A Tyrannosaurus Rex roams through Victorian London.
Inspector Gregson attempts to hold the massing crowds back, and thankfully, he sees a lizard woman, a short potato-headed man and a beautiful maid making their way to the front. Vastra, Jenny and Strax. They give the police sonic lanterns to hold the dinosaur back, trap it in the Thames away from civilians, using a high-pitched frequency.
But the T. Rex seems irritated, almost as if it’s… choking? And then it coughs a blue box from its mouth.
The TARDIS lands on the banks of the Thames and the Paternoster Gang head down. Strax approaches and knocks on the door. It opens, but there’s a new man there and he has one important thing to say:
And he shuts the door again.
His curiosity gets the better of him and he comes back out, babbling about escaping from a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Then he spots the one in the Thames. “Oh!” he shouts. “You’ve got a dinosaur too!” Clara wearily comes out of the TARDIS – not that this man can remember her. “You’re Handles,” he says. “You used to be a little – a little robot head and now you’ve… you’ve really let yourself go.”
He blacks out, falling to the sandy ground. But Jenny’s confused: who’s that? And where’s the Doctor?!
“That’s him,” Clara tells them. “That’s the Doctor.”
“Don’t look in that mirror; it’s absolutely furious.”
After a few attempts, they eventually get the Doctor to sleep. Clara watches over him for a time, questioning his new face: “Where did he get that face? Why has it got lines on it? It’s brand new. How can his hair be all grey? He only just got it.”
Alone with this strange man, Clara looks out to the riverside where the dinosaur roars, somehow sadly. The Doctor, asleep, begins talking: “I am alone. The world which shook at my feet, and the trees , the sky… have gone. I am alone now. Alone.”
“Are you translating?” Clara realises.
“The wind bites now,” he goes on, “and the world is grey.”
The dinosaur still holds the attention of Londoners. One watches and informs a stranger that it doesn’t look right, not realistic: it’s probably something to do with the government.
“You have good eyes,” the stranger says.
“I do, as it happens… They’re my greatest gift.”
“I accept.” The stranger pulls out some tweezers.
“What’s that for?”
The stranger turns around – and he has half a face. The other half is clockwork, a metallic ticking behind a human eyeball.
“Your gift. I have bad eyes.”
Clara joins Vastra and Jenny, the former of whom is sat down, her veil covering her face. Clara doesn’t seem to know the Doctor anymore. She thinks the Doctor has gone. But Vastra tells her that he regenerated, that he’s been renewed.
“He doesn’t look renewed – he looks older.”
“He looked young. Who do you think that was for?” Vastra asks. “Everyone. I wear a veil as he wore a face – for the same reason… To be accepted. I wear a veil to keep from view what many are pleased to call my disfigurement. I do not wear it as a courtesy to such people, but as a judgment on the quality of their hearts.”
Clara realises she’s being judged. But she stands up for herself; Marcus Aurelius was her only ‘poster boy’ when she was younger, so don’t think that her head can be turned as easily as Vastra thinks.
“He is lost in the ruin of himself,” Vastra tells her, “and we must bring him home.”
The Doctor, meanwhile, is awake again, scribbling calculations on the floor in chalk, his head brimming with information. And then he hears the T. Rex once more. He disregards the door – “not me” – and heads for the window!
On the roof, he shouts to the lonely creature, apologising that he took it through time with him when he dematerialised in the TARDIS. But before he can even attempt to get her back to her own time… she bursts into flame. He has to get to her. He falls from the roof, tumbling through a tree, and steals a horse.
Clara and the Paternoster Gang have also heard the dinosaur breathing her last, and head for the river – where they already find the Doctor. He stands on the edge, looking down on flaming wreck of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. He laments her death. She was scared; scared and alone. “The Doctor!” Clara says. “What’s he doing here?”
“There is trouble,” Vastra replies. “Where else would he be?”
Humans, too, gaze on, gawping at the unbelievable sight. But the Doctor spots one man on the opposite bank who isn’t looking in amazement. He’s calm and collected.
