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The Runaway Bride
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The Runaway Bride [x-mas special]

In a church in London, a bride named Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) prepares to walk down the aisle to marry the man she loves, Lance Bennett (Don Gilet)... but suddenly, she's enveloped by glowing energy and whisked away into the TARDIS, where the Doctor (David Tennant) stands confused at her presence. After arguing, Donna finally begins to realize that the Doctor has not, in fact, kidnapped her, but is as oblivious as she is to what's happened.

The Doctor, still smarting the loss of Rose Tyler, attempts to take Donna back to Earth in time for her wedding. Upon arrival in London, the Doctor and Donna have difficulty getting back to the church (no pockets, hence no money), left without taxi fare. But outside the Henrik's department store, the Doctor sees the same Santa Claus band he saw the previous Christmas ("The Christmas Invasion") and realizes something strange is going on. Nevertheless, Donna borrows money from a shopper and enters a taxi... which has been commandeered by one of the 'pilot fish' robots. The Doctor makes a daring rescue of the woman from the TARDIS, hovering over the metroway.

After a brief stop in which Donna tells the Doctor about her whirlwind romance with Lance -- the head of human resources at the H C Clements security firm, where she was temping -- he takes her back to the wedding reception which has gone on without her. The confrontation is short lived, however, when the pilot fish make a return visit, almost killing everyone at the party, because Donna has somehow been infected with huon energy, an ancient type of energy particle. The Doctor, Donna and Lance go to H C Clements, which the Doctor realizes is a front company for Torchwood; the building has a subbasement that isn't on the schematics, and the three make their way to the subfloor, a long security corridor that leads to a Torchwood science base underneath the Thames. Within the base, someone has been experimenting with huon energy in liquid form.

The Doctor realizes that whatever it was that infected Donna has a plan, but the plan was sidetracked when the energy within her was attracted to the TARDIS, hence her 'runaway'. The plan is orchestrated by the Empress of Racnoss (Sarah Parish), an ancient being that arrives in orbit around earth in a giant web ship and soon transports herself into the base. The Racnoss are an ancient spider-like race who hid during the Time War; the Empress is the last of her kind, like the Doctor the last of his, and has come here to the Torchwood project after having had a 4000-mile-long cavern drilled underneath the base, reaching to the centre of the Earth. Inside the Earth's core is an ancient Racnoss ship bearing millions of Racnoss hatchlings, who are about to awaken and climb up the shaft to take over the Earth. Aiding the Racnoss, to Donna's dismay, is Lance -- the entire wedding was a ruse to infect her with the huon energy, as he's been promised power from the Empress. However, while the Doctor attempts to stop her, Donna and Lance are both taken captive in the Empress' web, and Lance is soon cut free to die.

The Empress unleashes her terrible wave of destruction in London from the web ship. Realizing he has no choice but to stop the onslaught, the Doctor does the unthinkable; he uses the Empress' own weapons to puncture the walls of the Torchwood base, causing an enormous flood that drains the Thames and pours into the shaft to the centre of the Earth, destroying the Empress and her now-wakened children. An army tank then destroys the web ship.

The Doctor takes Donna home. No longer wishing to travel on his own, he offers to take her with him, but Donna refuses, not wishing to be part of this crazy life. However, before he leaves (and after he causes a brief fall of snow), she tells him he needs someone in his life to stop him from doing the unthinkable more often. The Doctor then leaves London, alone again.

Grade (on a scale of 10): 9

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