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Recap / Doctor Who S28 E9 "The Satan Pit"

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Satan's gonna scare the hell outta you.

"But I've seen a lot of this universe. I've seen fake gods and bad gods and demigods and would-be gods. And out of all that, out of that whole pantheon, if I believe in one thing, just one thing... I believe in her."
The Doctor

Original air date: June 10, 2006

Production code: 2.9

The other one with SATAN HIMSELF. The Doctor also falls into a pit.

Written by Matt Jones.

"The Impossible Planet"'s cliffhanger leaves the Doctor stuck at the bottom of a very deep hole, and Rose stuck at the top surrounded by murderous Ood. The Doctor decides that if he can't go up, he might as well go down. The Beast possessing the Ood starts to telepathically taunt the group, bringing out their fears, doubts and guilt. The Doctor tries to get the others to ignore the Beast... Until the Beast starts talking about killing his own race off in the Time War. Before the transmission cuts off, he announces that he'll be free. The crew is now forced to go through the ductsnote  to escape the Ood, to get to the main gate.

The Doctor gets to the bottom, finds the Beast himself and sees its real face. However, he notes, based on his unintelligible grunting, that the Beast is quite literally a shell of his former self... with his consciousness possessing Toby and the Ood. The Doctor realises the planet was set up as a trap that will stop the Beast from ever escaping; if some schmoe ever does break the urns that keeps him chained there, the black hole will promptly consume him (and the unlucky schmoe).

Back on the base, Rose and the other members of the group manage to make it out alive, save head of security Mr. Jefferson, who dies defending the group from the Ood. The group are finally calling it quits and decide to leave, although the others have to drug Rose as she wants to stay where the Doctor is. Meanwhile, the Beast, aware that forcing his entrapment could mean certain death for Rose, laughs at his presumed victory. Until the Doctor goes through with his bluff and breaks the urns.

On the ship, Toby, who has been acting strange, reveals himself as the Beast, declaring that he cannot die and will escape... In response, Rose shoots the window with a bolt gun and opens the seat belt so Beast!Toby will be sucked into space...

The Doctor conveniently finds the TARDIS behind him and saves Ida as well as Rose and the remaining crew members by towing the spaceship from the black hole with his own TARDIS! The group wonders what the hell the Beast truly was, but the Doctor seems unwilling to answer, and says whatever it was, it's now gone...

Meanwhile, Rose herself is curious as to what the Beast meant by saying she will die in battle, but the Doctor assures her he was wrong. As the TARDIS disappears the captain of the expedition starts reading out the names of the deceased in the mission, including the Ood, as they return home.


