The Doctor rang the doorbell to the Connolly house. Thankfully, it was Tommy who answered. “Tommy, talk to me,” the Doctor said seriously. “I need to know exactly what happened inside your house.”
Before Tommy could answer, Mr. Connolly stormed out of the house. “What the blazes do you think you're doing?”
“I want to help, dad,” said Tommy.
The man got in the Doctor’s face. “Shut your face, you, whoever you are. We can handle this ourselves.” He turned back to Tommy. “Listen, you little twerp. You're hardly out of the blooming' cradle, so I don't expect you to understand. But I've got a position to maintain. People round here respect me. It matters what people think.”
“Is that why you did it, dad?” Tommy asked quietly.
“What do you mean? Did what?”
“You ratted on Gran,” the boy accused. “How else would the police know where to look, unless some coward told them?”
“How dare you! Do you think I fought a war just so a mouthy little scum like you could call me a coward?”
“You don't get it, do you? You fought against fascism, remember? People telling you how to live, who you could be friends with, who you could fall in love with, who could live and who had to die. Don't you get it? You were fighting so that little twerps like me could do what we want— say what we want. Now you've become just like them. You've been informing on everyone, haven't you? Even Gran. All to protect your precious reputation.”
Rita appeared in the doorway. “Eddie is that true?”
“I did it for us, Rita. She was filthy. A filthy, disgusting thing!” Mr. Connolly spat angrily.
“She's my mother. All the others you informed on, all the people in our street, our friends.”
“I had to. I, I did the right thing.”
“The right thing for us or for you, Eddie?” Rita questioned her husband. “You go, Tommy. Go with the Doctor and do some good. Get away from this house. It's poison. We had a ruddy monster under this roof, all right, but it weren't my mother!” She slammed the door shut on Mr. Connolly.
“Rita!” he shouted.
“Come on, Tommy,” Lilith said gently. She, Tommy, the Doctor, and Bishop walked down Florizel Street. “Tell us about that night. The night your grandmother changed.”
Tommy shrugged. “She was just watching the telly.”
“Rose said it. She guessed it straight away,” the Doctor muttered. “Of course she did. All these aerials in one little street. How come?”
“Bloke up the road, Mister Magpie, he's selling them cheap.”
“Is he, now?” Bishop said.
“Come on!” the Doctor yelled as he raced down the street. When they reached the shop, the Doctor broke the glass on the door to open it, despite Bishop’s protests. He marched inside and rang the bell repeatedly. “Sir! If you're here, come out and talk to me! Magpie!”
“Maybe he's out?” Tommy suggested.
“Looks like it,” Lilith agreed.
The Doctor searched the drawers of the counter and found a portable television. “Oh, hello. This isn't right. This is very much not right.” He licked it. Bishop and Tommy stared at the Doctor in shock, but Lilith just rolled her eyes at the Doctor’s oral fixation. “Tastes like iron. Bakelite. Put together with human hands, yes, but the design itself…” He scanned the item with the sonic. “Oh, beautiful work. That is so simple.”
“That's incredible,” Bishop said. “It's like a television, but portable; a portable television.”
The Doctor raised the sonic screwdriver, which was still lit up. “It's not the only power source in this room.”
The television screens each lit up with a different face. Most of them were mouthing ‘help’ or ‘help me’. One face on a screen near the bottom was mouthing something else. It was Rose trying to call out for the Doctor. He knelt in front of the TV. “I'm on my way.”
Magpie appeared, coming out from the back of the store. “What do you think you're doing?” he demanded.
The Doctor stormed over to the man and glared at him, the Oncoming Storm clear in his eyes. “I want my friend restored, and I think that's beyond a little backstreet electrician, so tell me, who's really in charge here?”
“Yoo hoo! I think that must be me.” One of the screens switched to show the image of a lady. “Ooh, this one's smart as paint.”
Bishop frowned. “Is she talking to us?”
“I'm sorry, gentlemen, miss, I'm afraid you've brought this on yourselves,” Magpie said. “May I introduce you to my new… friend.”
“Jolly nice to meet you!” the image said with a smile.
“Oh my God, it's her, that woman off the telly.”
Lilith shook her head. “No, it's just using her image.”
“What are you?” Tommy asked.
“I'm the Wire, and I will gobble you up, pretty boy. Every last morsel. And when I have feasted, I shall regain the corporeal body, which my fellow kind denied me." The black and white became color.
