The Eleventh Hour
The Eleventh Hour was the first episode of the fifth series of BBC Wales Doctor Who. It was Matt Smith’s first full story as the Doctor, as well as the debut of Karen Gillan as new companion Amy Pond and Arthur Darvill as recurring character and future companion Rory Williams. It further debuted the presence of cracks in the universe, and sparked the beginning of a critical plot thread that trailed deep into the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure with three words: “silence will fall”. This was compounded by the mention of a Pandorica which was fated to open.
Though not the first episode of the 2010 series filmed, it was the public’s first full exposure to a new production ethos, as shaped by new executive producers Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger and Beth Willis. It was also the public’s first exposure to director Adam Smith’s work on a Doctor Who universe program. A new title sequence by Frame store debuted with this episode, along with yet another Murray Gold theme arrangement. The theme change, however, garnered significant public backlash in the United Kingdom, forcing the Doctor Who production team to respond to criticism in a long segment on the public comment programe, Points of View.
The episode was extensively previewed before broadcast, with theatrical screenings in several British cities as part of a promotional tour at the end of March 2010, and on the east and west coasts of the United States. The first minute of the episode was released as a special preview on the digital Red Button service a week before its first BBC One broadcast.
Suffering major damage after the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration, the TARDIS flies wildly over London as it enters the atmosphere. An explosion on the console inside causes the doors to unlock and the new Doctor to fall out, barely hanging onto the edge of the entrance. He tries to pull himself up as the TARDIS momentarily stabilizes, though it is still heading downwards. Getting halfway in, he notices the TARDIS is heading straight for Big Ben; using the sonic screwdriver, he diverts the TARDIS just enough to miss the clock tower’s spire. Pulling himself back in and locking the doors behind him, the Doctor sighs in relief. However, another explosion throws him as the TARDIS spins madly off into the distance.
In 1996, Amelia Pond prays to Santa Claus in her bedroom; a crack in her wall frightens her, and she wants him to send someone to mend it. Suddenly, a crash outside catches her attention, and running to look, she sees the TARDIS lying sideways in her back garden, having crushed her shed on landing. She thanks Santa, and goes to investigate. The TARDIS doors swing open, and a grappling hook flies out, hooking onto a wheelbarrow. A soaking-wet Doctor struggles to pull himself out. He asks for an apple as they’re the only thing he can think of; his regeneration is giving him a craving, which he’s never had before. As he starts climbing out, he has a look down into the TARDIS, explaining that he’d had to climb up from the library. When Amelia points out that he’s soaking wet, the Doctor explains that the swimming pool is also in the library right now. The Doctor has a momentary spasm, causing him to fall to the ground before breathing out a stream of golden energy. She asks him who he is, but the Doctor doesn’t know yet himself; he’s “still cooking”. Amelia tells him about the crack, and the Doctor introduces himself, informing her to do what he says and not wander off; he promptly walks into a tree and knocks himself down — “Early days. Steering’s a bit off”.
Inside, the Doctor tries eating an apple, but spits out the bite he took, saying it tastes terrible. He then requests yogurt, but spits it out as well. Amelia is confused, as the Doctor had said it was his favorite. The Doctor explains, “New mouth, new rules”.. More food follows: bacon (“Are you trying to poison me?”), baked beans (spit into the sink, saying, “Beans are evil; bad, bad beans”), bread and butter (after a hopeful smile, he ends up tossing the entire plate outside and roaring, “And stay out!”). Searching Amelia’s fridge, the Doctor rejects carrots (“Are you insane?”) before find just what he needs: fish fingers and custard.
While the Doctor tries out his new delicacy, Amelia eats ice cream from the tub. The duo bonds. During their conversation, the Doctor discovers Amelia Pond — a great name, according to the Doctor, “like a name in a fairy tale” — is originally from Scotland, is orphaned, and lives with her Aunt Sharon. Upon learning that her aunt is out, the Doctor notes that because Amelia is neither afraid of him nor his strange arrival in her garden, it must be one hell of a scary crack in her wall.
