by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Five: "The Lodger"

Posted 27 June 2010 in by Catriona

You’ll all be pleased to hear that the peanut gallery is back for this week’s episode—but currently Heather is playing with my camera and Michelle is playing with Nick’s iPad. So we won’t know yet whether they’re going to stop in order to comment.

The third last episode of the season! Let’s see how well this one goes. I worry sometimes that my live-blogging has run away with me. I fear it controls me, instead of vice versa.

Of course, I also fear that I’m completely mad, so you probably shouldn’t listen to me.

Except when it comes to Doctor Who. You should definitely listen to me on Doctor Who.

The TARDIS materialises in a park, and the Doctor steps out the door—just before he’s thrown away from the TARDIS by an explosion, leaving Amy alone in the TARDIS.

Amy freaks out in the TARDIS and the Doctor freaks out in the park.

One day later, a young boy walks past a house, as a voice, coming from the intercom, asks if he can help.

HEATHER: Are you my mummy?

The boy walks in, and a shadowy man at the top of the stairs says something terrible has happened, and asks if the boy can help.

The door closes behind the boy.

In the downstairs flat, a woman asks what’s wrong with the ceiling, just before the spreading stain spreads even further. The man with her says that the man upstairs is “just some bloke.”

The man has put an ad in the paper for a new flat mate.

MAN: Otherwise you’ll have to settle for me.
WOMAN: You’d have to settle for me first.

They settle in for pizza-booze-telly night, before the woman gets a phone call and has to leave. She leans back against the door for a minute, and we all say, “Aww.”

Craig looks at the fridge—which shows he’s visited the Van Gogh exhibition—before realising the woman has left her keys behind. When the doorbell rings, he wanders down the hallways with her keys, rehearsing, “I love you. I love you.”

When he opens the door with “I love you!”, the Doctor says, “That’s good. Because I’m your new lodger.”


Craig isn’t thrilled about the Doctor as a lodger—he’s more pleased when the Doctor hands him a paper bag full of money but less thrilled when the Doctor kisses him on both cheeks, saying, “That’s how you greet each other these days, isn’t it?”

Second intra-textual moment of the episode.

The Doctor uses the psychic paper to flash his credentials. (No euphemisms.)

CRAIG: Is that a reference from the Archbishop of Canterbury?
DOCTOR: I’m his special favourite.

Amy materialises in the TARDIS, but only briefly.

The Doctor asks about the photo of Sophie on the fridge, asking if she’s Craig’s girlfriend.

CRAIG: Friend who’s a girl. There’s nothing going on.
DOCTOR: That’s perfectly normal. Works for me.

Then the Doctor cooks an omelette, and when Craig asks where he learned to cook, says, “Paris. Eighteenth century. No, that’s not recent, is it? Seventeenth century. No. I’m not used to doing things in the right order.”

But the Doctor’s weird and he cooks, so Craig lets him stay. The Doctor settles in his new room, and contacts “Pond” on his fancy, vaguely Cyborg earpiece.

On the phone to Craig, Sophie wonders whether “the Doctor” is a dealer, since he has three grand in a paper bag.

The mysterious voice drags another person into the house, this time a woman who looks as though she’s already had a pretty bad night.

The Doctor’s already aware of the mysterious man upstairs, and keeping an eye on the damp stain. He needs to stay anonymous.

DOCTOR: So, no sonicing.
MICHELLE: No what?!

The clock in the Doctor’s bedroom starts going tonto, and the Doctor says it’s a “localised time distortion”. The TARDIS is responding badly, but the Doctor can talk her down. Lucky, since he needs to leave to “pick up a few items”—including a bicycle wheel.

The next morning, the Doctor’s in the shower, singing away, while Craig shouts through the door that he’s just going upstairs.

This finally gets through to the Doctor, who throws himself out of the shower and hares upstairs in a towel, wielding an electronic toothbrush.

There were all sorts of rumours online about whether he was thoroughly covered in these scenes.

As he’s halfway up the stairs in the towel, Sophie comes in. The Doctor kisses her on both cheeks, and it’s delightfully awkward. Then Craig invites the Doctor to come and play football with the pub team. Apparently, Matt Smith was national-level when he was a schoolboy, then hurt his back. So here’s a chance for him to show his skills.

Sophie and Craig flirt awkwardly but sweetly.

