Doctor Who: The Power of Three

Rory: “What you do isn’t all there is.”

All week, the press have been touting tonight's episode as reminiscent of the Russell T. Davies era – which, let's face it, is hardly a ringing endorsement. As it happens, they were mostly right. All the hallmarks were there: the urban setting, the amusing parent, the earth in peril, celebrity cameos galore – it even managed to have an abrupt, reset-button style ending, which made absolutely no sense. But, as with the RTD era, when it worked, it felt like the sun coming out. I'm just not sure 45 minutes was long enough for a 'slow invasion'.

This was essentially a story about people trying to make sense of their place in the world. Whereas Amy’s first adventure with the Doctor resulted in her previous life seeming mundane, this season, both Amy and Rory appear to be suffering from ‘grass is always greener’ syndrome. They've started to hanker after normality again. Perhaps the Doctor could've made their readjustment easier by not regularly turning up on their doorstep, but evidently he's been having adjustment issues of his own. He misses Amy. She was, after all, his first companion. So it should come as no surprise that, just as Amy and Rory are contemplating hanging up their time traveling pants for good, the Doctor should reappear and whisk them off on another adventure.

Thankfully, that's all it took for the Ponds to realise the truth: they miss being with the Doctor. They miss the big stage. For a travel writer and a nurse, what better profession than time traveling philanthropists? Surprisingly, it was Rory's Dad, Brian, who seemed to tip the balance. Despite being initially dis-chuffed with the idea of Amy and Rory shirking their collective responsibilities in favour of swanning off with the Doctor, tonight's story forced him to re-evaluate the importance of their roles as his companions. They make a difference on an almost unimaginable scale. Why wouldn't he encourage them to keep going?

By the time Rory uttered the words "I've missed this", you could sense a corner had been turned. For Amy, it was the realisation that the Doctor missed her too. I loved those scenes of them sat beside the Thames. The Doctor admitting his fear of losing them both was a lovely, much needed moment of honesty. The truth is, he can't do without them. Every time he loses sight of them, he just reels them back in. I like seeing this kind of vulnerability in the Doctor. In fact, it's character moments like this which remind me why I watch Doctor Who.

I also got a lump in my throat when it was revealed that Kate Stewart was the Brigadier's daughter. It's virtually impossible to be a fan of the classic series and not be touched by any verbal reminder of Nicholas Courtney. He was such a big part of the show. It was nice to see UNIT back, too -- storming in uninvited, hanging around in underground lairs, and generally being useless. I liked the reversal of the Doctor saluting Kate, and her waving in return. Hopefully a new face, and a new philosophy, will help bring a renewed vigour to the outfit. The Doctor certainly seems to be on better terms with them now. Maybe he just likes being kissed.

The plot itself started off strongly, and built suspense effectively, but was scuppered in the last ten minutes by jaded plot contrivances (the sonic screwdriver saves the day), the frankly unrealistic resuscitation of a third of the world's population via some sort of mass defibrillation (after ten minutes of them being stone dead), and the overly simplistic 'all humans are evil and need to be wiped out' style motivation which seems to dog all manner of 'earth invasion' stories. Would another 15 minutes have helped? I find myself thinking this a lot this season. The scale of the episodes just seem bigger than their allotted time slots.

Having Rory and Amy back as full time companions, although great to see, doesn't bode well for next week. The Doctor's promise to Brian that they'd never die with him, along with his assurance that he'd keep them safe, although beautifully heartfelt, felt eerily portentous. I was hoping the Ponds would just drift back to their old lives -- but that hope now seems well and truly dead. I can only surmise that Moffat has something more sinister in store for them. Bugger!

Bits and Pieces:

-- It looks as though everyone's into fish fingers and custard these days. I think I prefer Yorkshire Puddings.

-- Was that a Westclox Baby Ben alarm clock sat next to Amy's bed? I used to have one of those! It had a loud tick and an awful sounding alarm. It also used to lose time; seven minutes a week

-- It's not often we get a Christmas episode in the middle of September.

-- Finally, Rory returned the Doctor's kiss. If Amy pegs out next week, I see a future for those kids, I really do.

-- If Brian's ever going to travel with the Doctor again, he needs to learn how to run. When two men come at you armed with needles, it's a no brainer.

-- The Birdy Dance on a loop? What kind of evil crap is that?

-- Some nice cameos from Brian Cox and Alan Sugar.

Quotes:

Rory: “What do you think we do when we’re not with you?"
Doctor: "I imagine mostly kissing."

Rory: “There are soldiers all over the house, and I’m in my pants.”
Amy: “My whole life I’ve dreamed of saying that, and I miss it by being someone else.”

Doctor: “Twitter!”

Amy: “You’re the one who wanted to observe them.”
Doctor: "Yes, well I thought they’d do something, didn’t I. Not just sit there while everyone eats endless cereal.”

Brian: “Brian’s log, day 67."
Rory: “You... err... you can’t call it that. Brian’s log?”

Brian: “What happened? To the other people who traveled with you?”
Doctor: “Some left me. Some got left behind. And some... not many, but... some died. Not them. Not them, Brian. Never them.”

Doctor: “I miss you.”
Amy: “Why do you keep coming back for us?”
Doctor: “Because you were the first. The first face this face saw. And you were seared onto my hearts, Amelia Pond. You always will be. I'm running to you, and Rory, before you fade from me.”

Amy: “A cube has six sides.”
Doctor: “Not if you count the inside.”
---
Also posted at The Time Meddler.

18 comments:

Josie Kafka said...

I want a pair of time-traveling pants.

Mark Greig said...

Me too. And a time travelling hoodie to go with them.

Paul Kelly said...

Look, I have one time-travelling glove and a boot. You'll have to decide between yourself who gets what.

Mark Greig said...

What size is the boot?

Paul Kelly said...

8 and fourteen ninths.

Josie Kafka said...

Perfect! I'll take the boot. It will go perfectly with my new TARDIS (time and relative dimension in scarfs).

Paul Kelly said...

Good choice, Josie. Looks like Mark's stuck with the three fingered glove.

Juliette said...

If only this hoodie were a Time Hoodie! Hang on, wrong show...

Tim said...

The moment we find out who Kate Stewart's dad was extremely touching. Highlight of the episode for me.


Paul, you're absolutely spot on about that emotional reaction to the very mention of the Brig.

Also I'm glad very that Kate turned out to be likeable, amusing and pragmatic. In other words; her father's daughter.

Nice review. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Worst episode of the season so far. I agree that the emotional stuff worked, but that's all that did. Not as bad as the Davies era, but poor for the Moffat era. I hope the second half of the season is better. Colour me unimpressed.

Billie Doux said...

I was really enjoying the Doctor/Ponds stuff. And then I fell asleep and missed the resolution with the boxes. Maybe that was the right way to approach this episode?

Paul Kelly said...

Billie, if you enjoyed the Doctor/Ponds stuff you'll probably not be too put off by the ending. It wasn't terrible; it just wasn't as good as it could have been. You won't vomit, I promise. At least, not much ;o)

Iago said...

I didn't mind the ending, it was a bit quick and cheap but it had its own internal logic. The alien invasion wasn't the important part of the episode so it didn't matter that, once the important emotional stuff was done, the plot was resolved quickly.

The emotional stuff was top-notch. The line that really resonated with me was the Doctor's "I'm running towards you and Rory, before you fade from me" and his use of the word 'seared' when he talks about the Ponds being in his hearts. Very portentous.

Sooze said...

Paul, could you remind me...(my memory isn't so good these days)...when did Amy and Rory stop traveling with the Doctor regularly, and was it some reason in particular that caused them to "stay home" more? I feel like I missed an episode or something. Or has it just been implied that time has marched on and their travels with him have become less frequent?

Paul Kelly said...

Hi Sooze. It was at the end of The God Complex. The Doctor left them behind because he was afraid of getting them killed

Sooze said...

Thanks Paul...I'll have to take another look.

Anonymous said...

Was misty-eyed about the Brigadier's daughter and loved the stuff with the Ponds. This felt like a throwback to the Davies era and i don't mind that at all.
Anna

Patrick said...

This episode was so-so, but all the stuff with Kate Stewart was fantastic. Jemma Redgrave played her beautifully and made her someone I very much hope we see again. The scene where they reveal her family connection is one of the most touching they've ever done since the relaunch(though I'm not sure anything will beat the climax of The Doctor Dances, "just this once Rose, EVERYBODY LIVES!"). I can't believe Moffat would do to the trouble of continuing the Brigadier's legacy & casting someone of Ms. Redgrave's pedigree for a one-off.