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Recap / Doctor Who S27 E2 "The End of the World"

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"You lot, you spend all your time thinking about dying, like you're gonna get killed by eggs, or beef, or global warming, or asteroids. But you never take time to imagine the impossible. That perhaps you make it. Maybe you survive. This is the year 5.5/apple/26, five billion years in your future, and this is the day... Hold on... [the Sun starts to become a red giant] This is the day the Sun expands. Welcome to the end of the world."
The Doctor

The one with the bitchy trampoline and an elegy courtesy of Britney Spears.

Written by Russell T. Davies.

Rose expresses a wish to visit the future, and the Doctor cheerfully obliges... but scorns her idea of a mere hundred years in the future in favour of five billion years. Nothing succeeds like excess!

It's the year 5.5/Apple/26 when the Doctor and Rose materialise aboard Platform One, a cruciform space station orbiting a dying star. The star is, in fact, our Sun; and in a few minutes, it will finally expand and consume the Earth. This is considered high entertainment in the future — Snuff Film writ large — so there's a collection of the rich aboard the platform. The guests include a giant face in a jar called the Face of Boe (who will become important later); the last pure human, Lady Cassandra O'Brien.Δ17 (who will also become important later) and a group of tree people. One of them, Jabe, twigs (heh) to the Doctor's oddness, and persuades her PDA to identify his species.


The Doctor seems well at ease in this company, but Rose is completely at sea. She wanders off and has a few second thoughts about this adventure business, as she realises that she is five billion years in the future in the company of a manic alien.

Meanwhile, some serious weirdness is transpiring aboard the platform. Little spider robots are crawling all over the place, pulling fun pranks like lowering the space station's sun filters so as to give anyone unfortunate enough to be around a fatal suntan.

The Doctor rejoins Rose, and they watch doomed Earth spin. Rose anxiously presses the Doctor for more information on his people, homeworld, etc.; the Doctor snaps at her for excessive nosiness, gives her mobile an upgrade to make up for it, then goes off to explore the station. Rose calls her mum for a bit of reassurance. (Although the call accidentally overshoots a little, and reaches Jackie some time before Rose met the Doctor.)


After Rose insults Cassandra, the mysterious Adherents of the Repeated Meme place her in a room where another set of sun filters are descending. The Doctor saves her, but the door is stuck after being damaged by the intense rays.

Investigating the air conditioning following a mysterious shaking in the space station, the Doctor finds one of the spiders. With the help of Jabe, the Doctor sends the spider back to its masters. The Doctor realizes the Adherents of the Repeated Meme is just a meme, an idea, or in other words: a fake. They're just remote controlled robots and the actual culprit was Cassandra, who intended to create a phony hostage situation and get rich off compensation claims. She teleports away while her spiders, having infiltrated the station deep, deactivate the shields. The glass on the station's exterior begins to break under the strain.

The Doctor and Jabe rush to find the button to reset the computer, restoring the safeties: the space station was manned entirely by computers, computers the spiders compromised, and the makers of the "unsinkable" space station didn't account for this. Jabe holds down the switch to slow the deadly pathway of fans so the Doctor can reach it. Unfortunately, she's made of wood, so she catches fire and dies, and the fans start moving quicker just as the Doctor's at the last one. The Doctor, concentrating, passes through and resets the computer, ordering it to reactivate the shields at the point of the Earth's destruction. Cassandra is returned thanks to the Doctor's ability to reverse the teleport with the feed that allowed her to teleport through the heat. As she begins to dry out, she pleads for the Doctor to "moisturise [her]", but he lets her die, saying "Everything has its time and everything dies."

The space station and everyone on it has been saved, but Rose sadly notes that everyone was so busy that none of them actually watched the Earth go. The Doctor takes her back to contemporary Earth, and as Rose struggles to deal with standing on a planet that was just vaporized, he finally explains why he's been so secretive and why he took her there in the first place.

The Doctor: You think it'll last forever, people and cars and concrete, but it won't. One day it's all gone. Even the sky. My planet's gone. It's dead. It burned like the Earth. It's just rocks and dust. Before its time.
Rose: What happened?
The Doctor: There was a war, and we lost.

Faced with the utter strangeness of the universe and the tragic briefness of life, Rose decides... that they had better go get some chips. After all, they've only got five billion years till the shops close.

(Unfortunately, it'll take another four years before we find out exactly what happened to the Doctor's planet, and another eight to find out the circumstances that led to what happened.)