  • Abusive Parents: Ida's father is implied to have been this; "the scientist still running from daddy..."
  • Actor Allusion: Mr. Jefferson (played by Danny Webb, who appeared in Alien³) appreciates the reference to air-vent escapes.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: When Rose hears about the maintenance shafts, she's the first to point this out, getting an "I appreciate the reference" from Mr. Jefferson. Unfortunately, they were designed for maintenance robots instead of people, so captain Zach has to remotely fill them with air section-by-section.
  • All of Them:
    • Danny's reply when asked how many Ood have gone berserk.
    • The Beast's reply when the Doctor asks which specific religion's devil it's supposed to be.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Lampshaded; the Beast claims to be an Ancient Astronauts version of the Devil, but the Doctor is highly skeptical, pointing out all the various examples of the trope in different cultures on different planets. Russell T Davies describes this episode as a "sequel" to "The Dæmons". It's also left ambiguous as to whether the Beast actually is the Devil (as in, the real deal) or is a Sufficiently Advanced Alien who has just served as the inspiration for that mythological archetype throughout the ages and galaxies, to the extent that those would be different things.
  • Arc Words: Zach mentions that his team represents the Torchwood Archive.
  • Armour-Piercing Question/Armour-Piercing Response: When the Doctor refuses to believe the Beast's claims to being older than the universe.
    "Is that your religion?"
  • Artistic License – Physics: In real life, there's no reason a planet couldn't maintain a stable orbit around a black hole; if our Sun were replaced with a solar-mass black hole, our orbit wouldn't change at all. However, this particular planet orbits far too close to the black hole and its survival is maintained only by the same mechanism that has trapped the beast.
  • As Long as There Is Evil: The Beast's big "I won't die" speech involves the usual "darkness in the hearts of man" stuff.
  • Badass Boast:
    • The Beast is quite fond of these.
      The Beast: This is the Darkness. This is my domain, you little things that live in the light, clinging to your feeble suns... which die. Only the Darkness remains.
    • Another one from him:
      "I shall never die! The thought of me is forever! In the bleeding hearts of men, in their vanity and obsession and lust! Nothing shall ever destroy me! Nothing!"
    • And the badass retort:
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Mr. Jefferson politely asks the Captain to asphyxiate him and give the others oxygen, figuring that it'd be more pleasant than "death by Ood".
  • Big Bad: The Beast.
  • Big Red Devil: With a scary face. It looks kind of like Eddie.
  • Body Surf: The Beast to the Ood and Toby.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A bolt gun with exactly one shot to kill exactly one target.
  • Cold Reading: The Doctor points out that the Beast, for all its Satanic claims and boasting, is arguably doing this — it claims to know the secrets of the humans trapped on the asteroid containing its prison, but what it actually says about them is extremely vague and could refer to almost anything. On the other hand, what it picks up from the Doctor is very specific and unnerves him more than he wants to let on.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Doctor mentions the inhabitants of Dæmos, attributed in "The Dæmons" as the source of demonic imagery in human mythology, among the races who share similar Satan-like characters in their mythologies.
    • The Doctor says, "My people invented black holes!", referencing "The Three Doctors" and many subsequent stories that establish a black hole created by Omega as a founding technology of the Time Lords.
  • The Dead Have Names: Since the Ood were treated as livestock rather than people, they don't have individual names, but Zach lists them all "with honours", one by one, when reciting the death toll.
  • Devil, but No God: Averted. The Doctor isn't convinced he's literally Satan, but he is scary and in any case, there's a reason he's been imprisoned in a pit for all eternity, and the Beast himself references God and the Disciples of the Light.
  • Devil Complex:
    • The Beast claims to be the root of every Satan figure in every religion that has one. The complex part is downplayed, as it might well be true.
      The Doctor: You get representations of the Horned Beast right across the universe, in the myths and legends of a million worlds. Earth, Draconia, Velconsadine, Daemos. The Kaled god of war — it's the same image, over and over again. Maybe that idea came from somewhere, bleeding through. The thought at the back of every sentient mind.
    • Ida mentions that her congregation didn't believe in the Devil, just "the things men do"... which, the Doctor muses, is the same thing in the end.
  • The Devil Is a Loser: When the Doctor confronts the Beast in its prison, he finds a giant towering red-horned monstrosity that roars at him and shoots fire. He realizes this Beast is just that... a simple beast, with its spirit and sentience gone elsewhere. The physical body of the Beast suddenly becomes a lot less scary.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The Doctor is well known for challenging "gods" and other "demons", as he himself noted, but this one is special because he claimed to be from "before time". It seems less The Bible and more Lovecraft.
  • Doing in the Scientist: Played With. In contrast to the series' tendencies to offer a (quasi-)scientific explanation for various supernatural or mythological phenomena. While the Doctor clearly doesn't believe that the Beast is the actual Devil of mythology, he gets quite cagey when pressed on what he thinks it actually was, and eventually admits that he can't dismiss it with a scientific explanation as easily as he normally would.
