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Recap / Doctor Who S32 E4 "The Doctor's Wife"

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The Doctor's Wife

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The TARDIS sure does clean up nicely...
Written by Neil Gaiman
Directed by Richard Clark
Production code: 2.3
Air date: 14 May 2011

"Hello. Hello, Doctor. It's so very, very nice to meet you."
The TARDIS

The one where the TARDIS is in the flesh, Nine and Ten's desktop is back, and Rory dies. Again. Except he didn't. Also the one where we all cry. Continuously... and very hard.

Despite this, it is not (surprisingly) actually written by Steven Moffat, but is, in fact, written by Neil Gaiman. This episode won the 2011 Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation — as well as a Hugo Award note .


The TARDIS is in flight. There's a knock on the door, and when opened, a far-away cube of light is seen. When beckoned, it hits the Doctor in the chest, whizzes about the TARDIS's console room, nearly takes off Amy's head, and then actually comes to him. "I've got mail," the Doctor says with glee.

The hypercube is a form of communication for Time Lords. This one seems to come from one named the Corsair and the Doctor knows him / her quite well. They were friends, through many incarnations, and although even the Corsair's sex changed freely with new regenerations, one thing was always the same: the Corsair always got an Ouroboros tattoo on each new body. The small mail cube has that exact same mark.

The Doctor counts the Corsair as "one of the good ones". The message originates from "outside the universe", somewhere where the trio has never gone before. They follow the signal. As happened before when switching from the natural home-universe to a different one, the TARDIS loses power — but this time, it's due to a different cause than before. This time, the soul of the TARDIS has been transported into the body of a human woman called Idris. And the planetoid they've landed on seems to be a complete junkyard.

The travellers are greeted by two very raggedy old humanoids named Auntie and Uncle. They're closely followed by Nephew, a green-eyed lobotomised Ood. The TARDIS, in Idris' body, is delighted to see the Doctor, greets him with a "goodbye!", realises that that's wrong — time is all too linear in a humanoid body — and kisses him instead. The Doctor's a bit confused, especially when Auntie and Uncle warn him about contact with Idris, saying she's mad. And that she'll bite him. Which she promptly does. And she tells Rory what "petrichor" means, which he'll ask about soon enough in the future. But she has no idea how to behave around her "Thief", and before she knows it, she's carried off again by the humanoids.

The planetoid turns out to be accreted matter around a sentient lifeform, which glows green — like the eyes of the Ood Nephew. The planetoid's name is simply "House". The Doctor's single-minded purpose, though, is to find and help any possibly lost but still alive Time Lords that he senses nearby. Amy conjectures that he might just want to be forgiven for killing his race. The Doctor sends Amy and Rory back to the empty TARDIS husk for an errand, then locks the doors remotely as soon as they're inside.

He discovers a cupboard full of hypercubes in the junk yard, and they keep repeating emergency messages from a number of Time Lords. Auntie and Uncle approach, and the Doctor uncovers how House has been "repairing" them. They've been jigsawed together from bits and pieces that found their way into the "sink hole" where this "bubble universe" exists, on the outer-edge of the natural universe we commonly know the Doctor to travel in. Uncle literally has two left feet. Auntie has a big manly arm with the Corsair's tattoo on it. House, as it turns out, has been luring Time Lords to the planetoid since long before the Time War, and has trapped the souls of their TARDISes in humanoid bodies in order to safely consume the TARDIS husks. The accompanying Time Lords were, to him, simply spare parts for TARDIS soul receptacles.

In the meantime, Amy and Rory slowly realise that a green glow is suffusing the TARDIS. It starts to dematerialise and hurtle off in the direction of the bigger, energy-rich universe. House now has control of the TARDIS and is threatening to kill the inhabitants. It had initially planned to simply consume the TARDIS' artron energy, but now that it has learned that the Doctor is the last Time Lord and that no more TARDISes will ever arrive, it has decided to transfer itself to the TARDIS and escape through the rift. Rory quickly assesses that this being is in need of entertainment so won't kill them quickly, and argues this point in his half-hearted way of making a stand. House tells them to run, if they're so keen on being entertainment. They run through the TARDIS corridors while House makes them reenact the time skip scenes from Cube.

With House gone, Auntie and Uncle promptly expire.

The Doctor finds Idris in a holding cell, and she tries to convey to him who she is. "We travel. I go ... VWORP ... VWORP." She explains that she's the one that stole him and she's not giving him back. He's her Doctor. While he tries to argue that he stole her - although he refers to it as borrowing, which she refutes - he releases her, and stands face-to-face with his ship. He awkwardly asks for her name. She assumes she's called "Sexy", since that's what he's always called her. She tries to get used to a physical body and linear time, with significant Time-Travel Tense Trouble and very little sense of what's yet to happen and what's already passed. They flirt and banter away until they, in non-linear flow of time fashion, figure out that the remains of all the Time Lords and TARDISes House has fed upon in its time has given them access to a means of escape. They hastily build a new TARDIS out of TARDIS parts, and Sexy Thing animates the remains.

