The Satan Pit
|174b – "The Satan Pit"|
|Doctor Who episode|
The Doctor faces The Beast.
|Script editor||Simon Winstone|
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Length||2nd of 2-part story, 45 minutes|
|Originally broadcast||10 June 2006|
"The Satan Pit" is the ninth episode of the second season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It is the second part of a two-part story, following "The Impossible Planet". With the TARDIS seemingly lost, Rose and the remaining humans are trapped on the base with the possessed Ood, while the planet floats helplessly towards a black hole. Meanwhile, the Doctor is about to discover exactly what "Beast" is trapped in the heart of the impossible planet.
The episode was first broadcast on 10 June 2006.
The episode opens where "The Impossible Planet" left off, with the Doctor and science officer Ida Scott investigating a strange door deep in the planet Krop Tor. Rose and the rest of the crew flee from the advancing Ood, who have all been possessed by the Beast and are killing people with their translators. The group initially believe Toby to be possessed by the Beast, but change their minds after a force leaves his body and enters the Ood. The Doctor makes contact with the crew, revealing that nothing has exited the door outside. He offers to rappel down into the pit to further investigate, but Captain Zach orders everyone to regroup so that he can execute "strategy nine". Ida and the Doctor become trapped when the lift cable snaps and leaves them stranded.
The crew struggles to fight against the advancing Ood and make their way to the escape rocket while The Doctor uses the lift cable to descend into the pit. The Beast communicates with the Doctor and the rest of the crew through the Ood and explains that he is the epitome of evil across many different religions. The Beast tells them that he was sealed in the pit before the universe began and is seeking to escape. When the Doctor runs out of rope, he decides to unhook and drop down into the chasm. Ida finds herself unable to return to the surface and running short on air. As the Ood continue their attack, the crew is whittled down to Zack, Rose, Danny and Toby. They board the escape rocket and leave the planet.
The Doctor lands in the pit thanks to an air cushion and finds that he can breathe. He finds cave paintings depicting the Beast's final battle and imprisonment and discovers two jars on pedestals a few feet from each other. Touching the jars causes the cavern to fill with light and reveals the physical form of the Beast. The Doctor quickly deduces from the unintelligible grunts coming from the Beast that the consciousness of the Beast has already managed to escape. The Doctor works out that Krop Tor was the perfect prison for the Beast, as should it escape the planet would plunge into the black hole and the Beast would be destroyed. The Doctor realizes he must sacrifice Rose and the others to destroy the Beast, and begins smashing the jars. With the generators destroyed, the planet begins plunging into the black hole and the rocket becomes ensared as well. Accepting his fate, the Doctor mocks the Beast before stumbling across his TARDIS while fleeing the collapsing cave.
On board the rocket, the collapse of the gravity field causes Toby to reveal the consciousness of the Beast is still possessing him. He begins to taunt the others and breathes out fire. Rose takes Captain Zach's bolt gun and shoots out the rocket's front window. She also unhooks Toby' safety harness, causing Toby and the Beast's consciousness to be blown out into space and into the black hole. The cabin is sealed by automatic shields but the rocket still lacks the power to escape the gravity well. Suddenly their ride smooths out and the rocket turns away from the black hole. A confused Captain Zach is relieved to hear The Doctor proclaim that he is towing the rocket to safety with the TARDIS. The Doctor asks for Rose and jokingly offers to trade Zach back Ida for Rose. The Doctor reports he did not have time to go back and save the Ood, who were innocent victims of the Beast's possession. Once safe, the respective crews depart on their separate ways. As they return to Earth, Captain Zack reads off the list of personnel that died, including the Ood.
Zack identifies the expedition as representing the Torchwood Archive. "Torchwood" is the story arc of the series. The Beast claims that Rose is destined to die in battle. This foreshadows the events in the season two finale, Doomsday. Russell T Davies mentions in the downloadable episode commentary that everything else the Beast said about the characters' fears was true.