  • Doom Doors: During the rocket's escape, some of the alarm sounds include the door opening and closing sounds from Doom, continuing the trend from the last episode.
  • Dug Too Deep: Inverted. The TARDIS is in the very bottom of the pitnote .
  • Dwindling Party: The Team dies one by one as they attempt to stop the Ood uprising.
  • Dying Alone: Ida asks the Doctor to come back up from the Pit because she doesn't want to do this.
  • Dying as Yourself: Just as the planet falls into the black hole, and after Rose kills the devil, we get one shot of several Ood lying about in the corridors, their eyes back to their usual colour, just looking utterly confused.
  • Eldritch Location: Deep space, where the laws of physics behave strangely and there's a creature "from before time" that can drive people to madness... textbook example.
  • Empty Shell: The Beast's body is empty of intelligence. However, there's probably still a connection, as when Toby makes his escape, the Beast's body begins laughing maniacally, particularly when the Doctor realises that he can't stop the Beast escaping without putting Rose at risk.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Beast underestimates the Doctor's drive to save the universe, especially when it believes the Doctor won't risk losing Rose in the process.
  • Evil Plan: The Beast wants to escape and spread its evil across the universe.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The title; a pit with something claiming to be Satan inside.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    Mr. Jefferson: Might I ask, sir, if you can't add oxygen to this area, could you expedite its removal?
  • First-Name Basis: Zach starts calling Mr. Jefferson "John" when things get really tense.
  • Flip Personality: Toby. When he's possessed, his eyes turn red, his body is covered in arcane writing, and he shouts imprecations in a gravelly voice. However, the times when he appears and acts normally are actually a ruse.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Discussed. In spite of the danger, part of Ida still really wants to know what's in the Pit. The Doctor admits that he'd go too, but suggests the Beast is counting on that mad, ancient impulse. It ends up a moot point after the cable snaps, as going in the Pit is the only thing they can do.
  • Foreshadowing: The Beast's claim that Rose will die in battle. A statement that disturbs her and leads her to ask the Doctor about it, who quickly dismisses it, saying that the Beast was lying.
  • Ghost Planet: People used to live here. They left drawings and writing, but they're long since gone.
  • God Is Good: The "Disciples of Light" likely worshipped something the opposite of what the Beast claims to be, and when something claims to be the opposite of the Christian devil and is associated with light, what could that be but God?
  • Go Through Me: "You'll have to kill me first!"
  • Gotta Get Your Head Together: All the Ood hold their heads in their hands when victim to the psychic backlash that neutralizes them.
  • He Had a Name: A variation. Humans of the future have enslaved an alien race known as the Ood, which were treated like robots or cattle. When the humans evacuate the station, all the Ood are left to die, which clearly distresses the Doctor. When the surviving captain makes his report, he lists the deceased Ood individually (by designation number).
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Mr. Jefferson is trapped in a maintenance shaft slowly draining of oxygen while busy fighting off possessed Ood, in order to buy time for Rose and the other workers to escape.
  • Human Notepad: Toby again, but this episode reveals it to be cosmetic. Whether or not the Mark of the Beast appears, he is still possessed.
  • I "Uh" You, Too: The Doctor does a one-sided version of this whilst descending down the pit.
    The Doctor: If you talk to Rose, tell her... tell her... [pauses and shrugs] Oh, she knows...
  • Lovecraft Lite: When the Doctor confronts the Beast in his pit, the thing is trapped. He insults it, ignores it for a logic puzzle, then tosses it into a black hole. Poor showing for a Lovecraftian horror. On the other hand, considering the sheer scale of influence it is implied to have wielded despite having been trapped in a very specific and isolated spot from the beginning of/before the universe, and that it was facing the Doctor (who's cowed more than a few Eldritch Abominations in his time, ending a war that created and destroyed countless examples), perhaps not so poor.
  • Male Gaze: Averted by Toby.
    Rose: [shuffling behind Danny] Not your best angle, Danny.
    Danny: Oi, stop it.
    Toby: [behind Rose] I don't know, could be worse.
    Rose: OI!
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Well, as mundane as a colossal, lava-skinned, horned alien demon can be - but it is never made clear whether or not the Beast is the literal Devil or merely a Sufficiently Advanced Alien that was responsbile for all the stories of the Devil throughout mythology. Even the Doctor, usually quick to dismiss any superstitions, never quite settles on a definitive answer.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Regret to inform, sir, I was a bit slow," as Jefferson gets trapped behind a sealed door in the maintenance duct. This is close to what Rose said when she was in the same situation.
  • Missed Him by That Much: The Doctor dropped into the pit a second before Rose and the others re-establish comms.
  • Multi-Take Cut: During the "if I believe in one thing" speech.
  • Nerves of Steel: The Doctor literally laughs in the face of the Devil.
  • Noodle Incident: The Beast freaks out the crew by referencing various events in their own past not seen by the viewer. "The scientist, still running from daddy... The little boy who lied..."
