The Half-Face Man is waking up, and Clara is stranded in the room with him. She suddenly remembers what the Doctor said: that they don’t breathe. How long can you hold your breath?
She sinks back into an alcove and takes a deep breath. The Half-Face Man goes over to the empty restaurant seats, ready to inspect his latest catches. He looks around, and silently instructs another cyborg to open up the side door to check where his victims have gone. Still not breathing, a desperate Clara makes her way through the door – but it leads to a corridor, filled with further cyborgs. How long can you hold your breath?
She passes blank faces. Unbreathing, unblinking, unmoving. She tries to calmly carry on. She feels light-headed. How long can you hold your – –
Everything goes black.
When she wakes, she’s surrounded by the cyborgs, once again in the belly of the ship, the Half-Face Man bearing down on her. “Where is the other one?” he asks. “You will tell us or you will be destroyed.”
But she won’t tell him where the Doctor is.
“Go on, then. Do it,” she says. “I’m not going answer any of your questions. So you have to do it; you have to kill me. Threats don’t work unless you deliver… And if you don’t, then I’m not gonna believe a single threat you say from now on. Of course, if I’m dead, then I can’t tell you where the other one went. You need to keep this place down here a secret, don’t you? Never start with your final sanction. You’ve got nowhere to go but backwards.”
“Humans feel pain.”
“Bigger threat to smaller threat; see what I mean? Backwards… I tell you what, I answer your questions if you answer mine.” She wants to know why the Half-Face Man killed the T. Rex.
“Within the optic nerve of the dinosaur is material of use to our computer systems.”
“Hang on – you know what’s inside a dinosaur’s optic nerve, which means you’ve seen them before!” she realises. The cyborgs have been rebuilding themselves for… how long? And what’s the point?
“We will reach the Promised Land.” But he won’t be stalled any longer, and asks her once again where the Doctor is.
“I don’t know. But I know where he will be – where he will always be. If the Doctor is still the Doctor, he will have my back.”
And he does. She reaches out her hand and the Doctor takes it. He rips off the cyborgs mask he was using, and announces: “Hello, hello! Rubbish robots from the dawn of time. Thank you for all the gratuitous information. Five-foot-one and crying; you never stood a chance.”
The Doctor, too, wants information. “Why did you invite us? The message in the paper: that was you wasn’t it?” No reply. “Oh. I hate being wrong in public. Everybody forget that happened.”
Thankfully, Clara went into the restaurant with a codeword: Geronimo! And the Paternoster Gang burst in. They wield swords and guns, but the cyborgs, too, have been weaponised: giant blades erupt from their wrists and they attack.
The Half-Face Man, meanwhile, escapes by heading back up the restaurant. And the Doctor has followed!
Inspector Gregson enters the eatery, having being called by Vastra; the cyborgs that once sat around the tables supposedly taking dinner have been disabled. The Half-Face Man rises from the larder and Gregson runs out, thoroughly out of his depth again.
“Keep everyone out,” he instructs his PCs. “No one goes in there.”
“I’ve got the horrible feeling I’m going to have to kill you.” It’s the Doctor, sat on a table behind the Half-Face Man, pouring him a drink. “51st Century, right? Time-travelling spaceship – crashed in the past. You’re trying to get home the long way around.”
Reaffirming that he’ll get to the Promised Land, the Half-Face Man activates the escape pod: the room shuts off, the roof opens… and a hot air balloon, made from dinosaur skin with the room swaying underneath, rises into the London skyline.
Back in the larder, the battle-ready cyborgs continue their attack from every angle. There must be 20 of them, probably more. Strax is enjoying himself… but they can’t carry on.
Clara remembers what the Doctor said again. How long can you hold your breath? She tells them all to hold their breaths – and the cyborgs stop. For now.
The SS. Marie Antoinette, sister ship of the Madame de Pompadour.Out of control repair droids, cannibalising human beings. The Doctor knows this is familiar – but he just can’t place it.
“How could you kill me?” the Half-Face Man asks.