The Doctor wanders down to the park in his football kit and tweed jacket, and kisses all his teammates on the cheek.

Are you any good, though? asks Sean.

The Doctor says they’ll find out.

He’s definitely good, but taking Craig’s free kick (or is that a penalty? Hard to see in a pub match) is not the nicest thing to do.

The game ends with Craig standing alone while, off-screen, everyone chants “Doc-tor! Doc-tor! Doc-tor!”

The house attracts another victim, this time a middle-aged woman.

At the park, the Doctor pontificates a bit about being the Oncoming Storm, before his team-mates get caught in a time loop, ad we cut to the middle-aged woman screaming.

Amy, in the TARDIS, is caught in the disturbance, but the Doctor manages to stabilise things.

DOCTOR: I thought for a moment the TARDIS had been flung off into the vortex with you inside it, lost forever.

This, it seems, is the first time the Doctor has mentioned this.

Back at the flat, Craig knocks on the Doctor’s door to ask if he could give them some “space” tonight, because Sophie’s coming round for “pizza-beer-telly.” The Doctor says that Craig won’t even know he’s here, before disappearing back into his room and smacking some things around.

That night, Craig is halfway through a confession of his love—which prompts Michelle to shout, “Just say it!”—when the Doctor pops up behind the sofa, claiming to be rewiring the flat. Sophie asks him to stay and have a drink, and the Doctor agrees.

The Doctor’s fiddling with things in his armchair and failing to drink red wine (okay, ew!), while Sophie talks about wanting to go and live with orangutans. The Doctor taunts her for a bit, until he tells her to work out what’s really keeping her here.

This leads to an awkward Craig-and-Sophie hug in the hallway, and we all give up hope that they’ll ever snog.

The Doctor, back in his room, has some weird device built of rakes and paddles and bicycle wheels, which he’s built on his bed.

In the living room, Craig, annoyed by both the Doctor and the growing stain on his ceiling, touches the stain, despite the Doctor telling him twenty minutes ago not to do that.

Nick points out that those are totally our sofas, and Michelle suggests that they’re also our ceilings.

We all look nervously for mould on the ceiling, but there’s just the same old plaster that’s been falling off in strips for nine years.

Craig is dying in bed the next morning, until the Doctor restores him by thumping his chest and then serving him tea from a Charles and Diana wedding teapot.

He wakes up late in the afternoon, hares into work, and finds that the Doctor has taken over his job and is alienating all his best customers and being served tea and custard creams by Sophie, who is about the start work as a volunteer at a orangutan sanctuary.

DOCTOR: Hello, Mr Jorgensen? Can you hold? I have to eat a biscuit.

Craig, at home, enters the Doctor’s bedroom and isn’t too pleased to see the whirling machine on the bed.

He’s less pleased to find the Doctor sitting on the steps communicating with the cat.

He kicks the Doctor out, saying that these have been the three weirdest days of his life. He thought it was good weird, but it’s bad weird, and he can’t cope.

So the Doctor says he’s going to do something, even though he’ll regret it—and he headbutts Craig, giving him first general information and then specific details about the weird stuff going on in the house.

Of course, this all coincides with Sophie letting herself into the house and being sidetracked on the stairs by a little girl.

Sophie heads up the stairs, though Michelle tells her “No.”

Amy still hasn’t found the plans to the house that the Doctor asked her to find, but the time distortions begin again, showing us that someone is dying upstairs.

The Doctor and Craig hare upstairs, but Amy says that she’s found the plans, and they can’t be upstairs.

They are, says the Doctor.

No, says Amy: there’s no upstairs. It’s a one-storey house.

There’s a lovely shot here where the camera zooms back down the stairs.

Of course, it’s our old friend the perception filter.

What’s happening—they find, as they save Sophie—that the crew has died in a crash, and the holographic emergency protocol has been trying one pilot after another, even though their brains just fry.

Should have gone with a holographic doctor. Those are totes safe.

But now they’ve found the Doctor. And the Doctor can’t fly without the entire Solar System exploding.

The Doctor tells Craig that he needs to touch the panel instead. He says that Craig is the man who doesn’t want to leave, so he needs to think about why he wants to stay.

The answer’s Sophie, of course. And Sophie loves him, too. As we knew she did.

They waffle about it for a bit, until the Doctor gets impatient.

DOCTOR: Not now, Craig. The planet’s about to burn. For God’s sake, kiss the girl!

