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Recap: Doctor Who S31 E11 "The Lodger"
The one where Doctor Who suddenly became a Sitcom and a Rom Com without missing a beat.

Craig: I love you, I love you, I love you, (opens door) I love you!
The Doctor: Well, that's good, because I'm your new lodger!

Written by Gareth Roberts. Based on the short Doctor Who Magazine comic strip of the same name, which featured Ten and Mickey.
Modern-day Colchester. The TARDIS arrives in a park, the Doctor noting by the presence of a Ryman's that this probably isn't the fifth moon of Cyndacalista. He's immediately thrown out of the door by a sudden surge of energy that causes the TARDIS to dematerialise (much faster than usual) without him, and Amy still on board.

The next day. There's a house on Aickman Road, and a staircase that people go up, but never down. As is demonstrated by a hapless man whose walk past the house is interrupted by the voice of an old man on the intercom, pleading for help and guiding him up the staircase to the flat up at the top with an ominously glowing door...

Craig Owens, the man who lives in the flat below the aforementioned one with the ominous glowy door, needs a lodger for the extra room in his rather nice flat. Well, nice aside from what appears to be some very nasty dry rot in the corner of the ceiling. Craig's best friend Sophie (really, they're Just Friends!) spends almost every night as his house already, but he's too Adorkable to let her know just how welcome she'd be to move in. His previous flatmate has just moved out, having very conveniently received a windfall in the will of an elderly relative he didn't even know he had. And this just happens to be amazingly convenient for the Doctor, who both needs a place to stay and a base of operations to investigate what's going on upstairs and get the TARDIS back. He's managed to trace the source of the strange things happening to this house.

Craig's a little taken aback by the suddenness of the Doctor's arrival, not least because he only put the ad in the newsagent's window that morning. But the Doctor has a big paper bag full of money for rent, a reference from the Archbishop of Canterbury (thanks to the psychic paper) and he likes the place. He takes note of the mystical rot, warns Craig not to touch it and promises to fix it soon. And so begins the Doctor's greatest challenge: he must pass himself off as a perfectly normal human being, and share a flat with Craig Owens.

Things get off to a good start, thanks to the Doctor's skill at whipping up omelettes and Craig's willingness to reveal all about himself to this near-complete stranger. Craig likes the Doctor: he's quirky, interesting, weird and has bags full of money. Probably not a drug dealer. Craig also likes the simple life, has no real ambitions at moving on from his call centre job, and is perfectly content to hang out on his sofa with his best-friend-who's-a-girl Sophie. With whom, judging by the way he near-fondles the set of keys she left behind, he'd like very much to be more than friends. He tells the Doctor that he's always welcome to bring home a girlfriend or boyfriend, if he likes, and they'll just figure out a system to give each other privacy.

Safely hidden away in his new room, the Doctor communicates via earpiece with Amy in the TARDIS, scrambled to ensure that no one can listen in. (Craig, overhearing the Doctor's side of the conversation through the wall, is given the impression that the Doctor is loudly blurting out gibberish to himself.) He's trying to keep a low profile, not wanting to give himself away to the intelligence upstairs before he knows what it is and is prepared to deal with it. Because if he's right, something scarily big is at work. Meanwhile, another innocent human, a clubber stumbling past the house, is drawn in by a young man on the top floor of the house needing help...

The Doctor's plan, however, means that he cannot use any of his usual technological gadgets in order to help him solve the problem, as it would enable the creature to detect him. It also requires him to blend in as an ordinary human — quite difficult, considering he's, well, the Doctor. Amy's helpful suggestion that he ditch the bow-tie is soundly rejected, and her other suggestions about "ordinary bloke" activities (drinking, watching telly and playing football) are not exactly the kind of things he's usually known for. Before she can give further advice, the TARDIS is once again buffeted by powerful time distortion, and a localised time loop plays merry hell with the clocks inside the building as, on the upstairs floor, something very nasty happens to the poor clubber.

