|John Smith delivers a lecture on the Battle of Waterloo|
Fleeing from an attack from the Family of Blood, the Doctor decides to hide on 1913 Earth, at a small boarding school for boys. He uses the Chameleon Arch to transform himself into a human, transferring his Time Lord configuration into a fob watch which he gives to Martha for safe-keeping. As a human, he assumes the name John Smith and serves as a teacher at the school. Martha is forced to assume the role of his maid and can do nothing but watch helplessly as "John Smith" becomes smitten with the school nurse, Joan Redfern.
|John Smith shares his "journal of impossible things" with Nurse Redfern|
The Doctor's decision to hide at Farrington rather than confronting the Family directly, has grave consequences for many people. The Family kills four people there in order to take on their identities, and more people are killed and wounded when they launch an attack first on the school and then on the village in their efforts to flush the Time Lord out of hiding. In a sense, John Smith himself is killed when he finally opens the fob watch and becomes the Doctor once more.
|Beware the killer, deadly scarecrows!|
|And beware the angry, vengeful Time Lord!|
When the Doctor finally does emerge, he dispatches the Family swiftly and without mercy, giving each of them a hellish form of the immortality they'd been seeking. There are definite hints of the Time Lord Victorious in his actions. It also begs the question that, if he was capable of disposing of them so easily, why he chose to run away instead? The Family believes he was just "being kind" but the school and village, reeling from the attack, certainly wouldn't have shared that viewpoint. Joan Redfern, in particular, is bitterly angry. When the Doctor returns to her to ask her to come with him in the TARDIS, she refuses, telling him that his choice to come here has brought death and destruction. How many people, she wants to know, would have lived if the Doctor had never chosen to come here? She sends him away, clinging to "John Smith's" journal.
|What might have been for John & Joan|
The episode ends with the Doctor and Martha at an Armistice Day ceremony where one of the school-boys, now an old man, is in attendance. He still has the now-empty fob watch which the Doctor gave him before leaving Farrington. He has survived the war, and saved a former classmate thanks to a premonition he had. As the ceremony concludes, he acknowledges the presence of the Doctor and Martha.