is positioned similarly to a Dalek's ray gun, Dalek bumps are seen in the Big Brother house and Rose wakes up to the trademark electronic "heartbeat" of the Dalek control rooms.
    • The set of the fashion show Jack's stuck in is one of the sets from "The Long Game", foreshadowing that the Gamestation is actually Satellite Five.
    • Torchwood is an answer to one of the questions in The Weakest Link.
  • Gambit Roulette: As the Doctor put it, he was being manipulated [his] entire life. Or his entire ninth life, anyway.
  • Go Out with a Smile: The Controller. LOOK AT IT.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The Bad Wolf security team leaves Jack and the Doctor's equipment and weapons out in the open, on a table that is literally about two metres away from their cell. Three guesses to what happens.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: The Doctor after Rose (apparently) gets disintegrated. He snaps out of it in time to lead a jailbreak.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Controller, who gives the Doctor the last few numbers in the coordinates of the Dalek fleet even though the solar flares are no longer blocking transmissions. The Daleks promptly transmat her aboard and shoot her dead, but she's satisfied.
  • Hollywood Spelling: Averted with Lynda-with-a-y.
  • Hope Spot: Jack works out that the disintegrator is actually a transmat, and therefore Rose is alive. Great, brilliant . . . except she's on a Dalek spaceship. Surrounded by several hundred other Dalek spaceships. Each of which has 2,000 Daleks onboard, which means there's about half a million Daleks between her and the Doctor.
  • Hypocritical Humour: The Doctor, on reality TV. "The human race. Brainless sheep, being fed on a diet of — mind you, have they still got that program where three people have to live with a bear?"
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Jack and Lynda, immediately after he claimed he was "just saying hello".
  • Immoral Reality Show: New contestants are being selected and beamed aboard the Gamestation around the clock. There are 60 different versions of Big Brother alone — and according to Strood, that's after cutting back.
  • Just Following Orders:
    The Doctor: That's the same staff who execute hundreds of contestants every day.
    Technician: That's not our fault, we're just doing our jobs.
    The Doctor: And with that sentence, you just lost the right to even talk to me. Now BACK OFF!
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: The Doctor is rendered catatonic when he thinks Rose is dead. The first thing he does upon coming to his senses is turn to Jack, tells him, "Let's do it" and then proceeds to take down all of the guards.
  • Mad Artist: Trine-E and Zu-Zana start off simply giving Jack wardrobe advice. Then comes the "face off" segment, which Jack assumes means a competition until the sawblades come out. "Nothing is too extreme!"
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Daleks are behind all of Satellite Five's doings.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: With The Weakest Link, Big Brother and What Not to Wear.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Big Brother eviction. One second pleasant reality show and the Doctor saying how the evictee will profit from it, and then disintegration.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • The Doctor's reaction when Lynda shows him what's become of Earth and its people since he last meddled, and how he's partially to blame.
    The Doctor: (with utter horror) I made this world . . .
    • Rose doesn't learn the games are lethal until a woman she helped vote off gets vaporized in front of her.
  • Mythology Gag: The Doctor's Badass Boast above sounds similar to Doctor Who Expanded Universe character Abslom Daak's Catch Phrase, "I'm gonna kill every last stinking Dalek in the galaxy!"
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Turns out shutting down Satellite Five in "The Long Game" simply created a power vacuum, which gave rise to an even worse television-based regime as opposed to reinstating the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire.
  • Noodle Incident: The Doctor and company were retreating from 1336 Kyoto when they got beamed to the Gamestation. Did Jack hit on the emperor's princess and make daddy mad enough to have the guards hunt down his neck? We wouldn't put it past him.
  • Not So Above It All: The Doctor grouses about humans being brainless sheep, being fed on mindless blood sports . . . and then asks Lynda if they still have Bear With Me.
  • The Nudifier: The Defabricator. "Ladies, your viewing figures just went up!"
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The Doctor and Jack's reaction to seeing the 200-ship fleet of the Daleks.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Davitch after the Doctor's jailbreak.
      Davitch: Oh my God, now we're in trouble. Clear the floor! He's on his way up here — with a GUN!
    • Rose, when she sees where she's been teleported to.
    • Even before the viewer sees the Daleks, we get to hear several beats of the loud electronic heartbeat that is associated with their ships.
  • Ominous Hebrew Chanting: What is heard as the camera pans down from the Dalek flagship to show the entire fleet. The choir is saying "What is Happening".
  • One Steve Limit: There's a Lynda on Big Brother, and there used to be a Linda, but she was evicted for damaging the camera.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Rodrick does come across as a jerk for voting people good at The Weakest Link out so he'll go up against Rose, who he realises is bad at the game, in the finale, meaning she'll get disintegrated and he'll get rich. However if he loses he'll get disintegrated, so his actions make complete sense even if he is unpleasant about it.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Controller, who was installed when she was five years old.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Davitch, his crush, and presumably almost everyone else on the Gamestation. They come off as ordinary office drones whose job happens to be funnelling people through one Deadly Game after another.
  • Punny Name:
    Rose: My god, the android . . . [stunned] the Anne-Droid.
  • Rubber-Band History: Subverted — the Doctor assumed the course of human history would correct itself back in "The Long Game". Unfortunately, the Jagrafess was only the middleman, and the confusion after its defeat gave the Daleks even more power.
  • Running Gag: Captain Jack Harkness hitting on every single character.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: One of the contestants on The Weakest Link snaps and tries to escape after just one round. He almost makes it to the door before the Anne-Droid blasts him.
  • Separated by a Common Language: . . . Wait, why is the Space American calling a tank top a "vest"?
  • Shaped Like Itself: The Defabricator. Invoked by name by Jack.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The reveal of the Daleks — which doesn't happen until five minutes before the end, and isn't even hinted at before then — appears in this episode's trailer.
    • Not only that, but the booklet the Radio Times had for Series 1 said there would be Daleks in the finale.
  • Teleporters and Transporters:
    • The mysterious transmat. The Doctor notes that no ordinary transmat would ever be able to get into the TARDIS.
    • Also, the so-called "disintegrator ray".
  • Title Drop: For the episode, and also for "The Long Game", providing the context for that title.
  • Wetware CPU: The Controller is a human plugged into a computer.
  • Why Not Just Shoot Me?: The Doctor mentions that to kill him the kidnapper should have teleported him into a volcano instead of a reality show (however lethal). That's how he deduces that the kidnapper actually wants to keep him alive.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Said by the Doctor as he sits on the Big Brother Confession Cam right before the opening credits.
  • Your Head Asplode: How Jack deals with his robo-hosts.

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Alternative Title(s): Doctor Who NSS 1 E 12 Bad Wolf