Here is the Guide for Parents!
The Doctor and Rose first saved modern earth. Then they traveled to the far future to witness the end of earth. You might expect their next trip to be to the beginning of human life on earth. You might at least expect them to witness some major event in mankind’s past. They do go back in time, but to a time and place that is much less existentially interesting.
They go to Cardiff, Wales. About 130 years before Rose’s time.
The great Charles Dickens is accidentally visited, presenting reiterations of his old works in a playhouse in Cardiff. Mr Dickens is in the worst of times. There’s a ghost, the audience freaks, and the Doctor bumps into Dickens, of whom he is somehow a huge fan.
Turns out, the ghosts that have been creeping everybody out are really aliens who have to take on the form of recently deceased humans so they can survive. The funeral parlour in which they first were seen inhabiting human bodies was built on top of a temporal rift. (Temporal rift filling in for the usual Indian burial ground in ghost stories.)
The good guys use Gwyneth, the helper from the funeral parlor, to act as a medium so they can communicate with the aliens. They discover that these aliens had been left homeless as a result of the devastating Time War. Feeling guilty about the way his war impacted them, the Doctor permits them to temporarily inhabit dead humans until he can find a place for them to live permanently.
There are still fifteen minutes left in this episode at this point, so you know they’re lying.
We find that they actually want to take over the entire planet and settle on earth. Using Gwyneth as a gateway, the aliens surge into our world.
Dickens figures out that the aliens are affected by gas, so Gwyneth offers herself as the instrument of their destruction. The gas is switched on and she grabs the matches. Everybody protests, but the Doctor reveals that she is already dead, the result of being a gateway for the aliens.
The baddies burn up and the goodies smile at each other before parting ways.
This lovely little tale of sacrifice is quite moving. If you’re already guessing where this blog will go with this episode – you’re right! The story of the death of Gwyneth helps to illustrate the story of the sacrifice of Jesus.
Here she is, a creature of two worlds really. She’s built of earth and she’s built of this other place. A creature with a dual nature; a secret identity. Similarly was Christ fully born a person and still fully God. Gwyneth’s dual nature reflects Christ’s dual nature.
And Gwyneth bridges the gateway from this to that world, ultimately (and intentionally) dying so that the world here might live. Jesus Christ is the small gate, “…and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Gwyneth also acts as a gateway for the demons to find life.
It’s sort of the opposite, the outcome is. But she’s acting an in-between for the two worlds. And then, when she realizes the danger she’s unleashed, she uses her position as the gateway to destroy and banish the evil aliens. She burns them up, dying in the process of saving the earth.