  • Absolute Xenophobe: Lady Cassandra, who declares herself the last pure human, and considers anyone who's made modifications as half-breeds and freaks.
    "Oh, they call themselves new humans and proto-humans and digi-humans, even humanish, but you know what I call them? Mongrels."
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Big enough for a plumber to fit in.
  • All There in the Manual: Supplemental material written by RTD for a guidebook in 2005 expands on Cassandra, the Trees, and the Face of Boe.
    • Cassandra's claim about having grown up as a boy are expanded upon. She repeatedly had sex changes throughout her life, usually to avoid getting into trouble when her lovers died "mysterious" deaths (like falling on a rake five times). Her birth name was Brian Cobb, and her title of "lady" was bought at auction.
    • The Trees were the result of mankind selling off Brazil to pay off debt. The rainforest was acquired by the Brotherhood of Hame, and its evolution was accelerated. Within two hundred years, the Forests of Cheem demanded autonomy, and the Brotherhood (having dealt with this situation before) acquiesced. Shortly thereafter, the Trees disappeared as one, for five thousand years, during which time they learnt of or witnessed the Time War.
    • The Face of Boe's entry is largely filled with Foreshadowing. Mention is made of his having children during the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire, of him being impossibly old, with no one knowing how he's still alive, and that when he dies, the sky will "crack asunder".
  • All There in the Script: The original script describes Cassandra as having cabinets containing the first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and the Magna Carta. The former would have been funny, considering that Zoë Wanamaker played Madam Hooch in the film version.
  • Alone in a Crowd: After Earth is destroyed, the Doctor takes Rose right back to her home time. The two of them stand on a busy street, surrounded by dozens of people, none of whom can even imagine what they just witnessed. They don't join the flow of the crowd until Rose suggests they get chips.
  • Alternative Calendar: Set in the far-future year "5.5/Apple/26". A year with a number so large that it has been abbreviated through various forms of semantics. The Doctor helpfully translates that this means it's around the year five billion.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: You've got humanoids colored shades of blue, tree blue, and pink.
  • Arc Words: The Moxx of Balhoon discusses "the Bad Wolf scenario" with the Face of Boe.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: This brief announcement at the beginning.
    Announcement: Guests are reminded that Platform 1 forbids the use of weapons, teleportation, and religion.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: This is the first episode in the new series that shows the Doctor is not a man you want to be on the bad side of.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: See What the Hell, Hero?.
  • Brain in a Jar: Cassandra is a skin trampoline with two eyes and a mouth controlled by her enjarred brain.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: One of the (CGI-animated) spiders "accidentally" collides with the camera.
  • Cataclysm Backstory: The Doctor explains that both his planet and species have been wiped out. "There was a war, and we lost."
  • Combat Tentacles: Jabe retrieves one of the "peace" drones by extending a vine, then apologises — "I'm not supposed to show them in public."
  • Compartment Shot: From inside the washing machine onto Rose's mother as she is sorting out the laundry.
  • Continuity Nod: The Doctor makes reference to being on the Titanic, which was established last episode.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: Lady Cassandra, who exists as a sheet of skin on a rack with her Brain in a Jar underneath, and has to be moisturised frequently.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: The Doctor must navigate a series of these in order to reach an otherwise inaccessible switch.
  • Delicious Distraction: Rather than make a decision on whether to continue as the Doctor's companion, Rose suggests they go and eat chips. The Doctor agrees.
  • Department of Redundancy Department/Shaped Like Itself: "They're just so alien. The aliens are so alien. You look at them... and they're alien."
  • Disappointed by the Motive: Cassandra's original plan was to manufacture a hostage situation, then use the compensation money to fund more operations.
    The Doctor: [disgusted] Five billion years, and it still comes down to money.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Subversion: Earth is destroyed on-screen, but nobody in that era makes a big deal out of it... because it's five billion years from now, Earth's destruction was long overdue anyway, and humanity has abandoned it long before.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: In the year 5-billion-or-so Planet Earth, long since abandoned, is engulfed by the Sun.
  • Fantastic Racism: Cassandra towards "impure" humans, a very large category of life which she includes Rose in. Interestingly, Rose's reaction to Cassandra isn't much different in turn.
  • Fate Worse than Death: When Cassandra suggests Rose could be "flatter", Rose immediately says she'd rather die.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The big reveal is set up early, first when Jabe tries analysing the Doctor's species, and refuses to believe it, and second when they're alone and she tells him it's a miracle he even exists.
    • The Doctor doesn't answer when Rose asks him who the Time Lords fought a war with.
  • Future Music: "Toxic" is apparently a traditional Earth ballad.
  • Future Imperfect:
    • A jukebox is called an iPod, and an ostrich is described like a dragon.