“For the same reason you ask me that question: because you don’t want to carry on.”
The Half-Face Man looks out of the window and admits the view is beautiful. That’s not a cybernetic reaction. “There is not a trace of you left,” the Doctor says. “You probably can’t even remember where you got that face from.”
“It cannot end.”
“It has to.”
“Self-destruction is against my basic programming.”
“Murder is against mine.”
He’s the control node, so when he shuts down, so do the cyborgs below. “You are a broom,” the Doctor tells him. “Question: You take a broom, you replace the handle, and then later you replace the brush, and you do that over and over again. Is it still the same broom? Answer: No, of course it isn’t. But you can still sweep the floor… which isn’t strictly relevant; skip that last part. You have replaced every piece of yourself, mechanical and organic, time and time again. There’s not a trace of the original you left. You probably can’t even remember where you got that face from.”
The Half-Face Man launches himself at the Doctor. They battle right on the edge of the room, on the threshold of the door. “Those people down there. They’re never small to me,” the Doctor continues. “Don’t make assumptions about how far I will go to protect them, because I’ve already come a very long way. And unlike you, I don’t expect to reach the Promised Land.”
The Half-Face Man stops grappling with the Doctor.
“You realise, of course, one of us is lying about our basic programming?” the Doctor asks.
“And I think we both know who that is.”
Strax can’t take it any longer – and gasps at the air. The cyborgs go to attack again… and then fall to the ground, deactivated.
Clara gets back into the TARDIS. It’s changed, just a little bit. It’s more orange; bookcases adorn the walls. “You’ve redecorated,” Clara says. “I don’t like it.”
The Doctor, too, has got a new look: sleek black with a red-lined jacket. He sets the TARDIS in flight.
“I’m the Doctor,” he says. “I’ve lived for over 2,000 years, and not all of them were good. I’ve made many mistakes, and it’s about time that I did something about that. Clara, I’m not your boyfriend.”
“I never thought you were.”
“I never said it was your mistake.”
The TARDIS lands, and Clara asks if she’s home.
“If you want to be,” the Doctor replies.
“I’m sorry. I’m, I’m so, so sorry. But I don’t think I know who you are any more.”
Her phone rings, and the Doctor tells her to answer it: it might be her boyfriend. She exits the TARDIS and picks up the call.
It’s a voice she hasn’t heard for a little while now, but a voice she will never, ever forget.
Eleventh Doctor: “It’s me, Clara. The Doctor.”
Clara: “What do you mean, the Doctor?”
Eleventh Doctor: “I’m phoning you from Trenzalore.”
Clara: “I don’t –”
Eleventh Doctor: “From before I changed. I mean it’s all still to happen for me. It’s coming. Oh, it’s a-coming… Not long now. I can feel it.”
Clara: “Why? Why would you do this?”
Eleventh Doctor: “Because I think it’s going to be a whopper, and I think you might be scared. And however scared you are, Clara, the man you are with right now – the man I hope you are with – believe me; he is more scared than anything you can imagine right now and he… He needs you.”
The Twelfth Doctor follows her out of the TARDIS. “So who is it?”
Eleventh Doctor: “Is that the Doctor?”
Twelfth Doctor: “Is that the Doctor?”
Eleventh Doctor: “He sounds old. Please tell me I didn’t get old! Anything but old! I was young. Oh, is he grey?”
Eleventh Doctor: “Clara, please. Hey, for me: help him. Go on. And don’t be afraid… Goodbye, Clara. Miss ya.”
The phone goes dead, and back then, on Trenzalore, the Doctor is regenerating.
“You can’t see me, can you?” the Twelfth Doctor asks rhetorically. “You look at me and you can’t see me. Have you any idea what that’s like? I’m not on the phone, I’m right here, standing in front of you. Please, just, just see me.”
She does. And thanks him – for phoning. Yes, she’ll help him. And she embraces him in a big hug. And off they go – into time and space. But first: chips and coffee.
Meanwhile, the Half-Face Man wakes up in the Promised Land…
NEXT TIME: “INTO DARKNESS.”