How many heroes do we need on Christmas? At least two. The Doctor gets a nice assist from The Ghost, a not-so-mysterious super-powered, masked man in New York City. Who is The Ghost and how does he have powers? As you might expect, the Doctor is involved in both answers.
On Christmas Eve, eight-year-old Grant wakes up to the Doctor hanging upside down outside his window. Confusing him with Santa, Grant lets him in and even gives him milk and cookies. When the pair go back up to the roof, the Doctor hands him a gemstone to hold and gives him a glass of water for his cough. The gemstone is meant for a machine the Doctor has cobbled together on the roof but Grant mistakes it for medicine and swallows it. He’s now got “a cough with a slight case of levitation.” The stone is designed to adapt to whatever the person desires and because Grant is a huge comic books fan, it’s making him into his favorite superhero, Superman. But when we see Grant as an adult he’s simply working as a nanny in New York.
At Harmony Shoal, your typical shady corporation, Dr. Sim is starting to bleed blue out of his nose. He meets co-worker Mr. Brock that night to discuss the room full of brains they have. Brock doesn’t know or really care what research is being conducted but he probably should’ve cared that the brains are appearing and/or multiplying on their own. One of the brains opens it eyes (yep, you read that right) and Sim reveals he’s already been “inhabited” by a new brain and now it’s Brock’s turn.
Outside the room, Lucy, a reporter, is snooping around and so is the Doctor. They both see the brains and overhear the entire exchange. As they try to get away, with Nardole in tow, Sim holds them at gunpoint. Then there’s a knocking at the window. The superhero known as The Ghost waltzes in, disarms Sim, and flies Lucy home. He takes off again and next we see, Grant is rushing in to take care of his charge, baby Jennifer. But the Doctor has gotten there first. And it gets more complicated. Lucy is Jennifer’s mom.
Back when Grant was a kid, the Doctor had made him promise to not use his powers and pass the stone. Obviously, that didn’t happen. The gemstone ended up bonding with Grant so his powers are permanent. He and Lucy grew up together but she fell in love with and married his best friend. Once Jennifer was born, her husband split so Grant stepped in as nanny. While Grant keeps zipping out to do his hero thing, clueless Lucy questions the Doctor about the brains. They are independent alien lifeforms that go from planet to planet taking over hosts. Once Harmony Shoal has replaced the brains of key world leaders, earth will be prepped for colonization.
Satisfied with his answers, Lucy now wants to know about The Ghost. Grant calls her as the hero and agrees to an interview. But that means Grant the Nanny is also needed. Funnily enough, it’s while on her interview/date with The Ghost that Lucy realizes how much she cares for Grant. He’s about to tell her his secret when Brock and some surgeons arrive to take over his body. Lucy tells him to escape and leave her, which he does, only to return to the roof as Grant.
The Doctor confronts Sim and Brock but learns nothing new. He’s saved by Nardole piloting the TARDIS. We learn the Doctor cut Nardole out of the Hydroflax suit so that he’d have a companion, which the Time Lord, of course, denies. The two break into the brains’ mothership hoping to find out something helpful. Instead they learn the ship has been rewired to be a giant bomb meant to hit New York. The intent is to cause mass panic and get world leaders to take shelter at Harmony Shoal, where they can easily be brain swapped.
With very few options left to him, the Doctor smashes all of the buttons on the ship and sends it plummeting towards earth. He speaks to Grant on a frequency only the hero can hear and tells him to stop the ship. Grant catches the ship one-handed on the roof, preventing any explosion. Lucy is surprised but not angry and even says she prefers Grant as himself. They kiss as he flies them up into the air to eventually get rid of the ship. UNIT takes care of shutting down Harmony Shoal though the brain in Sim escapes and finds a UNIT soldier as a host.
With the day saved, Grant says he’ll hang up the costume for now unless he’s very much needed in the future. The Doctor promises he’ll be around, confessing he’s recently been away. Nardole later reveals that after 24 years together, River went off to the library to die and the Doctor is recovering a bit. But he’s ready to get back to his old self again. And so are we.
I cannot even tell you guys how much it thrilled me to see Peter Capaldi on my TV again. My heart is soaring this Christmas Day.
It’s Grant that provides the title of this episode. As a kid, he tells the Doctor, who was fascinated by his comic books, that his name would be Doctor Mysterio. The Time Lord is delighted, though I suspect it was truly Capaldi’s own glee we saw on screen.
Young Grant: “Everyone knows [Clark Kent and Superman] are the same person.”
The Doctor: “Well Lois Lane doesn’t and she’s a reporter.”
Young Grant: “Who are you?”
The Doctor: “The Doctor.”
Young Grant: “Which one though? There are lots of doctors.”
The Doctor: “The main one. The original. I started it. They’re all based on me. Now everyone that wants to sound clever calls themselves ‘doctor.’ Bandwagon.”
The Doctor to Adult Grant: “Please, as much as it’s possible for a human male, try not to be an idiot.”
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