During all this time, Amy and Rory get lost in the TARDIS corridors, no thanks to House. To make matters worse, Amy ends up getting separated and encounters what seems to be a panicking Rory who claimed to have waited for a long time. Another separation later, and she ends up encountering a badly aged Rory who has claimed to have waited for years. He screams and wails at Amy as she is separated from him again, and eventually ends up in a room where the walls are covered with messages among the lines of "I HATE AMY". Oh, and a dead Rory. Amy mentally breaks down on the spot, until the real Rory pops up behind her. Turns out Rory's just fine, as Amy was only suffering the effects of House's illusions note . The two hug each other as they decide to stick together for once.

Since House has raised them, the shields of the TARDIS husk need to be lowered so the Doctor and Sexy can materialise. Sexy sends a message meant for Amy, "the pretty one?", with the psychic password for the backup control-room: the previous one the Ninth and Tenth Doctors used from the Russell T Davies era. "The pretty one" turns out to be Rory, who uses her psychic message (including the thought of petrichor) to open the locks.

Amy and Rory nearly don't make it, though, since House has brought Nephew along for the ride and tries to use him to kill them. In the nick of time Nephew is killed, and the Doctor and Sexy are back inside the TARDIS husk.

The Doctor: Uh, Amy. This is... well... she's my TARDIS. Except she's a woman. She's a woman, and she's my TARDIS.
Amy: She's the TARDIS?
The Doctor: And she's a woman. She's a woman, and she's the TARDIS.
Amy: [Beat] Did you wish really hard?
The Doctor: Shut up! Not like that.
The TARDIS: Hello. I'm... Sexy.
The Doctor: Oh, still shut up!

Time is running out for the body of Idris, as it also was for Auntie and Uncle without constant repair by House. House is intent on killing again unless given a reason not to. The Doctor seems to be negotiating with House and giving helpful information on how to re-enter the larger universe without much cause for the trust he proclaims to have. As it turns out it was a ruse, since the Doctor knew deleting rooms (part of the required trickery for re-entry) transports any living entities inside them into the main control room. Idris' body dies while imparting some secret to Rory: "The only water in the forest is the river." The Doctor is happy, because that means that Sexy can recombine with the TARDIS hardware. He tells his "old girl" to finish House off — since he tried to consume something dimensionally transcendent, as her energy re-inhabits the physical TARDIS, it's now bigger than the thing which ate it, and House is destroyed.

Afterwards, the TARDIS reanimates Idris' body one last time in order to share a few tearful last words with her Doctor. Although she's going nowhere, she knows she'll never be able to speak to him again, so she says what she'd been wanting to say to him: "Hello, Doctor. It's so very, very nice to meet you."

Amy and Rory get a new bedroom. They hope for one without bunk beds this time, although the Doctor just loves the idea of a bed with a ladder. As they leave to check it out, the Doctor installs a security field around the matrix to prevent it from being compromised again, and gently talks to the TARDIS, not expecting an answer — only for a nearby lever to move on its own, sending the TARDIS to her next destination.


Tropes:

