Recap: Doctor Who S31 E6 "The Vampires of Venice"

aka: Doctor Who S 31 E 06 The Vampires Of Venice
Vampiresnote ! Better than Christmas!

"Anywhere you want, any time you want. One condition: it has to be amazing. The Moulin Rouge in 1890! The first Olympic Games! Think of it as a wedding present. Because frankly it's either this or tokens."
The Doctor

Vampires. In Venice. Well, not really.

The Cold Open starts in 1580, with a man called Guido presenting his daughter to be trained at a certain school run by the House of Calvierri, since there's no future for the daughter of a boat builder and the Calvierri house is considered a safehold from plague. She is accepted by Rosanna Calvierri and her son, Francesco, who wear dark clothes and smile a lot and are therefore already suspicious in the eyes of the audience. Guido leaves, assured of his daughter's future, but we're not quite so assured, since as soon as the door closes on her father Francesco displays an impressive pair of teeth in front of Isabella. She begins to scream....

Extreme fast forward to Rory's stag night. A giant cake is wheeled in, and out bursts not the woman they were expecting, but the Doctor! He then proceeds to tell the assembled guests that Amy tried to kiss him, and tries to reassure Rory by explaining that Rory's very lucky to be engaged to such a great kisser. After one hugely awkward silence ensues, the titles start.

The Doctor offers Rory and Amy a wedding gift of a trip in the TARDIS to a romantic getaway, and they end up in Venice... in 1580. This should be fun.

However, just as they're about to set out and explore, they get stopped. Apparently you need papers to travel around Venice at the moment, because of the fears of plague and such. The Doctor presents their credentials with the psychic paper ("I am so sorry, Your Holiness. I didn't realise.") and they enter the city, just in time to see Guido get blocked from talking to Isabella by members of the House of Calvierri. The Doctor is on the case! Meanwhile, Amy and Rory have a bit of a bicker, but then decide to bask in the fact that they're in Venice! In 1580! While they're basking, Francesco gets approached by a flower seller. He isn't interested in her wares, but he does want something else...

Cue the teeth, and cue the screams. Amy and Rory rush to find Francesco making a meal out of the poor girl, though thankfully he doesn't get the chance to finish as he flees... apparently into the canal. What was that about vampires not being able to cross running water again?

Guido causes a ruckus outside the Calvierri house, giving the Doctor a chance to sneak in through a back entrance. He ends up in a cellar, where he gets distracted by a mirror, before realizing that there are in fact five young women standing behind him, and none of them have a reflection. Ominous. They, quite understandably, demand to know who he is, only they do it in synchronization. More ominous. The Doctor tries to bluff his way out by using the psychic paper, but accidentally gets his extremely old library card instead. (As in, it's got his first face and his 1960s' London address on it.) The girls display some rather impressive teeth — oh, now that's not right — and don't even have the decency to tell him the whole plan, so he decides to get out of there sharpish.note 

Meeting up with Amy, Rory and Guido again, the four try to think of a way to get inside information on the Calvierri. Guido already knows of a tunnel leading under the house; now they just need someone on the inside, and Amy suggests being that someone. The Doctor and Rory are not too happy about this, and then they manage to get into an argument about who'd make a more convincing dad, brother or fiancé for her. Oh, and the Doctor is starting to suspect that they might not be dealing with vampires after all. He is not entirely sure what the Calvierris actually are, but since they don't mind been thought of as vampires they might be something worse.

In the end, Rory ends up posing as Amy's brother. In Guido's borrowed clothes, meaning Guido is poling a gondola around Venice wearing a T-shirt with the immortal phrase "Rory's Stag" on the back (and a picture of the two lovebirds in a heart on the front). A nervous Roy stammers through the cover story, which leaves something to be desired, but the Calvierris seem to buy it. A little too well; Francesco is showing decidedly more interest in Amy than she, Rory or the audience would like. In the girls' dormitory Amy comes across a Isabella, and learns that the Calvierri are bringing about some sort of change in her that makes the sunlight burn her. And there are some nasty bite marks on her neck....

As the Doctor and Rory make their way through the secret tunnel (and have a little bicker about Amy's kiss) Amy goes to the entrance of the tunnel to let them in. This show being what it is, she ends up getting captured instead, and strapped into a chair so that she can be bitten by Rosanna. The process works thus; they drain her of all her blood and then fill her with theirs instead, making her into one of them. What with that and all that lusting over Amy's blood and being so thirsty, they must be vampires, right?

The answer turns out to be a surprising no, for Amy kicks some technological item at Rosanna's waist; the image she's sustaining fails and she turns into... a giant fish-shrimp alien.

Just then, the Doctor and Rory's arrival creates a distraction, and with Isabella helping to free Amy they all make a break for it, warding off the Calvierri with a portable sunlight lamp as they go. Our trio manages to escape, but poor Isabella gets dragged back inside the house and the Doctor, in trying to save her, gets an electric shock from the door and gets knocked out. Isabella is later forced to jump into an evil bubbling canal, with something living below the water that drags her beneath.

Satisfied at a job well done, Rosanna returns to her audience chamber — only to find the Doctor, quite recovered from his shock and sitting on her throne. He identifies her as a Sister of the Water and from Saturnyne. There follows a question and answer session where they learn things about each other and also answers some of the questions we've had about these not-vampires, such as why they don't show up in mirrors (the perception filter around them means that the brain that's being manipulated doesn't know what to fill the gap with, so leaves it blank). It also emerges that Rosanna and her people have had some encounters with the cracks, through which they saw silence and the end of all things. Can you tell what the running theme is yet?

Those of Saturnyne fled to our world through such a crack, which closed behind them and supposedly destroyed their world. Rosanna intends to rebuild her race by any means necessary, and asks the Doctor to join her in her efforts. Unsurprisingly the Doctor says no, and is disgusted not just by the fact that Rosanna had Isabella executed, but that she didn't even know her name. That clinches the deal.

But Rosanna isn't content to sit and wait. The final preparations have been made, after all, and so she summons the girls. She has a job for them.

Our intrepid four have a brainstorming — or rather a storming of the Doctor's brain, since he doesn't allow anyone else to chip in. They, so to speak, figure out from Rosanna's cryptic words that Rosanna plans to sink Venice and repopulate it with the girls she's transformed, as wives for her 10,000 male children that even now populate the canals and snack on anyone who displeases her. Um, ick. Even the Doctor's grossed out. You know it's bad when the Doctor's grossed out. He is then distracted as the people upstairs become rather noisy.

Guido quickly points out that no one lives upstairs.

Even the Doctor was expecting that. So now our heroes are under attack by buxom fish girls from space. Levitating buxom fish girls from space, since they're on the second floor and all. In order to save the others and avenge Isabella, Guido chooses to blow himself and the fish girls up with barrels of gunpowder he'd kept stored in his chambers, defiantly shouting "We! Are! VENETIANS!!" as he lights the barrels. Unaware of the demise of her protégées, Rosanna begins the process that will drown Venice. The Doctor rushes to stop her, after telling Amy and Rory to go back to the TARDIS, because he doesn't want any more deaths today. Guido's sacrifice seems to have touched a nervy nerve that Rory's already rubbed before: "You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves when you're around!"

As the people panic around them on their way back to the TARDIS, Rory and Amy encounter Francesco, who decides to take the opportunity to fulfill his ambition and make a meal out of Amy. Still laboring under the impression that he's a vampire, Rory tries to ward him off with a makeshift cross, which Francesco responds to with no little contempt. Rory's attempts to distract him are unsuccessful until an ill-chosen crack about Francesco's mother, which Francesco does not appreciate; Rory's feeble attempts at defending himself with Broom Fu pale in comparison to Francesco's expert swordsmanship, and Rory looks like he's about to become a Saturnynian feast until Amy distracts Francesco with a hint of sunlight catching her pocket mirror. This has the added bonus of blowing Francesco up. Amy takes the opportunity to critique Rory's technique and to kiss him passionately, and both make tracks to help the Doctor.

