The Stolen Earth
The Stolen Earth was the twelfth episode of series 4 of the revived series of Doctor Who. The episode marks the first television appearance of Davros since the 1988 story Remembrance of the Daleks. The traumatic result of Dalek Caan’s emergency escape in Evolution of the Daleks is revealed as well.
It also marked the return of several past associates and companions of the Doctor, including Sarah Jane Smith. Martha Jones, Jack Harkness, Harriet Jones and Rose Tyler. It served as a “cross-over” between Doctor Who and its two current spin-off series, marking the first appearance in the series itself of several characters introduced in those spin-offs; namely, Ianto Jones, Gwen Cooper, Mr Smith, and Luke Smith. The episode also featured the death of Harriet Jones and the loss of the Valiant in ill-fated meetings with the Daleks.
Once again, it showed the legacy that the Doctor leaves behind on Earth, with many of his ex-companions and allies playing a very important part in saving the world.
This episode’s cliffhanger, which featured the Tenth Doctor beginning a regeneration, caused much commotion within the circles of Doctor Who enthusiasts, who were taken by surprise. No announcement was made regarding actor David Tennant’s departure, which triggered a phenomenal influx of viewers during the Series 4 finale, Journey’s End, in anticipation of a new incarnation of the Doctor and new respective actor. However, this flurry of suspense would be dispelled with the outcome of the finale.
Having seen the signs, the Tenth Doctor and Donna return to Earth to find everything in order. The Doctor asks a milkman what day it is — it is Saturday. Donna presses the Doctor for an explanation of Rose’s unexpected reappearance, and the Doctor explains that if Rose can cross from her parallel world to Donna’s parallel world, then the walls of reality are breaking down. Still, with Earth apparently safe for now, they return to the TARDIS. The TARDIS rumbles with an apparent earthquake. The Doctor and Donna rush to the doors and fling them open to find they are hanging in space. The Doctor checks the readings. They have not moved, but the Earth has gone missing. It has been stolen — but by whom? At the UNIT New York Base, Dr Martha Jones regains consciousness after an earthquake to find UNIT in chaos and its personnel panicking. One horrified colleague tells Martha to look at the sky.
In Torchwood Three, Captain Jack Harkness guesses that the Rift may have been responsible for the brief but violent earthquake that has just devastated the Hub. After making sure that the other members of Torchwood Three — Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones — are all right, Jack heads outside to survey the damage. Presuming it to be a localized event, Ianto and Gwen look at the computers. Ianto realizes that whatever the problem is, “It’s a bit bigger than South Wales.”
At 13 Bannerman Road, Ealing, London, Sarah Jane Smith and her son Luke comment on the earthquake and wonder why it is now dark outside since it was only 8 a.m. when the quake struck. Sarah Jane asks her alien supercomputer Mr Smith for an explanation. Mr Smith says that she should look outside because she will “find the visual evidence most conclusive”.
In Chiswick, London, Donna’s mother Sylvia and grandfather Wilf are not sure what has caused the earthquake, but Wilf is positive it’s aliens again. As they step outside their home, Sylvia looks at the sky in horror.
On the street in London where the TARDIS had been parked, the milkman turns and sees Rose Tyler materialize in a flash of white light, carrying a large futuristic gun. She looks up. Alone of the Doctor’s friends, she is not surprised. Arming her gun, she declares, “All right, now we’re in trouble. And it’s only just beginning.”
The familiar sky is gone. The sun is gone. The constellations have been replaced with strange new ones. Twenty-six new planets have appeared in the sky.
Aboard the TARDIS, Donna demands to know if her family is dead. The Doctor does not know. He decides they need help, and he sets course for the Shadow Proclamation.
