The Shakespeare Code
A young bard professes his love for a young lady below her bedroom window one fine eve, and the young lady invites him to her room. After a kiss, the young lady turns into a witch, and summers her companions Mother Dewfinger and Mother Bloodtide. The three then proceed to kill the young bard.
Meanwhile in the TARDIS, a bumpy ride causes Martha to question whether the Doctor had to get a license to fly the thing. He says he did, but he failed. With that, they land in 1599 England. Martha is filled with wonder at this, but worries about about being black in this time since slavery still existed. The Doctor tells her to walk about like they own the place and two black (and apparently free) women walk by. After a near-miss by the then modern-plumbing (toss it out the window), the two head to the Globe Theater and catch a play from Shakespeare. After the play, Martha says it was worth putting up with the smell and wants to see Shakespeare come out. He soon does and as he talks of the sequel to “Love’s Labor’s Lost” which will be “Love’s Labor’s Won.” After mentioning it will come out eventually, the young witch, Lilith, uses a doll to force Shakespeare into stating the first performance will be tomorrow night.
The Doctor and Martha discuss this sequel, which history only mentions but no manuscript was ever found. They head to a nearby inn where Shakespeare is working with some companions as they mention their concerns over this new play as Lilith, in human form, is there working. The Doctor arrives with Martha, and after looking at Martha, Shakespeare decides they can stay. After sending his companions away, the Doctor whips out his psychic paper and introduces himself as Sir Doctor of TARDIS. Shakespeare only sees a blank piece of paper while Martha sees exactly what the Doctor wants, showing that Shakespeare is indeed very sharp. Shakespeare continues to hit on Martha, and the Doctor explains that she’s from Freedonia.
The Master of the Revels arrives and is unhappy with Shakespeare’s announced new play since he hasn’t approved it. Since Shakespeare can’t produce a completed script, the Master of the Revels announces tomorrows performance is canceled. Because this interferes with the witches’ plan, Lilith (in human form) manages to snip some hair from the master. She informs her mothers of what is going on and they aid her in a spell whereby the Master of the Revels dies by drowning and heart stoppage, only without actually being in the water. The Doctor gives the mistress of the inn a 16th-century plausible explanation for the man’s death so that there isn’t panic about witchcraft. However, he confides to Martha that indeed this is witchcraft.
At their residence, the two mother witches give Lilith a potion so that Shakespeare will complete “Love’s Labor’s Won” in time for tomorrow nights performance, apparently needing his genius. Meanwhile, the mistress provides the Doctor and Martha a room in the inn while Shakespeare wonders in Freedonia, a woman can become a doctor and how the Doctor can look so young but have eyes so old. Martha and the Doctor retire to their room where the Doctor frets over the situation. The Doctor mentions that it looks like witchcraft, but it isn’t (meaning alien influence). As they lay in bed together, the Doctor mentions Rose which bothers Martha.
At Shakespeare’s room, Lilith unleashes fumes from her potion and controls Shakespeare into using his genius to think and write the final lines of the play. When the mistress of the inn comes in to check on Shakespeare, Lilith reveals her true form causing the mistress to die of fright. The Doctor and Martha rush over, where Martha sees Lilith fly away in classic witch style. Shakespeare is in his own mind again, and with Martha and the Doctor, they discuss the situation with the witches. Shakespeare recalls the architect of the Globe Theater, Peter Streete, spoke of witches before being sent to the mad house.
At the Globe Theater, the Doctor ponders over the 14 sides to the building and the meaning. After speaking of the power of words, the Doctor and company head off to the mad house (Bethlem Hospital, aka: Bedlam Asylum) with Shakespeare handing the completed manuscript to two of his actors. They look over the script, remarking on how sequels are never as good and as they look at the final lines, they are puzzled. Still, the actor playing The King of Navarre has those lines and begins to speak them. As a wind begins to pick up within the Globe, they see a creature they presume to be a spirit who then vanishes.
At Bedlam, the Doctor, Martha, and Shakespeare go to see Peter as Martha notes the deplorable conditions of the place. “Sir Doctor” is easily allowed in and the Doctor uses his abilites to stabilize Peter’s mental condition. Peter tells the story of the witches. This is felt by Lilith, who sends Doomfinger to put an end to it. She kills Peter but before she can kill the Doctor, the doctor figures out who they are — Carrionites. Since words and names have power, the Doctor saying the name of her species causes Doomfinger to teleport back to her residence at All Hallows Street. This causes the three Carrionites concern for which Lilith states she’ll take care of it while the mothers go to the Globe.
Meanwhile, the Doctor, Martha, and Shakespeare discuss the Carrionites and current events to include the strange lines Shakespeare wrote at the end of his new play. The Doctor realizes the Carrionites plan and sends Shakespeare to stop the play while the Doctor and Martha head to All Hallows Street. Shakespeare tries to stop the play, but the Doomfinger and Bloodtide from their balcony seats stop him. The play continues as the Doctor explains the trouble they are in, using the movie Back to the Future as a reference (with how modern times changed due to changing the past). The Carrionite home’s door opens and upon entering, Lilith is waiting. She knocks Martha out with words but can’t kill her due to Martha being out of her time-stream. After mentioning that the Eternals found the right word to banish them, Lilith manages to get a bit of the Doctor’s hair and with that, stops his heart. She leaves thinking him dead, but since the Doctor has two hearts, he’s still alive. Using her medical skills and some coaching by the Doctor, Martha gets the other heart going again.
Rushing to the Globe, the Doctor and Martha are dismayed to see that Shakespeare had not stopped the play since the spell in the final lines had been spoken and the Carrionites were beginning to come through. Knowing the power of Shakespeare’s words, the Doctor has him improvise some lines that will send the Carrionites back to the place of banishment. As he struggles to find the final word, Martha suggests “Expelliarmus,” which is used in Harry Potter. The word spoken, the Carrionites are banished again, and the three Carrionites are ensnared within their “magic globe.” This globe is then taken by the Doctor.
The next day as Shakespeare flirts with Martha, Queen Elizabeth arrives. The Doctor is initially excited to meet her, but she’s not happy to see him, calling him her sworn enemy. Her guards pursue the Doctor and Martha to the TARDIS with Martha wondering what he’d done to make the queen angry. He says he’s never met her yet, which is the great thing about time travel. As they close the door to the TARDIS, and arrow hits the TARDIS door and embeds itself.
This was a really enjoyable episode until the resolution which was a bit cheesy if you ask me. There were at least two references to the Doctor Who story “Silver Nemesis” with the 7th Doctor’s line about acting like they own the place and the arrow at the end. I was also interested in hearing the Eternals mentioned since they were in the 5th Doctor’s story “Enlightenment.” Searching around, there are other Doctor Who references as well that I didn’t catch.
The joke about the 7th Harry Potter book was somewhat amusing considering the hype that novel is getting. I liked how the Doctor used Back to the Future to explain the perils of time travel. I’m not sure if this is a reference or not, but it also seemed to me that the writer of this episode, Gareth Roberts, may also be a fan of the CLAMP manga xxxHOLiC. I say this because the Doctor has his speech about the power of words and the power of a name. This is something the Time-Space Witch known as Yuuko-san has repeatedly stated in xxxHOLiC. However, at this point, I don’t know if there is an official reference to that or not, but I like to think there is since that’s a favorite manga of mine.
Still, as I said, I rather enjoyed the episode despite the cheesy resolution and I liked the various references to other Doctor Who stories. The Face of Boa comes back next week. ^_^