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Recap / Doctor Who S31 E8 "The Hungry Earth"

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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

Original air date: May 22, 2010

Production code: 1.8

The one where the Doctor should have muzzled a reptile before she martyred herself.

The second two-part story of the the Eleventh Doctor's first series. Written by Chris Chibnall.

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 Amy and Rory, 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 plainclothes 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. The Doctor tries to pull her back out, but 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 Elliot 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 vivisected 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 claims. It's an entire civilisation.


  • Beneath the Earth: A Silurian city deep below.
  • 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?
  • Big Bad: Alaya, the Silurian scout responsible for the abductions and for infecting Tony.
  • 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:
  • Damsel in Distress: Amy, held hostage by the Silurians, and Alaya, held hostage by the humans. The Doctor goes off to negotiate a prisoner exchange.
  • Distressed Dude: Mo, clamped to the vivisection table.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Ambrose pulls out a stockpile of weapons. The Doctor kindly asks her to put them away.
  • Dug Too Deep: The Silurians wake up because the humans drilled deep enough to hit their life support system.
  • Everybody Lives: Nobody dies in this part of the two-parter, and the Doctor's determined to enforce the trope going into the second part.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Silurians regard humans as "stinking apes" and want to wipe them out and reclaim the Earth.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Rory, heading back to the TARDIS to put away Amy's engagement ring, tells the Doctor and Amy "I'll catch you both up."
    • Ambrose is the one who has the idea to stockpile weapons, showing her to be the more violent happy of the guest stars.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Ambrose Northover.
  • 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 wander off on his own while hostile Silurians 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 his mistake.
    • 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. Nasreen calls her out on this.
  • 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 the Silurians look so radically different compared to the older ones; they're a different tribe.
  • Idiot Ball: The Mama Bear grabs hold of it quite firmly from minute one. She dismisses the Doctor even when the local expert defers to him, stockpiles weapons even when told not to, and antagonises the hostage.
  • Jumped at the Call: Nasreen immediately volunteers to go with the Doctor when he decides to go beneath the Earth to check on the Silurians.
  • 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 since they don't have any reason to complaint about it.
  • Last of Her Kind: The female Silurian warrior claims to be the last of her species. The Doctor replies that as he is the last of his species, he knows "how that sits in the heart", and that faking it is an insult to him.
  • "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 is certainly a visual example of this trope, but he turns out to be a Mad Doctor with a Heart of Gold, being far more reasonable than the General Ripper.
  • Mama Bear: Elliot's mother goes more than 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 not try to interact with their future selves on the hill.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: This episode aired in 2010, but takes place in 2020. Despite being the near future, the only apparent difference from the present is the drilling operation that triggers the plot.
  • Night-Vision Goggles: Night-vision sunglasses.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Despite being reptilian, the Silurian females have some breasts.
  • Now or Never Kiss: When the sky turns dark Tony grabs Nasreen and kisses her, apparently not wanting to risk dying without letting her now how he feels. Nasreen immediately kisses him back.
  • 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.
  • Lizard Folk: The Silurians, Doctor Who's most famous lizard-people, are back.
  • Playing with Syringes: The Silurian doctor has one as he approaches Amy with a mind to examine her internal organs.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: There is no way it only took them 9-to-12 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, though she's the only one, unfortunately.
  • Series Continuity Error: Nasreen's project celebrates making a new record by digging 21 kilometres. Yet way back in Doctor Who S7 E4 "Inferno", they were digging 20 miles, while Nasreen's is only circa 13 miles.
  • 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 it.
  • Shout-Out: The Night-Vision Shades are extremely reminiscent of They Live!.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: Albeit revealed with a slingshot rather than by someone walking into it.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Amy and Mo are secured in chairs so the Silurian doctor can vivisect them, though he only doe so to Mo before he is called away elsewhere.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Justified; they're slimmed-down Night-Vision Goggles. And it's not actually nighttime anyway.
  • 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).
  • Tainted Veins: After Alaya injects him with her venom, Tony's veins around his neck turn algae-green.
  • 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. "No, you're really not, because I'm the last of my species and I know how it sits in a heart. So please don't insult me." His expression goes ice-cold.
  • Very Special Episode: A rather subtle example. Elliot's dyslexia is addressed somewhat Anviliciously, and there was an associated web link at the end of the original broadcast.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Doctor Who S 31 E 08 The Hungry Earth