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Recap / Doctor Who 2006 CS "The Runaway Bride"

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The Doctor: You’ve seen it out there. It’s beautiful.
Donna: And it's terrible. That place was flooding and burning, and they were dying and you stood there like... I don't know, a stranger. And then you made it snow. I mean, you scare me to death!

Original air date: December 25, 2006

The One With… the bovvered bride and lots and lots of hurled insults.

Written by Russell T. Davies.

A familiar Astronomic Zoom from orbit takes the scene to, instead of the Powell Estate, a church in Chiswick, where a Christmas Eve wedding is underway. Bride-to-be Donna Noble is escorted down the aisle by her father to her waiting groom, Lance Bennett. Halfway down the aisle, she is surrounded by a mysterious golden glow. Screaming in horror, Donna dissolves into a cloud of energy that goes flying up through the ceiling. The guests are left baffled. Was Donna just abducted?

The cloud of golden energy that was Donna shoots into outer space and enters the TARDIS, reassembling her inside the doors just as the Doctor finishes burning up a supernova to send a final goodbye message to Rose, bringing us to where the last episode ended.

The Doctor: What...?
[Donna turns around and gasps]
The Doctor: What?
Donna: Who are you?
The Doctor: But...
Donna: [now annoyed] Where am I?!
The Doctor: What?!
Donna: [now angry] What the hell is this place?!
The Doctor: ...WHAT?!

The Doctor is increasingly flabbergasted as to how Donna ended up in the TARDIS while it's in flight. As he tries to figure out what is happening, Donna becomes equally angry and confused as to where she is. She accuses the Doctor of stealing her from her wedding and even threatens to sue him. She thinks her friend Nerys got her back with an elaborate prank... until she yanks open the doors and finds herself staring out into deep space. Shocked back to her senses, she realises the Doctor is an alien and what she is seeing is real. The Doctor still cannot figure out how she gained entrance to the TARDIS, but can't get any answers out of Donna, who slaps him and demands that he return her to the church (giving him very detailed information as to where it is, thinking the Doctor's thick-headed). Moments later, she spots an old jacket of Rose's on one of the railings in the console room and accuses him of having abducted other women. The Doctor gloomily admits that "she's gone", and Donna sobers up, realizing her faux pas.

The Doctor tries to land in Chiswick, but accidentally lands the TARDIS near Oxford Street. Donna storms out of the TARDIS and is not happy with the misdirected landing. She then sees that the outside is smaller and, going into shock again, she rushes off. The Doctor follows her; however, she is too weirded out to want to return to the TARDIS.

The Doctor and Donna try to get a taxi, but the taxi drivers ignore them, believing Donna is dressed for a fancy dress party, drunk, or a drag queen, in that order. The Doctor eventually gets one, however the driver kicks them out when he realizes that they don't have any money. Donna goes to a payphone, which the Doctor zaps with the sonic screwdriver to bypass the payment part. Donna calls her mother, telling her frantically where she is. However, her mother's cellphone is dead, and so Donna leaves a message.

The Doctor goes to get Donna money for a cab. However, while waiting in line for the ATM and stuck behind a slow-moving customer, he notices familiar masked Santas playing nearby and recognizes them as an old enemy! It's the robotic scavengers from the previous year's Christmas that came after him before the Sycorax arrived. Not only that, but they've got their weapons disguised as band instruments pointed directly at him. And the cab that Donna has hailed while the Doctor's been tied up at the ATM is also being driven by another of the scavengers. He distracts the ones on the street by using his sonic screwdriver on the ATM to make it spit out money, causing a crazed rush from the nearby crowd, then races back to the TARDIS to give chase.

As the cab enters the motorway, Donna quickly realises her cab is not taking her to the church and, realizing just who her driver actually is, begins frantically trying to escape. The Doctor flies in on the TARDIS, latching on to the cab. After some hesitation, Donna jumps into the Doctor's arms and the TARDIS spins off into the sky, two children in a passing car cheering them off.

The TARDIS lands on a roof. Donna sits on the ledge, as the Doctor uses a fire extinguisher to extinguish flames inside the control room; all that excitement has put too much strain on the TARDIS and she needs to rest (he notes it ironic that for a spaceship, she doesn't really do too well when it comes to flying). Seeing Donna is cold, the Doctor lends her his jacket. She jokes that he is way too skinny as the coat wouldn't fit an average-sized man. The Doctor asks if he missed her wedding, which she confirms; he tells her that she still has the honeymoon, which Donna passes off as just a holiday now.

