The Curse of the Black Spot
The Curse of the Black Spot was the third episode in the sixth series of Doctor Who. It featured the long forgotten character Henry Avery, mentioned in the First Doctor episode The Smugglers, and gave an explanation as to what happened to him and his crew. The “Eye Patch Lady” also appeared again, in the second of what would become a series of brief, foreboding check-ups on Amy Pond as she traveled with the Doctor.
On a becalmed ship called the Fancy, a man with a minor cut is brought to the captain, Henry Avery; Avery declares that he’s a “dead man” after discovering a black spot on the man’s palm. The man grabs a gun and flees outside as a woman can be heard singing on the deck. A few minutes later, he can be heard screaming as the song cuts to a stop. The crew departs the cabin to investigate, with Avery remarking that the disappearance is the same as all the others. As a banging is heard below deck, a wooden grille is pushed open to reveal the Eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory.
The trio is brought to Avery’s cabin, where the Doctor reveals that they picked up the ship’s distress calls; the crew, however, insists that they made no such calls. When the Doctor compares the time travelers to “sailors,” they are held at gunpoint by Avery and accused of being stowaways. The captain, knowing there is too little water to sustain all of them until the wind picks up, orders the Doctor and Rory to walk the plank while commanding Amy to the scullery. She is shoved below deck, where she discovers trunks of pirate garb and weaponry. As the Doctor is prepared to jump into the water, Amy reappears, brandishing a sword, frightening the crew, who do not wish to be injured. One crew member advances on her to get the sword away from her, but she puts up a fight, accidentally cutting his hand. He explains that she has killed him, prompting her to call him a “baby” for overreacting. A second fight ensues and Amy drops the sword, accidentally cutting Rory as well. Black spots appear on both of the men’s palms, prompting Rory to ask the Doctor what’s happening.
The woman’s voice is heard yet again, charming Rory and the wounded pirate and turning them into babbling fools. A ghostly woman bubbles up from the becalmed water and slowly advances on the crew, extending her hand to Rory and the pirate. The pirate steps forward and is instantly vaporized upon touching her. Rory also approaches her, but Amy steps between them, threatening the woman — who turns an angry red, hisses, and throws Amy across the deck. The crew hurries below deck, followed by the time travellers. Avery refers to the woman as a Siren, and says she has been taking every injured crew member, whether the wound is large or small. They all believe that the ship is cursed, which the Doctor responds to with some derision.
Avery does not believe that the TARDIS is truly the Doctor’s “ship,” and levels his pistol at him, demanding that he make it “sail”. The Doctor, however, feels that they’re merely fighting over who’s in charge. Another crew member realizes that a leech has bit him on the leg, and they all scramble to remove themselves from the still water as the black spot appears on the man’s hand. All of a sudden, the Siren appears and takes the man, allowing the Doctor to deduce that she is using water as a portal; therefore, they must make for the driest room on the ship — the armory. Arriving there, they discover Toby, a young boy who is revealed to be Avery’s son. The boy stowed away on his father’s ship, wanting to meet the man his mother described as an “honorable Navy captain” before she died the previous year. However, he is very ill, and soon reveals a black spot on the palm of his hand. Because he possesses no injuries, the Doctor realizes that the Siren is coming for the sick as well as the wounded.
Avery and the Doctor go to the TARDIS, where Avery quickly adapts to the machine’s extraterrestrial equipment by comparing them to the functions of his own ship. Meanwhile, the boatswain and Mulligan — the only remaining crew members — reveal their plan to leave the ship with Avery’s treasure, thus informing Toby that his father is a pirate. Still loyal, Toby grabs a sword and cuts the boatswain’s hand, stranding him in the armoury with the others. Mulligan, however, leaves anyway. Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor realizes that the TARDIS cannot leave because it can’t sense the plane it’s supposed to be flying on. Abruptly, it begins to de-materialize, and with no clue as to its destination, the Doctor and Avery are forced to flee.
