Friday, 28 December 2007

The Fires of Pompeii

Originally aired: Saturday April 12, 2008 on BBC-1
Writer: James Moran (III)
Director: Colin Teague
Show Stars: Catherine Tate (Donna Noble), David Tennant (The Tenth Doctor)
Guest Stars: Peter Capaldi (Caecillius) , Tracey Childs (Metella) , Philip Davis (Lucius) , Phil Cornwell (Stallholder) , Victoria Wicks (High Priestess) , Karen Gillan (Soothsayer) , Lorraine Burroughs (Thalina) , Sasha Behar (Spurrina) , Francesca Fowler (Evelina) , Francois Pandolfo (Quintus) , Gerard Bell (Major Domo)

The Doctor brings Donna to Ancient Rome and as they tour the area, they're unaware that a pale woman in a red dress is watching them. They finally get a clear shot of the horizon, and see not seven hills but one large smoking mountain. They realize they're in Pompeii on the day before its eruption.

The woman goes to a temple and asks to speak with the High Priestess, and says that the Blue Box has come as foretold in the prophecy. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Donna run back to the TARDIS only to discover that it's gone. They talk to the shopkeeper who reveals that he sold it to a marble sculptor, Caecilius. Another earthquake shakes the house, disturbing Caecilius, his wife Metalla, their son Quintus, and wife Evelina. Evelina is to be inducted into the Sybilline Sisterhood because of her gift as visions, and as she looks into the brazier, she sees a stone figure moving through the flames.

Donna tries to convince the Doctor to save the people but he warns that it's a fixed point in time and can't be altered. He continues to look for the TARDIS, while the red-cloaked woman, a member of the Sybilline, continues to watch them and let her sisters know that they are strangers. In the temple, the Sisterhood is aware that the TARDIS arrival warns of a time of chaos. The Head Priestess warns that if the Doctor defies the prophecy, the temple will run with blood.

The Doctor and Donna find Caecilius' household and she tries to get the family to leave. The Doctor gets her away and again warns her not to intervene. Lucius, the Head Augur, arrives and speaks cryptically of the future. The Doctor heads for the TARDIS… until reveals a stone tablet engraved with circuitry, that Lucius commissioned from his visions. Evelina warns against them, saying she inhales the visions to gain her visions. Lucius doesn't believe in her prophecies, but she knows of the Doctor and Donna from her visions. Lucius starts speaking of their personal histories as well, saying that "she" is returning to the Doctor, and that there is something on Donna's back. Evelina concludes by identifying the Doctor as a "Lord of Time" before fainting.

Metalla takes Evelina to her quarters to rest, and Donna accompanies her. She notices that Evelina's right arm is partially petrified. Meanwhile, the Doctor examines the grate through which the underground vapors emerge that Evelina gains her visions from. After the vapor was released by the recent eruptions, the soothsayers started gaining incredibly accurate visions, but haven't spoken of the next day's eruption. The Doctor then goes to see Quintus and pays him to lead the way to Lucius' household. They break in and determine that Lucius has commissioned individual marble plates from a variety of stone makers. Lucius comes in with his guards and says they are building a mechanism for the gods.

Donna talks to Evelina and learns she was chosen by the Sisterhood to join their numbers. Evelina has no knowledge of the eruption and Donna tries to warn her. The Sybilline sense her efforts through Evelina and assert there is only one true prophecy. Evelina refuses to listen and the High Priestess insists that Pompeii will stand forever and the "false prophet" must be destroyed.

The Doctor assembles the marble circuitry and determines it's an energy converter. Lucius refuses to listen to reason and orders the guards to kill the Doctor and Quintus. The Doctor offers his hand in congratulations and then pulls off his right arm to reveal the entire right side of his body is petrified. The Doctor runs out, using his sonic screwdriver to knock over the panels. Lucius calls into the fumes and asks the Lord of Pompeii to show himself. The streets start to quake and the Doctor and Quintus run to the Caecilius household where a giant flaming figure of lava emerges from the gas vent. The Doctor tells them to get water and tries to communicate with it, unaware that the Sisterhood has kidnapped Donna. Before he can communicate with it, the others hit the creature with water, reducing it to inanimate stone. The Doctor finally realizes that Donna is gone.

The Sisterhood prepares to sacrifice Donna at their temple when the Doctor arrives, frees Donna, and says that he knew the original Sybil who would be ashamed of them. The High Priestess speaks out and reveals that she is almost entirely petrified. She insists that "the voices" told her it was necessary and the other priestess reveal they are in varying states of petrifaction. The Doctor tries to talk to the creature within them and demands to know who they are. Finally the Sybil speaks in the voice of the Pyroviles. They say they fell from the heavens seventeen years ago and are now using human bodies to reconstitute themselves. The Doctor holds it off with a water pistol and demands to know where the gift of prophecy comes from, and yet they can't foresee the eruption. The Sisterhood realizes the water pistol is harmless but the Doctor escapes into the gas vents with Donna. The Pyroviles speak through all of their possessed humans and have Lucius take the marble tables to the cave of the gods. A lava golem emerges from it.

The Doctor and Donna make their way to the heart of Vesuvius while Donna questions why he can't save anyone. The Doctor locates a ship and begins to suspect what's up. Lucius spots them and orders the lava golems to attack. The Doctor holds one off with a water pistol long enough to demand what happens once the new race is complete. The possessed Lucius boasts they will conquer the world and that their home planet was destroyed. The Doctor and Donna get into the ship and seal it closed, and he determines that the energy converted is stopping the volcano from erupting. H has to choose whether to save Pompeii or the world.

The lava golems start to burn through the hull and Donna assures the Doctor she's willing to die with the Doctor to ensure Earth's safety. The Doctor shuts down the converter and the all of the seers see a new future of death. Lucius is consumed in the flames and the lava golems disintegrate. Vesuvius explodes and the ship is thrown clear in the explosion with the Doctor and Donna safely inside. The Doctor and Donna get to Caecilius' home where the family pleads for their lives. The Doctor ignores them and goes into the TARDIS, but Donna demands that he go back and save at least someone. He relents and rematerializes the TARDIS and gets them inside.

Later, the Doctor and the others watch the city's destruction from a hillside and the Time lord notes that Pompeii will be found again one day. Evelina's visions are gone: the explosion opened a temporary rift in time but now it's gone and she's free. The Doctor asks that they don't mention he was ever there, while Caecilius and Metalla mourn. The Doctor and Donna slip away and she thanks him, and he acknowledges she was right and sometimes he needs someone

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