Dream Lord: Tweet, tweet! Time to sleep!... Oh! Or are you waking up?This episode was written by Simon Nye, who is mainly known for Men Behaving Badly. While there are some recognisable elements of his comedy, this episode was not what many expected from his pen.
It's five years since Amy and Rory travelled with the Doctor. They're back living in Upper Leadworth. (A bit more upmarket than Leadworth, according to Rory.) Amy is heavily pregnant. Rory has grown a stupid ponytailed mullet. Life is good, if a little humdrum. Until the Doctor drops by for a visit. Firstly, he crushes their flower garden with the TARDIS. Secondly, he doesn't seem to cotton on to the fact that Amy is pregnant, which is a little irritating for her, since he cottoned on quite quick to the fact that she's increased in size. Thirdly, outside of the company of his friends he finds the village unbearably dull, and ponders what they do to stave off the "self harm". Rory points out that it's relaxing, and peaceful, as evidenced by the bird song. Which seems to have a dulling effect on the three, gradually sending them to sleep...In the TARDIS, the Doctor wakes from a horrible nightmare, having apparently fallen asleep under the console. It involved Amy and Rory being married in a dull village, with Amy being pregnant. Thing is, Amy and Rory appear to have had the exact same "really good... mare". And there's something going wrong with the TARDIS console. And it seems to be getting slightly cooler in the TARDIS, with their breath gradually misting up, something that no one appears to have noticed. The Doctor dismisses it as a shared psychic incident in which they jumped a time-track. Except that there's suddenly the sound of birdsong in the TARDIS.And Amy, Rory and the Doctor wake up back on the village bench where they drifted off only moments before. As Rory and Amy realise they've had the same dream again, the Doctor is inspecting his surroundings suspiciously, noting that his bow-tie and braces have changed, and warns the two not to trust anything around them. They may seem to be awake now, but then, they were also convinced that they were awake back on the TARDIS. They're dreaming, somewhere. But are they dreaming of the past or the future? Which one's the real world and which one's the dream?"This is going to be a tricky one..."The trio wake up back on the TARDIS. The Doctor's a bit cross about all of this, which leads him to lash out at the TARDIS, which only ends badly for him and his foot. And unfortunately, he threw the TARDIS manual into a supernova the last time it disagreed with him, so no help there. Amy and Rory, meanwhile, are still struggling with the whole "awake / dream" problem they seem to be facing. Their surroundings feel perfectly real to them. But then, a dream always feels real when you're in the middle of it. The Doctor urges them to keep a watch on their surroundings and look out for anything that doesn't ring true, something a lot more easily said than done when you happen to be on a dimensionally transcendental time machine piloted by an alien in a bow-tie. A big clue presents itself, however, when the TARDIS suddenly switches off. Dead. And then there's suddenly the birdsong...Back in the village. It's revealed that Rory is the local doctor. Along with his pregnant young wife it's something he's always dreamed of, a fact that the Doctor takes notice of. Rory points out that it's Amy's dream too (something that Amy is a bit more hesitant in admitting), but the Doctor has moved on, taking interest in a nearby old people's home — whose occupants seem to be taking an interest in the Doctor as well. People around here usually live well into their nineties, which intrigues the Doctor. The trio run off (well, Amy sort of shuffles) into the home. The residents inside seem perfectly normal and the Doctor gets to try on a lovely knitted jumper, but he's noticed something odd about them: they're incredibly old...The Doctor doesn't have a chance to elaborate on this apparently amazingly obvious fact before the three once again hear birdsong, waking up back in the TARDIS. Or are they falling asleep? Either way, everything is off in the TARDIS, including the heating. And the scanner. They could be anywhere, and someone is overriding the Doctor's control of the TARDIS.That someone suddenly appears out of thin air, right behind them. A little man in a dark suit and a bow-tie. He's pretty scathing about how long it took the Doctor to figure it out, seeing as he'd heard such incredible things about the last of the Time Lords, whom he intends to challenge. As such, call him the Dream Lord.The Doctor quickly figures out that he's incorporeal by chucking a ball at him, but the Dream Lord is hardly impressed. Being there and yet not there in a spooky fashion is kind of in the job title. Amy is quick to figure out that the Dream Lord creates dreams and illusions, to which the Dream Lord counters that they haven't given "the gooseberry" a chance to have a turn guessing at him. Rory retorts that Amy is his girlfriend... but, as the Dream Lord notes, Amy is a little hesitant in confirming that.However, the Dream Lord is much more interested in calling out the Doctor. He poses a challenge. Two worlds, an impossible time machine and a quaint little village that time has forgotten. And in each, a deadly challenge. But only one of them is real, the other is mere illusion. If they die in the dream, they wake up in the real world. And if they die in reality... well, there's a reason they call it reality, Rory. Time for them to go back to sleep. Or are they waking up?Amy figures out that the Dream Lord has a history with the Doctor — but there's little time for that, as the pensioners in the Leadworth retirement home appear to have vanished. The Doctor is trying to figure out exactly how the realities are connected and why the old people strike him as so odd, but he angrily claims that his mind has been blunted by the dullness of his surroundings, and he's "slowing down" like Rory and Amy.Amy and the Doctor take a small break from the adventure on a set of swings.
