Doctor Who

Season 1 Episode 9

The Empty Child (1)

Aired Saturday 8:00 PM May 21, 2005 on BBC America
out of 10
User Rating
719 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Location: London, England Date: 1941 Enemy: The Empty Child
After chasing an unexplained capsule through time, the TARDIS lands in London, during an air raid. Rose investigates when a small child wearing a gasmask, standing on a rooftop, continuously calls out for his mummy. After floating above the city on a barrage balloon, Rose is swept off her feet by another time traveller – Captain Jack Harkness. Meanwhile, The Doctor follows a teenaged girl to a meeting of the homeless children of the Blitz. Here, the child in the gasmask is terrorising them with a parade of strange events, constantly asking for his mother.moreless

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  • And thus began the saga of Steven Moffat's Nightmare Fuel.

    At last I get to review this episode! I've been looking forward to having an excuse to watch it again for some time. So without further ado, let us dive in.

    What else can I say about this episode? I've already spent three pages singing its praises and, as it is the first instalment of a two-parter it is hard to pass judgement on the story until it is truly finished. For this episode alone, I give it a 5/5 in terms of concept, storytelling, and atmosphere. It doesn't get much better than this, folks. If you're going to watch the show than The Empty Child is one episode that you simply can't miss.moreless
  • The Empty Child

    The Empty Child was a superb episode of Doctor Who and I really liked watching. It was cool to see the Bombing of London in 1914. The kid in the gas mask was pretty creepy. It was interesting to meet Jack Harkness and to learn he is more than meets the eye. The Doctor meets a young girl who may know more than she has said about the boy and whats happening. It was cool to see her taking care of other orphans. I liked how the story played out so far and look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!!!moreless
  • Good storyline with fair amounts of suspense and twists, but poorly research historical details. *** spoiler alert ***

    Firstly, in sofar as drama, suspense, and a fair amount of gothic-like horror this episode did it fairly well. But one would think that when it comes to the Battle of Britain during their "finest hour" a show produced by the BBC and set in that time period would at least get historically details correct.

    Having chased an alien ship to London during a night time aerial bombardment by the Nazi during supposedly the Battle of Britain, the Doctor and Rose encounter an alien contagion that causes zombie-like symptoms with a twist in that the infected all turns into gas-mask-wearing undead with scars on the back of their right hands, all asking for their "Mummy". We follow the Doctor and Rose as they try to solve the mystery and find a cure while meeting an "American" time-agent from the future who may not be a time agent and a mysterious young girl stealing food from people during an air raid to feed orphan street children while trying to avoid one particular zombie-child.

    Mixing all these seemingly different unconnected elements into a coherent story is a very difficult thing, but this episode accomplished that quite well. Add touches of humor, good action and pace, plus a reasonable explanation for it all and this is actually a very good episode.

    The problem is for those who actually knows something about history and particularly this period of history is that it contains so many glaring errors. Just to list the more obvious - while the Germans continued to make bombing raids throughout WW2 on Britain, by 1941 the Battle of Britain was long over and done with. The height of the German attacks on Britain occurred between July to October of 1940 and it was those 4 months that is consider the Battle of Britain. We are shown the use of a reel-to-reel recording device in a British hospital, but the only reel-to-reel recording device in 1941 were used by the Germans who developed the technology. We are shown Rose hanging onto a rope connected to a barrage balloon that had broken loose and while barrage balloons were in use during WW2, they used steel cables because their purpose was to entangle low flying German aircrafts in the hope of causing damages to the aircraft wings or propellers.

    There are more and although if one turns a blind eye to all the mistakes in this story it is still enjoyable, one still have to wonder if anyone on the production staff of this series actually knows any history? After all, the very earliest Doctor Who (1963) began as a history lesson disguised as a sci-fi drama.moreless
  • WW2, a dangerous mauve alein object has fallen upon London during the 1945 blitz, releasing the Empty Child plague. The secretive Jack Harkness appears seducing Rose as the Doctor investigates the Empty Child phenomena.moreless

    Brilliant. Bonte Bene! Allonsy! The Doctor teaches Rose more of the space code.

    "Why are we chasing it?"

    "It's mauve. That means it's dangerous."

    "It thought red was danger."

    "That's just humans. For everyone else, red's camp. Oh, the parties and misunderstandings."

    More alein Technology appears.

    "Nanogenes. they just repaired three layers of your skin."

    The Doctor is at a loss at what is causing the plauge the Empty Child carries and witnesses first hand the horrific human DNA rewritting 'by an idiot' the Nanogenes due to Doctor Constantine.

