Closing Time was the twelfth episode in the sixth series of Doctor Who. It saw the return of Craig Owens from series 5, this time as the “official” companion of the story. A huge time gap in the Doctor’s personal timeline is implied to have taken place between this story and the previous. It also saw the return of the Cybermats, and the final time Cybus-model Cybermen are active. Further, it answered the question of who is inside the astronaut suit that kills the Doctor at Lake Silencio.
At a Sanderson & Grainger store in Colchester, two saleswomen ring up the final customers of the night. When one of the saleswomen, Kelly, laments being late for her date, the other, Shona, offers to cash up and clean out the changing rooms for her. The lights in the department store flicker ominously as Kelly leaves. Shona is left annoyed by the clothing and lingerie scattered in the changing room. Shona begins picking up the clothes, noticing someone still using the stall at the far end. After repeatedly warning that the store is closing, she pulls back the curtain and screams in terror; a Cyberman faces her.
At the same time, Sophie prepares to leave for a weekend holiday. She expresses unease at leaving Craig in charge of the house. She tells him nervously that his parents, her mum and “innocent people” may call to check up on him. She leaves and Craig begins calling everyone Sophie phoned to check up on him, telling them that he can handle things on his own. He then hears someone knocking on the door; thinking Sophie came back, Craig opens the door, saying he is coping on his own. In a humerous sense of deja vu, the Doctor is the one at the door instead of Sophie. With a smile, the Doctor says “Hello, Craig, I’m back!”
Craig is left dumbfounded by the Doctor’s appearance, asking how could Sophie get a hold of him. The Doctor claims he’s just popped around to say hello and is about to leave when he notices the porch light flickering. His suspicions raised, he forces himself into the house. The Doctor begins scanning the house with the sonic screwdriver, noting that there are increased amounts of sulfur emissions and that the stairs are a mess. Craig tries to silence the Doctor, who ignores him upon noticing the sonic picked up a life signal. The Doctor rushes upstairs and swings up a door, demanding the occupant leave the planet; however, he discovers a crying baby — it is Alfie, Craig and Sophie’s son.
The Doctor sits in the kitchen, watching as Craig tries to calm the crying Alfie; the Doctor’s blunder woke Alfie. Craig admits he can’t cope on his own; Alfie cries all the time. Craig even wonders if babies have “off switches”; the Doctor quips “human beings? No; believe me, I checked.” The Doctor remedies the problem by shushing Alfie, who immediately quiets. Craig continues to request parenting hints, so the Doctor — who speaks baby — informs him that Alfie prefers to be called Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All; that he refers to Sophie as “Mum;” Craig as “not-Mum”; the Doctor as “also not Mum”; and everyone else as “peasants.” Craig wonders why the Doctor has come, refusing to believe that he’s merely making a social call; the Doctor explains he thought he try one out, since he never has.
Craig explains that he checked the upstairs when they moved into their new house, and his next-door neighbors on both sides are humans; he then jokingly asks if aliens are in his fridge. The Doctor, however, is merely on a bit of a farewell tour and Craig is his last stop. Nevertheless, as they converse, he is troubled by a story in the newspaper. Craig comments that the Doctor has his “noticing face” on, which he has nightmares about. The Doctor insists he is not noticing anything, and even if he did, would not get involved this time. The Doctor departs with another goodbye, preparing to go see the Alignment of Exodor — which is locked in a Time stasis field, preventing him from making more than one attempt at seeing it. As he returns to the TARDIS, he continues to notice the flickering lights and taking scans with the sonic, but again tells himself that he will not get involved and is leaving.
The next day, the Doctor has gotten as job at Sanderson & Grainger’s toy department. He demonstrates a toy helicopter to excited children, explaining that while nearly 50 Pounds is a lot to pay for it, it’s their parents’ cash, which would be wasted on boring things like “lamps and vegetables.” Craig arrives with Alfie, and is accidentally hit by the helicopter; the Doctor greets Craig before sending his crowd away. Craig asks why the Doctor is still around; the Doctor explains that he impulsively decided to get a job. Craig accidentally kicks a toy dog, which the Doctor picks up; he reminisces robot dogs, claiming they’re not as fun as he remembers. Bidding them farewell, the Doctor places the toy on the ground as he notices a small robotic gadget whiz around the shop. He quickly begins inspecting the area it went past.
Craig persists with the idea that the Doctor is in town to investigate something. The Doctor finally relents, explaining that recent disappearances of people have coincided with power fluctuations; Craig is left confused as the incidents haven’t been in the news. The Doctor shows Craig a newspaper, explaining the public’s attention is more focused on Britain’s Got Talent; the disappearances are listed on other pages, since no-one sees the pattern. He escorts Craig and Alfie out of the store into a broken lift, which he repairs with the sonic screwdriver. Boarding the lift with them, the Doctor explains that someone has been using a teleport relay inside the shop and that the CCTV footage has been wiped, preventing any evidence. Suddenly, the elevator appears to dissolve around them.
