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

The Heroic Music theme started up as the Doctor gave her a quick guide to how she came to be: An explosion in a distant star, the elements that scattered all across deep space, the evolution of everything, "ships, ceiling wax, cabbages, Kings," all of it somehow leading up to the inextricable moment when the little Queen was born. "You are unique in the universe," the Doctor said. "Getting rid of that existence isn't a sacrifice. It's a waste."

This was an awesome moment, with Matt Smith killing every line. It was interesting, too, to see how it echoed what Clara's father said about the leaf way back in the opening montage. "The Rings of Akhaten" was, in some ways, a fairly straightforward parasite-worshipped-as-a-god-goes-crazy-and-needs-to-be-stopped-by-power-of-love episode of Doctor Who, but those two speeches seemed to hint at some deeper themes that will be bandied about in the Clara era. In both cases, the people talking were describing the overwhelming process of infinite causality -- the million billion unlikely variables that go into a single moment of the universe.

But in both cases, the speakers didn't diminish the importance of a single person, or a single leaf; if anything, the infinite variables supercharged those tiny little things, as if every person were a microcosm for the whole miracle of the universe. I wonder how this will play into the mystery of Clara -- a woman who, as near as we can tell, has existed in exactly the same way at least three separate times across history.

As the Doctor fought off the Tusken Raider-bodyguards, Grandfather slowly punched his way out of the prison cell. When he emerged, he let out a howl -- and then seemed to slouch over, dead. The Doctor realized his mistake. That thing wasn't Grandfather; it was just "Grandfather's Alarm Clock." The massive sun-singularity-star-black-hole thingy at the center of the Rings suddenly grew a terrifying skull face; it was the image of a parasite that could consume the seven worlds, and more. "I've seen bigger," said the Doctor. "Really?" asked Clara. "Are you joking? It's massive!" the Doctor said.

He instructed her to flee. "When we're holding onto something precious, we run," he explained, motioning to the little Queen -- although I wonder if he also wanted to get Clara, his Impossible Woman, out of harm's way. Then the Doctor walked out to face Grandfather. It was quite a sight, seeing him silhouetted with the bright burning lava lamp skull god behind him. He needed to have some words with this Mr. Grandfather. Back at the Coliseum singing area, the little Queen began leading her people in song. (The words of her new song were different from the earlier one; instead of "rest," she seemed to be singing "Wake Up.")

"You're just a parasite," the Doctor said, noting that all the people who had lived in fear of Grandfather were singing. "Do you hear the people sing?" he said, "Singing a song of angry men? It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!" Then, the killer. The old parasite wanted memories and emotions and hopes and dreams? "Take my memories," said the last Time Lord. "I hope you've got a big appetite. I've lived a long life, and I've seen a few things."

NEXT: Three cheers for Matt Smith!


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