The Girl in the Fireplace
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22 June 2013 at 11:23 #12710
This week’s Moffat episode is his first for Tennant, and it’s a doozy. The Doctor, Rose and Mickey find “time windows” on a 51st century spaceship to 18th century France. They discover clockwork androids are stalking Madame de Pompadour throughout her life.
What do monsters have nightmares about?
Me!22 June 2013 at 16:06 #12768
I watched this afternoon, as it’s quiet.
I think this is a fantastic episode, and clearly is a tale that Moff wanted to do for a long time, returning to it in an expanded form with the story of Amy.
As a basic setup – the mad introduction between a young girl and the Doctor as he saves her from a monster in her own house. A bewildering exciting encounter with the Doctor which she takes with her to adulthood – a protector against nightmares that even the monsters under the bed are afraid of.
The interruptions in time, and the young girl growing, remembering it like a dream, the sudden re-acquaintance and the realisation that imaginary friends can be real.
Reinette: “It is customary, I think, to have an imaginary friend only during one’s childhood. You are to be congratulated on your persistence.”
Thereafter, the intersection between two lives in a way that only time travel can make possible, the slow path and the fast path.
Reinette: “How could you be a stranger to me? I’ve known you since I was seven years old.”
The Doctor: “Yeah. I suppose you have. I came the quick route.”
And when it comes to the end, as all people do, we have the final message delivered in writing. Many of the criticisms about how Amy and Rory ended their story could be applied here. The Doctor as a Time traveller could surely circumnavigate that problem and revisit her before her death? The problem is that he has just been told he doesn’t.
I think with Mickey joining Team TARDIS it was a perfect opportunity to see how a three handed crew would operate. You have Rose showing Mickey the ropes, just as Amy did Rory, and echoes of the tensions between them as everyone is a bit unsure of the status quo.
Tennant’s drunk scene is hilarious, as is “Look what the cat dragged in – the Oncoming Storm” from Billie.
I love the sense of the absurd as well “There could be anything on this ship” – Sees Horse. Shortly followed by:
Mickey: “What’s a horse doing on a spaceship?”
The Doctor: “Mickey, what’s pre-Revolutionary France doing on a spaceship. Get a little perspective.”
You can easily see those lines being performed by Eleven and Rory.
I think it has that fairytale feel to it in a way.I love the production design, and the clockwork droids are stunningly beautiful. And then we have the name reference.
Reinette: “Doctor. Doctor who? It’s more than just a secret, isn’t it?”
It’s funny that the early fiftieth century has almost become a touchstone reference point for Moff. Jack was from that era, the ship here is, Silence is set around that time, and so therefore much of the future River plotline.
Really enjoyed watching it again.22 June 2013 at 19:11 #12776wolfweed @wolfweed
@phaseshift The 51st Century in BG Who saw the era after the Galactic Federation’s (and so the Earth’s dominance) demise. The ecological ruination of the planet Earth, the rise of the Supreme Alliance and much Time-Agent activity.
Most significantly, the rise of Artificial Intelligence throughout the cosmos.
K-9, Xoanan and the Robots of Death all hail from this time.
So it’s no surprise that (AG) this story features robots with great responsibility.
Or that The Papal Mainframe runs the Church of this time.
Or that Captain Jack is from this era.
I half expect to return there to wrap up the overall Moffat arc at some point…
22 June 2013 at 21:15 #12780
It is a lovely episode, and introduces themes that would later be examined by other Who scriptwriters. And yes, @phaseshift, I became very aware when I watched it that Moffat’d taken the chance to explore the slow path/quick path in greater depth with Amy.
Here he visits Reinette’s life from childhood to death in what – for him – is a few hours. But he doesn’t have the devastating effect on Reinette that he does on Amy; possibly because he encourages little Reinette to believe that she’s dreaming. Little Amelia, on the other hand, knew her imaginary friend wasn’t imaginary.
In Hide (writer: Neil Cross) the Doctor takes another ‘quick path’ – Earth’s birth to its death. And Clara questions what it’s doing to him. Are we ghosts to him, those of us who take the slow path? To the Doctor we both haven’t been born and have been dead for thousands of years. Can we be anything but phantoms, the not-quite real?
In Girl in the Fireplace the Doctor is visibly attracted to Reinette, visibly affected by her death. But by the time of Hide, he doesn’t understand why Clara is so upset.
