Fri, 9 November 2007
The Ninth Doctor takes his new companion, Rose, on her first trip through time, 5 billion years into the future. There, on a space station called Platform One, he and Rose are on hand with a group of alien races to witness the Sun expand and swallow the Earth. However, someone is planning to sabotage the event with deadly robotic spiders.
Following "Rose", the Doctor asks Rose where she would like to go on her first trip in the TARDIS, and she selects the future. The Doctor takes her to the year 5.5/Apple/26 (five billion years in her future) onto a space station named Platform One orbiting the Earth. In the eons since Rose's time, the Earth has emptied, mankind having left it long ago and the planet taken over by the National Trust. Although the expansion of the Sun takes millions of years, gravity satellites held the effects back, and the trust also restored the "classic" positions of the continents on Earth. Now that the money has run out, the Earth will be allowed to be swallowed up by the Sun at last. Platform One is where the extraterrestrial rich of the universe will witness the end of the world, which will occur in about an hour. The station has automated systems and is staffed by blue-skinned humanoids.
On encountering the Steward, who manages Platform One, the Doctor persuades him that he and Rose are invited guests by using a piece of "psychic paper" that makes people see what the Doctor wants them to see. The other guests arrive, including the diminutive Moxx of Balhoon, the Face of Boe, living humanoid trees from the Forest of Cheem (whose ancestors originated on Earth) and, from Financial Family Seven, a group called the Adherents of the Repeated Meme. Rose watches in fascination as the last living human arrives — the Lady Cassandra O'Brien Dot Delta Seventeen, who is just a piece of stretched-out skin with eyes and a mouth, mounted on a frame and connected to a brain jar. The skin needs to be constantly moisturised by her attendants. The guests exchange gifts: Jabe of the Forest of Cheem gives the Doctor a cutting taken from her grandfather; the Doctor gives her the gift of air from his lungs. The Moxx gives the gift of bodily salivas, and the Adherents of the Repeated Meme hand out gifts of "peace" in the form of metal spheres, even to the Steward.
Cassandra gives her own gifts: the last ostrich egg, and an "iPod" (a Wurlitzer jukebox) from ancient Earth. Rose is a bit overwhelmed when the jukebox plays "classical" music — the song "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell — and leaves the hall. She has a brief conversation with a station plumber, Raffalo, who is investigating a blockage. At first she is comforted by the familiarity of Raffalo's matter-of-fact, working-class manner. But when Raffalo explains that she is from Crespallion, which is part of the Jaggit Brocade, affiliated to the Scarlet Junction, in Complex 56, Rose realises how far she is from home, and with a man she does not even know. Rose leaves, and does not see Raffalo spot some small, spider-like robots in the ducts, which rapidly grab her and pull her inside. Meanwhile, the spiders are being disgorged from the metal spheres gifted by the Adherents of the Repeated Meme to the various guests, and soon infiltrate the entire station, sabotaging its systems.
The Doctor finds Rose, and when Rose asks him where he is from, the Doctor brushes her questions off, getting defensive and angry. When the Doctor alters Rose's mobile phone so she can talk to her mother in the past, another fact sinks in — her mother is long dead. The Doctor jokes that if Rose thought the telephone call was amazing, she should see the bill. Suddenly, a tremor shakes the station, and the Doctor observes that it was not supposed to happen. The Steward, investigating the cause of the tremor, is killed when a spider lowers the sun filter in his room, exposing him to the direct heat of the Sun's rays.
The Doctor also starts to look into the tremor, and Jabe offers to show him where the maintenance corridors are while Rose goes to speak to Cassandra. Rose finds that Cassandra has had 708 operations to keep her alive, and considers herself the last "pure" human — the others who left "intermingled" with other species and she considers them all mongrels. Her 709th operation, to bleach her blood, is next week. Disgusted that humanity has come to this, Rose insults Cassandra and storms off, only to be met by the Adherents, who knock her out.
In the corridors, Jabe quietly tells the Doctor that she scanned him earlier, and was astonished to discover what he was and that he still even exists. She genuinely sympathises with him, putting a hand on his arm, and the Doctor is briefly moved to tears. They then continue to the bowels of the station, where they find one of the spiders. Jabe captures it with a liana, a long, vine-like appendage which she usually keeps hidden out of courtesy.
As the station's systems continue to be sabotaged and, as a "traditional ballad" — Britney Spears's "Toxic" — plays on the jukebox, Rose wakes to find herself trapped in a room with a lowering sun filter. The Doctor hears her cries for help and manages to raise the filter, but Rose is still locked in. Returning to the main hall, the Doctor releases the spider to seek out its master. At first it focuses on the Adherents of the Repeated Meme, but the Doctor points out that repeated memes are just ideas, and the Adherents are remote-controlled droids. He deactivates them and the spider scurries over to Cassandra.
Cassandra has her attendants hold the others at bay, saying that the moisturiser guns can also shoot acid. She reveals that her operations cost a fortune, and she was hoping to create a hostage situation whereby she could later seek compensation. Now she will just let everyone burn and take over their corporate holdings. Cassandra orders the spiders to shut off the force field protecting the station, then uses an illegal teleportation device to transport herself and her attendants away.
With only a few minutes left until the Sun incinerates Earth and the station, the Doctor and Jabe rush back down to the air-conditioning chamber. The restore switch for the computer systems is at the other end of a platform blocked by giant rotating fans. The Doctor protests that the rising heat will burn the wooden Jabe, but she insists on staying to hold down the switch that slows the fans. The Doctor makes it nearly to the end before Jabe catches fire and burns. He closes his eyes and concentrates, making it past the last fan and throwing the reset switch. The force fields come up around the station just in time, as the Earth explodes into cinders. The station's systems start to self-repair.
However, several of the guests are now dead (including the Moxx but not the Face of Boe), burned alive as the Sun's rays burst through cracks in the windows. The Doctor is furious, and after finding Cassandra's teleportation feed inside the ostrich egg, reverses it to bring her back. She quickly regains her poise and starts taunting the Doctor, saying that he cannot do anything about her. However, the Doctor calmly notes that he has transported Cassandra back without her moisturising attendants. In the raised temperature, she begins to dry out. Cassandra begs for mercy and Rose asks the Doctor to help her, but the Doctor coldly says that every thing has its time, and every thing dies. Cassandra's skin stretches and tears, her innards exploding and leaving only her brain tank and empty frame.
Rose is sad that in all the danger, the Earth's passing was not actually witnessed by anyone. The Doctor takes her back to the present in the TARDIS, telling her that people think things will last forever, but they don't. He reveals to her that his home planet was burned like Earth, but in a war, and that he is the last survivor of the Time Lords. Rose says that he still has her, and he smiles as she offers to buy him some chips — they only have five billion years before the shops close.