The Doctor storms into Rosanna's palace, cutting off her gloating by bluntly pointing out that the women she hoped to have mate with her children are dead; her plan has failed. Shocked, Rosanna flees, leaving the Doctor to dismantle the device which is reshaping Venice's environment, creating a storm and earthquakes which will in turn create a tidal wave which will swamp the city. Rory and Amy return; Rory's pledge not to leave the Doctor causes a certain amount of ire in light of his earlier declaration, but there's little time for an argument; the Doctor sets Rory and Amy the task of dismantling Rosanna's throne, which contains the controls for the device, while he climbs the tower and sets to work on the generator as the rain and thunder lash around him. It's a tricky, confusing clockwork device, and it's hard to figure out how to dismantle it —

— Oh. Hang on a second. Turns out there's a simple switch which, once flicked, turns off the device. The rains stop, the sun comes out, and the Doctor takes in the cheers of Venetians.

Distraught and broken, Rosanna walks to the canal containing her children. While in human form, they will not distinguish her from any other human and will devour her, which is clearly what she intends. The Doctor, arriving just as she strips down and walks the plank, tries to persuade her not to jump, arguing that it is possible to live as the last of your species (offering himself as Exhibit A); Rosanna merely reminds him coldly that he now has two extinct species to his name, and jumps in. Her children go "Om nom nom nom".

As they head back to the TARDIS, the Doctor (in full Stepford Smiler mode) muses that maybe it's time to head off to Leadworth Registry Office for a certain happy event. Rory, a bit glumly, just suggests dropping him off back where they picked him up, but Amy, clearly wanting to make him feel better, gives him a kiss and suggests that he stays on for just a bit longer. The Doctor has no objection, and Rory — clearly thrilled — agrees. Happily, Amy disappears into the TARDIS to put the kettle on — and in doing so, misses the entire city suddenly fall deathly, unnaturally silent. Rory doesn't appear to notice anything amiss, but the Doctor, recalling Rosanna's words about the silence at the other side of the cracks, is freaked out, and the episode ends with a sinister zoom-in to the TARDIS keyhole as he shuts the door behind him.