  • Alien Geometries: The chase through the TARDIS corridors. Affects not only the three dimensions of space, but time as well.
  • All There in the Manual: All there in The Brilliant Book 2012, anyway: Eleven Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Corsair.
  • Always with You: Although Tardis!Idris couldn't sustain herself any further after this episode, she returns to being the same spaceship travelling with the Doctor. The ending further proves her sentience, much to the Doctor's delight.
  • Arc Words: "The only water in the forest is the river."
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Used very much for drama here.
    TARDIS!Idris: I'm thinking all my sisters are dead. That they were devoured, and we are looking at their corpses.
    [Beat]
    The Doctor: No ... sorry. That's not what I was thinking.
  • Artificial Gravity: House plays with it in the TARDIS, first turning some corridors into deep chasms, and then increasing the gravity in the old control room, threatening to crush the protagonists.
  • The Atoner: The Doctor's motives in seeking out any surviving Time Lords is to be forgiven for killing off the rest in the Time War. There aren't any, but he's still an atoner.
  • Author Appeal: Gaiman's love of the power of stories is in full effect.
    • The episode proper opens with the Doctor finishing up a story about Robot King Arthur. Rory is skeptical, until Amy tells him she was there.
    • House uses old Time Lord distress messages to lure Time Lords to the planet so it can eat their ships.
    • Amy was separated from Rory for a long, long time and he now hates her for abandoning him. Then she gets away from him, and comes across his desiccated corpse lying on the floor with "KILL AMY" (and, even more disturbingly, "KILL ME AMY") scrawled on every wall. Then she finds out it's just a Mind Screw. The story is in the implication of what's been happening between the illusions.
    • Compare the line about people being Bigger on the Inside with this quote from one of Neil Gaiman's works:
    Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds… Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.
  • Badass Boast: Duelling ones.
    House: Fear me. I've killed hundreds of Time Lords!
    The Doctor: Fear me, I've killed all of them.
  • Batman Gambit: This assumes that there were other ways House could've gotten the TARDIS back into the main universe. If so, then the Doctor executed one of these when he advised House to delete unused rooms as a way to get back to the main universe; he realized that House would delete the room he and his companions were in, not knowing about the failsafe that would deposit everyone in the main control room - right where TARDIS!Idris needed to be when her human body expired.
  • Berserk Button: The Doctor's button is definitely pushed in this episode. It doubles as an Ironic Echo to "The Eleventh Hour".
    The Doctor: You gave me hope and then you took it all away. That's enough to make anyone dangerous; God knows what it'll do to me. Basically... RUN!
  • Beware the Nice Ones: While the Doctor has proven time and time again that he will, if necessary, end your existence, this time the TARDIS proves that while she is usually just a police box shaped alien ship, she also survived the Last Great Time War in a shape relatively close to one piece and is equally as dangerous as the Doctor is if given the chance.
  • Big Bad: House.
  • Big Damn Kiss: TARDIS!Idris thinks a snog is the opposite of "goodbye".
  • Big "NO!": Amy says one on seeing Rory's body. It's helped on by the fact that she sounds like she's going to throw up in grief.
  • Bigger on the Inside:
    • TARDIS!Idris thinks humans are. ("Bigger on the Inside" was one of the episode's working titles.)
    • This was also the first episode since the series returned in 2005 to give an extensive on-screen "tour" of the TARDIS interior beyond the console room.
    • Inverted in the case of House: body the size of a planet, "but on the inside you're just. So. Small!" Once the TARDIS regains control of herself she crushes it like a gnat.
  • Bite of Affection: TARDIS!Idris considers biting to be the same as a kiss, only a level above that.
  • Body Horror:
    • The Time Lords who came to House before the Doctor were cut up and sewn back together to make Auntie and Uncle.
    • We are reminded a few times that TARDIS!Idris is inhabiting a reanimated corpse, especially as Idris' organs begin to fail.
    • One for the TARDIS, as the Doctor and TARDIS!Idris look out over the scrapyard of those previous Time Lords' TARDISes.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: The Time Lord called the Corsair, if the Doctor's description is to be believed. According to Neil Gaiman, s/he was something of a Loveable Rogue.
  • Borrowed Without Permission: Lampshaded by the TARDIS herself, who notes "Borrowing implies the intent to return the thing that was taken. And what makes you think that I would ever give you back?"
  • A Boy and His X:
    • Parodied when Amy refers to this trope by name at the end:
      Amy: It's always you and her, isn't it? A boy and his box, off to see the universe.
    • TARDIS!Idris has this opinion of the Doctor and all the "strays" that he brings home.
  • Brick Joke:
  • Buffy Speak: TARDIS!Idris. She refers to the Doctor as "[her] Thief", Amy as "The Orangey Girl" and Rory as "Pretty". Even more accurately: "You're just a bitey mad lady. The TARDIS is uppy-downy stuff in a big blue box."
  • Call-Back:
    • We see the "coral" TARDIS control room formerly used by the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. Gaiman would have liked to use an even earlier version, but none still existed and the budget didn't stretch to recreating one just for this episode. So after the final David Tennant episode was filmed, the producers ordered that the coral TARDIS set be preserved until this episode could be filmed.
    • "Another Ood I failed to save."
    • Basically... RUN!
  • Cannot Spit It Out: TARDIS!Idris has difficulty with certain words, including her real name. She's not used to having a body, or even being able to talk, for that matter. Anyone would be a bit off under the circumstances.
    TARDIS!Idris: It's on the tip of my ... tip of my ... — I've just had a wonderful new idea about kissing!
  • Chaste Hero: The Doctor seems utterly clueless as to why Amy and Rory don't want to sleep in a set of bunk beds.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Almost everything TARDIS!Idris says early on.
