OK, as promised after yesterday’s review, I’ve had a second watching of The Pandorica Opens (always advisable with a [[Doctor Who (TV Series)|Doctor Who]] episode). What captivates me with this episode is how much it raises the stakes, and it’s not even the series finale yet!
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To sum up this episode is quite simple – there were errors and questions raised about the plot that I’m not sure are going to be completely answered in the series finale. But…as with most things Doctor Who, the crumbling credibility of some plot devices was more than made up for with suspense, a little humour and a climactic cliffhanger.
What follows here are some of the major talking points from the episode that I wanted to raise for us to chat about here.
Stunning special effects: Yes, for all those character-based episodes that I loved, apparently the producers were stashing money away for a CGI bonanza. Money well spent, I might add. Space ports and thousands of ships in the sky above Stonehenge were arguably the finest effects in the Doctor Who’s venerable history.
The Rory Story: Yes, Rory reborn as an Auton, complete with full memories of RealRory’s life. A fantastic way of reviving the character without reneging on Rory’s death at the end of [[Cold Blood (Doctor Who episode)|Cold Blood]]. The perfect trap for The Doctor, and of course, now Amy remembers what she’s lost. Shame he shot her in the stomach though. That scene didn’t look for a moment like a premature ejac!
Oh yeah – watch that scene where [[The Doctor (Doctor Who)|The Doctor]] pokes Rory in the chest. He sways back and forward, but makes a very plastic-sounding noise as her sways.
The Unusual Alliance: Say what now? Daleks, Cybermen and a host of other Whoniverse baddies all lining up to capture The Doctor? Clearly these new, pureblood Daleks don’t remember Davros trying to detonate a reality bomb, or their Nazi-style mission to destroy everything in the universe that isn’t a squidgy tentacled thing inside a colourful tank-like suit? Steven Moffat rebooted the most evil of evils, only to have their first ‘proper’ storyline being to save the universe.
Erm…so what were the Silurians doing among the Alliance then?
Timey-wimey? Wonkey Donkey? People who despise Russell T Davies’ reign as showrunner frequently bang deus ex machina into blog posts everywhere as evidence of his failings. But Mr Moffat is as susceptible as anyone for using implausible devices. Alliance or not, Dalek time travel tech surely could not be powerful enough to pull thousands of different species to one point in time. And I can’t help wondering from which era each of those Whovian nasties was recruited? This plot device, as grand and as wonderful as it seems on first viewing, is a tiny piece of thread that, once you pull on it, threatens to unravel entirely. Who identified the threat to the universe? Who congregated the alliance?
Sigh…yes, I know that deus ex machina is usually used for something which resolves a plot. But surely it can be used in the example of something which sets up a storyline in a completely implausible way?
Cybersnapper: Equally unbelievable was the decapitated Cyberman trying to capture Amy. Who knew those things could seek out a new brain? Still, a distracting piece of humour it was, even if it was utterly silly – the fact that Amy was facing it, the inexplicable moving tendrils and their ability to shoot knock-out darts. Still, it was a funny moment to break the tension in the episode.
Hello Sweetie: Yes, the time vandal River Song returns, this time defacing a cliff face with her over-familiar greeting. Luckily, she plays the role rather straight this time around and the escape from the Stormcage was rather inspired! There wasn’t any time for building enigma around the character or any other cross-timeline nonsense, and that went some way toward redeeming her character somewhat.
Inaccurate? The Doctor suggests that some alien force has visited [[Amy Pond]]’s house and recreated her memories from some kind of essence within the house. Okaaaaay, I’ll buy that. But…Amy hasn’t been home since before Rory died, so how come AutoRory remembers being in the cave and dying…then waking up as a Roman?
Moffat is NOT a god: Outside the episode for a moment, look at some of the sickeningly fauning comments reserved for Steven Moffat: “testament to the skill of Steven Moffat“, “given Moffat’s imaginative capabilities” and “those beautiful words magnificently crafted by Steven Moffat“.
I’ve got a real problem with this level of adulation. Moffat has proved that given control of a full series, the quality has to slip out of necessity. He fumbled the ball with his Time Of Angels/Flesh and Stone two-parter, and this episode was laced with absurd moments that – think about it for a second – don’t make a lot of sense.
That’s not to say that there weren’t some really clever moments. The lovely string of continuity at the start of the episode, referencing characters and scenarios from earlier in the series was amazing. The concept of the Pandorica itself, a prison for The Doctor made by his worst enemies, is fascinating. That idea of Doctor as Oncoming Storm, is referenced but magnified a million times as he’s seen to be the destroyer of the entire universe. And that’s inspiration for the megalomaniacs and freakish baddies of the universe to band together and contain him for the good of the universe. The concept is brilliant, even if the execution is flawed slightly.
So, with some criticism, [[The Pandorica Opens (Doctor Who episode)|The Pandorica Opens]] remained a fantastic, edge-of-your-seat adventure that has set up up for a (hopefully) thrilling finale. I just hope there isn’t a Bobby Ewing ending to all of this.
Selected quotes from this episode
- River Song: “A box, a cage, a prison. It was built to contain the most feared thing in the entire universe.”
- The Doctor: “There was goblin, or a trickster. Or a warrior. A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. Nothing could stop it or hold it or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.”
- The Doctor: “What could inspire that level of fear. Hello you. Have we met?”
- The Doctor: “We’ve got a surprise on our side. They’ll never expect three people to attack 12,000 battleships….because we’d be killed instantly.”
- River Song: “Where I come from. Your world has visitors. You’re all barbarians now.”
- The Doctor to Amy: “People fall out of the world sometimes, but they always leave traces…Nothing is ever forgotten, not completely. And if something can be remembered, it can come back.”
- The Doctor: “Does it ever bother you Amy that your life doesn’t make any sense?”
- The Doctor: “It’s just like being an organ donor, except you’re alive and screaming.”
- Cyberman: “You will be assimilated. Amy: Yeah? You and whose body?”
- The Doctor: “Rory, I’m not trying to be rude, but you died.”
- Rory: “I died and turned into a Roman. It’s very distracting.”
- The Doctor: “Hello Stonehenge! Whoever takes the Pandorica takes the universe…”
- Rory: “My men are up there, they’ll look after you. Amy: Yeah…love a Roman…”
- Rory: “I was in the cave with you and Amy. I was dying. And then I was just here, a Roman soldier. A proper Roman. Head full of Roman…stuff…a whole other like. Like I’d woken up from a dream. I started to think it was a dream.”
- The Doctor: “Something’s using her memories. Amy’s memories. If they’ve been to the house, they could use psychic residue.”
- River Song: “It’s a trap. It has to be. They used Amy to get close to you.”
- River Song: “There’s something wrong with the TARDIS, like something else is controlling it.”
- The Doctor: “Are you lot working together? An alliance? How is that possible?”
- Cyberman: “The cracks in time are the work of The Doctor. It is confirmed.”
- The Doctor: “The TARDIS is exploding right now and I’m the only one who can stop it.”