Craig is not immediately aware of it, thinking it another power issue. The Doctor, however, can see that they have stumbled upon the aforementioned teleport and are now aboard an alien spaceship. He tries to distract Craig by claiming to love him, but Craig turns and notices the ship just as a Cyberman approaches. The Doctor quickly explains that he doesn’t actually love Craig, except as a friend, quickly reversing the teleporter and returning them to the lift. Explaining what a Cyberman is, the Doctor goes outside with Craig and attempts to scan space for a Cyber-ship; there is no positive result. The Doctor orders Craig to take Alfie and leave Colchester, but Craig knows the safest place for him and his son is next to the Doctor. Flattered by Craig’s trust in him, the Doctor allows him to stay and help investigate.
He tells Craig to look around, notice everything and ask questions. He suggests that people will be more open to him because he has a baby; this is why the Doctor usually brings a human companion with him, he says. They separate to cover more ground. The Doctor has considerable success with Val, a chatty perfume saleswoman, who mentions a silver rat with glowing red eyes. She takes him to the toy department, explaining that she wanted the “silver rat” for her nephew, but the stock room says they don’t have such a thing. The Doctor, with a net to capture the suspicious “toy”, sourly says, “I bet they do.”
In the meantime, Craig is less successful, poorly choosing lingerie as his investigation spot. His attempts to talk to Kelly are misconstrued as harassment and he accidentally knocks over a lingerie display while trying to escape the wrath of George, the burly security guard. He compliments George’s uniform to try pacifying him, but is unsuccessful. At the same time, the Doctor hears the commotion and runs over to help. He is warmly greeted by Kelly and George. He introduces them to Craig, ending the tension; the Doctor compliments George’s uniform, but, unlike Craig, is thanked. Kelly mentions Shona didn’t turn up for work, complaining about having to work harder to cover for her. The Doctor suspects Shona has gone missing as well.
The two men look through the changing rooms where Shona was last seen. Craig is furious; following the Doctor’s orders humiliated him in front of his son. The Doctor tells Craig that Alfie thinks he should believe in himself more. He uses the sonic to scan the changing room and deduces that a Cyberman took Shona the night before. The “silver rat” that Val saw is a Cybermat, an infiltrator that’s been responsible for the electrical fluctuations; it’s harvesting power. The Doctor doesn’t understand why the Cybermen would target a shop as opposed to a nuclear power station. To answer his questions, the Doctor decides to capture the Cybermat.
Increasingly distressed by these recent events, Craig wonders why aliens only turn up in Colchester when the Doctor is around. The Doctor claims that it’s merely coincidence, which is “what the universe does for fun”. As Craig goes to change Alfie, the Doctor then notices Amy and Rory walking in his direction from across the shop, unaware of his presence. A little girl named Allie stops Amy and asks for her autograph. As the Doctor hides so they don’t see him, he notices Amy’s photo on an ad for perfume called “Petrichor,” for “the girl who’s tired of waiting.” The Doctor can only smile and think of the irony in the tagline.
That night, the Doctor and Craig remain in the store after it closes and wait for the Cybermat. Craig laments telling everyone that he didn’t need their help as leaving Alfie with a babysitter would be safer; Alfie wishes it would be a hot one. Because Alfie wants to be attached to Craig, the Doctor gives them a papoose. The Doctor captures the Cybermat easily enough. Meanwhile, in the basement, George is inspecting the fuse boxes when he is attacked by a Cyberman. The Doctor and Craig hear his screaming. The Doctor immediately rushes to his aid, but is knocked out by one of the Cybermen. On regaining consciousness, the Doctor finds Craig looking over him. The Cyberman did not kill him, because it was weak and made of spare parts. He expresses confusion as to how the Cybermen have travelled there, given that he shut down the teleport relay and it should’ve taken them days to repair it.
They return to Craig’s house. As the Doctor examines the Cybermat, Craig tells him he’s going to get more milk, leaving the Doctor in charge of Alfie. Alfie begins crying as soon as Craig leaves and the Doctor leaves the Cybermat unattended to go comfort him. The Doctor tells Alfie to save his tears for later as there’s a spiritual emptiness of adulthood waiting for him; however, the Doctor realizes it’s his old age talking, going on to say that he gave everything 110%. The Cybermat, which has reactivated itself, sneaks up behind the Doctor. He is able to stun it with the sonic and escapes outside with Alfie. However, as he moves to go back into the house, he realises that the door has locked behind him and he has dropped his sonic screwdriver inside. Craig returns home, not realizing the danger, and is attacked by the Cybermat. The Doctor hears Craig’s cries for help, crashes through the back window and rescues him. Trying several times to hold down their adversary, the Doctor has Craig pin the Cybermat under a baking tray while he fries its memory with the sonic to make it benign.
Later, as the Doctor reprograms the Cybermat, Craig wonders about its presence. The Doctor doesn’t understand why the Cyber-ship needs so much power and why the conversions of the missing people are incomplete. He continues to feel guilt for letting Craig stay to help him, referring to himself as a selfish man who puts people in danger. Craig reminds the Doctor that, if not for him, the entire planet would be in ruin, leading the Doctor to tell him sadly that he will not be around for much longer — his time is running out and he is set to die tomorrow. However, when he turns back, Craig and Alfie have fallen asleep and apparently not heard a word he’s said. He only smiles sadly.