On their way back to the armory, the Doctor and Avery run into Mulligan, who has stolen all of Avery’s treasure and is preparing to leave the ship. The two give chase, but Mulligan manages to lock himself in a small cabin room, where he burns his hand upon lighting a match. The Doctor and Avery listen as he is taken by the Siren. Entering the room, the Doctor and Avery realize that there is no water present, thus, the Siren doesn’t only use water as a portal, but all reflective surfaces. Remembering that Avery gave Toby his medallion, they rush back to the armory, where the Doctor blows air on the medallion to fog the surface. With no TARDIS, they realize they have no other option but to sit and wait for the seas to kick up again.
As everyone sleeps, Amy sees the woman with the eyepatch staring at her through a hatch in the side of the ship, however, the hatch disappears. She goes to Avery’s cabin, where the Doctor stands staring out the window, and is prepared to tell him of the woman when he interrupts her, questioning whether or not she feels as though she is being watched. Suddenly, a storm breaks, and all head to the deck to lift the sail. In the chaos, a crown falls out of Avery’s jacket, even though the Doctor had previously ordered Avery to rid the ship of all the treasure so that they might limit the Siren’s means of reaching them. The Siren appears, taking Toby, but the Doctor is able to throw the crown overboard before she can go after Rory. Nevertheless, Rory is knocked overboard and begins to drown. Though Amy prepares to jump in after him, the Doctor explains that Rory will die unless they let the Siren take him. He pulls the lid off a bucket of still water and orders the woman to go save him. The Doctor realizes that their only means of reuniting with their loved ones is to prick their fingers and let the Siren take them as well. She appears, and they all touch her hand, instantly blacking out.
They wake on the floor of an invisible alien spaceship, which the Doctor quickly deduces is taking up the same space as the Fancy, lending credence to his previous belief that they were all being watched; every window on the spaceship is a portal that leads to the Fancy. Amy realizes that the distress signal they answered was coming from the spaceship, not the Fancy. As they explore, they discover the skeletons of the ship’s crew members, with the Doctor ascertaining that they all died years ago from an Earth disease.
Eventually, they discover the sick bay, where Avery’s crew — plus Rory, Toby, and the TARDIS — are being kept, hooked up to life support machines. When Amy tries to unhook Rory, the Siren appears and puts him back to sleep. The Doctor realises that the Siren is not a demon, but a virtual doctor who has been caring for the injured crew. However, she has no means of treating them and can only put them on life support to save them. Amy again tries to help Rory, but the Siren won’t let her near him; it is not until Amy proclaims that he is her husband that the Siren extends her hand, with a glowing yellow ring forming around it. The Doctor orders Amy to take her hand, thus signing the contract and accepting all responsibility for Rory’s further well-being. She does so, but they quickly realise that Rory cannot be taken off life support. In doing so, he will drown.
Rory is sure that Amy can save him and instructs her on how to perform CPR. Meanwhile, the Doctor reveals to Avery that Toby has typhoid fever, and if he were to be removed from the ship, he would only have a few months left to live. Remembering that the alien spaceship needs a captain, Avery volunteers for the position so that he may continue to look after his son. Bidding Avery goodbye, the Doctor and Amy bring a choking Rory back to the TARDIS, where Amy begins to perform CPR. Though it appears futile at first, Rory eventually recovers and lovingly embraces his wife.
The alien spaceship soars off into space, with Avery in the captain’s seat and Toby and his crew at his side.
In the TARDIS, Amy and Rory say good night to the Doctor, who responds by referring to Amy as “Amelia.” Amy notes that he only does this when he’s worried about her. The Doctor retorts that he always worries about her, leading Amy to remember his impending death and admit that the feeling is mutual. As they depart the console room, Rory reminds her that she cannot tell the Doctor about what happens at the lakeside in the future. The Doctor scans Amy for pregnancy again, with the readings still flickering between positive and negative.