    With this episode, the Doctor believes ALL his family is gone, even Susan Foreman. It is unknwon what incarnation susan was in at the beginning, but she could have had at least ten left and she was left in a time that was uneffected by the time war, leaving many to guess why he says that.moreless
  • Steven Moffat makes the most simple of things ultra scary. Another plus, Captain Jack.

    A very good episode which is very creepy without a big scary monster hiding in the shadow. Steven Moffat takes something as ordinary and simple as a child and makes it frightening.

    Captain Jack comes in doing what he does best, picking up anything and everything that moves. You can tell that the character hasn't been fully realized as some aspects to Jack's personality seem a little forced. Despite being a sweet talker the con-man aspect to the character doesn't quite get fully pulled off because Jack just doesn't seem that underhanded.

    "Are you my mummy," makes you want to run to your own mummy. You get drawn into the story and forget about time and as the hour runs out you realize that you will be held in suspense as this is only part one, superb.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Nancy manages to whistle using her fingers, despite the fact she is wearing woolly gloves.

    • When the phone rings in Lloyd's house, it is the wrong type of bell and the wrong pattern for a London exchange. It rings like an American phone.

    • Despite the fact that London citizens were under rationing laws at the time, fresh cauliflower is seen in a garbage bin (when the TARDIS phone rings), there are fresh carrots lying in Mr. Lloyd's garden, and the officer's club uses lots of paraffin candles and liquor, despite the fact that paraffin and alcohol were severely rationed.

    • Jack's Webley revolver is the wrong type for the period the story is set in.

    • Despite being in London during the Blitz, almost no blackout procedures are followed. People have lights on inside with uncurtained windows, street lighting is turned on, Jack and the officers at the club stand at the window and watch the bombing rather than go to a shelter, Jack lights up Big Ben to show the time to Rose, and so on.

    • When Rose and Jack are on the top of his ship the time on Big Ben is 9:30. The time never changes, despite the scene lasting several minutes.

    • In the broadcast version of this episode, a sound cut was made in the scene at Albion Hospital where Dr. Constantine's face transforms into the gas mask. There was supposed to be the sound of his skull cracking as the change happened, but it was felt to be too horrific and was therefore cut.

  • QUOTES (28)

    • Captain Jack: (getting ready to bring Rose into his ship using a tractor beam) Hold on.
      Rose: To what!?!
      Captain Jack: Fair point.

    • Captain Jack: I've got you. You're fine, you're just fine. The tractor beam, it can scramble your head just a little.
      Rose: Hello.
      Jack: Hello.
      Rose: Hello. Sorry, there was 'hello' twice there. Dull, but, you know, thorough.
      Jack: Are you all right?
      Rose: I'm fine! Why, you expecting me to faint?
      Jack: You look a little dizzy.
      Rose: What about you? You're not even in focus...! Oh, boll... (faints).

    • The Doctor: D'you know how long you can knock around space without happening to bump into Earth?
      Rose: Five days? Or is that just when we're out of milk?
      The Doctor: All the species in all the universe and it has to come out of a cow!

    • Dr. Constantine: Are you a doctor?
      The Doctor: I have my moments.
      Dr. Constantine: Have you examined any of them yet?
      The Doctor: No.
      Dr. Constantine: Don't touch the flesh.
      The Doctor: Which one?
      Dr. Constantine: Any one. (The Doctor goes to a patient and examines them) Conclusions?
      The Doctor: Massive head trauma, mostly to the left side. Partial collapse of the chest cavity, mostly to the right. There's some scarring on the back of the hand and the gas-mask seems to be fused to the flesh but I can't see any burns.
      Dr. Constantine: Examine another one.
      (The Doctor examines another patient)
      The Doctor: This is impossible.
      Dr. Constantine: Examine another.
      (The Doctor examines a third patient)
      The Doctor: This is impossible.
      Dr. Constantine: No.
      The Doctor: They've all got the same injuries.
      Dr. Constantine: Yes.
      The Doctor: Exactly the same.
      Dr. Constantine: Yes.
      The Doctor: Identical, all of them. Right down to the scar on the back of the hand. How did this happen? How did it start?
      Dr. Constantine: When that bomb dropped, there was just one victim.
      The Doctor: Dead?
      Dr. Constantine: At first. His injuries were truly dreadful. By the following morning, every doctor and nurse who had treated him, who had touched him, had those exact same injuries. By the morning after that, every patient in the same ward… the exact same injuries. Within a week, the entire hospital. Physical injuries as plague. Can you explain that? What would you say was the cause of death?
      The Doctor: The head trauma?
      Dr. Constantine: No.
      The Doctor: Asphyxiation?
      Dr. Constantine: No.
      The Doctor: The collapse of the chest cavity?
      Dr. Constantine: No.
      The Doctor: Alright, what was the cause of death?
      Dr. Constantine: There wasn't one. They're not dead.
      (Dr. Constantine knocks his cane against the table; the patients sit bolt upright)

    • The Doctor: You're very sick.
      Dr. Constantine: Dying, I should think. I just haven't been able to find the time.