Vastra asks who or what could have set fire to the dinosaur, but the Doctor tells her that that’s the wrong question. The right one is: “have there been any similar murders?”
The Doctor flings himself in the river, in search of the answers.
Clara wakes up the next morning and the Doctor still is not there.
She heads own for breakfast and Strax gives her a routine examination – routine only for those who are staying to fight alongside him. Is that it then? Isn’t the Doctor coming back for her?
The Doctor is rummaging through the rubbish, somewhere in the back streets of London. There is a mirror there, but he doesn’t recognise the face that stares back. Or does he…? “It’s covered in lines, but I didn’t do the frowning. Who frowned me this face?”
He chances upon Barney, a homeless man looking for warmth. The Doctor, though, carries on rambling about his new visage.
“Why this one? Why did I choose this face? It’s like I’m trying to tell myself something. Like I’m trying to make a point. But what is so important that I can’t just tell myself what I’m thinking? I’m not just being rhetorical here. You can join in!”
“I don’t like it,” comes the reply.
“Well, I don’t like it either. I mean, it’s alright up to the eyebrows. Then it just goes haywire. Look at the eyebrows! These are attack eyebrows. You could take bottle caps off with these.”
The Doctor realises he’s cold too – and instructs Barney to give him his jacket…
Vastra, meanwhile, has realised why there have been so many fiery deaths over the last few months: by destroying the body so completely, you conceal what is missing from it. Someone or something is harvesting body parts.
Clara rushes in with the newspaper: she’s found a message addressed to “The Impossible Girl”. It must be from the Doctor! Though it’s naturally cryptic, she realises their meeting place: lunchtime at Mancini’s Family Restaurant.
Indeed, the Doctor joins her at a table – wearing a dusty old jacket, looking every bit homeless.
“So what kind of person would put a cryptic note in a newspaper advert?” Clara asks.
“Well, I wouldn’t like to say – ”
But she presses him, and he continues: “Well. I would say that that person would be an egomaniac needy game player sort of person.”
“Well, at least that hasn’t changed.”
“I don’t suppose it ever will… Clara, honestly. I don’t want you to change. It was no bother, really. I saw your advert, figured it out. Happy to play your game.”
“I didn’t place the ad, you placed the ad!”
But no: neither of them placed the ad, so – - “Hang on. Egomaniac needy game player?” Clara suddenly says, outraged. “You were talking about me?!”
It’s a trap. And yes, looking around, they can see that none of the other customers are actually eating or drinking or… Well, or breathing! They go through the motions, put on pretence, but they’re not real. They’re robots. But as the Doctor and Clara go to leave, the robots get up, advancing on them. A waiter comes over and scans them for usable body parts. He very much likes the Doctor’s liver.
Bonds close in on them, fastening them to the chair, which drops down through the floor. Definitely a trap.
“It’s more of a sort of automated organ collection station for the unwary diner,” the Doctor explains. “Sweeney Todd without the pies… Factually, an ancient spaceship probably here for centuries. Functionally, a larder.”
The Half-Face Man sits in the centre of the massive room, its walls lined with alcoves. Waiting in them: more unblinking, unbreathing robots. The Half-Face Man is dormant – for now.
The pair escape their bonds using the sonic screwdriver, and go over to the Half-Face Man.
“See this – this is not your normal cyborg,” the Doctor says, examining the man closer. “This is not a man turning himself into a robot. This is a robot turning himself into a man, piece by piece.” That’s why they’re harvesting parts.
But cogs turn and the Half-Face Man begins to wake up. The Doctor and Clara go to a nearby exit, a corridor leading deeper into the belly of the restaurant. However, the door closes on Clara, sealing her in with the Half-Face Man and the other cyborgs.
“Sorry, too slow,” the Doctor says through the door. “There’s no point in him catching us both.”
“Well, give me the screwdriver!”
“I might need it.”
And he leaves her, alone, as the Half-Face Man wakes up to scout out his latest victims.
TO BE CONTINUED…