Yes, the Fifty-first Century has almost been set up as the Doctor’s other ‘home’ century. And I think this was the first episode where Moffat started to hint that there’s a reason the Doctor hides his name.22 June 2013 at 23:00 #12782
Yes, it’s interesting the differences in the dynamic. When I first saw GitF, I immediately thought that his interest in Reinette was almost in reaction to Mickey, or somehow trying to prove a point to Rose, but I decided on a rewatch shortly after that doesn’t really fit. There is an obvious attraction, perhaps fascination between them.
Hide though, I’m not sure. I think the Doctor is like many in that we know people, stars and planets live and die as a fact, but it tends to hit you harder when it’s people that you come to know. River’s line about “never let him see the damage” in AtM was a really good one in retrospect. Perhaps the letter and book entry by Reinette and Amy, finding out about the Bridadiers death make it real to him?
Good summary, and I wouldn’t be surprised at a return either.22 June 2013 at 23:23 #12784
@phaseshift – yes, but I think in ‘Hide’ the point is that the Doctor does know Earth. He’s lived there. He knows people from there. He’s having a nice chat with someone from there. And he’s just gone from its birth to its death and it should mean something to him. Whereas it’s very clearly played as if such a journey means nothing at all beyond a possible solution to a mystery worth solving.
That scene is, I think, riffing off Toby Whithouse’s similar scene in Vampires of Venice:
I can’t see it any more… I’m 907. After a while… you just can’t see it!…I look at a star and it’s just a big ball of burning gas and I know how it began and I know how it ends and I was probably there both times. After a while, everything is just stuff! That’s the problem.
And now, by the time of Hide (probably about 200 years later in his personal time line), he doesn’t even understand that there is a problem. It’s just stuff – and he has to have it explained to him why Clara is upset.22 June 2013 at 23:40 #12785
I’ll have to rewatch Hide (doesn’t it seem a looong time ago now?), but that lack of consideration may play more into his relationship with Clara at the time. At this point, isn’t she really the mystery to unravel rather than a real person? If I get the chance, I’ll rewatch. I’m pretty sure there were a few examples of him not really taking her feelings into account (forcing her to explore the house when she didn’t want to for example) that seemed more to highlight how distant he was from her.23 June 2013 at 00:11 #12788
I didn’t really like this episode when I saw it. Granted, I think they definitely did the best they could with it. It was beautifully shot and well acted. I just didn’t get why or even the physics behind using human body parts to repair a ship. I just couldn’t get past that. But after reading the replies here, I like it a little more because I see a little deeper. It just seems silly, they have enough energy to blast a hole in time to ANYWHERE where parts may be more readily available, but they use the human crew and go to 1700s France for more human body parts? Seems a little morbid to me. Like maybe something went wrong with their wiring–I think The Doctor even assessed as much? I did like the big reveal at the end where they showed why the bots had chosen Madame Pompadour.23 June 2013 at 00:14 #12789
Hide’s well worth a re-watch – I think it’s slowly becoming my favourite episode of 7.2, despite my not liking Jessica Raine’s performance very much.
The Doctor only seems to recognise Professor Palmer’s feelings – and that because they’re clearly a reflection of his own. Otherwise, he cheerfully talks about how terribly lonely empaths are – in front of Emma -doesn’t get that the monster’s not a monster but another lost traveller and doesn’t get that Clara might not be too keen on exploring a haunted house.23 June 2013 at 08:01 #12794
Confidential – For those who want that old Saturday feel…23 June 2013 at 11:56 #12802
my not liking Jessica Raine
Heretic!23 June 2013 at 12:25 #12806Anonymous @
@phaseshift @bluesqueakpip – Finally had a chance to watch this one, and I thought you both had all angles covered – the details, the overall themes, the links to future Moff episodes and such. Wonderful stuff to read from both of you.
But I picked up two additional things:
1) looking out the window with the Doctor near the end, Reinette says of the stars ‘You know all their names – I saw that in your mind’. The Doctor replies ‘What’s in a name? A name is just a title.’ Which links beautifully to The Name of the Doctor.
