“Boom Town,” Doctor Who, Season 1, Episode 11

This show’s entry follows the style of Dan Harmon’s story circle.

Dan Harmon's story circle

Boom Town

1) In a zone of comfort

The Doctor and Rose return to Cardiff to refuel the TARDIS on top of the rift they established in a previous episode. Mickey arrives by train, called in by Rose to give it another shot. Jack is there, and he and the Doctor have fun poking Mickey. Everything is going well and everybody seems nice and comfortable until the Doctor notices a newspaper across the room that shows one of their old Slitheen buddies is operating again in town and the political spectrum.

2) They desire something

The Doctor wants to find out what she’s up to and stop her, which is pretty much what he always wants and desires during one of these episodes. What Margaret wants though, is a different story. She wants the ultimate thing that many space-traveling people who have grown weary want. She wants to go home. She’s indeed trying to avoid her responsibilities at home but you can tell that she is homesick for something and of course, as a villain what she decides to do endangers a whole lot of people to get what she wants. The difference here is that she’s on her own now and trying to operate on her own and she’s running out of resources. The Doctor has a whole lot of that on her, so as she runs out of resources he catches up with her pretty quickly. Margaret wants to destroy Cardiff, and by extension the entire world because of course it is Doctor Who and destroy a new nuclear power plant to ride the explosion away from this planet.

3) Enter an unfamiliar situation

Margaret is captured quickly. There’s a lot of business about bad Wolf and what that means in this episode, but that’s not what the real point is about here. She’s captured and brought aboard the TARDIS, which of course gives her other ideas. The Doctor will return to her home, even if it is a death sentence. None of the TARDIS crew feel good about this, and none of them can look her in the eye although they all believe it’s the right thing to do. This is new territory for the Doctor. There’s a certain amount of mercy involved and he can take mercy on someone who has tried to destroy the world over and over again, and can he feel sorry for her and do the right thing of course there’s a combination of both those things going on at this in this episode.

4) Adapt to the situation

The Doctor does something that he is not used to doing. He grants her last request, a final meal so to speak. She tries to kill him two or three times during the meal, but he’s not unprepared for that. This to me, this marks a certain turning point in the Doctor’s development. Before he was always someone who would defeat the enemies no matter what and there was no gray area involved but he’s taking a second look is Margaret as bad as she says she is or is she just trying to survive which of course is something that he’s trying to do. She’s a renegade and yet homesick and so is he and he would like to do nothing better than to help her and give her another chance but he doesn’t know how.

This interaction is incredibly interesting to me because I think it will set up the kind of Doctor he will be in the future, someone who cares a lot more about his enemies than he lets on. Eventually, way down the line in the 12th Doctor’s era, I will see him return and visit Davros, the old creator of the Daleks because he was sick, and he asked the Doctor to come. We are moving into an era where the Doctor wants to help everybody not just the people who are the victims, but also the villains.

5) Get what they desired

The confrontation inside the TARDIS. Margaret has smuggled in a trans diamond channel surfboard of sorts, and we get our first view inside the heart of the TARDIS. It’s that bright subtle light that transfixes his people, and it’s a setup for what we’re going to see in the parting of the ways in a few episodes, but it provides two things. It provides the Doctor’s means of defeating someone that he doesn’t want to vanquish personally and provides Margaret a way out except it doesn’t quite turn out that way.

6) Pay a heavy price for winning

Margaret both loses her life and gets to start over. The TARDIS returns her to the form of an egg. It’s a hairy squiggly-looking egg, but it’s an egg.

7) Return to their familiar situation

The crew is off to return Margaret to her home, but now they’ve come out different.

8) They have overall changed

The Doctor will question from now on how far he needs to go. Ultimate destruction is not always the right choice. He will falter, but every time he goes too far he always remembers, that sometimes everyone, even he, deserves a second chance.

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