Donna laughs that it's too bad the Doctor doesn't have a time machine; then they could just go back to when she vanished. Not wanting to disturb her more, the Doctor subtly admits he can't go back along someone's personal timeline without creating a paradox. Apparently. As a precaution, the Doctor gives Donna a bio-damper ring to stop the scavengers from tracking her and decides to ask her a bit more about herself so he can figure out why she's being targeted. To the Doctor's surprise, Donna missed the Sycorax's attempted invasion the previous Christmas (she was asleep with a hangover). Donna discloses that she works at a security firm called H.C. Clements, where she met Lance; she was interested in him because as head of H.R., Donna found it odd he would bother to get coffee for a temp. They went out for a while, and then Lance asked her to marry him. In reality, it was the other way around: Donna was the one constantly pestering Lance to marry her, until he caved.

The Doctor takes Donna to her reception, which is going on in full swing, and where Lance is dancing with Nerys. Donna is shocked and furious that her friends and family are having the wedding reception without her; Nerys retorts that it was already paid for, so they didn't want to waste it, which doesn't satisfy Donna. Sylvia, Donna's mother, demands to know about her bizarre phone call and how she pulled off that disappearing act. The amount of attention she's getting causes Donna to break down in fake tears to get them to shut up.

The party continues, and during the dancing, the Doctor is momentarily distracted when he notices Nerys, who is wearing a dress that causes him to have flashbacks to when he caught Rose on New Earth as Lady Cassandra left her body. He then borrows a guest's phone to look up H.C. Clements. He's stunned to find that H.C. Clements is, or rather was, a contractor for the Torchwood Institute. The Doctor catches sight of the wedding photographer showing someone his camera and goes to see what's so interesting. The Doctor sees the footage of Donna vanishing in golden light, asking for a replay; to his shock, Donna was infused with Huon particles, a source of energy that hasn't existed for billions of years... and can't be masked by a bio-damper.

The Doctor immediately runs to a window and sees the roboforms closing in on all the exits. They stop outside and one of them uses a remote to activate the ornaments on the Christmas trees. They start moving around... then attack the guests, exploding. All six of the roboforms enter and attack. The Doctor sends a sonic pulse over the loudspeakers, destroying them. Dissecting one of the scavengers, the Doctor finds they're being operated by remote control. Severing the head, he runs off to pursue the signal. He looks up to the sky, unaware that they're being observed by a shadowy spider-like figure in a floating spaceship, a webstar.

The Doctor goes to H.C. Clements with Lance and Donna and discovers there's a secret floor beneath their basement. He takes the lift down and Donna insists on going with him, bringing a reluctant Lance with them. The spider-figure is pleased, wanting Donna to come further in.

The Doctor, Lance, and Donna explore the tunnels underneath the building. The Doctor climbs up a shaft while Lance tries to convince Donna to leave, without success. The Doctor determines that they are in a base beneath the Thames Flood Barrier, and Torchwood secretly built it. They then discover a huon distillation facility, where Torchwood recreated huon particles into liquid form, which were then put into Donna. The particles are inert and need to catalyse inside a living form, and the wedding accelerated Donna's endorphin production, making her the perfect "host" for the huon particles. Donna realises that the particles are dangerous and the Doctor promises to cure her.

A hidden wall panel slides aside and the voice of the spider-creature taunts them. Lance sneaks off while the Doctor comes in and finds a huge shaft drilled to the centre of the Earth. The Doctor taunts her into teleporting down, and the spider-creature arrives in the complex. The Doctor recognizes her as the Empress of the Racnoss, the last of her kind. The Racnoss were carnivores from the "Dark Age" that consumed whole planets. Lance arrives with an axe and Donna tries to distract the Empress. Lance prepares to swing... then both he and the Empress laugh. Lance has been working with the Empress all along and was dosing Donna with liquid particles in the coffee he gave her. The Doctor tries to get them to explain, but the Empress orders in her remaining roboforms to attack. However, the Doctor reverses the huon particle attraction and the TARDIS materializes around him and Donna as a shield. The Doctor then dematerialises the TARDIS and sets a course back to the beginning of Earth's creation. With Donna gone, the Empress orders her roboforms to grab Lance and uses him as an alternative.

