Partners in Crime
Partners in Crime was the first episode of the fourth series of Doctor Who. It marked the reappearance of Catherine Tate as new regular companion Donna Noble. It also saw Sylvia Noble and Wilfred Mott return, as Donna’s family. Donna’s father Geoff Noble, however, was implied to have died off screen, following the sudden passing of actor Howard Attfield. Importantly, Rose Tyler made a cameo appearance, heralding her eventual return later in the season.
Donna Noble, wearing a business suit, walks down a street on the way to Adipose Industries, as she is investigating them on their new weight-loss drug. Unknown to her, the Tenth Doctor is there for the exact same purpose. Both enter the Adipose offices through different entrances, and pass themselves off as employees of “Health and Safety”.
Both the Doctor and Donna then crash a press conference held by Adipose Industries company manager Miss Foster, Donna sitting with the journalists and the Doctor watching from the projection booth. A science reporter, Penny Carter of The Observer, asks what this drug does; Miss Foster gives them a lecture on the science of the pill, and the meeting ends. The Doctor and Donna ask different employees for customer addresses; Donna also takes a pill-shaped golden pendant — a free gift that comes with the pills. Throughout their time at Adipose, the Doctor and Donna have multiple near-misses.
That night, Donna goes to the house of a woman named Stacey Campbell, who is preparing to go out on a date to dump her boyfriend now that her weight is going down so nicely — “I can do better than him now!” Meanwhile, the Doctor interviews another valued customer, Roger Davey, about his use of the drug. Roger tells the Doctor that he knows he’s lost a kilo of weight every night by 1:10 AM — that’s when he’s always woken up by his burglar alarm. The Doctor deduces that this is because of his cat flap. Not only does it let things in, it lets them out too. As the Adipose slogan goes, “The fat just walks away…”
Stacey goes to the bathroom, and Donna begins fiddling with her pendant; the result is that a humanoid cute and tubby piece of fat forces itself out of Stacey’s body. Donna, oblivious to what is occurring, then begins to investigate what’s going on upstairs. Miss Foster is alerted that there has been an “unscheduled parthenogenesis”, and sends out a squad team to retrieve the new Adipose children. The Doctor is also alerted of the “birth” via a Y-shaped hand-held device and runs off down the street to track it. Once Stacey witnesses the Adipose child, Miss Foster activates “full parthenogenesis”, and Stacey’s entire body is converted into numerous Adipose, leaving nothing but her clothing behind.
Donna, who is now upstairs due to Stacey’s screams, breaks into her bathroom just in time to see an Adipose waving to her as it jumps out the window. The Adipose Industries retrieval team scoops up the new Adipose and zooms off in their van, just missed by both the Doctor and Donna — who both give up, and head off in different directions, unaware they are only a few feet away from each other. Miss Foster goes through her CCTV records with her henchmen to find out just who “borrowed” a pendant, and spots her.
Donna cancels Stacey’s cab, and goes home, only to find her mother nagging at her about her unemployment. Donna sits at the table, ignoring her, as she tries to get over what she saw. She then goes to see her grandfather Wilfred Mott, who is up at the allotments stargazing. He says she looks like he’s drifting, but she replies she’s waiting for the right man — the Doctor. She says, “I met him just once…and then I let him fly away.” When Wilf urges her to look for him, Donna explains she has — but that he is nowhere. She asks him to keep an eye out fora certain blue box in the sky, and give her a shout if he finds it.
Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor is examining his readings, talking to himself for a moment before remembering that Martha Jones has gone. He stands there in silence.
The next day, despite protests from her mother, Donna takes the car to Adipose Industries, parking in an alleyway nearby. Shortly thereafter, the TARDIS materializes immediately behind it. The Doctor and Donna hide in the building until after hours: the Doctor in a caretaker’s cupboard, and Donna in the women’s bathroom. Donna even goes so far to conceal herself as to pretend she is in church when her mother calls. Miss Foster suddenly stalks into the toilets searching for the thief — and, much to Donna’s surprise and relief, instead pulls out Penny Carter.
Penny accuses Miss Foster of faking her results. As Penny is dragged to Miss Foster’s office by her guards, Donna follows, peeking through the office door. The Doctor zips to the roof, fiddles with a window-cleaning crane and drops down to the office window. He watches the same event from the other side of the room. Unable to quite see what’s going on, both pop their heads up — only to spot each other. They mouth frantic questions to each other while Donna does her best to mime her answers, all the while unaware that they are being watched by Miss Foster and everybody in her office. “Are we interrupting you?”
Donna runs, while the Doctor locks the door with his sonic screwdriver and raises his window-cleaning cradle to the roof, before racing to the stairs. The pair finally meet, but have to keep running and head back to the window-cleaning cradle to lower themselves down for a quick getaway. Before that, though, Donna explains how she went about searching for the Doctor. “‘Cause I thought, “How do you find the Doctor?” And then I just thought, “Look for trouble, and then he’ll turn up.” So I looked everywhere — you name it. UFO sightings, crop circles, sea monsters — I looked, I found them all. Like that stuff about the bees disappearing, I thought, “I bet he’s connected.” ‘Cause the thing is, Doctor, I believe it all now. You opened my eyes to all those amazing things out there. I believe them all…”
However, even though the Doctor locks the pulley with his sonic screwdriver, Miss Foster has a sonic device of her own. She uses her sonic pen to sends the cradle plummeting down, and then she cuts one of the two cradle ropes with it. Donna nearly falls to the pavement, but the Doctor apprehends Miss Foster’s pen with his screwdriver, uses the pen to get into Foster’s office, pulls in Donna, and then keeps running. All the while, Penny is watching on in complete bewilderment. He frees her, but she starts searching the office for evidence, and is once more caught by Miss Foster and her guards. They tie her up again.
