TARDIS Thoughts: NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 9: "The Satan Pit"

10.28.2013

NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 9: "The Satan Pit"

WARNING: THIS ANALYSIS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT WATCHED DOCTOR WHO OR AT THE VERY LEAST HAVE NOT SEEN THIS EPISODE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. 

Yes! Finally, after this post, I will be done with my catchup from the disastrous thing back in February known as NaBloPoMo.

Here we go - episode 9 of Series 2, and part two of the 2-parter begun with "The Impossible Planet," "The Satan Pit."

I said in the previous post that I have issues with this episode, bad memories. But more about that later.

So...picking up from where "The Impossible Planet" left off, The Doctor, Rose, and the crew of a deep-space Sanctuary Base must deal with the fact that some demonic force called The Beast has just possessed the crew's language expert Toby as well as the Ood, a service-oriented race of normally peaceful aliens that are essentially the work staff of the base. And it seems to be all tied to this dark pit down near the center of the planet on which the base is located, which The Doctor and base crew member Ida have discovered.

Rose and the crew members try to run from the now possessed Ood. The Doctor confirms he and Ida have not seen anything escape the pit, and volunteers to rappel down into the dark, seemingly bottomless pit to investigate further, but Captain Zach has other plans, and orders everyone back up so he can activate "strategy 9," a policy to open the airlocks and flush the possessed Ood out. As The Doctor and Ida prepare to ascend, The Beast detects The Doctor's presence and begins communicating directly with The Doctor:
DOCTOR: If you are the Beast, then answer me this. Which one, hmm? Cos the universe has been busy since you've been gone. There's more religions than there are planets in the sky. The Archiphets, Orkology, Christianity, Pash Pash, New Judaism, San Klah, Church of the Tin Vagabond. Which devil are you?
VOICE [OC]: All of them.
DOCTOR: What, then you're the truth behind the myth?
VOICE [OC]: This one knows me as I know him. The killer of his own kind.
DOCTOR: How did you end up on this rock?
VOICE [OC]: The Disciples of the Light rose up against me and chained me in the pit for all eternity.
DOCTOR: When was this?
VOICE [OC]: Before time.
DOCTOR: What does that mean?
VOICE [OC]: Before time.
DOCTOR: What does before time mean?
VOICE [OC]: Before light and time and space and matter. Before the cataclysm. Before this universe was created.
DOCTOR: That's impossible. No life could have existed back then.
VOICE [OC]: Is that your religion?
DOCTOR: It's a belief.
He then plays the typical Satanic accuser role by playing on each crew member's deepest fears and weaknesses, as well as Rose's. The Doctor understands what The Beast is doing and warns everyone, saying not to fall for what The Beast is saying, that The Beast is just trying to demoralize them by messing with their heads. The Beast retaliates by snapping the cable of the elevator The Doctor and Ida are about to use to ascend to the base, trapping the two underground.

Meanwhile, Captain Zach gets surrounded by the possessed Ood, so Rose and the remaining crew members decide to sneak into Ood habitation to turn off the telepathic field the Ood use to function, in hopes of stopping them. Unfortunately, they are forced to get there by climbing through ventilation shafts meant for robots:


What's more, the oxygen on the base is running out. Captain Zach can provide them with breathable air, but only intermittently. And to make matters worse, the possessed Ood catch on to the crew's plan and enter the shaft in pursuit:


The group manages to evade them eventually, though at the cost of Jefferson's life, since he chooses to stay and hold off the Ood at one junction of the shaft, and Captain Zach can't provide oxygen to both him and the others who are moving on. They make it to Ood habitation and turn off the telepathic network.

The Doctor and Ida, meanwhile, decide to investigate the pit, using the snapped elevator cable, while talking about The Beast's claim to be the Devil. The Doctor concludes that maybe the Devil is just an idea, manifested in different ways across the universe. He and Ida soon realize the cable doesn't go down quite far enough. The Doctor says he would rather explore what's down there than sit around waiting to die, so he decides he will detach the cable from himself and free fall the rest of the way, despite Ida's protests. Just as he does this, though, the rest of the crew restores their communication ties with Ida, and she tells them of The Doctor's decision. Rose is devastated.

Zach tells Ida that they cannot get to her, meaning they must leave her behind, a fact she accepts. The crew prepares to escape the planet. Rose begs to be left behind as well, but Zach refuses, saying he's lost too many people already, ultimately knocking Rose out to get her to come with them. They make their way to the escape rocket, unaware that the Ood are starting to reawaken.

Meanwhile, The Doctor wakes up on a large, rocky ledge overlooking a vast chasm, his helmet cracked open:


He is, quite naturally, shocked he is even alive, and moreover, that he can breathe. (Time Lords, like humans, breathe oxygen). He deduces that there must be an air pocket in the pit, and that said pocket broke his fall. 

We then switch back to the crew, who have reached the rocket. Just as the rocket is about to launch, Rose wakes up and asks to be taken back, even stealing Captain Zach's gun and threatening him with it, but he tells her it's too late to go back. Toby seems almost eerily amused that they are escaping the planet, and Rose begins to wonder herself how they were able to get off - considering all the ways The Beast could've killed them, that he would simply let them go seems too easy.

The Doctor finds cave drawings depicting The Beast and a battle to defeat and imprision it in the cave in which he now is:


He finds two jars on pedestals on the edge of the ledge that match jars in the cave drawings, and touches them. They glow, illuminating the dark cave. He then finds himself face to face with a monstrous, chained creature, which looks a lot like the Balrog from Lord of the Rings:


The Beast, however, seems like just a dumb animal, rather than the intelligent, articulate being The Doctor communicated with earlier, and The Doctor figures out the creature in front of him is just The Beast's physical body - his mind is elsewhere. He also determines that the planet was a very intentional prison: the planet would fall into the black hole if The Beast ever tried to free itself. Therefore, the breathable air in the cave is not courtesy of The Beast, but of those who imprisoned it, intended to discourage The Beast from trying to escape.

