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The Fires Of Pompeii

ShowDoctor Who / Series IV / Episode 3
First Broadcast2008/07/13 - 19:30 (Link: ABC Details)
Related LinksDr Who Guide
Previous EpisodePartners In Crime
Next EpisodePlanet Of The Ood

The Doctor takes Donna to Ancient Rome. She is delighted as she wanders around. Eventually they realise it's not Rome, it's Pompeii, and as the Doctor so eloquently puts it, "It's Volcano Day!".

As the story unfolds, we meet the Sibylline Sisterhood and Lucius, all of whom not only claim to be able to tell the future, but are actually remarkably good at it. They know the Doctor's name, they know it's not his real name (which is hidden in the Cascade of Medusa?) and they call him a Lord of Time.

The Doctor discovers that those who can tell the future are slowly turning to stone. The source of their power seems to be vents that run from Mt. Vesuvius. Lucius is also having constructed pieces of what turns about to be an energy converter.

The Doctor and Donna travel to Mt. Vesuvius to determine what it's all about. They discover the Pyroville and a crashed spaceship. The Doctor is faced with a dilemma. He can destroy the energy converter and save Earth, but this will cause Mt. Vesuvius to erupt and destroy Pompeii.

This is a key theme. Throughout the story, Donna has been pestering the Doctor to save Pompeii. He claims that he sees time in a different way to her, he can see what must be changed and what must remain constant, that is his burden. In this case it turns out he is the cause of the destruction of Pompeii, it was never volcanic. In the end, Donna understands his dilemma and helps him trigger the fateful action as he wavers.

The Doctor prepares to leave, but Donna still demands he do something. She tries to warn the people, but they ignore her. In the end she convinces the Doctor to save someone - Caecilius and his family. At the end, we see them re-established in Rome, with new household gods, the Doctor and Donna.

A couple of cryptic predictions, seemingly not related to this story are: Lucius claims that Donna has “something” on her back, and tells the Doctor that “she is returning”. Another reference to Rose?