Miss Foster, with her guards, finally catches up with the Doctor and Donna in the main office, revealing herself to be Matron Cofelia of the Five-Straighten Classabindi Nursery Fleet, Intergalactic Class, who has been hired by the Adiposian First Family to breed the next generation of the species from humans following the loss of their breeding planet. She ignores both Donna’s protests about Stacey Campbell’s death and the Doctor’s that seeding a Level 5 planet is against galactic law, but she and her guards are stunned when the Doctor holds both their sonic devices against each other, creating a violent sonic feedback which he and Donna use as a chance to run. Miss Foster makes a call to her people to notify the Adipose that their cover has been broken — they’re going into premature labor.
Down in the basement, the Doctor and Donna head into the cupboard where he hid all day, which has a secondary inducer hidden in the back. He quickly uses the fact that Miss Foster had wired the building to stun her guards. Donna then admits she was a fool to turn down the Doctor’s original offer to travel with him, and asks if she can still come. Back in her office, Miss Foster activates the main inducer, which sends a signal to the free pendants that will trigger the Adipose birthing process in the company’s one million customers, converting fat, bones and internal organs… and kill the hosts in the process.
In a London wine bar, Sylvia Noble is having a girls’ night out; one of them, Suzette Chambers, is an Adipose customer and “host”. Adipose start popping out of her, as well as out of Roger Davey back at his home. The Doctor manages to temporarily disable the process by unscrewing his Adipose capsule and attaching it to his inducer, but Miss Foster doubles the power. The Doctor begins to panic as he finds himself unable to stop the imminent deaths of a million people, but Donna offers him just what he needs: a second capsule, to block the increased signal. The second capsule overloads the system, and the Adipose clients return to normal; but ten thousand Adipose have now been born, and are now making their way to Adipose Industries, causing traffic chaos throughout London. The ten thousand will have to do; the nursery is coming.
A gigantic nursery ship arrives over London to collect the babies; while Sylvia gawps at it, Wilfred — the one who’s always believed in extraterrestrial life — has his back turned towards his telescope in the other direction and his headphones on, and misses the whole thing. As it arrives, so does a signal from the Adiposian First Family, which the Doctor listens to via the secondary inducer; he suddenly realizes that it’s no longer the humans, but Miss Foster who is now in serious trouble.
The Doctor and Donna run onto the rooftop to watch several levitation beams carry the Adipose babies up to the ship. Having already seen firsthand what the Doctor can do to even children who he feels are a threat (the Racnoss children), she asks if he plans to blow the Adipose up too, but the Doctor refuses to harm them, as they’re just children; they can’t help where they came from. Donna openly notes that that is a marked difference from the last time they were in that situation, while the Doctor admits that as a weight loss plan, the Adipose idea does have its merits.
They see Miss Foster in another beam on her way up to the nursery ship. The Doctor pleads with her to get over to the roof and points out that the Adiposian First Family is aware that their actions are illegal, which means they need to get rid of their accomplice. Miss Foster dismisses the threat because she’s the nanny – but the Doctor remains worried, exclaiming, “Exactly! Mum and Dad have got the kids now – they don’t need the nanny anymore!” At that moment, the levitation beam carrying Miss Foster is switched off, and Miss Foster, with just enough time to realize her fate, falls to her death as the Doctor comforts a terrified Donna. Immediately afterwards, the nursery ship leaves Earth.
Back on the street the Doctor bins the sonic pen as Penny — tied again to her chair — flees the building, unable to cope with what’s been happening; as Donna points out, “Some people just can’t take it.” Donna promptly drags the Doctor off to the TARDIS — and is delighted to realize he parked just a few feet from her car; it’s just like destiny!
She promptly starts hauling a ridiculous amount of luggage out of the car boot and shoving it into the Doctor’s arms, saying she’s been ready to go for ages. The Doctor warns that it is a hard life but accepts her, saying that he just wants a mate. She misunderstands this to mean that he wants “to mate”, saying he’s just a “long streak of nothing” and exclaiming, “Well, you’re not mating with me, sunshine!” The misunderstanding (mostly) resolved, Donna then calls her mum to say she’s put the car keys in a certain bin for her to collect before asking a blonde girl to tell her mother, “That bin there”. While Donna returns to the TARDIS, the girl, a sad-looking Rose Tyler, walks off down the street and disappears into thin air…
For her first trip, Donna tells the Doctor she wants to go “two and a half miles, that way.” Back at the allotments, Wilf is still puttering about when he spots a certain blue box flying overhead. After first yelling for Donna, he takes a closer look through his telescope, and realizes she’s in the blue box, waving to him from the doorway — and so is the Doctor! He starts whooping and dancing around in delight as the TARDIS spins away into space, happy she found what she was after: “Go on, girl! Go on, get out there!”