‘Doctor Who’ Season 12 Episode 8 Recap: Haunted By The Future

Doctor Who Season 12 Episode 8 continues to delight sci-fi fans. When the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends Ryan Sinclair, Graham O’Brien, and Yasmin Khan go to meet Mary Shelley on the night she thought of Frankenstein, everything is not what it seems. A mysterious force is making Lord Byron’s house turn against them in this episode, titled “The Haunting of Villa Diodati.”

[Spoiler alert: The following contains major spoilers for Doctor Who Season 12 Episode 8.] 

Meeting historical figures and a missing person in ‘Doctor Who’ Season 12 Episode 8

Tosin Cole, Jodie Whittaker, and Mandip Gill of Doctor Who season 12 episode 8
Tosin Cole, Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill at a Doctor Who Screening & Panel in New York City | Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

This episode starts with Mary Shelley, who at the time is still Mary Godwin, and her friends Dr. John Polidori, Claire Clairmont, and Lord Byron sitting around in Byron’s place in Switzerland telling horror stories. Percy Shelley, Mary’s soon-to-be husband, is nowhere to be found. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door. Byron thinks it’s Shelley playing a trick on them but Mary says it’s not him. 

Of course, it turns out to be the Doctor, Ryan, Graham, and Yasmin. All of them come into Byron’s house but there are a few rules they have to follow, set by the Doctor. They can’t mention Frankenstein, interfere, or kiss Byron. Once the Doctor and her companions are inside, they’re all taught a dance.

During the dance, there’s a lot of gossiping going on and we find out that Byron is separated from his wife and is spending time with Miss Clairmont. Mary and Shelley are not yet married but she is still known as Mrs. Shelley. Wanting to get the evening back on track, the Doctor breaks one of her own rules by suggesting that they should all write ghost stories. She also wonders why Shelley is missing since he’s supposed to be there.

Haunted hands and floating figures in ‘Doctor Who’

View this post on Instagram

The Haunting of Villa Diodati… #DoctorWho

A post shared by Doctor Who Official (@bbcdoctorwho) on

Yasmin finds Miss Clairmont trying to break into a locked room. She’s looking for letters, trying to figure out Lord Byron’s true feelings about her. Meanwhile, the Doctor is asking Byron where Shelley is. Byron says he’s not going to be joining the group because he’s not feeling well.

The Doctor tells Byron that she has a strange feeling about his house, that it’s evil. Graham finds Ryan and says he was unable to locate the bathroom and that the house is like a maze. Ryan then gets in a fight with Dr. Polidori, who challenges him to a duel and goes to get his gun. They are interrupted by a skeletal hand coming into the room and choking Ryan.

Dr. Polidori then shoots the hand and the Doctor determines that it’s from the 15th century and is human, with nothing strange about it. Byron apparently has a skeleton in his room and so everyone — except Graham, who is told to keep an eye on Dr. Polidori — goes to look at it. Mary tells the Doctor that Shelley had a vision of a figure floating above the lake.

Death gods and guardians in ‘Doctor Who’ 

View this post on Instagram

…on @BBCOne this Sunday at 7.10pm! #DoctorWho

A post shared by Doctor Who Official (@bbcdoctorwho) on

The Doctor asks Mary to describe the figure that Shelley saw and she says that he described it as a death god rising from hell. The Doctor says that she has to get out of the house because she can’t think clearly in it. However, that is easier said than done. While trying to leave a room, she keeps ending up back in the same place.

The same thing happens to Yasmin, Ryan, and Mary who get stuck on the stairs. Meanwhile, Graham is watching over Dr. Polidori, who starts walking through walls. The Doctor figures out that the house is tricking them, and tries to leave it but is unable to. She faces some sort of barrier when she tries. 

Then, the vision that Shelley saw appears except it’s not just a vision. It turns out to be the lone Cyberman that Captain Jack Harkness came to warn the Doctor about. The Cyberman is looking for something and the Doctor goes to find out what. The Cyberman is looking for a “guardian” of something called Cyberium.

Identifying the guardian and saving the day, for now, in ‘Doctor Who’ Season 12 Episode 8 

The guardian turns out to be Shelley, who is hiding in the cellar. He tells a story of how he went walking by the lake and saw something silver in it. He took it out and it took over his body. The Doctor manages to get the Cyberium out of Shelley and into herself.

But then the Cyberman threatens to signal his ship and have the other Cybermen tear Earth apart. So the Doctor gives him what he wants, the Cyberium. The Doctor and her friends then leave, with the Doctor offering to drop her companions back home. However, they want to go with her.