Recap: Doctor Who S31 E8 "The Hungry Earth"

aka: Doctor Who S 31 E 08 The Hungry Earth
Amazing what a few decades can do in terms of improving character designs...
"Oh look, a big mining thing. Oh, I love a big mining thing. See, way better than Rio. Rio doesn't have a big mining thing."
The Doctor

The second two-part story of the the Eleventh Doctor's first series. Written by Chris Chibnall, head writer of Torchwood's first and second series and the Doctor Who series 3 episode "42".
It's 2020, near a small Welsh hamlet. The most ambitious drilling project in history has reached deeper beneath the Earth's crust than man has ever gone before, but now the ground itself is fighting back.

The episode starts with Mo, a drill worker, spending some quality reading time with his dyslexic son Elliot, before being reminded by his wife Ambrose that his shift at the local major mining project starts soon. Having witnessed this fairly tender family life scene, it's obvious something will go wrong with the drill when he's the only one on duty, since it's his misfortune to have to fill the quotient of someone getting killed horribly in order to demonstrate how serious the situation really is.

The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive. (They were aiming for Rio, but the TARDIS disagreed.) The Doctor, never to be dissuaded from something of interest, tunes out Amy's complaints as he examines the strange feel of the ground beneath him and patches of blue grass all over the place. And there are people in the distance waving at them. According to the Doctor, who's the only one to have binoculars on him, it's a ten-years-older Rory and Amy, come to visit the place out of a sense of nostalgia. The Doctor explains that it would be a bad idea to meet up with them, and instead goes to have a look at the big mining thing.

Rory puts Amy's engagement ring in the TARDIS for safekeeping, and gets sidetracked by Elliot and Ambrose, who assume that he's a plain-clothes police officer come to investigate the disappearance of people buried in the graveyard, coffins and all. On the surface the graves haven't been touched, and it's as if the ground has all but swallowed them up.

Amy and the Doctor sonic-and-enter the premises of the drilling project, and come across Dr Nasreen Chaudhry and Tony Mack, the two people directing this project. They're trying to work out what's wrong with the drill, where Mo went to, and where that big hole in the floor came from. The Doctor's most worried by the last, especially since it's started to steam. And of course he's right, as the ground situated under the room begins to tremble and more holes appear in the floor in quick succession. Nasreen and the Doctor make it to safety, but Tony gets stuck; Amy dashes to help him instead of making her own escape, and she starts getting pulled down into the earth for her trouble. She just gets pulled out of his grasp and under the earth.

The Doctor quickly mobilises the ragtag family into a makeshift army. A pitch-dark barrier dome appears around the area and Elliott disappears, but not before he manages to draw a very accurate map of the area and tremendously helps the Doctor. The Doctor realises that he should have watched the boy more carefully and vows to rescue him.

The Doctor and Nasreen decide to head underground to bargain with the Silurians (remember them?), one of whom is under the watchful eye of Rory, crazed mother Ambrose and Tony, Ambrose's father; they have taken at least three people hostage so far and stung Tony with something nasty. And green. Also, in the middle of all that, Nasreen and Tony discover that they're in love.

Amy is revealed to be in the Silurians' underground science lab, soon to be vivissected while still completely conscious, as frantically warned by Mo, who hasn't completely healed from his ordeal. Also, it's not just one little tribe, as the captured Silurian Damsel in Distress says. It's an entire civilisation.


Tropes:

