Doctor Who Series Finale - The Big Bang (S05E13) - Episode review
It's 26-06-2010, the day the universe ends. Or something. But back in 102AD, Rory is a plastic Roman, Amy is seemingly dead, The Doctor is trapped in a prison inspired by Pandora's Box. Oh yeah, and the TARDIS has exploded with River Song trapped inside. Women drivers, eh? (rolls eyes)
Oh, readers. I've just finished watching it, that final episode. Twice. It. Was. Stunning.
The Big Bang closes off an incredible series of Doctor Who. When we last left the Doctor and chums, they were all in some kind of mortal peril. And within a few short minutes, they're not. It's a brilliant and daring escape that makes not much sense at all, but your head is spinning throughout and the whole thing is laced with mystery and humour.
Though we could whinge about the paradox that enables The Doctor to escape the Pandorica, it set up some excellent headsmacking moments. From the outset, we see The Doctor's hand in a million little details - nudging little Amelia toward the museum where the Pandorica is being displayed. And we see the logic behind his frequent reappearances to Rory. Both from when he initially makes them, then from the future, where he's receiving new information from his companions and flipping back in time to tidy up the details.
Naturally, the implosion of the universe isn't something that just happens. Thankfully, The Doctor and his companions have a little bit of time to play with. Time to adopt a fez as his new fashion accessory. Time to rescue River from the exploding TARDIS and have her shoot that fez to smithereens. And time to think up a plan to reboot the universe.
Yes, reboot the universe. Because whatever caused the TARDIS to explode in the first place - and tantalisingly, that enigma has been left hanging until next series - coupled with the Pandorica is the solution to the dying universe. Cleverly, The Doctor has worked out that he can exploit those cracks in space and time and use the Pandorica's ability to restore life to kick start the universe. The Big Bang 2, possibly the smartest thing The Doctor has ever done, because he's used technology created by his greatest enemies to restore the universe.
Though I have to wonder if that doesn't create some deification of the good Doc. The last guy to allegedly kickstart the universe at least had a few cults in his name.
Back to the story. Of course, there can be no restoration of the universe without self-sacrifice. And Gallifrey boy courageously nominates himself. So he flies the Pandorica into the heart of the exploding TARDIS and something odd happens. He wakes up on the floor of the intact TARDIS.
He deduces that he's being erased from existence. Very Marty McFly, but in a more linear, backwards manner. He sees events from the last few weeks and eventually ends up in young Amelia's place on the night he first stood her up. He lifts her from her garden and puts her to bed and talks while she sleeps. The last we see of him, he walks into the final crack and it closes behind him.
Amy Pond wakes up on her wedding morning and the house is buzzing. Her mother and father never died and they're with her now. It's only during the wedding reception that Amy suddenly pieces together the fact that someone's missing. She makes a hilarious, cringey speech about her imaginary childhood friend and - har har to all you Russell T Davies haters - her words bring him back! Echoes of the Martha Jones "Pray to The Doctor" remedy in there, right?
Still, we don't dwell on this for long. Wedding reception over, The Doctor stands outside the TARDIS, accidentally comically proposes to River and in turn receives an ominous warning from her about the future.
The best bit is saved for last. The Doctor, Amy and Rory end up in the TARDIS together, and he's about to jet off to some new emergency. The newlyweds stick with him and choose to honeymoon on the Orient Express...in space. It may have been a slightly wasted opportunity to slap a "Just Married" banner on the back of the TARDIS and some empty cans, but the look on Amy Pond's face as she worked the console was full of hope and excitement. The perfect ending moment for the series, and one of my personal favourite moments from series 5 overall.
I want to take a moment out to commend the actors for a fantastic job throughout the series. Matt Smith in particular excelled in The Big Bang. From his usual oddball energy to the tired, injured Doctor who flew the Pandorica off, he was simply brilliant. Steven Moffat was right...he may look like a young guy, but those eyes gave off the atmosphere of an old, tired Time Lord, ready to sacrifice himself in order to save the universe. Let's put it this way, I believed.
Karen Gillan and her little cousin Caitlin Blackwood were fantastic in their first scenes together in the series. Little nod to The Time Traveler's Wife there, with Amy meeting her younger self in a museum? There's a similar scene in that book. And Arthur Darvill as Rory. I think after everything that Rory's endured during the series now, he's earned his place as a full time companion. Don't you?
Big Bad Wolf
What's most unique about this episode - and we almost should have expected it from Moffat - was that the sinister rasping voice that said "Silence will fall" was never explained. Nor was the reason for the TARDIS exploding.
For one thing, it was - as most people have suggested - too late to introduce a complex, classic Who villain like Omega (who most people thought it was), and there was no space left in the episode to start explaining those things.
I'm a big fan of this approach, because it starts the new series with already established mysteries and now loads of time to drip information about who's behind this. And of course, they may be capable of messing with the TARDIS next time round too.
Holy Deus Ex Machina, Moffman!
OK, Moffat managed to deliver a fantastic finale to close off his first series at the helm of Doctor Who. It wasn't the silver bullet to kill those deus ex machina endings RTD haters deplored. For instance, the ease with which The Doctor escaped the Pandorica (and the enormous paradox/plot hole behind it) were nearly as ridiculous as Gallifrey appearing over Earth in The End Of Time and being banished within about five minutes.
And sorry, viewers, but Amy's memory retrieving The Doctor from oblivion in time for her wedding reception had so many shades of Martha Jones that it was a little bit embarrassing.
It's perhaps a reminder to us that there will always be fantastical elements to Doctor Who that we'll have to learn to live with. After all, it's sometimes the emotional journey the episode takes you on that makes up for any plot holes that get in the way. As Rory nursing Amy's corpse while The Doctor flicks in and out wearing a fez was hilarious, and Amy wishing The Raggedy Doctor back into existence ended a moment of tension for us, they were each emotionally satisfying.
Perhaps the problem is that we spend so much time guessing what's ahead and creating our own little ideas of how the narrative will go that it's frustrating when something isn't as tightly plotted as we'd like.
Still, in summing up, I loved this. And now that we have a book-end for the fifth series, I feel satisfied by how this series has run. And The Big Bang was the perfect high to end on.