  • Actually Not a Vampire
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Because Big Vicious Fish People From Space of Venice isn't quite as catchy.
  • Adorkable: Rory, especially during his fight with Francesco.
  • Arc Words: The cracks. The silence. The crack turns up again, but it's subtle. Look at the clouds, after the Doctor stops the storm engine.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: But then again, they're vampires or alien fish. The two words practically go hand in hand.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Isabella, when she thinks she's going to be executed by drowning, taunts the Calvierri by reminding them that she's a Venetian. "We can all swim!" Subverted, though, in that once she's in the water she actually gets eaten alive by space piranhas.
    • Played straight, however, by the Doctor saying that he will end the House of Calvierri.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The Doctor uses the Psychic Paper to claim he's The Pope, and later that Amy is the daughter of the King of Sweden.
  • Berserk Button: "Did you just say something about Mummy?"
  • Big Damn Kiss: After they kill a vampire together, Rory and Amy get their first on-screen kiss.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Calvierri" is very similar to the Latin word for "skull".
  • Black Dude Dies First: Black girl dies first, and her father dies next.
  • Blatant Lies: The TARDIS sparks and smokes and explodes...
    The Doctor: It's meant to do that.
  • Broomstick Quarterstaff: Attempted by Rory...
  • Breaking Speech: In their interactions, Rosanna is fond of (rather snidely) implying that the Doctor didn't do everything he could to save his people.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: The Doctor swears to destroy everything Rosanna has built because she doesn't know the name of the woman she killed. This is only a borderline case though, as she probably does remember the actual killing.
  • Butt Monkey: Rory. As an illustration, when bluffing their way past an Obstructive Bureaucrat with the psychic paper, the Doctor becomes the Pope and Amy a viscountess. Rory?
  • California Doubling: Or Croatia Doubling, since the city of Trogir has authentically Venetian architecture (but no canals).
  • Changed My Jumper: The whole cast looks totally out of place in 16th century Venice, but of particular note is Amy's denim miniskirt and fishnet stockings, none of which raises an eyebrow. Amy and Rory do change to blend in for a time, and Rory hilariously ends up swapping his "Rory's Stag" jumper with Guido, who in turn looks even more ridiculous wearing it.
  • Character Development: After the Doctor's recent experiences with Rose Tyler, Martha Jones and Sarah Jane Smith, it's sunk in that having female companions in unrequited love with you is actually quite cruel, so he goes to some trouble to sort out Amy and her fiancé. Of course they nearly get killed in the process — the Doctor hasn't changed that much.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Or rather gunpowder. Guido has barrels of it in his house, and later uses it to blow up the attacking Calvierri girls in his Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Francesco warning Rosanna about using her perception filter near her children.
  • City of Canals: Obviously.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    The Doctor: She was frightened, I was frightened... But we survived, and the relief of it and... so, she kissed me.
    Rory: And you kissed her back?
    The Doctor: No. I kissed her mouth.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Doctor identifies himself to the vampire girls by showing his library card. With a picture of the First Doctor on. If you look at it in close up, you can see the card is in the name of Dr J Smith of 76 Totter's Lane, Shoreditch, London.
    • This isn't the first time that an alien race fled from the vanishing of their home planet by the season's story arc and attempted to rebuild their society in an Italian city. Coincidentally, the Pyroviles are fire-based lifeforms whereas the vampires are aquatic beings, and a character played by Karen Gillan was threatened, directly or indirectly, to be turned into one of their kind in both stories.
    • It also isn't the first time that a massive dark cloud filled with lightning has formed over a historical city and threatened the end of the world.
    • Nor is it the first time that the Doctor has had to lure an alien up to the top of a very tall bell tower. Reverses the original scene, though — in "The Lazarus Experiment", the bells caused pain to Lazarus, in "Vampires of Venice", they cause pain to the Doctor.
    • Nor is it the first time a death has been caused by an electric door.
    • "I'll explain later" was used by the First Doctor and spoofed in The Curse of Fatal Death.
    • This is the second time in the new series that the Doctor has driven someone to suicide.
    • The Doctor mentions how aliens with vampiric traits are "classic".
  • Cool Chair: The Calvierri throne.
  • Damsel out of Distress: She can't quite free herself, but Amy does damage Rosanna's perception filter even while she's tied up.
  • Dark Is Evil: Francesco and Rosanna are both dressed in dark purple.
  • Dead Man's Chest: Dessicated bodies of several victims are kept in trunks in the basement.
  • Dissimile: "You're like Houdini, only five slightly scary girls. And he was shorter. Will be shorter."
  • Dramatic Drop: When the Doctor mentions kissing Rory's fiancée, someone drops a beer glass offscreen.