Donna is crying over Lance's deceit as they arrive at the formation of the Earth to learn why the Empress has dug into the core of the planet. The Doctor coaxes the distraught Donna into looking out the TARDIS door, and they notice a Racnoss spaceship arriving to hide from being exterminated by the Fledgling Empires. The Doctor fast-forwards time outside the TARDIS, observing that the Earth formed around the ship. The ship is the actual core of the Earth, so the Empress needs Huon particles to awaken her "children". When that happens, the Racnoss will eat everything and everyone on Earth; worse, they'll likely destroy the planet to free their ship.

In the present, the Empress force feeds Lance the huon particles to make a new "key". He then acts as a magnet, drawing the TARDIS back. The Doctor grabs the extrapolator while Lance is hauled up into the Empress' web. The TARDIS materialises in her chamber, but the Doctor is able to divert it to a nearby corridor. The Doctor tries to sneak past a security door, but Donna is captured by two of the roboforms without him noticing, and he opens the door to be faced by another.

The Empress strings Donna up in the web next to Lance. She then directs the huon particles down the shaft to awaken the Racnoss ship and all of her children... reborn to feast on human flesh. The Empress drops Lance into the shaft as food for her kids after disapproving of his treatment of Donna, then summons her Webstar, which takes up position over London. She activates its arsenal, and it fires beams of devastating lightning across London, ripping up streets and buildings, and sending late-night shoppers scrambling for cover.

The Doctor enters the chamber disguised as a roboform, but the Empress instantly sees through him. He frees Donna, who swings to (almost) safety before hitting a wall. The Doctor offers the Empress the chance to go to a planet and exist peacefully, but she refuses and orders her roboforms to fire. The Doctor, anticipating her, overrides them with the remote control the roboforms used earlier. He then reveals that he is a Time Lord by telling her what planet he's really from: Gallifrey.

The Empress is enraged as she exclaims "They murdered the Racnoss!" The Doctor simply responds, "I warned you... you did this," and holds out a few of the explosive Christmas ornaments ominously. The Empress realizes she has gone too far and pleads for mercy, but it is MUCH too late — the Doctor throws the baubles into the air and uses the remote to control them like remote-controlled bombs to blow holes in the tunnel. Water from the Thames rushes in, swirling around the Empress and then reaching and travelling down the hole to the Earth's core, drowning the Racnoss within.

The Doctor stoically — coldly, even — watches as the water pours in, flames rush up and the Empress screams in anguish for her children. Donna's look grows horrified, as it seems as though the Doctor has no will to live without Rose. It takes Donna yelling out to snap him out of it, at which point a look of terror comes across his face, realizing how close he came to permanent death. They escape up a ladder while the Empress teleports back to her ship, vowing to scorch the Earth out of spite. But the Doctor assures Donna that between her using up all her huon energy, and the Webstar's assault on London, the Empress is defenceless.

It's another story for humanity, however. The army deploys Challenger 2 tanks to take positions throughout the city, levelling their cannons at the Webstar. Once in position, they are given orders from Mr. Saxon to fire at will. The cannons blast projectiles at the Webstar from multiple directions repeatedly until it explodes, killing the Empress and the Racnoss species with it. The Doctor and Donna emerge from a manhole just as the ship's remains begin plummeting to Earth. Catching their breath, Donna laughs hesitantly as she notices that they've also managed to drain the Thames.

The Doctor returns Donna home, but she is desolate, having lost her job and her fiancé the same evening. The Doctor uses a burst of energy from the TARDIS to make it snow, hoping to cheer her up. He invites her to join him in the TARDIS. She declines, but encourages him to find someone, recognising he has just lost someone himself and that sometimes he needs someone to stop him from doing something terrible. The Doctor tells her briefly about Rose, and then disappears into his TARDIS.