The Doctor: We all know there's an elephant in the room.
Amy: I have to be this size, I'm having a baby!
The Doctor: No, not that... Is nobody going to mention Rory's ponytail?... You hold him down, I'll cut it off?One of the old age pensioners is taking a keen interest on a group of school children playing around the ruins of a local castle. Birdsong interrupts.It's getting gradually colder on the TARDIS, and the Doctor sends Rory and Amy off to find some warmer clothing while he constructs a thing out of kitchen utensils. Rory admits that he wants the other life to be real, where he and Amy are married, happy and expecting a baby. Except, he's a bit riled to notice, Amy seems a lot less happy with the other life, and is a lot more hesitant to give up life on the TARDIS. Since part of this giving up on that life involves getting married to Rory, this causes a certain amount of bickering. Rory believes that they'll have to grow up eventually. Amy disagrees.The Doctor has put together a wind-up contraption, allowing them to turn on the scanner and see what's outside. And what they see doesn't make them very happy. A frozen star "burning cold". Since such a thing should be impossible, this is a fairly big clue that they aren't in reality. But it's a big universe, and something that should be impossible isn't necessarily so. And they've only got fourteen minutes until they crash into it, which isn't the problem it may seem since they'll have frozen to death long before then. Rory is pissed off, since this particular threat just seems tailor-made for the Doctor — the race against time, one man required to save the day — and all he wants is the quiet village. The Dream Lord sends them off again.Rory is relieved to be back in the village, confident that that's the real world. Tranquil, peaceful and relaxed, he's positive that nothing bad could ever happen here. Unfortunately, he's quite wrong; the playing children have disappeared, replaced by piles of dust. And there's a sinister group of pensioners approaching.Of course, as the Dream Lord posits, a crowd of threatening pensioners is absurd. Surely, this must be the dream? But what does Amy think? The Doctor definitely does not appreciate the Dream Lord's taunts, which only tickles the Dream Lord, particularly in comparison to Rory's comparatively feeble reaction. Of course, all of this has just served to confirm the Doctor's suspicions about who the Dream Lord really is, since there's only one person in the universe who hates the Doctor this much...While they're arguing, however, the pensioners attack -- quite literally. With reinforcements. And eyes in their mouths. Eyes that spew lethal green gas. Ednodines, a proud race who were chased from their home-world by "upstart neighbours" and have decided to pay it forward by doing the same to the humans by possessing their elderly. Starting with an unfortunate postman who wanders into the scene solely to get turned into dust by green gas.Rory and an exhausted Amy make it back to their cottage, but possessed pensioners have made it there first. Rory takes some persuading, but eventually manages to take the fight to one of them with a lump of wood. Once inside, Amy laments that they left the Doctor behind. Having not seen him in years and struggling to reconnect, he's nevertheless taken the bullet for them. Rory is optimistic about the Doctor's chances — perhaps incorrectly so, as he's fighting to remain conscious while chased by the elderly. The Doctor struggles his way into a local butcher's, all the while taunted by the Dream Lord, managing to lock himself into the storeroom as the pensioners break into the shop. Sleep falls.Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor insists that they have to decide here and now which is the real world and which is the dream. Rory is adamant that it's the world of the village, but the Doctor is equally adamant that the universe can contain a seemingly impossible ice-star. The Doctor challenges Rory that their disagreement may be more about competitiveness than certainty — specifically, competing over Amy. Amy, meanwhile, finds some ponchos for them to wear. (If they have to go out looking like a Peruvian folk band, so be it.) The Doctor suggests that they divide up, noting that the logic of the dream-world has so far kept them transitioning together. Unfortunately, the Dream Lord agrees, and Rory and the Doctor fall asleep as Amy remains in the TARDIS.As the pensioners break into Rory and Amy's cottage, Rory drags the still unconscious Amy upstairs. The Doctor, liberating himself from the butcher's shop, manages to rescue a man being attacked. Commandeering his van, he goes on to rescue as many remaining survivors as he can find and take them to the relative safety of the local church before rushing to Rory and Amy's rescue.Back on the TARDIS, Amy must endure the Dream Lord's taunts about the Doctor. About how he always leaves her, and never apologises for it. Amy challenges him, asserting her faith in the Doctor and demanding to know who the Dream Lord is, but he counters with one simple question: has the Doctor told Amy his real name? He once again (while flirting rather disturbingly with Amy) asserts that she needs to make a choice between the Doctor, the dashing and charismatic but unreliable hero, and Rory, the dull but dependable boyfriend. It's a Sadistic Choice... Amy's choice.Having returned to the world of the village, Amy is in time to witness Rory make a symbol of his devotion to her... by sacrificing his ponytail. Unfortunately, it also appears that her labour has started. Having also had to endure the taunts of the Dream Lord, the Doctor arrives to perform a rescue. But before they can escape, Rory is surprised by one of the possessed pensioners and hit with a jet of gas. The Doctor and Amy can only watch as Rory, fatally wounded, crumbles to dust in Amy's arms. Despite Amy's pleas, there's nothing the Doctor can do. "Then what", Amy screams at him, "is the point of you?"Broken, Amy has decided that this world has to be the dream. And even if it's not, she's not prepared to live in a world which doesn't have Rory in it. The pensioners have stopped attacking, perhaps sensing what Amy plans to do... or perhaps because it's just a dream. Less certain, the Doctor asks Amy if she's sure about what she wants to do. And when she affirms she is, he hands her the keys to the van. As the Dream Lord watches, Amy and the Doctor smash into the side of the house......And wake up back on the TARDIS, moments away from plummeting into the cold star. But, the Dream Lord assures them, fair's fair — and he takes control of the TARDIS, steering them away from the cold star and turning the ship's power back on. Accepting defeat gracefully, the Dream Lord leaves them to ponder on the results and implications of their dreams, and fades away. Rory is alive, and he and Amy celebrate their survival. But the Doctor isn't quite so ready to celebrate. In fact, he begins to overload the TARDIS engines, confident in the belief that this too is a dream — because the Dream Lord operates through deception and misinformation, because the Dream Lord has no power in the real world, and because he knows who the Dream Lord really is. And the TARDIS suddenly goes white.They're all right, of course. Amy and Rory burst into the console room to find the Doctor musing over the true culprit of their recent exploits, a handful of psychic pollen specks which made their way into the time rotor and overheated, sending the trio into a dream state. As for the Dream Lord, he was the Doctor — or rather, a manifestation of the Doctor's darker and more malevolent impulses given form by the pollen so they could feed on them. In 907 years, he's built up a lot note , and cheerfully says that his friends were too decent to give the pollen a decent meal.Considering the nature of the Dream Lord's taunts against the Doctor, Amy is given to wonder whether the Doctor truly believes those things about himself — which the Doctor refuses to confirm, instead directing Amy to answer Rory's question about what happened when he was out of action. Amy reveals that she ended things in the village world not knowing whether it was the dream or not, because she couldn't bear to live without Rory and is finally ready to say that she loves him. Elated, Rory kisses her.The Doctor prepares to take his friends on adventures new... but not before catching a final glimpse of the Dream Lord in a reflection on the console, taunting him once more.