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Planet of the Ood

Planet of the Ood was the third episode of the fourth series of BBC Wales Doctor Who. As the title flatly presaged, it featured the return of the Ood and the Doctor’s first visit to their home world. It was the first time viewers met Ood Sigma and the first time they encountered the later-important phrase, “the DoctorDonna”. It also made little to no mention of the “Missing Planets” arc — Donna mentioned the disappearing bees when the Doctor was looking to find what year they were in. This episode included the first sign that the Tenth Doctor’s life was nearing its end, which would become more evident later on.

Behind the scenes, it was notable for showcasing the first prolonged usage of counter tenor Mark Chambers on a Doctor Who score. Later more famous for the purely incidental “Vale Decem”, heard as the Tenth Doctor regenerated, here he gave voice to the diegetic Ood song, known on the series 4 soundtrack as “Songs of Freedom and Captivity”.


A businessman, Mr Bartle, watches an advertisement for the Ood, who are being sold as servants to humans. Bartle is sarcastic yet somewhat impressed with the advert, until he notices that his bosses have cut the price to just 50 credits each. The man on the other end of the 4communicator, Klineman Halpen, tells him it is a measure to stay ahead of the competition, and orders him to get going trying to catch up. Bartle orders his Ood, Delta Fifty, to hand him last month’s military export figures, and tells his assistant Solana Mercurio over the radio to get their buyers to buy them when they arrive. His Ood gives him the domestic files instead of the files requested, and Bartle tells him to get it right. However, rather than obeying, the Ood’s eyes glow red and he tells Bartle the files are irrelevant. When Bartle asks why, the Ood pressed his translation sphere against Bartle’s forehead, electrocuting him. As Bartle screams out in pain, the Ood says, “Have a nice day.”

Elsewhere, the Tenth Doctor sets the TARDIS to random settings, effectively taking a mystery tour with Donna. After they land, Donna is excited, yet terrified, about landing on an alien planet. The Doctor comforts her by saying that after all his travelling, he still experiences the very same feeling. However, as Donna steps out of the TARDIS, she discovers they have landed on a cold, snowy planet. The Doctor is overjoyed at the sight of finally experiencing real snow. Donna makes several comments about being cold as he continues on about how much he likes the snow.

He then waxes poetic to Donna about her first time visiting different planet. As he finishes, he realizes that Donna has gone back inside the TARDIS. She steps out with a warm coat. They then both look up to see a rocket passing overhead.

Meanwhile, Mr Halpen arrives at Ood Operations to cover for Mr Bartle. He is more arrogant than his predecessor. At his office, Halpen, scientist Dr Ryder, and Solana watch a surveillance videotape of Mr Bartle’s murder. Dr. Ryder cannot explain how the translation orb was used to kill Bartle. After Bartle was killed, Delta Fifty escaped. The Ood was shot in the process, and left to die. While Dr Ryder also says that he has no idea about the source of Red Eye, Halpen asks his own Ood, Sigma, for a drink. He explains that it is just hair tonic; he started losing his hair due to stress built up over the last five years.

While the Doctor and Donna roam the planet, the Doctor hears an eerie sound that Donna can’t detect. They find the dying Delta Fifty in the snow. Donna seems disgusted by its look. The Doctor tells her the Ood is a “he”, not an “it”. While the Doctor is examining him, Donna keeps the Ood talking so the Doctor can find out what has happened. He wants to know why Delta Fifty has been shot. The Ood merely says “the circle must be broken”, before suddenly getting up to attack the two. Before he can fully stand, he dies. The Doctor confirms to Donna that he has encountered the Ood before. The last time he met them, they were all possessed by the devil. At that time, he was unable to save them. He concludes there must be another source nearby accounting for the psychotic Ood. They then come across the building that is the headquarters of Ood Operations.

Solana Mercurio meets up with the buyers outside the warehouse and tells them to come inside. Just then, the Doctor and Donna arrive. By using the psychic paper, they are able to convince her that they represent the Noble Corporation PLC Limited, Intergalactic (a fictitious company). They are greeted as Dr and Mrs Noble, but they quickly correct her that they are not married.

