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Hornet's Nest : Hive of Horror

Released 3rd December 2009

Writer: Paul Magrs
Producer & Director: Kate Thomas

Roots: Fantastic Voyage (particularly the heroes' escape through a tear duct) Good King Wenceslas, Sing a Song of Sixpence ("Isn't this a dainty thing to set before a queen?") Mike compares the Doctor holding the ballet slipper to Cinderella's Prince Charming

Dialogue Triumphs: "Is the Queen in? I didn't see a little flag up."

"So we're all that stands between mankind and a horrible fate at the hands of insects?"
"-They don't have hands, Mike."

Continuity: Hive cottage includes a parlour at the back of the building, a stuffy and musty, disused room containinga rug and a stuffed zebra, the final lair of the Hornet Queen and her Hive. The Hive of the Hornets is a microscopic and intricate city of tunnels and chambers composed of waxy papier mache; it contains a 'throne room' for the distended Hornet Queen, and pupating chambers directly above it. In the throne room the Queen rests on 'fleshy pillows', gorging herself on royal jelly provided by her workers (contrary to natural hornets, which do not produce royal jelly). This is the first proper encounter, face to face, between her and the Doctor, who surmises that all previous encounters were strictly with her workers.

After his retirement Mike received a full hip flask from the Brigadier as a parting present (he never drank from it), but the farewell is not a fondly-recalled event, failing to even amount to an honourable discharge; despite this he has an invitation to a UNIT reunion, to which he also invites the Doctor (he turns this down). In subsequent years he attended various yogis and experts to train his mind against further mental invasion, to the extent that he (wrongly) presumes himself impervious.

The Doctor realises that Mrs Wibbsey, possibly under Hornet control, arranged and set out the advertisement that brought Mike to Hive Cottage. Using his sonic screwdriver lashed together with the TARDIS' dimensional stabiliser the Doctor is able to play the hornet Queen at her own game, producing the required resonances sufficient to shrink her down to the size of the 'microuniverse', and beyond influencing the larger cosmos.

At the story's end, and after a fitting Christmas dinner, the Doctor intends to leave Earth once more and bequeaths Hive Cottage to a greatly improved Mrs Wibbsey (once the nearby village has accepted her into the community), and Captain the wolf hound to his human namesake ("I wouldn't normally ask, but I already have a dog - there could be ructions").

Links: This story continues directly from the cliffhanger ending of The Sting in the Tale. The Dead Shoes (the ballet slippers), The Circus of Doom (the bag of aniseed balls). The Hornet Queen recalls Mike's dealings with "AI taking over your consciousness" (The Green Death) and Operation Golden Age (Invasion of the Dinosaurs). The Doctor tells Mike about the time he was shrunk and put inside his own brain (The Invisible Enemy), and refers obliquely to K-9.

Q.v: 'Shrinking'

The Bottom Line: "There are galaxies within galaxies, you know, Mike"

At last the choice of Mike Yates as surrogate Brigadier makes sense, although his professional history obviously needed a bit of retouching by Magrs. Great conclusion and another highly visual setting, although the threat is still frustratingly implied - Mike brings the gun in, rather than the Hornets providing every chance of physical harm. And yet there's redemption for both him and Mrs Wibbsey, and a cracking feast to end it all on. In all a fun, if highly unorthodox round of stories, and a nice end to the series.

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