  • All Webbed Up: Donna and Lance are stuck to the ceiling with spider threads.
  • Arc Words: Torchwood and orders from "Mr. Saxon".
  • Artistic Licence - Space: At the point where Donna checks her watch and remarks that it's 3:30 PM, the Sun is far, far too high, given that on Christmas Eve in London, at 51°N, that's roughly 45 minutes before sunset.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: When an extremely shouty ginger in a wedding dress shows up in the TARDIS while it's in deep space, it takes the Doctor a while to catch up.
    The Doctor: Hold on, wait a minute — what are you dressed like that for?
    Donna: I'm going ten-pin bowling. WHY DO YOU THINK, DUMBO?! I was halfway up the aisle!
  • Asshole Victim: Lance, who had spent months manipulating Donna and planned to hand her over to a carnivorous alien. He ends up suffering the very fate he had planned for Donna.
    The Doctor: I couldn't save him.
    Donna: He deserved it.
    [Doctor shoots her a look that says "really?"]
    Donna: [reconsiders], he didn't.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: In keeping with New Series tradition, this time complete with an actual tank.
  • Astronomic Zoom: The zoom-in intro is carried over from "Rose" and "The Christmas Invasion", except here, it zooms in on a church in Chiswick instead of the Powell Estate in Southwark.
  • Badass Boast:
    The Doctor: Oh, but I'm not from Mars. My home is far away and long since gone. But its name lives on. Gallifrey.
  • Bad Santa: The "pilot fish", again.
  • Big Bad: The Empress of the Racnoss.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • The TARDIS flying in to rescue Donna from the Robot Santa taxi driver kidnapping her, complete with two kids cheering the Doctor on from the back of a nearby car. As for Donna's reaction? "You are kidding me."
    • At first, it seems like the primarily hesitant and cowardly Lance is going to pull a stealthy one, involving a fire axe and an evil monologing Empress... and then it turns out he was just adding insult to injury in his Evil All Along reveal.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Besides the TARDIS, you've got the Doctor's pockets. Really, it explains an awful lot.
  • Bitch Slap: Donna's willingness to slap the Doctor so hard he nearly falls on his ass (twice!) when he starts acting high-handed with her just makes him even more impressed and charmed by her. No, not like that...
  • Bridezilla: Donna is understandably pissed that her wedding day was interrupted by a "Martian" and his strange blue box.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Donna calls the Doctor a Martian, which is initially a throwaway gag... until it leads to the Empress of the Racnoss underestimating him.
    • The Doctor also utilises the extrapolator from "Boom Town".
  • Chewing the Scenery: The Empress of the Racnoss. There was not enough scenery in the entire SERIES to account for that amount of chewing.
  • Christmas Episode: The pilot fish are continuing to impersonate Santas. The Doctor kicks their ass down the drain.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: On seeing the massive hole in the Torchwood lab going all the way down to the centre of the Earth, Donna wonders if there are dinosaurs down there (because she saw a movie with something like that once). The Doctor is just completely dumbfounded by that one.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Rose's old shirt, which Donna finds draped over a railing in the TARDIS, is the same purple top she wore on New Earth.
    • While the Doctor tries to figure out what's happened, he at one point asks Donna, "Are you sure [your fiancé]'s human? He's not a bit overweight with a zip round his forehead, is he?"
    • Donna pulling of the fake Santa head from the back of the taxi, to reveal that the driver is a robotic droid, recalls a similar scene in "Terror of the Autons".
  • Crappy Holidays: Although a lighthearted romp with a stupidly hammy villain, this is considered one of the darkest episodes because it shows the Doctor going over the edge.
  • Crocodile Tears: Donna breaks out in fake tears to get everyone at the wedding reception to shut up after they start demanding to know where she was and how she disappeared from the ceremony.
  • Death Glare: The Doctor gives a pretty scathing one to Donna after she asks about Rose's blouse in the TARDIS. It shuts her up (and also gives the first showing of Donna's nicer side).
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: A Tenth Doctor trademark — he generally gives the baddies a chance to walk away. In this case, he tells her he could give her and her children a chance on another planet.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Subverted; the Doctor steals a robo scavenger's uniform and uses it to infiltrate a secret chamber — but the Empress isn't fooled for a second.
  • Early Instalment Weirdness: Wilfred Mott is an important member of the Noble family but doesn’t appear at the wedding. His first appearance is the following Christmas special and his relation to the Nobles isn’t revealed until the episode after that. "The Sontaran Stratagem" explains this away by saying that he was down with flu and thus couldn't attend.
  • Epic Fail: The Doctor frees Donna from her webby imprisonment, and readies to catch her... only for Donna to smack about 5 feet below him. Even the Empress is a little stunned.
    Donna: Thanks... for nothing!
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Empress of the Racnoss may want to feed humanity to her children, but she still cares about them and is genuinely distraught when the Doctor kills them by flooding.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Empress feeds Lance to her children because she isn't impressed with him readily abandoning his "wife".
  • Evil Is Hammy: The Empress of the Racnoss, bringing Chewing the Scenery to epic levels. One wonders if the Racnoss actually subsisted on scenery that they chewed up, instead of meat, as they insist.
  • Evil Laugh:
    • The Racnoss Empress. "AK-akakakakakakaka!"
    • Lance has a more subdued one than the Empress.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: When the Doctor realizes Donna has been dosed with huon particles.
    "Huon energy doesn’t exist anymore, not for billions of years. So old that… [looks at Donna] …it can’t be hidden by a bio-damper!" [runs to a window and finds the robotic scavengers approaching]
  • Extreme Omnivore: The Racnoss ate whole planets.
  • Failing a Taxi: The Doctor and Donna attempt to hail a taxi, but the cabbies who drive by variously mistake her as going to a fancy dress party, a drunk and a drag queen.
  • Five Rounds Rapid: In what may be a television first, the Empress of the Racnoss' attempts to lift off from London without enough power to activate her energy shield defences — and is taken out by a barrage of cannon blasts from a couple of Challenger 2 tanks. Even TV series set in World War II (Combat and Rat Patrol, for example) traditionally avoid spending money on tanks.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A simple rewatch and some critical thinking (or someone who's just paying real close attention on their first watch) will reveal that, for a man who's apparently never been down to the hidden depths of the abandoned Torchwood facility beneath the Thames, Lance sure knows the quickest way to leave the lab, circle around and up, and make his way to the Empress in record time. This is a big clue, but relatively easy-to-miss in the heat of the moment and quick run of the sequence of shots, that he knows more than he lets on about the facility and its general layout.
    • There is also Donna's story about how Lance gave her a cup of coffee when they first met, because later it's revealed that the huon particles are being stored in water, water being a base ingredient in coffee.
    • Also, for a large company like H.C. Clements, it would be considered unethical for the head of HR to start dating a temp, which hints that Lance may have an ulterior motive for taking such a risk.
    • The soldiers in the tanks that shoot down the Webstar get their orders to fire from Mr. Saxon.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: A very mild example — Donna threatens to sue a cab driver who refuses to take her to her wedding in Chiswick... because neither she nor the Doctor are carrying any means of paying the fare.
  • Genocide Dilemma: The Doctor even had to go through with it again. It's a split-second decision and he gives the Empress of the Racnoss a chance to drop the Villain Ball… but in the end the Doctor decides to drown the last offspring of an extinct species to save the Earth.
  • Giant Spider: The Racnoss, as a species, cross this trope with Horde of Alien Locusts. Although the Empress is partially humanoid in appearance.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Donna and the Doctor realize they have no money for the cab.
  • Great Offscreen War: Ancient battles between the Fledgling Empires (including Gallifrey) and the Racnoss are mentioned.
  • Hammerspace: The Doctor confirms to Donna that his pockets are, indeed, Bigger on the Inside. Just like the TARDIS.
  • Hate Sink: The Empress of the Racnoss is the main antagonist of the episode, but she's ultimately too entertaining to hate and appears to genuinely love her children. Lance on the other hand is a smug Jerkass who, after revealing to be allied with the Empress, tells Donna that he couldn't stand her and gives a cruel Reason You Suck Speech about how annoying and stupid she is. Zero tears are shed when the Empress feeds him to her children, and Donna even admits that he deserved it before withdrawing the comment.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: The Racnoss ate entire planets, and were dangerous enough that the Fledgling Empires, including the Time Lords, went to war against them in the early history of the universe. The Doctor winds up killing the newborn Racnoss that the Empress reawakens because they're "born starving" and thus cannot be reasoned with.
  • Human Resources: It's in the job title! Because this time, it's personnel!
