Doctor Who/Recap/S15/E01 Horror of Fang Rock

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< Doctor Who‎ | Recap‎ | S15

Season fifteen kicks off where season fourteen finished: Gothic horror. The TARDIS materialises in a lighthouse on an isolated piece of shoreline just after a mysterious light has been seen falling from the sky and one of the lighthouse-keepers is found electrocuted.

Soon, a sudden fog bank descends, causing a ship to founder on the rocks. The survivors straggle ashore but they soon find that they are locked in the lighthouse with a Rutan - a jelly-like alien that can take other forms and has been masquerading as lighthouse-keeper Reuben. The Doctor kills the Rutan warrior with a makeshift explosive, and then uses a diamond that one of the survivors had been carrying to focus the lighthouse's light into a laser beam to destroy the incoming Rutan mothership.

The Rutans are described by the Doctor as being the ancient and implacable enemies of the Sontarans, who have appeared multiple times in the show's history; this is the only appearance so far of the Rutans.


  • Blue Blood: Lord Palmerdale and company. The Doctor bottles up his contempt for them.
  • Closed Circle
  • Cue the Sun: The story ends while dawn is breaking.
  • Death by Materialism: The last surviving non-regular character, Skinsale, is killed after his greed gets the better of him and he scrabbles for the diamonds that the Doctor had thrown away (only needing the best one to focus a laser). The Rutan gets him. It had been established earlier that greed was his Fatal Flaw.
  • Death Ray: The Doctor using his MacGyvering skills to weaponize the lighthouse beam into a sort of Archimedes Heat Ray to blow the Rutan mothership into smithereens.
  • Dissonant Serenity: How the Doctor breaks the news of the lighthouse attack to Harker, Palmerdale, and Skinsale, complete with a grin:

The Doctor: Gentlemen, I've got news for you. This lighthouse is under attack and by morning we might all be dead. Anyone interested?

The Doctor: Why invade an obscure planet like Earth? It's of no value to you.
Rutan: The planet is obscure, but its strategic position is sound.