At Sarah Jane’s house, Mr Smith picks up readings of a fleet of two hundred spaceships apparently headed towards Earth. At UNIT, American UNIT leader General Sanchez enters and tells all soldiers and staff that Geneva has declared a Code Red Emergency. Martha tells him that she has tried to phone the Doctor, but the signal is dead. The number calls anywhere in the universe, but the signal is being blocked by some unknown force. Sanchez notes that they will likely find out soon: the fleet is coming into orbit.
Gwen calls her husband, Rhys, and tells him to stay indoors and call her mother. She then joins the others as they are reviewing the situation. The atmosphere is in place. They muse that whoever has done this wants the human race alive, which Ianto calls “a plus”. Gwen notices something at the heart of the planets that gives a different reading. It is not a planet. Meanwhile, Rose is walking along the streets of London. She threatens a pair of looters with her gun (who promptly scarper) and looks at a computer screen in the electronics shop they were robbing. It shows a readout of the alien ships.
Torchwood has also detected the ships coming into orbit. Jack’s phone then rings. It is Martha calling, and they confirm that neither of them has heard from the Doctor. They discuss UNIT’s “Project Indigo”, which is the reason for Martha Jones’ presence in New York. Mr Smith tells Sarah Jane that the ships have a message for the human race and puts it through. It consists of a single repeated word: “Exterminate”. The message is heard on all frequencies, including UNIT, the speakers at Torchwood Three, and at Sarah Jane’s attic. Jack and Sarah Jane react with horror as they realize the enemy is the Daleks. Jack says, “I’m sorry, we’re dead”, kissing Ianto and Gwen on the forehead. Sarah Jane hugs Luke, crying, “You’re so young.”
Rose hears the message and heads outside to see a massive Dalek spaceship flying over London, shooting at everything in its path. Martha looks outside to see Dalek spaceships flying everywhere over New York. Aboard a massive spaceship at the heart of the cluster of planets, the Daleks finalize their plans. The Supreme Dalek, a red Dalek with extra panels, declares that the Crucible will soon be complete and “We have waited long for this ultimate destiny. Now the Daleks are the masters of Earth!” The Daleks eagerly take up the chant.
Far across the universe, on board the TARDIS and unaware of the unfolding destruction on Earth, the Doctor and Donna arrive at the Shadow Proclamation. They are greeted at gunpoint by its rhino-headed guards, the Judoon, but the Doctor convinces them they mean no harm and need help. A female member of the Proclamation tells the Doctor that the situation is worse than he suspects — not one but twenty-four planets have been stolen. Donna asks about Pyrovillia, but the Judoon captain tells her that Pyrovillia is a cold case; it disappeared over two thousand years ago. Donna asks about the Adipose Breeding Planet and the Doctor realizes that planets are being snatched out of time as well as space. The Doctor heads over to the computer and shifts the display of the missing planets into 3D. He adds Adipose 3, Pyrovillia, and the lost moon of Poosh, which all vanished in the past. The model rearranges itself into a perfect balance, fitting together “like pieces of an engine”. Recalling a distant memory, the Doctor says that someone tried to move the Earth once before…
Back on Earth, the Daleks attack and bring down the Valiant. Jack, Gwen, and Ianto try to find a way to stop them, but their efforts are futile. Daleks are landing in Japan, Africa, and other countries across the world. Back in Manhattan, the UNIT base is attacked by Daleks. Jack tells Martha to get out of there, but she does not listen. General Sanchez declares that Project Indigo has been activated. He leads Martha and another UNIT soldier to the vault where Project Indigo is being kept. He orders Martha to put it on, and she straps a device onto her back. As Jack protests for Martha not to use it because it is too dangerous, General Sanchez orders Martha to do it. He hands her something called “the Osterhagen Key”. Martha is horrified, understanding the purpose of the key. She at first refuses to take it, but General Sanchez orders her to do so for the sake of humanity. Martha activates Project Indigo as Jack rages. The General and another soldier begin firing as the Daleks break in, and Martha vanishes.
