“Like Graham said, be careful, stay in touch, and, remember – – Rule 1 of espionage – -trust no one.” The Doctor
The Ivory Coast, Africa. A sniper (Melissa De Vries) is preparing to shoot someone coming down a dirt road when something emerges from a rock behind her. On an airplane, over the Pacific Ocean a man hands a wash bag to a woman passenger (Sacharissa Claxton). She goes into the bathroom and using a camera in her glasses takes pictures of a message on a strip of paper. She’s obviously an intelligence agent. A creature emerges from the wall. Moscow Russia, an US operative (Brian Law) runs into a safehouse and asks for an extraction team. Another creature comes thru the ceiling to get him.
Sheffield, Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole) plays basketball with some of his mates, he takes a shot but misses. His friend Tibo (Buom Tihngang) is glad he came out to play. He relays all the ailments Ryan has claimed he had when he was actually traveling with the Doctor. A black car with two men is waiting for Ryan. Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) is trying to pack while her sister Sonya (Bhavnisha Parmar) pesters her for Ryan’s phone number. Her mother Najia (Shobna Gulati) questions Yaz about going on another secondment, is her supervisor okay with it. Yaz says he is. Her father Hakim (Ravin J. Ganatra) is trying to get Alexis to play Rubber Soul. Yaz’s supervisor Sergeant Ramesh Sunder (Asif Khan) isn’t okay with it. He tells her it could affect her probationary period. He asks if she’s been tapped to go undercover. Yaz says in a sense she has. They look up and two men stand beside a black car waiting for her. Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh) is finishing his physical exam. His physician tells Graham he is doing fine. He expresses his condolences about Grace. The physician asks Graham if he’s working, Graham tells him he’s traveling. When he walks outside the doctor’s office, two men in a black car wait for him. The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) is at a garage with the TARDIS on a jack. Three black cars are there for her. An agent asks her to come with them. She tells him she’s draining some fluids from the TARDIS and waiting for her friends. The agent tells her they are in the car. Graham shouts, “Worst Uber ever!”
In the car the Doctor asks how are they doing, aside from being kidnapped. Yaz asks what is the plan, the Doctor says go with the agent to find out what’s going on. The navigation system starts to fritz out and then a laser beam disintegrates the agent. The car begins speeding on its own. Soon it goes in reverse and speeds down the highway. It starts shooting laser beams at the back seat passengers. The Doctor grabs the rearview mirror and uses it to reflect the laser beam back at the navigation system and disable it. The Doctor gains control of the car and stops it before it runs off the unfinished part of the highway. A voice comes over the navigation system and asks what they have done to his car. The Doctor asks who he is, he answers that he is C of MI6. They had picked her and her friends up to bring to London. The Doctor tells him they will meet him there.
When they get to MI6, Graham tells Ryan he always wanted to be a spy, Ryan thinks he would be rubbish at it. C (Stephen Fry) goes out to greet the Doctor thinking it’s Graham. C: “Well, well, well. Finally, we meet. You actually do exist.” Graham: “What?” C to assistant: “Don’t be ridiculous Franklin, I’ve read the files. The Doctor is a man.” Doctor: “I’ve had an upgrade. Hi.” C: “Oh.” He tells her they have brought in the Doctor because there has been a spate of attacks on intelligence agents from different agencies around the globe and what’s been done to the agents is beyond human technology. He takes them to the body of the agent who was on the airplane. The Doctor examines her and is shocked, someone has rewritten her DNA. C: “Doctor, the security of this entire planet is at stake. Can we rely upon you?”
