Review of Midnight
Written by Russell T. Davies, Directed by Alice Troughton                                                                                  14 June 2008

The Doctor and Sky Silvestry

by Monika Lewis

"Midnight" is another very different episode from others in the new series, after "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead."  The Doctor is without a companion, as independent Donna has decided that she'd rather sunbathe than go on a bus trip across the planet.  The Doctor goes on the trip, but finds that the excursion has been commercialized and separates travelers from the experience.  In a satire of modern airline travel, they are given three competing "entertainment options" at once, which the Doctor quickly turns off with his sonic screwdriver and gets to know the passengers and crew in his usual fashion. 

But the episode takes a different turn when he finds there is nowhere to run and the people he thought of as allies turn against him.  In his distracted state, the Doctor doesn't notice Rose trying to attract his attention from one of the television screens in the bus.  The alien threat is unseen and unreachable, but takes over first Sky, a lone traveler that the Doctor identified with, and then in a horrifying turn begins to take over the Doctor and he has no control over the situation.  As the alien force takes control, the Doctor is fighting against it but can do nothing but repeat what Sky is saying.  The Hostess finally figures out that it is Sky that is in possession of the alien, not the Doctor, and sacrifices herself to save the rest of them.  But the Doctor is drained of all his usual energy and confidence after this experience.  When Donna repeats his statement, "Molto bene," it recalls Rose in "Tooth and Claw" attempting a Scottish accent, and Martha in "The Shakespeare Code" throwing out her idea of Elizabethan dialect.  The Doctor immediately told them, "No, don't do that" but here it reminds him of his experience of the alien consciousness taking over his mind, and he tells Donna repeatedly not to say that in the aftermath of the trauma he has had to deal with. 

Even before this happens, the Doctor is not in control of the situation because he has no companion to defend him to the other passengers.  The Doctor echoes the misguided protegy Luke Rattigan in "The Poison Sky" when he tells the others that they must listen to him because "I'm clever" and they resent the implication that they are less capable than he is.  Though the Doctor is more able to deal with these situations than other people, he usually doesn't have to explain himself or his companion acts as the diplomat to the new acquaintences.  Donna herself in "The Runaway Bride" was just as demanding when she was transported aboard the TARDIS, but later on she came to understand his lifestyle and decided to join him.  The Fourth Doctor story "The Deadly Assassin" was one of the few other times when he was without a companion, when he took Sarah Jane Smith home because outsiders were not allowed on Gallifrey.  Attempting to investigate a mystery on his own, the Doctor enters the world of the Matrix in his mind where anything can happen and his life is in danger. 

The alien in Midnight would seem to have been attracted to the Doctor because of his telepathic powers, while separating from the other tourists.  The "time lapse" device in the beginning is humorous, as the Doctor gets to know the others, but later it is suspenseful since they are running out of time.    This experience seems to have affected the Doctor as much as the loss of Rose, since the alien had gotten into his head and affected his emotions and he had no control over it.  Rose was also taken away from him during the Battle of Canary Wharf in "Doomsday" and sent to the parallel universe, but we will get some continuation of that story when Rose returns in the next episode, "Turn Left."