“Good Lord!” Bishop gasped. “Color television!”
“Unheard of,” Lilith muttered sarcastically, though color TV was a few years away from 1953.
“So your own people tried to stop you?” the Doctor questioned.
“They executed me. But I escaped in this form and fled across the stars.”
“And now you're trapped in the television.”
The image faded back to black and white. “Not for much longer.”
“Doctor, is this what got my Gran?
“Yes, Tommy,” the Doctor said. “It feeds off the electrical activity of the brain, but it gorges itself like a great overfed pig, taking people's faces, their essences. It stuffs itself.”
“And you let her do it, Magpie!” Bishop said accusingly.
“I had to,” Magpie insisted. “She allowed me my face. She's promised to release me at the time of manifestation.”
“What do you mean, manifestation?” Lilith demanded.
“The appointed time,” the Wire answered. “My crowning glory.”
“Doctor, the coronation!” exclaimed Bishop.
Understanding dawned on the Doctor. “For the first time in history, millions gathered around a television set. But you're not strong enough yet, are you? You can't do it all from here. That's why you need this. You need something more powerful! This will turn a big transmitter into a big receiver.”
“What a clever thing you are! But why fret about it? Why not just relax? Kick off your shoes and enjoy the Coronation. Believe me, you'll be glued to the screen.” Energy lanced out at them, attaching to their faces. “Hungry! Hungry! The Wire is hungry! Ah, these two are tasty. Oh, I'll have lashings of them! Delicious!”
The Doctor started to finger the sonic screwdriver. Lilith was slightly faster, drawing her blaster and struggling to point it at the TV.
“Ah! Armed. She's armed. Withdraw! Withdraw!” the Wire cried. The energy receded and the four collapsed.
Lilith’s vision went black for a moment, but she shook herself back into consciousness. The Doctor was still out. “Doctor.” She shook him. “Doctor.”
After a second, the Doctor sat up. Bishop’s face was gone, but Tommy’s was still intact. “Tommy, wake up. Tommy, come on!”
The Doctor ignored his question and looked around. “Where's Magpie?” He darted out of the shop.
“We don't even know where to start looking,” Tommy said, joining him. “It's too late.”
“It's never too late, as a wise person once said. Kylie, I think. The Wire's got big plans. It'll need... Yes, yes, yes, it's got to harvest half the population. Millions and millions of people and,” he paused, “where are we?”
“Muswell Hill,” Tommy told him.
“Muswell Hill,” the Doctor repeated. “Muswell Hill! Which means Alexandra Palace, biggest TV transmitter in North London. Oh, that's why it chose this place.” He ran back inside the shop.
Tommy followed. “What are you going to do?”
“We're going shopping.”
The Doctor set everything up in a control room. “Keep this switched on. Don't let anyone stop you, Tommy. Everything depends on it. Lilith, stay here with him.”
“Like hell I will!” Lilith protested.
“Stay!” The Doctor took a coil of copper wire and sprinted out of the room.
The two waited anxiously for the Doctor to come back when the machine he had build suddenly sparked. Quick to react, Tommy got a replacement piece and tossed it to Lilith who attached it to the machine. Tommy plugged it back in.
Lilith cheered and hugged the boy as it started to work again.
Eventually to Doctor came back. “What have a missed?” he asked jokingly.
“Doctor!” Tommy exclaimed. “What happened?”
“Sorted. Electrical creature, TV technology, clever alien life form. That's me by the way.” The Doctor smiled, Lilith rolled her eyes. “I turned the receiver back into a transmitter and I trapped the Wire in here.” He poped open his contraption and Lilith laughed as he pulled out a VCR. “I just invented the home video thirty years early. Betamax. Oh, look.” He nodded at the TV. “God save the Queen, eh?”
The trio went back to Florizel Street where Tommy ran over to his grandmother. Lilith spotted Rose right away who noticed Lilith and the Doctor in turn. A grin broke out across her face and the Doctor rushed over to her, sweeping her into a spinning hug.
Lilith beamed when he pulled back and kissed Rose square on the lips.
They stayed in London for the party and the rest of the day, returning to the TARDIS after dark. Lilith immediately retreated to the library and tried not to ignore the fact that the Doctor had slipped into Rose’s room with her.
This will lead to a conversation he can’t avoid this time, Lilith thought to herself as she settled on the couch with her book, and won’t it be a fun one.