The next morning, the Doctor returns with “Bitey” the Cybermat to the shop. When Craig wakes, he finds a message from the Doctor that he’s gone to stop the Cybermen. Sophie calls and leaves a message, saying she will be home soon. Craig readies himself and Alfie to go help the Doctor because, as Craig explains to Alfie, he wouldn’t have him or Sophie if not for the Doctor. The Doctor always needs someone to help; he just can’t admit it.
At the department store, the Doctor deduces that secondary transport must exist. He runs into Val, barely paying attention to her. She says that he’s found the silver rat; the Doctor retorts “But where are the silver men?” Continuing his search, he finds a passageway behind the mirror in the changing room where Shona was taken. He follows it down to a crashed Cyber Ship. While he investigates the control room, he is confronted by one of the Cybermen.
The Doctor explains what happened. The Cyber-ship crashed centuries earlier with a single, dormant survivor. The town council began laying cables. The Cybermat activated and tunneled to the surface to salvage power for the ship’s systems. The Cyberman announces they will reemerge when they are ready and convert the planet; six Cybermen are enough. The Doctor offers them a choice: deactivate willingly or be deactivated by force. As he prepares to make good on this threat, a second Cyberman appears and holds him in place.
At the same time, Craig arrives in the shop and leaves Alfie with Val, warning her not to follow him; unfortunately, she misunderstands the reason entirely. He finds the entrance the Doctor used and searches for something he can use as a weapon; seeing a price gun, Craig reasons that the Cybermen won’t know what it is and he can bluff.
In the ship, the first Cyberman claims the Doctor will be their new leader, the second recognizes that his binary vascular system makes him incompatible. Instead, they will use him for parts and discard what they don’t need. Craig appears and threatens the Cybermen with his price gun. The Doctor orders Craig to leave. One of the Cybermen recognizes Craig’s compatibility and declares him their new leader. They begin preparing him for conversion, despite his protests, explaining that they take Craig’s fear from him. The Doctor pleads with Craig to think of Alfie and finally declares that he is going to die tomorrow but he doesn’t mind that, if Craig can “prove him right.” However, Craig is unable to escape or resist. The Doctor can only watch as the Cyber-armor assimilates Craig entirely.
Above, Alfie seems to sense the danger Craig is in and begins to cry. This sound is picked up on the Cyber-ship and heard by all on board. As the Cybermen declare that Craig’s conversion is complete, something changes. Craig’s emotional systems begin to reboot themselves after hearing his child crying. His face plate splits down the middle, springing open to reveal Craig. He fights his way out of the armor to get to Alfie. The Doctor realises Craig’s rejection of the conversion triggered a feedback loop. The Cybermen begin to feel everything they cut out of themselves. This will lead to a very big explosion. As they realize that the way they came in is cut off, the Doctor remembers the teleport and fuses it back together. As they de-materialize, the Cyber-ship explodes.
In the shop above, the lift doors open and Craig runs out, calling for Alfie. The Doctor informs Craig that Alfie has given him a “ten out of ten.” Craig boasts about blowing the Cyber-ship up with love. The Doctor begins to explain the exact process in its technical terms, but ultimately concedes that Craig indeed blew it up with love.
Later, as Craig converses with Val — who has wrongly concluded that Craig and the Doctor are a couple — he realizes that the Doctor has disappeared. He returns home to find the house spotless and the Doctor preparing to leave; the Doctor has made the place spotless. The Doctor reveals that Alfie prefers the name Alfie now and is calling Craig “Dad” instead of “not Mum.” Craig realizes that something is wrong and offers to help the Doctor in any way he can, but the Doctor is certain that no one can help him. He asks only if Sophie will mind if he helps himself to some of her TARDIS blue envelopes. Hearing he is going to America, Craig also gives the Doctor a Stetson before leaving.
Sophie returns home (having lost her keys again) to find the house spotless. Although Craig insists that nothing happened all weekend, Sophie is astonished as Alfie happily calls out the word “Doctor”. She then questions Craig again, now very sure that something had happened while she was away.
The Doctor returns to the TARDIS, passing a trio of school children playing in the street. They stop their game and stare at him in wonder. He introduces himself, telling them that he was there to help and they’re very, very welcome.
At the Luna University in the 52nd century, River Song reads accounts from these children of the Doctor’s last days. She opens her diary to a page that contains only the date and time of his death. Madame Kovarian steps out of the shadows chanting a mysterious nursery rhyme that she claims has to do with the Doctor.
As River tries to remember who the woman is, Kovarian orders her not to bother because they’ve been far too “thorough” with her memory. Two of the Silence appear behind River. Kovarian introduces them as River’s “owners”, and calls her “Melody Pond”. River is astonished, prompting the woman to declare that she made River who she is: the woman who kills the Doctor. As River protests, two members of the Church enter the library with an Apollo astronaut’s suit. They inject River with a sedative, and she loses consciousness.
When River awakes, she finds herself submerged below the surface of Lake Silencio in the Apollo astronaut’s suit — awaiting the Doctor.
The Eleventh Doctor
Alfie (A.K.A. Stormageddon: Dark Lord of All)