What do you get if you cross a time traveller, a crime writer and a giant insect?
The Unicorn And The Wasp, of course.
The Doctor and Donna arrive at a dinner party hosted by Lady Eddison. Among the other guests is Agatha Christie. The date, though, is 8 December 1926, the day of Christie’s famous mysterious disappearance.
It is soon discovered that one of the other guests, Professor Peach, has been murdered in the library and it isn’t long before Miss Chandrakala, Lady Eddison’s friend and companion, is also found dead.
During investigations by the Doctor, Donna and Agatha, the Doctor finds some morphic residue, leading him to deduce that one of the guests is not human. Donna is meanwhile attacked by a giant wasp – a Vespiform – , which she manages to fend off using the rays through a magnifying glass.
At dinner, it is the Doctor’s turn to be attacked, this time by cyanide poisoning. However, the effects on his Gallifreyan constitution is different to that of humans and he is able to detox himself. The Doctor then goes on to ‘poison’ the other guests by putting pepper in their soup. This is, of course, completely harmless to humans but acts as an insecticide to wasps. Sure enough, a buzzing sound is heard but, before the alien can be identified, a freak wind blows out the candles and the room is pitched into darkness. Upon restoration of light, it is discovered that Lady Eddison’ son is lying face down in his soup with a knife in his back.
True to one of her Poirot novels, Agatha and the Doctor gather the guests in the sitting room and, one by one, reveal secrets about them that might lead to them being the guilty party. It is discovered that Robina Redmond is in fact the jewel thief known as ‘The Unicorn’ who coveted the Firestone, a jewel worn on Lady Eddison’s necklace.
It is further revealled that Lady Eddison, when in India, fell in love with a man who was, in fact, a Vespiform in its human guise. She fell pregnant and was given the Firestone by the Vespiform. The Firestone is physically linked to her child, whom she gave up for adoption.
The final revelation is that Reverend Golightly, another guest at the party, was that child. Unable to control his rage at being found out, he reverts back to his Vespiform. Agatha snatches the Firestone and the wasp pursues her as she is now linked to it. Agatha escapes in a car down to the river where the Firestone is thrown into the water. The Vespiform goes in after it and is drowned. As its last act, it releases Agatha from the Firestone’s clutches and she collapses. The trauma causes her to suffer amnesia which, it turns out, is the reason for her famous disappearance.
The Unicorn And The Wasp was a very watchable episode of ‘New’ Who. The Tennant-Tate partnership gets ever stronger and there were good performances from Fenella Woolgar as Agatha Christie and Felicity Kendal as Lady Eddison.
The episode was written by Gareth Roberts, author of The Shakespeare Code. So the Tenth Doctor has now met Shakespeare, Christie and Dickens. Who’s next?
All in all, another enjoyable episode as season four shapes up to be the best of Tennant’s reign.