In C’s office, Graham and Ryan play with the spy gadgets. All of the fallen agents had been investigating Daniel Barton (Lenny Henry) the founder and CEO of VOR. C: “Right now VOR is more powerful than most nations, and Daniel Barton is the man who built it all up from the ground.” Since this appears to be the work of aliens, the Doctor wants to work with an agent she met, O. He was the only agent at MI6 open to the ideal of aliens. C admits that he fired him, C has never been comfortable about extraterrestrial life. Other organizations like UNIT and even Torchwood dealt with it. The Doctor reminds him that the world governments shut UNIT and Torchwood down. Doctor: “Oh, C, you took your eye off the horizon just as things were coming over it.” C doesn’t know how to contact O, he’s off the grid. The Doctor does and contacts him telling him they need his help. He sends her a picture of a fish, Graham is confused. C adds that Barton was one of their agents, but when he moved to America, he quit cooperating with them. He’s afraid Baron is a double or even a triple agent. Yaz asks who for, before he can answer, an assassin shoots C, he groans “oh”. The assassin keeps shooting, Ryan and Graham grab the cases of spy gadgets and they all head for the TARDIS. [MI6 had brought it to their headquarters.] The creatures that had attacked the agents earlier, start emerging from the walls. The Doctor sets up her phone so the TARDIS can link up with the picture of the fish, it isn’t just a picture of a fish but steganography, it has O’s location in Australia, the Doctor doesn’t notice that one of the creatures is trying to enter the TARDIS. When Graham and Yaz point it out, she takes off. Yaz: “I didn’t know things could get into the TARDIS like that.” Doctor: “Neither did I.” The Doctor takes a reading of the door with her sonic screwdriver, she can’t get a reading. The Doctor tells her companions that they need info stat. She is going to split up the team, she and Graham will go to Australia to meet O, while Yaz and Ryan will go undercover to spy on Daniel Barton. Yaz is excited, Ryan, not so much. Graham questions the plan since neither one has any intelligence training. Ryan is offended so Graham says he has confidence in them, but asks that they be careful. The Doctor is creating a cover story for them and she hands Yaz a bio-scanner disguised as a recorder, she wants Yaz to scan him. Doctor: “Like Graham said, be careful, stay in touch, and, remember – – Rule 1 of espionage – -trust no one.”
Yaz and Ryan are in San Francisco, Yaz’s cover is a journalist, while Ryan is her photographer. Ryan is worried and having a panic attack. Yaz tries to calm him down by saying the first rule in espionage is not to panic, Ryan reminds her it is trust no one. She amends the rule. Daniel Barton and his assistant greet them; Yaz plays off Ryan’s nervousness as Ryan admiring him so much. Barton buys it. O (Sacha Dhawan) and two Australian Secret Service security agents, Browning (Dominique Maher) and Seesay (Darron Meyer) await the Doctor. The agents are amazed at the TARDIS’ arrival. O greets the Doctor and tells her the Australian government sent the agents to protect them. O’s house is messy with files and records everywhere. Graham pulls open a curtain that has computer monitors everywhere. O says you can’t be too careful. He and the Doctor discuss what is happening to the spies around the globe. Before Yaz begins her interview, Barton looks them up on his phone. The Doctor has their cover stories online, so he believes they’re journalist. Yaz asks if she can record him and turns on the bio-scanner. She asks him some tough questions about his company not doing enough about cyberbullying and other issues we face in real life with internet companies. Ryan is making a copy of Barton’s ID badge. Barton has to cut the interview short, but to make it up to them he invites them to his birthday party tomorrow. After he leaves, Yaz tells Ryan that his DNA profile shows he is 93% human.
“I don’t know. It was just like…nothingness…nowhere. And I was totally alone. I was so scared. Ryan… I thought I was dead.” Yasmin Khan
Back in Australia, the creatures trip the sensors. The Doctor and O go outside to investigate, the Doctor calls for Graham to join them. Graham: “Well, looking outside was actually quite low on my list. But when does she ever listen to me?” The security agents ask the Doctor to go back inside so they can do their job. She reluctantly heeds their request. The creatures begin messing with the security lights. A bright white light figure suddenly appears, soon others appear and they obliterate the security agents. O has some kind of electrical fence that disperses them. One of the creatures goes through the wall, but O has a plan B, some kind of containment cell that imprisons the creature. The Doctor tries to interrogate the creature. Doctor: “Where are you from?” Creature: “Far beyond.” Doctor: “So you can communicate, then. Beyond where?” Creature: “Your understanding.” [Chuckles] Graham: “I think it’s laughing at you Doc.” Doctor: “Yes. Got that. Is this your native form, wherever it is you’re from? Is this what you look like at home?” Creature: “We take this form to mock you. Your shape amuses us.” Doctor: “Very funny.” Creature: “We are stable now. We are ready.” Doctor: “What does that mean – – stable? Ready for what?” Creature: “To take this.” Doctor: “To take this what? Hut? Country? Planet?” Creature: “Universe.”
