It focused on Amy's relationship with the Doctor and Rory as well as the darker side of the Doctor. It brought up absurd possibilities of the universe as well, with a star burning cold being the danger in the TARDIS dream. No reference to the Silence or an appearance of the Cracks occur during this episode. Although the appearance of the Dream Lord brought up the darkness within the Doctor, it was something that would be expanded upon in due time.
It has been five years since Amy Pond last travelled with the Eleventh Doctor. However, when he arrives by accident and they have a reunion, Amy is left questioning what is real. Is she actually living with her husband Rory in Leadworth, 2015, or is she still travelling with Rory and the Doctor in the TARDIS? Which is real and which is fake? Dream or reality? Only one thing is clear: it's Amy's choice.
In Upper Leadworth, 2015, a pregnant Amy Pond is in her kitchen, baking, when she hunches over in pain. A pony-tailed Rory Williams returns home on his bike, and rushes inside when he hears Amy screaming his name, believing her to be in labour; however, it is merely a false alarm and he finds her sitting on the kitchen floor, happily eating from the bowl of cake batter that she has just prepared with a cake spatula. They are about to resume their activities as normal, when they suddenly hear the TARDIS materialising in the garden outside their window; Rory at first thinks it's the sound of a leaf blower.
The Eleventh Doctor steps out of the TARDIS and is greeted first by Rory, then by Amy, who ambles out of the house at a slower pace. He comments on how happy they both look after five years, commenting Amy's weight gain multiple times, despite being told repeatedly that she is pregnant; apparently not listening, the Doctor asks if she's pregnant.
The couple takes him on a tour of Upper Leadworth, explaining that most of the people in the village are elderly; hence, they live a quiet life. Sitting down on a bench, the Doctor fails to hide his exasperation with the dull tedium of the village: "How do you fight off the self-harm?" They tell them the boring things they do as birdsong chimes in the background, and they all slowly fall asleep.
The Doctor awakes on the floor of the TARDIS, confused as to how he happened to fall asleep so suddenly and believing everything that happened in regards to Leadworth was a dream; he is relieved when Amy and Rory step into the control room, confused expressions on their faces. Rory describes a dream he's just woken up from, with Amy chiming in that she dreamt something similar; as they both divulge details, it quickly becomes apparent that all three of them had the same dream. Something is wrong, but before they can decide what it is, birdsong sounds throughout the TARDIS. They fall asleep and find themselves back in Upper Leadworth.
In Leadworth, the Doctor warns Rory and Amy not to believe anything they see, hear, or feel — from now on, they cannot be sure which world is real. The Doctor quickly deduces that they are not experiencing virtual reality; they really must be awake or dreaming, but is Leadworth the dream? Stopping outside the village retirement home and remembering Amy and Rory's previous explanation that many senior citizens in the town live well into their 90s, the Doctor goes inside to investigate — "Something's wrong; let's go poke it with a stick."
The residents all appear to recognise Rory, addressing him as "Doctor Williams"; the Doctor, meanwhile, notices something suspicious about each one of them, especially Mrs Poggit, who makes him try on a jumper she is knitting for her grandson. The three fall asleep again, waking in the TARDIS as alarms blare.
The Doctor tries to figure out what is happening as the power dies. "We're in a dead time machine". Trying to bring the power back on, the Doctor realises someone is interfering with the TARDIS. A strange man who calls himself the Dream Lord materialises and reveals that he is testing them: one of the worlds they are drifting between is fake, and one is real. In each, they will face a deadly danger. They must decide which world is which; if they are killed in the dream world, they will simply wake up in the real world, but if they are killed in the real world, they will actually die. They are put to sleep again.
The trio wake up again in Leadworth and immediately begin arguing over which world is real; the Dream Lord appears again, this time as a doctor, making fun of how he always sees through the Doctor. He then poses this "If you die in a dream, you wake up in reality, healthy recovery in next to no time; ask me what happens if you die in reality." When Rory asks, the Dream Lord responds "You die, stupid; that's why it's called reality." However, the Doctor quickly notices that the senior citizens have disappeared; the Dream Lord vanishes, leaving them to search around.
They venture outside and see Mrs Poggit approaching a group of schoolchildren playing inside the local castle ruins. As the Doctor continues to poke fun at Amy and Rory's new life, Amy cries out in pain; both the Doctor and Rory react in terror at the prospect that she is going into labour, but Amy quickly reveals that it was simply a prank to remind the Doctor that her world "just turned him white as a sheet" and he shouldn't make fun of it anymore. Before they can approach Mrs Poggit, though, they fall back asleep.
Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor pulls out a spare generator from below the console and has Rory wind it up to power the circular monitor. Amy wonders why the Doctor is so suspicious of Mrs Poggit, but the monitor turning on diverts their attention. They find the Dream Lord is propelling the TARDIS towards a cold star, and they only have forty minutes before they freeze to death. The Doctor is at a loss for an explanation about the cold star, yelling that he can't know everything about the universe. Rory suggests that they call for help, but the Doctor points out that it is an idiotic idea as the universe is big, highly unlikely there will be anyone nearby a cold star to help them. The Dream Lord appears and taunts the Doctor with a rhyme about the danger in both worlds, before sending them back to sleep.
They wake up in Leadworth to find the children missing; while the Doctor investigates, Amy contemplates whether or not life in Leadworth is something she would settle for, prompting some insecurity to arise in Rory, who insists that the Leadworth world is the real one. The Doctor spots small piles of ashes scattered around the ruins, and he and Amy quickly deduce that the children have been vaporised by Mrs Poggit. They look back to the village and see the senior citizens — led by Mrs Poggit — walking towards them.
As they approach, the Dream Lord appears, taunting that the "Attack of the Old People" is a dream, and for everyone to "jump under a bus and wake up in the TARDIS". Amy tries to defend the Doctor, but the Dream Lord points out, "loves a red head, our naughty Doctor", before mentioning his relationship with Elizabeth I. The Doctor stops the Dream Lord's taunts by telling him he knows who he is — there is only one person in the world who hates him enough to do this. Amused the Doctor figured it out, the Dream Lord tells them to worry about the senior citizens, then vanishes. The seniors reveal they are possessed by Eknodines, aliens who are using them as hosts, completely hidden apart from eyestalks which they can reveal at will through their mouths. Their homeworld was destroyed, and so they've come to destroy the human race and make a new home for themselves on Earth. The Eknodines try to kill the trio, but the Doctor steps in to protect Amy and Rory while the couple escapes; the Doctor accepts that Leadworth could be real, failing to try reasoning with the Eknodine.
Fleeing to their home, Rory is forced to whack an elderly woman who is waiting for them outside the house with a piece of wood. Inside, Amy rests on the stairway while Rory barricades the door. Amy feels bad that, after having gone so long without seeing the Doctor, she has let him sacrifice himself to save them; Rory is less concerned, assuring her that the Doctor will be fine. "He's Mr Cool!"
However, the Doctor — dazed by drowsiness — stumbles through the streets of the village as an army of senior citizens pursues him. He is about to fall asleep as birdsong is heard. He enters a butcher shop and searches madly for a means of escape; however, the "proprietor" of the shop is the Dream Lord, who allows the senior citizens to come in while simultaneously putting the Doctor to sleep. Unwilling to leave himself for the Eknodines, the Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to unlock a back freezer, closing himself inside before allowing sleep to take him.
The trio awake in the TARDIS, and argue about which of the worlds is real. The Doctor believes it's time to choose. He personally believes the TARDIS world is real: "It's a big universe; stars can burn cold, sofas can read". Rory, however, insists the Leadworth world is real, prompting the Doctor to angrily wonder whether they're really disagreeing or competing. Amy wonders what they're competing over and both give her a look. Annoyed, Amy retrieves some blankets from a lower storage area of the TARDIS and turns them into ponchos, which according to Rory is "the greatest crime against fashion since leaderhosen". The Doctor decides if they split up in each world, the Dream Lord will have a harder time putting them back to sleep. The Dream Lord materialises, thinking "Veggie's" idea is good; with that, he sends the Doctor and Rory back to Leadworth and keeps Amy awake in the TARDIS. Before falling asleep, the Doctor promises Amy that he will come back.
Rory wakes to find the house under siege. He quickly pulls the unconscious Amy upstairs to their unborn child's nursery, locking the door behind him. The Doctor, meanwhile, calmly primes his sonic screwdriver and opens the freezer door, supercharging the lightbulb to blind the Eknodines and enable his escape. He then commandeers a van, saving a man from attack, and drives through the town, picking up various citizens along the way. After dropping them off at the town church, he goes off to find his friends. The Dream Lord materialises in the backseat of the van and taunts the Doctor's waning relationship with his past companions as they mature after their adventures with him, never to see him again; a good friend would stay in contact, but the Doctor is an "old man" who "prefers the company of the young". The Doctor ignores him, prompting the Dream Lord to see that he can no longer affect the Doctor; he vanishes to taunt another of the trio.
Meanwhile, the Dream Lord confronts Amy aboard the TARDIS; anything could happen now that they're alone. Defiant, Amy ignores his lechery. He makes it clear to her that she is not the first woman to travel with the Doctor, and questions her romantic inclinations, claiming Rory is nothing compared to the excitement the Doctor can offer her; however, he also suggests settling for Rory would be better than loving and losing the Doctor. He tells her that they're waiting for her to decide which world is real — "Amy's men, Amy's choice." She decides to return to Leadworth to join Rory and the Doctor.
