Timestamp #184: Smith and Jones

Doctor Who: Smith and Jones
(1 episode, s03e01, 2007)

 

It’s a coincidence, but what a fitting story to chronicle just after Apollo 11’s fiftieth anniversary.

Martha Jones is on her way to work when her mobile rings several times, each caller talking to her about her brother’s twenty-first birthday. In the midst of all these calls, she’s interrupted by a certain Time Lord who demonstrably takes off his tie. Once at the hospital, Martha bumps into a helmet-clad motorcycle rider in black, changes clothes, and tends to her patients as a medical student.

After dealing with a patient experiencing a salt deficiency, she spots two more motorcycle riders before moving on to her second patient: John Smith. The man has two heartbeats and is complaining of abdominal pain. Martha examines him and each of the medical students talks about the rise of static electricity as they move on to the next patient.

Later on, Martha talks to her sister on the phone and discovers that the storm outside is focused directly over the hospital. As John Smith walks by, the rain changes direction – straight up! – and the building rumbles as lightning strikes. Looking outside, Martha discovers that the hospital has been moved to the surface of the moon.

That cause a bit of consternation among the occupants. Okay, more like a riot.

Martha and her co-worker, Julia Swales, take stock of the situation. As Martha remarks that the building isn’t airtight – they should have died from asphyxiation long ago – John Smith congratulates her on her intuition and invites her to join him. They stand on a balcony in the Earth-light, breathe deep, and discuss extraterrestrials on Earth. From Big Ben to the Christmas invasion and the Battle of Canary Wharf (where Martha lost her nearly identical cousin, Adeola), Martha believes in aliens. John Smith introduces himself as the Doctor and apologizes for not saving Martha’s cousin. That event is still fresh in his mind.

Then they meet the Judoon.

Huge cylindrical ships land nearby and an army marches on the hospital. Meanwhile, the lady with the salt deficiency introduces Mr. Stoker, the medical student supervisor, to her friends in the motorcycle helmets. She also uses a bendy straw to start drinking his blood.

The Judoon storm the hospital, revealing themselves as rhinoceros-faced aliens, and use a universal translator to learn English. They catalog everyone they meet as human, complete with an X on each captive’s hands. Meanwhile, the Doctor tells Martha that the Judoon are police-for-hire, and if they find a non-human criminal hiding in the hospital, they will execute everyone inside as an accomplice. One patient tries to stop the Judoon with a vase to the head and he is immediately executed for assault.

Justice is swift.

The Doctor, being non-human, skulks away with Martha and tries to hack the computer system with the sonic screwdriver. He tells Martha that he spotted alien power cores a few days back and checked into the hospital as a patient to look around. Martha decides to ask Stoker for help in finding anyone with unusual symptoms, finds Florence enjoying her blood beverage, and the chase is on.

The Doctor and Martha take refuge in a radiology suite and the Doctor ambushes one of the motorcycle gang with an X-ray machine. He blasts the creature – a Slab, leather through and through – with 5000 times the radiation of a normal X-ray. He absorbs the rest of the roentgen (gamma) radiation and dumps it into his shoe, then ditches the other one to balance himself out. Barefoot on the moon, the Doctor finds that his sonic screwdriver has been destroyed before realizing that Florence can now pose as human thanks to her hemoglobin smoothie.

Sure enough, she’s soon cataloged as human.

The other Slab searches for the Doctor and Martha while she asks the Time Lord about traveling companions. They’re ambushed by Judoon who catalog the Doctor as non-human – Martha is truly surprised – and they run to the floor below. Since the Judoon are methodical, they won’t revisit a floor they’ve already audited. The pair find the exsanguinated Stoker, discover that the oxygen supply is starting to dwindle, and separate as the Judoon (surprisingly) storm the floor. The Doctor kisses Martha before running for the MRI suite where he finds Florence modifying the imager to fry every biologic within 250,000 miles. She’s intent on using the Judoon ships to escape.

The Doctor poses as a human and verbally spars with Florence. He mentions that the Judoon are changing their scans so Florence refreshes her disguise by drinking the Doctor’s blood. The Judoon barge in and scan the Doctor, declaring him deceased. Martha scans Florence, revealing her as non-human. Florence, a plasmavore, sets her MRI plan in motion before being executed (along with the Slab) and the Judoon leave.

Meanwhile, the hospital is about to explode.

Martha returns to the Doctor and performs a modified version of CPR, bringing him back to life. With oxygen levels critically low, the Doctor stops the MRI by pulling the plug and then carries Martha to a window as the Judoon lift off. Before they clear the moon’s gravity, they reverse the teleport process and return the hospital to Earth.

In the chaos that follows later, Martha watches as the Doctor enters the TARDIS and dematerializes. She goes home and gets dressed for her brother’s party, an event where Martha is mocked for her moon story – the public cover story is that everyone was drugged – before her family storms off. She spots the Doctor and follows him to the TARDIS. He offers Martha the chance to join him and she eventually joins him.

The “bigger on the inside” moment completely blows her mind.

The Doctor mentions his former companion, Rose, and tells Martha that she is definitely not replacing her. Martha replies that, despite the earlier kiss, she’s only interested in humans. The Doctor sets a course and the TARDIS hurtles away through the vortex.

 

The thing that impresses me most about this episode is the chemistry between Freema Agyeman and David Tennant. The spark is immediate and coupled with the pacing and the dialogue, this story is just fun. Martha is likable and smart, and she plays well with the Tenth Doctor’s zaniness. The downside, of course, is that the hints of a future romantic relationship are far too strong. We just left that party in Pete’s World.

The whole Saxon thread is back with this story after being teased in The Runaway Bride and Captain Jack Harkness. This season’s “Bad Wolf” gives us the added benefit that the mysterious stranger believes in life among the stars. We also get some callbacks as the Ninth Doctor’s sonic is destroyed – the last time we lost a sonic screwdriver like that was in the Fifth Doctor‘s era, and it was like losing “an old friend” –  and the Tenth Doctor muses about his love of bananas.

 


Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Shakespeare Code

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

 

 

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Timestamp #184: Smith and Jones

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.