Doctor: Matt Smith (Eleventh Doctor)
Jenna-Louise Coleman (Clara Oswald)
Emilia Jones – Merry Gejelh
Michael Dixon – Dave Oswald
Nicola Sian – Ellie Oswald
Chris Anderson – The Chorister
Aidan Cook – The Mummy
Karl Greenwood – Dor'een
Directed by Farren Blackburn
Written by Neil Cross
Produced by Denise Paul
Marcus Wilson (series producer)
Incidental music composer Murray Gold
Series Series 7
Length 45 minutes
Originally broadcast 6 April 2013
Following the events of "The Bells of Saint John", in which he encountered a third version of Clara, the Doctor decides to learn more about his new companion and travels into her past to observe her. He finds that her parents met by a chance encounter caused by a gust of wind blowing a leaf into her father's face and discovers that her mother died while Clara was a teenager. The Doctor goes back to the present and collects Clara, then takes her to the Rings of Akhaten, where they observe a series of planetoids orbiting a planet, with a shining pyramid on one of them. The Doctor takes Clara to a giant alien marketplace and introduces her to several aliens, including a merchant named Dor'een who attempts to rent them a space bike. The market does not use hard currency but rather trades in items of sentimental value; this appalls Clara, who believes sentimental items should be cherished and not given away. She becomes separated from the Doctor and encounters a little girl (Emilia Jones) who appears to be running and hiding. Clara catches up to her and she explains that her name is Merry Galel, the Queen of Years. Merry tells Clara that she is hiding because she is supposed to sing a song at a ceremony and she is afraid to get it wrong. Clara reassures her by telling her what her mother once said, and Merry heads to the ceremony.
The Vigil as they appeared at a Doctor Who exhibition.
The Doctor and Clara attend the ceremony, where the Doctor explains that since the Rings were settled there has been a constant song sung to keep an angry god asleep. The people fear that the god, which they call Grandfather, will awaken and consume the entire universe if the song is ever interrupted. Merry begins singing, joined by a chorister at the pyramid. During the song, a mummy in a glass case at the pyramid begins to awaken. Merry panics, believing she got the song wrong. A beam of light from the pyramid envelops her, and she is pulled toward the pyramid and the mummy. The Doctor and Clara find Dor'een and rent the space bike using Clara's mother's ring as payment. They ride the bike to the pyramid where they find the mummy struggling to escape the case and consume Merry's soul. The Doctor promises Merry that she does not have to sacrifice herself and that he will stop Grandfather. As they attempt to leave, a group of creatures called the Vigil arrive and attempt to force Merry to sacrifice herself. The Doctor holds the Vigil at bay long enough to let Clara and Merry escape from the throne room, but then the case shatters and the mummy breaks free. A ray of light strikes the planet, revealing that Grandfather is Akhaten itself, a planet-sized parasitic creature.
Clara and Merry flee back to the ceremony and the Doctor faces the creature, realising it feeds off memories, stories, and feelings. He tries to overfeed it by offering the sum total of his Time Lord memories; Merry also leads the citizens in a song of hope, confusing Akhaten who then disappears. However, the Doctor's memories are not enough to sate the creature and Akhaten reappears. Clara returns to help, offering Akhaten the leaf that blew into her father's face on the day he met her mother, which contains an infinite amount of untold potential that Clara's mother never saw because she died early. Akhaten, overwhelmed by the infinite potential it has consumed, implodes on itself and the Rings are saved. The Doctor returns Clara to her home on the same day they left and gives her back her mother's ring, telling her that all the creatures she saved wanted her to have it back. Suddenly Clara remembers seeing the Doctor at her mother's funeral and asks why he was there. He tells her that she reminds him of someone who died and she rebukes him for using her as a replacement, but he assures her she is not a replacement and Clara leaves. However, the moment she is gone, the Doctor's expression becomes grim and closes the TARDIS door from which Clara left.