The next morning, while waiting for the Doctor to finish up in the shower, Craig hears some noises from upstairs and decides to see what's going on. He takes the long walk up the dark, ominous stairs, knocks on the door... and is greeted by the elderly occupant of the upstairs flat, his face hidden in the shadows, who curtly dismisses Craig and informs him that he is not needed. Thinking that Craig is in mortal peril, the Doctor rushes out of the shower. He discovers that Craig has managed something we've seen from no one else so far, and go up the stairs only to come back down again. It also means that when Sophie pops by for a visit, her first introduction to him is with him soaking wet and wrapped up in a towel. The Doctor, not being blind, is quick to pick up on a certain mutual romantic tension between Craig and Sophie. Unfortunately, Sophie has also noticed that the Doctor is, in her words, "gorgeous". Craig is a bit miffed.

Craig receives a call from his mates, informing him that his side in the pub league is one man short, so Craig politely asks the Doctor if he wants to make up the numbers. It's not drinking, as the Doctor first suspects, but football — and although he's not sure whether it's "the one with the sticks" or not, he's willing to give it ago.

And so, the Doctor is introduced to the most popular sport in the world... and he's good at it. Really good, in fact. So good that he manages to completely upstage Craig and impress Sophie. With him on the team permanently, Craig's mates cheer, they'll be able to annihilate the opposition. But the Doctor is the Doctor, The Oncoming Storm, and there will be no annihilation while he's around... and he's halfway through a very dramatic speech to that effect when he realises that the other man meant "annihilate" in a figurative sense regarding football.

And then another shifty loopy time jump happens all around the Doctor, as another unfortunate is lead up those stairs, this time by a little girl...

It's a powerful one, this time. The TARDIS' zigzag plotter, previously kept to the "safe" level of four, is now showing nines. The Doctor manages to talk Amy through piloting the console, stabilising the buffeting — before the time distortion would force the TARDIS back into the vortex, casting her adrift forever. It's getting more powerful, and the Doctor is running out of time.

That night, Craig has Sophie around, and has decided that this is the night he finally works up the courage to tell her how he feels. Unfortunately, despite Craig's pleas that he keep out of the way, the Doctor has decided to work on the house's wiring, meaning that he's present to be a mood-killing Third Wheel. Conversation turns to what Sophie wants to do with her life, and she sheepishly admits that she'd like to work with animals, but has more or less resigned herself to her current go-nowhere life. Yeah, the Doctor nonchalantly agrees, probably for the best. Most dreams don't come true. Why bother pursuing them if she knows she's going to be doing the same thing forever? Sophie is hurt and angry about this, denying that she's going to be doing the same thing for her life forever... which, of course, was the Doctor's point all along. He suggests that this would be a good time to consider what's keeping her around here. Sophie is inspired, and doesn't see anything to keep her around Colchester. Craig tries to speak up, but he's completely lost his nerve.

Understandably, Craig's a bit pissed off with the Doctor by this point. So much so that he decides to disregard the Doctor's earlier warning and touches the patch of rot, which seems to be growing. By the next morning, he's near-death, his system poisoned by the lethal residue of whatever is happening upstairs. Happening upon him in the nick of time, the Doctor whips up a miracle cure that seems to be composed mainly of tea (including a used bag from the bin) and feeds it to him. Craig survives, but is significantly weakened. And by the time he wakes up, it's almost three o'clock and he's very late for work.

When Craig gets to his call centre he discovers that that he has a new stand-in — the Doctor, kindly covering his shift for him and having quite a blast, but managing to drive away his customers with his blunt phone manner. And he was a great success in the planning meeting as well, acting as Craig's representative, so Craig's boss absolutely loves him. And now Sophie's applied to act as a volunteer for a wildlife charity abroad, nervously asking him if it's okay. Craig's completely discombobulated at this point and just staggers off home.

The Doctor, meanwhile, has engaged a spy that he can safely send upstairs: a local cat, who delivers a report upon the Doctor's return from work. Of course, when Craig sees this, it looks like the Doctor is simply talking to a cat. And the Doctor's attempts at passing off the impressive broomsticks-and-pans whirligig he's built out of junk on his bed as "a modern art piece on the awfulness of modern life" is unconvincing. It's the last straw for Craig; he throws the Doctor's rent money back at him and demands that The Thing That Would Not Leave leaves. The Doctor, however, is equally adamant that he has to stay. Stalemate, and as the stand-off heats up, the Doctor grabs Craig's face and psyches himself to do something he'll really regret.