Craig does, and it comes perilously close to “saving an android through the power of love.”

Then the spaceship implodes, and we’re left with a one-storey house.

CRAIG: I could see the point of Paris, if you were there with me.
SOPHIE: First, let’s destroy our friendship completely.
HEATHER: Okay, ew.

Craig insists that the Doctor takes the house keys, and then we see this week’s crack.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor insists that Amy leave a note for him, the note that directed him to the house in the first place. But in looking for a pen, she finds her engagement ring.

And the crack opens a little further.

Next week: the first of the two-part finale.

Share your thoughts [22]


Deb wrote at Jun 27, 12:00 pm

Matt Smith? nowhere near as hot in a shower scene as Jon Pertwee was – sorry.


Matthew Smith wrote at Jun 27, 01:19 pm

A really fun episode but I was pretty lost on the ending – something about a holographic repair program and somehow you could blow it up by not wanting to leave? Whatever. The rest was great and I like it better when you can’t see the monster!

I didn’t get the intratextual moments you referred to. I spotted the Van Gogh postcard on the fridge but what’s the left-right air kiss from?


Catriona wrote at Jun 27, 03:00 pm

The left-right air kiss is also from “Vincent and the Doctor”: the Doctor was a bit startled when Vincent kissed him, but I suppose he’s decided that it’s an odd human habit.

I don’t think they were meant to be air kisses: I think there was just a (fairly explicable) recoil on the part of the recipients as this odd alien comes lunging towards them.


Wendy wrote at Jun 27, 09:21 pm

is there any talk that this was inspired by Hitchcock’s The Lodger?
Again enjoyed much more than all the episodes (up until Vincent last week), but like Matt got a bit confused at the end…never mind though…particularly liked Craig and Sophie characters as well as the Doctor playing football.


Catriona wrote at Jun 27, 11:17 pm

The ending was a bit weak, for me—I thought it was a little close to the end of the Winston Churchill episode. Otherwise, I thought this was rather a fun episode and another interesting idea for a standalone.

I don’t know about the Hitchcock angle. Nick might have seen something: he basically lives on Doctor Who forums.


Drew wrote at Jun 27, 11:49 pm

Fun but silly, was bothered a little bit by the suggestion that the ship was somehow Tardis-like – bigger on the inside. We’ve already had the comment from the Daleks in Doomsday that the Ark was Time-Lord science so I would imagine that a bigger-on-the-inside craft is not something that just anyone can wack together on a Sunday afternoon.


Tim wrote at Jun 28, 01:41 am

I thought this was a delightful episode spoiled by a very rushed and contrived ending. It also seemed odd that the Doctor would not run right upstairs the first time the flashing lights and time skips went off. And that, once he gets into the ship, he doesn’t seem particularly curious that it’s such high-level tech.

Minor thoughts:

It’s not related to the Hitchcock film. Gareth Roberts wrote a comic strip called ‘The Lodger’ (about the Tenth Doctor and Mickey), and he adapted the idea to write this episode.

I’m pretty sure they’re just air kisses.

Sophie wants to work with orangutans, not chimpanzees.

Did the cat belong to Craig?

Y’know, I think we’ve seen more images of the first eight doctors in this season than in the last four seasons put together.


Catriona wrote at Jun 28, 01:57 am

I like seeing images of the previous Doctors: it always makes me happy.

Orangutans is very difficult to spell when you’re in a hurry. No, just kidding: I didn’t even notice that mistake.

I should have been clearer on the air kisses, though most kisses on the cheek are air kisses of a sort: I only meant that I think they were airier than intended, because of the lunging away from the crazy alien.


Drew wrote at Jun 28, 01:59 am

Perhaps the cat was Professor McGonagall, she has a way of turning up where least expected. It never occurred to me to wonder where the cat came from or how it got in, but yeah, whose cat is it?

“Y’know, I think we’ve seen more images of the first eight doctors in this season than in the last four seasons put together.”

and I am loving that aspect of the current season.


Catriona wrote at Jun 28, 02:40 am

I didn’t even think about the cat. Isn’t turning up mysteriously just the way of cats? I figured it was wandering around the streets, as is its wont, and the Doctor shanghaied it.


Nick Caldwell wrote at Jun 28, 04:58 am

The Doctor is far less reckless than usual in this episode, but I think it does try to establish that he’s extremely worried about the threat the upstairs lodger represents; it’s able to destabilise the TARDIS, and we know that the TARDIS fragment he found at the end of “Cold Blood” must be weighing on his mind.