Just then, they hear an alarm, which Solana claims is a siren signaling the end of a work shift. In truth, the head of security, Commander Kess, has reported an Ood on the loose. His team pursue the Ood, and eventually corner him. When he turns to the guards, they realize that it is more than a mere case of Red-Eye: this Ood has turned rabid. Halpen orders Kess to send the Ood to Dr Ryder.ood2

Solana gives out the presentation on the Ood. She shows three different Ood, one with the standard voice, one with a sexy female voice, and one with a “comedy classic” option (when being told that the has Ood dropped something, he answers, “D’oh!”). Afterwards, while the buyers are enjoying the buffet, the Doctor and Donna discover that they are at the Ood Sphere in the year 4126, during the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire that spans three galaxies. Donna is fascinated that Earth is still populated, despite all the news articles in her time stating the near end of the world, including global warming and the disappearance of bees. Donna then learns that the red dots on the maps are Ood distribution centers. She decides to talk to an Ood to see if they get a say in this. However, the Ood merely tells them that the Ood were born to serve, or they would die out. The Ood then starts mentioning the circle. The pair decide decide to peruse the base of operations.

Halpen, Kess and Dr Ryder take a look at the chained and rabid Ood. The trio are baffled that after two centuries there is a change in them. Ood Sigma is questioned to see if he has seen anything like it, but even he is just as clueless. Dr Ryder suggests they go to Warehouse 15 to find answers. Halpen reluctantly agrees, even though there hasn’t been any activity there for 200 years. When asked about what to do with the rabid Ood, Halpen orders security to kill it. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Donna discover that the Ood are not servants: they are slaves. The Doctor regrets not knowing much about them during his last encounter, as he was busy fighting the Beast at the time, and decides he owes it to the Ood who died aboard Sanctuary Base 6 to find out exactly what it that makes the Ood surrender their freedom. They then observe Halpen. Knowing he’s the boss, they decide to stay out of his way.

Halpen, Dr Ryder and Sigma enter Warehouse 15, which houses a large, pulsating brain – “the Ood Brain”. Halpen reminisces about his first time to Warehouse 15 when he was six years old, and is still horrified by those memories. Ryder checks the computers and finds no changes in the brain. Halpen is then interrupted by Solana, who informs him that two of the buyers claimed to be members of the Noble Corporation – but the company does not exist. Further, they are now missing. Halpen orders security to search for them, but discreetly.

The Doctor and Donna have entered a warehouse, where they find countless cargo containers. Breaking into one, they see that it contains numerous Ood just standing. Donna wonders why the Ood won’t just go free. They reply that they don’t understand the concept. When the Doctor mentions the circle, all the Ood, in unison, say that the circle must be broken, so they can sing. Just then, they are spotted by Commander Kess, who raises the alarm, against Halpen’s wishes. While Solana lies to the buyers and tells them it is just a fire drill, the Doctor and Donna run. Donna is captured and taken to a container filled with Ood, who have turned to red-eye. Meanwhile, the Doctor is being chased by Kess, who is joyfully trying killing him with a claw. Though the Doctor tries his best to evade it, he eventually falls. He is saved by Solana, who shuts down the claw’s power and reminds Kess that Halpen wants the two alive. Security eventually lets Donna, who is about to be killed by the red-eye Ood, free.

However, the guards unwittingly let the red-eye Ood escape from the container too, along with those from other containers. They begin killing the guards. Kess and his men open fire, giving the Doctor, Donna and Solana enough time to escape. After making it out, Solana confirms that everyone on Earth either knows about the Ood’s predicament or doesn’t ask, which she calls “the same.” The Doctor asks her to help them. Reluctantly, she points them to the direction where they make the Ood turn to slaves. However, she defects again and calls out for the guards to apprehend the two. The Doctor and Donna head off to the area she pointed out. Kess manages to contain the rabid Ood, but believes the entire batch is contaminated. Seeing no alternative, Halpen orders Kess to get gas canisters.

By the time the Doctor finds the area, he hears the Ood song getting stronger, though Donna still can’t hear it. After they break into the room, they find several Ood in a cage. The Doctor tries to introduce them as “Doctor… Donna”. Donna asks the Doctor to let her hear the song. After he is able to open her mind to it, she quickly wants to stop hearing it. It is a very sad song of captivity. He closes her mind to it again; however, she realizes that the Doctor can still hear it, which saddens her more. While Halpen and the team attempt to break into the room, the Doctor enters the cage and discovers that these are “natural” Ood, and carry a hindbrain in their hands. The corporation lobotomizes them by removing the brains and replacing them with translation spheres. Donna notes that she spent a long time looking for the Doctor, hoping the universe would be a wonderful place, but didn’t realize how many issues and horrors await also. “I want to go home,” she says. Moments later, Halpen and the team break in and arrest the two.

