Doctor Who recap: The Salvage of a Lifetime

The Doctor searches for Clara in the dark corners of the TARDIS. Meanwhile, Clara makes a stunning discovery
Ep. 09 | Aired Apr 27, 2013

DEAD AGAIN Clara discovered the Doctor's edition of the Complete Encyclopedia Gallifrey, which appeared to be printed on vapor.

Adrian Rogers/BBC Worldwide

Clara demanded to know what those mysterious creatures were. The Doctor wouldn't tell her -- though he did allow that one of those creatures was a "she." Before she could inquire further, they had to spring into action. The ship had shifted, and a bit of debris had pinned down the android. He told the remaining Van Baalen brother to free him by cutting off his arm. He was an android: No pain, no emotion, no etc. The Doctor noted that androids don't need respirators; for that matter, androids also don't need synthetic voiceboxes or kooky eye implants. "It was a joke," said Mr. Brains, "To relieve the boredom."

The android was human. And not just human: He was a Van Baalen Brother, the "Mouthy little kid brother."

There had been an accident -- he lost his sight, his voice, and his memory. Daddy Van Baalen had always wanted to make the youngest brother the Captain; with him suitably Androided, his vicious older brother could take over. This was, to put it mildly, an unexpected mega-twist with a wide assortment of implications. The episode couldn't really explore them -- the clock was ticking! -- but gyeesh, those Van Baalen brothers are dysfunctional, to put it mildly.

The Doctor led them into the Eye of Harmony, which was one of the most awe-inspiring sights in Who history: An exploding star, in the act of becoming a black hole, suspended in a permanent state of decay. Unthinkable power, giving the TARDIS an endless supply of energy. This is one of the things I love best about Doctor Who. A lot of contemporary sci-fi tries feels weirdly limited, as if the creators are concerned about seeming too ridiculous. Doctor Who just goes for it: A blue box with a dying star in its engine room, just a couple doors down from the swimming pool.

They could only be in the Eye of Harmony for a couple minutes; any longer, and their molecules would implode. Unfortunately, they were trapped on the bridge above the Eye -- creatures came at them from either side. And, shockingly, the creatures were rather familiar. The Brainy Brother used his high-tech reader-thingy, and discovered that one of the creatures was actually Clara. The Doctor's Companion realized all at once: "I burn in here." It wasn't just the past that was bleeding -- it was the future. "You died again," said the Doctor. He had brought her along on this journey to keep her safe; instead, as has happened twice before, Clara hanging out with the Doctor wound up with Clara dead.

NEXT: A trick? A trap?

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