Those Sontarans, eh?
If they’re not fighting the Rutans, they’re colonising planets to use the unhabitants as target practice to help in their fight against the Rutans. And if they’re not fighting the Rutans or colonising planets to use the inhabitants as target practice in their fight against the Rutans, they’re turning planets into cloning worlds to breed billions more Sontarans for their fight with the Rutans.
And that was their stratagem this time. The Sontarans tricked young genius Luke Rattigan (not actually a difficult thing, given his completely insular outlook on life) into developing ATMOS – an in-car satellite navigation system which also reduced carbon dioxide emissions. However, this is where the double-cross comes in…those very same Atmos devices let out doses of Sesophane Concentrate or, for those of us not blessed with a BSc from the University of Sontar, clone feed.
The Doctor is called back to Earth to investigate by Martha Jones, now working for UNIT. However, things become complicated when she herself is cloned and clone Martha attempts to halt all attempts to stop the Sontarans. She even helps them capture the TARDIS, with Donna trapped inside.
With Donna unwittingly aboard the Sontaran ship, the Doctor instructs her on how to activate the teleport devices, rescuing both her and the TARDIS.
Meanwhile, on Earth, the Sontarans have taken the Atmos factory and UNIT’s attempts at stopping them are proving futile. That is until Colonel Mace lets loose their secret weapon – the Valiant. The Valiant clears the gas and allows UNIT troops to put the Sontarans on the defensive. This gives the Doctor time enough to manouver the clone Martha down to the cloning room to rescue the real Martha.
With the teleport now working again, the Doctor constructs an atmospheric converter in order to finally stop the Sontarans. He teleports back to their ship to give them the choice of surrender or death. He knows they will never surrender and isprepared to sacrifice himself but, at the last moment, Rattigan, finally realising the idiocy of his ways, uses his genius one last time to rig up the teleport into a matter exchange, putting himself in the Sontaran ship and bringing the Doctor back to Earth. He blows the Sontarans into oblivion to finally put an end to their stratagem.
Having watched both episodes back to back, it did have a feature film feel about it. Lots of action, lots of effects, lots of fast dialog. There were also many references to Who stories of the past, with mentions of the Brigadier, the Rutans, the appearance of the Valiant and the Doctor, when given a gas mask, asking Colonel Mace "Are you my mummy?" And who was that blond girl who briefly flickered onto the TARDIS scanner screen…?
All in all, a good tale. A thumbs up to writer Helen Raynor. And, the more we see of Catherine Tate, despite the outrage that greeted the news that she would be back full-time, we become convinced that it was, in fact, a master stroke…