      TARDIS!Idris: It means the smell of dust after rain.
      Rory: What does?
      TARDIS!Idris: Petrichor.
      Rory: But I didn't ask.
      TARDIS!Idris: Not yet. But you will.
    • Reportedly, the line of gibberish TARDIS!Idris spouts in her cell was originally intended to be "the only water in the forest is the river" backwards.
    • The Corsair's snake tattoo is found on one of the animated corpses.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • TARDIS!Idris, to an extent that can't simply be excused by Time-Travel Tense Trouble or being in entirely the wrong shape of body.
    • Uncle and Auntie are also Cloudcuckoolanders, to a lesser extent. In their case, the weirdness is likely due to their patchwork nature and isolation.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Anything possessed by House glows a sickly green colour. When it's in control of the TARDIS, not only do the inner lights go green, so does the lamp on the top.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • As in "Castrovalva", the Doctor jettisons TARDIS rooms to give him a boost.
    • The House-possessed TARDIS pulling a Mind Screw on the Doctor's companion and the TARDIS appearing in a human form are very similar to events of the Big Finish audio "Zagreus", as well as the comic series The Forgotten.
    • The Doctor has traveled to an alternate universe using only a TARDIS console before, in "Inferno".
    • Ood? Malicious deep voice? Possession? This sounds familiar.
    • The ending with TARDIS!Idris saying goodbye is reminiscent of Ten saying goodbye to Rose in "Doomsday", with the roles reversed.
    • Fish fingers.
    • Time Lords sending distress signals in the form of psychic Companion Cubes.
    • Wasn't it mentioned in the first episode of this series what people would do with the body of a Time Lord?
    • A police box in an old junkyard — just like it all began.
    • "I'm a madman with a box without a box!" and "Basically, run!"
    • Also, we hear the Cloister Bell once again when House takes over the TARDIS. (The Cloister Bell was first heard in the Season 18 story "Logopolis".)
    • We now have "spacey-wacey" to go with "timey-wimey".
    • Do ominous talking green clouds of sentient gas that can possess living things and use familial names like "Auntie" and "Uncle" remind you of anything?
    • At the end of the episode, the Doctor suggests they go to the Eye of Orion.
    • The Doctor clicks his fingers repeatedly when trying to get into the locked TARDIS.
    • The Doctor finds that many Time Lords went to the junkyard at the end of the universe (or rather, to the side of the universe). Earlier, in "Utopia", Captain Jack Harkness said the end of the universe was the perfect place for a Time Lord to hide from the Time War.
    • The spirit of the TARDIS possessing a human female. Even older than they think.
    • The makeshift TARDIS control room constructed by the Doctor out of ruined TARDIS junk is something of a hodgepodge homage to the various styles of control room seen throughout the 1963-1989 series, and was designed by the winner of a Blue Peter competition.
    • Different universes are hardly a new thing. How about a disembodied, Eldritch Abomination-like consciousness hailing from one of these universes with an agenda of physically transporting itself to the human dimension through manipulation and mind control? Nope, we've done that one too.note 
    • People being kept alive with bodies cobbled together from body parts belonging to several aliens, including Time Lords. Hmmm...
    • "I always liked it when you called me Old Girl."
    • Some have noted that the Doctor's remembrance of the robot king sounds familiar, though Amy claims to have been part of those events.
    • The Doctor remarks to a patchwork person "I once had an umbrella like you."
    • While the Doctor is starting up the cobbled-together TARDIS console, TARDIS!Idris stops to look at herself in a mirror, prodding her cheeks and making faces. This is how the Doctors typically react when they first gets a look at their reflection after a regeneration.
    • The Doctor offhandedly mentions that being trapped in a rift outside of the confines of the universe should give the TARDIS plenty of time to recharge. The TARDIS needing to recharge at the Cardiff rift was a recurring plot point during the Russell T Davies-helmed era of the show.
  • Corpse Land: The supposed "junkyard" is actually full of TARDIS corpses, and the only people living here are already dead.
  • Creepy Monotone: House speaks in a flat tone even when considering execution.
  • Dead All Along: The Corsair and the other Time Lords, thanks to House, who ate them.
  • Delayed Reaction: House takes its time to say anything about the Doctor and TARDIS!Idris suddenly materialising inside the TARDIS via an improvised TARDIS. When it does, it fails to notice that Nephew is absent.
  • Derelict Graveyard: The asteroid is covered in TARDIS wreckage.
  • Disappears into Light: Idris' body, because TARDIS!Idris has left for her real body.
  • Dissimile: Explaining the idea of a bubble-universe leads into how it's not at all bubble-like. This is one of Eleven's Catchphrases.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You:
    The Doctor: You gave me hope and then you took it away. That's enough to make anyone dangerous. God knows what it will do to me. Basically... RUN!
  • Door Dumb: TARDIS!Idris has been waiting a long time to vent about the Doctor pushing the doors open. He's supposed to pull them.
  • Down in the Dumps: The planetoid on which the TARDIS materialises is a junkyard for wrecked TARDISes.
  • Eldritch Location: House is a sapient green cloud/asteroid that lives outside the universe.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: House is a sadistic and manipulative villain with a deep voice.
  • Expospeak Gag:
    • When the Ood was "redistributed". Translation: they're breathing him.
    • Inverted in the final scene: Steven Moffat's hatred of Technobabble is in full effect when the TARDIS cuts off the Doctor's explanation of why he can't make her speak again. "YES, IT'S SPACEY-WACEY!"
  • Faux Affably Evil: House acts like a gentleman who is providing hospitality to travelers, but he's actually luring them into a trap.
  • Final Speech: OK, technically the TARDIS isn't dying, but the fact that she never expects to be able to speak to her thief directly again makes her final conversation with the Doctor take on much of the same overtones. Idris's body dies at the beginning of the episode, but since she's been reanimated with the TARDIS' Matrix throughout the episode, these are indeed her final words before she dies for good.
