Vincent Van Gogh paints Wheatfield With Crows
in the final months of his life.
In the present at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, Vincent's paintings are on display. The Doctor and Amy are touring the museum and Amy thanks the Doctor for bringing him. She wonders why he's being nice to her, but the Doctor insists there's nothing to be suspicious about. She wonders why he's overreacting. They listen to Dr. Black, who is speaking about how Vincent had a desperate outpouring of work in his final days and was largely a failure. Amy pulls the Doctor over to one of Vincent's paintings, The Church at Auvers
, and the Doctor notices an alien face peering out of one of the windows. The Doctor claims to be a member of the Ministry of Art, and asks Dr. Black to identify when Vincent painted the church in June of 1890, less than a year before he killed himself. The Doctor then takes Amy to the TARDIS, insisting they need to talk to Vincent.
The TARDIS arrives in 1890 in Arles and look for Vincent at a cafe he was known to frequent. However, when they ask after Vincent, they are rudely dismissed. A waitress points out that Vincent is drunk, mad, and doesn't pay his bills. Vincent emerges, trying to trade a painting for drinks. The Doctor offers to pay for the drinks or the painting directly, and Vincent wonders who he is. Vincent takes offense and wonders why the Doctor wants to buy his paintings when no one else would. Amy finally intervenes and orders a bottle of wine and decides to share it with Vincent, who is enamored with her.
Inside, the three of them drink together and Vincent figures that the Doctor has been sent by his brother. When Amy says his current painting is one of her favorites, he wonders how she knows of his work and dismisses his work as poor quality. The Doctor asks him if he's painted any churches recently, and he admits there's one church he plans to paint when the weather is right. A woman comes in screaming for help, and they run to investigate. A girl has been torn to shreds, and the townspeople insist that Vincent is responsible. They drive off Vincent and the Doctor and Amy run off with him. Vincent explains that there have been other recent murders, and the Doctor manages to get them invited to stay with Vincent at his home. As they go, they are unaware that a figure is watching them from the rooftops.
At Vincent's home, the Doctor and Amy admire his paintings, while Vincent apologizes for the clutter. They watch as Vincent casually dirties them, and then the Doctor asks about the church again. The Doctor asks Vincent to talk about himself and the artist goes on for some time. He explains that he feels nature is screaming at him to capture its mystery, and the Doctor suggests he have some calming tea. They realize that Amy has gone outside and hear her scream. Running outside, they find Amy who says something hit her from behind. Vincent grabs a tool, tells them to run, and starts stabbing wildly at something only he can see. The Doctor tries to calm him down until an invisible creature knocks him down. Only Vincent can see it, and the Doctor tries to attack it by swinging blindly. Vincent manages to stab it, driving it away.
Inside, Vincent draws what he saw. The Doctor takes the painting and tells Amy to watch over Vincent. He then makes his way through the streets to the TARDIS, getting in just ahead of the creature as it follows him. Inside, the Doctor finds a mirror machine that identifies faces and bodies. However, due to Vincent's Impressionist style, it's unable to get a clear scan.
The Doctor emerges from the TARDIS with the scanning device strapped to his chest. It comes up with a match because the creature is lurking behind the Doctor. He gets a match and decides to find the creature and take it home, and then realizes that it's behind him. The Doctor runs away and finally manages to evade it... only for Amy to startle him. They go back to wake up Vincent and Amy buys sunflowers and suggests that Vincent paint them. He admits that he's not fond of sunflowers. The Doctor then shows him a printout of the creature and identifies it as a Krafayis, a pack-predator left behind on Earth. All they do is kill until they're killed. The Doctor asks Vincent to paint the church, figuring the creature will come. Vincent agrees and the Doctor assures him that they'll leave once they've dealt with the creature. As the artist goes into the next room, the Doctor worries that they could affect history at a key moment in Vincent's life.
