Recap / Doctor Who S30 E3 "Planet of the Ood"

The circle must be broken...

Donna: It's weird, but... being with you, I can't tell what's right and what's wrong anymore.
The 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.


  • Arc Words: Bees disappearing.
  • Asshole Victim: pretty much everyone the Ood kill qualifies as this.
  • Batman Gambit: Ood Sigma's "hair tonic". He was counting on Mr Halpen's concern about his baldness to blind him to the possiblity that it was something else.
  • 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.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: He's not the Big Bad, but the overseer definitely displays this trope once the Doctor's cover is blown. He specifically orders his armed Mooks back, so that he can have the pleasure of chasing the Doctor around a warehouse with a giant claw machine, instead of just shooting him. For bonus points, he even says, "I've always wanted to do this.''
  • Call Back:
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Donna gives Mr Halpen a very big and very deserved one. The Doctor approves of Donna's correctness.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The drinks Mr Halpen keeps knocking back are blatantly going to bite him somehow. Boy, do they ever.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr Halpen.
    "Well, we can write [two thousand Ood] off. That's what insurance is for."
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The destruction of the circle around the third brain is very similar to a scene from the classic series.
    • The Doctor gives Donna a brief recap of what happened the last time he encountered Ood. They were possessed by the devil, or at least something that claimed to inspire the legend of such a creature.
    • Back in "Partners in Crime", Donna mentioned that she packed for cold weather. In this episode, she brings out a winter coat.
  • Cruel Mercy:
    "Funny thing, the subconscious. Takes all sorts of shapes. It came out in the red eye as revenge, it came out in the rabid Ood as anger, and then there was patience. All that intelligence and mercy focused on Ood's that hair loss, Mister Halpen?"
  • Distressed Dude: The Doctor tied to a pole.
  • Escape Artist: Subverted - the Donna assumes the Doctor's probably met Houdini, but he's forced to admit, "These are REALLY good handcuffs."
  • 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. Partly because of the way he introduced themselves to the Ood in the first place. Truly an example of Fridge Brilliance.
    • Mr Halpen suspects that The Doctor and Donna are from the Friends of the Ood activist group, revealing that such an organization exists and is trying to infiltrate him. Dr Ryder reveals himself as one in the climax.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Subverted after being set up way back in "The Impossible Planet". The Ood do not enjoy their enslavement as The Doctor and the audience are led to believe.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The overseer who tries to gas the Ood ends up being the only victim of the gas.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Solana the PR representative helps the Doctor and Donna once, but doesn't go with them. Instead, she calls the guards on them.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: Guards with M4s and a guy with a PPK; in the 42nd Century. Justified in that it is believed that small arms have hit a peak where making them any more powerful would make them uncontrollable.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: "It's a he, not an it."
  • 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 Oods.
  • Karmic Transformation: Halpen, the man who sold Ood like livestock, is now an Ood himself.
  • Large Ham: The overseer takes this to impressive levels while he's chasing the Doctor around the warehouse with a giant claw machine, cackling, rocking back and forth in his seat, and making some very expressive faces just to be sure the viewer understands that he's having fun.
  • 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.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Mister Halpen.
    "Can't say I've ever shot anyone before. Can't say I'm gonna like it.'s not exactly a normal day, is it?"
  • Not So Different: The Doctor mentions the situation with the Ood isn't that far away from contemporary Earth, pointedly asking Donna who she thinks made her clothes. She returns fire by asking if he only brings humans along so he can act superior at them, a point he concedes.
  • Open Secret: The treatment of the Ood, according to Solana. "[The public] don't ask. Same thing."
  • 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.
  • Quick Nip: Solana reminds Mr Halpen that alcohol isn't allowed on the premises; he explains it's hair tonic. That's what he thinks, anyway.
  • Railing Kill: When Dr Ryder reveals he's a Friend of the Ood, Halpen pushes him over the rail and into the Ood brain.
  • Random Transportation: The Doctor specifically mentions that he's set the controls to random. "Mystery tour!"
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    Doctor: His eyes turned red.
    Donna: What's that mean?
    Doctor: Trouble.
  • Retro Rocket: Of a similar design to the one from the last Ood episode. Donna approves.
    "Blimey, a real, proper rocket! You've got a box, he's got a Ferrari!"
  • Reverse Mole: Dr Ryder for the Friends of the Ood social activism group. He spent the last ten years infiltrating Ood Operations so he could free the Ood.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: "Pleased to meet you, Doctor Noble, Mrs Noble." The response here is "not ever".
  • Shout-Out: The "comedy classic" Ood is programmed to say "D'oh!" when it's told it dropped something.
  • Supporting Protagonist: The Doctor and Donna are mainly here to witness the revolution; the Ood (and their Friends of the Ood ally) do the rising-up on their own.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: The Ood are shipped out as slaves to all three galaxies of the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Despite nine hundred or more years traveling time and space, The Doctor still gets excited at each location he visits because the universe is amazing! Why else would he still be traveling?
  • The X of Y: The Planet of the Ood.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: "I've had enough of the schmoozing."
  • Zerg Rush: A perpetual favourite of berserk Ood.

There's a better / home a-waitin' / In the sky, Lord, in the sky

Alternative Title(s): Doctor Who NSS 4 E 3 Planet Of The Ood