Stay on target
You know Daleks and Davros and Missy the Master, Angels, and Silence hell-bent on disaster. But do you recall the most underrated Doctor Who villains of all?
Each week, I will dig into the depths of the Whoniverse to examine one rejected, misjudged, or altogether forgotten big bad. Warning: Don’t read this before taking a flight anywhere.
Sky Silvestry and the Tenth Doctor (via BBC)
First appearance: “Midnight” (YEAR)—season 4, episode 10
Home planet: N/A
Companion: Donna Noble
“Taking a big space truck with a bunch of strangers across a diamond planet called Midnight … What could possibly go wrong?”
Unable to convince Donna to leave the comfort of the local spa, an unaccompanied Doctor boards a tour shuttle to the Sapphire Waterfall.
A ragtag bunch of misfits—a professor and his assistant, a family of three, a solo traveler, the hostess—pass time on the four-hour trip with jokes, conversation, and a lecture on Midnight from researcher Professor Hobbes (David Troughton, son of Second Doctor Patrick Troughton).
When the shuttle unexpectedly stops mid-route, the Doctor urges Driver Joe to lift the cockpit shields for a quick peek outside—a sparkling expanse of unexplored land.
Just then, on-board trainee mechanic Claude spots a shadow—something dark and shifty—”running” toward the ship. But according to 14-time visitor Hobbes, there is no sustainable life on Midnight. So what exactly was that silhouette?
And why is it knocking on the walls of the shuttle?
Just as the Doctor promises “everything’s fine,” a banging noise comes from outside, paralyzing the passengers with fear and anxiety.
Rakie Ayola as Hostess, Ayesha Antoine as Dee Dee Blasco, David Troughton as Professor Hobbes (via BBC)
“The light out there is xtonic. That means it would destroy any living thing in a split second. It is impossible for someone to be outside,” the professor explained. Yet, still with the knocking. And the exploding and the sparking and the darkness.
Once the dust settles (and by that, I mean the dust that Joe and Claude were reduced to when the cockpit was ripped off), Sky Silvestry becomes the focus of the investigation.
Hunched in the corner of the ship, the lone tourist exhibits odd, mimicking habits—repeating the Doctor’s words and mirroring his movements. Until she stops and begins speaking in unison with people, creating an intensely creepy dynamic on the busted shuttle.
The Doctor tests her abilities with a series of unexpected monologues—”RoseTylerMarthaJonesDonnaNobleTARDIS,” “shamble bobble dibble dooble.”
Colin Morgan as Jethro and David Tennant as the Doctor (via BBC)
Young Jethro (played to emo perfection by Merlin himself, Colin Morgan) concludes that Sky, the most frightened of all the passengers, was the intended target; that this consciousness, as the Doctor put it, specifically chose her.
“Midnight” was inspired in part by Star Trek: The Next Generation story “Darmok,” in which Captain Picard is trapped on a planet with an alien that speaks only in metaphor.
“I think it’s a lovely show,” writer Russell T Davies said, admitting that he’s never actually watched the inciting chapter.
“There’s one episode, the billing for which is so fascinating I’ve actually avoided ever seeing it,” he told SFX magazine, as reported by BBC America. “I love the idea so much, I’d rather think about it. Forever.”
Lesley Sharp as Sky Silvestry (aka the Midnight Entity) (via BBC)
The Midnight Entity has a similar effect: It sticks with you, haunts your dreams, and makes you weary of blonde women who wear too much black eyeliner.
Accused of being in cahoots with the mysterious creature, the Doctor becomes entangled with Sky—now fully consumed by the unnamed life form, which turns the passengers against the Doctor in a wild fit of fear.
Paralyzed by the presence inside him, the Time Lord is powerless against the angry mob. It’s only once the hostess realizes Sky is the real mischief-maker that she spares her life to save the Doctor.
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