Tooth and Claw
Tooth and Claw was the second episode of the second series of BBC Wales Doctor Who. Tardisode 2 serves as its prologue. Written very quickly by Russell T Davies, it nonetheless had a significant impact upon the mythology of the Doctor Who universe. It established the narrative origins of the Torchwood Institute, and thus was significant to the overall Torchwood story arc in Doctor Who and to the Torchwood spin-off, as well.
As an early Tenth Doctor episode, it set down some important character beats for that still-young incarnation. In particular, it showed David Tennant’s Doctor to be an aficionado of 20th century pop culture. It also confirmed that this incarnation would occasionally use his tongue to identify the chemical composition of non-foodstuffs, just as he had earlier done in The Christmas Invasion.
Behind the scenes, the episode was unusual in that it had a “guest visual effects artist”. Because the wolf was to have close-ups, and animal hair was at the time particularly difficult to portray convincingly, The Mill were compelled to import a “CGI hair specialist” for this one adventure.
Hooded monks travel across the Scottish moors. They enter the Torchwood Estate belonging to Sir Robert MacLeish. Their leader, Father Angelo, demands possession of the house. When the steward refuses, he beats him into submission with a quarterstaff. The monks remove their cassocks, revealing orange robes. Exhibiting martial skill, they make short work of the rest of the men. They take over the house, chaining everyone they find in the cellar, including Lady Isobel MacLeish. They carry a covered cage into the cellar. When Father Angelo uncovers it, Lady Isobel screams.
In the TARDIS, the Tenth Doctor offers to take Rose to Sheffield in 1979 to see Ian Dury in concert. They exit the police box to find themselves surrounded by armed soldiers on horseback. They demand explanations for the Doctor’s presence and Rose’s “nakedness”. The Doctor realizes that they have arrived in 1879 Scotland. Using psychic paper and a Scottish accent, he convinces Captain Reynolds he is a Scottish doctor named James McCrimmon. Rose also attempts to speak with a Scottish accent, only to be shushed by the Doctor.
An authoritative voice from the carriage the soldiers are escorting asks the Doctor and Rose to approach. The Doctor introduces Rose to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, who is on her way to Balmoral Castle. When Victoria sees the psychic paper, she notes it says the Lord Provost has appointed the Doctor as her protector. The royal carriage is travelling by road because a fallen tree has blocked the train line to Aberdeen. The two travelers accompany the carriage on to the Torchwood Estate, where the Queen plans to spend the night. On the way, Rose bets the Doctor a tenner that she can get the Queen to say, “We are not amused”.
Sir Robert watches from the window, with Father Angelo, disguised as a servant, behind him. Sir Robert goes to receive Victoria. Despite his hinting that all is not right, the Queen insists on staying; the estate was a favorite of her late consort, Prince Albert, who used to visit Sir Robert’s father. They enter the manor, with Reynolds deploying his men to guard the estate. He also carries a small leather box inside, which he locks in a safe. In the cellar, the captive in the cage, who appears to be a hooded man, indicates to the other prisoners to be silent.
Sir Robert shows the Queen, Doctor and Rose the observatory, which contains a telescope his father designed. The Doctor notices it has many prisms, causing too much magnification for simple stargazing. Sir Robert says he knows little of his father’s eccentric work. Victoria mentions that Sir Robert’s father was a polymath, equally versed in science and folklore, and that Albert was fascinated by local stories of a wolf. Before Sir Robert can tell the tale, however, Father Angelo interrupts, offering to take the guests to their rooms to prepare for dinner.
While Rose searches through the wardrobes for more appropriate attire, the disguised monks serve the soldiers drugged drinks, which knock them unconscious. Rose discovers a frightened servant girl, Flora, hidden in one of the cupboards. Flora tells Rose what has happened. When they leave the room to find the Doctor, they find an unconscious soldier. They are captured, taken to the cellar and chained with the others.
At the dinner table, Sir Robert tells them a story. For the past three hundred years, livestock have been found ripped apart every full moon. Once a generation, a boy vanishes, and there are sightings of a werewolf. In the cellar, Rose notices the caged man’s alien-looking eyes. She asks him what planet he is from. Amused, he tells Rose the human body he possesses was born ten miles away, a boy stolen by the Brethren, but he comes from a much longer distance. Rose offers to take the alien intelligence back home, but he does not wish to leave. He shall bite Queen Victoria, migrate into her body and begin the Empire of the Wolf. He says Rose has “something of the wolf” about her, but while she burned like the sun, all he requires is the Moon.
Upstairs, Sir Robert relates that his father believed the story to be fact, and even claimed to have communicated with the beast and learned its purpose. However, the Brethren of the monastery in the Glen of St Catherine opposed his investigations. Sir Robert asks what if the monks had turned from God and started worshiping the wolf? The Doctor sees Father Angelo face the full moon through the window, chanting in Latin, “Lupus magnus est, lupus fortis est, lupus deus est” — or “The wolf is great, the wolf is strong, the wolf is God”.
The enemy is here.
The monks throw open the cellar doors and moonlight streams into the Host’s cage, triggering a horrifying transformation. Rose rallies the other prisoners, telling them not to look, but to pull on the chains. Sir Robert apologizes to the Queen for his betrayal; they were holding his wife. The Doctor demands to know where Rose is, but Father Angelo ignores him, continuing his chanting. The Doctor and Sir Robert rush to the cellar, leaving the Queen with Reynolds, who trains his pistol on Father Angelo, asking him what his goals are. Father Angelo replies, “The throne”, and swiftly disarms Reynolds.