2) in Reinette’s letter, she wrote ‘Hurry now my love’. ‘My love’ is a classic River epithet.23 June 2013 at 12:29 #12807Whisht @whisht
really enjoyed watching this again – thanks!
and god, the scenes between Sophia Myles and David are lovely. Really affecting (for me at least).
now she’d make a great Doctor… (oops – wrong thread!)23 June 2013 at 13:38 #12813
@craig (many thanks for finding this)
I’ve just watched that Confidential for the first time in full form since it was broadcast (the DVDs being cut down) and it really is entertaining. A great look at transferring the script to screen and the compromises of budget. Loved the confession from SM that he had a bit of a moment when he was told they couldn’t do the horse scene and some of the comments from RTD “ooooh that’s marvellous ….. marvellous …. and cheap.”
As I think we’ll be doing Blink next, I’ve just noticed the Confidential that went with it is on YouTube as well. That’s a great one for a Moff retrospective as it’s the David Tennant directed “Do You Remember the First Time” with David, SM and many others talking about growing up with Who. Something for next time.23 June 2013 at 17:56 #12838MzellePoisson @mzellepoisson
I think the clocks wanted Madame de Pompadour because of the name of the ship, you can see on the very last images that it was “SS Madame de Pompadour”.
By the way, “Marquise de Pompadour” is not her name, but her title, her birth name was Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson (i.e. fish in French). Mofat plays the very long game on this one.23 June 2013 at 18:39 #12843
@mzellepoisson I’m well aware of that and I’m also aware that Pompadour was her title, but I still think blasting a hole in time when they could do it to anywhere, someplace else where non-human parts may be readily available may be better? I just think it was one of those things that was like “oh wouldn’t it be cool if” and it wasn’t given that much thought like about how believable something like that is. Although with Sci-Fi a lot of it stretches the imagination, this one just…didn’t quite make it for me.23 June 2013 at 20:16 #12845
The whole point is that the robots/ ‘droids were obsessively following the letter of their programming – knowledge + programming != to intelligence (the ‘Hal’ problem). More to the point, being left alone they went bonkers. Being alone is not a good thing – a point Reinette makes very clearly when exploring the Doc’s head.23 June 2013 at 20:35 #12846
@brynwe – I think @pedant makes the point very well. But it is also picked up subtly within the script, when Reinette talks about ‘reason’ a couple of times.
‘Reason’ versus common sense. The clockwork droids have ‘reason’. They need parts. Parts are available. They use those available parts. They need a brain for SS Mme de Pompadour. There is a ‘Mme de Pompadour’ brain available – in Eighteenth Century France. They go to Eighteenth Century France.
Two seconds of applying common sense would tell you that all this is stupid. Unfortunately, the droids don’t have any common sense to apply. They only have reason.
As an engineer once said (Charles F. Kettering)
Logic is an organised way of going wrong with confidence.
🙂23 June 2013 at 21:05 #12847
@bluesqueakpip @pedant that makes a little more sense, I guess the ep went a little over my head 🙂23 June 2013 at 21:20 #12848Anonymous @
All this talk of ‘reason’ made me remember ‘The Age of Reason’ which applies to 18th century Europe (Reinette’s period) so I looked this up:
“The 18th century in Europe saw the flowering of the Age of Reason, otherwise known as the Enlightenment. This period of intellectual curiosity and experimentation was based on an abiding faith in the power of human reason to unlock the mysteries of nature and society.”
I think your explanations fit the script/story of GitF better, but there is also solid historical fact for Reinette speaking so much about ‘reason’.23 June 2013 at 21:47 #12850
@Shazzbot – oh, yes, it’s all very neatly tied together. I don’t think Moffat picked his historical period by accident – Mme de Pompadour knew Voltaire pretty well.24 June 2013 at 00:36 #12864
I think your explanations fit the script/story of GitF better, but there is also solid historical fact for Reinette speaking so much about ‘reason’.
Reinette was quite the sponsor of the arts and sciences (although sciences weren’t called that for another 50 years or so – to her it would have been philosophy).
PS @Shazzbot too – you’ve nailed the distinction and relationship between plot and theme.29 June 2013 at 10:09 #12973Anonymous @
A bit late to this one, but here goes.
I love this story and would personally rate it as the best of Steven Moffatt’s RTD-era stories. (I realise that that statement is probably considered sacrilege and that that honour is traditionally meant to go to Blink. But where Blink is merely very clever indeed, this story has real heart (and not just the one wired into the SS Madame de Pompadour). I can never watch it without having to wipe a manly tear from my eye by the end.)
As others have pointed out, in this story you have Moffatt’s Amy/River/Rory era arc distilled into one story. Reinette and her out-of-sequence love affair with the Doctor and the slightly tense menage a trois with the Doctor, Rose and Mickey would later be replicated and expanded upon with River, Amy and Rory.