I can’t remember where I saw the observation (thought it was in Jon Blum’s review, but it doesn’t seem to have been) that the episode’s climax was actually a counter to the “love saves all” paradigm – the Doctor convinces Craig and Sophie to lower their expectations and settle in order to shut the machine down. Not entirely sure I buy that reading but it’s amusing.


Tim wrote at Jun 28, 07:09 am

The fact that his concern is established merely emphasises the contrivance.

I don’t know Jon Blum, but The Medium is Not Enough said ‘The love story with James Corden was a little dreary, with two people of not much joy and inspiration finding that being couch potatoes together and not achieving anything with their lives could save the world. Couldn’t see that making it into the RTD’s “be all you can be” world of Doctor Who, something I will miss.’ Which is, I think, unfair; I’m sure the intended reading is that Craig and Sophie aren’t settling but are admitting their True Love, and consider that Craig says he can imagine going to Paris with Sophie. It’s certainly not a counter to ‘love saves all’.


Catriona wrote at Jun 28, 07:20 am

I agree, Tim: I think that’s a little unfair. Who determines what is “achievement”? Who says that “be all you can be” involves orangutans or even Paris?

The ending does open up some further possibilities: there’s a hint that Craig is a couch potato not because that’s all he wants out of life but because those are the parameters of his current relationship with Sophie and he doesn’t want to unbalance those at all—he knows she’s up for pizza-beer-telly and he’s too frightened to see if she’s also up for a dirty weekend in Paris.

There were also, it seems to me, lovely little hints of desperation and depression in that relationship, before they took the decision to “destroy their friendship”: Sophie leaning against the door is the most obvious one. Those also suggested to me that the couch-potato lifestyle might have had more than a hint of circumstantial depression behind it.

(Though, perhaps, I’m just seeing that because this was tied so closely to “Vincent and the Doctor.”)

Plus, “RTD’s ‘be all you can be’ world of Doctor Who”? Yes, I remember when the Doctor told Donna to “be magnificent”. I also remember that she ended up with a lobotomy and a lottery ticket. Not everyone benefited from RTD’s tenure.


Tim wrote at Jun 28, 11:30 am

Yeah. I thought Craig and Sophie were sweet. (Though there is a fair point about Sophie being somewhat passive.)

To digress, I’m hoping that next season we get a cat as a companion.


Lodger wrote at Jun 29, 08:43 am

Been away from this forum for a while, but have been keeping an eye on it. In fact, I missed the Vincent ep so your blog kept me in touch in wonderful fashion. As for Tim, I too hope for a feline companion next season.

I wish I had answers for some of the queries being raised here, but I admit there were a few aspects of this ep that left me grasping. I enjoyed it, very much, but found fewer answers and more offhand references to something “out there” — Conradesque “inscrutable intent” and all that — that can be fun once or twice but a bit hollow when it becomes key to holding the story together.

That may be why the ending is so easy to read in such divergent fashion. How one reads the ending is determined by how one has filled in the “indescribable” bits in the middle. [And, yes, like Sheldon in BBT, I acknowledge that using “one” can get one beaten up in school.]

For me, having read the upstairs from pretty early on as a Tardis-like addition, with references to perception filters flying around, it was actually then quite difficult to resolve the “reality” of the console-sucks-people-in-until-it-finds-real-pilot with what had come before, so the love conquers all angle struck me as twee. Happy not to see the monster, but would have liked to get a stronger feel for its physical presence (as the mould on the ceiling seemed to suggest was in the offing … there I go slipping back into Conrad again). Lodger out.


Catriona wrote at Jun 29, 11:12 am

Well, what an appropriate episode for you to come back in on, Lodger!

I wasn’t thrilled with the ending. I did like Craig and Sophie’s relationship—and about as far as I’m willing to go with subversive readings, though I do see your point, is the idea above that the unwilling period of status has led to a kind of circumstantial depression, so that the Craig the Doctor sees is not a representative Craig.

But the “you can overpower a spaceship by loving someone hard enough” is just a little too close, as I said in the blog post, to “saving an android through the power of love.”


richard wrote at Jun 29, 03:33 pm

I really enjoyed this story and its many joyous comic moments, though the death toll mounting as the Doctor faffed about was somewhat jarring. Particularly, I imagine, for the victims.