  • No Such Thing as Space Jesus: Played with; where the Doctor finds Satan chained up on the edge of a black hole. The episode never clarifies if it's just a Sufficiently Advanced Alien, actually Satan, or a Sufficiently Advanced Alien that inspired legends of Satan, but all theories are put forward by different characters. It claims to predate time itself, which the Doctor declares impossible.
  • One Myth to Explain Them All: This is what the Beast claims he is; the truth behind every devil myth in every religion and story.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Rose, in one of the most bizarrely accurate uses of "Go to Hell" in show history.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Toby, believing that the Beast's mind has escaped the planet in him. It's noticed, but no-one on-board thinks too much of it.
  • Red Shirt: The other security officer, who's quickly killed by an Ood. She doesn't even get a name.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The Beast uses this on everyone in the base. When trying to rally the humans and inspire them to resist the Beast, however, the Doctor points out that its ominous, sinister deconstruction of them is in fact simply playing on very basic, vague and ill-defined fears that could apply to anyone, and counters them with a "Reasons You're Really Awesome" Speech:
    Danny: But that's how the Devil works!
    The Doctor: Or, a good psychologist.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Toby and the Ood again, because they are possessed by evil.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: In a deleted scene, the Doctor and Ida use this to decide who will enter the pit. The Doctor wins, scissors versus paper... having used the word "paper" in conversation a minute ago, specifically to plant the idea in her head.
  • Rousing Speech: After the Beast has Rose and most of the crew panicking, the Doctor does his best to rally them. The Beast clearly thinks it's working, as it responds by snapping the lift cable and isolating him.
  • Sadistic Choice: The Doctor can either allow the Beast's mind to escape, or sacrifice Rose and the rocket's crew (and himself, not that that's ever been a problem for him). He hesitates, but rejects the idea that Rose is just a victim and goes through with it.
  • Saintly Church: The "Disciples of Light" are responsible for imprisoning the Beast and the Beast itself is fond of religious imagery, so a religious group of some sort opposed him because he was doing evil.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: A being known only as "the Beast" (who claims to be Satan) is so powerful it was sealed miles underground the surface of a planet precariously orbiting a black hole, meaning that any attempt to escape would send the Beast and the planet into it. These Disciples of the Light guys really didn't want this thing to escape.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Taking You with Me: Subverted when the Doctor decides to send the Beast into a black hole. Before the TARDIS can appear and save him, he proclaims that:
    "This is your freedom! Free to die! You're going into the black hole and I'm riding with you!"
  • Talking Is a Free Action: The Ood pursuing the crew through the ventilation shafts stops several feet out of range of killing the security chief, apparently for no other reason than to let the captain and the chief of security finish their goodbyes.
  • That's an Order!: When Ida hesitates to come back up, Zach retorts "Okay, that was an order."
  • Time Abyss: The Beast claims to be older than the universe itself. The Doctor, a Time Lord, finds this hardest to swallow.
  • Traitor Shot: The Ood have just about cornered the gang in the vents, but Rose and Danny have made it out. Toby's still down there, with nowhere near enough time to escape... and then his eyes turn red, and he puts a finger to his lips, stopping the Ood and showing that the Beast is still well and truly in command.
  • Voice of the Legion: The Beast is mainly voiced by Gabriel Woolf, but it has this effect while speaking through the multiple Ood.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Beast, in Toby's body, goes ballistic and starts shouting his "I can't die" speech when the Doctor destroys the mechanism keeping the planet from falling in the black hole.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: While this trope is played straight for most of the serial, it is ultimately defied, as the captain lists the names of all 50 Ood individually among the deceased, including "with honours" after each name.
    • During the maintenance tunnel escape, Zach can't tell where the Ood are because the computer doesn't register them as proper life forms.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Offered by the Doctor as a rebuttal to the Beast's "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    "Okay, but what makes his version of the truth any better than mine, hmmm? 'Cause I'll tell you what I can see; humans. Brilliant humans, humans who can travel all the way across space, flying in a tiny rocket right into the orbit of a black hole! Just for the sake of discovery! That's amazing. D'you hear me? Amazing! All of you! The captain, his officer, his elder, his juniors, his friends! All with one advantage; the Beast is alone. We are not."
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea: Referenced by the Doctor when he monologues to the mindless Beast and realizes the Beast is trying to send his mind out inside someone. While the mind may not be as powerful as it would be inside the Beast, the Doctor knows it could easily spread the idea of EVIL throughout the universe and how hard it is to defeat any idea.

Alternative Title(s): Doctor Who NSS 2 E 9 The Satan Pit