The Impossible Planet
The Impossible Planet was the ninth episode of the second series of Doctor Who. It marked the first appearance of the Ood. The episode was also rife with allusions to the realm of Hell and its ruler, the Devil.
The prequel to The Impossible Planet, Tardisode 8, allows viewers to witness the presence of Captain Walker, who would later die during his crew’s expedition and only receive posthumous mention in this episode.
The TARDIS materializes inside a “Sanctuary Base” meant for deep-space expeditions. The Tenth Doctor and Rose discover the words “Welcome to Hell” written above lines of unknown characters scribbled on the station wall. The Doctor says that it must be incredibly old, as the TARDIS is unable to translate it.
After a slight misunderstanding when first meeting the Ood, a docile race of empathic servants who work on the station, the travelers meet the crew of the base, led by acting Captain Zachary Cross Flane. An earthquake occurs and they all have to take cover. The crew is introduced to Science Officer Ida Scott, Head of Security John Jefferson, trainee maintenance officer Scooti Manista, and archaeologist Toby Zed. They are on an expedition on an anomalous planet in orbit around a black hole, K37 Gem 5. The Doctor realizes that it is impossible for the planet, which is called Krop Tor, to be in geostationary orbit around the black hole, as it should be pulled in like the star systems around it are. He calculates that it would take a phenomenal amount of power (a power source with an inverted self-extrapolating reflex force of six to the power of six every six seconds) to generate the huge gravity field stabilising its orbit. The funnel is not a natural phenomenon, and the crew is drilling ten miles underground to the core of the planet in hopes of finding the power source and using it. The origin of the power source is an ancient civilization that had been on Krop Tor, and the inscription on the wall is a transcription of fragments found on the planet during their drilling.
The Doctor soon discovers that storage sections 5 to 8 had collapsed as a result of the earthquake-like tremor they had experienced moments after their arrival, dropping the TARDIS, which had been in Storage 6, into a crevasse. With no resources to divert the drilling, Rose and the Doctor are stranded. Ida offers to put them on the duty roster.
The crew goes back to their duties. Toby begins to hear a voice addressing him. An Ood tells Rose that the Beast awakens to make war against God. A horned image is displayed out of the corner of Zach’s eye and the computer system tells Danny, “He is awake.” The voice speaks to Toby, and the symbols from the pottery he was holding appear on his skin. He passes out. Ida opens the window so they can watch as the remains of the Scarlet system are swallowed by the black hole. Rose can’t call her mum, as there is no signal on her super phone for the first time. She and the Doctor talk about the future until Rose’s phone rings to tell her, “He is awake.” They go to ask Danny about the Ood. Danny attempts to reassure them, showing a telepathic field monitor, which goes up to Basic 30, a reading six times normal. The Ood respond to, “He is awake” with “and you will worship him.” Toby wakes with red eyes and symbols all over his face.
Meanwhile, Scooti goes to Toby’s room to drop off paperwork, but finds his room empty. While she puts the paperwork on the desk, the computer announces the opening and closing of Door 41, an airlock. Concerned, she rushes to the airlock, where the computer confirms that the door opened and closed. The computer cannot tell who went outside and says no spacesuit was taken. Scooti tries to call Zach, but her wrist communicator will not connect. She requests the computer trace fault but it finds no system faults. Scooti asks again who went outside and it says, “He is awake”. Scooti backs away from the console. Between Door 41 and Door 42, a view port opens, and Scooti walks over to it. She sees Toby in the winds on the barren planet’s surface, without a spacesuit, although there is no breathable air. The red eyed Toby turns around and grins at her. Scooti mutters about how there is no air. Nodding, Toby gestures her towards him. Scooti, panting and staring, reaches out towards Toby, but momentarily glances towards her own hand, then drops her arm, as if shaking his influence. Scooti pleads with Toby to stop. Toby’s grin falls away, and he clenches his outspread hand into a fist, as the sounds of glass breaking fill the corridor. Scooti looks around to find the source of the sound, when a large crack appears in the view port. Scooti gasps and runs towards Door 40, yelling for it to open. However, the door refuses to open despite her desperate attempts. Scooti panics as the glass continues to break, and her pleas quickly become screams. Toby unclenches his fist. The glass shatters and alarms blare as air begins rushing out of the base. Scooti is dragged away, screaming as she loses her grip.
The base begins to shake violently and Zach orders them to evacuate the affected section. Danny, Rose, the Doctor, Jefferson, Ida, and two security guards all rush to the nearest safe corridor. Jefferson pulls a clear skinned, pale eyed Toby through last, then closes the door, sealing the breach. Zach then asks if everyone was all right. Jefferson then reports that everyone is accounted for except Scooti. Jefferson then calls for Scooti on his radio. However, he gets no answer. Zach then tells them she is alright and that her bio-chip located her in Habitation 3. Jefferson and Ida sigh in relief. They then go down to search for Scooti while the Doctor and Rose tend to Toby.
When Toby, Rose, and the Doctor enter the habitation they find the searchers looking frantically. Ida is calling all the habitations looking for Scooti. Jefferson then reports that Scooti is still missing while Zach continues by saying that her biochip says she is in Habitation 3. Then the Doctor sadly says he found her. Scooti is floating outside in the vacuum. Jefferson reports her death to Zach. Ida then goes over to the control to close the overhead, saying Scooti was only twenty years old. Scooti floats away towards the black hole, spinning as the door closes. Jefferson recites a verse from “Horatius,” a poem by Thomas Babbington Macaulay: “And how can man die better/ Than facing fearful odds/ For the ashes of his fathers,/ And the temples of his gods.”
Ida realizes that the drill has stopped, meaning they’ve managed to drill down to the core of the planet. Nonessential Ood are to be confined. The Doctor talks Zach into letting him volunteer for the mission to investigate. He and Ida journey down the mine shaft and into a massive cavern with ancient giant sculptures along its walls. They head for the power source, guided by sensor readings, and find a large circular disk set in the floor of the cavern, which the Doctor suspects is a trap door of some sort.
Meanwhile in the base, Danny calls from where he is monitoring the Ood to report that the Ood’s telepathic field has risen dangerously to Basic 100. Basic 100 is high enough to induce brain death, but they are obviously still alive. Ida reports the edge of the massive door is covered in the ancient symbols and they ask Toby if he’s translated any. Toby says he knows what it says, and he looks up at Jefferson and Rose through red eyes in a symbol covered face. He says they are the words of the Beast. He continues to speak, then taunts Jefferson before the symbols flow from his face to the Ood. Toby faints, and the different groups of red eyed Ood begin to speak and advance. They identify themselves as the Legion of the Beast and recite his verses as they begin to advance on the crew members. The security guard with Danny is electrocuted by a translator ball. Danny runs. In the other chamber, Jefferson, Rose, and their guard retreat.
The Doctor and Ida stand before the sealed metal door on the cavern ground. Rocks fall as the ground shakes, even to the base above, and the sections of the door fall apart and slide open to show a black chasm. Zach reports they’re losing orbit, as the Ood back Rose’s group into a door that won’t open. The Doctor and Ida run back to the edge of the chasm as a voice calls out, “The pit is open, and I am free!”. As the Doctor and Ida look down, malevolent laughter echoes…