The episode opens immediately following the events of "Doomsday". The Doctor, still upset at the loss of Rose Tyler, is shocked to find a woman in a wedding dress standing in the TARDIS console room. The woman angrily accuses him of abducting her from her wedding and demands to be returned. She angrily rips open the TARDIS doors, to see that she's actually in outer space. She tells the Doctor her name is Donna, and he does several tests to find out how she got into the TARDIS in-flight. The Doctor returns her to Earth, where she storms off to find a cab to return to her wedding. The Doctor is accosted by robotic Santas, and uses the TARDIS to fly alongside the taxi Donna is in to rescue her from the Santa that's driving it. The flight overloads the TARDIS, and the Doctor is forced to set it down on a nearby rooftop. The Doctor gives Donna a ring that will mask her from the Santas, and escorts her back to her wedding.
The Doctor meets Donna's groom, Lance Bennett, whom she had met and fallen in love with while working with him. He reviews the video footage of Donna's disappearance from the wedding and recognizes that she managed to absorb a great deal of huon particles, which would have drawn her to the huon particles contained in the TARDIS. The Doctor realises that the ring he gave Donna cannot mask the huon particle signature, and soon the reception hall is attacked by more Santas. The Doctor is able to use the music sound system to disrupt the attack and trace the control signal to a ship in orbit around Earth, but he quickly loses track of it.
The Doctor learns that Donna's workplace is owned by the Torchwood Institute, which the Doctor believed to be defunct. The Doctor asks Lance to take him to the company headquarters and they are accompanied by Donna. The Doctor discovers a secret basement leading to a long tunnel under the Thames Barrier. There they find machinery creating huon particles, and a pit that seems to lead straight to the core of the Earth. They are surprised by the sudden appearance of the Empress of the Racnoss, a spider-like species wiped out eons ago by the Time Lords. She shows them that she has taken control of the company and used the Torchwood technology to create the pit. Lance reveals that he has been working with the Empress, and was responsible for dosing Donna's coffee with huon particles to convert Donna into a key that would free the Empress' children. The Doctor and a heartbroken Donna escape, and the Empress decides to use Lance as the key and orders him force fed large quantities of the huon particles.
The Doctor retrieves the TARDIS and takes Donna back to the formation of planet Earth. They observe that a Racnoss ship formed the core of the developing planet, and the Doctor deduces that the Empress is attempting to revive her species by using the huon particles to awaken the ancient Racnoss. Back in the present, the Doctor and Donna return to the pit to face the Empress. Donna is captured and put in webbing, and the Doctor is held at gunpoint by the Santas. As the Racnoss are awakened and begin ascending from the pit, the Empress brings her ship closer to Earth and begins firing upon the populace. The Doctor offers to take the Empress and her kind to a planet where they will not harm anyone but she refuses. The Doctor then reveals himself to her as a Time Lord, and tells her he cannot let the Racnoss survive. Using explosives, the Doctor destroys one of the walls of the room, flooding it and the pit with water from the River Thames and killing the Empress's offspring by drowning them. The Empress teleports back to her ship, but due to having used up all her power it is destroyed by human forces said to be acting upon "Mr. Saxon's" orders.
The Doctor returns Donna home where she declines an offer to travel with him. Donna tells the Doctor not to travel alone, and suggests he needs someone with him to help keep his temperament in check. The episode ends with the TARDIS taking off up into the atmosphere.
|Doctor Who Christmas specials|
|Tenth Doctor||"The Christmas Invasion" • "The Runaway Bride" • "Voyage of the Damned" • "The Next Doctor" • "The End of Time"|
|Eleventh Doctor||"A Christmas Carol" • "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" • "The Snowmen" • "The Time of the Doctor"|
|Twelfth Doctor||"Last Christmas" • "The Husbands of River Song"|
|See also||"The Feast of Steven" • "Attack of the Graske"|
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