    • Captain Jack: So, this companion of yours. Does he handle the business?
      Rose: Well… I delegate a lot of that, yeah.
      Captain Jack: Well, maybe we should go find him.
      Rose: And how you gonna do that?
      Captain Jack: Easy. I'll just scan for alien tech.
      Rose: Finally, a professional.

    • Rose: You used to be a Time Agent. Now… you're some kind of freelancer.
      Captain Jack: Oh, that's a little harsh. I like to think of myself as a criminal.

    • Captain Jack: It's 1941. The height of the London Blitz. The height of the German bombing campaign. And something else has fallen on London, a fully-equipped Chula warship. The last one in existence, armed to the teeth. And I know where it is. Because I parked it. If the Agency can name the right price, I can get it for you. But in two hours, a German bomb is gonna fall on it and destroy it forever. That's your deadline. That's the deal. Now, shall we discuss payment?

    • Captain Jack: So… when you say 'your companion', how disappointed should I be?
      Rose: Okay. We're standing in mid-air on a space-ship during a German air-raid. Do you really think now's a good time to be coming on to me?
      Captain Jack: Perhaps not.
      Rose: Ah, it was just a suggestion.

    • The Doctor: Nancy, there's something chasing you and the other kids. Looks like a boy and it isn't a boy, and it started about a month ago, right? The thing I'm looking for, the thing that fell from the sky, that's when it landed. And you know what I'm talking about, don't you?
      Nancy: There was a bomb. A bomb that wasn't a bomb, fell the other end of Limehouse Green station.
      The Doctor: Take me there.
      Nancy: Nah. Soldiers guarding it, barbed wire. You'd never get through.
      The Doctor: Try me!
      Nancy: You sure you want to know what's going on in there?
      The Doctor: I really want to know.
      Nancy: Then there's someone you need to talk to first.
      The Doctor: And who might that be?
      Nancy: The Doctor.

    • The Child: (sticking his hand through the letterbox) Please let me in.
      (Nancy throws something at the door)
      Nancy: You mustn't let him touch you!
      The Doctor: What happens if he touches me?
      Nancy: He makes you like him.
      The Doctor: And what's he like?
      Nancy: I've gotta go.
      The Doctor: Nancy, what's he like?
      Nancy: He's empty.

    • (Nancy locks the door on the Child)
      The Doctor: What's this, then? It's never easy being the only child left out in the cold, you know.
      Nancy: I suppose you'd know.
      The Doctor: I do, actually, yes.
      Nancy: It's not exactly a child.

    • (Rose falls from the barrage balloon rope but is caught by a beam of light)
      Captain Jack: (via loudspeaker) I'm just programming your descent pattern. Stay still as you can and keep your hands and feet inside the light field.
      Rose: Descent pattern?
      Captain Jack: (via loudspeaker) Oh, and could you switch off your cell-phone? (Rose starts to complain) No, seriously, it interferes with my instrument.
      Rose: You know, no one ever believes that. (switches phone off)
      Captain Jack: (via loudspeaker) Thank you, that's much better.
      Rose: Oh yeah, that's a real load off, that is! I'm hanging in the sky in the middle of a German air-raid with a Union Jack across my chest but, hey, my mobile phone's off!

    • (The phone on the TARDIS has started ringing)
      The Doctor: What am I supposed to do with a ringing phone?
      Nancy: (who has suddenly appeared) Don't answer it. It's not for you.
      The Doctor: And how do you know that?
      Nancy: Cos I do. And I'm telling you… don't answer it.

    • Rose: So, who are you supposed to be then?
      Jack: (handing her ID papers) Captain Jack Harkness, 133 Squadron, Royal Air Force. American volunteer.
      Rose: Liar. This is psychic paper. It tells me whatever you want it to tell me.
      Jack: How do you know?
      Rose: Two things. One, I have a friend that uses this all the time.
      Jack: Ah.
      Rose: And two, you just handed me a piece of paper telling me you're single and you work out.
      Jack: Tricky thing, psychic paper.
      Rose: Yeah. Can't let your mind wander when you're handing it over.
      Jack: (reading the psychic paper) Oh, you sort of have a boyfriend called Mickey Smith, but you consider yourself to be footloose and fancy-free.
      Rose: What?
      Jack: Actually the word you use is "available."
      Rose: No way.
      Jack: And another one, "very."

