The Vampires of Venice
The Vampires of Venice was the sixth episode of the fifth series of BBC Wales Doctor Who. It was narratively tied to the final scene of Flesh and Stone, greatly furthered the Eleventh Doctor-Rory-Amy romantic triangle subplot and ended with Rory joining the Doctor in his travels.
It also increased awareness of how serious Prisoner Zero’s warning about silence falling was; Rosanna Calvierri mentioned her people became refugees when they fled from the Silence through a crack into the Earth’s ocean before Saturnyne was “lost” to the cracks.
Venice, 1580. Guido presents his teenage daughter Isabella to Rosanna Calvierri and her son, Francesco; they consider her admittance to Rosanna’s school. Guido praises Rosanna on her school and begs her to take Isabella, his only daughter. Rosanna claims sympathy for Guido’s concern for family, and agrees to enroll Isabella. However, she then quickly has her steward hustle Guido out of the room, telling him they shouldn’t wait. Guido puts up a bit of fight, but is still taken away. Circling Isabella with Francesco, Rosanna asks him if she is to his liking. Francesco says Isabella is, flattering her. Her happiness is sort-lived though, as the man bares a mouthful of fangs at the girl, who screams…
450 years later in a Leadworth pub, Rory Williams phones Amy Pond’s house from his stag party. He leaves a message on her answering machine, telling her how much he loves her and that, if they weren’t getting married the next day, he’d propose. One of his guests directs his attention to a cake being wheeled in, making Rory quickly end his call in embarrassment. Everyone chants for the stripper to come out of the cake. To their shock, though, it’s the Eleventh Doctor who pops out instead.
The Doctor examines the room and to his relief, Rory is there; he missed getting to Rory’s stag at least twice with this method. He mentions that the stripper, Lucy, is outside and that they should let her in and give her a jumper to cover up with; “lovely girl, diabetic.” The Doctor tells Rory that they need to talk about Amy; she tried to kiss him. He adds, thought, that Rory’s a lucky man — she’s a great kisser! The other guests gasp. The Doctor notices this: “Funny how you say something in your head and it sounds fine…”
In the TARDIS, the Doctor explains that travelling with him blinds his companions to the important things in their lives back home. Returning to their ordinary lives after sharing adventures with him will drastically change things; the Doctor collected Rory to make sure this doesn’t happen to Amy. As a wedding gift, he is going to take them anywhere in time that they wish to visit, “because it’s either this or tokens”. The Doctor prepares to give Rory the “bigger on the inside” speech, but is shocked that Rory calmly explains ahead of time that the inside is another dimension. Annoyed, he tells Rory that he always looks forward to explaining it. As neither of the couple can think of a place in time they want to visit, the Doctor decides to take them somewhere romantic, pulling a lever.
The TARDIS materialises on the dock outside of Venice. The Doctor goes on to explain how Venice was founded and how many people liked it. When they try to enter, they are stopped at the gate and asked to present their papers; Venice has been quarantined at the suggestion of the city’s patron, Rosanna Calvierri, to protect the citizens from the plague. The Doctor is immediately suspicious; the plague died out years ago. They present the psychic paper, and are admitted to the city, where they see Guido interrupt a procession of Calvierri school girls, demanding to know where Isabella is. He locates her in the procession, but she does not seem to recognise him and he is immediately warded off by another girl, who bares fangs at him. Amy asks the Doctor what he thinks of the situation, only to find that he’s already gone: “I hate it when he does that”.
The Doctor catches up to Guido, asking why he wants to get Isabella out of Rosanna’s school. Guido explains that something evil happens to the girls in Rosanna’s school; Isabella didn’t recognize him, and the girl who pushed him away had a face like an animal. Intrigued, the Doctor walks with Guido back towards the school, telling him it’s time he had a talk with Rosanna.
In the school’s courtyard, Rosanna is “hydrating” by drinking several chalices of water. Francesco enters, informing his mother of Guido’s actions; he then speculates that they have “converted” more than enough girls to be introduced to his brothers. Rosanna tells him that they don’t, prompting Francesco to ask permission to take the ones they have already converted into the night to take more girls for conversion. Rosanna tells him that they should let the parents beg them to take their daughters to make it all the more ironic. Francesco leaves, annoyed.
