Um…what just happened? If you’ve just switched off from the latest Doctor Who ep, [[The Pandorica Opens (Doctor Who episode)|The Pandorica Opens]], your head is probably spinning like an out of control Dalek.
Threads from across the entire series started to come together for the penultimate episode of [[Doctor Who Series 5|the fifth series]]. We had Van Gogh in hysterics about his latest painting (and a crafty hint that his encounter with The Doctor eventually led to his suicide), Churchill getting involved and the [[TARDIS (Doctor Who)|TARDIS]] acting as a celestial switchboard operator to reroute his call to River Song in prison. Song, in turn, goes to Starship UK and steals a painting from Liz 10, getting caught redhanded by the Cockney Queen.
Eventually, using her calling card of leaving messages for [[The Doctor (Doctor Who)|The Doctor]] all over space and time, River manages to redirect him to Stonehenge back in the early ADs. She’s there masquerading as Cleopatra and wittering about the Pandorica.
After discovering that Stonehenge is an ancient marker for the Pandorica, they discover the mysterious box hidden under the monument. To complicate matters, it’s opening – from the inside out. Oh yeah, and it’s broadcasting a message calling all of The Doctor’s enemies to Stonehenge.
For my taste, the episode spends far too much time setting up and reinforcing the enigma of the Pandorica. The Doctor runs laps around the thing, murmuring to it and asking it “What’ in there?” and “Have I met you before?” and “Hey baby, do you come here often?” There are endless debates about the box – which interestingly enough is the first box in the series to be exactly the expected size on the inside – and whether it’s fairytale, legend, a prison or a Club 800-950 resort.
Subtle. I’m kind of glad they didn’t graffiti it with “Big mystery awaits inside.”
In the best tradition of all those Russell T Davies two-part finales you all hated and bitched about for the past five years, Steven Moffat throws everything and the kitchen sink into this episode. Every conceivable enemy masses against The Doctor. And then he stands on a rock, shouts a bit like a deranged market seller and they run away for a while.
I could recap this all day, but essentially there’s a big bait and switch ahead – all of the legions of ‘enemies’ have formed an alliance, kind of an affirmative action plan for the universe. They’ve managed to associate The Doctor with the cracks in the universe, and so they’ve concocted this plan to capture him and lock him up to prevent him from doing any more damage. It’s bizarre, but it’s clever.
Well, not that clever, because it doesn’t quite explain why they needed millions of troops to capture The Doctor when in reality only a tiny subset were needed to push him into the box in the first place. It doesn’t quite explain how all those legions of spaceships were able to assemble in the past. I mean, how many of those alien races have the time travel technology to meet in Stonehenge?
The ruse with [[Amy Pond|Amy]]’s storybooks was inspired though, and the Romans were a great way to reintroduce us to the Nestene consciousness and the Autons. And what a twist to make Rory one of them!
Not a perfect episode by any stretch, but laced with clever twists and some great tension. Nice to see River Song not quite so cocky in this episode, and there’s not much danger of her being dead at the hands of the exploding TARDIS, because we’ve already seen her further forward in her own timeline. Reintroducing Rory was great for comic effect, firstly with The Doctor, then there was some angst when Amy didn’t recognise him. That subplot felt a little laboured in places, made up for by the fact that he shot her in the stomach. Oh, spoilers!
Definitely looking forward to next week’s finale episode. But no trailer at the end of the episode! Frustrating, but such a wise choice not to show possibly dead characters revived!
P.S. This week’s review is quite rushed, and I apologise to everybody who tunes in for them each week to chat about Doctor Who. Unfortunately, I’ve got an appointment in the pub. Don’t worry though! I’ll be tidying this up tomorrow morning and possibly adding to it. Especially the quotes section!
Quotes from The Pandorica Opens
- The Doctor to River: “You grafittied the oldest cliff face in the universe.”
- The Doctor: “There was a goblin or a trickster or a warrior, a nameless terrible thing…nothing could stop it or hold it or reason with it.”
- River Song to The Doctor: “I hate the good wizards in fairytales, they always turn out to be you.”
- River Song puts things in perspective for the Romans: “Your world has visitors. You’re all barbarians now.”
- The Doctor: “Nothing is ever forgotten, not completely. If something is ever remembered, it can come back.”
- The Doctor: “Does it ever bother you Amy that your life doesn’t make any sense?”
- The Doctor advises Amy to stay away from the Cybermen: “Just like being an organ donor, except you’re alive and kind of screaming.”
- How is Rory alive? “It’s kinda fuzzy. I died and turned into a Roman. It’s very distracting.”