    • As well as Britney Spears' "Toxic" being referred to as "a traditional ballad". Also a Continuity Nod to "The Chase", when Vicki called the Beatles' performance "classical music".
    • invokedNot to mention the fact that "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell is listed as the original in the "iPod"'s record changer. Their rendition is, in fact, a cover; the original was written by Ed Cobb and recorded by Gloria Jones in 1965.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Rose refers to Cassandra as a "bitchy trampoline".
  • Heinz Hybrid: Humans have spread out so far and interbred with so many other species that the concept of a singular "human race" no longer exists.
    Cassandra: I am the last pure human. The others... mingled. Oh, they call themselves new humans and proto-humans and digi-humans — even humanish. But you know what I call them? Mongrels.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Jabe, who allows the station temperature on her side of the fans to incinerate her, while allowing the Doctor to override the fans on his side without getting immolated.
    Jabe: Then stop wasting time, Time Lord.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: "Whatever I am, it must be invisible."
  • Internal Homage: The destruction of Gallifrey, which the Doctor mentions here for the first time, was also a massive Story Arc in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels. Except this is referring to a different destruction of Gallifrey.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • As the Doctor and Rose talk about the people coming to visit Satellite One, Rose asks if he means people or aliens, to which he responds "depends how you mean people". Later, when Cassandra is caught by the Doctor, he angrily states people have died. Cassandra just blithely shoots back "that depends how you define people".
    • When Rose tries to make sense of her culture shock by talking about how everyone on the platform is so alien, the Doctor makes a slightly snide and insensitive crack about how they're "lucky I didn't take you to the Deep South". After the conversation has progressed to the TARDIS's Translation Convention, Rose reacts poorly to learning that the Doctor's machine gets inside her head and changes how it works, and that the Doctor didn't mention this. When the Doctor admits that he hadn't really considered it, Rose angrily fires back that he was "too busy making cheap shots about the Deep South".
  • J'accuse!: "The Adherents of the Repeated Meme: J'accuse!"
  • Ladies and Germs: "Ladies and gentlemen and trees and multiforms..."
  • Last of His Kind:
    • Cassandra is titled as the Last Human, though it's later revealed that she is the last full-blooded human and that humans merely mixed into other species. It's also revealed humans were not the only Earth species to do this.
    • The Doctor reveals he is the last of the Time Lords.
  • Legacy Implosion: The Doctor goes from being a renegade on the run to the last of his species, his entire planet having been wiped out in a catastrophic war. The Time Lords, by extension, go from being pompous academics to a mythic lost race.
  • A Little Something We Call "Rock and Roll": Britney Spears' "Toxic" is referred to as a traditional ballad, and Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" as classical music in the year 5 billion.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: When the Doctor corrects Jabe that Rose isn't his wife, she assumes Rose is a prostitute.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After playing it up around the bizarre guests and conventions of the Platform, the Doctor clearly realises he might have been a bit hasty in bringing Rose five billion years to the future when he sees her stagger out of the room on the verge of a culture shock breakdown.
  • Nerds Are Virgins: Cassandra snidely references this when the Doctor rumbles her Evil Plan.
    Cassandra: I'll bet you were the school swot who never got kissed.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Rose is kind enough to give a drudge permission to speak (!).
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • There are giant spinning fans blocking the way to the reset-the-computer button. There is a switch to slow the fans down but it will cause all the heat to move past the person holding the switch.
    • Also, why does Platform One even have a manual "lower sun filter" option for its occupied chambers?note 
  • The Not-So-Harmless Punishment: There's a variant, where the Doctor assumes what his Unishment will be, and is corrected.
    The Doctor: What are you gonna do? Moisturise me?
    Lady Cassandra: With acid.
  • Obviously Evil: Lady Cassandra.
  • Oh, Crap!: Twice by Lady Cassandra. The first time is when she finds out the Doctor caught her, while she was in the middle of insulting the people she tried to kill behind their backs, before she was teleported. The second time is when she realizes she is without her moisturising crew and is drying up.
  • Ominous Crack: The observation deck's viewing window starts cracking when the station's heat shields fail and the Sun's expansion is imminent.
  • Plant Aliens: "Representing the Forest of Cheem, we have... trees." Jabe is a direct descendant of the tropical rainforest.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Surprisingly, Rose. When confronting Cassandra, she calls her a "bitchy trampoline".
    • While a mild version by most standards, this is also the first time that the Doctor has used profanity on screen. "What the hell's that?"
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: It's strongly implied here, and shown in "New Earth", that humanity and its descendants still resemble humans, and that Cassandra only looks how she does through plastic surgery. The episode does imply that humanity has cross-bred with other species and drastically altered in other ways, however, and later episodes do nod to this by suggesting that humanity develops the ability to "experiment" with different forms, but tends to return to the "classic" template.