The Doctor and Sir Robert reach the cellar just as Rose and the other prisoners manage to break their chains, but the Host has finished his transformation and breaks out of the cage. The others run out of the cellar, the Doctor transfixed at the “beautiful” werewolf until the last second. He seals the door with his sonic screwdriver as the werewolf howls at the moon. Above, Victoria surmises correctly that the monks had sabotaged the train tracks to bring her here. However, she is not unprepared, and threatens Father Angelo with her own revolver. He sneers at her skeptically, calling her “woman”. The Queen retorts, “The correct form of address is ‘Your Majesty’!” and fires.
The women go to leave the house through the kitchen, while the Steward organizes his men. The werewolf has broken through the sealed door, but is driven back momentarily by rifle fire. The women find the kitchen door locked and the courtyard beyond guarded by monks with rifles. The Doctor tells the men they should retreat upstairs. The Steward says that nothing could have lived through the rifle barrage — and is promptly seized and killed by the werewolf. Sir Robert, Rose and the Doctor run.
The werewolf slaughters the remaining men and makes its way to the kitchen, where Lady Isobel and the other women huddle in fear. However, instead of killing them, it sniffs the air and leaves. Meanwhile, Victoria retrieves the mysterious box from the safe, and meets with Sir Robert, Rose and the Doctor. As they try to escape through the windows, the monks open fire. The four run upstairs, pursued by the werewolf. They meet Reynolds, who confirms Victoria has the contents of the box and says he will buy them time to get away. He fires at the werewolf, but is quickly torn apart as the others enter the library and barricade the doors.
However, the werewolf does not try to break through. The Doctor wonders what it is about the room that is protecting them from the wolf. Victoria demands to know what the creature is, and why the Doctor has lost his Scottish accent. The Doctor tries to explain, but she will have none of it, declaring angrily that this is not her world.
In the kitchen, Lady Isobel notices the monks are wearing mistletoe about their necks, a charm against werewolves. She notices sprigs of mistletoe on the kitchen floor and orders the other women to gather the scraps. In the library, the Doctor notices wooden details on the doors carved into the shape of mistletoe. He realizes the walls are varnished with viscum album — oil of mistletoe. The werewolf is allergic to it, or the monks have trained it to be to control it, and Sir Robert’s father knew this.
Lady Isobel and the women cook the mistletoe into a broth. In the library, the others find an account of something falling near the monastery in 1540. The Doctor theorizes that perhaps only a single cell survived, passing itself from host to host while it grew stronger with each generation. Now it wants to establish an empire, advancing technology and building starships and missiles fueled by coal and driven by steam, laying waste to history. Victoria breaks in at this point, telling Sir Robert she will die rather than be infected. She asks him to find a safe place for something more precious. She reveals the contents of the box: the Koh-i-Noor. The Queen had been taking it to the royal jewelers at Hazlehead to be re-cut. The Doctor remembers that Prince Albert kept insisting on having the diamond cut down and was never satisfied with the shape or size.
The Doctor has a brainstorm. The diamond, the telescope, Prince Albert and Sir Robert’s father are all connected. The Doctor asks, what if the two men were not just exchanging stories, but treated it all as real and laid a trap for the wolf? Just then, the werewolf crashes through the skylight, forcing the others to flee the library. The werewolf nearly catches up with Rose, but Lady Isobel appears, throwing the mistletoe broth in the werewolf’s face and forcing it away. Sir Robert kisses his wife and tells her to take the women back downstairs, while he and the others climb the stairs to the observatory.
The Doctor needs time. The doors to the observatory are not barred against the werewolf — Sir Robert’s father intended the wolf to come in. Sir Robert offers to place himself between the werewolf and them, willing to die with honor to atone for his betrayal. He holds the werewolf off with a sword. As his screams penetrate the door, the Doctor and Rose maneuver the telescope to align it with the full moon. The telescope is not a telescope, but a light chamber, magnifying the moon’s rays. The werewolf may thrive on moonlight, but it can still drown in it.
The werewolf crashes through the door and moves to slash at Victoria, but the Doctor tosses the diamond on the floor. It catches the light, which intercepts the werewolf and suspends it in mid-air. The werewolf reverts to human form and asks the Doctor to make it brighter, to let it go. The werewolf form reasserts itself, howls and fades away in the moonbeam. The Doctor notices Victoria’s wrist is bleeding and wonders if the werewolf bit her after all, but the Queen dismisses his concern, saying it was just a splinter from the door.
In the morning, Victoria dubs the two travelers Sir Doctor of TARDIS and Dame Rose of the Powell Estate. Having rewarded them, she banishes them from the Empire. The Queen does not know who or what they are, but their world is steeped in terror and blasphemy and yet they consider it fun. She will not allow this in her world, and warns them to consider how long they might survive such a dangerous life. During this she says, “I am not amused”. Having won her bet with the Doctor, Rose cannot suppress a smirk.
The two make their way back to the TARDIS, where the Doctor reflects it was always a mystery how Victoria and then her children had contracted hemophilia. He muses that perhaps was just a Victorian euphemism for lycanthropy. Rose speculates humorously that perhaps even the royal family of her day are actually werewolves!
Back at the Torchwood Estate, Victoria tells Lady Isobel that her husband’s sacrifice and the ingenuity of his father will live on. The Queen has seen Britain has enemies beyond imagination, and will establish an institute to research and fight these enemies: the Torchwood Institute. If the Doctor returns, Torchwood will be waiting.