    • (about Rose and the Doctor)
      Jack: Oh, should've known, the way you guys are blending in with the local colour. I mean, Flag Girl was bad enough, but U-Boat Captain?

    • The Doctor: Excuse me, excuse me. Could I have everyone's attention, just for a mo? Be very quick. Hello! It might seem like a stupid question, but has anything fallen from the sky recently?

    • Rose: Is it safe?
      The Doctor: Perfectly. (the TARDIS console explodes) Okay, reasonably - should have said reasonably, there.

    • Rose: What's the emergency?
      The Doctor: It's mauve.
      Rose: Mauve?
      The Doctor: Universally recognised colour for danger.
      Rose: What happened to red?
      The Doctor: That's just humans. By everyone else's standards, red's camp. Oh, the misunderstandings! All those "red alerts," all that dancing.

    • The Doctor: Amazing.
      Nancy: What is?
      The Doctor: 1941. Right now, not very far from here the German war machine is rolling up the map of Europe. Country after country, falling like dominoes. Nothing can stop it. Nothing, until one tiny, damp little island says "no". No, not here. A mouse in front of a lion. You're amazing, the lot of you. Don't know what you do to Hitler. You frighten the hell out of me. Off you go, then. Do what you got to do. Save the world.

    • The Empty Child: Are you my mummy?

    • Rose: Not very Spock, is it? Just asking.
      The Doctor: Door, music, people. What do you think?
      Rose: I think you should do a scan for alien tech. Gimme some Spock! For once, would it kill you?

    • The Doctor: You know, one day, just one day maybe, I'm gonna meet somebody who gets the whole 'don't wander off' thing. Nine hundred years of phone box travel, it's the only thing left to surprise me.

    • Jack: It's a real pleasure to meet you, Mr. Spock.
      The Doctor: Mr Spock?
      Rose: What was I supposed to say? You don't have a name. Don't you ever get tired of "The Doctor"? Doctor who?
      The Doctor: Nine centuries in, I'm coping.

    • Nancy: How did you follow me here?
      The Doctor: I'm good at following me. I've got the nose for it.
      Nancy: People can't usually follow me unless I want them to.
      The Doctor: My nose has special powers.
      Nancy: Yeah? Is that why it's...
      The Doctor: What?
      Nancy: Nothing.
      The Doctor: What?
      Nancy: Nothing. Do your ears have special powers too?
      The Doctor: What are you trying to say?
      Nancy: Good night, mister.

    • The Doctor: Ringing? What's that about? Ringing? You're not even a real phone and you're ringing?

    • The Doctor: I want to find a blonde in a Union Jack. I mean a specific one, I didn't just wake up this morning with a craving.

    • The Doctor: So that's what you do, is it, Nancy?
      Nancy: What is?
      The Doctor: Soon as the sirens go, you find a big fat family meal still warm on the table, with everyone down in the air raid shelter, and bingo, feeding frenzy for the homeless kids of London town. Puddings for all. As long as the bombs don't get you.
      Nancy: Something wrong with that?
      The Doctor: Wrong with that? It's brilliant. I'm not sure if it's Marxism in action or a West End musical.

  • NOTES (12)


    • The Doctor: I don't know what you do to Hitler but you frighten the hell out of me.
      Whilst a paraphrase, The Doctor is referencing a famous quote by Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington speaking of his Irish Troops, 'I don't know what effect these men have on the enemy, but by God, they terrify me.'

    • The Doctor: It's mauve and dangerous.

      The idea of mauve being the universal colour for danger is also used by Holly when she warns of a "mauve alert" in the Red Dwarf episode 'Dimension Jump'.

    • Jack: Captain Jack Harkness. 1-3-3 Squadron. Royal Air Force. American volunteer.
      The 133rd Squadron was one of the "Eagle Squadrons", composed of American pilots lead by British officers.

    • Doctor Constantine: Before the war began I was a father and a grandfather. Now I am neither. But I am still a doctor.
      The Doctor: Yeah. Know the feeling.
      This seems to be an allusion to the original Doctor Who series, when the Doctor travelled with his granddaughter, Susan.

    • Rose: Not very Spock is it?
      Rose and the doctor are looking for a crashed alien space craft, and Rose wants the doctor to scan for alien tech, and asking for a little "Spock"

      Referencing the Original Star Trek series, in which the character Spock, a Vulcan, is the science officer aboard the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, and would scan for various things.