When the Doctor abseils into the Pit, he lists some planets and races whose mythologies have horned demons, speculating that they are inspired by the Beast. Among the planets he mentions are Draconia (Frontier in Space) and Dæmos, planet of the horned Dæmon Azal (The Dæmons). In The Dæmons, the Third Doctor speculated that the Dæmons inspired the stories of demons in Earth mythology. In this episode, the Doctor also makes reference to the Kaled god of war (The Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks). Davies stated in the Doctor Who Confidential episode "Religion and Myth" that they aimed to create a "Russian doll" effect, wrapping this episode around The Dæmons.
The Beast calls the Doctor the "killer of his own kind", suggesting explicitly the Doctor's involvement with the destruction of all the Time Lords in the last great Time War. The Doctor stated during the episode Dalek that he "made it happen". In The End of Time the Doctor's role in the end of the Time War is expanded on.
The Doctor refers to how his race "practically invented" black holes. This is a reference to the Eye of Harmony, the black hole-derived power source used by the Time Lords. The episode The Deadly Assassin and The Three Doctors expand on how the Time Lords created a black hole as their primary planetary power source.
Russell T Davies said that in order to inspire the design of the Beast, he sent the visual designers at The Mill images of paintings by Simon Bisley, a comics artist known for muscular grotesqueries. In the episode commentary, Davies said that an early draft of the script called for the role of the Ood to be filled by the same species as the Slitheen. Their race would have been enslaved and they wished to awaken the Beast, whom they believed to be a god that could free them. Davies claims credit for naming the Ood as a play on the word "odd".
The scenes with the Beast and the Doctor were filmed at Clearwell Caves, last seen as the Sycorax ship in "The Christmas Invasion". The Sanctuary Base 6 corridor set was recycled to become the entrance to the set for Totally Doctor Who. According to the DVD commentary, the final scene in the TARDIS where the Doctor says "the stuff of legend" was the last major scene shot for the 2006 series, and the last to feature Billie Piper (whose actual final episode had been filmed weeks earlier). It was not, however, the very last scene filmed for the season, which was the "cliffhanger" scene at the very end of "Doomsday".
Davies also mentioned that one of many unused ideas for a creature in this episode would be used in series three, this turned out to be the Toclafane from "The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords" as revealed via Davies comments in Doctor Who Magazine Series Three Companion.
Outside references 
During the TARDISODE for this episode, the letters "SB6" (presumably standing for Sanctuary Base 6) are seen on a display changing into the numbers "666". While considering human curiosity, the Doctor quotes "[For fools rush in] where angels fear to tread", from Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism.
Broadcast and DVD release 
This episode was shown the Saturday after 6/6/06, with the first part airing the Saturday before, hence it bookmarked a week full of Devil-related stories in the media. Overnight ratings for "The Satan Pit" came in at 5.5 million viewers. While these are the lowest to date, the good weather, combined with the first England game of the 2006 World Cup are factors to be considered. Moreover, "The Satan Pit" had an audience share of 35%, meaning that its overall share has remained static and it was the third most watched programme of the day, after the England vs. Paraguay game and Casualty. The final consolidated rating was 6.08 million. The audience Appreciation Index for the episode was 86.
- "Myths and Legends". Doctor Who Confidential. Series 2. Episode 9. 10 June 2006. BBC. BBC Three.
- The Satan Pit Overnights (Outpost Gallifrey)
- Doctor Who Magazine: Series Two Companion (Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Comics) (14 - Special Edition). 9 November 2006.
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- The Satan Pit on TARDIS Data Core, an external wiki
- TARDISODE 9
- Episode Commentary by Russell T Davies, Peter McKinstry, and Gareth Skelding (MP3)
- "The Satan Pit" episode homepage
- "The Satan Pit" at the BBC Doctor Who homepage
- "The Impossible Planet" / "The Satan Pit" at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)
- "The Satan Pit" at Outpost Gallifrey
- "The Satan Pit" at TV.com
- "The Satan Pit" at the Internet Movie Database
- "The Satan Pit" reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide
- "The Impossible Planet" / "The Satan Pit" reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide