It’s time for one of the most anticipated episodes of the series, but is Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS a trip worth taking? Find out in my review.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, INCLUDING A FULL PLOT SUMMARY OF THE EPISODE. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE EPISODE AND DO NOT WISH TO HAVE IT SPOILED FOR YOU, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN THE EPISODE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
A NOTE ABOUT REVIEWS: Each review will be broken into 3 parts. Part 1 is the Plot. This will contain a full plot summary of the episode. Part 2 is My Take, where I will give my personal thoughts and observations on the episode. Finally, Part 3 will be the Score, where I will rate the episode on a scale of 1 to 5.
Figures and More Television Episode Review
Show: Doctor Who
Series: 7, Part 2
Episode #: 10
Title: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
Credits: The Doctor Matt Smith
- Clara Jenna-Louise Coleman
- Gregor van Baalen Ashley Walters
- Bram van Baalen Mark Oliver
- Tricky Jahvel Hall
- Director Mat King
- Producer Marcus Wilson
- Writer Steve Thompson
The Doctor, sensing animosity between Clara and the TARDIS, decides to teach Clara how to operate the time machine, and disables its shields to enable its “basic mode”. However, at that moment, the TARDIS is caught by the magnetic tractor beam of a space salvage ship, causing many of the TARDIS’ systems to fail. Clara nags at the Doctor to fix it, but he claims there is no “big friendly button” that can simply fix everything. Clara spots a strange egg-like device roll across the floor and tries to grab it but burns her hand. The ship jolts and the two are thrown into darkness.
The Doctor awakes to find himself on the salvage ship, manned by the stern Gregor Van Baalen, his brother Bram, and a human-looking android named Tricky with enhanced sensory devices who is treated poorly by Gregor. The Doctor tries to convinces Gregor to help him rescue Clara inside the TARDIS, allowing them to salvage the rest of the ship. Gregor eventually agrees, but when the three join the Doctor inside, he assures their cooperation by locking the TARDIS doors and setting a self-destruct countdown time which he will disable once Clara is rescued. The group begin to explore the TARDIS, Gregor attempting to assess the value of the ship, though the Doctor warns him that removing key parts will make the TARDIS angry. Despite this, Gregor orders Bram to start to salvage the console, during which he is killed by an ossified humanoid creature. After removing part of the architectural reconfiguration system Gregor, Tricky, and the Doctor become trapped in a loop of corridors generated by the TARDIS as it tries to prevent the theft of its systems.
Clara, meanwhile, wakes up in a TARDIS corridor and tries to find her way to the console room. She finds herself pursued by an ossified creature, and takes shelter in the many rooms the TARDIS offers, including, at one point, the TARDIS library where she has a chance to read from The History of the Time War before she’s forced to flee. Her hand continues to ache from the burn, but she sees the burn marks slowly resolving into letters. She ends up in the console room, finding another ossified creature, mimicking her movements, approaching her.
The Doctor, Gregor, and Tricky reach the console room, and the Doctor senses Clara in an echo of the console room. With the help of Gregor’s scanner to identify Clara, the Doctor creates a temporary link and grabs Clara before the creature touches her. Gregor demands the Doctor end the countdown; the Doctor, though revealing the self-destruct was a ruse to get their cooperation, finds the TARDIS engines have become unstable due to the leakage of time caused by the incident, and they must go to the engine room by way of the Eye of Harmony to prevent it from exploding. En route, Tricky is injured and in pain, to his surprise; Gregor is forced to reveal Tricky is truly human and also his brother; after an accident that cost the life of their father, Tricky had lost his memories and had special implants to replace damaged organs, so Gregor had acted as if Tricky was an android so as to claim the captaincy of the salvage vessel. The Doctor comments on Gregor’s treatment of Tricky and suggests he can do better.
While traveling through the Eye of Harmony, the four are trapped by ossified creatures. When Gregor scans them and finds one similar to Clara’s biology, the Doctor confesses that these creatures are themselves from the future due to the time leak, and tries to prevent that future from happening. However, Gregor and Tricky are unable to avoid contacting themselves and become the conjoined ossified creature, seen earlier, before the Doctor and Clara’s eyes. The two flee towards the engine room, but come across a chasm with no way across. The Doctor, thinking that they are going to die, asks Clara to explain who she is and how she could have died twice before. Clara doesn’t understand, and the Doctor realises she has no knowledge of their previous encounters and is simply a young woman. The Doctor and Clara then leap across the chasm believing that it is just an illusion and reach the engine room.
In the engine room, they find the engine has already exploded but the TARDIS has placed the room in time stasis as a safety measure. The Doctor is aware the TARDIS is trying to tell him something, but cannot figure out what until Clara looks at her hand, the burn marks fully formed into words – “big friendly button”. The Doctor realises that they need to go back to the point of the disaster and activate the magnetic beacon – the device Clara picked up – to stop the magnetic tractor and prevent the disaster. They race to the console room, where the Doctor takes the discarded beacon and prepares to travel through a time rift. Clara asks what she will remember and says she knows the Doctor’s name; the Doctor promises her that she will remember nothing. The Doctor successfully crosses the rift and warns his past self. The past Doctor, understanding the warning, grabs the beacon from Clara when she picks it up – the letters “big friendly button” inscribed on its side – and hits the button.
Time resets to before the events of the episode. The Van Baalens ignore the TARDIS and continue, though in this new timeline, Gregor has become more appreciative of Tricky having recalled the Doctor’s words. In the TARDIS, the Doctor asks Clara if she feels safe with him, and she readily agrees.
WOW! The final part of Series 7 begins with a huge bang. One of the most anticipated episodes of the series delivers on all fronts. We did indeed see more of the TARDIS than EVER before. Among the rooms seen, as Clara roams through the TARDIS are: the Memorabilia Room. which includes River Song’s crib, an Observatory, the Swimming Pool (FINALLY!) and the Library. The Library contains a book that I think every Whovian would love to get heir hands on: “THE HISTORY OF THE TIME WAR.” And, guess what? Written in the book is the Doctor’s REAL NAME! Also in this episode, we finally confirm the continued existence of the Eye of Harmony. And, we actually get to SEE the incredible black hole star that powers the TARDIS. The monsters are interesting, especially the revelation that they are other versions of Clara that the Doctor has failed to save. I also loved the “living metal” orbs inscribed with Gallifreyan script. And the “outdoor” room with the gap that the Doctor and Clara have to jump. Also the fact that the engine room is all white besides the engine. And, the “frozen explosion” effect is awesome. Also, leave to Doctor Who to show us that even in the far flung future, older brothers still act like jerks. The joke played on the “android” brother is particularly cruel, and has some horrifying consequences. One wonders if the author had older brothers that made his life difficult. The resolution to the predicament is classic Doctor Who. By that, I mean it is nonsensical, confusing, and, ultimately unimportant to the overall story. It is nice to see that the older brother retains enough memory of the incident to try to make things right. But, in the end, this episode was about seeing more of the TARDIS than ever before, and on that level, it delivered in spades.
This episode was a visual feast and showed us parts of the TARDIS that were only fantasy. The plot was somewhat silly, and the resolution was confusing, but the visuals were always going to be the star here. There are some great moments between Matt and Jenna, with Matt really playing up the “madman with a box” side of the Doctor, and Jenna really showing how independent Clara can be without the Doctor. The subplot between the three salvage brothers was good, but it was sort of “story filler” and didn’t really contribute anything to plot. No, the star of this episode was the TARDIS herself, and she gave one of her finest performances. Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS gets a 4 out of 5.
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