Meanwhile, Rory and Amy walk through Venice as he asks what she has been up to. Amy vaguely explains the basics of her travelling with the Doctor, only to be asked by Rory if she thought of him. Amy uncomfortably answers that she knew she would be coming back. Rory then says that the Doctor is right: travelling with him blocks out all the important things. Amy consoles him, explaining that this is their date and that they should enjoy it. Rory agrees, thinking about the absurdity of time travel.
They are watched by Francesco, who is offered flowers by a girl. He turns down the offer, but follows her into a tunnel. Nearby, as Rory tries to take a picture of Amy with his camera phone, they hear the girl scream. They run back to find Francesco leaning near her with blood-covered fangs. Rory attends to the girl, seeing that she is okay aside from a lack of blood. Amy follows Francesco, but the trail dead-ends at the river. She does not know she is being watched from below the water.
Elsewhere, Guido feigns another attempt at breaking into the school to retrieve Isabella while the Doctor sneaks in through a side gate. He comes across a group of Rosanna’s girls, noting that they have no reflection in a mirror. He realises they must be vampires. They threaten to call the steward unless he leaves, if he’s lucky. They bare their fangs at him as he backs up to the exit, thanking them for the mystery. The Doctor meets up with Amy and Rory where they watched Guido previously; he and Amy are excited at having discovered vampires in Venice, which appalls Rory.
The Doctor takes them to meet Guido, and they begin to form a strategy for infiltrating the school. Guido suggests blowing their way in with gunpowder, which he has stacked in barrels, but the Doctor discards the idea. Amy proposes dressing in Isabella’s clothing and having the Doctor pose as her fiancé; she will be admitted to the school, and, once inside, will open a trap door that leads down to the river, allowing them inside. However, Rory objects as he doesn’t want others to think the Doctor‘s her fiance. Amy counters that they’ve already seen the Doctor, but they haven’t seen Rory, and offers to go with him as his brother. Rory again objects as they are dealing with vampires, to which the Doctor replies, “We hope.” Amy catches onto the Doctor’s train of thought: if they’re not really vampires, what could be mistaken for them and not mind?
At Amy’s suggestion, Rory acts as her brother and uses the psychic paper to fake having references from the King of Sweden. After being admitted, Amy meets Isabella inside. Isabella tells her of the school: she is taken regularly in the middle of the night and strapped to some sort of chair, and a process then occurs that Isabella can never remember before morning. All she knows is that the sun now burns her skin. Amy promises to help her escape. That night, she sneaks down to the courtyard and unlocks the trap door, but is caught by the steward.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Rory successfully infiltrate the school through the secret passage. Rory persistently questions the Doctor’s relationship with Amy, to which the Doctor either makes jokes or answers honestly. They break into the courtyard, but Amy is nowhere to be found. While looking around, the Doctor uncovers a body drained of all of its fluids in a nearby trunk; this prompts Rory to furiously yell at the Doctor for casually placing Amy in harm’s way; there is something about the Doctor which makes his companions want to put themselves at risk to impress him. They are soon cornered and chased through the school by the girls; the Doctor produces a UV wand to keep them at bay.
Meanwhile, Amy is forced into the dungeon cell that Isabella described earlier. Francesco and Rosanna Calvierri circle her. Rosanna tries to force her to reveal her true identity, as well as how she managed to obtain the psychic paper she and Rory used to bluff their way into the school, being immune to its effects. When Amy resists, Rosanna orders the process begun, drinking some of Amy’s blood. As Amy barely hangs on to consciousness, Rosanna explains she and Francesco drink the girls dry and replace their blood with that of their own species. The girls either die or transform; if they transform, ten thousand husbands wait for them in the river. Amy apologizes as she’s already engaged and kicks Rosanna’s hip, accidentally dislodging a perception filter. Rosanna’s true alien form is revealed.