Inside Torchwood, Jack tells Gwen and Ianto that Project Indigo is a teleport device reverse-engineered from the teleport pod salvaged from the Sontarans, but they have no coordinates or stabilization. When Gwen asks where Martha is, an upset Jack says she has been “scattered into atoms. Martha is down.”
On board the Dalek station, the Supreme Dalek orders the Daleks to prepare landings and bring the humans to “the Crucible”. He receives a call from the control room, asking about news. The Supreme Dalek declares, “Earth has been subjugated.” The speaker is a sinister figure: the lower half of his body is Dalek, but his upper half is hidden in shadow. However, a blue light is visible on what seems to be his head. He is really asking for news of the Doctor. The Supreme Dalek gleefully replies, “No reports of the Time Lord. We are beyond the Doctor’s reach!” The figure is fascinated by the Dalek’s triumphant tone and warns him about his pride. Undeterred, the Supreme Dalek proclaims, “The Doctor cannot stop us!” The figure replies, “And yet, Dalek Caan is uneasy.” A light switches on to show a Dalek with its shell opened to reveal the creature inside, its top half destroyed. The Supreme Dalek protests, “The abomination is insane!” The figure demands that the Dalek show respect; after all, without Dalek Caan, Earth could never be conquered. Also, everything Caan says comes true. Caan says, “He is coming. The three-fold man, he dances in the lonely places…oh, creator of us all…the Doctor is coming!” then bursts into insane laughter.
Back at the Shadow Proclamation’s space station, Donna is sitting on the stairs, waiting for the Doctor to work out what has happened. A member of the Shadow Architect’s race comes over and gives Donna some water. She somehow knows that there had been something on Donna’s back earlier, and tells her there is a loss still to come. The Doctor asks Donna if anything strange was happening on Earth. Donna reminds him about the bees disappearing. The Doctor realizes that this is a clue. Donna tells him some people thought it was pollution or global warming, but the Doctor tells her that in fact the bees were returning home, to the planet Melissa Majoria: the Tandocca Scale. They realize that if they follow the trail, they can find the Earth. The Shadow Architect stops them, saying, “The planets were taken with hostile intent. We are declaring war, Doctor, right across the universe, and you will lead us into battle!” The Doctor looks stunned, then replies, “Right, ‘course I will. I’ll just go get you a key.” He closes the door and the TARDIS de-materializes, to the Shadow Architect’s fury.
Back on Earth, the Daleks have enslaved London and are ordering all humans to leave their homes. Wilf and Sylvia watch. When a man and his children defy the Daleks and return to their home, the Daleks brutally incinerate the house, leaving no survivors. Wilf and Sylvia run onto the street and are confronted by a Dalek. Wilf grabs a paintball gun and shoots the Dalek in the eye, but the Dalek melts the paint away. The Dalek prepares to exterminate them, but then explodes. Behind its wreckage stands Rose, who has shot it with her gun. She asks if they are Donna’s family, and when they reply yes, she tells them she needs them. Wilf reveals he has tried calling Donna, but there is no reply. The last time Donna had phoned them was when she was on the planet Midnight, made of diamonds. Sylvia thinks this is ridiculous, but Wilf tells her she cannot start denying things now. Upon discovering that they do not know how to reach Donna, Rose despairs; they had been her “last hope” to find the Doctor.
Meanwhile, the TARDIS stops in the Medusa Cascade. The Doctor tells Donna he came here when he was just a kid (ninety years old) and that it is the center of a rift in time and space. Donna asks about the twenty-seven planets. The Doctor tells her that they are nowhere. Donna asks what they are to do, but the Doctor does not reply… he now has no options and no clue what to do next.