He psychically communicates with Craig. Via headbutt. Twice.

Craig is filled in on the general background (the Doctor, alien, Time Lord, eleven lives, Amy, TARDIS) and the specifics (the TARDIS playing up), and the Doctor discovering Craig's ad along with a note from Amy (that she hasn't written yet) guiding him to that specific house. And what's happening upstairs. Craig is appalled at the realisation that people have been dying in the flat above him, and is adamant that they have to do something now. Which is good timing, because Sophie has stopped by for a visit, only to be summoned upstairs by the little girl...

When the Doctor and Craig realise this they charge upstairs to the rescue, only to be stopped by Amy, who has discovered a fundamental flaw in their plan. Which is that there is no upstairs. According to the blueprints she's discovered of Craig's place, it's a one-storey building. Intrigued by this development, the Doctor and Craig charge through the door, and discover a makeshift TARDIS copy on the other side. It's dragging Sophie to the console via bolts of lightning. Craig and the Doctor work desperately to free her, only to be surprised when it suddenly lets her go as soon as she looks into Craig's eyes.

The old man appears, demanding that the Doctor — or "Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue", as he announces himself — help him. The ship crashed, the crew are dead, and the old man (and its various other forms) is the ship's emergency hologram, trying to find a replacement pilot. It's burnt seventeen humans to a crisp doing so already, and is quite happy to work through the other six billion four hundred thousand and twenty-six in the process. It won't have to now, however, because the Doctor, an alien, has arrived, and is more than suited to piloting it away safely.

Wrong. The Doctor's a worse choice: the machine is too much for humans to handle, but the Doctor is too much for the machine to handle. If he touches it, the resulting energy burst will blow up the solar system. As he's dragged closer to the machine, he realises there's one person here the machine has shown no interest in: Craig. Craig lacked the necessary desire to pilot the ship. And Sophie was all right too, until the Doctor awakened her latent desire to move on — but Craig has nowhere else he wants to be. Why is that? Craig is persuaded to touch the machine, and the Doctor demands that he reveal why he's always been so happy to stay exactly where he is.

It's Sophie, of course. The two hastily admit their feelings for each other, and Craig is persuaded to leave the whole monkey discussion for another time by the Doctor, who points out the malfunctioning machine they have to deal with. One good kiss is sufficient to switch it off.They have to leg it downstairs before the ship self-destructs with them on-board. They watch from the street as the ship disappears, leaving the flat as the one-story house that it was always meant to be.

Later, Craig and Sophie are happily distracted from (ahem) "ruining" their friendship further by the Doctor, who's come to drop his keys off now that the TARDIS and Amy have landed safely. Craig, however, wants the Doctor to keep them: he's been inside the Doctor's head and knows he won't be back, but it's a little memento. The three say their fond farewells and leave, Craig and Sophie planning their future together...

... and there's a crack in the wall behind Craig's fridge.

Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor prepares to tie up the loose ends by rewriting the will which enabled him to stay in Craig's flat, and leaves Amy the instruction of writing the note for the newsagent. She rummages in the Doctor's pockets for a red pen... but discovers a red box instead. Containing an engagement ring.


Tropes:

  • The Ace: The Doctor is this from Craig's perspective.
  • Adaptation Expansion: As mentioned above, it's based on a comic strip that originally starred Ten and Mickey. It was a nine-page comic; this is a 45-minute episode.
  • Always Someone Better: The Doctor to Craig, with regards to football and his job. Probably not the best thing to do to your landlord.
  • Awesome McCoolname: And a Shout-Out to two Gerry Anderson Supermarionation series — "Hello, I'm Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue."
  • Badass Boast: Here, the Doctor learns the importance of timing these properly.
    The Doctor: Annihilate? No. No violence, not when I'm around; not now, not ever. I'm the Doctor, the Oncoming Storm, and you basically meant beat them in a football match didn't you.
    Football guy: Yeah.
    The Doctor: Lovely.
  • Big Damn Kiss: How Sophie and Craig seal their relationship upgrade and save the day.
    The Doctor: Not now, Craig, the planet's about to burn for god's sake, kiss the girl!
  • Big "NO!" / Big "YES!": Literally — the Doctor and Amy actually say "Big no!" and "Big yes!" respectively.
  • Blipvert: The psychic headbutt, once in a vain attempt to summarise everything by speeding through the past ten Doctors, and another one that just handles the episode thus far.
  • Bottle Episode: As is traditional by now, the last episode before the end of the series.
  • Breather Episode: A nice, heart-warming little domestic comedy in a season full of darker themes and impending cataclysms. Even more specifically, it fell right in between the very emotional "Vincent and the Doctor" and the action-packed season finale. Still has a few burned, desiccated corpses though.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Craig and Sophie, even though Everyone Can See It.
  • The Cast Showoff: Matt Smith gets to show his football skills.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "Bow-ties are cool" makes another appearance.
    • Eleven's other catchphrase "Geronimo" is also used, but by Craig. Perhaps he picked it up from the Doctor during the "psychic headbutt".
  • Commercial Pop-Up: An odd example. In the accompanying episode of Doctor Who Confidential, the football match in this episode is presented in the style of a BBC Sport broadcast, including a "BBC Sport" logo in the corner of the screen. When this was broadcast on BBC 3, the "BBC 3" logo appeared in the same position, resulting in something of a mess.
  • Context-Sensitive Button : The zigzag plotter. Not working correctly? Take two steps to your right!
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Creepy Child: "Help me..."
  • The Faceless: Every one of the hologram's appearances is of a person with their face in shadow.
  • Fanservice: Eleven's Shirtless Scene. There were many ways they could have done this scene. They opted for the sexiest option. It is somewhat relevant to the plot however, as he proceeds to obliviously hang around half-naked in front of the chubby, slovenly Craig and a gleefully leering Sophie. As Craig saw the Doctor as The Ace who was ruining his life and his chances with Sophie, this was yet another strike in the Doctor's "annoying as hell" column.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: So, what would ruining your friendship completely entail that makes you look so happy?
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: It looks like this might be a symptom of the cracks, the references to the undisturbed timeline aggravating them further.
  • Idiot Ball: The Doctor is extremely distracted by lots of depressing things (knowing that the TARDIS will explode, Rory being erased, and this episode's crisis), which seems to have accentuated Eleven's already scatter-brained nature. He is eventually able to focus and pull himself together. As Roberts says in the Confidential, this is the Doctor acting like the Doctor, he's just doing it in a "normal" situation for once.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Craig and Sophie for most of the episode; they eventually decide to "ruin their friendship completely".
  • Just Between You and Me: "People never stop blurting out their plans when I'm around."
  • Mary Sue: invokedDeconstructed. The Doctor has a lot of the traits you'd expect from a Mary Sue for this episode, but he drives Craig nuts and after three days he can't stand him.
  • Modesty Towel: The Doctor.
  • Moment Killer: The Doctor, several times. He makes up for it.
  • Mood Whiplash: The ending. The episode itself is very funny and optimistic, but it ends fairly abruptly on Amy looking upset and confused at her and Rory's engagement ring, which the Doctor had kept. More minor, but right before Amy describes the Doctor as quite the matchmaker as they wrap the episode up as a definite win, the world safe, the couple happy, etc., Amy then asks "Why can't you find me a man?". Your smile should be gone now. In the end: There. Is. A. Crack. In. The. House. And it was growing, remember what they do? And all three of these things happen in quick succession, throwing any warm and fuzzy feeling out the window.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The Epic Football Match set to Epic Music.
  • Mythology Gag: The Eleventh Doctor's football shirt just happens to have 11 on it.