  • Foreshadowing: Lampshaded in the extent that TARDIS!Idris talks about things that the Doctor and the crew have not yet experienced. They all are revealed to be true, in time...
    • The first thing TARDIS!Idris does upon seeing the Doctor is call him "Thief". As we find out later, she really thinks of the Doctor as her thief.
    • "The only water in the forest is the river."
    • TARDIS!Idris's attraction to Rory, AKA "the Pretty One".
    • In a long-term sense, the fact the TARDIS has at least 17 console rooms archived that the Doctor hasn't himself created yet, suggests she and the Doctor still have many adventures to come (this in itself foreshadows the Doctor getting a new regeneration cycle).
    • The Doctor offhandedly mentioning the Corsair's Gender Bender regeneration was the first explicitly canon acknowledgement that such a thing was possible in the TV series, paving the way for the eventual casting of both Missy and the Thirteenth Doctor.
  • For the Evulz: How Rory convinces House to keep them alive: It will be more fun to keep them alive and torture them.
  • Gender Bender: The Doctor offhandedly confirms that Time Lords can change gender when they regenerate. The Corsair, one of his old buddies, was usually a man but sometimes a woman. ("She was a bad girl!")
  • Genius Loci:
    • The asteroid is sentient and able to communicate via its inhabitants. Then it takes over the TARDIS.
    • Of course, the TARDIS has always been one, ever since the very beginning, but this time the intelligence and personality comes to the fore.
  • Grand Theft Me: Unwilling variation — House removes the mind of the TARDIS so it can possess its "body", and since it can't safely destroy said mind it stores her in a human body.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Nephew, distinguishing itself from other Ood, with green eyes.
  • Gym Class Hell: Rory compares House to a particularly sadistic P.E. teacher he once had.
  • Hope Spot: The message the Doctor receives in the beginning of the episode, making him think there are still living Time Lords in existence. He quickly finds out that all of them are dead.
  • I Call It "Vera": TARDIS!Idris's name is "Sexy".
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: The series has a longstanding "rule" that the Doctor never says "I love you" to anyone. This does not apply to the TARDIS, however, as these are her final words to the Doctor before her ability to speak directly to him is lost.
  • Insistent Terminology: TARDIS!Idris keeps insisting that she stole the Doctor by leaving her door unlocked. The Doctor repeats that he borrowed the TARDIS, who reveals that statement is a case of Blatant Lies on both their parts.
    The TARDIS: "Borrowing" implies an eventual intention to return the thing which was taken. What makes you think I would ever give you back?
  • Invincible Boogeymen: House quickly becomes one of these. Not only is it impossible to harm him since his body is now a pan-dimensional time machine, but he's also capable of using his control over the TARDIS's internal systems to Mind Rape Amy and Rory in particularly cruel ways. For good measure, during his scenes, the tone of the episode takes a sharp turn away from drama and comedy and into flat-out horror.
  • Ironic Echo: The Doctor repeats his threat from "The Eleventh Hour", but this time, his Berserk Button has not just been pushed, but rolled up, flattened, smashed and thrown into the meat grinder.
    The Doctor: You gave me hope and then you took it away. That's enough to make anyone dangerous... God knows what it will do to me. Basically... RUN!
    • The oft repeated observation that the TARDIS is bigger on the inside is now presented by the TARDIS in an emotional rather than spatial context when she asks if all people are bigger on the inside. This same basic idea is later inverted when the Doctor taunts House, an entity that on the outside was physically as large as a planet but on the inside was a spiteful, petty little creature that the TARDIS easily overcomes and destroys when given the opportunity.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: The Doctor and TARDIS!Idris. The episode is called "The Doctor's Wife", after all.
    TARDIS!Idris: There are instructions on the door. What do they say?
    The Doctor: Those aren't instructions!
    TARDIS!Idris: You've walked by them every day for seven hundred years. What do they say?
    The Doctor: ..."Pull to open."
    TARDIS!Idris: And what do you do?
    The Doctor: I Push!
  • Macguffin Super Person: TARDIS!Idris is a zigzagged trope. What House really wants is the TARDIS's body, and so he puts her mind into another body, but it is still her mind that the Doctor needs to save the day.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: TARDIS!Idris has strong overtones of this, given her energy and eccentric behavior.
  • Manly Tears: The Doctor sheds a few when he realizes the TARDIS must revert back to being just a ship he can't communicate with, and from her perspective, it may be once and for all. The only time he will ever get to talk to her and all those questions will be left unanswered for all of time and space.
    The Doctor: Please don't go...
    • Then averted when it's revealed at the end that, while she can't talk back, the TARDIS is still listening.
  • Mathematician's Answer: After being asked how you can leave the universe, the Doctor replies "With immense difficulty".
  • Mind Rape:
    • Done by the House to mess with Amy as she runs through the TARDIS interior; she sees illusions of progressively older versions of her husband that hate her more each time. According to Word of God, Rory didn't have similar visions because he no selled it with his Last Centurion experience.invoked
    • Could also be taken literally in the sense of how House removed the TARDIS' Matrix against her will.
  • Mirror Character: House and the Doctor get a few.
    • The Doctor's plan of building a new TARDIS from scratch, as pointed out by TARDIS!Idris: "Let's take these half-digested corpses and sew them together into a single body and then make it go for a run" is basically what House was doing to Auntie and Uncle. (Although the Doctor at least wasn't using living ones.)
    • Or how both react after getting new bodies:
      The Doctor: [newly regenerated] Legs! I've still got legs. — "The End of Time"