Amelia takes the Doctor up to her room to examine the crack in the wall. She also offers him an apple with a smiley face carved into it, like her mother used to make for her to help her like them. Upon inspecting the crack closer, the Doctor is astonished to hear a voice on the other side of the crack transmitting the message, “Prisoner Zero has escaped.” Ascertaining that an alien prison lies on the other side of the crack, he opens it fully with the sonic screwdriver and is faced with the alien guard — which appears to be a giant eyeball — who sends him a message on the psychic paper before the crack shuts once more. The message reads the same thing: “Prisoner Zero has escaped.” The Doctor, realizing the prisoner has escaped through Amelia’s bedroom, rushes out into the corridor to investigate and deduces that he’s missing something out of the corner of his eye. Before he can discover it, though, the Cloister Bell chimes.
He rushes outside with Amelia, telling her that the TARDIS’ engines are in danger of phasing out of existence. Amelia wonders how a box can have engines, and the Doctor tells her his TARDIS is a time machine. She asks to come with him, but the Doctor says it’s too dangerous now, and he’ll do so after taking a quick five-minute trip into the future to begin repairs. Yelling “Geronimo!”, the Doctor jumps back into the TARDIS and it de-materializes before Amelia. Excited, the little girl returns to her bedroom to collect her things, not noticing that the door at the end of the corridor — the thing the Doctor was missing — has opened…
The Doctor returns to her garden in the daylight, realizing that he has taken longer than promised; Amelia is no longer outside waiting for him. He rushes back into the house, having figured out what he was missing and knowing that Amelia’s life is in danger. The Doctor tries opening the door at the end of the corridor with the sonic, yelling that Prisoner Zero is there with them. He suspects someone is behind him and turns around, only to be whacked on the head with a cricket bat.
Elsewhere, at the town hospital, nurse Rory Williams informs his supervisor, Dr Ramsden, that the coma patients have been calling out for her. She dismisses the idea, drawling that they are comatose. As she berates him, the patients repeatedly cry out “Doctor” much to her shock and horror.
The Doctor awakes to see he is handcuffed to a radiator; he is confronted by a young woman in a police uniform. He inquires where Amelia Pond is, only for the police woman to angrily inform him Amelia hasn’t lived there for six months, and that she lives here now.
At the hospital, Rory and Ramsden examine the patients carefully, but they still appear to be in comas. Rory attempts to inform his supervisor of other suspicious circumstances pertaining to the coma patients, even proffering his phone with the suggestion that the pictures on it can prove his theory. She impatiently orders him to take some time off.
Back in Amelia’s house, the Doctor orders her to count off all of the rooms on the floor; she counts five, but the Doctor quickly informs her that there are, in fact, six — one is hidden by a perception filter. Ignoring the Doctor’s warnings, she enters the sixth room. The Doctor checks his pockets for the sonic, finding it’s not with him. He yells for her to check and see if it’s in there; it could’ve rolled under the door when she hit him. The sonic is there, but is stuck in a puddle of goo on the table. She yells to him that it “must have jumped on the table”, making the Doctor order her to leave the room at once. The woman picks up the sonic, but senses something is in the room with her. The Doctor orders her not to try looking at it as it will kill her if she sees it. Despite the warning, the policewoman manages to trick Prisoner Zero into revealing himself, seeing it’s a serpentine alien multi-form.