On Earth, Sarah Jane and Captain Jack have given up. At the Nobles’ house, the laptop suddenly switches itself on and a voice comes through. Sarah Jane and the people at Torchwood hear it, too. Jack believes it is just another suffering person crying for help among millions of others. He tells Gwen to leave it, but the woman speaking shames him and demands that he stand to attention. She identifies
herself as Harriet Jones, former prime minister. Rose tries to talk to Harriet, but she can’t hear her — Wilf and Sylvia don’t have a webcam. Harriet also makes contact with Sarah and decides they should be able to talk to each other. There are four contacts: Harriet, Sarah Jane, and the Torchwood team, but the fourth contact is having trouble getting through. Rose assumes she is the fourth contact and believes that the trouble stems from the Nobles’ lack of a webcam (Mrs Noble had forbidden them, believing webcams to be “naughty”). To Rose’s surprise and dismay, Martha appears on screen as the fourth contact instead. Feeling left out, Rose protests, “Who’s she?”, but no one in the network can hear her. Martha reveals that Project Indigo had brought her home to her mother, possibly tapping into her mind to determine where she really wanted to go. Harriet introduces Torchwood to Sarah Jane. Jack states that he has been following Sarah’s work, telling her, “Nice job with the Slitheen.” Sarah Jane tartly replies that she has been staying away from Torchwood — “Too many guns.” Far from offended, Jack suggestively tells her that she is “looking good”. Harriet is unimpressed by Jack’s incorrigible flirting and explains that they are communicating through a subwave network — a sentient computer program obtained from the Mr Copper Foundation to contact anyone and everyone who can contact the Doctor. Harriet wants them to form the Doctor’s Secret Army. Sarah Jane wonders why Harriet is doing this, given that the Doctor deposed her. Harriet admits that she has often wondered whether or not her decision was wrong. Regardless, she asserts, “I stand by my actions to this day because I knew that one day, the Earth would be in danger, and the Doctor would fail to appear.”
Martha explains that she has tried to phone the Doctor, but the signal cannot get through. Jack realizes they can transmit to the Doctor using “all the power of the Rift”. Luke points out that Mr Smith can tap into the global telecommunications network, forcing every phone across the globe to call the same number at the same time; Jack is impressed. Ianto appears beside Jack and theorizes that as soon as transmitting begins, the subwave network will become visible to the Daleks. Harriet understands that the signal will be traced back to her, but she declares, “My life does not matter — not if it saves the Earth.” Jack salutes her. She tells Jack to give the Doctor a message: “He chose his companions well.” Martha sends them all the Doctor’s phone number and Rose decides to call the Doctor herself.
The transmitting starts. Rose, Sylvia and Wilf start to call the Doctor. Mr Smith and the equipment at Torchwood are pushed beyond their limits. Suddenly, transmitting slows. The Daleks have detected the subwave network. The Supreme Dalek orders that the culprit be exterminated. The figure in the control room contacts him again, telling him, “I warned you, Supreme One. Just as Dalek Caan foretold, the Children of Time are moving against us, but everything is falling into place.” Gwen warns Harriet that the Daleks have found her, but Harriet keeps working. She sends control to Torchwood just as the Daleks arrive in her home. She introduces herself as usual, and the Daleks tell her they know her. Harriet retorts defiantly, “Oh, you know nothing of any human. And that will be your downfall.” With this, she is exterminated.
On board the TARDIS, as the Doctor and Donna sit despondent, the phone Martha gave him starts ringing. The two jump into action and, although there is no voice on the other end, the Doctor picks up the signal and locks onto it. The TARDIS travels through time, overloading. The twenty-seven planets come into view and the Doctor realizes that they were all one second out of sync with the universe — he describes it as “the perfect hiding place”. He picks up the subwave network and his companions appear onscreen. The Doctor introduces Donna to all of them, but is disappointed that Rose is not visible. On board the Crucible, Caan says, “He is here…the Dark Lord is coming.” The figure demands access to the subwave network.