The Beast, The Doctor realizes, knew this all along, which explains his mind having escaped. He also realizes if the gravity well balancing the planet were broken, the rocket Rose and company are on might be drawn into the black hole also. But, since he believes The Beast's mind has used the rocket to escape, he takes the risk, believing Rose will come through and save the day. He breaks the jars, collapsing the gravity well and causing the Beast's body to convulse:


Back in the rocket, The Beast's mind fully possesses Toby again. Rose, realizing the danger, grabs Zach's gun and points it at him:


Then, with a "Go to hell" line for good measure, she shoots out the rocket's front windshield before unbuckling the possessed Toby, sending him flying out into space toward the black hole:


But now another problem presents itself: both the rocket and the planet are getting pulled into the black hole too. The Ood, now free of the Beast's control, cower anxiously, while Ida collapses, having used the last of her oxygen.

The Doctor, meanwhile, is trying to escape The Beast's cave, which is collapsing due to the black hole. To his surprise, he finds the TARDIS nestled among the crags!


Those on the rocket prepare for the inevitable, but then all of a sudden, things go still and they realize they are being pulled away from the black hole. The Doctor's voice then comes over the speakers, informing them that he and the TARDIS are towing them away from the black hole, and also that he rescued Ida but had no time to rescue the Ood. Rose, who thought he was dead, is overjoyed to hear his voice.

Once the rocket reaches open space again, The Doctor swaps Ida for Rose, and the two have an emotional reunion. 

Rose then asks him about who The Beast really was, and about The Beast's prediction about her (more on that below), but The Doctor says it's enough for him that they beat The Beast, and that the prediction is a lie. As the TARDIS is about to dematerialize, however, Ida asks who they are:
IDA: Hang on though, Doctor. You never really said. You two, who are you?
DOCTOR: Oh, the stuff of legend. 
The episode ends with the Sanctuary Base crew heading back to Earth and Zach recording the base's final report, noting that Toby and all the Ood died with honors. He lists their names for the report, his voice trailing off as he begins to list each and every Ood.

And that's that!

Now...I promised I would tell the story of why I dislike this episode. So here goes.

Technically, this episode is actually the first I ever saw. It was several years ago. I was home alone and waiting for some other show to come on. As we didn't have a DVR at the time, I had to stay downstairs so as not to miss the show I was waiting for. And I had a half hour to kill. So I decided to channel surf, and found Doctor Who in the guide under Sci-Fi Channel. (This goes to show you how long ago this was - not only was Doctor Who airing on SyFy in the U.S., rather than BBC America, but also SyFy was still going by its old name). I decided to watch it, since I had heard of it online somewhere. (Being a geek online at the time, it was kind of hard not to...as a result of this I've actually known of River Song for years, though all I knew about her was that she traveled with The Doctor and was apparently really popular among fans, seeing how much people were talking about her). I got scared out of my mind watching that episode. Plus I missed whatever show I was waiting to watch, because I didn't realize Doctor Who episodes were more than a half hour long. So after that, I decided I would never watch the show again. Obviously, that has changed. Not sure what changed...time, I guess. (Ironically, this being a time travel show). Basically, I just decided to give the show a second chance...and the rest is history.

Well that's it for this post...till next time!

*** 

NaBloPoMo Special: 
The Love of the Doctor and Rose Tyler 
Part Twenty-Three: I Believe in Her

Since the theme of NaBloPoMo this month is "Love and Sex" (probably because of Valentine's Day), I feel compelled to write something about love in my posts. Hence, since I am exploring Series 1 and 2 in this challenge, I am going to write a little special essay throughout the month about the growing love between the Doctor and Rose. Please note I am in no way an expert on relationships. 

There is so much Doctor/Rose stuff in this episode! They begin with Rose's reaction to finding out The Doctor free fell into the pit:


Also, of course, when the crew are about to depart in the rocket, Rose begs to be left behind, as she can't fathom leaving The Doctor behind, and has to be knocked out to get her off the planet.

Then there's the famous "I believe in her" moment from The Doctor:


And, of course, Rose is ecstatic when she hears The Doctor's voice over the speakers of the rocket:


Their reunion is pretty emotional and happy, yet it has a somber tinge with Rose's question about The Beast saying she will "die in battle" soon:
DOCTOR: I don't know. Never did decipher that writing. But that's good, Day I know everything? Might as well stop.
ROSE: What do you think it was, really?
DOCTOR: I think we beat it. That's good enough for me.
ROSE: It said I was going to die in battle.
DOCTOR: Then it lied. Right, onwards, upwards. Ida? See you again, maybe. 
I have reached the end of my catchup...but Series 2 doesn't end here. How will The Doctor and Rose's relationship continue to grow as we hurtle toward the finale? Next post I will post the remainder of this "essay series" (if it can even be called that...it's certainly not the most coherent essays I've ever written) to tie things up.

***

Now that the NaBloPoMo catchup is done, I will post the aforesaid "The Love of The Doctor and Rose Tyler" post and the post for the Series 7 special "P.S." I also intend to cover the Series 2 TARDISodes (if I can find them) and the interactive episode "Attack of the Graske," if I can figure out a way to film my computer screen.

Pictures from Sonic Biro. Quotes from The Doctor Who Transcripts.

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