Previously on Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens.
This was… there are no words. I.. you.. now.. finally… argh! See, there are no words! Well, almost no words, because I’m determined to write the “happy-happy-happy!” review this episode deserves.
If you haven’t seen the episode yet, don’t click the jump, ’cause there will be spoilers. Lots and lots of spoilers.
Amy, to her younger self: “Ok, kid, this is where it gets complicated.”
(It’s lovely how the Pandorica opens only to young Amy’s touch, isn’t it?)
Well, now we know, except: we still don’t know everything, and I hardly know where to start. Umm… yes, that’s right, let’s start where The Pandorica Opens left off, with plastic Rory and dead Amy and the Doctor tied up in the Pandorica:
Rory: “The Doctor said the universe was huge and ridiculous and, sometimes, there were miracles… I could do with a ridiculous miracle about now.”
Cue appearance of the Doctor wearing a fez and carrying a mop from the National Museum. Fezzes are cool, just so you know. Also, it’s a great means to keep the audience on track which Doctor is doing what and when as we watch him hopping back and forth in time. This is where we see how absolutely AWESOME Steven Moffat’s writing really is: We see wibbly-wobbly timey-whimey stuff happening from one perspective (102 AD), and then we see it from the other (1996) — it’s really rare that both sides of the timey-whimey are explained like this; without much talking, just.. doing. That’s how history happens!
The Doctor, watching Rory and Amy kissing: “… and breathe!”
Again, we have a deadline, 12 minutes until the Doctor dies — well, not really, because “Rule One: The Doctor lies.” Add a little while, though, and it’s XZ Minutes Until the Doctor Gets Erased; because, while he is at the heart of the explosion, ergo the Restoration Field, it needs memories to bring him back. Amy’s memories subconsciously served to bring back the universe, but it didn’t work with the Doctor because he had to let himself be consumed by the crack in her bedroom wall so the cracks everywhere could close properly, effectively trapping him in the “Neverspace, the void between worlds.” Amy couldn’t just bring him back from there as she went on living, he had to stay her imaginary friend, a story in her head — until she made that extra effort, that conscious remembering to call him to her. That’s one of those moments where Doctor Who becomes endearingly self-referential, because the Doctor is just a story in our heads — then again, he’s much more than that.
The Doctor: “Hi, honey. I’m home.” — River: “And what sort of time do you call this?!”
So, Big Bang 2: the Restoration Field and the Time Field are the exact opposites of each other: the cracks erase, the light from the Pandorica restores — after the two opposites have annihilated each other, the universe is back, Amy’s got parents again, and they all wake up on the morning of the night the Doctor first whisked Amy away because he couldn’t resist her — her and Rory’s wedding day; with no memory of that fateful night in the National Museum in 1996. We see Amy’s life rewritten about four or five times in this episode:
- when the Doctor doesn’t actually come back to fix the crack in her wall in The Eleventh Hour
- when she shows her Aunt Sharon and the psychiatrist her painting of the night sky — complete with stars, even after the history collaps
- when she gets erased from history after she’s followed the Doctor’s hints to go to the museum
- when the Doctor talks to her in Flesh and Stone (told ya!)
- when the Doctor picks her up as she’s waiting for him in her garden, puts her in bed and tells her the story of himself and the TARDIS, then walks into the crack and becomes a mere story
A question that posed itself to me last week can now be answered: The alliance wanted the Doctor to stay alive in the Pandorica, forced to while the years away while they lived on, unable to die — that’s a very Greek mythology-ish way of punishment, really. Like Sysiphos or Tantalus, he’d have to stay alive forever, unable to do anything other than what he was assigned to.
One thing that really doesn’t make any sense to me, though: How in Shakespeare did the Doctor give Rory the Sonic Screwdriver? I mean, yes, I saw the Doctor-with-the-fez giving the Sonic to Rory after he’d just been freed and gone to the museum, but how.. you know. I know it’s timey-whimey, but it’s a bit like with the chicken and the egg: If you’ve got an egg, someone must have lain it — but where did mummy chicken come from? It’s a very mindscrew-y example of how much time really is in flux in this episode; by creating a never-ending paradox: the time snake biting its tail.
River: “Right then, I have questions, but number one is this: What in the name of sanity have you got on your head!?”
Seeing as I’m already nit-picking, a few other things. How was River able to remember to give Amy the diary on her wedding day? Is it because she is an anomaly as well, and, considering her vita as we know it, perhaps an even bigger anomaly than Amy? Although, can River be a bigger anomaly than the girl who had the whole universe pouring through her, thanks to the crack? The only argument in favour of that is that, since Amy’s forgotten about the Doctor and had her life up to her wedding basically rewritten entirely, and River’s most likely been travelling through time and space on occasions that didn’t feature the Doctor, River’s self-aware of her anomaly, while Amy and Rory aren’t — yet. And who the hell is she, anyway? Her little heart-to-heart with the Doctor at the end wasn’t exactly revealing… All we know is: The Doctor’s going to meet her again soon, and that’s gonna be “when everything changes.” Curse you, River Song, if you actually kill him! I want Matt Smith to be hanging around a while longer!
Amy: “Raggedy man, I remember you, and YOU ARE LATE FOR MY WEDDING!”