  • Establishing Character Moment: There is a scream; Rory and Amy run to help. Amy chases after the vampire, Rory stays to help the girl. Because he's a nurse.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Francesco is slowly threatening Amy and Rory's desperately trying to get his attention. After several failed insults, Rory successfully enrages him by insulting his mother.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: The cake scene.
    The Doctor: Funny how you can say something in your head, and it sounds fine.
  • Game Face: Explained as the survival instinct overriding a perception filter.
  • Genre Savvy: Rory cuts off the Doctor's "it's bigger on the inside" speech by pointing out that he's been doing some reading up on "the latest theories" since their encounter with Prisoner Zero. The Doctor is a little miffed about that:
    The Doctor: I like the bit when someone says "it's bigger on the inside". I always look forward to it.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Yours is bigger than mine." Which is then lampshaded:
    The Doctor: Let's not go there.
  • Glamour Failure
  • Gorgeous Period Dress
  • Hammerspace: Where exactly was the Doctor hiding that big light?
  • He Had a Name: "Where's Isabella?" At the beginning, the Doctor makes a point of asking if someone could bring in from the cold the bikini-clad girl who was supposed to be in the cake he burst out of in front of Rory, in the process revealing that he's learnt her name (Lucy) and that she's diabetic. Contrast with Rosanna, who couldn't even be bothered learning the names of the human girls she was converting into breeding stock for her sons.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Guido draws the fish aliens away, letting them corner him so he can blow up all that gunpowder we saw earlier, shouting: WE! ARE! VENETIANS!
  • Hiss Before Fleeing: Only rarely do the vampires flee. Usually, it's the people they encounter. But they do love hissing.
  • Hollywood Darkness: When the Doctor and Rory first get inside the House of Calvierri, it's obvious that the characters can't see nearly as much as the audience can.
  • Hypocrite: The Doctor calls Rory out on this when Rory demands to be allowed to stay and help the Doctor save the day, pointing out that Rory himself had earlier took the Doctor to task for the way that he tended to encourage people to put their lives at risk. Particularly since the Doctor had taken this on board and had in fact arranged for Amy and Rory to return to the TARDIS where they'd be safe.
  • Incest Is Relative: There's something a bit... Squicky about how Francesco and Rosanna interact with each other.
  • Jumping Out of a Cake: The Doctor does this at the very beginning.
  • Just Between You and Me: Invoked, to no avail.
  • Kill 'em All:
    • And there goes another species.
    • And the rest of the supporting cast. Seriously, the only characters (whether they had any lines or not) who survive, apart from the main trio, are the steward, that remarkably lucky flower girl who typically might have bought it and the official at the start.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Subverted. Rory would appreciate it if he was not introduced as Amy's brother.
  • Literal-Minded:
    Rory: And you kissed her back?
    The Doctor: No, I kissed her mouth.
  • Mars Needs Women
  • Meaningful Name: There was another Guido who famously fiddled around with gunpowder....
  • Monster Misogyny: An odd example, considering that the monster in question is female, and acquiring some more females was the entire point of her actions. But Rosanna sends the converted girls to attack our heroes, instead of the thousands of available males, even though their deaths ruin everything.
  • Mood Whiplash: At the very end. It's all joking about with Amy and her boys, and then... silence. Utter silence. Not even the water is making any noise. And everyone in the area has vanished. The Doctor wisely gets inside the TARDIS as the episode ends.
  • Mummys Boy: Francesco
  • Mundane Solution: The Doctor shuts down the weather machine by... flicking a switch. A small one.
  • Nice Hat: Francesco
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Doctor is called out again by a race for genocide as he's genociding it. It's a bit troubling that this is a series that requires viewers to use the word "genocide" as a transitive verb. More than once.
  • Non-Action Guy: Rory is Mickey Smith v 2.0. Or Rhys v 2.0. Quite a lot like Larry from "Blink", too.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Joked about. "Blimey, fish from space have never been so... buxom."
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The Doctor owes Casanova a chicken.
    • Also, apparently he accidentally crashed at least one incorrect stag / hen do by hiding in a cake before happening upon the correct Rory.
  • Oh, Crap:
    • Rory swings the broom around, jabbing it at Francesco. Francesco draws an actual sword. Rory panics.
    • The Doctor gets an Oh, Crap moment himself when he realises that Guido is going to use the gunpowder stored in his house to perform a Heroic Sacrifice - and he's standing right in front of said house.
    • Amy has this expression a lot when confronted with a room full of vampires, or one advancing on her menacingly.
  • Oh Me Accents Slipping: Amy's pronunciation of "blokes" is definitely interesting for a Scot.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: These are not the vampires from "State of Decay". Or the Plasmavore from "Smith and Jones". Or the Haemovores from "The Curse of Fenric". They're actually fish-like. The lack of reflections is a simple bug of their perception filters. The fangs peek through the filter thanks to a subconscious override of the filter due to the observer's survival instinct.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Both Isabella and Guido attempt to intimidate the enemy with proud proclamations of being Venetian.
