Doctor Who recap: The Most Important Leaf in Human History

The Doctor takes his mysterious new companion to a spaced-out religious ceremony which involves a sleeping vampire god. A flying Moped figures prominently.
Ep. 07 | Aired Apr 6, 2013

GRUMPY GRANDFATHER The Doctor stares down an emotion-devouring space-deity

BBC America

Clara assured her that she would do fine; she told a story about how scared she was of getting lost as a child, but how -- the first time she got lost -- she turned out just fine. We also got a quick flashback to Clara's mother, who assured her daughter, "I will always be here, and I will always come and find you. Every single time." (ASIDE: It's interesting to see how the show is already structurally setting Clara apart from dearly-departed Amy Pond; whereas Amy's backstory had a dreamy no-parents fairy tale quality, we've already learned about Clara's parents. You get the sense that there's more to the story of Clara's mother, who was the first owner of the "101 Places to Go" book. END OF ASIDE.)

The little girl returned to her handlers. Everyone assembled in the staging area to watch her sing. The sheer number of aliens on display in this episode was striking. (Even more striking was the fact that most of them looked brand-new; did you spot any familiar ETs in the audience?) The little Queen began singing -- joining a duet with a monk, who was in the pyramid across the gulf of space. Inside of the pyramid, the "god" lay sleeping inside of a glass cube reminiscent of the Javier Bardem prison cell in Skyfall. The god looked pretty freaky. Personally, I prefer my deities to look a bit less designed-by-H.R.-Giger-on-a-mushroom-bender, but that's just a personal preference.

The Doctor explained that the monks had been singing the same song for untold hundreds of years, passing it along "chorus to chorus to chorus for generations." Apparently, this neverending serenade was how they kept the god sleeping. Meanwhile, the Festival of Offerings specifically involved all the attendees holding up objects of value, which were absorbed into bright beautiful space dust by the god. Yes, things sure were going smoothly! Surely, nothing could possibly go wrong.

Then it all turned apocalyptic. To be honest, I couldn't quite tell what happened -- I thought the little Queen was singing her part just fine, but then everyone acted like she had messed up. In any case, the Queen was grabbed by a ball of space magic and pulled over to the pyramid. The Doctor raced back to the market, but he assured Clara he wasn't fleeing. "We don't walk away," he explained. But they needed to get that space-moped -- and for that, they needed to part with something precious. Clara was stupefied: After a thousand years, doesn't the Doctor own anything precious? All he had to show was a screwdriver. (Again, this was a moment that seemed simultaneously charming and sad: The Doctor doesn't really have things, because he's so attached to people, but he's also a nomad who lives in a blue box. He doesn't have anywhere to put his head down at night; heck, have we ever seen him in bed?)

So Clara offered the salesalien a ring, given to her by her mother, and off they drove through a happily oxygenated part of space. The Doctor and Clara tried to save the little Queen, who didn't seem to even want to be saved. She would sacrifice herself to her god to save all the others. What did one person matter? The Doctor disagreed. That thing -- the deity they called Grandfather -- was a vampire, not a god.

NEXT: Unique in the universe

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