Oh, this was good, this was very good. Chris Chibnall crafted a quick and more than a bit heart wrenching tale about the year the Doctor came to stay. Disclaimer: yes, this narrative could and should have deserved a two-parter. Let’s get this right out before I go into the specifics.
The specifics would also include the Army of Ghosts/Doomsday parallels. The ep started with a voice over from Amy, there was a parent on the TARDIS, it featured a slow invasion, humanity eventually just accepting the alien presence in their midst, until BAM. And episode five will, indeed, be Doomsday. Don’t know how bad it’s going to be yet, but since this is Double Feature Saturday on Crime and Relative Dimension in Space, we’re not far from finding out.
Amy and Rory are thinking of stopping. Before, their real lives were empty without Doctor life—well, less so for Rory than for Amy; but anyway. The slow path was driving Amy crazy, and she freely admits that there was a time when she couldn’t live without her Raggedy Man; some companions never can. Some left him, some got left behind, and some died. I love how honest and solemn the Doctor is in that moment with Brian. He’s gotten better with the whole parent interaction, and he and Brian understand each other, somehow. Brian has better insight into Amy and Rory’s feelings towards the weird man from Gallifrey than they themselves probably realise; and possibly into the Doctor’s, too. His prompt at the end for Amy and Rory to keep going with him is as much for them as it is for the Doctor. Brian, brilliant, marvelous Papa Williams. (Don’t mock the log.)
The Doctor loves Amy and Rory, it’s no mystery. What he says to Amy up on the roof is beautiful and terrible. I’m not sure if here he already knows what’s going to happen to them, if he’s already done episode five (it would fit better with his emotional instability if the timeline went The Power of 3 – The Angels Take Manhattan – A Town Called Mercy); but no matter, his words hit home. They are fading from him, there’s only so many times he can keep going back, and he misses them, always. It’s why he stays, the second time around, manages to pull himself together and lead the simple life for as long as he has to.
Rory: “There are soldiers all over my house, and I’m in my pants!”
Another reminder of his past strides right through the door at the beginning: Kate Stewart, the daughter of our beloved Brigadier; heading up UNIT with smarts and tenacity, and the knowledge that her Dad knew a man who makes all the work more than worth it. After Torchwood was reformed (and then blown up) by Jack, now UNIT’s got a bit of proper schooling first from Martha, and now from Kate. The Doctor has proper allies on Earth now, in addition to his companions, and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) more guest appearances.
The Doctor even managed a full-on wedding anniversary present! Well, except for the part where everything went wrong, there was an alien invasion at the Savoy, and then Amy accidentally married Henry VIII. This, however, blanches in light of the fact that Rory smooched the Doctor; because I can’t believe I forgot to mention, after Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, that the Doctor’s got a mission of Kissing ALL the Ponds when they’re being brilliant, apparently, and I like it. Plus, Arthur Darvill said that, between Karen and Matt, Matt’s the better kisser. Oh, you. Anyway, Rory/Doctor smooches come second only to Nine and Captain Jack Harkness in Parting of the Ways, so off you go.
But that’s just trifles, ‘cause he’s only got one heart working at some point, which we know he hates, and then Amy rips his shirt open and gets out the defibrillator, and somehow everything was pretty hilarious for a while after that. Not to mention Rory wheeling out his Dad on a gurney, Brian’s flabbergasted face disappearing ‘round the corner. Chibnall apparently had a lot of fun penning this, and it showed. Also proves David Tennant’s words that it’s very hard trying to explain Doctor Who and not sound like a lunatic. A cube blasting the Chicken Dance. ARE YOU EVEN SERIOUS.
Never mind, though, Andrea, get with the programme. The programme is that we’re building up to the Pond’s goodbye, hell, it’s all we’ve been doing this series, short as it is. It’s in every minute of their performances this autumn; Matt, Karen, and Arthur are giving it their all, and though their acting has always been excellent and spectacular, everything’s just… right where it needs to be this time. Every little look, every micro expression, it’s all there. Nothing’s over the top, or lacking; the moods are constantly swinging back and forth in just the right rhythm, foreshadowing without giving anything away or losing momentum leading up to the final act. Nothing’s too loud, yet gut-wrenching because we bloody know what’s coming, and we can’t stop it. The Doctor can’t, but he’ll try and make it as acceptable as possible, as easy as possible for them. He vowed to Brian that they wouldn’t die, at least not before living a good, long life, the life they’ve finally started settling into, in the house that the Doctor gave them.
Since they go off together at the end of the episode, I guess the timeline is linear from The Power of Three to The Angels Take Manhattan, which, if the theory saying that the Doctor is going back in their timeline for them is correct, would mean that here, he doesn’t know what’s going to happen yet. Or, if he does, and there’s another break in between, and he does know, his smile at Brian at the end (which wouldn’t quite fit if he knew he was leading the Pond’s to their doom, otherwise) means that he’s grateful that they went with his blessing. He’s still going to have to explain to Brian that he couldn’t bring them back, but that they are, hopefully, safe wherever they are, zapped back in time by the Weeping Angels.
Everything’s gonna be fine.
Next: The Angels Take Manhattan.