She runs back to the Doctor, closing the door behind her. The Doctor locks the door with the sonic and tries to free himself, but the sonic is damaged from the goo. The young woman asks if the door will hold Prisoner Zero, making the Doctor retort, “It’s an alien multi-form from outer space; they’re all terrified of wood!” Seeing a light coming from under the door, the policewoman asks what the alien is doing. The Doctor doesn’t know, but tells her to run and radio for backup. However, the woman reveals herself to be a kissogram, whipping off her police hat to reveal long, red hair. Prisoner Zero breaks through the door, emerging as a man with a dog; both mouths bark, much to the Doctor’s amusement as it’s having trouble figuring out which mouths are supposed to make the correct sounds. He then wonders where he would have gotten the pattern from as it would need to form a psychic link with someone, which takes years. He informs the alien the young woman called for backup on her police radio, but she reminds him that she can’t; the Doctor explains in annoyance it was a clever lie to save them. He then says that without any backup, they pose no threat.
The prison guard is heard transmitting from outside, repeating the same message over and over: “The human residence is surrounded. Prisoner Zero will vacate the human residence, or the human residence will be incinerated.”
The Doctor finally succeeds in freeing himself, and orders the woman to run away while Prisoner Zero is looking around for the source of the broadcast. The Doctor tries opening the TARDIS for equipment, but the doors won’t open as it’s still repairing itself. Suddenly, the Doctor notices the shed in the backyard, remembering he wrecked it when he previously crash-landed in the backyard. Licking it, he realizes this “new” shed is 12 years old. He turns to the woman, demanding to know why she told him six months when it had really been twelve years; she angrily demands to know, “Why did you say five minutes?!” in a Scottish accent. The Doctor can only ask, “What?” with increasing shock; the woman is Amelia Pond! Grabbing his arm, she pulls him out of the yard and towards town.
In town, the Doctor inquires why Amelia hit him with a cricket bat; she defends her action by explaining that their meeting led her to see four psychiatrists over the last 12 years. She bit them all when they told her he wasn’t real. Their argument is cut short when they suddenly realize that the Atraxi message is broadcasting over all of the town’s electronics, including cell phones, iPods, even the speaker of an ice cream van. The Doctor sees the Atraxi are not focused on simply Amelia’s house as the “human residence”, and immediately runs to the first house he sees with Amelia following.
The house belongs to Amelia’s friend Jeff Angelo and his grandmother. The Doctor uses the psychic paper to pass himself off as a television repair man. Mrs Angelo thinks she’s met the Doctor before, but the Doctor tells her it’s not likely, seeing as he’s got a new face on. The Doctor then examines the TV and radio stations around the world with help from his sonic screwdriver, and realizes, to his horror, that the warning is being broadcast all over the world in every language. The human residence is not just Amelia’s town, but the entire planet! The Doctor deduces that the Atraxi will need twenty minutes, prompting Amelia to ask what for. The Doctor says, “The end of the world”. While the Doctor begins thinking of a plan, everyone else watches the Atraxi message replay on the television in disbelief.
Above the Earth, the squad of Atraxi ships continue transmitting the message around the world as they search the planet for Prisoner Zero; incinerating Earth to be rid of the menace is a last resort. However, it would seem they will never be able to find it on their own as they keep re-sending the message.
Back on Earth, Jeff and his grandmother realize how they know the Doctor: he’s the “Raggedy Doctor” that Amy used to draw cartoons of as a child. The Doctor is disappointed that, not only does she kiss people for a living, but she also dropped the name Amelia for Amy, citing its fairy tale quality — which the Doctor complimented on their last meeting — as its worst point.
The Doctor and Amy head to the town square, and the Doctor is annoyed to discover that Leadworth, where Amelia lives, has no technology to help him. In the middle of remarking about a duck pond without ducks, the Doctor suddenly convulses and falls to the ground, protesting that it is “too early” and he’s “not ready yet”. Suddenly, though, everything goes dark. The Atraxi have surrounded Earth in a force field to prepare the planet for boiling. Across the park, the Doctor notices Rory taking pictures of a man with a dog — whom the Doctor knows as Prisoner Zero — as opposed to the obscured sun, like everyone else.
The Doctor gleefully announces he can save the world and offers Amy a choice: she can run home and say goodbye to her loved ones, or help him. Amy opts for a different option entirely: she slams the Doctor up against a nearby car, and locks his tie in the door, trapping him. She demands to know who he is. The Doctor hands her the carved apple that she gave him when she was seven. He explains that he’s a time traveler, and that everything he told her twelve years ago is true. The apple is the exact same one Amy gave him as a child, proving the Doctor is telling the truth. She releases the Doctor’s tie and they run across the park to confront Rory.
Amy introduces Rory as her “sort of” boyfriend, but the Doctor is not interested. He takes Rory’s cell phone, and demands to know why he was taking a picture of the man and dog rather than the sun. The Doctor gets an expected response: Rory tells him that the man can’t be in the park because he’s in a hospital in a coma. As the Doctor explains, a coma patient fulfills a multi-form’s requirement for a living, but dormant, mind. The Doctor confronts Prisoner Zero as an Atraxi spaceship flies close to the surface of the planet. He reveals, “They’re scanning for non-terrestrial technology, and nothing says non-terrestrial like the sonic screwdriver!”
He then proceeds to activate his screwdriver at full power, causing havoc all around him. Lamps breaks, car alarms sound, an old woman’s mobility scooter goes flying by, a fire engine drives off without occupants, and a telephone box blows up. “I think someone’s going to notice, don’t you?” However, the sonic is damaged and the strain of the task causes it to burn out completely.
Prisoner Zero escapes into a sewer as the Atraxi depart, making the Doctor rage at the incompetence of these alien jailers. Rory quickly informs the Doctor where Prisoner Zero went as Amy wonders about it living in her house for 12 years. The Doctor explains that “multi-forms can live for millennia, twelve years is a pit-stop”. The Doctor is left to ponder how he can draw Prisoner Zero out into the open; he quickly comes up with an idea, instructing Amy and Rory to clear out the coma ward at the hospital. While Rory is still having trouble believing that the Doctor exists, Amy forces him to comply.
Meanwhile at the hospital, Dr Ramsden is checking on a convulsing coma patient, wondering if he is aware. Prisoner Zero materializes through the vent above and bares its fangs, preparing to strike…
The Doctor returns to Jeff’s home, and uses his laptop to break in on a conference call between some of the most advanced scientific minds in the world; he proves his intellect by producing multiple scientific theories and a joke. He uses Rory’s phone to write a “slightly intelligent” virus that will turn every digital display in the world to “zero” at the same time. He uploads this virus to the web via the laptop, and encourages them to spread it across the world using every web program possible. He also gives Patrick Moore’s number to Mrs Angelo, and advises Jeff to erase his internet history as he has apparently been visiting some sites of questionable taste.
The Doctor commandeers a fire engine to the hospital, communicating with Amy (stuck outside the coma ward due to Prisoner Zero’s attack) and instructing her to use her policewoman uniform to get past hospital security. Amy and Rory find the coma ward a mess. They come across a mother and her two daughters, who claim to have survived Prisoner Zero’s attack on the ward by hiding in the bathroom. Amy tells the Doctor that Prisoner Zero has beaten them back; he encourages them to get out of the hospital. However, one of the daughters is now talking in her mother’s voice — it’s Prisoner Zero again. Admitting it has trouble with multiple mouths and baring razor-sharp teeth, the alien chases Amy and Rory back into the coma ward.
The Doctor arrives in the nick of time, texting “Duck!” to Amy and ramming the truck’s ladder into the window. He climbs in, asking Prisoner Zero to surrender and remove its disguise. Prisoner Zero refuses, knowing the Atraxi would kill it this time anyway, and wants the entire Earth to die in flames with it. The Doctor enjoys a victory speech as the virus takes hold of the clock on the wall and changes the counter to zero; this occurs all across the world as a means of getting the Atraxi’s attention. The Atraxi trace the virus back to Rory’s phone, which holds pictures of all of Prisoner Zero’s known human forms. The Doctor immediately uploads the photos to them. The Doctor gloats that he did all of it without the help of his TARDIS and sonic screwdriver, and with only two minutes to spare — “Who da man?” The Doctor’s self-congratulatory slang gets a series of blank stares and the flustered Doctor mumbles, “Oh, it’s, I’m never saying that again, fine!”
