“Army of Ghosts” – Review: Redux

Rose Tyler “This is the story of how I died.”

Army of Ghosts

And so, Billie Piper’s 27-episode run as Rose has come to an end: trapped in a parallel universe with her family but with no chance of escape. The “Army of Ghosts” and “Doomsday” double-part series finale lived up to the expectations of a demanding audience, not only did we get to see the inseparable duo separated but we got a Dalek/Cybermen war thrown in for good measure. I say “war”, more of a “battle”. I say “battle”, more of a “brief encounter”. There was a lot crammed into these two 45-minute segments and so many memorable moments, all of which were built in to the script to lead us in to that ending. Rose going head-to-head with the Cult of Skaro, Pete and Jackie being re-united, and the Daleks and the Cybermen in a war of words as well as weapons were all sequences that will stay with the viewer for quite some time. None of them however can hold a candle to the last 10 minutes of “Doomsday”.

However, that is a little insight in to what delights await us in tomorrow’s Series Two finale. Here, “Army of Ghosts” begins with another use of the shot of the Earth from space, which then zooms down in to a day in the life of the Rose before she had met the Doctor: just eating chips on a bus. This time though we had a sombre voiceover from Billie Piper in character and she solemnly gives us a summary of how her life changed after meeting the Time Lord, with some flashbacks to previous episodes and even a tantalising view of alien planet, firmly establishing that the pair of them enjoyed many off-screen adventures. The final words, “This is the story of how I died” were a wonderfully dramatic punchline to the segment. At the time, we all knew that Billie would be leaving the show and we had no idea that she would keep coming back, so the mystery of how her departure would come about had been much discussed and the fact she was going to die (allegedly) was a bit of a surprise.

So, in to the meat of the episode and we get what can now be described as classic RTD material, with the global event (the mysterious, regular appearance of ghosts that has become common-place while the Doctor and Rose have been travelling) impacting the general public and being played out on TV (even so far as getting Trisha’s talk show and Peggy Mitchell in Eastenders, among others talking about the ghosts). Echoes of “Aliens of London”, “Boomtown”, and most noticeably “Age of Steel” abound. The other main setting of course is the reveal of the modern day Torchwood location up in Canary Wharf. It seems a little bit weird to see this Canary Wharf building representing Torchwood, given that when anyone mentions Torchwood to me I always imagine the much-more characterful Cardiff hub under Roald Dahl Plass.

There is some good interplay between the series regulars, with David Tennant and Billie Piper clearly giving their all and Camille Coduri as Jackie getting plenty to do once more. There are a couple of good cameos as well, with Tracey-Ann Oberman shining as the thoroughly modern manager of the institute, Yvonne Hartman; with Freema Agyeman (who’ll we’ll all come to know and love) as a Torchwood technician; and in a crucial plot development, Noel Clarke coming back as Mickey Smith and putting in a performance that leaves his early appearances in the programme languishing in the shade. The more you think about this plot development, the more clever it becomes: the universe that will forever now be known as “Pete’s World” is colliding with the established Doctor Who universe courtesy of a void ship, this allows character like Mickey and the Pete’s World resistance movement as well as the “ghosts” (who turn out to be Cybermen) to pass between universes, setting up some cracking scenes in the finale. And then, just for good measure, we find out that the Void Ship contained none other than the Daleks who had escaped the Time War.

Highlight: The Cult of Skaro appearing from the Void ship

Lowlight: The bloke on Ghostwatch TV show

Talking Point: Who’s going to win when the Daleks fight the Cybermen?

Demon’s Run Rating: 18 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 1st July 2006

Marathon Status: 26 out of 102

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