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 trapped in the heart of the impossible planet where he encounters the Beast, a creature implied to be the Devil himself.
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 three of the surviving members of the crew, Mr Jefferson, Danny and Toby, 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 still possessed by the Beast, but Rose convinces them to change their minds by reminding them that they saw it leave his body and enter 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". As the Doctor and Ida prepare to return to the base, 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 all religions. The Beast tells them that he was sealed in the pit before the universe began and is seeking to escape. The Beast demoralises each member of the crew by playing on their fears and weaknesses, and says that Rose "will die in battle, so very soon". However the Doctor begins to reassure the crew that they are stronger as the Beast is alone, until the Beast has the lift cable snap, trapping Ida and the Doctor 10 miles underground.
With Captain Zach cornered in the base control room by Ood, Rose and the rest of crew decide to head to Ood habitation to incapacitate the Ood by turning off the telepathy that keeps the Ood functioning. They are forced to head through shafts designed for robots transporting resources, whilst Captain Zach uses the escape rocket's energy to have the air supply follow the crew through the shafts. However, the Ood enter the shafts and give chase. Mr Jefferson holds back to buy the others time with his machine-gun, and is unable to make it to the next section of the shafts in time. Knowing that Captain Zach cannot save him without sacrificing the air supply of the others, Mr Jefferson chooses to die by oxygen starvation, rather than suffer "death by Ood". Rose, Danny and Toby are then almost cornered by more Ood, but manage to escape the shafts and knock out the telepathy of the Ood to incapacitate them, although Toby is shown to be still unknowingly possessed by the Beast. Rose, Danny and Toby reunite with Captain Zach, board the escape rocket and leave the planet.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Ida use the lift cable to explore the pit, although the Doctor finds nothing but darkness far below. He then chooses to detach himself and fall, landing at the bottom thanks to an air cushion and finds that he can breathe. Finding cave paintings depicting the Beast's final battle and imprisonment, the Doctor discovers two jars on pedestals a few feet from each other as their light reveals the physical form of the Beast. The Doctor quickly deduces from the unintelligible grunts coming from the Beast that its consciousness has already escaped and that Krop Tor was designed as the perfect prison for the Beast: its jailers devised the jars as a failsafe, since their destruction would cause the planet to plunge into the black hole with the body of the Beast destroyed, and the mind killed in the process. Although the Doctor realizes he must also sacrifice Rose and the others to destroy the Beast, he smashes the jars anyway on faith in his companion. As the planet falls out of orbit, the Doctor accepts his fate by mocking 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 mind of the Beast is still possessing him as he taunts the others while breathing out fire. Rose takes Captain Zach's bolt gun and shoots out the rocket's front window, unhooking Toby' safety harness to jettison the possessed man into space towards 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. The Doctor contacts Captain Zach, telling him that he is towing the rocket to safety with the TARDIS. The Doctor asks for Rose and jokingly offers to trade Zach back Ida, who he rescued from the planet caverns, 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 Zach 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, foreshadowing 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", a reference to the Doctor's involvement with the destruction the Time Lords as confessed by him in the episode "Dalek".
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 episodes 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.
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. This could be explained by the unusually hot country-wide weather, combined with the first England game of the 2006 World Cup. "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 World Cup game and Casualty. The final consolidated rating was 6.08 million, the lowest of any episode of Doctor Who since the show was revived in 2005. The audience Appreciation Index for the episode was 86.
IGN's Ahsan Haque gave "The Satan Pit" a score of 8.7 out of 10. He was generally positive and praised the CGI that animated the Beast, though he noted that the Doctor made some "logical leaps". Dave Golder of SFX felt that the ambition of the story could not live up to production values, but he praised Tennant and Piper. While he found some "scripting misfires" like the easy recovery of the TARDIS, he described the story as "action-packed, ambitious, emotionally draining and, thankfully, still willfully different to every other SF show out there." Arnold T Blumburg of Now Playing was more critical, giving "The Satan Pit" a grade of C+. He found it a disappointing conclusion which spent too much time getting the Doctor to the monster, only for him to confront it by "ranting and raving rather embarrassingly at a roaring CGI effect." He also criticised the Doctor's concentration on saving Rose without mentioning the other characters, and noted that a few previously unseen crew members appeared (which isn't actually the case) and that "entire plot threads also go nowhere". Still, he praised the acting of the guest cast, the music, and the effects, concluding that the two-parter was "a qualified success that offers solid character, brilliant visual design and some thought-provoking moments damaged only by poor plotting and some glaring missed opportunities".
- "Myths and Legends". Doctor Who Confidential. Series 2. Episode 9. 10 June 2006. BBC. BBC Three.
- "The Satan Pit Overnights". Outpost Gallifrey. 11 June 2006. Archived from the original on 15 June 2006. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
- Doctor Who Magazine: Series Two Companion (Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Comics) (14 - Special Edition). 9 November 2006. Missing or empty
- Haque, Ahsan (4 December 2006). "Doctor Who: "The Satan Pit" Review". IGN. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
- Golder, Dave (12 June 2006). "Doctor Who 2.8 and 2.9 The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit". SFX. Archived from the original on 3 July 2006. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
- Blumburg, Arnold T (15 June 2006). "Doctor Who: Series 2 - "The Satan Pit"". Now Playing. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Tenth Doctor|
- 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 Impossible Planet" / "The Satan Pit" at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- "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 Outpost Gallifrey
- "The Impossible Planet" / "The Satan Pit" reviews at Outpost Gallifrey
- "The Satan Pit" reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide
- "The Impossible Planet" / "The Satan Pit" reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide