Recap: Doctor Who S29 E6 "The Lazarus Experiment"

Martha: What'd he do?
The Doctor: Changed what it means to be human.

The Doctor, wary of getting too attached to another human, or perhaps of getting another human killed, or maybe just enjoying the way he toys with Martha's emotions, drops Martha off back home. Her time in the TARDIS is over. However, from the news on her TV he realises that Martha's time period is in danger, and returns only seconds after he left for — ostensibly — one more adventure with Martha.

The activity in question is that of Dr. Richard Lazarus (Mark Gatiss), a brilliant elderly scientist who has devised a way to reverse the aging process. The scientist tests his equipment on himself at a black tie affair, which Martha and the Doctor attend as her sister is Lazarus's Public Relations director. When Things Spin, Science Happens, and Lazarus successfully turns himself into a young, healthy, 41 year old. Martha's sister just mysteriously got a huge promotion and is happy to see her boss now looking very young and handsome and snoggable indeed.

Meanwhile, Martha's mother is approached by a suit-wearing guy, who hints that the Doctor is dangerous. He's 100% right about that (heck, he could even have added that the Doctor has a history of absconding with young women, sometimes kidnapping them(!), and that they don't always come home, oh and the Doctor killed Martha's cousin Adeola), but the soundtrack doesn't like him, so neither do we.

Then Lazarus surprises everyone by turning into a massive CGI scorpion/lizard monster! Martha's sister laments that she was going to snog him.

The Doctor kills the scientist with the polarity-reversed age-reversal machine. The scorpion beast turns out not to be dead after all and flees to a cathedral, where the Doctor kills it again with an organ. For real this time.

And finally, finally, the Doctor stops yanking Martha's chain and lets her come aboard full-time.

But as the TARDIS takes off, Martha's mum leaves a message on the answering machine not to be with the Doctor, saying the notice came from Harold Saxon...


  • Actor Allusion: A little known fact for The League of Gentlemen fans is that the wig worn by Mark Gatiss in this episode is the same one he wears for the part of Mr. Chinnery.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: During their final confrontation, Lazarus tells the Doctor about the Blitz. The Doctor mentions in reply that he'd seen it first hand. Lazarus dismisses this, pointing out that the Doctor looks far too young to have been there, and Doctor parries by pointing out that Lazarus looks too young himself.
  • Arc Words: Lazarus's experiment has some involvement with Mr Saxon, and the man who warns Martha's mother about the Doctor is revealed to be working for him as well.
  • Big Red Button: Pressed with an unusual lack of ceremony.
  • Body Horror: Lazarus's transformation into an "evolutionary reject".
  • Chekhov's Gun: During the conversation on the roof, Lazarus talks about how, during the Blitz, he and his family took refuge in the cathedral.
  • Compliment Backfire: Subverted. Martha, when she sees the Doctor in his tuxedo, says he looks like James Bond. The Doctor disgustedly replies, "James Bond?!", then thinks for a moment and says, somewhat less disgustedly, "Really?"
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Doctor muttering to himself over being slapped by his companion's mother.
    • The Doctor complaining that something bad always happens when he wears a tux.
    • The Doctor saying "Really shouldn't take that long just to reverse the polarity. I must be a bit out of practice." Reversing the polarity was something the Third Doctor did quite often.
  • Death by Irony: The Doctor weaponizes the device Lazarus built to achieve eternal youth. It doesn't take, and Lazarus is instead killed by the organ in the church where he sought shelter from the Blitz.
  • Death by Mocking: The woman who rebuffs the Doctor's warning by stating the the greatest danger at the party is choking on an olive is one of the first people Lazarus kills moments later.
  • Delayed Reaction: The Doctor sees Lazarus's press conference without commenting, leaves in the TARDIS, and then comes back to double-check what he just heard with Martha.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: The Doctor puts his foot in it talking to Martha's mum and gives her the impression that he's sleeping with her.
  • Dirty Old Man: Pre-transformation Lazarus is implied to be this.
  • Dying as Yourself
  • Follow the Chaos: Martha finds the Doctor by running towards the sound of the explosions.
  • Fountain of Youth: What Lazarus's machine is for.
  • Game Face: Early on in Lazarus' mutation.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong
  • Handsome Lech: Post-transformation Lazarus appears to be this, although he might just be trying to lure in easy prey.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Martha lets Lazarus do this for the sake of a DNA sample.
  • Insult Backfire:
    The Doctor: "A science geek?" What's that mean?
    Martha: Means you're obsessively enthusiastic about it.
    The Doctor: (happily) Oh, okay!
  • Innocent Innuendo: The Doctor causes a few awkward moments talking to Martha's mother by saying he and Martha haven't had much time to talk as they've been "busy". Fortunately, their conversation is interrupted before he can dig himself deeper.
    Francine: Busy? Doing what, exactly?
    The Doctor: Oh... you know... stuff.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Lazarus constantly shifts between that... thing and his youthful human form due to an Unstable Genetic Code.
  • Liquid Assets: Of the Life Energy variety; what mutant!Lazarus feeds on.
  • Loud of War: Sonic screwdriver plugged into cathedral pipe organ = this trope.
  • Mad Scientist: The classic story of a deluded scientist who ends up turning himself into a monster.
  • Meaningful Name: In the Bible, Lazarus was the man raised from the dead by Jesus. Which the Doctor neatly lampshades at one point.
  • Monster Sob Story: Lazarus ruthlessly murders others to prolong his life, but you can somewhat sympathise with his sheer determination to conquer death.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Lazarus Project. That's not going to go well.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: Lazarus wants to avoid death because of his experiences during World War II.
  • No Immortal Inertia: Lazarus inexplicably turns back into an old man immediately after his death.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed
  • Offscreen Crash: The ambulance carrying the apparently deceased Lazarus drives away from the reception gallery. Just after Francine slaps the Doctor, and the conversation that results, we suddenly hear a loud crash. The Doctor, Martha and Tish rush off to investigate the noise and find the ambulance has gone off the road and crashed. They open up the back doors and find that Lazarus has killed the paramedics by draining them of their life energy and escaped.
  • One-Winged Angel
  • Professor Guinea Pig
  • Reverse Polarity: Mentioned by name. The Doctor says "Really shouldn't have taken me so long to reverse the polarity. I must be out of practice."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    The Doctor: You can't control it, the mutation's too strong. Killing those people won't help you. You're a fool. A vain old man who thought he could defy nature, only nature got her own back, didn't she? You're a joke, Lazarus! A footnote in the history of failure!
  • Shaky P.O.V. Cam
  • Smash Cut: "The biggest danger here is choking on an olive." Smash Cut to the monster breaking into the room.
  • This Was His True Form
  • Unstable Genetic Code: Lazarus. And yes, Martha the medical student points out the sheer impossibility of this trope.
  • Up to Eleven: The Doctor invokes it by name.
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: A central theme. Having barely survived the Blitz as a child, Lazarus has been obsessed with conquering death all his life. However, the Doctor informs him that being immortal in a world of mortal things is not fun at all.
  • You Look Familiar: Adjoa Andoh (Martha's mum) previously acted in the Big Finish episode "The Year of the Pig", opposite the Sixth Doctor, as well as in "New Earth" with the Tenth.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Lazarus is carted away in an ambulance... and there's almost 15 minutes left of the episode. Hm.

Alternative Title(s):

Doctor Who NSS 3 E 6 The Lazarus Experiment