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: Following the Big Damn Kiss, Rory looks like he's just been hit on the head with something very heavy, and dazedly follows Amy right where he doesn't want them to go.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Oi! Mummy's boy!"
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "We! Are! VENETIANS!"
  • Rays from Heaven: At the climax, the clouds are roiling and storming and getting darker every minute as the end of humanity draws near. When the Doctor shuts off the storm controller to save the world once again, the clouds dissipate and sunbeams burst through as people celebrate.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • Some people have lambasted the appearance of Isabella and her father as tokenism and Politically Correct History. Venice was a port and trade city in Real Life, and it wasn't unheard of for African traders to move and set up shop there in the 16th century. See also a moderately well-known play called Othello, the Moor of Venice. Also an earlier episode points out the fact that even England in 1599 wasn't just fair youths by this point; there were a lot of dark ladies around as well.
    • Rory fending off a sword with a broom is not impossible either, provided he managed to hit the flat of Francesco's blade and not the edge.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Rory chews the Doctor out for how he instils in people the desire to do risky things to impress him.
  • Record Scratch: An electronic version interrupts the music at Rory's party after the Doctor pops out of the cake.
  • Scenery Porn: This is one of the prettier episodes, and the scenery is shown off with some really stunning cinematography.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Rosanna enacts her plan, her chamberlain (who appears to be completely human) is last seen running away with a bag full of what appears to be everything valuable in the mansion that wasn't bolted down.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: It's a switch. A tiny one.
  • Shipper on Deck: The Doctor with Amy and Rory.
  • Shoo the Dog: One of the main ways the Doctor goes about shipping Amy and Rory. Consistency and success rate are both variable so far.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sickly Green Glow: The blood-draining torture chamber. See also the picture at the top of the page.
  • Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: Amy uses the mirror in her bag to fry a vampire.
  • Standard Snippet: "The Stripper" plays during Rory's stag party.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Well, Stay in the TARDIS. Although he may have done that to get her off his back, romantically.
  • Stealth Pun: It's a race of fish people disguising themselves as an educational institution.
  • A Storm Is Coming
  • That Came Out Wrong: In retrospect, the Doctor's attempting to reassure Rory about Amy kissing him by insisting that she's a great kisser was probably a mistake.
  • Totally Not a Werewolf: ...or vampire, in this case.
  • Tranquil Fury:
  • Villainous BSOD: Rosanna's son is dead, her vampire converts are dead, and the Doctor has prevented the destruction of Venice. She feeds herself to her sons.
  • Visual Pun: When Francisco draws his sword and Rory looks terrified, the camera repeatedly cuts to the nearby chickens.
  • Walk the Plank: It's not the fall that kills you this time. It's the sudden vampire-fish-husbands at the end...
  • We Can Rule Together: After learning he's a Time Lord, Rosanna suggests the Doctor help her build a new society on Earth. The Doctor refuses due to awkward interspecies issues ("Think of the children")... and because she kills people.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Calvierri's intention, to save her race and her family, is rather understandable and sympathetic. The way she goes about it on the other hand...
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: Rory trying to threaten a skilled swordsman by madly swinging a broom around.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Two for the Doctor this time.
    • After Amy gets grabbed and they find a skeleton, Rory tells the Doctor that he's dangerous because of what he makes people want to do for him. (Essentially the same point Davros made in "Journey's End".) Later inverted by the Doctor on Rory, when he and Amy insist on helping him:
      The Doctor: Right, so one minute it's all "You make people a danger to themselves," the next it's "We're not leaving you!"
    • Rosanna implying that he didn't fight hard enough for his own people, and asking if he wants to have another doomed race on his conscience. Of course, she doesn't know that he blew them up on purpose.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • Rory trying to defeat one vampire/fish alien with a self-made cross. It doesn't really work. Amy calls him out on this because they already knew that the vampires were alien fish and would not have this weakness.
    • The Doctor also has a minor case on his part when he first meets the Calvierri girls. He orders them to tell him the whole plan, before bemoaning that one day he'll get that to work.
  • The X of Y: "The Vampires of Venice"
  • Your Mom: "The only thing I've seen uglier than you is your mum!" Which in turn results in Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas and an Oh, Crap look from Rory.

Alternative Title(s):

Doctor Who S 31 E 06 The Vampires Of Venice