Last week on Doctor Who we got James Corden and low fi crazy roommate drama and this week, but this week as “The Pandorica Opens,” we got possibly one of the biggest, craziest episodes of the show ever.
Somehow the stakes are even higher than they were in “The Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End” and all the teases from this past season and from across time and space start to coalesce into something, like a puzzle assembling itself. Much like the Pandorica itself, a nasty puzzle box that was dreamt up in the mind of a little girl and can unlock itself from the inside…
But what’s inside it? “There was a 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 galaxies. 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 words of a fairy tale, indeed.
I was quite impressed with the logic of this episode even though it doesn’t fully make sense. The idea of the trap being sprung for the Doctor from the mind and imagination of young Amelia Pond, is fascinating to me. That all of the Doctor’s (current) allies and friends, including River Song (or, shall we say Cleopatra?), Dr. Bracewell and Winston Churchill, Vincent Van Gogh (with Dr. Gachet and Madame Vernet), and future monarch Liz Ten, could band together from the past and the future, from the oldest planet in the universe all the to way Stonehenge, and then Underhenge, to warn him of “the big bang” to come, the explosion of the TARDIS that creates the cracks in space and time that can erase you from existence, is just amazing. I’m heavily intrigued with how much of Moffat’s stuff feels so similar to what Russell T. Davies was doing, but is darker, sharper, and just feels deadlier.
And it’s that little twist, that little change in perspective that comes in at the end that makes it all work so brilliantly…
Some of the Doctor’s greatest foes, the Daleks, Cybermen, Autons, the Zygons, the Sycorax, the Atraxi (from “The Eleventh Hour“), Draconians, the Judoon, and so many more, have all worked together, forming an alliance to stop the cracks in the universe, the potential end of the universe, and the creature that they feel could only be responsible for such devastation: The Doctor himself.
A goblin, a trickster, a warrior. A nameless and terrible thing. To his foes, the Doctor is all of those things. He is unstoppable and you can’t reason with him. Out of nowhere, he’ll just show up, this alien from the sky and change your world completely. Whether it’s for the better or for the worse, is dependent on your point of view, isn’t it?
And I seem to remember reading in the expanded edition of The Writer’s Tale that David Tennant waivered for a short time, and actually considered doing the fifth series with Moffat. Just think: This could very well have been the end of the Tenth Doctor we’re witnessing here, rather than an an amazing adventure in the life of his successor.
And at this point I’m ready to say that I think his successor has indeed succeeded. Matt Smith has fully come into his own in this role, and everyone else was in top form, as always. Alex Kingston’s River Song was sexy and exciting and mysterious as usual, a perfect foil and partner for the Doctor, and Amy Pond… What can you say about the lovely Amy Pond? Even though she’s not been given a whole lot to do the past few weeks, Karen Gillan has done a good job being the focal point of this season, both thematically and as our “in” into this strange new Doctor and the world he inhabits, which is becoming increasingly a world based around her. And I don’t think nearly enough credit is given to Karen Gillan’s semi-comic timing, which is done with near Lucille Ball-like precision. The companions are inevitably going to end up in little deathtraps with the various villains, and I think that Gillan certainly sells the believability of it more than maybe Billie Piper did. I mean, come on, Amy’s fight with the Cyberman’s tentacled remains and decapitated head was both exciting, horrific, and hilarious. A perfect combination.
And again, that ending. It was somewhat Lost-like, in a regard, wasn’t it? A somber but touching and rising bit of music holding together a powerful montage: Auton Rory, full of real Rory’s memories, seemingly killing the woman he loved just as she’s remembered him, River Song in the TARDIS as it’s driven to explode by a mysterious force controlling it and uttering a chilling catch phrase, and the Doctor, powerless as he’s dragged to what his allied enemies intend to be his final resting place. The Pandorica did indeed open, and it was absolutely shocking and harrowing, but it wasn’t about what was coming out of it, it was about what was going into it.
Next time: No more Doctor, no more TARDIS, and the universe is starting to shut down, but reality has one last hope left… an imaginative little girl who still believes in the stars…