In fact, re-watching it now with that in mind was something I found rather fun. You could for the most part imagine Eleven, Amy and Rory in this story. Certainly I could imagine how Amy and Rory would have played the ‘about to be chopped up’ scene. But Rose’s empathy for Reinette was not something I could see Amy offering. (This is a great story for reminding oneself just how good a companion Rose was and just how much Billie Piper aced this part.)
Similarly, there are moments you could imagine Smith’s Eleven playing but much of the Doctor in this is pure Tennant at his best. The ‘didn’t want to say magic door’ line is one of them. Smith, I feel, would love to say ‘magic door’. Also his Doctor is far too emotionally gauche for the ‘I just snogged Madame de Pompadour’ line too. Or at least he would have played completely differently — more embarrassed perhaps, and that would have possibly been even funnier.
But something that did cross my mind in watching this is that it contains all of Moffatt’s Big Ideas, which Seasons 5-7.1 explored in great detail. As much as I enjoyed 7.2, the Clara arc didn’t really seem to have the same power or enthusiasm behind it and it makes me wonder slightly if Moffatt is now running on empty. Mind you, what with ‘hidden’ Doctors and a new Doctor on the horizon maybe these fears are somewhat unjustified.13 August 2013 at 19:14 #16039rosetyler @rosetyler
This is one of my favorite episodes. I JUST SNOGGED MADAME DE POMPADOUR!9 November 2013 at 19:18 #20417Anonymous @
The girl in the fireplace was not a special episode not even an important episode to the series it was like a normal episode but briliantly made.3 September 2016 at 13:01 #53841AnnaMarie @annamarie
I decided to rewatch the series. When I watched this particular show, something jumped out at me.
Why does the android say that Rose is compatible?
They are waiting for Reinette to be 37 to be compatible. Rose is much younger.
But more importantly, the ship is called Madame de Pompadour which is why Reinette is compatible. But, how does Rose fit in with that?
Probably not related, but the next show in the series is about the Cybermen and they also use the word compatible. (Rose, the Doctor, Mickey and Ricky and not compatible.)7 September 2016 at 00:48 #53859Anonymous @
that’s a good question: welcome to the Forum if you are new! You’ll have heaps of fun here.
I haven’t seen that terrific episode in a while. Regards compatibility I would suggest that Rose was compatible in terms of her particular body parts for the ship. A heart was used, an eye etc so I would think that the brain had to be Madam D’Pom’s to ‘work’ according to the ship’s programme7 September 2016 at 10:50 #53861
Specifically, Reinette’s brain was compatible. Any old part of Rose would do.9 June 2017 at 20:46 #58812Abaath @abaath
Just watched this episode.
Really, really enjoyed it. The interaction between Tennant and Myles was fantastic. Very subtle romance between them and their lines were great.
@rosetyler I second that part where he yelled, “I just snogged Madame……” Hilarious.
I also really enjoyed the Clockwork “monsters” too. Unique creatures in the Doctor Who universe.
I haven’t seen “Hide” yet so not sure on the comparisons between the two but this one is one I’ll watch again.6 May 2020 at 19:54 #70606
A little extra made during our lockdown, for after the Twitter watch-along. Written by Steven Moffat and voiced by Sophia Myles (of course).7 May 2020 at 01:29 #7060920 May 2020 at 09:01 #70698janetteB @janetteb
@craig. My eyes are a little moist after watching that. Beautifully written and of course acted.
I am rather behind with the rewatches but we watched “Girl in the Fireplace very recently so I can say, it is still as brilliant as it was back when first screened. An episode that really plays with time travel, it is fun, very very scary, well costumed and heartbreaking. An aside, one of the costumes worn by Madame Pompadour was made for the Fifth Doctor story, Black Orchid.
Janette21 May 2020 at 16:10 #70701The Idiot From Gallifrey Base @dalekbuster523
An aside, one of the costumes worn by Madame Pompadour was made for the Fifth Doctor story, Black Orchid.
I didn’t know that. That’s an interesting little fact.10 June 2021 at 22:27 #71751AmeliaG @ameliag
Amazing episode by the moff..4 October 2022 at 17:54 #73463
I usually don’t like the episodes set in old times as much, but I guess this one circumvents that a little by having the Doctor and crew go to the future and travel through doorways back and forth to the past.
