DW: 5×02 The Beast Below recap [Spoilers]
Starship UK is floating through space and we can see the words ‘Yorkshire‘, ‘Kent‘ and ‘Surrey‘ visible on some of the buildings. Next we see a line of children being praised by a creepy statue that greatly reminded me of the Gentlemen on Joss Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode “Hush”. One boy though, Timmy, stays seated until a girl, Mandy, persuades him to join the line. When it is his turn to face the statue he instead gets a zero and the statue (we later find out it is called a Smiler) turns its head 360 degrees and show its frowning face. Because Timmy got a zero, he isn’t allowed on the lifts back down to his house in the deck of London. He protests about having to walk down twenty decks and wants to take the lift despite Mandy warning him he would get sent down ‘below’. As soon as the lift has gone, he steps into the other one and says to go to London.There’s a very creepy little girl on a screen reciting poetry ‘A horse and a man, above, below, One has a plan, but both must go, Mile after mile, above, beneath, One has a smile, and one has teeth, though the man above might say hello, expect no love from the beast below.’ The Smiler in the lift turns its face from happy to frowning and looks at Timmy and suddenly, the lift starts bolts down to Floor Number 0. The floor then opens up to a deep red pit and as Timmy falls in the Smiler’s frowning face swivels and is replaced by a friggin scary angry face.
Next we see the Doctor holding Amy outside the TARDIS into space and she happily drifts around. You were jealous, weren’t you? 😀 The Doctor notices a ship flying under the TARDIS and he tells Amy, as he sets a course towards the ship, about severe solar flares that almost roasted the Earth, and that all of humanity migrated to the stars.
The Doctor tells Amy that they should only observe and not get involved in affairs but being the Doctor he soon forgets about his lecture upon seeing Mandy, who is silently crying and runs away from him. Amy in her nightie exits the TARDIS to be in the “London Market” and she is freaked out upon realising that she is hundreds of years in the future and already dead. The Doctor asks Amy to look around and try to spot something wrong, as he notices that they all seem to be afraid of e. The doctor then puts a glass of water on the floor, under the excuse of searching for an escaped fish. Amy questions why, but he ignores her and then turns Amy’s attention to Mandy, who is still crying. Amy tells the Doctor that little girls cry all the time but he says that children cry for attention because they’re hurt or scared, but children cry silently because they just can’t stop, claiming that every parent knows that. Amy asks if the Doctor is a parent, but the response is silence. The Doctor notes that there must be loads of parents walking past her and that none of the people passing by asked whats wrong, which means they all know, but don’t want to talk about it.
In the meantime, a man in a black cloak was watching the Doctor while he was “searching for fish”, and phones someone to tell them and asks if they have to tell ‘Her‘ and the other one just responds that they are under orders to do so. Next we see a person wearing a red cloak, sitting on the floor with hundreds of glasses. The woman answers the phone and is told about the sighting. Intrigued, she picks up a mask, and leaves.
The Doctor sends Amy to find clothes since she was still wearing her nightie. She then finds the girl, but winds up in trouble when she breaks the rules, investigating a blocked-off road, broken by a tentacle. Amy is captured and knocked out. The Doctor has made his way to the engine room, only to be confronted by the mysterious masked woman. She asks what he’s doing and he tells her that there’s no engine. He tells her of the water, and that to move a ship of that size, the engine would be felt, and cause the water to react to vibrations.
Amy wakes up in a voting booth, and is shown a film about the truth about Starship UK, and given the choice: Vote to protest, or to forget. Next there’s a torrent of images and she hastily hits the forget button. The Doctor finds her, and they realize she has recorded a message for herself, basically just saying that they need to get off of the ship immediately. The Doctor hits the protest button and they also face the deep red pit and end up below, in what turns out to be a huge mouth. After being tossed up in sick (EW, EW EW, this scene was so greatly directed I could almost smell the vomit *blergh*) they meet again with the masked woman, who has now unmasked, and is packing a couple of lasers. She gets rid off a couple of Smilers who were out to get the Doctor and Amy and takes them to her room, where she reveals that she is Liz 10 (Elizabeth X), the Queen of England who has the girl Mandy with her, explains that she has been investigating the creature for ten years, since she came to the throne aged forty (she says she looks younger than her fifty years because they “slowed her body clock”). She is fascinated by the Doctor, having grown up with stories about him and mentions an incident from Tooth and Claw (DW 2005: 2×02) It is then suggested that the creature has infested the ship and is a threat.
He then asks about dozens of glasses of water, and she remarks that it reminds her that her government is hiding secrets from her. She knows something is going on, but doesn’t know what. Suddenly a group of cloaked men appear and they are taken by force to The Tower, where everything is revealed. The power source for the ship is a species known as the Star Whale and that this is the last one in existence and is carrying the ship through space. The people in charge get it to move by electrocuting the poor creature’s brain. The Doctor is furious but then it is revealed that Liz 10 is about 400-years-old but has chosen to forget her past years of rule whenever she discovers the truth about the star whale, thus, allowed this to happen, for the benefit of mankind. We then see a video of Liz 10, explaining how the British people faced destruction when Planet Earth was devastated by solar flares, and that the British children cried. Then the star whale, appeared like a “miracle”, and they captured it and used it to power their space ship. Liz 10 is then presented with two buttons, but instead of “Protest” the second button says “Abdicate“. Pressing that button would release the star whale and destroy the ship and everyone who is on board.
The Doctor decides that enough is enough and is even more outraged than before and goes on a furious rant about humans and makes them listen to the star whale’s screams of pain by using the sonic screwdriver. He then takes control and tells them that he has no choice but to kill the conscience of the creature in order to avoid its feeling pain and to avoid killing the humans. He is obviously pained by the horrible solution, but he feels it is better than killing all the humans on board or having the star whale to endure the terrible pain. During his rant he tells Amy off for pressing the ‘Forget‘ button, even though she probably did so to prevent him from having to make such a difficult decision regarding the fate of the whale and humanity. He then tells Amy “You don’t ever decide
what I need to know. When I’m done here, you’re going home”. As the Doctor begins to make the star whale braindead, Amy spots that while the star whale’s tentacles attack adults they do not attack children, but instead caresses them. She then realises that the star whale is in fact a volunteer and presses the ‘Abdicate‘ button and the electroshock to the brain of the creature stops. The creature instead of stopping , accelerates since it is no longer in pain.
Explaining her actions, Amy says that “if you are very old and the last of your kind“, like the star whale (or the Doctor), “you couldn’t just stand there and watch the children cry“. The Doctor and Amy reconcile and disappear without saying goodbye and hurry back to the TARDIS. Amy is about to reveal to the Doctor that she is about to get married when the phone in the TARDIS rings and it turns out it is Winston Churchill, who is in trouble, as the shadow of a Dalek comes into view. The Doctor and Amy set off to help Churchill and as the camera zooms out, we see that Starship UK has a crack on its side very similar to the crack on Amy’s wall from the previous episode, meaning it is another crack in the cell of the universe.
Moffat does a fantastic job two episodes in a row. And as always the mere mention of a Dalek is enough to send chills down my spine. The Doctor’s “You look human/You look Time Lord” exchange with Amy mirrors a similar conversation between his previous incarnation and Lady Christina de Souza. (Planet of the Dead). The Doctor also mentions to Amy that he is the last of the Timelords much faster than he did to Martha. Amy is very feisty and it is nice that she is not hanging from the Doctor’s every word. I said it before and I’m going to say it again: this season is going to be fantastic!