  • Ignored Vital News Reports: Donna was hungover for the Sycorax and scuba-diving in Spain for the Cybermen. The Doctor is confused as to why she could end up like this.
  • I Lied: The Doctor to Donna regarding the TARDIS and its status as a time machine.
    The Doctor: Do you know what I said before, about a time machine? Well, I lied, and now it's time to use it.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Sarah Parish has co-starred with David Tennant in Blackpool and Recovery.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: A rare aversion. The roboforms are pretty spot on when shooting the Doctor; the TARDIS just gets in their way first.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Most of the Webstar's laser beams whip around quickly — except for one heading towards a little girl, which moves sloooooowly enough for someone to grab her and run to safety.
  • Instrument of Murder: The evil robot Santas from "The Christmas Invasion" attack a wedding reception with their weaponized instruments.
  • It's Always Spring: It's supposed to be Christmas, but the episode was filmed in warm weather, as evidenced by the green trees seen during the car chase on the highway. Also, despite London being famous for cold weather, Donna doesn't even shiver at running around London with only a sleeveless wedding dress.
  • I Warned You: The Doctor says it verbatim after blowing up and drowning the last of the Racnoss.
    The Doctor: I warned you. You did this.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Donna doesn't exactly make the best first impression, immediately bitching out the Doctor and assuming he's a creep and a kidnapper. Her mood does not improve when she sees Rose's top and assumes the worst. The two slowly become friends, however, as it becomes apparent that Donna's bluster is just that, and she does have a soft heart beneath the attitude.
  • Just Between You and Me: Thoroughly averted. The Doctor attempts to mask his pokes and prods at the Empress' plan as curiosity. Lance, of all people, is the first to spot this and call him out on it, with the Empress agreeing with Lance immediately after. To which Lance says "Tough, all we need is Donna." The Empress then gives the order to kill the Doctor. It's really the one and only moment she avoids falling prey to the Big Bad stereotype of old.
  • Just Keep Driving: The TARDIS ends up chasing a car. It is an example of the Mommy, Mommy variant, as a couple kids in the car in front of the TARDIS notice, but not their parents.
  • Karmic Death: Lance wanted the Racnoss Empress to feed Donna to her children as a sacrifice. The Racnoss Empress however, is unimpressed with him readily abandoning his so-called "wife", feeds him to her children instead.
  • Kid Amid the Chaos: There's one girl who's shown freezing up like a Deer in the Headlights as one of the Webstar's incredibly slow-moving electric bolts tears up the pavement, who has to be pushed out of the way just in the nick of time.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: "This time, it's personnel!" Cue laughter from the villains and absolutely no-one else.
  • Landmarking the Hidden Base: The Racnoss has set up shop in an abandoned Torchwood base under the Thames flood barrier. Donna is incredulous; the Doctor (who's used to it), less so.
    Donna: What, there's like a secret base hidden underneath a major London landmark?
    The Doctor: I know, unheard of...
  • Large Ham: The Empress of the Racnoss is an enormous piece of Spider-Ham. "KIIIIILL THIS LITTLE CHATTERING DOCTOR-MAN!"
  • Loud of War: The Doctor creates powerful sonic blasts to take out the scavengers at the reception by combining his sonic screwdriver with a sound system.
  • Love-Interest Traitor: Lance only made Donna coffee in order to drug her with huon particles. Accepting the marriage proposal was simply to keep her around.
  • Marrying the Mark: Played with: Lance gets close to Donna in order to dose her with huon particles. However, marrying her was not part of the plan. She insisted and Lance went along with it to ensure that she didn't run off.
  • Missing Floor: The curious thing that the Doctor notes about the H.C. Clements offices is that the lift control panel shows an entire floor not on the official floor plan.
  • The Mole: Lance is revealed to be working for the sinister Empress of the Racnoss.
  • Money to Throw Away: The Doctor sonics an ATM to spray money as a distraction to escape pursuing robot Santas.
  • Morality Chain: Right from the very beginning, Donna was this for the Doctor.
    Donna: Doctor! You can stop now!
    • Donna even lampshades this at the end, urging him to find someone else to fill this role.
      Donna: Promise me one thing. Find someone.
      The Doctor: I don't need anyone.
      Donna: Yes, you do. 'Cause sometimes, I think you need someone to stop you.
  • Mythology Gag: Donna ends up in the TARDIS in the same way companion Lucie Miller does in Big Finish Doctor Who. Just like Lucie, she's not the least bit impressed by the Doctor. (Lucie assumed he was a "hippie ponce", while Donna sees Rose's shirt on a railing and assumes he's a deranged serial killer.)
