Doctor Who – The best bits from The Big Bang

Now that the series five finale for Doctor Who is over, I wanted to look at the best bits of The Big Bang. We’ll be spending a bit of time on Shout over the next few days looking at the series as a whole and asking where Moffat, Smith and Gillan succeeded and failed.

But for now, we’re going to take a look at the highlights of that last episode. Yes, there were flaws, but this post is setting out to specifically celebrate the brilliant and entertaining moments in The Big Bang. Add your opinions in the comments section!

What I loved about The Big Bang:

  1. The Doctor’s bizarre test to make sure Rory has broken with his Auton programming: “All of creation has just been wiped from the sky…your girlfriend isn’t more important than the whole universe!” He’s gleeful when Rory punches him in the mouth!
  2. Steven Moffat boggling all our minds by putting Amy inside the Pandorica when we expected to see The Doctor. And making young Amelia be the person to open the box.
  3. The Doctor’s flickering back and forth in time to set up the details of his escape from the Pandorica. Temporally flawed, but brilliant comedy.
  4. River Song making a Dalek beg for mercy – flying in the face of everything the Dalek knows about the Doctor’s companions. And she wasn’t bluffing either.
  5. When The Doctor wakes up on the floor of the TARDIS, he does a quick check – legs, bow-tie, fez. It’s actually quite a sharp re-enactment of Matt Smith’s first scene after regenerating into the Eleventh Doctor.
  6. And speaking of the fez – loved how The Doctor nonchalantly announced “I wear a fez now. Fez’s are cool.” But I loved it more when Amy threw the hat in the air and River shot it. Never before have two companions ganged up on The Doctor so stylishly.
  7. The Lone Centurion, Rory’s guilty way to make sure Amy was safe during her imprisonment in the Pandorica. After all, he’d shot her. How exactly do you make up for that?
  8. The reveal that The Doctor did return and talk to Amy in the forest of the Byantium, but not using the Vortex Manipulator, he was being sucked backwards through his own time line.
  9. The Doctor lovingly carrying Amelia back to bed and talking to her as she slept. Calling himself “a daft old man who borrowed a magic box”, and becoming more tired and morose until he finally walked into the crack in her bedroom wall. “I think I’ll skip the rest of the rewind. I hate repeats.”
  10. Amy’s speech about her imaginary friend is met with groans from people who know her. “Raggedy man, you are late for my wedding.” The idea that the old wedding rhyme, ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ is actually relevant to the TARDIS.
  11. The Doctor at a wedding = pure class. “Hello, everyone! I’m Amy’s imaginary friend, but I came anyway.” His assertion that Rory was now “Mr. Pond”, and his woeful grandad dancing, showing every one of his 906 years.
  12. The Doctor clumsily proposing to River Song by accident. He seems intrigued by her. “Who are you?” “You’re going to find out very soon now. And I’m sorry, but that’s when everything changes.”

Like the other episodes in this series, everything was lavishly shot. The lighting, the effects, everything was just perfect. The soundtrack got the right balance of tension in the action sequences and comedy in the lighter moments.

I probably mentioned this in yesterday’s Big Bang review, but [[Matt Smith]] really impressed me as The Doctor in those final episodes. His Doctor is so much more thoughtful and quirky than his predecessor, and doesn’t have to rely on yelling as a dramatic device. [[Karen Gillan]] has received a lot of criticism in other quarters for a fairly shouty performance this series. Though I have grown to love Amy Pond throughout this series, and her odd backstory making her one of the best-written companions in years.

It was nice to see Rory ‘the boy who waited’ given his proper place in this episode. Though I must say, I’m not completely sure if this Rory is an Auton, or if somehow everything got reset due to the Pandorica/TARDIS explosion effect. If anyone can clear this up for me, I’d be really grateful. I’ve watched it three times now, and I’m still confused.

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  1. Rosie-Lee

    I did enjoy this season finale, even if my head did spin a bit with the Doctor flashing around in time, here and there.

