The Hungry Earth
The Hungry Earth was the eighth episode of the fifth series of the revived series of Doctor Who. It was the first part of a two-part story that featured the first televised re-appearance of the Silurians since 1984’s Warriors of the Deep. It also introduced a new branch of the Silurian species, who are different both in appearance and in methods.
In 2020, in the small Welsh village of Cwmtaff, a team led by Dr Nasreen Chaudhry is attempting the deepest drilling project in history to investigate minerals that have appeared locally, but otherwise have not been seen on Earth’s surface for over twenty million years. Mo Northover, a night watchman on the project, is helping his dyslexic son Elliot read the book The Gruffalo, without his headphones for the audio option. His wife Ambrose gives him his lunch, and sends him off to work.
At the site, Ambrose’s father, Tony Mack, is celebrating their latest drill with Nasreen. They have reached their latest goal of 21 kilometers! Mo arrives, and sends them off so he can start his shift, happy to a have a peaceful night to himself. By night time, a strange earthquake strikes. Investigating, he finds a smoking hole in a storeroom floor. He plunges his hand in and finds nothing beneath it but air. After his torch is dropped onto the dirt, though, he watches as it sinks. He manages to pull himself away, but bumbles, getting his feet stuck in the dirt. He is promptly dragged down.
Shortly thereafter, the Eleventh Doctor arrives in Cwmtaff with Amy Pond and Rory Williams, having promised them a vacation in Rio de Janeiro, missing by several thousand miles; the TARDIS has brought them to the wrong place yet again, much to the annoyance of the companions. As they look across the valley, Amy spots two figures waving at them from the opposite hillside. It is Amy and Rory from ten years in their future, coming back to revisit past glories. Though she finds this “interaction” with her future self thrilling, Amy still wants to go to their intended destination. However, the Doctor is intrigued by blue grass in the cemetery where the TARDIS has parked, as well as the drilling operation in the valley below; it’s the reason the ground “doesn’t feel right”. He insists they investigate, much to Amy’s annoyance and expectation.
While the Doctor and Amy head off to explore, Rory returns Amy’s engagement ring to the TARDIS for safekeeping, promising to catch up to them. As he leaves the police box, he is stopped by Ambrose Northover, who mistakes him for an investigator she called down for. Seeing that he cannot get away, Rory decides to play along until he gets an opportunity to run. Along with her son Elliot, Ambrose explains that her aunt Gladys’s grave has been dug up without the round being disturbed. The body, the coffin — it all just disappeared! While Ambrose leaves to get tea, Elliot talks to a baffled Rory, telling him his conclusion is that the bodies are eaten by the graves. He learned to think this way from his Sherlock Holmes audiobooks: “When you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Travelling with the Doctor, Rory knows Elliot may just be right.
At the mine, the Doctor and Amy meet Nasreen and Tony, who are investigating the hole in the store room. Checking the readings on Nasreen’s computer, the Doctor announces the Earth is shifting when it shouldn’t be; specifically, the shifting is only and directly under this room. Abruptly, another earthquake strikes and more holes appear. As the group rushes to escape, Tony is caught in one of the holes. Despite the Doctor’s orders that she keep moving, Amy stops and tries to help Tony, only to be caught in one of the holes herself. Nasreen and the Doctor double back to help the two. Nasreen helps Tony to safety, and the Doctor orders them to shut the drill down while he holds onto Amy. Though he promises not to let go of her, he can’t stop her from being pulled under.
When Nasreen and Tony return — having shut off the drill too late to save Amy — the trio continues inspecting the Earth. The Doctor deduces the Earth was bio-programmed to attack whenever it perceived a threat. Nasreen’s drill, which has breached a network of tunnels twenty-one kilometres down, was such a threat.
Transport pods are heading for the surface, and will arrive in twelve minutes. The Doctor, Nasreen and Tony gather the equipment and make for the local church, where they encounter Rory, Ambrose and Elliot; the Doctor dismisses Rory’s concerns about the graves. The attackers create an energy barrier around the town to prevent escape. Ambrose and Rory are furious their loved ones have been lost, but the Doctor promises to get them back, though he requires their cooperation. The group sets up a network of cameras and security alarms around the church, and continues monitoring the pods’ ascent via Nasreen’s computers. Elliot, meanwhile, draws a map of the entire village, marking the locations of the cameras placed. The Doctor, distracted by the impending threat, allows Elliot to leave the safety of the church so he can return home and collect his headphones.
The attack begins with the energy barrier blocking out all light. The attackers’ advanced technology knocks out all the electricity in the area including the camera network, leaving the group blind. Elliot is chased back to the church by a reptilian, humanoid creature. It catches up with him before the group can open the church door. Ambrose races into the night, calling for her son. She is attacked by one of the creatures. When Tony steps in to rescue her, the creature lashes at him with its venomous tongue. The Doctor gives chase, using special sunglasses to determine that the creatures belong to a species he’s encountered before. With Rory’s help, they trap it in the back of Ambrose’s Meals-on-Wheels van, with the cold putting it to sleep due to its reptilian nature. The other creatures flee; both sides have hostages now.
Amy awakes beneath the surface; she is trapped in a clear container. Banging her fists against the container, Amy demands that whoever put her in the container let her go. Despite her protests, a shadowy figure with a surgical mask activates a control, flooding the container with gas that knocks her out again.
The Doctor and Rory bring the creature to the church cellar, and restrain it with chains. The Doctor deduces it is a member of an unknown, three-hundred-million-year-old branch of the Silurians, the reptilian race that inhabited Earth before the humans; he’s failed numerous times before to make peace between them and humanity, mostly due to humanity being uncompromising. He confronts the prisoner, a warrior called Alaya. She says the Silurians have been hibernating below Cwmtaff for countless centuries, but their civilization was disturbed by the drill, threatening its safety. The Doctor tries to negotiate with her, but Alaya declares war. The Silurians will wipe humanity off the surface of the planet, and reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
The Doctor returns to the church hall, and informs his companions that he will travel beneath the surface to commence negotiations, and rescue Amy, Mo and Elliot. While Tony insists they dissect Alaya to learn more about what they are facing, the Doctor refuses. If they are to get their loved ones back unharmed, Alaya must be kept alive. He entrusts the humans with this responsibility, paying particular attention to Ambrose, who has opposed his actions so far, and likely poses the most danger to his attempts to once more broker peace between Silurian and human. As the Doctor goes out to the TARDIS, Nasreen follows, asking to go down with him; he reluctantly agrees. Nasreen and Tony share a passionate kiss before she departs. Tony returns to the church and inspects his wound in a mirror, horrified to realize that the veins around the injury are turning green.
Rory, Ambrose and Tony visit Alaya, who warns them that one of them will kill her, which will ignite a huge war between the two species. And she knows which one of them did do it…
Below the surface, Amy regains consciousness again. She is strapped to a standing surgical table in a Silurian surgery. Mo is imprisoned next to her, and warns her of her impending live dissection. He reveals a long scar stretching down from his chest as evidence of this. Amy hears footsteps, and looks forward. She sees tools banging and chiming behind a masked surgeon. She begins to struggle as the surgeon approaches her with a scalpel. He closes in on her. Amy struggles, but can’t break free as the surgeon enters her surgical chamber.
In the meantime, the TARDIS is dragged under by the bio-programmed soil and into a cavern deep within the Earth. The Doctor and Nasreen begin exploring the surrounding tunnels in search of the Silurian camp. The Doctor warns Nasreen to expect a small group of perhaps a dozen Silurians. However, she points him to an entire civilization living beneath the Earth, stretching for miles around.