ood3After they are handcuffed to some pipes, Halpen interrogates them, and gets them to “confess” that they are activists from Friends of the Ood. Halpen claims that the Ood welcomed being turned into slaves, and would be nothing without humanity. The Ood showed their hindbrains as they wanted to trust the humans, but were instead exploited. The Doctor also learns that Halpen is going to gas the “livestock”, which he likens to how humans dealt with foot-and-mouth disease centuries ago. Meanwhile, the natural Ood appear to have influence over the rest of their kind. They turn every Ood, apart from Sigma, to Red-Eye. In the room with the buyers, Solana notices the Ood turn into red-eye, and urges the buyers to leave. When a drunk and ignorant buyer is killed, the rest oblige, though many are electrocuted in the process. Solana escapes, but doesn’t make it far – she too is killed by an Ood. As the gas canisters count down, Kess is captured by the Ood. They subsequently release the captured Ood, and imprison Kess without a gas mask. When the timer reaches zero, Kess dies from the released gas.

The corporation plans to evacuate and then destroy the building; Halpen decides to leave the Doctor and Donna behind. The Doctor confronts him about a supposed third element, and wants to know what it is. Halpen replies, “It won’t exist for very much longer”, before leaving. Halpen and Dr Ryder make it down to Warehouse 15, while witnessing the Ood revolution in full swing. As the Doctor and Donna attempt to break free without any success, three red-eyed Ood enter the room and plan to kill them. The two of them repeatedly tell them, “Doctor, Donna, friends” and “The circle must be broken”. Through the mild telepathic link with their adapted brethren, the natural Ood are able to hear them. They allow the three Ood to return to normal. The Ood free the Doctor and Donna, who are trying to find the source of the third element. On the way, they see Sigma, who was generously allowed to leave by Halpen to join his people; Sigma guides them to Warehouse 15.

Once inside, the Doctor finds the giant Ood brain. It is the Ood’s telepathic center and the third part of the Ood physiology. Six pylons surround the brain, which has been used to dampen the telepathy between brain and Ood for 200 years, forcing them to be servants. They are interrupted by Halpen, who holds them at gun point. Ryder tells them that he has surrounded the area with land mines to kill the brain. The Doctor theorizes that the brain spent 200 years adapting to the pylons, but Dr Ryder claims responsibility. He exposes himself as a member of FOTO – the Friends of the Ood; knowing that the natural adapting process would take too long, he spent ten years infiltrating Ood Operations and working his way up the corporate ladder. Once he finally had access to the warehouse (a few hours previously), he lowered the barrier to its minimum setting. In response, Halpen pushes him over the edge, and he is “swallowed” by the brain.

As Halpen is about to shoot the Doctor and Donna, Sigma steps in and insists he take another drink. Halpen, disturbed by Sigma’s insistence, asks Sigma if he has poisoned him, but Sigma denies such, as the Ood do not kill. He reveals that Halpen’s “hair tonic” is in fact Ood-graft suspended in a biological compound. This has been rewriting Halpen’s biology, and with him in such close proximity to the brain, he begins to hear to Ood’s telepathic song. He transforms into an Ood before their eyes, and Sigma says that he will be looked after. The Doctor realizes that the Ood subconsious is divided into three groups: red-eye is revenge, rabid is anger, and the seemingly unaffected Sigma represents its patience. The Ood have been preparing for Halpen for a long time. Donna notes that after being with the Doctor, she doesn’t know what is right or wrong anymore, to which the Doctor replies, “It’s better that way. People who know for certain tend to be like Mr Halpen”. After the4-03-Planet-of-the-Ood-the-doctor-and-donna-doctordonna-23595101-1600-900 Doctor shuts down the mines, he asks Sigma if he can shut down the pylons damping the telepathic field. Sigma readily agrees, and with the push of a lever the circle is broken. The Ood can sing again.

The Ood song erupts to a new, joyful one, and now everyone can hear it, even Donna. Outside, the fighting stops – the Ood group themselves together, whilst the soldiers stand down. Afterwards, the Doctor and Donna are outside the TARDIS, and explain to Sigma that the song resonated to the three galaxies. The humans decide to free the Ood and send them back home. After Sigma thanks them, he offers them a place in their song, but the Doctor says he has his own song. Sigma tells him his song will end soon, since every song must end. The Doctor turns to Donna to see what she wants; after the freeing of the Ood, she has changed her mind and wants to continue her travels with him. Before they leave, Sigma tells them they will never be forgotten; their children and children’s children will sing of the DoctorDonna. Their names will be carried by the Ood Sphere’s wind, ice and snow forever. The TARDIS vanishes as the Ood watch.


The Tenth Doctor
Donna Noble