Suddenly, all the contacts vanish off of the screen. Donna thinks they are losing contact, but the Doctor realizes there is another contact coming through. He thinks it is Rose, but when he and Sarah Jane hear the figure sneer, “Your voice is different and yet, its arrogance is unchanged,” they realize who it is with horror: Davros. He says, “Welcome to my new empire, Doctor. It is only fitting that you should witness the resurrection and the triumph of Davros, lord and creator of the Dalek race.” The Doctor protests that Davros was destroyed in the very first year of the Time War, that his command ship flew into the jaws of the Nightmare Child at the Gates of Elysium, even though he tried to save Davros. Davros mockingly replies, “But it took one stronger than you — Dalek Caan himself.” Caan continues the story, shrilly crying, “I flew into the wild, and the fire; I danced and died a thousand times.” Davros explains that Caan’s emergency temporal shift took him back into the Time War.
The Doctor protests that the war is time-locked. Davros points out the obvious: “Yet he succeeded.” Caan was somehow able to break the barriers and rescue Davros, but in the process lost his sanity. The Doctor realizes that after being rescued, Davros created a new race of Daleks. Davros boasts, “I gave myself to them — quite literally: each one grown from a cell of my own body.” He reveals that parts of his torso have been replaced by metal — much of his rib cage is clearly visible. He proudly proclaims, “New Daleks…true Daleks. I have my children, Doctor. What do you have now?” The Doctor’s response is just one word: “Bye!” He cuts transmission with Davros and sets the TARDIS for Earth. The Supreme Dalek orders that the Daleks locate the TARDIS and the Doctor, but Davros points out that they need only look on Earth; the Doctor is sure to seek out his companions. Caan ominously screeches, “Death is coming. I can see it! Everlasting death for the most faithful companion!” Suddenly, the Daleks detect that the subwave network has been rebooted and the new location is Torchwood. The Supreme Dalek orders Torchwood exterminated.
On Earth, Jack contacts Martha by phone and asks what the two oscillating digits on the Project Indigo transporter are; she responds that they are a 4 and a 9. Jack tells her that those are the teleport base codes, which is all Jack needs to reactivate his vortex manipulator’s teleportation ability. Jack grabs a large gun and promises Gwen and Ianto that he will come back, then vanishes.
Sarah heads off in her car to find the Doctor after Mr Smith promises to protect Luke. Rose contacts the parallel Torchwood and has them lock her onto the TARDIS before being teleported away.
The TARDIS lands in a trashed and deserted street. The Doctor asks Donna what Rose said in the parallel Earth and Donna replies with a smile, “Why don’t you ask her yourself?” The Doctor turns around and sees Rose standing down the street. They run towards each other, absolutely delighted. As they get closer, a Dalek appears from behind a van and shoots the Doctor, sending him to the ground. Captain Jack teleports into the street and blasts the Dalek to bits with his defabricator gun. A distraught Rose kneels over the Doctor as he lies on the ground in agony; Jack and Donna prepare to move him into the TARDIS.
Meanwhile in Torchwood, Gwen and Ianto pick up machine guns and get ready for battle despite knowing full well that the guns are useless; Gwen is prepared to die in the line of duty like the recently deceased Owen and Tosh. A Dalek enters Torchwood and Gwen and Ianto open fire.
Back in the TARDIS the Doctor is in terrible pain. Donna asks if there’s anything they can do to help him but Jack tells her to stay away. The Doctor lifts up his hand, which has begun to glow.
Sarah Jane is still in her car, driving down a street until she nearly hits two Daleks on the road. Despite her frantic attempts to apologize,
the Daleks prepare to exterminate her: “Daleks do not accept apologies!”
On board the TARDIS, Jack makes the others back away. Donna asks about what is happening. Rose explains that when the Doctor is dying he can heal himself, but changes in the process. Rose doesn’t want the Doctor to change as she has come a long way to find him, but the process has already started and can’t be stopped.
In Torchwood Three, Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones aim their weapons and pull the safety catches, as the Dalek says for a third and final time, “Exterminate!”
The Doctor gets to his feet. Glowing brighter and brighter by the second, he stretches his arms out as his body explodes into golden energy and begins to regenerate…