I agree about the weakness in the ending, but I loved the trademark Matt Smith rushed dialog in the resolution, leading up to “Of course it’s a lie” and “Kiss the girl”. They done it several times during the season: the whole, “I won’t know if I’ve got a plan until I finish talking” schtick. On the whole, though – as with Android Bracewell – you’d have to admit the solution was far more faith- than science-based. What’s that line about any sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic?

I managed to convince myself that the handwriting on the street numbers underneath the doorbells is the same as the handwriting (Amy’s) on the card… Mysterious plot point, or just the same standby props guy? Honestly, everything looks like a clue this season!


Catriona wrote at Jun 29, 09:33 pm

I actually had a little rave to Nick last night about just how much I’m enjoying Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. I know many people are not, which I imagine is a testament to David Tennant’s charisma. But I’ve liked him since the first episode and I’ve grown to like him more and more as the season’s passed. One aspect of his performance that I like (apart from how physical an actor he is) is that he brings an alien tinge to the character that reminds me distinctly of the First Doctor.

We were talking about this last night, and I was thinking that the Tenth Doctor was, in a way, oddly human. Still alien, of course, but oddly human. You might attribute it, I suppose, to the Doctor’s “idolisation of the quotidian,” which we talked about here, or you could attribute it his desire to cleave more closely to Rose, who was healing him after the horrors of the Time War. You could attribute it to many other things that I’ve never even thought of, I suppose, but I think it’s there.

The Eleventh Doctor, though, has some of those touches of the alien that made William Hartnell such a fascinating character in the first place.

That’s a terribly long-winded way of saying I liked the scene in the park where he thought his football buddies were planning on annihilating something.

But remember this comment: I’m coming back to this in a couple of weeks’ time. (No spoilers!)


Catriona wrote at Jun 29, 09:34 pm

And it’s good to see you back, Richard! You’ve been very quiet this season.


Drew wrote at Jul 3, 12:08 am

He reminds me more of Troughton than Hartnell, though I see aspects of many of the earlier Doctors in him. I think he is fantastic (no pun intended).

I was thinking though about this season and its 13 episodes in comparision to the usual American season length of approx 26 episodes. The shortness of the season places more pressure (audience expectation) on each individual episode simply because there aren’t as many of them. With longer seasons you tend to be a bit more forgiving of the poorer stories but Dr. Who really can’t afford to have too many episode of that ilk.


Catriona wrote at Jul 3, 02:36 am

Wouldn’t an equally valid point of comparison be the usual British series length of six episodes? From that perspective, Doctor Who actually has a bit more leeway.

But otherwise, you’re right: that’s absolutely why I’m harder on the poorer episodes of Doctor Who (and, of course, on poorer episodes of such American shows as Deadwood—if I could only remember a poor episode of Deadwood, which I can’t—or Dexter or True Blood). I may have said that here on the blog somewhere or I may only have ranted to Nick about it, but with only thirteen episodes, we really shouldn’t have ones like whatever that Winston Churchill one was called or “Fear Her.”

(I think the Second Doctor was very much the model for the Eleventh Doctor, certainly sartorially. But for me, the Second Doctor is such a clown—and even the First Doctor thought so—that he doesn’t have that “superficially human but distinctly, completely, rather frighteningly alien” vibe that the First Doctor had, and which I see sometimes in the Eleventh Doctor. That’s the point of comparison I’m drawing between them. It’s not the Eleventh Doctor’s only characteristic of his previous regenerations, by any means.)


richard wrote at Jul 3, 02:48 am

I haven’t been quiet; I’ve been posting from behind a perception filter… Take my word for it; the posts are there… You can just see them… In the corner of your eye…

And I love the Eleventh Doctor’s alienness. My favourite example of it was in the way he empties the glass of water to listen at the crack in Amelia’s wall way back in The Eleventh Hour. It’s as if he’s an adolescent who hasn’t quite grown into the body he’s wearing. At first I thought it was a regeneration thing, but it’s persisted throughout the series. So many of his mannerisms are born of mimicking what he sees around him (the air kisses; the call centre attitude); while at other times he seems to be trying to remember how he’s meant to behave: Amy’s Choice was full of those moments. It’s quite a contrast from the ‘hyper-human’ Tenth Doctor, role model for all the human race.

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