She finds out what has happened as the Doctor climbs into the nursery via a window; he reveals that while he was once sure that the TARDIS was reality, he is now uncertain. Mrs Poggit breaks into the nursery's second window, and Rory immediately stands to action, determined to protect Amy and their baby; however, he is promptly hit by the deadly gas secreted from her eyestalk. The Doctor promptly jams a nearby lamp into Mrs Poggit's face, causing her to fall to the ground outside. Telling Amy to look after their baby, Rory dissolves into dust. Amy begs the Doctor to save Rory, but he sadly says that he cannot — "then what is the point of you?". Distraught, Amy decides that Leadworth is the dream; it cannot be real because Rory isn't there with her.
She and the Doctor make their way outside, past the suddenly docile Eknodines, and approach the van; the Doctor explains that if they're in a dream, their attackers know what they're about to do. Before giving her the keys, the Doctor asks her if she's sure of what she's about to do; Amy replies that she is and that even if it is real, she doesn't want to live in a world without Rory. As the Dream Lord watches, the two drive the van straight into the house, killing themselves and several Eknodines in the process.
The Doctor, Amy, and Rory awake in the TARDIS, almost frozen, but alive. The Dream Lord appears, congratulating them on their success; in a show of benevolence, he steers the TARDIS away from the cold star and turns the power back on before vanishing. The Doctor, however, is not convinced and prepares to blow up the TARDIS despite Amy and Rory's protests. The Doctor explains that the Dream Lord would have had no power in the real world; he was offering them a choice between two dreams. Amy asks him how he could know that, to which the Doctor replies, "Because I know who he is". A blinding white light floods the control room.
The three wake up in the TARDIS once more. The Doctor presents his companions with a speck of psychic pollen from the candle meadows of Karass don Slava; it had fallen into the time rotor and heated up, creating the dream state. After blowing the pollen into space, the Doctor reveals that the Dream Lord was a manifestation of the dark side of his personality. He sets the TARDIS on a new course. Rory asks Amy what stopped the Leadworth dream, having forgotten his "death"; Amy tells him, confessing that she did not know which world was real, but that no matter what, she could not live without him. The couple share a kiss; Rory, when asked by the Doctor where they'd like to go next, tells him it's Amy's choice.
As the Doctor works the TARDIS controls, he briefly sees the Dream Lord's face within his reflection on the console, giving a sinister smile. This troubles the Doctor enough to look around; when his reflection is shown again, it is his own — the Dream Lord is no longer there.
- The Doctor - Matt Smith
- Amy Pond - Karen Gillan
- Rory - Arthur Darvill
- Dream Lord - Toby Jones
- Mr Nainby - Nick Hobbs
- Mrs Hamill - Joan Linder
- Mrs Poggit - Audrey Ardington
|Executive Producers Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger and Beth Willis|
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
- The Dream Lord brings up the Tenth Doctor's relationship with Elizabeth I.
- The Doctor says he is 907.
- The Doctor claims to hate himself more than anyone else in the universe, after realising the Dream Lord is his dark side personified.
- The Dream Lord talks about the Doctor's many relationships with different women.
- The Dream Lord makes a sly reference to both Elizabeth I and Grace Holloway, by saying, "Loves a red head, our naughty Doctor."
- The Dream Lord also makes a reference to Jackie Tyler in the first episode of BBC Wales Doctor Who, stating that "anything could happen."
- The Doctor uses his stethoscope for the first time in his eleventh incarnation.
- Amy says, "Can we not do the running thing?", which the Doctor and his companions often end up doing.
- Amy mentions the musical Oklahoma! and that she became pregnant so she did not have to sit through a local production of it.
- The Doctor states that he threw the TARDIS Instruction Manual into a supernova because he 'disagreed' with it. He has mentioned before that he disagreed with it.
- The Doctor initially assumes that the TARDIS has jumped a time track.
- Technically, the entire episode took place in the TARDIS, however, it doesn't meet the requirements for a bottle episode as it uses locations and sets other than those already standing for production.
- The box under the TARDIS console the Doctor opens has the words: "TARDIS. Time And Relative Dimension In Space. Build Site: Gallifrey Blackhole Shipyard. Type 40. Build date: 1963. Authorised for use by qualified Time Lords only by the Shadow Proclamation. Misuse or theft of any TARDIS will result in extreme penalties and permanent exile." written on it. This is also written on a plaque on the console itself, as shown in the TARDIS tour on the BBC website.
- This is the first story of Series 5 not to have any cracks, silence or direct foreshadowing of the finale. The Doctor does, however, end the TARDIS dream world by blowing up the TARDIS, foreshadowing the oncoming explosion in TV: The Pandorica Opens and TV: The Big Bang.