    But when he emerged from the Tardis in his suit for the wedding, I just thought that was the cherry on the cake.  And then he did a silly dance with all the girls on the dance floor – double cherry on the cake.

    I really love Matt Smith.  He is such an enthusiastic Dcctor and mesmerising to watch.

    I think River is his mum, or his grandmum, or something.  She seems to adore him like he was her child.   I don’t think they have ever kissed in a romantic way?  It would be easy to misconstrue her feelings if you don’t have the full facts.  I hope we find out in the next series.

  2. jefft

    >> I’m not completely sure if this Rory is an Auton, or if somehow everything got reset due to the Pandorica/TARDIS explosion effect. If anyone can clear this up for me, I’d be really grateful. <<

    I’ll field that one.

    In the background as Amy leaps forward to see the Doctor at the reception, Rory starts up with ‘Its the Doctor: How could we forget the Doctor?’

    Then he turns to someone next to him and if you listen hard , says ‘I was plastic..’


    1. Gerard McGarry

      Yeah, I rewatched that scene, and I heard what Rory said. OK, so he was plastic. That means he’s not now. So what happened to restore Rory to human – did the Doctor being erased from the universe ‘reset’ Rory to being human again? That’s the bit I don’t understand.

      Also, did you notice that Amy’s dresser was still strewn with Doctor/TARDIS figurines on her wedding morning? I can’t think of a logical explanation for that one either!

      1. jefft

        Sad to say, but I think we’re looking at reset button here.

        (come on Jeff, you can say it… come on, it really isn’t hard…)

        Deep breath….Its a kid’s show, remember.

        Wibbly wobbly timey wimey works for us, but the target audience remains 8+ year olds. So I think we’re simply supposed to work on the basis that ‘it all went back to normal’. I’m OK with that. In Steven Moffat’s shoes I would make the same call.

        Otherwise how much of series 1/5/fnarg is Rory (or indeed the Doctor) supposed to be able to recall next season?

        (Which brings us back to will everyone now remember the Dalek invasions since ‘the crack’ has been erased from time and won’t have erased the Daleks?)

        Uh.. head hurts again. I think I’ll leave it in a box by the door before I watch series 6. That always worked for RTD’s scripts. (Except for towing the Earth home by TARDIS.)

        1. redx

          The way I read it, all the principal characters now recall everything the audience does. So they lived through the ‘cracked’ timeline that we became aware of in Eleventh Hour… then the ‘collapsing’ timeline that began in 102AD… and finally the ‘repaired’ timeline that began first thing 27 June 2010.

          Thing is, on that morning Amy + Rory’s memories of the past, pre-27/6, must’ve been false — but fitting in with the memories of everyone else at the wedding (and the rest of the universe!) who haven’t been jumping timelines and whose lives ONLY exist in the newly ‘repaired’ reality.

          Amy’s recall of hers and Rory’s real past leaves them with the same memories we the audience have. But this is now a different world — new present, new future, new PAST. E.g., for the folks at the wedding — including Amy herself, till her recall was triggered — Amy’s ‘imaginary friend’ was still imaginary. Maybe the same can be said for some but not all of series 1/5/fnarg… maybe the good folk of the ‘repaired’ timeline don’t remember the events of The Lodger for example, depending on how close James Corden was to a convenient crack in time? Or maybe not? Dunno.

          The nice thing about that interpretation is that there’s no reason to think the ‘cracked’ timeline began with Eleventh Hour. In fact, we know it didn’t — Amy didn’t know what a dalek was, so we know for sure that time circa The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End was cracked. Which means any of the more… um, questionable choices of the RTD years can be conveniently brushed under the carpet. Result!

          Did any of that make sense…?

          1. Gerard McGarry

            Hi Redx, and welcome to Unreality Shout! There’s a reason why I’m not buying that one – it’s because Steven Moffat went to great lengths to show us River Song stuck in a time loop in the TARDIS.

            Now, if he chose to be explicit about that particular plot detail, then why would he leave the details of Rory being an Auton so bloody vague? It bugged me through three viewings of the episode and I still can straighten out the story. What I think happened is that everything got tied up in such a knot that none of it actually makes sense.

            And to Jeff above – I know it’s meant to be a kids show. I do. And we all over analyse it to a ridiculous degree. But that’s because Doctor Who pertains to be so bloody clever, or at least we expect it to. And the drooling Cult of Moffat hail every episode he writes as a modern classic. Yet they’re not, and that annoys me. Moffat at the helm of Doctor Who has fallen foul of many of the same traps Rusty fell foul of. The difference is that the overall quality of this series has been far higher and more emotionally and intellectually satisfying.

  3. Jeffrey Scott

    I’ve got to admit, one of my most favourite parts was Riversong making the Dalek check his references. The fear in the Dalek was evident. Don’t mess with Riversong!

    Giving me some great ideas as to who or what, she might actually be.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      I didn’t mention it in my review, but that scene was actually a very clever echo of when The Doctor spoke to the Atraxi on the roof of the hospital in Leadworth. They checked their records and ran, the Dalek checked its records and begged for mercy.

      And The Doctor did the same thing with the Cybermen in The Next Doctor too.

  4. Thirteen

    You mentioned in your review that the parents were “dead”–but actually, no. There was never any hint that they’d died. What seemed to be the deal is this: The crack in Amelia’s wall erased people in her life and changed her personal history. This is why Amy couldn’t remember what had happened to her parents. The doctor let Amy/Amelia know that once all the cracks were closed, all the people who vanished thanks to those cracks would be back, and that included her parents.

    This HE presumably did. Closed the cracks, restored the universe back–Rory included, Amy’s parents included. Amy’s memory was to get back the Doctor only, or so I presumed–but I only watched the episode once, so perhaps you know better. He was untouched–meaning didn’t need to be “recreated”–but he needed someone to remember him to draw him back out of his “prison” behind the walls he’d patched closed. 

    The implication, from Rory’s vanishing on, was that Amy had the ability to remember people even if the crack erased them. Not consciously, but unconsciously. This puts her “remembering” a bit above “pray for the doctor” (though not by much). As much as a Moffat fan as I am, I was very disappointed by this episode. Bits were great, but as a whole, it failed. That said, it was set up that Amy (who cried for Rory even when she couldn’t remember him), could hold onto people and draw them back. Her raggedy doctor dolls were, therefore, not imaginary, but memories and once she “remembered” them as memories, she got the doctor back. None of which explains why Rory remembered himself as being plastic or how River had a book of the vanished (unremembered) doctor to give to Amy so she could remember, or what River’s existence was like without the doctor before Amy brought him back….

    When the Doctor is remembered by Amy, is he remembered by all, like he never left? All past lives included? Frankly, to me this was unnecessarily sloppy. And I don’t buy the “it’s for kids!’ excuse. Moffat was very tight and thematic (consider the following running themes throughout this season’s episodes: what’s missed or unseen, mirrors, invisible monsters, eyes–I could go on for pages. All that set-up for…this?)–and we know Moffat can do better without having to fall back on the “it’s just for kids!” excuse.

    Anyone who is that good a writer needs to take their lumps if they fall down–not be given a pass. Maybe he bit off more than he could chew or wrote himself into a corner. He had one big take on it all, and he promised us a big bang. IMHO, we got a whimper. One with nice bits, but a whimper all the same. 

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Thirteen – thanks for signing up and commenting. Those are precisely the points where I’ve got confused about the finale. Your closing statement is completely correct, it feels like he got confused himself and just ran with that story anyway. These are the places where none of the story makes a lick of sense and the conclusion becomes dissatisfying.