Ryan and Yaz hide in the office building until everyone has left for the night. They sneak back into Barton’s office to download all of his computer files. While they wait for the download, they talk. Yaz: “You know my sister is proper cross I still haven’t given her your phone number.” Ryan: “Why haven’t you?” Yaz: “Ryan, you’re my mate. I don’t want you snogging my sister.” Ryan: “She’s all right, your sister.” Yaz: “Can you not, please?” Ryan: “Just give me her number, Yaz.” Yaz: “Shut up.” Ryan: “I could be your brother-in-law. I’d be a good brother-in-law.” Barton unexpectedly comes back to get his bag; once the download is completed they hide behind the couch. Barton says he knows they are there, but he isn’t talking to Ryan and Yaz, the creatures come out of the walls. Barton and a creature discuss the project. It says they had to deal with some obstacles. He thinks they aren’t being discreet enough, but the creature gets in his face to let him know he isn’t the boss of them. After he leaves, Yaz wants to look around some more but a creature emerges and takes her. Ryan asks the creature where is Yaz and it says, “Obstacle”. Since there isn’t anything Ryan can do, he runs.
The creature deposits Yaz in an alien environment, she is scared but she tries to calm herself down. Back in Australia, the creature in the containment cell begins to glow. Outside of Barton’s office building in San Francisco the creatures appear outside the buildings and begin to glow, energy pulses zoom past Yaz. The energy pulses light up Yaz and the creature in the containment cell and Yaz change places. Ryan calls the Doctor to tell her the creatures have Yaz but the Doctor tells Ryan they have Yaz and they are coming to get him. Yaz sits in the cell terrified.
Yaz sits on the porch alone deep in thought; Ryan comes out to check on her. Ryan: “You okay? [Silent pause] You get any sleep? [Silent pause] What happened to you?” Yaz: “I don’t know. It was just like…nothingness…nowhere. And I was totally alone. I was so scared. Ryan… I thought I was dead.” Ryan: “No. I’m never gonna let that happen to you.” Graham and O are inside talking. O asks Graham how much he knows about the Doctor. Graham admits not much, he is surprised when O says the first time he met the Doctor, the Doctor was a man. Graham remembers the Doctor saying that before, but he thought the Doctor was kidding. O has a file on the Doctor and asks if Graham would like to look at it. Before he can answer the Doctor comes out of the TARDIS with a pitcher of iced tea, [she thinks that is what it is] and wants to discuss the situation. Outside they have a debriefing, O is surprised that Barton could be an alien; he has photos and records of him going back to childhood. Graham asks O a question about VOR being more powerful than governments. O: “Governments these days are full of people who don’t understand technology, so countries rely on outsourcing their tech requirements and expertise to private companies that transcend national boundaries, companies like VOR.” Yaz describes his conversation with the aliens; she couldn’t tell who was in charge. The Doctor goes through the files Yaz downloaded and finds alien codes. She tries to match it to all the known languages in the universe but she doesn’t find a match. Doctor: “Ah wait! I keep the TARDIS systems open for new languages, even on the fringes of the known universe.” She finds a match. Doctor: “I think its coordinates. Locations for those creatures across planet Earth.” They get more details on the information they have. Doctor: “It’s all in the patterns – – steganography, encrypted code, attacks on intelligence agents. It’s all spy craft.” She realizes there are alien spies embedded on Earth. She is confused that the data is showing multiple Earths. O says they need to find out who the spymaster is. Yaz and Ryan think it must be Barton. The Doctor agrees they must get more information on him, Ryan tells her he and Yaz have invites to his birthday party. The Doctor will add herself, Graham and O to the party list. She invites O to enter the TARDIS. He’s excited at what he sees.
The TARDIS materalizes in a vineyard outside Barton’s home. They all come out in black tie attire. When they get to the reception desk, the Doctor says, “The name’s Doctor. The Doctor. We’re on the list.” They walk into the party. The party is casino themed. Ryan and Graham win in roulette; the Doctor plays cards, but is playing a different game than everyone else. Yaz and O toss dice and lose, but O is charming. The Doctor decides to talk to Barton alone and joins him outside. She introduces herself and gets right to the point telling him she is on to him. She asks him a number of questions, did he kill C, is he in league with the aliens, who is in charge, why is he 93% human. Barton tries to act like the Doctor is insane and warns her she can’t do anything to him. He walks back inside to his party, but gets in a car and leaves. The Doctor, O and her companions grab motorcycles to follow him. Barton tells his driver to lose them and starts shooting at them. O: “Is this what it’s like being with the Doctor?” Yaz: “A bit. This is one of the quiet days.” They arrive at his private airfield.