      House: [newly possessing the TARDIS] Corridors. I have so many corridors. — "The Doctor's Wife"
    • This exchange:
      House: Fear me. I've killed hundreds of Time Lords!
      The Doctor: Fear me. I've killed all of them.
  • Mood Whiplash: This episode starts off with funny moments ("I've got mail!") Then it segues into Gaiman's reliably, extremely scary story. Worst, the action switches several times between the Doctor and TARDIS!Idris's funny banter, and Amy and Rory getting terrorized by House in the TARDIS.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The washing machine that Amy pokes with a spoon at the beginning was originally supposed to be a dead TARDIS. The TARDIS from the BBV Productions Doctor Who parody Do You Have a Licence to Save This Planet? was a washing machine, trying to pass itself off as a dishwasher.
    • In 1984, then-producer John Nathan-Turner put the fake episode title The Doctor's Wife onto a planning board in the show's production office when he suspected that one of the crew was leaking information to the press.
  • Non-Linear Character: TARDIS!Idris makes it clear through the episode that she has perceptions beyond the linear flow of time, which makes communicating with everyone else a little difficult for them and her.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever story the Doctor was telling Rory at the beginning. Apparently, it wasn't the Robot King after all, but the Doctor was able to reattach the head.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: We don't know how House tortured Rory. Instead, Rory marches up to a sobbing Amy, witnessing his own (fake) corpse, and leads her away from the illusion while keeping a tight grip on her hand. Somehow he withstood the torture and was able to identify his Amy. According to Word of God, his adventures as an Auton while taking The Slow Path in "The Big Bang" allowed him to shrug off the Mind Rape.invoked
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Played for Drama. Amy had lost Rory twice by this point and forgotten him. She sobs when she thinks that House killed him, and left him to Go Mad from the Isolation. It takes the real Rory showing up and leading her away, while showing that he's fine, to calm her down.
  • One-Gender Race: Implied with TARDISes, given TARDIS!Idris's reference to her "sisters" scattered across the planet.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Auntie and Uncle.
    • Averted in the case of TARDIS!Idris, who chooses to name herself "Sexy", so it's not a nickname, even if it started out as the Doctor's nickname for his ship.
  • The Ophelia: Idris has a lot of these traits, right down to the long hair and Victorian clothing. Considering that she was written by Neil Gaiman, this was probably intentional.
  • Ouroboros: The Corsair's tattoo. They always had the tattoo, getting added back after each regeneration.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech:
    TARDIS!Idris: "Are all people like this?"
    The Doctor: "Like what?"
    TARDIS!Idris "So much bigger on the inside."
  • People Puppets: Uncle and Aunt are puppets for House.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Bigger on the inside", the Doctor Who classic. Extrapolated on, because TARDIS!Idris herself uses it in reference to the Doctor and how it feels to be a human body, and the reason she can push out House is because he is just so much small on the inside.
  • The Plan: The Doctor pulls one of these on House when he tricks him into deleting the old coral control room in an effort to kill him, Amy, Rory and TARDIS!Idris. Instead, a failsafe deposits them into the main control room where TARDIS!Idris can repossess her normal TARDIS body.
  • Pocket Dimension: The bubble universe is like a small bubble attached to the big universe main bubble. Sort of; it's not really like that at all.
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Amy adopts this pose trying to think of the passcode to the control room. So does Rory, when TARDIS!Idris aims for the "pretty one" and gets him. They don't know any better; in Rory's case the communication clearly gives him a headache.
  • Revision: Gaiman does a masterful job of revising the Doctor's origin story. The Doctor wanted to see the universe, so he "borrowed" a TARDIS and ran away from Gallifrey. Turns out, the TARDIS wanted to see the universe, so she stole a Time Lord by leaving her doors unlocked for the Doctor, and ran away from Gallifrey.
  • Race Against the Clock: Idris's body is dying quicker due to the TARDIS Matrix inside her, and the Pocket Dimension won't last long either.
  • Resurrect the Wreck: The TARDIS console cobbled together out of the junk of wrecked TARDISES.
  • Reveling in the New Form: House successfully pulls a Grand Theft Me on the TARDIS — while Amy and Rory are alone aboard it. As the TARDIS abandons the Doctor and TARDIS!Idris on the asteroid, House can be heard gloating over his fancy new body, enthusing over all the corridors he now possesses; soon after, he forces Amy and Rory to entertain him by fleeing for their lives, and greatly enjoys the sensation of his new playthings running around inside him.