  5. MichaelH

    I think my understanding of how the ‘reboot’ worked is that the pandorica was extrapolating the universe as it was when the box was sealed (just before the universe exploded, so no exploding TARDIS included). However, that universe already had some Weeping Angels, Rory, some clerics, and of course Amy’s whole family (by the pictures on her wall in the last episode, I think only canny budgeting and casting reasons meant we don’t meet potential siblings and friends right away)

    The Doctor tells her to remember her parents, etc, because only she can actually add them to the mix when the Pandorica is recreating the universe – whatever memories in her head being just as good as particles of matter to extrapolate what should have existed. She’s had the

    I think River Song, like the Doctor, is outside the Time Stream enough that she would still remember the Doctor had once existed, and seems to know the Doctor’s thought processes well enough (after catching up with them) to guess what he might do.


    As for the wishign the Doctor back being a deux ex mechina, I think at least it wasn’t crucial to the main plot. The danger had been dealt with, and Doctor Who could have ended on that note. Just, you know, forever 🙁  I think Amy was slightly taking on the audience (especially young audience) perspective of wishing the Doctor would come back. I think by then the idea is simply you just want Matt Smith to come back, and the Doctor to come back. It also feels clever and right that the only reason the Doctor ever opens up about his past is because Amy is asleep, because he is about to be erased, and alsobecause he is taking one last, desperate shot at coming back.

    I personally can stand to lose whatever temporal dialogue explanation could have been used, just to go with the emotion. I love the implication that although Amy says ‘surprise’, somehow she has brougth the Doctor back knowing he would be back.That was quite fun.

    I hope the whole paradoxical nature of time (this happened because it happened before) doesn’t get overused. However, it has already been used as the basis of things like Terminator. Also, I think in this case you can imagine a starting point. I’m sure the Doctor even states the Pandorica is easy to open from the outside (he does it in about half an hour when it is prepping, and Rory can do it in a second with a sonic screwdriver. I’m sure determined humans could do it in a decent amount of time). The reason for this is that the ‘legend’ is a great evil is stored inside. Only a villain would want to open it to get such a great villain to side with them, and all the villains know its the doctor, so they would assume no one else would ever open the Pandorica from the outside even if discovered. How little all those villains know about humainity!

    So you can imagine a first go around, eventually humans would open the Pandorica (it has no guards, they are all already wiped from time). The Doctor is freed, but of course Amy is dead, Rory has probably gone inactive from guilt, etc, and basically all is doomed. The Doctor goes back in time to free himself through Rory (he can’t interfere with his own time stream, but can get Rory to do it, and also  knows how to save Amy)

    That doctor would disappear as he has changed his own future, and we essentially get the start of the Big Bang. rory now guards the Pandorica to ensure no-one opens it with Amy inside, before it can get to 1996 and be opened by young Amy. Maybe after a few wobbles (where fezes and brooms get introduced) you get a stable paradox!

    Anyway, that’s my thoughts!


  6. Ryan Crossland

    Loved the show but the thing that made me confused was if Amy remembering the doctor brought him back, why didn’t River Song remembering the Doctor bring him back? 

    I ask this because if River Song didn’t remember the Doctor, why would she give Amy the blank diary?

    Is River Song’s memory of the Doctor not as important as Amy’s?  Or does River Song remember meeting Amy in the future when she travelled in her… well she doesn’t have a TARDIS w/o the Doctor so I have no idea how she would have met River Song.

  7. MichaelH

    The Doctor says that because Amy was right beside the crack, with it whispering to her for years, then her memories were ‘special’. It was why Rory came back as an Auton with far more of the original personality than he should be, and it was why she could bring back her parents and family (and the Doctor) as long as she could remember them.

  8. sgreco1970

    the whole rory/auton thing bugged me immensely, it seemed to come out of left field and never make any sense…unless

    in Silence in the Library, when asked how she can be sure the Doctor isn’t an android, she says she’d know because she’s dated an android and they’re rubbish.

    Could this be a clue that the Pond grows into a River?

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