Besides the 50th anniversary special feature-length film/episode 3-D thing, “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” immediately caught my attention when scanning episode titles before Series 7.5 premiered. Fans have been teased with the endlessness of the TARDIS since the beginning of Who, and though several rooms have been revealed in the past, “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” was an episode that promised to focus exclusively on the interior of the ship that has been a pillar of the show since 1963. Every fan of Doctor Who has their own preconceptions of what rooms the TARDIS holds – myself included – so naturally there was bound to be some disappointment involved. How could a television episode live up to that title? But before we get there, let’s start at the beginning.
The Doctor begins the episode by commenting on the hostility between Clara and the TARDIS. This has been a recurring theme throughout the second half of Series 7, and one that will no doubt be connected to the fact that Clara keeps popping up in different times as different versions of herself. The TARDIS seems to react aggressively towards anything with an unnatural timeline, and Ms. Oswald would appear to fit the bill. In previous series, the Doctor’s companion and the TARDIS have had little to no interaction. The fact that this is suddenly reversed is a compelling development. The Doctor is insistent that the two get along, and shuts the TARDIS down to “Basic Mode” so that Clara can fly it.
What piqued my curiosity about this scene was that Clara seemed able to pilot the TARDIS relatively well in the previous episode, “Hide.” No, it was not River Song-level flying, but it was impressive nonetheless. So the fact that she suddenly needs training wheels is somewhat confusing. But I digress.
The crew of a passing scavenger spaceship notice the TARDIS on their radar and reel it in with a magnetic tractor beam, hoping for loot. This seems to cause the TARDIS to go haywire. Amidst the mechanical havoc around her, Clara notices an egg-shaped metal object rolling across the floor and bends to pick it up – then drops it almost immediately as if burned. The console room shakes and then goes dark.
“Please tell me there’s a button you can press to fix this!”
“Oh, yes, a big friendly button!”