The Face-Eater

Roots: There are references to the Sun newspaper, James Bond, Timothy Dalton, Pride and Prejudice, Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist, Miss Marple, Batman, Bruce Willis, Flash Gordon, and Steven Spielberg.

Goofs: The Doctor claims that Mars has two indigenous species, the Ice Warriors and "the other lot", which is presumably a reference to The Ambassadors of Death, a story that establishes that the aliens had reached Mars before humanity but weren't actually Martians.

Continuity: Proxima 2 has at least one ocean. There is an equatorial continental mass with a prominent mountain range. Proxima City is located on this continent. The Proximan natives are white, stubby-haired creatures referred to as Rats by the colonists. They are a semi-intelligent, almost empathic telepathic species of social animals, with a type of primitive group mind described by the Doctor as a co-ordination. They live in nests. There are no birds or indigenous aquatic life on Proxima 2. The colonists imported genetically modified Aspen trees to the planet. There are fossilised megatherms possibly eight thousand years old on the planet. The F'Seeta, or Face-Eater, is an immense, ancient, intelligent entity. It controls several shape-shifting creatures that can telepathically read the memories and emotions of their victims. The Doctor describes it as being more powerful than anything the human race has ever encountered [hyperbole]. It was originally a cow-like animal selected for development by the Proximans as an experiment in creating a vast gestalt mind. Its true physical form is now a vast, leathery monster that has absorbed almost all organic matter on Proxima 2 whilst hibernating underground for centuries. It is a gestalt life-form, which drains the minds of its victims [via the shape-shifters] and can control the minds of the Proximans. It has a mechanical control component, allowing the Proximans to force it back underground, before finally switching it off and thus destroying it. In their natural form, the shape-shifters are bony, membranous creatures with claws, dumpling-shaped heads, black eyes, and long, thin tongues. With the Face-Eater destroyed, the Proximans cease to be telepathic or part of a gestalt, thus dooming them to extinction.

The Doctor creates fake credentials for Sam and him, stating that they are GMC Security Consultants with White clearance. The GMC database claims that they were recruited in Albania in 2127, the Doctor (a.k.a. John Smith) seconded from UNIT following its disbandment, and Samantha Jones (aliases including Josephine Grant, Sarah Jane Smith and Ace) graduated from Geneva Corporate University in 2124. He has read Joan Betts' book on Sea Devil psychology and culture. He makes telepathic contact with the Proximan group mind. He receives a broken leg when the Face-Eater attacks him, but it heals within hours.

Sam has a lockpick provided by the Doctor. She once nearly had her nose pierced in Camden Market. She is attracted to Ben Fuller. She isn't sure if she is free of the micro-organisms from the Bel system (Beltempest). She eats dried fruit and yogurt on Proxima 2. She suffers a viral infection (specifically a cold), a broken nose, lacerations of the head and body, fever, third-degree burns on her back and blood loss on Proxima 2.

Links: The Doctor mentions Daleks. There are references to Susan, Polly, Prydonians, Cybermen, The Five Doctors ("A man is the sum of his memories. A Time Lord even more so"), Rutans (Horror of Fang Rock), Ice Warriors, the Master, werewolves (The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Kursaal), Crook Marsham (Nightshade), Hoothi (Love and War), the Metebelis Crystal and the Great One (The Green Death, Planet of the Spiders),

Location: Proxima 2

Future History: Universal concrete has been invented by 2115. Proxima 2 is Earth's first colonised world, and is settled in 2128; the colonisation programme was overseen by the New Earth Government and the Global Mining Corporation, who estimated that it would take eight years for supralight travel to become cheap enough to send a follow-up mission. The colonists travelled to Proxima 2 in the New Horizon, the first ever large-scale colony transporter, which carried five thousand people and took two years to reach Proxima 2. The colonists established Proxima City on arrival. Helen Percival is the Supreme Executive of Proxima 2. The unmanned Proximan Orbital Satellite (POSSAT) monitors communications to and from Earth. There is an Oceanic-Nippon Bloc on Earth.

Professor Joan Betts is the author of The Life and Customs of the Marine Saurians, which she wrote after spending three years investigating the Sea devil base that attacked Sea Base 4 in 2084 (Warriors of the Deep).

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor claims to have encountered manitous.

The Bottom Line: "I am not the sum of my parts. I am the whole." Competent but unoriginal, the Face-Eater is an assembly of clichés including an ancient evil buried underground and an isolated human colonist. It isn't bad, but it is forgettable. Still, at least the Doctor is fairly proactive in saving the colony, even if Sam is at her most irritating in some time.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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