  • Robo Ship: invoked
    • Like never before! The soul of the TARDIS is ripped out and put into a woman, Idris, allowing the Doctor and his ship to talk to each other for the first time. They spend most of the episode flirting and have an emotional goodbye when she has to return to "the box". In the Confidential, they make this music video. Matt Smith even said the Doctor is definitely really turned on by this.
      Amy: Did you wish really hard?
    • The Doctor asks TARDIS!Idris to send a message to Amy. She asks if Amy's the pretty one. Seconds later, Rory gets a message. Given how flirty Rory's wife gets with the Doctor at times, it's fitting that the Doctor's wife should turn the tables.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Amy encounters a section of hallway where all the walls are covered with "HATE AMY", "KILL AMY", and even "KILL ME AMY", written in what looks like blood. The kicker is that those words were written by a long-dead Rory, apparently furious at Amy for not finding him. However, Rory never actually did this or went through that, it was all a Mind Rape via House.
  • Running Gag: The rarely-seen swimming pool, later seen again after another apparent refit in "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS".
  • Sadist: Rory draws this conclusion regarding House when he asks why he's keeping them alive.
Rory: Because...(Beat)...killing us quickly wouldn't be any fun and you need fun, don't you?! That's what Auntie and Uncle were for, wasn't it? Someone to make suffer, I had a P.E. teacher just like you. You need to be entertained and killing us quickly... wouldn't be entertainment.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Poor Idris. An innocent girl whose soul is sucked out by House in the prime of life in the opening moments of the episode because she has no idea she's been Lured into a Trap, and whose body turns into an unwitting vessel for the TARDIS and fails on her and evaporates into nothing.
  • Scenery Gorn: The wrecked ships are this from TARDIS!Idris's perspective, because they are her sisters.
  • Scheherezade Gambit: Rory convinces House to keep them alive because killing them at once wouldn't be any fun.
    Rory: I had a P.E. teacher like you once...
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: Named Idris. TARDIS!Idris doesn't like being sealed into such a small container.
  • Shave And A Haircut: This is what the message box uses to knock on the TARDIS door.
  • Ship Tease: For once, the trope name can be taken literally. One of the first things TARDIS!Idris does is snog the Doctor, several lines of dialogue indicate that the ship's consciousness has developed deep affection for him, and the very last words she utters before she loses the ability to speak directly to the Doctor are, "I love you". And the fact that the episode's title refers to her.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the junked ships resembles, and is positioned the same way as, the wrecked ship in Alien.
    • House's personality and treatment of Amy and Rory owes a lot to AM in Harlan Ellison's famous short story "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream". Neil Gaiman posted on Tumblr that he hoped to make Harlan Ellison smile with the shout-out. Apparently, he did.
    • Not to mention resembling a certain other monotoned, malevolent entity controlling a spaceship. Maybe House and HAL are related...
    • Then there's that other malevolent, labyrinthine house from House of Leaves.
    • The TARDIS corridors seen in this episode bear a strong resemblance to the corridors of the Liberator in Blake's 7.
    • "Biting's excellent. It's like kissing, only there's a winner!"
    • So Neil Gaiman writes something where there's an evil entity making fake people and posing as one of them to lure in victims to eat... Sound familiar?
  • Sickly Green Glow: The House takes the form of a green cloud.
  • Sleeping Single: An unwilling example. It appears the Doctor is unwilling to change the bed in Rory and Amy's room from a bunk bed to a double bed.
    The Doctor: But bunk beds are cool! It's a bed with a ladder!
  • Snipe Hunt: The Doctor sends Amy and Rory back to the TARDIS to fetch his sonic screwdriver. When they're inside, the Doctor turns out to actually have his screwdriver already and locks them inside.
    Amy: We couldn't find your screwdriver. Plus the doors seem to have locked behind us. Rory thinks there's a perfectly innocent explanation, but I think you lied to us.
    The Doctor: Time Lord stuff. I needed you out of the way.
    Amy: What, we're not smart enough for your new friends?
  • Space Pirate: The Corsair, at least in name if not spirit. Although what little we learn about them suggests that they might have been a benevolent version of this.
  • Spaceship Girl: The matrix of the TARDIS, named "Sexy", and her body, which is a big blue box of uppy-downy stuff. Also, all TARDISes are this according to her.