- There is no indication of how much time has passed since TV: The Vampires of Venice.
- The sign outside the old peoples' home reads "Sarn Residential Care Home". The planet Sarn was the setting for TV: Planet of Fire and Sarn was also the name of a character in TV: Time and the Rani. (However, there is no on-screen evidence to suggest that there is any significance in this.)
- This is the only episode of Series 5 that is not referred to in any way later in the series.
- This episode aired on the same day as the K9 episode The Cambridge Spy was first broadcast on Disney XD in Britain. It also aired on the same day that The Fall of the House of Gryffen was first broadcast on Network Ten in Australia.
- This episode is the first since TV: Rose to feature the given name of the companion in its title.
- In the dreams, the Doctor wears both variations of his outfit. He wears the teal version in Upper Leadworth and his maroon version in the TARDIS.
- This episode foreshadows many elements of the Series 6 story arc.
- Overnight ratings were 6.2 million (5.9 million on BBC1, 0.3 million on HD) for a 33.0% share.
- The Appreciation Index was 84.
- The final BARB ratings were 7.55 million (7.06 million on BBC1, 0.49 million on HD).
- The 'Dream Lord' was rumoured to pretend to be the Doctor because of a shot of him inside the TARDIS wearing the Eleventh Doctor's costume in the trailer. He was, in fact, the dark side of the Doctor.
- Aunt Sharon will appear. This was false.
- The Dream Lord is an early form of the Valeyard. This was left unconfirmed.
- This episode was rumoured to be Doctor-lite to match the companion-lite episode, The Lodger. This was false.
- The Dream Lord was the Master. This was false.
Skenfrith, Wales, UK
- When Rory and Amy are running from the Eknodine, there is clearly no mud on Rory's back, but he was thrown on his back into some mud a minute before.
- The studio ceiling can be glimpsed briefly in the upper right-hand corner when the Doctor says that he threw the TARDIS manual in a supernova.
- When the Dream Lord is talking to Amy, snow brushes off of her and bounces off of him, even though it should go through his arm (as shown when the Doctor threw a pen through the Dream Lord).
- The Dream Lord teleports around much as the Valeyard did in TV: The Ultimate Foe.
- The Dream Lord refers to the Doctor as the "last of the Time Lords" and "the Oncoming Storm", two of his epithets. (TV: The End of the World, The Parting of the Ways et al.)
- The Doctor mentions again that bow ties are cool. (TV: The Eleventh Hour)
- The Dream Lord refers to what happened between the Tenth Doctor and Queen Elizabeth I. (TV: The Shakespeare Code, The End of Time, The Beast Below, The Day of the Doctor)
- The Doctor initially assumes that the TARDIS has jumped a time track, as it did in TV: The Space Museum.
- The Dream Lord says, "I'm surprised you haven't got a little purple space dog", an oblique reference to K9.
- The Doctor tries to jump start the TARDIS by kicking it. (TV: Rise of the Cybermen)
- The Doctor refers to throwing the TARDIS Instruction Manual into a supernova because he "disagreed with it". The Fourth Doctor had an instruction manual in TV: The Pirate Planet and disagreed with it, with him even tearing a page out of it.
- The Doctor's TARDIS has been captured before. (TV: Blink, Utopia, The Poison Sky, Journey's End)
- The Dream Lord accuses the Doctor of abandoning his companions in favour of younger friends, echoing remarks by Sarah Jane Smith about the Tenth Doctor and his relationship with Rose Tyler. (TV: School Reunion)
- The Dream Lord, once alone with Amy, echoes a conversation Jackie Tyler had with the Ninth Doctor that "anything could happen". (TV: Rose)
- After Rory dies in the dream, Amy asks the Doctor, "Then what is the point of you?". Gwen asks the same of Jack after Rhys dies. (TV: End of Days) The Ninth Doctor asks the same of a Dalek with no orders. (TV: Dalek)
- The swimming pool is referenced, and apparently has turned up; the Doctor said that "it'll turn up" in TV: The Eleventh Hour. Leela swam in the pool in the TV: The Invasion of Time.
- The Dream Lord taunts the Doctor with, "I bet you're a vegetarian!" in a butcher's shop and then by calling him "veggie", perhaps referring to his failed vegetarianism. This originated at the end of TV: The Two Doctors, but he has since been seen many times to have lapsed, even ordering steak in TV: Boom Town.
- The Doctor and his companions had previously experienced dreams induced by plants in AUDIO: The Mind's Eyes.
Home video releases
- McAlpine, Fraser (September 2016). 'Doctor Who': 10 Things You May Not Know About 'The Family of Blood'. BBC America. Retrieved on 20 October 2018.
- DWM 421, Page 18