  • Naked First Impression: Well, the Doctor got a towel — a slippery one.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: The Doctor's been established to have psychic touch abilities, but this is the first appearance of the psychic headbutt. Note the writers covering their butts on future fans saying "Why didn't the doctor do this thing again" in unwritten episodes by having the Doctor clearly say how much he regrets doing it and how painful it is.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Not the usual kind by any means, but the emergency hologram was willing to use up every human on the planet one by one...
  • Psychic Link: Star Trek-type mind melds are spoofed by having the Doctor Info Dump headbutt Craig.
  • Power of Love: It's used to shut down the alien spaceship, instead of the more usual starting one.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Subverted; the Doctor appears to be giving Sophie one of these, to which she reacts angrily... except that he's actually provoking her in order to draw her out of her shell and realise for herself how much potential she's got.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: The episode is lampshaded as Doctor Who ON EARTH.
  • Schmuck Bait: The Doctor tells Craig not to touch the mildew stain. So what does he do?
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The Doctor cements his place in the flat via a paper bag filled with 3000. Subverted in that the Doctor just withdrew a lot of cash and can't be bothered to check if it's the right amount.
  • Shirtless Scene: Eleven gets another shirtless scene and he's wielding unusual weaponry... (Slightly NSFW)
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Doctor tells the ship's autopilot that he's from International Rescue.
    • While talking to the hologram, the Doctor delivers a deadpan "Please state the nature of the emergency". Bonus points for quoting the only other fictional "doctor" most people would know of. And extra bonus points for quoting another "Emergency Hologram".
    • There also seem to be a couple of connections between this story and "City of Death": both have glitches in time, and the spaceship at the end looks a lot like a Jagaroth spaceship, that wanted to use a Time Lord to build a time machine.
  • Shower Scene: The Doctor gets one of these.
  • A Simple Plan: Given what happened the last time he said it, he should really consider some different phrasing...
    The Doctor: All I've got to do is pass as an ordinary human being. Simple. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
    Amy: Have you seen you?
  • Spot of Tea: The amazing curative properties of tea are displayed again. This time the miracle cure for the "whatever" leaking through the ceiling is a pot of really strong tea made with all the teabags in the flat (including one rescued from the bin). While collecting tea bags, the Doctor is saying "Right, reverse the enzyme decay, excite the tannin molecules."
  • Stable Time Loop: The flat only has a room open because the previous occupant's uncle's will gave him enough money to leave, and the Doctor chooses to go there after seeing a note from Amy above the ad for it in the local newsagent. At the end of the episode, the Doctor talks about going back to change the will, and tells Amy to write the note.
  • Stop Helping Me!: invoked The Doctor's attempts to help Craig (joining his football team, filling in for him at work when he's sick, trying to get Sophie to admit that she loves him, etc.) just make him look like Always Someone Better, driving Sophie away.
  • Supreme Chef: The Doctor shows his skill at making a palatable omelette from eggs, cheese, bacon and salad cream (or, as Americans would call it, "salad dressing").
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Invoked: Amy's reaction to Craig and Sophie's mutual love confession.
  • Technobabble: Taken Up to Eleven. The Doctor's scanner, made out of things like an oar, a rake, a lamp, etc., is described as "non-technological technology from Lamistine".
  • That Poor Cat: Subverted. The cat survives, and was actually spying for the Doctor.
  • Treacherous Spirit Chase: Random passers-by get lured into a two-flat by various poorly-lit characters, with much screaming and electrocuting as the result.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Invoked. The Doctor tries to pass off his time scanner as a piece of modern art. "It's a statement on modern society! Oooh... ain't modern society awful?"
  • True Love's Kiss:
    The Doctor: For God's sake, kiss the girl!
  • Use Your Head: In order to save time explaining why he's staying with Craig, the Doctor headbutts him twice.
  • Visual Pun: The Doctor with his Sonic... Toothbrush.
  • Wham Line: "There! Is! No! Upstairs!"
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: The Doctor has to act like a normal human.
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens: The time scanner that the Doctor's made in his room.
  • You Are Number Six: As the Doctor fills Craig in psychically, the Eleventh Doctor simply responds: "Eleven" to Craig's rambling gibberish.


Doctor Who S31 E10 'Vincent and the Doctor"Recap/Doctor WhoDoctor Who S31 E12 'The Pandorica Opens"

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