The process is interrupted by the commotion caused by the Doctor and Rory. Rosanna and Francesco rush off to investigate, leaving Amy to be found and freed by Isabella. The two women join the Doctor and Rory and make their way through the dungeons, closely pursued by Francesco and the girls. They escape the school, but Isabella’s sensitivity to light allows her to be recaptured by Francesco. When the Doctor rushes back to rescue her, he is knocked unconscious by a massive electrical shock that courses through the door; the rescue was a failure.
Later that day, Rosanna, Francesco, the converted girls and the staff take Isabella to a plank to be pushed into the water. Carlo, Rosanna’s head steward, reads a rite to Isabella, explaining her death is because of her betrayal of the Calvierris. Being pushed into the water, Isabella says she can swim like virtually all Venetians, but soon finds some things are biting her — Rosanna’s other sons. They pull her under as Rosanna dismisses everyone but Francesco. She tries to reach into the water, but Francesco warns her that his brothers do not know it is her in human form; she promises her other sons it will be soon.
Rosanna returns from the “ceremony” to find the Doctor waiting for her on her throne. He has deduced she is from Saturnyne, and is using a perception filter to appear human; she deduces he is an alien refugee, and is shocked to learn he is from Gallifrey, commenting that he should be in a museum. They question each other, Rosanna revealing her planet was consumed by the cracks in time; she and her children had to flee from the Silence. Running brought them to Earth. Rosanna asks for the Doctor’s help in rebuilding her race, but he only wants to know what happened to Isabella. Rosanna does not know who “Isabella” is until the Doctor tells her she was the girl who helped them escape the school; Rosanna remarks that all traitors must be killed. As the Doctor is removed by the steward, he furiously shouts that he will stop her, if only because she didn’t know Isabella’s name.
Back at Guido’s house, Amy tells the Doctor what Rosanna said about having “ten thousand husbands waiting in the river”; he deduces that she has transformed the girls into suitable mates for her sons, and intends to sink Venice to create a new home world for the Saturnyn race. Suddenly, Rosanna’s girls swarm the house. The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to ascertain that they are fully transformed, and no humanity is left. The group prepares to escape but at the last minute, Guido returns to the house, locking the Doctor out; he lures the girls upstairs and lights the gunpowder, blowing up the house, himself, and all of the girls. Realising the danger that lies ahead, the Doctor orders Amy back to the TARDIS for her own safety. Rory thanks him before following her.
Rosanna opens a control hub set in her throne and uses it to create a deadly storm over Venice. Widespread panic ensues. The Doctor returns to the school and finds the generator, seeing that he cannot stop it. Rosanna is surprised by how much the Doctor is trying to save a single city. He informs Rosanna of the death of her girls and begs for her help in ending the catastrophe. Devastated that her plan has failed, Rosanna leaves, telling him to save the city himself.
On their way to the TARDIS, Francesco confronts Amy and Rory; he is still bitter that Amy escaped from the school, and attacks her. Rory tries to ward him off, but Francesco overpowers him after hearing his mother being insulted, transforming into his true form. Amy comes to his rescue in the nick of time, using her compact mirror to amplify the sunlight and direct it at Francesco, who is instantly vaporized. The two share a kiss.
Amy and Rory return to help the Doctor, sneaking into the school while the steward empties the house of its treasures. The Doctor sets them to destroying the control hub in the throne while he climbs to the bell tower, realizing that the tolling bell is powering the generator at the top of the spire. He stops the bell and continues climbing, finally deactivating the generator; the weather immediately returns to normal.
Rosanna goes to the river, distraught. She attempts to deactivate her perception filter, but it malfunctions and she retains her human form. The Doctor rushes up, pleading for her to stop; she orders the Doctor to remember her species, knowing he will have to live with the death of their race on his conscience. Before he can reach her, she throws herself into the river, where she is devoured by her sons, who don’t recognize her.
The trio departs Venice, with the Doctor gleefully remarking that their next trip will be to the Leadworth Registry Office, where he wonders if he can give Amy away at the wedding; however, when Amy continues to express some reluctance at marrying Rory, he sadly asks the Doctor to drop him off where they found him. Amy instead invites Rory to join them, to which the Doctor agrees. As they are about to leave in the TARDIS, a strange silence falls across the city. The Doctor remembers Rosanna’s words as he examines the empty street.