When Vincent doesn't return, the Doctor goes to his room and finds the artist sobbing on his bed. He explains that everyone leaves him, and he'll be left with an empty heart. Vincent warns that he knows how it will end, and it won't end well. He snaps at the Doctor, telling him to get out. Outside, the Doctor tells Amy that Vincent is delicate and will kill himself in a few months. Amy refuses to accept that but the Doctor walks away. However, as the Doctor prepares to leave for the church, Vincent comes in and tells them that he's ready.
As they go to the church, Vincent explains that he has his moods, but he figures if Amy can deal with his sadness, so can he. She's not sure what he's talking about. The Doctor, watching nervously, interrupts the conversation and says that they need to arrange for the Doctor to see the creature, and he has just the thing. As they approach the church, the funeral procession for the dead girl passes by. There are sunflowers on the coffin, catching Vincent's eye.
At the church, Vincent sets up to paint and goes to work throughout the day. Amy notices that the Doctor is nervous, and he admits he can't quite put his finger on what's wrong. Vincent spots the Krafayis inside the church, and insists on going inside with them. The Doctor refuses, explaining that he needs to find the right frequency for his sonic screwdriver. He tells Amy to stay behind. Once he goes inside, Amy assures Vincent that she'll follow the Doctor anyway.
The Doctor dons the mirror scanner and enters the church. Outside, Vincent spots the Krafayis moving and they hear the Doctor yell as the creature attacks him. He flees and runs into Amy, who has come in. They take refuge in a confessional but the creature rips through the wall on Amy's side. However, Vincent arrives and draws it off. he fends off the creature with a chair and tells Amy and the Doctor to get behind him. They retreat outside and Vincent tries to direct the Doctor and Amy away from the Krafayis. When that fails, they take refuge in a mausoleum and manage to lock it outside. As the Doctor tries to come up with a plan, he inadvertently calls Vincent, "Rory."
The Doctor suggests that they might talk to the Krafayis and calls through the door. He says that he's also alone on the planet, and that if the Krafayis will trust him, they can come to some kind of understanding. The Krafayis responds by breaking through a window into the mausoleum. Vincent describes the creature's actions, explaining that it's feeling its way around. The Doctor realizes that he's misunderstood the situation. The Krafayis is blind, which is why its pack abandoned it. It charges and Vincent tries to defend himself with his easel. The Krafayis impales itself on the wooden legs and collapses, mortally wounded. The creature finally speaks, and the Doctor understands that it's saying, "I'm afraid." He comforts the creature as it passes away, and Vincent realizes that it lashed out from fear, just like the townspeople lash out at Vincent.
Later, the trio lay out in a field and look up at the sky, holding hands. Vincent describes what he sees, his inspiration for The Starry Night
. He admits that he'll miss them terribly.
The next day, Vincent gives them a self-portrait as a parting gift, but the Doctor declines. Vincent invites Amy to return and have children with him, and admits to the Doctor that he may not do as well on his own. The Doctor and Amy go to the TARDIS, but they both decide to invite Vincent to accompany them to the future. They take him into the TARDIS where he stays in surprise and awe. They depart for the Musee d'Orsay in 2010 and Vincent sees his works and his admirers. The Doctor gets Dr. Black to speak about Vincent's impact on art, and the art expert describes Van Gogh as the greatest artist of all time, and one of the greatest men who ever lived. Vincent breaks into tears and the Doctor embraces him, and Vincent then embraces a puzzled Dr. Black.
The Doctor takes Vincent back and the artist says that everything has changed for him. He thanks the Doctor for being the first doctor to make a difference in his life, and repeats his proposal to Amy. She gently turns him down and departs with the Doctor. As the TARDIS dematerializes, Vincent smiles and walks away.
Back at the Musee d'Orsay, Amy is eager to see all of Vincent's new paintings now that they've changed his outlook. The Doctor isn't so sure. When they arrive in the gallery, Amy discovers that nothing has changed. Vincent still committed suicide at age 39, a few months after they left him. When Amy wonders if they made a difference, the Doctor explains that they did make Vincent's life a little better. Also, one other thing changed. They look at The Church at Auvers
, which no longer shows the Krafayis. Amy goes to Vincent's painting of Vase with 12 Sunflowers
, and discovers one other change: an inscription saying "for Amy."