The clockworks were a cool-looking villain outside of their costumes, but I don’t think you could write too many interesting stories with them since they basically fulfill whatever they were programmed to do.
I’m not sure how many times the Doctor does this mind-reading thing with other characters during the series, but I think this is the first time we witness it in the revived series. (Unless you count Gwyenth reading his mind with psychic powers, or any of the other people who are psychic or who are fed information about the Doctor and know he is a time lord in real-time.) It’s one of those things I want to be on the lookout for now, but I suspect it happens so rarely I might forget I was even watching for it to happen.
This being Mickey’s first adventure on the TARDIS, he and Rose really don’t get up to a whole lot aboard the ship, with the Doctor going in and out of the time doors. I enjoyed the idea of the Doctor visiting the Madam at different stages of her life, and it was fun to see the Doctor have this sort of short-lived romance over a couple of meetings. It was sad that he never got to take her on a trip as he’d planned, and by the time he came back she’d died at 43.
A lot wasn’t explained about the space station or why it had robots programmed to kill off staff to get more parts for the ship, or why it malfunctioned and went after the Madam for its brain because the ship was named for her. I’m not so sure what the ship would have even done had it gotten that brain. Anyway, that is about all I have to say about the episode.5 October 2022 at 05:19 #73465
So I am also going to post a rewatch entry for Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel here, since they have no thread. (Why?) This will be quick since it is late.
The episode begins with the TARDIS falling into another dimension, and going cold. It’s never really explained what caused this, but I have to wonder if it had anything to do with Mickey still holding in that button for so long. The alternate dimension is London but a parallel version of it, where Rose was never born and her dad is still alive.
Big villain guy who becomes the Cyber Controller is clearly wanting to make the cyber upgrade a thing because he’s dying and wants to live on in a metal body. It’s unclear why he is putting the upgrade off, but probably because he doesn’t actually want to go through with it.
It was a smart decision to make ear pods the device used to control hordes of people, and it fits right in with modern society. Actually that plot point might have been ahead of its time, since wireless ear pods became a bigger thing well after 2006. I’ll overlook that so much of this episode dumbed down how complicated computers are and glided over the way that kind of stuff works.
Mickey had a lot of growth in this episode, and ultimately made the decision to stay in the parallel dimension. I have to wonder if he thought to liberate Paris next because that’s kind of where the group went in the previous episode, so maybe it was still fresh on his mind. We also got a lot more back story for the character, and saw that parallel versions of people can interact no problem, as opposed to the same person from different points in time.
That whole scene where the Doctor and Mrs. Moore are squeezing through the underground tunnel filled with Cybermen is nightmare fuel.
It was smart to get the Cyberman to destroy the transmitter on the blimp by punching it. I think Rose and Pete had the worst shot at making it through since they basically just put themselves in a line for the upgrade. This show gives me enough anxiety! But seeing Lumic pursue everyone up the ladder to the blimp gave me even more since now heights were involved.
Obviously this was a pretty big episode for Mickey, but it also really kicks off the parallel world arc that comes back into play later. I still think Cybermen are creepier than Daleks. And the CGI in this episode kind of grew on me, showing the tools whirring about that supposedly make a person into a Cyberman – it was just too cute, I guess.5 October 2022 at 19:39 #73466
I just watched The Idiot’s Lantern, episode 7 of season 2. I’ll post my rewatch thoughts here since it has no thread.
This one’s going to be short and simple, since I feel like this was very much a filler episode. I thought it was a fun episode, especially since the Doctor and Rose dressed up like they were from the 50’s. There was a lot of use of psychic paper in this one.
I keep noticing I have issue with these episodes where, even though it is DW, the logic behind things is just too farfetched. In this case The Wire uses television sets to “feed” off of people while they’re at home watching the TV. The resulting faceless appearance of characters is kind of spooky, but it really just makes me more concerned people are going to die from starvation or the inability to breathe than anything else.
In the end I was happy jerk-dad got the boot, but also that Tommy kept his relationship with his father. The Coronation Ceremony seemed fitting given the Queen’s recent death, so I guess that made the episode feel more topical on my rewatch. Really this is one of those episodes I had mostly forgotten about, and probably only watched once well over a decade ago. I notice that season 2 is really at its best with the bigger two-part episodes, while a lot of these smaller episodes don’t feel as fulfilling as some of the stand-alone season 1 episodes.
Well I think there is finally a thread for the next two episodes, so I can stop posting on this one for now.6 October 2022 at 05:30 #73467
So imagine my surprise to discover that The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit don’t have a thread, either. Jeebus. We’re going on 5 episodes straight with no thread of their own. Anyway I am going to bombard this thread one more time to talk about those episodes.
First of all it really is a crime that neither one of these has a thread because these were pretty good episodes. Right from the start the TARDIS is lost, and trouble is brewing aboard a planet that is miraculously orbiting a black hole. What I like about the crew in this episode is that each one of the team members has their role and purpose, and they fulfill that role during the episode.
This is the introduction of the Ood, which some of you might know is my favorite Doctor Who creature. I am really glad this isn’t the last we see of the Ood, but for the episode they provide a frightening army for the Beast. It’s interesting that the Ood communicate with each other telepathically, and that is one fact I didn’t remember. Really these monsters needed more explanation outside of their initial appearance as a servant race.
It was fitting that the first episode concluded with the mysterious “trapdoor” opening, and the second dealt with the Beast and the survival of the crew. I think it was bold of DW to do an episode centered around the Devil, but they also kept things objective and open to interpretation which was good. Was it the Devil? Was it some evil alien being? The answer is a resounding maybe, and it never steps on the toes of any religion or viewpoint in tackling the subject matter.
Toby was almost certainly dead after being confronted early in the episode. One does not stand out in the vacuum of space without a suit, and then nonchalantly resume normal living after a short while. But it’s good that they kept it vague as to whether he had been temporarily possessed for much of the episode, so you still think there’s a chance he can be saved. As with many two-parters there are quite a few character deaths in this one, and the crew becomes whittled down over the course of the episodes.
I think, looking at the episode while having aged quite a bit since the first time I watched it, and having watched so many episodes recently, I can say that series 2 of the show cranked up the anxiety quite a bit. A few episodes ago we had the TARDIS stop functioning and drop into an alternate dimension it almost couldn’t get out of. In this episode the TARDIS falls into a deep pit in a location well beyond a locked gateway. (Still not entirely sure how, but it is the TARDIS, so maybe it makes sense.)
The chances for characters to survive or die are at all-time-high stakes in many episodes of this season as well. We barely had everyone make it through an overnight Cybermen upgrade-spree, and here characters are with 55 minutes of oxygen and no way back to the ship. At every turn, these episodes have become more frantic, with the odds stacked against our heroes tenfold. Or maybe it is about the same as it was in series 1 and I am just absorbing too much DW to be able to give an unbiased thought on that right now.
I will say that the show gets really good at knowing what emotion it is going for from episode to episode. The Satan Pit is not going for the same thing as The Idiot’s Lantern, and tonally the show adjusts to really give you that new-story-of-the-week feel. Maybe series 1 had a more cohesive arc and episodes that circled back around to earlier plot points, but series 2 is a bit more varied with its stories, and a little open-ended with some of them. The Torchwood connection between episodes seems to be a little more on-the-nose than the Bad Wolf stuff in the first series, but I think because the show is kind of ambiguous about it that just makes us want to know more about Torchwood and how they fit into the Whoniverse.
Anyway, final thoughts. I thought it was clever that the Beast separated its mind from its body and tried to escape the impossible planet that way. I liked everything right on down to the Doctor’s solution to destroy the vase so that the Beast would be drawn into the black hole as a safety measure. I’m not sure how much better this makes sense than televisions being used to suck people’s faces off, but the logic works well enough for me.6 October 2022 at 13:37 #73471Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent
@rewvian This is about Girl in the Fireplace
A beautifully written episode, I think. The moment when the Doctor went to read Reinette’s mind, and found her reading his, was magic, and it emphasised what a strong-willed person Reinette was. And the device of time moving at different speeds was used by the Moff on several occasions (of course, it was established by RTD at the start of nuWho, if not by other writers earlier, that the Tardis could be a bit inaccurate with its timing). The Moff used it, notably in The Eleventh Hour, and even more poignantly in The Girl Who Waited. In Girl in the Fireplace, he used it, gently but effectively, in the sad ending.
As to why the maintenance droids were so determined to collect Reinette’s head, this was a mystery right through the episode. We know they had been cannibalising the crew and/or passengers for spare parts, but why Reinette’s head specifically? This was only – brilliantly – explained in the very last shot. The ingenious but mentally limited droids thought the only spare part that would work to repair the SS Madame de Pompadour’s main computer was the brain of the real Madame de Pompadour.
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