Doctor Who: Flesh and Stone

Doctor: 'I wish I'd known you better.'
Octavian: 'I think, Sir, you know me at my best.'

Doctor Who's really tapping into its fantasy roots this season. In 'The Eleventh Hour' the Doctor commented that Amy's name sounded like something out of a fairy tale. Couple that with Amy's gingerbread house, the Raggedy Man, the Byzantium's forest-like interior, and Amy walking through it like some kind of modern day Little Red Riding Hood, and the imagery was really quite striking. Is the Pandorica a fairy tale, too? How much do you want to bet that it isn't?

Having the Doctor shoot out the gravity globe was a satisfying conclusion to last week's cliffhanger. Resolves have never been one of Moffat's strong suits. Who can forget the cringe-worthy 'Go to your room?' There was a logic to it, I'll admit, but it was a crumbly logic that left me feeling cheated. Tonight's resolve was far more plausible. The solution was there all along, carefully woven into the script.

At least we got some clarity on Amy's feelings for the Doctor. Or did we? Only five episodes in and she's already throwing herself at the Doctor. Usually, a companion's love is charmingly innocent, slow moving and, invariably, unrequited—Amy was just after a shag though, wasn't she? The Doctor's promise to 'sort' Amy out, and her retort of 'That's what I've been trying to tell you', was both surprisingly up-front and totally hilarious. Despite the Doctor's 907 years, he was hopelessly ill equipped to deal with Amy's advances. She was all over him like a rash. It was all he could do to keep his braces on.

Naturally, the purists will be up in arms again (fuck those guys!), but I found Amy's modern take on relationships a refreshing change to all that's gone before. Rose and Martha's love for the Doctor was conventional and sweet, but we've had that twice now. It's time for something different, and Amy's remarkably frank admission of lust was as unexpected as it was amusing. It also explains why Amy wasn't particularly bothered by the Doctor's past (future) relationship with Song. She's not thinking of love and marriage, she's thinking more short term—more... right now... there's a bed over there... get your kit off!

The question is: was Amy acting in character? Usually, when a companion snogs the Doctor, its part of some underlying (sometimes unrealised) plot element. Rose kissing the Doctor in 'New Earth' was the result of her being possessed by Cassandra, and the Doctor kissing Martha in 'Smith and Jones' was part of a genetic transfer to foil the Judoon. Could Amy's actions similarly be linked to some, as yet unknown, wider plot development? A side-effect of her almost being 'possessed' by an Angel, perhaps? Is she really as cured as she seems? What about Song's mysterious injection last episode? Was that really just a viro-stabaliser? (Will I ever let this drop?) Or is Amy just totally game?

Having Amy sat alone in a forest full of killer Angels was splendidly suspenseful. One by one, her protectors just winked out of existence. And what a surreal looking forest—it was like something out of Hansel and Gretel. Watching Amy try to navigate her way blindly through a group of frozen Angels had me on the edge of my seat. I almost cacked myself when they moved.

And how great was Matt Smith? That look of despair as he left Octavian to die was really quite moving. And it's not often we get to see the Doctor totally lose it. He blew up twice tonight: firstly at the Angels' pointless cruelty, and then later, at Song's negativity. Smith's Doctor blows so hot and cold, it's difficult to know where you are with him sometimes. Even Song looked shocked at his angry outbursts, but that's how he is now. At times he's kind, at other times—like when Amy was dying—he's dismissive and cold. Rather than trying to comfort her, he instead shut her up, and frantically channelled all of his thinking abilities into coming up with a solution. Effective, admittedly—but poor Amy.

Yet there's this compassionate side to him, too. After dismissing Amy with a casual pat on the head, he returned a few seconds later to hold her hand. He also kissed her forehead, his face inches from hers, his voice soft and reassuring. So its easy to overlook his occasional hardness. He did just save their lives. Maybe he's not great at multi-tasking—but he was the show's moral compass tonight. After staving off Amy's sexy fumblings, he (rather shrilly) reminded her of her impending nuptials, and the inappropriateness of them knocking boots. Not that it made much difference to Amy—she was still totally up for it. He didn't resist completely though, did he? He definitely got stuck in there for a few seconds, before pushing her away.

Other Thoughts:

—Despite dying a hero, it was poor form on Octavian's part to tell the Doctor about Song—especially after he'd promised not to.

—Time can be rewritten, apparently. I wonder what implications that will have?

—26-06-2010 is the date of the season finale (assuming we don't get a major sporting event/natural disaster mucking things up).

—Amy had her eyes opened way longer than one second.

—It was interesting that the crack-in-the-universe storyline should come to the fore so early in the season. I wasn't expecting that at all.

—Song's 'You, me, handcuffs... must it always end this way?' comment at first reminded me of how she died in 'Forest of the Dead'. My second thoughts on why she said it were far saucier.

Quotes:

Amy: 'What if the gravity fails?'
Doctor: 'I have thought about that. We will all plunge to our deaths. See? I have thought about it!'

Octavian: 'Doctor Song, I've lost good clerics today. You trust this man?'
Song: 'I absolutely trust him.'
Octavian: 'He's not some kind of madman, then?'
Song: 'I absolutely trust him.'

Doctor: 'Oh, that's bad. That's extremely not very good.'

Song: 'How did you get past them?'
Doctor: 'Found a crack in the wall and told them it was the end of the Universe.'
Any: 'What was it?'
Doctor: 'The end of the Universe.'

Doctor: 'Yes, you're right, if we lie to her she'll get all better.'

Song: 'There's a plan?'
Doctor: 'I don't know yet. I haven't finished talking.'

Doctor: 'If I told you the truth I wouldn't need you to trust me.'

Octavian: 'I will die in the knowledge that my courage did not desert me at the end.'

Bob: 'We will consume this ship, this planet, the stars, and the worlds beyond.'
Doctor: 'Yeah, but we have comfy chairs. Did I mention?'
Bob: 'We have no need for comfy chairs.'
Doctor: 'I made him say comfy chairs.'

Doctor: 'Amy, I am nine hundred and seven years old, do you know what that means?'
Amy: 'It's been a while?'
---
Also posted at The Time Meddler.

7 comments:

Trousers said...

"Yet there's this compassionate side to him, too. After dismissing Amy with a casual pat on the head, he returned a few seconds later to hold her hand. He also kissed her forehead, his face inches from hers, his voice soft and reassuring."

It was a few seconds later for Amy, but was it for the Doctor? When he came back to reassure her, he had his jacket on, the jacket which he'd left in the hand of an Angel earlier in the episode. Next time we see him after that scene, the jackets gone again.

I don't know what it means though, does Amy imagine it, does the Doctor come back to this point in time for some reason?

I don't think its a continuity error, because they make a point of having a nice long shot of the jacket when the Doctor loses it.

Paul Kelly said...

Wow, good catch, Trousers! I totally missed that. I just re-watched the episode and I think you're right. The Doctor who came back was from else-when. Fascinating! Thanks for pointing it out.

Mark Greig said...

Loved it, loved it, loved it!

That Amy Pond, eh, she doesn’t waste any time, does she? No Rose/Martha-style unrequited pinning for this girl. No, she just pins the Doctor against the Tardis and lays one on him. And to think, people (and by that I mean the Daily Moan) thought this show was too raunchy with Russell in charge.

Respox said...

I didn't catch the jacket thing either, but that scene did make me feel like it was out of place at the time. Not only was the Doctor's attitude completely different from a few seconds earlier, he tells Amy she needs to remember what he told her back when she was seven, which makes no sense at the time. It would seem that the Doctor with the jacket is from a future time where he's investigating the cracks, after he realizes at the end of the episode that Amy was the key. Having the Doctor lose his jacket earlier (so that observant viewers would know this Doctor was from a different timeline) was a stroke of genius.

And that end scene was brilliant. Matt and Karen played it perfectly, and the lines were comedy gold. I was falling out of my chair laughing by the time the Doctor tells Amy "the single most important thing in the history of the Universe is that I get you sorted out right now" and she thinks it's his version of sweet talk.

Whatever they're paying Steven Moffat, it isn't enough.

shawnlunn2002 said...

Has anyone seen the new SFX magazine. They have Amy Pond on the cover.

As for this episode, loved it, loved it, loved it, though it took me repeated viewing to see the jacket thing.

I thought the kiss was fine, played for laughs and just a different take but Amy is certainly the oddest companion we've had in the new series.

Can't wait to find out more about the Pandorica.

Kenneth Serenyi said...

Hate to continue being the cynical one here but the season 2-like "sucking all the bad guys in" ending made me groan. I think Amy could have found a more efficient way of walking with her eyes closed - why would the angels be fooled by any of her slow and awkward stumbling around anyway? The soldiers forgetting their friends who went into the time rift reminded me a lot of the Star Trek TNG episode "Remember Me". I hope that scene has some bearing on a future episode or else it was kind of pointless to have it here and have Amy be immune to the effect (she did forget the Daleks v. Cybermen battle though). Despite my nitpicks, a great episode overall.

Arie said...

This was a good two parter. I thing the weeping angels are a stroke a genius, although I don't know about them conveniently taking over the voice box of an innocent boy soldier. I like Alex Kingston, but I still don't get River Song. Alex Kingston doesn't have better chemistry with Matt Smith than she did with David Tennant. She sort of comes off like the Doctor's Mum's inappropriate best friend. :) What's worse is she constantly feels like the worst know-all from primary school. I'm also not sure what the Doctor Who make up and hair team were doing with her this week - her makeup was ridiculously heavy and her hair looked fried. I didn't mind Amy putting the moves on the Doctor, but it felt like it came out of left field so I'm hoping there's something else going on there.

Is it just me or did the BBC double the budget for Season 5? It feels like production values went through the roof and the show is looking amazing. As a mostly unknown actor there were rumours Matt Smith was paid less than half what Tennant got, so perhaps that explains where the extra money came from!