  • Shout-Out: Before becoming a major part of the show's mythology, the Face of Boe was originally just a throwaway reference to an obscure narrative poem by Rudyard Kipling.note 
  • Single Tear: Right after Jabe comforts the Doctor over the losses he suffered in the war and he clutches her hand, a teardrop can be briefly seen falling from his right eye. To put this into perspective, this is the one and only time the Ninth Doctor cries... War Is Hell, indeed.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Toxic".
  • Space Romans: The Doctor mentions that a "New Roman Empire" exists on Earth in the year 12,005. Given all the countless stories showing humans in space in the future, this New Roman Empire is almost certainly a space-faring civilisation.
  • Stock Episode Titles: 31 uses.
  • Sudden Lack of Signal: Rose's phone initially does not work after travelling billions of years into the future. The Doctor mods her phone so she can still call her mother, who's still in the present day.
  • Supernatural Phone: The Doctor upgrades Rose's phone, but only after she notices it doesn't work in the future.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Rose is handling her first trip into space and the future quite well — until they fire up the "iPod" and it starts playing a song from her own time, and she suddenly gets a massive case of culture shock and runs out of the room. The song is "Tainted Love". Also serves as Foreshadowing for Cassandra's plan once the mastermind of the plot is revealed.
    Sometimes I feel I've got to
    Run away
    I've got to
    Get away
  • Take That!: Rose says she's going to have a word with Michael Jackson, while pointing at Lady Cassandra.
  • Tempting Fate: While the Doctor and Jabe are discussing Platform 1, he comments that she makes it sound "unsinkable". Jabe calls this appropriate, only for the Doctor to note he was once on a ship declared unsinkable, and wound up "clinging to an iceberg".
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: A group of aliens from across the galaxy gather on a space station to witness the death of Earth, but somebody starts to kill those on board.
  • This Banana is Armed: Cassandra's "moisturisers" are packing acid in their spritzers, which she reveals after the Doctor fingers her for the murders.
  • Time Master: The Doctor shows that he has a perfect sense of timing, and that he can slow down his perception of time to the point he can walk safely through a spinning fan.
  • Title Drop: As quoted at the top of the page, when the Doctor explains to Rose what they're looking at out the window, he ends with "Welcome to the end of the world."
  • Tranquil Fury: The Doctor does this after Jabe dies and he saves the Platform, coldly transporting Cassandra back to the Platform and refusing to save her as she dries out.
    Rose: [as Cassandra dries out] Help her.
    The Doctor: [glaring] Everything has its time and everything dies.
  • Translator Microbes: Rose is confused by Aliens Speaking English until the Doctor explains the "gift of the TARDIS". Funnily enough, she's not happy to hear how his time machine gets in her brain and changes what she hears.
  • Trojan Horse: The metal "peace" gifts and the ostrich egg.
  • Troll: The aforementioned line stating religion is not allowed on Platform One is one of those controversial moments where Russell T. Davies, the showrunner at the time, professed his own beliefs in the narratives (or lack thereof). Two episodes later, he would add another controversial line that used the word "gay" in derogatory manner. And he would later pull a similar stunt in Torchwood: Children of Earth involving a religious woman's suicide after she thought "science had won".
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: Cassandra reveals in a chat with Rose that she was born a boy on Earth; although, considering what Cassandra was, you have to wonder if all concept of gender has long since disappeared.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Cassandra attempts to exit in a leftward direction via teleportation, only for the Doctor to teleport her back moments later — while she's bragging to her henchmen.
  • We Will Not Have Appendixes in the Future: By the looks of Lady Cassandra, we won't have much of a body left in the future.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Plumbers, anyway.
  • Wham Episode: An otherwise ordinary episode comes with the now well-known reveal that the Doctor is actually the last of his race, and all the Time Lords (for now) were killed in the Time War.
  • Wham Line:
    • Courtesy of Jabe: "I scanned you earlier. The metal machine had trouble identifying your species. It refused to admit your existence. And even when it named you, I wouldn't believe it. But it was right. I know where you're from. Forgive me for intruding, but it's remarkable that you even exist. I just wanted to say... how sorry I am." Cue Single Tear from Nine.
    • "My planet's gone. It burned, like the Earth. I'm not just a Time Lord. I'm the last of the Time Lords."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The Doctor isn't impressed by Rose's slightly xenophobic reactions to the aliens on the Platform ("Good thing I didn't take you to the Deep South."). Rose, in turn, isn't particularly pleased to learn that the TARDIS's Translation Convention circuits rearrange how her mind works without her knowledge or consent — particularly since the Doctor chose to make snide remarks about her culture shock instead of telling her this ("No, you were too busy making cheap shots about the Deep South!").
  • Who Needs Their Whole Body?: Certainly not Cassandra.
  • The X of Y: "The End of the World".

Alternative Title(s): Doctor Who NSS 1 E 2 The End Of The World


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