  • Not My Driver: Donna gets in a cab driven by a robo-Santa.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: The Empress, possibly due to her sheer age and having been in hibernation for eons, is one of the few aliens who doesn't seem to know that "the Doctor" refers to a renegade Time Lord and assumes he's a physician.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The villains use a remote control which is essentially a modified Nintendo 64 controller.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Doctor reacting upon noticing that the driver of the taxi Donna has climbed into is a Robot Santa, and that there are several more aiming their weapons at him.
    • The Racnoss Empress, after the Doctor finally corrects Donna's mistake. Namely, his planet of origin.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: We get the same scene of Donna appearing in the TARDIS and the Doctor initially being flabbergasted by her sudden appearance, but now we get both the lead-in to the scene and the follow-up.
  • ...Or So I Heard: After the Doctor rescues Donna from being kidnapped by an evil robot Santa, she laments that they've missed her wedding service, and says she wishes he had a time machine so they could go back and change things. The Doctor mumbles that even if he did, he couldn't go back along someone's personal timeline, "apparently".
  • Phlebotinum Analogy: The Doctor's attempt to explain to Donna how she got doused with Huon particles and ended up in the TARDIS.
    Donna: I'm a pencil inside a mug?
  • Pungeon Master: The Racnoss Empress. Notable in that she deliberately keeps setting up puns, and Lance and Donna don't play along.
    Lance & Donna: Yes!
    Empress: [annoyed] YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO SAY "I DO!"!!!!!!!!!
  • Percussive Maintenance: The Doctor smacks a computer monitor while at H.C. Clements.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lance gives a heartbreaking one to Donna after his Evil All Along reveal. It's about how she's only a key to his ambitions and he couldn't stand being married to her.
  • The Reveal: Oh, and Lance makes it hurt. Not only did Lance never love Donna, but he couldn't stand her, and fully intended to sacrifice her to the Empress, having been feeding her huon particles in the coffee he'd been getting for her. Adding salt in the wound is that the Doctor immediately understands what happened, but Donna still stands there dumbfounded, so Lance, long fed up with her shallow behaviour, absolutely decimates Donna's self-esteem and leaves her a weeping mess.
    Donna: [meekly] ...but I love you.
    Lance: That's what made it easy.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Lance is fed to the young Racnoss because the Empress doesn't approve of males who mistreat their mates.
  • Running Gag: The Empress of the Racnoss is the first person to call the Doctor and Donna a couple. She will not be the last.
  • Say My Name: The Doctor to Donna on several occasions.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: It is revealed that the centre of the Earth contains hundreds — possibly thousands — of omnivorous intelligent alien spiders. Indeed, the vessel that holds them is the original core of the planet, nearly five billion years old.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Racnoss Webstar bears a striking resemblance to the Cylon Basestar of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. Both ships are made with Y shapes stacked on each other. The names are also quite similar.
    • The Racnoss herself is a Drider.
    • Donna's comment about dinosaurs at the centre of the Earth that she saw in a movie. She probably saw Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), though it's also a subtle nod to the Silurians.
    • The way the Doctor kills the Racnoss children is very reminiscent of the nursery rhyme The Itsy Bitsy Spider.
  • Shut Up and Save Me!: The Doctor's listening at a door and talking at Donna and completely fails to notice the fact that she's been kidnapped for about half a minute, and only notices because she's not insulting him for once.
    The Doctor: There was a Racnoss web at the centre of the Earth, but my people unravelled their power source. Because huon particles ceased to exist and the Racnoss were stuck, so they just stayed in hibernation for billions of years, frozen, dead, kaput! So you're the new key, brand new particles, living particles, and they need you to open it... and you have never been so quiet!
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Love Don't Roam" is a happy, upbeat, peppy orchestral pop song about being separated from your loved one forever.
  • Spider People: The Empress of the Racnoss, who even has a web motif going on for her spaceship. Full spider below, but human upper torso and semi-human head (Sarah Parrish wore a prosthesis with a big frill on it).