  • Stable Time Loop: TARDIS!Idris tells the Doctor that House eats TARDISes, claiming that she heard him say so in the future. Only a few seconds in the future, as it happens, because it's her saying this that leads him to reason out how House does so.
  • Take Me Instead: Inverted and Played for Laughs. At the same time.
    Uncle: I only wish I could go in your place, Idris... nah, I don't, 'cause it's really gonna hurt.
  • Tele-Frag: Nephew is killed when the Doctor and TARDIS!Idris's makeshift TARDIS lands where he's standing. It would have happened to Amy and Rory too, if TARDIS!Idris hadn't waned them to step out of the way.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • You'd think the Doctor would be more careful than to ask "What could possibly go wrong?"
    • When they first meet, Uncle tries to warn the Doctor away from TARDIS!Idris by claiming she bites people. TARDIS!Idris thinks this is a good idea, and promptly bites the Doctor's ear.
  • There Are No Coincidences: According to TARDIS!Idris, the seemingly haphazard way the Doctor travels and the inexplicable way he seems to find trouble in need of his interventions was in fact her doing all along.
    The Doctor: You didn't always take me where I wanted to go.
    TARDIS!Idris: No, but I always took you where you needed to go.
  • There Is Another: The whole plot is kicked off by the Doctor receiving a distress call from the Corsair, another Time Lord and one of the Doctor's old friends, who is marooned in another universe. After expending considerable effort to get to him, the Doctor learns that the Corsair has been dead for a very long time.
  • This Is My Human: TARDIS!Idris considers the Doctor to be her Time Lord.
  • This Is the Part Where...: You unlock the door. Justified, as TARDIS!Idris has seen the future and knows the Doctor will unlock her cage at that point.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: TARDIS!Idris suffers from this, as it seems she's experiencing every moment of her past, present and future at the same time.
    The Doctor: What did I steal?
    The TARDIS: Me. You're going to steal me, you have stolen me, you are stealing me. Oh, tenses are difficult.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: The TARDIS has 30 console rooms archived. Including at least 17 that haven't been created yet. Time is strange within a time machine, you know.
    The Doctor: You can't archive something that hasn't happened yet!
    TARDIS!Idris: You can't.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: House is never shown to try to Mind Rape Rory. It's later revealed in "The God Complex", when a similar entity tries to pull the same trick and fails, that you simply can't due to his 1,894-year heroic run as the Last Centurion. Rory no longer fears anything. No doubt House tried - but Rory's reaction would not have been entertaining and just meant he understood Amy's suffering sooner.
  • Tranquil Fury: When the Doctor finds out House tricked him using old recordings of long dead Time Lords he recaps the situation in a calm voice but you can tell his Berserk Button has been pushed with extreme predjudice.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Explicitly stated in the script that Idris should be this. She is a beautiful woman who fell through a rift in time, which has a similar effect to being dragged through a hedge backwards.
  • Unusual User Interface: You don't speak the passwords, you think them, and you technically don't think any words, but what they mean. For example, when Amy thinks "delight", she thinks of her wedding day.
  • Villains Never Lie: Averted; House promises to spare their lives if the Doctor helps it get to the normal universe. It's obvious from Facial Dialogue that no one believes House, and House clearly suspects the Doctor's agenda as well.
  • Visual Pun: In mathematical terms, a hypercube is (in simple terms) a cube within a cube. The hypercube in the episode looks like... a cube within a cube.
  • Voices Are Mental: In her attempts to explain who she is to the Doctor, TARDIS!Idris opens her mouth and makes the wheezing sound of the TARDIS.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Right before something falls off the stitched-together console.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?:
    • House asks the Doctor's companions why it shouldn't just kill them, and Rory says it would entertain House to torment them first. He's right, but House does try to kill them after they get to the control room and are thus a potential threat.
    • House asks the Doctor why it shouldn't do the same, and the Doctor makes a bargain to get them to the normal universe. House tries to kill them once You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, but the Doctor has outsmarted him.
  • Worthy Opponent: The Doctor calls House one; and applauds its plan. Except this is just to distract it from TARDIS!Idris leaving Idris' body.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Even outside of the Universe, the Doctor is still the last Time Lord.


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