  • Beneath the Earth
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Doctor gives off strong vibes of this with Ambrose and her weapon gathering. How can someone be that scary while being so polite and reasonable?
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Tony, afraid they're about to die, kisses Nasreen.
  • Big "NO!": The Doctor does several after Amy gets pulled into the earth.
  • Book Ends: The future selves waving to the present from a distant hill.
  • Buffy Speak: The Doctor going on about the 'big mining thing'.
  • Campbell Country: Cwmtaff, Wales, a dreary hamlet apparently on loan from Torchwood. Complete with hills, mists and an old church.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: What do you want to bet the engagement ring's going be significant by the end of the series? It is. Sort of. Twice.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • One is fired at the beginning of the episode with Amy and Rory standing on the hill, waving at their future selves.
    • Ambrose's pile of weapons is a turning point here because it spikes the diplomacy.
    • The Meals on Wheels van can save the world, if you use it to trap an alien.
  • Continuity Nod:
    Elliot: Have you met monsters before?
    The Doctor: Yes.
    Elliot: Are you scared of them?
    The Doctor: No. They're scared of me.
  • Damsel in Distress: Amy, held hostage by the Silurians, and Alaya, held hostage by the humans.
  • Distressed Dude: Mo clamped to the vivisection table.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Ambrose pulls out a stockpile of weapons. The Doctor asks her, very kindly, to put them away.
  • Dug Too Deep: The Silurians wake up because the humans drilled deep enough to hit their live support system.
  • Everybody Lives: Nobody died in this episode. The Doctor's determined to keep it that way. We'll find out next episode if he succeeds.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Silurians regard humans as "stinking apes" and want to wipe them out and reclaim the earth.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Ambrose
  • Genre Blindness:
    • While preparing for the Silurians' imminent arrival, the Doctor waves off the dyslexic kid when he mentions he left his headphones at home — letting him run off on his own while quite-possibly hostile natives are about to emerge. The Doctor's Oh, Crap face when he realises he was the last one to see the kid shows that he's aware of it.
    • Ambrose refuses to believe any of what the Doctor is saying, even though she was just outside looking up at a weird giant force field.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "You better get me the hell out of here, or so help me I'm gonna kick your backside!"
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Alaya is a green-skinned subterranean babe.
  • Hand Wave: A brief one explaining why Silurians look so radically different compared to the older ones; they're a different tribe.
  • Hot Scientist: Nasreen Chaudhry is attractive in a distinguished, Christmas Cake kind of way.
  • Idiot Ball: The Mama Bear grabs hold of it quite firmly from minute one. She dismisses the local expert, stock piles weapons when said expert tells her not to, antagonises the hostage, etc.
  • Lampshade Hanging: They're deep under the earth; it should be very, very hot. Nasreen asks why it's not. The Doctor says "I don't know" and they both shrug it off.
  • Last of His Kind: The female Silurian warrior claims to be the last of her species. The Doctor replies that he is the last of his species, he knows "how that sits in the heart", and that faking it is an insult.
  • L Is for Dyslexia: Elliot is dyslexic and compensates through drawing a map of the area to help with surveillance, and is extremely attached to his audio books (which include Sherlock Holmes).
  • Mad Doctor: The Silurian at the end was certainly a visual example of this trope, but he turns out to be a Mad Doctor with a Heart of Gold. He is far more reasonable than the General Ripper.
  • Mama Bear: Elliot's mother goes a little nuts after he's kidnapped.
  • Multipurpose Tongue: Silurians have a long, prehensile tongue that can lash out and inject venom.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: The Doctor insists that Amy and Rory do not try to interact with their future selves on the hill.
  • Night-Vision Goggles: Night-vision sunglasses.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Despite being reptilian, the Silurian females have some breasts.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Most basic mining safety rules include going to check out stuff in groups of two. This is why Mo is kidnapped by the ground.
  • Oh, Crap: The Doctor pulls a nice one at the cliffhanger, when he discovers there's a wee bit more than just a dozen Silurians camped under the Earth.
    The Doctor: ...ah. Maybe more than a dozen.
  • Playing with Syringes: The Silurian doctor has one as he approaches Amy with a mind to examine her internal organs.
  • The Reptilians: The Silurians, Doctor Who's most famous lizard-people, are back.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: There is no way it only took them nine minutes to set up their makeshift surveillance system. It extends over the entire community!
  • Rousing Speech: The Doctor gives one encouraging the gathered people to become "The best of humanity". Nasreen even starts clapping. She's the only one, unfortunately.
  • Schmuck Bait: So, you're alone at night, a mysterious earthquake has rocked your facility, and a strange hole has opened up. So of course Mo's first instinct is to stick his hand in there.
  • Shout-Out: The Night-Vision Shades were extremely reminiscent of They Live!.
  • Slow Clap: Nasreen unsuccessfully tries to start one after the Doctor's Rousing Speech.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: Albeit revealed with a slingshot rather than by someone walking into it.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Amy and the drill worker are secured in chairs so the Silurian doctor can vivisect them.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Justified; they're slimmed-down Night-Vision Goggles.
  • Taxonomic Term Confusion: Homo reptilia would mean they were descended from apes, the same way humans are. They'd be something along the lines of Reptilia sapiens (except reptilia is a class, not a genus).
  • Title Drop: Sort of. The Doctor references the episode's working title, "The Ground Beneath Their Feet".
  • Tranquil Fury: When Alaya, the Silurian prisoner, tries to gain sympathy from the Doctor by lying about being the last of her species, his expression stays quite polite, until he begins talking, "I know what it's like to be the last of a species, because I'm the last of mine. I know how it sits in the heart so, please, don't insult me." His expression goes Icy Cold..'
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Played straight and inverted. The straight play comes to the fore in the following episode. The inversion comes in the Silurans. They're more than happy to kill stinking apes... and vivisect them... while they're awake.
  • Who Wears Short Shorts?: Amy was dressed for RIO!
  • You Keep Using That Word: While "dissection" isn't technically incorrect, as it means to cut something open to examine it, it's typically only used when talking about dead things or things that were never living in the first place. The proper term for cutting open a living thing to examine it is "vivisection".


Alternative Title(s):

Doctor Who S 31 E 08 The Hungry Earth