Death of the Doctor
Nightmare in Silver
Death of the Doctor
click on images to enlarge
The most obvious thing to note about the Shansheeth is that their essential goal – to avert death across the universe – was something that The Doctor may have agreed with in principle, if it weren’t for the fact that their methods for doing so involved violating the Laws of Time and stealing The Doctor’s TARDIS. Possessing a reputation as galactic undertakers who returned lost heroes to their kin after their demises, the Claw Shansheeth of the Fifteenth Funeral Fleet discovered the Eleventh Doctor – currently alone as his companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams were on a literal Honey Moon after their wedding (“The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang”) – investigating an old battlefield on a planet known as the ‘Wasteland of the Crimson Heart’, stealing the TARDIS and leaving The Doctor stranded on the planet. Knowing of The Doctor’s affection for Earth, the Shansheeth travelled to the planet and made contact with UNIT colonel Tia Karim. Whether their contact with her was intentional or by chance, Karim, callously dismissing The Doctor as a fool and his companions as overly pious, agreed to help the Shansheeth in exchange for her being able to accompany them as she had nothing on Earth, faking the DNA test of the body provided by the Shansheeth so that it would be positively identified as The Doctor’s body.
Karim subsequently contacted some of the Doctor’s old companions including Sarah Jane Smith and Jo Grant, claiming that The Doctor had died ten thousand light-years away saving five young children from the ‘Scarlet Monstrosity’, and they had brought his body to Earth for the funeral (On the grounds that his own home was gone and his affection for Earth was well-known). Although they were only able to contact Sarah and Jo to attend the funeral due to the rush of the events – Liz Shaw was on a moonbase (Most likely the one she would visit during the events of “Eternity Weeps”) and The Brigadier was on a classified mission in Peru, this was enough for the Shansheeth’s purpose, the Shansheeth requiring people with strong memories of The Doctor to achieve their goal.Although Sarah doubted that the Shansheeth’s story was true – claiming that she had always felt she would ‘know’ when The Doctor died, she agreed to attend the ‘funeral’ nevertheless, telling her son Luke that she doubted The Doctor was really dead and only going to the funeral to find answers.Having arrived at UNIT Base 5 in Mount Snowdon, Sarah and her friends witnessed the rocket that was going to be allegedly launched with the Doctor’s body – learning that the TARDIS had apparently not been found with the Doctor, only for Clyde Langer to become suspicious when his hands began to crackle with artron energy, Clyde having made contact with the TARDIS during his last meeting with the Doctor and becoming charged with artron energy (“The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith”).
After Jo Jones – formerly Jo Grant – arrived at the funeral, she and Sarah quickly bonded over their time with the Doctor, realising that both of them believed that the funeral was a fake. While the two women returned to their temporary quarters to brainstorm which of the Doctor’s enemies would have something to gain by faking his death, the Shansheeth concluded that Jo and Sarah – the ‘wise women’ – possessed the strongest memories of the Doctor.
To this end, the Shansheeth attempted to use their music to ‘prompt’ the two companions’ memories of the Doctor, only for Sarah’s friends Clyde Langer and Rani Chandra and Jo’s grandson Santiago to overhear their intention to ‘drain’ Sarah and Jo’s memories. Fortunately, Clyde’s artron-charged hand distracted the Shansheeth from playing their music long enough for Jo and Sarah to break off their influence, Clyde subsequently telling Jo and Sarah what had happened before the Eleventh Doctor used Clyde’s residual artron energy to set up a complicated biological swap – constructed using some of the parts scattered around the battlefield where he had been trapped – across ten thousand light-years that allowed him to briefly switch places with Clyde (Although it took a few moments for Rani in particular to accept that he was The Doctor).
Although the Shansheeth attempted to shoot The Doctor, the artron exchange was still unstable, resulting in the weapon they used against The Doctor being ‘cut off’ when Clyde returned to Earth in The Doctor’s place.
As The Doctor continued to switch between Earth and the Wasteland, he was able to take Jo and Sarah with him to the Wasteland to perfect the artron exchange, allowing him to return to Earth without having to switch places with Clyde. Although the Shansheeth managed to capture Jo and Sarah while The Doctor was occupied with rescuing Clyde, Rani and Santiago after they were trapped in an air vent – Karim simply scorning The Doctor’s decision to save the children rather than the world, The Doctor was nevertheless able to save the children before tracking the Shansheeth to the room where his ‘funeral’ had taken place. As Karim revealed that the Shansheeth possessed the TARDIS, Jo and Sarah were connected to the Shansheeth memory weave, a device that would recreate the TARDIS key from their memories, the Shansheeth intending to use the TARDIS to prevent the loss of life by travelling to all scenes of death, changing history on a massive scale. As The Doctor, Clyde, Rani and Santiago tried to access the room with the memory weave, Jo and Sarah fought to avoid thinking about the TARDIS key, only to recreate it despite their best efforts.
Just as the key was beginning to take shape, The Doctor was able to activate the room’s communication systems, instructing Jo and Sarah to focus on all their memories of their travels with him, the scale of memories being sent into the wave disrupting the Shansheeth’s efforts to recreate the key. With the memory weave unable to adapt to the wide variety of memories being sent into it, the system eventually overloaded, preventing the Shansheeth from recreating the key.
As the memory weave exploded, Sarah and Jo were able to hide in the lead-lined coffin that had been allegedly provided for The Doctor, protecting them from the explosion while leaving Karim and the Shansheeth to die in the explosion. After the TARDIS took Sarah and her friends back home, Sarah’s computer Mr Smith clarified that the Shansheeth they had faced here were a renegade group, assuring Rani that the Shansheeth high command had condemned the actions of the group they had faced and sent them their apologies for recent events.