“Doctor, I-I did say look for the spymaster, or-or should I say spy – – – Master?” O/The Master
Barton boards his private jet and prepares to pilot it. The Doctor and the companions chase after the plane as Barton runs down the runway, the Doctor opens the cargo bay door and jumps in, O is the last one to get in. Barton receives a phone call. O says he’s not a good sprinter, but the Doctor says his records say he’s a champion sprinter. O smiles and tells the Doctor she’s got him. The expression on his face changes. O: “You best take a look out the window.” Graham: “How is your house out there?” O: “Oh, a bit Wicked Witch of the West, but you get the gist – – maybe, maybe not.” The Doctor realizes what is going on. O: “Doctor, I-I did say look for the spymaster, or-or should I say spy – – – Master?” The Doctor tells him she met O before. The Master smirks and produces the real O from his suit pocket. [The Master used the Tissue Compression Eliminator on him, very classic Who.] He ambushed the real O on his way to his first day at work and took his place. The Doctor runs to the cockpit to warn Barton, but there is a bomb in his seat. He isn’t on the plane. The Doctor tries to use her sonic on it but the Master is insulted that she didn’t know he would make it sonic proof. He gloats over his apparent victory and summons the creatures. The bomb explodes in the cockpit and the plane is heading down. Standing over the Doctor he says, “One last thing, something you should know in the seconds before you die. Everything that you think you know…is a lie. Got you…finally.” He teleports off the plane. The creatures grab the Doctor and she vanishes. The ‘Fam’ remain on the crashing airplane. The Doctor finds herself in the same alien environment Yaz was in earlier.
Someone or something is taking out spies all around the globe. MI6 brings in the Doctor and her companions to help them find the underlying cause of it. The technology used against the agents is alien. They are rewriting agent’s DNA. C, the head of MI6 thinks it involves Daniel Barton, an ex-agent who is the CEO of VOR, the world’s leading internet company. An assassin kills C, and the creatures that harmed the intelligence agents are after the Doctor and her ‘Fam’. The Doctor and Graham go to Australia to meet with O, a MI6 agent the Doctor met once who was open to extraterrestrial life. Since C didn’t believe in it, he sacked O. Ryan and Yaz go to San Francisco to spy on Daniel Barton. The creatures invade O’s home, killing two Australian security agents, but they capture one of the aliens. It isn’t from our universe and holds humans in contempt. They plan on taking over our universe. Ryan and Yaz find out that Barton is 93% human and is working with the aliens. The aliens capture Yaz and send her to an alien environment. The creature captured by the Doctor leaves the containment cell and sends Yaz in its place. The experience freaks Yaz out. Using the information Yaz and Ryan gathered from Barton’s computer files, the Doctor figures out the aliens have spies embedded all over Earth. She sees multiple Earths in the files but isn’t sure what it means. They think Barton might be the spymaster, so they go to his birthday party. Barton tries to escape by taking off in his private jet. The Doctor, O, and her companions chase him to his private airstrip and board his jet. There we get a huge twist, the man they know, as O isn’t the person they have befriended. He took his place years ago; the man before them is the Master. He is the spymaster they were looking for. He placed a bomb in the cockpit; it explodes causing the plane to plummet towards the earth. He tells the Doctor everything she ever knew was a lie and teleports off the airplane. The creatures take her to the alien environment Yaz was at, and the companions are stuck on the crashing jet.
What a great way to begin the new season, and a great way to begin the New Year. I wasn’t expecting O being the Master. Sacha Dhawan does a great job as both O and the Master. The way he turned on a dime from being the friendly, nerdy O to the diabolical Master was chilling. This was a strong episode for Jodie Whittaker, the dawning horror on her face was fantastic, but the confident swagger she had throughout the episode was great. Lenny Henry was great as Daniel Barton; he alone would have made a great central villain for the episode. I would have liked to see Stephen Fry continue as C throughout the series. He worked well off the cast. It was a strong episode for the companions; they feel more lived in and as people with their own lives beyond the Doctor. I wonder why Yaz won’t give her sister Ryan’s number. Instead of having Ryan snog her sister, she probably wants to snog him herself. The scene between the two of them on the porch was very strong. Graham was funny, as always, I know if I were a companion, I’d be the most like Graham. The episode looked gorgeous, especially in South Africa. The action scenes were exciting; especially the runaway car at the beginning of the episode, but the motorcycle chase was fun too. It felt like a Bond picture, with aliens. The design for the creatures was clever, the simple use of light and having them take human form to mock humanity made them spooky and very alien. The new monsters were great, but having the Doctor’s oldest frenemy back was the best.