However, Prisoner Zero surprises the Doctor by utilizing a link it had formed with Amy over the twelve years it had spent living in her house; forcing her into a coma, it takes a new form unknown to the Atraxi from Rory’s pictures — that of the Doctor. The Doctor doesn’t recognize himself, but, once told, he asks Prisoner Zero why it’s mimicking him when it’s linked to Amy. A young Amelia comes out from behind the faux Doctor; it’s mimicking both of them. The Doctor realizes that Amy is dreaming about him, and her dream is enabling Prisoner Zero to take on his form. The Doctor uses his powers of telepathy to encourage the unconscious Amy to instead dream of Prisoner Zero’s true form, thereby forcing it to change back. The Atraxi catch it in a paralyzing light and teleport it away. Before departing, Prisoner Zero snarls, “Silence will fall.”
With the threat ended, Amy awakes, but the Doctor calls the Atraxi back — they have breached the rules of the Shadow Proclamation by threatening to incinerate a Level 5 planet. Tired of wearing the ragged remains of his previous incarnation’s outfit, the Doctor decides to change his clothes in the hospital locker room. Despite Rory’s protests, the Doctor steals the clothes, and Amy watches the naked Doctor change into his new look.
Greeting the Atraxi waiting for him on the roof, the Doctor tells them that Earth has not violated any of their laws, and is therefore not a threat to them. He then asks if the Earth is protected, and answers his own question: “You’re not the first lot to have come here. Oh, there have been so many. And what you’ve got to ask is, ‘What happened to them?'” The Atraxi display holograms of previous aliens that came to Earth and then of the Doctor’s previous incarnations. At that, the Doctor coolly says, “Hello, I’m the Doctor. Basically… run.” The Atraxi take the hint and flee in terror.
As the Doctor observes their departure, he realizes that the TARDIS key is glowing; the TARDIS has recovered and awaits him. He dashes off to see the new design, being awestruck by his new console room. He decides to take it on a quick hop to the Moon to run in the replacement engines. Amy returns with Rory to her garden just in time to see the TARDIS de-materializing; she is devastated, believing that the Doctor has left her again.
Amy dreams of her younger self awaiting the Doctor’s return in her garden, but wakes up at the sound of the TARDIS re-materializing outside. Racing into the garden in her nightie, she is shocked the Doctor has come back again. Even more shocking is that he kept the clothes he stole, including the bow-tie — “Bow-ties are cool.” She then angrily informs him that all of the events surrounding Prisoner Zero and the Atraxi happened two years ago; thus, it has been fourteen years since fish fingers and custard, fourteen years since he first promised her a trip. Calling her “the girl who waited”, the Doctor muses that she’s waited long enough and asks her to join him as a companion.
Amy refuses the Doctor’s offer, but changes her mind when the Doctor snaps his fingers, opening the doors of the TARDIS. He gestures inside, and she enters. She is in wonder at the TARDIS interior. To the Doctor’s delight, a new sonic screwdriver pops up out of the counsel. Amy asks why the Doctor is offering to take her with him. He says he has become bored travelling alone. A small image of the crack from her bedroom appears on the scanner, but the Doctor adjusts the scanner and the crack quickly disappears. Amy tells the Doctor that she had come to see him as a madman with a box after all these years, now thinking she was wrong. However, the Doctor tells her that, when travelling with him, there is one very important thing to remember: “I am definitely a madman with a box.” Amy then makes the Doctor promise to bring her back to Leadworth by the next morning for “stuff”, and they fly off into the Vortex — leaving behind the wedding dress that hangs on Amy’s closet door.