Smile
Doctor Who Logo 'Smile'
(Story Code 10.02)

by Frank Cottrell-Boyce
The Twelfth Doctor, Bill and Nardole

“There’s a giant smiley abattoir over there, and I’m having this really childish impulse to blow it up.” – The Doctor

As the Doctor prepares to take Bill for her first ‘proper’ trip in the TARDIS he is interrupted by the arrival of Nardole, who wants to know why the Time Lord is going off-world when he has sworn an oath to remain on Earth guarding the Vault under St. Luke’s. Reassuring Nardole that he is going nowhere, the Doctor sends his friend away to make tea – then immediately leave in the TARDIS with Bill, aiming to return before the kettle has even boiled… On a far-off planet in the future, a woman, Kezzia, and her robotic ‘Emojibot’ finish pollinating a wheat field and return home to a beautiful, gleaming city. When Kezzia arrives she is met by her sister, Goodthing, who bears a falsified smile and news that that their mother and a number of friends have just died. When Kezzia’s face falls at the news a badge on her back displays a ‘sad’ emoji; this is also displayed on the face panel of the little Emojitbot, which grabs the woman just as a swarm of blackness swoops down and reduces Kezzia and Goodthing to skeletons… Sometime later, the Doctor and Bill arrive in the TARDIS. As they head off to investigate the city the Doctor explains that they have arrived in one of Earth’s first colonies, where the settlers have supposedly cracked the secret of happiness. They are met by the black swarm, which the Time Lord identifies as Vardies: tiny robots who work in flocks. After the Vardies fit Bill and the Doctor’s ears with comms devices, the two time-travellers continue into the city and encounter one of the small Emojibots; to Bill’s delight the robot speaks emoji, which enables it to act as the interface between the Vardies and the human colonists. The robot gives Bill and the Doctor a badge each, which displays their mood as an emoji, albeit on the side that they are always not looking at; when the travellers don the badges, the patches move themselves onto their wearers’ backs, preventing them from seeing how they are perceived to feel. While Bill enjoys a meal of a blue jelly cube, the Doctor theorises that they have arrived too early, when the robots are preparing the city for the arrival of the colonists. The two friends move on to explore the hydroponics area, which is being tended by more Emojibots and fed fertiliser from overhead dispensers. Although Bill is having fun, the Doctor is suspicious by the absence of at least a set-up team of people; his fears become real when he realises the truth: the fertiliser is made of human beings, crunched up inside a mulcher and then fed to the garden. As an Emojibot closes in on them the Doctor and Bill run for their lives, only to be cornered in a corridor by a six more of the robots. By faking their smiles the travellers are able to alter the displays on their badges, convincing the Emojibots to let them go free. The Doctor takes Bill back to the TARDIS, instructing her to remain there while he returns to destroy the smiley-faced abattoir before any colonist ship arrives and suffers the same fate as the other humans. Donning a fake smile, the Doctor makes his way back into the complex, but becomes furious when Bill ignores his instructions and joins him. The Doctor shows Bill that the entire city is made of the Vardies, its structure built from interlocking microbots, and hypothesises that the original spaceship must be at the centre of the complex; the Doctor’s hunch proves right, and he and Bill soon find a hatch embedded in an old wall, the entrance to the United Earth Colony Ship Erewoh. As the Doctor and Bill venture inside, the ship’s systems reactivate – and outside, all the Emojibots stand upright in anger… Finding a display map, the Doctor instructs Bill to remain and feed him directions to the engine room over their new ear-comms. The Time Lord quickly arrives at the ship’s cold fusion engine, and he starts working on a way to blow it up; but his presence is detected by another Emojibot, which sets off in pursuit. When Bill realises that she can take a photo of the map on her phone, she twigs that she has been duped: the Doctor has already memorised the map. Bill sets off to find the Time Lord, but stops when she finds a curtained-off section of the ship that hides the body of an elderly woman; on display next to the corpse is an electronic book showing images from the whole of human history. After the Doctor reluctantly explains that the Erewoh is one of a number of ships that fled Earth’s destruction, Bill meets a small boy, Nate, who follows her through the ship towards the engine room. The Doctor finally finishes setting the ship’s engine to overload, but is is attacked by the Emojibot; luckily the Time Lord is able to send the murderous robot falling over a ledge, just as Bill and Nate arrive. When the Doctor and Bill make to leave the ship, Nate shows them an area with walls lined with activating storage pods; the Doctor immediately rushes back to the engine room, where he deactivates the vessel’s destruction. The Doctor tells Bill that he has made a mistake: the Erewoh is the colony ship, the pods containing the surviving population of Earth all cryogenically frozen, and now reactivating thanks to his and Bill’s arrival. Knowing that if any of the newly-awakened colonists were to leave the ship and learn the fate of the others, they will be instantly slaughtered by the Vardies, the Doctor orders the humans to remain inside while he deals with the robots. Meanwhile, Nate goes out into the complex in search of his mother, unaware that she was one of the murdered gardeners… When Bill shows the Doctor the body of the old woman, the Time Lord deduces from the ship’s records that everyone died from ‘grief as a plague’ – the badges were meant to show satisfaction at the robots’ work, but the Vardies expanded the definition of happiness and thought that anyone who experienced grief at the death of the old lady should be killed; events then escalated, with each death causing more sorrow, until everyone had been killed for their own good, all in a single day. The Doctor tries explaining the situation to the colonists, but the humans just take up weapons and leave the ship, heading out into the complex; they soon arrive in a large chamber, where Nate is waiting with two Emojibots. The young boy asks what happened to his mother, and his badge turns sad, causing the faces of the Emojibot’s flanking him to change too, and they move in to attack. One of the Emojibots is destroyed by the colonists, but then a cloud of Vardies detaches itself from the ceiling and attacks the humans. Amidst the conflict the Doctor realises that the Vardies are actually alive; he promptly uses his sonic screwdriver to reprogramme the fallen Emojibot – there is a big flare of light, and everything whites out… When the colonists come to, the Doctor explains that he has reset the Emojibots and Vardies, wiping their memories before restarting their systems. The Time Lord also tells the colonists that to survive they will have to smile and befriend the Vardies, the new indigenous population of the planet, and offers to help negotiate the peaceful co-existence of both races… Later on, having helped jump-start a new civilisation, the Doctor and Bill fly home in the TARDIS. But the Doctor’s plan to arrive in time for tea with Nardole has gone a little awry – instead of returning in St Luke’s, the two time-travellers arrive in Victorian London, landing on a frozen Thames, where they are met by an elephant!


Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Pearl Mackie (Bill Potts), Matt Lucas (Nardole), Kiran L Dadlani (Kezzia), Mina Anwar (Goodthing), Ralf Little (Steadfast), Kalungi Ssebandeke (Nate), Kiran Shah (Emojibot), Craig Garner (Emojibot)

Directed by Lawrence Gough
Produced by Peter Bennett
Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin
A BBC Wales production


TX (BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD):
22nd April 2017


Notes:
*Featuring the Twelfth Doctor, Bill and Nardole