This is the longest and most exciting elopement in the history of the universe. And it’s glorious.
This is the most beautiful story that could ever have been told about the Doctor and his old girl, the most beautiful way of telling this tale of two thieves who fell in love as they stole each other, of who the TARDIS really is. That relationship that’s so much more important than anything else. Because she chose him, too.
TARDIS: I wanted to see the universe, so I stole a Time Lord and ran away. And you were the only one mad enough.
As much as the House—who is voiced by Michael Sheen, by the way, incredible and lovely Michael Sheen!—is a worthy opponent and the Evil Plot was breathtaking, at the end of the day it’s just about Amy and Rory, and the Doctor and his girl.
The TARDIS now finally has a voice—we get to see what so many have felt all along: of course she has a soul, a personality, her own will when it comes to disparities between set coordinates and actual landing, and she’s the Doctor’s only remaining constant now that Gallifrey is gone; and his home she’d been ever since he first set foot into her console room. (One of thirty, apparently. This is going to be exciting.) The Doctor has certainly felt it, but never known for sure, as have some of his companions—Martha, for example—and they both must have craved this opportunity to talk for so long. That’s how they mirror Amy and Rory, the Girl and the Boy Who Waited. The TARDIS has waited so long for him to realize, and to finally get to say hello. And the Doctor has waited so long for someone to understand. What’s more, for someone he can love without feeling guilty: she won’t wither and die, she’ll always be there. Remember when the TARDIS looked into Rose and Rose looked into the TARDIS and they saved the Doctor, together? She said, “I want to keep you safe. My Doctor.” How much more meaning is there in those words now that we have met the TARDIS’ soul.
Doctor: You did it, you sexy thing!
TARDIS: See, you do call me that! Is it my name?!
Doctor: You bet it’s your name!
That wonderful script, combined with the phenomenal acting by Suranne Jones and Matt Smith—tears everywhere. Too see the Doctor cry like this is humbling and, dare I say it, beautiful in a gut-twisting way. Right after shoving the events of pre-2005 Who and The End of Time into his enemy’s face, after discovering that there really is no hope of ever finding any other living Time Lords—only their frantic and terrified voices calling for help in psychic messages—he drops all his masks, lets go of all his bravado and allows himself to succumb to his grief in front of the ones he loves, instead of raging to disguise it, or hiding in solitude to stave off his vulnerability. He begs.
Tardis: Doctor? Are you there? It’s so very dark in here.
Doctor: I’m here.
Tardis: I’ve been looking for a word. A big, complicated word, but so sad. I’ve found it now.
Doctor: What word?
Tardis: Alive. I’m alive!
Doctor: Alive isn’t sad.
Tardis: It’s sad when it’s over. I’ll always be here. But this is when we talked and now even that has to come to an end. There’s something I didn’t get to say to you.
Tardis: No, I just wanted to say … hello. Hello, Doctor. It’s so very, very nice to meet you.
Doctor: Please! I don’t want you to. Please.
And he is rewarded by hearing the words he needs to hear when he can actually accept them, just before Idris’ body fades away.
TARDIS: I love you.
And that’s not the only heart-wrenching relationship twist Neil Gaiman has presented us with: Amy and Rory.
Apart from the inevitable Bowl of Petunias moment: Rory’s dead? Oh no, not again. Was it necessary to have him die? Him being all old and insane in Amy’s fucked-with imagination was bad enough, surely? The scribbles on the wall could have been incorporated in that scene, instead of having a Rory!mummy lying there… Well, what I was going to say—the House chooses Amy as the victim of his hallucinogenic attentions because it can see her guilt about the sacrifices Rory made for her, the biggest of all waiting for 2,000 years only to get her back and still be insecure about her affections. Now all that’s left to hope is that she’ll talk to him about it before it’s too late. But they have enough to talk about as it is—the Doctor’s death, for now, is a regular thing to crop up at the end of the episode, but it won’t be long before it starts interfering with their adventures in earnest. (Oh, and for God’s sake, Doctor, don’t make Amy and Rory sleep in bunkbeds again, that’s just cruel and uncomfortable.)
Enough with the tragedy, though—there is the fun, the excitement, the slapstick, the comedy. The, “You are not my mother!”, the “It says PULL TO OPEN,” the flirtatious banter…
The Doctor: She’s a woman. And she’s my TARDIS.
Amy: Did you wish really hard?
The Doctor: Shut up! Not like that.
TARDIS: Hello! I’m… Sexy.
Doctor: Still shut up!
Not to mention all the impossibly mad ideas Neil Gaiman has in his head. The TARDIS can archive console rooms now. Archived console rooms are cool:
The Doctor: You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go!
TARDIS: But I always took you where you needed to.
So many questions, answered in one impossibly wonderful sequence of dialogue. Speaking of: the dialogue. As you can see, I’m quoting as much as possible today, because it’s so utterly brilliant. I just want to take this script and cuddle it to death.
Something that is most likely going to be very relevant to the series’ story arc:
TARDIS: The only water in the forest is the river.
Eh? River? Forest of the Dead, the forest on the Byzantium? What have you done now?
Next episode: The Rebel Flesh (1).