  • Stage Money: The Doctor tampers with a cash machine which starts spraying bank notes into the street. Due to concerns about real notes either being damaged (which is illegal) or stolen, the crew printed up dummy notes with portaits of David Tennant and producer Phil Collinson in place of the Queen.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: The Doctor decides to run with Donna's accusation of him being Martian when he uses the sonic screwdriver on a payphone, since it simplifies matters.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: The Doctor listens to the song "Love Don't Roam" at a wedding reception while staring at Nerys causes him to have flashbacks of Rose.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Donna feels bad for the Empress as she screams horribly for her children the Doctor is drowning.
  • Take That, Audience!: Lance is an obnoxious intellectual and social snob who is given a lengthy speech mocking popular culture, and is willing to see the entire rest of the human race wiped out if it means he gets to see the wonders of the universe. As such, he looks a lot like a venomous caricature of the faction of fans who complained that the Russell T. Davies era of the show had too many stories set on contemporary Earth, not enough Space Opera spectacle, and too many mainstream pop culture references.
  • Take That, Critics!: The 2005/6 seasons were criticized by some fans who complained about the number of stories set on contemporary Earth, wanted more exotic settings and Space Opera content, and got upset about the number of contemporary pop culture references. This episode features an unspeakably nasty, misanthropic, intellectually-snobbish human villain who turned out to be plotting with aliens to destroy the world just because they offered to show him the wonders of the universe, and who was given a long and unsympathetic speech mocking pop culture.
  • Time Abyss: The Racnoss date from the early days of the universe, and the Empress has been in hibernation for billions of years.
  • Tranquil Fury: The Doctor, and it really freaks Donna out. "Turn Left" reveals that he would've died permanently along with the Racnoss if she hadn't snapped him out of it.
  • Tsundere: Donna is mostly tsun, but gets a couple of softer moments — after the Robot Santas attack the reception, she tries to get the Doctor to help the injured while he's focused on the "bigger picture".
  • Twisted Christmas: The Doctor has to face an ancient menace called the Racnoss whose offspring wished to gorge on life across the cosmos. Their web-shaped ship is mistaken for a giant decorative Christmas star by Londoners until it starts firing electricity bolts all over the streets. This adventure immediately follows the loss of one of the Doctor's dearest companions and features an especially dark moment for him in which he kills a ton of alien babies and almost lets himself die along with them. Oh, and the Thames is drained.
  • Underestimating Badassery: The Racnoss Empress, thanks to having been in hibernation for eons and Donna's assumption that the Doctor is "Martian", fails to realize how dangerous he is until it's far, far too late — when he tells her where he's really from.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Donna's description of how she and Lance got engaged. She was the one who proposed after six months of acquaintance and nagged until it was accepted, not the other way around as she tells it.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When the Doctor reveals his true home, the Racnoss Empress goes from gloating to horrified shrieking:
    Racnoss Empress: They MURDERED the Racnoss!
  • Visual Pun: How the Doctor destroys the reborn Racnoss.
    "The Itsy Bitsy Spider climbed up the water spout, down came the rain and washed the spider out."
  • Weirdness Censor: Donna's relatives watch as she spontaneously disappears in a flash of light (while screaming piteously all the while). They conclude that it must be some sort of magic trick she cooked up for attention.
  • Wham Line: We finally hear the name "Gallifrey" said onscreen in the revival.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: A relatively gentle one when Donna says she can't travel with the Doctor and that he needs someone who can stop him doing the kinds of things he does.
  • Why Waste a Wedding?: Donna mysteriously disappears from her own wedding. When the Doctor brings her back, she's furious to discover that the guests have decided to hold the reception without her.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Donna's reaction to the TARDIS chasing her taxi down the motorway.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Poor Lance. He's only needed for a key, and once used, he's spider food.
  • You Must Be Cold: The Doctor lends Donna his jacket to make up for her lack of sleeves. She immediately points out how skinny he is.
  • Your Mom: Donna and the Doctor are stuck in the middle of nowhere and trying to take a cab back to the church. Eventually, they realize neither of them has any money. The cabbie dumps them out and all we hear is Donna scream, "And that goes double for your mother!"