Another thing: Amy’s marrying plastic, right? I spent half the night wracking my brain whether Rory’s birth and life had gotten rewritten to the point where he wasn’t plastic anymore, because of all that crap with the Doctor had never happened — will he, now that the Doctor happened again, suddenly be a duplicant again? And in how far will the sudden change of life affect Amy’s personality? Is she really over her abandonment issues now, or will some of it still linger in her coming relationship with Rory? ’cause, now that the cracks never happened, actually, their reunion in the events of The Pandorica Opens could have been affected, right? Well, this is all building on the assumption that the Doctor’s return brought everything that ever happened with him full force — but maybe it’s just a memory in Amy’s mind now, not registering as her actual past, more like (here we go again) a story. Just as Rory casually tells Amy’s mother: “I was plastic, and she was a stripper…” Um, right!
The Doctor: “Nothing is ever forgotten, but you have to try!”
The way Amy brought the Doctor back — effectively shocking the whole of Leadworth with the revelation that her imaginary friend is, in fact, very much real! — is just as the rest of the episode (and the entire series, really; except for the stuff that’s left deliberately unexplained for the benefit of Series 6): it all fits so very snugly together. The Doctor, in his moving — no, not corny, simply very emotional — soliloquy, had told her about how he stole that TARDIS from that junkyard somewhere on Gallifrey, and that he’d intended to bring it back, but was too busy running away and having the best of times… and that the TARDIS is brand-new and ancient, and the bluest blue EVER…
Amy: “Something old, something new, something borrowed… something blue.”
The Doctor: “Your girlfriend isn’t more important than the whole universe…” — Rory *grabbing him by the shoulder and turning him around — PUNCH* “SHE IS TO ME!” — “Welcome back, Rory Williams!” *readjusts his jaw* “Sorry, I had to be sure. (mumbles something unintelligible) Right, we need to get her downstairs, and take that look off your plastic face, you’re getting married in the morning!”
Closet romantic fool that I am, I can safely say that Rory’s development and growth in character excited me the most: Over those 2,000 years he had to wait, he grew more confident, resourceful and brave — of course, that could be “software talking”, as the Doctor put it, but since the memory print the Nestene Consciousness took collected his heart and soul as well, it’s safe to say that that really is all Rory. The story of the lone centurion might not have been needed to keep the Pandorica safe (except maybe for the London Blitz, though I guess that box would have survived even that), but it drives home how much Rory loves Amy and what his foremost character trait is: Loyalty.
The Doctor: “Come along, Ponds!”
The actors are, in one word: Outrageous, they really are. Matt Smith shows us a broken, desperate, playful, funny, flirty, pensive, I could go on for hours Doctor here, and I believe that this still isn’t everything he can do. Not that he didn’t play this as best as he — anyone — could, I just believe that he’ll manage to bring out even more layers of the Doctor’s personality as his tenure goes on. Arthur Darvill is a riot, especially in his scenes with the Doctor, just as much as Karen Gillan and Alex Kingston make a wonderful team as Amy and River. I’ve said before that this Doctor is domestic in a way he’s never been in the new-Who, and this will undoubtedly continue: These four are like a family, with Amy being the Doctor’s little sister whom he — openly — adores to no end, and River and Rory the respective spouses of the two siblings. And since it’s technically Amy and Rory’s honeymoon now, the domestics on board of the TARDIS will rise to new heights — and the Doctor doesn’t mind a bit. Since the Time War, he hasn’t allowed himself thoughts of family or relationships, and it’s nice to see he can embrace having people who regard him as family again.
Speaking of the Time War; another nit-pick: If the Doctor’s been erased from history for a while, why hasn’t the universe collapsed in the meantime anyway? Of cours, the rewind took a while, but shouldn’t have some things been temporarily undone? Like, did Gallifrey reappear somewhere for at least five minutes, before Amy pushed the Doctor’s skip forward button again and saved him from the void, making the Time War happen again? Gah!
Other than that: “Her Majesty” — which one, dear? — called to say that some Egyptian goddess was loose on the space-version of the Orient Express. Hello, Christmas Special! But also, the Big Bad that we didn’t get to meet this time around is still out there. And it still wants Silence to fall. Lovely!
Random Thoughts and Favourite Quotes:
- Stuff to look forward to in Series 6: The Doctor’s gonna need new clothes!
- The Doctor dances! If I ever go to a decent party, I’m so going to copy that dance…
- Ooh my, cheeky! This episode made me think some dirty things, for instance…
- if it’s Rory and Amy’s wedding night… Shagging on the TARDIS!?
- River’s innuendo about Autons… “I dated a duplicant once.. Swappable head — to keep things fresh.” (*reviewer chokes on her cocoa*)
- Rory: “No, I’m not Mr. Pond! That’s not how it works.” — The Doctor: “Yeah, it is.” — “Yeaaaah, it is!” 🙂
- Rory, completely deadpan-serious: “It’s the Doctor. How did we forget the Doctor?!”
Anyway: it’s been an absolute blast to review this series of Doctor Who, and I’m definitely looking forward to the Christmas Special. Until then, I’m just gonna… find something else to obsessively blog about. Yay!
Next episode: A Christmas Carol.