Eater of Wasps
Roots: The Swarm (a swarm of killer insects), The Fly (The David Cronenberg version) (Rigby's transformation into a human-insect hybrid). There are references to All Creatures Great and Small, Madame Butterfly, and Danger Man. The Doctor quotes Byron.
Continuity: The weapon is a prototype and is apparently stolen by rogue time travellers; their transduction beam was incorrectly calibrated and they were vaporised, but the weapon was sent back to 1933. It is a black cylinder about a foot long, which is a "molecularly engineered crystal lattice, ideal for storing and isolating certain kinds of psychokinetic energy". It carries a bio-psionic energy field, which contains a rudimentary artificial intelligence. It is designed to control and alter any human being it comes into contact with, bioengineering them into a living weapon [the Doctor hypothesises that it is a stealth weapon, designed to be used behind enemy lines]. It can spread this physical transformation like a contagion. When it arrived in 1933, it was damaged and accidentally used a nest of wasps as its agents; because it was designed to work on humans, it directed them to try and take over humans (it is apparently unable to physically alter the wasps). In order to transform humans, the wasps enter their mouths and noses, and start to transform them on a genetic level from within. Their first victim is dentist Charles Rigby, who is slowly converted into a giant human-wasp hybrid. Initially, they have difficulty converting further humans, since many of them die from anaphylactic shock or heart failure, although as Rigby's transformation progresses, they learn how to infect and alter humans better, as their understanding of human biology increases. The controlling influence continues to largely reside in the crystal lattice however, and is destroyed when the Doctor shatters it, killing Rigby and freeing the wasps.
The Doctor is able to synthesise a version of the psionic wave from the weapon in the TARDIS laboratory and encode it into the molecular chains of the CO2 in a fire extinguisher - this inhibits the effects of the weapons bio-psionic influence, freeing the wasps and killing the possessed Miss Havers. He also performs an autopsy. The Doctor states that he likes travel machines of all kinds, and he drives a tractor for the first time. He plays Paranoid by Black Sabbath on the piano. He mentions that he likes butterflies, recalling the TARDIS' butterfly room. He easily removes the wrist binders placed on him by Jode. He has not had porridge for years. His recent violent tendencies are again brought to the fore; he is willing to kill Hilary Pink to save him from possession, and seemingly tortures Jode to tell him where Fatboy is (unsuccessfully).
Fitz already hates wasps prior to encountering the killer wasps created by the weapon. The threat of physical violence invariably makes him need the toilet, in spite of his now-considerable experience of it! He accepts a cigarette from Hilary Pink but is prevented from smoking it by Anji and saves it for later. He plays Let it Be on the piano.
Anji still thinks about Dave frequently. She has never seen a real steam train before. She does not fully trust the Doctor, who she thinks saves people because he can, not because he cares. His refusal to give up on Charles Rigby however, partly wins her over.
The TARDIS yearometer is mentioned, Anji scoffing at the name.
Links: The Doctor still carries a note from Mary Minett in his pocket (Casualties of War). Fitz notes that stepping out of the building and hiding behind a car is not much use if a nuclear bomb explodes, which pokes fun at The Hand of Fear. The Doctor's "left. Right! No left" discussion with Inspector Gleave recalls his direction of Ace in Remembrance of the Daleks.
Location: Marpling and Penton, 27th to 29th August 1933.
Future History: It is not explained where Kala, Jode and Fatboy have come from, although Kala and Jode seem to be human and are professional time travellers and state that they come from the far future (the twentieth century is merely the dawning of the atomic age for them). Their job appears to consist of stopping illegal time jumpers from using time travel for illicit purposes. They time travel using a temporal transduction beam. Their understanding of the laws of time travel is pretty basic, Kala not believing that the detonation of a nuclear device in England in 1933 could change her past. Fatboy states that the Time Travel has developed differently throughout "the system", but Jode refuses to believe that the Doctor is an off-worlder [it has been speculated by fans on the Internet that the destruction of Gallifrey in The Ancestor Cell has allowed time travel to be developed by other races]. Fatboy is an android containing a nuclear bomb - despite their time travel technology the bomb is a fairly crude uranium device. Fatboys are last-resort weapons.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor has met Cassius Clay. Whilst on Earth during his century-long recuperation, he spent 1933 sailing in the South Seas, and claims to have got a tattoo, and he also spent some time at Longleat with the Marquis of Bath. He has met Edgar Rice Burroughs and also, or at least so he claims, Tarzan.
Q.v. Time travel.
The Bottom Line: Eater of Wasps starts out with a very traditional feel, set as it is in a quiet English village complete with Vicar and local church, but rapidly builds into a fine horror story in its own right. A real page-turner.