A First-Timer Watches Doctor Who: “The Lodger”

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If you’ve ever dreamed of being more than just companions with Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, then ‘The Lodger’ was definitely shot with you in mind. (Amy, stuck inside an on-the-fritz TARDIS, is barely in the episode, so she won’t be around to get in your way.)

We do see an awful lot of the Doctor though—almost too much during a particular shower scene.

Ahem. Anyway, while Amy buzzes about through time and space like a television that can’t seem to land a single channel, the Doctor is stuck on earth and in need of of lodgings. That’s where Craig, a love-sick homebody who has never set foot outside his hometown of Colchester, comes in.

Craig needs a roommate, the Doctor needs a room—it’s destiny! Well, destiny, plus the brown paper sack stuffed with cash that the Doctor offers up along with his credentials, direct from the Archbishop of Canterbury (thanks once again to those psychic papers).

As the Doctor tells Amy, all he has to do now is pass as an ordinary human being until he figures out what it is in Colchester that’s causing the disturbance aboard the TARDIS. What could go wrong with that?

A handful of things, apparently. At the beginning of their cohabitation the new roomies run into some roadblocks. Craig sees the Doctor as a romantic rival. And a football rival. And a work rival. And really quite weird. Craig, however, has deadly alien technology occupying the second floor of his home and there isn’t a single local tradesperson capable of dealing with it, so his options are limited.

Plus, the Doctor makes a great mayonnaise-laden omelette. (Is there such a thing as a psychic pan?)

Back to that rot: it’s unsightly, but what lies beyond it is worse. Upstairs is not a second floor at all, but a marooned alien spaceship in need of a pilot. This is one of the more unusual aspects of the episode: no monster, just a malignant machine.

The 17 passersby the ship has lured upstairs—via holograms shaped like helpless humans, one of whom is awfully referential of this guy—haven’t passed the audition process (and, therefore, have been zapped out of existence). Sophie, the object of Craig’s affections, is about to be next. Thanks to some intel from a local cat, the Doctor finally figures out what’s going on “upstairs” and he and Craig rush in to save the day. The ship implodes, the ceiling rot disappears, and Craig, of course, gets the girl. It’s as close to a rom-com as the show gets and it’s the perfect palate-cleanser as we head into the two-part season finale.

If only there weren’t that pesky crack in the universe lurking behind Craig’s refrigerator.

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