6.05 – The Rebel Flesh

Written by Matthew Graham
Directed by Julian Simpson

After seeming to be knocked off course by a solar storm, The Doctor and his assistants materialize at an acid mining facility where the workers use a rather unusual system for  protection against the acid.

Great locations

“We have two choices.  The first is to tear each other apart.  Not my favorite.  The second is to knuckle down and work together.”

It seems that this episode isn’t receiving universal praise.  But I don’t really care because I enjoyed this episode quite a bit because a) it is a vast improvement over Graham’s

Another vindictive woman with a taser. Not a good sign.

previous Who story Fear Her, and b) because this is one of the few episodes in Cymru Who to really feel like the classic era.  Granted, some reviewers feel this is due to Graham including every base-under-siege element from the Troughton era rule book.  But this doesn’t really bother me because it hasn’t really been seen much in Cymru Who, and because it is all in the execution.  Indeed, much of what I love in this episode could be completely undermined in part two.  The Almost People will prove the success or failure of the story, much like Cold Blood rather ruined The Hungry Earth.  But as it stands, this is my second favorite story so far this season.

Of course, dopplegangers are nothing new in Doctor Who.  Start at the beginning of the show, and you would be reasonable if you theorized that every incarnation of The Doctor would face a doppleganger at some point.  The First Doctor had The Abbot of Amboise (they never really faced-off against one another, however).  The Second Doctor had Salamander.  The Fourth Doctor had Meglos.  And even The Tenth Doctor had his meta-crisis-plot-contrivance.  The first two examples were merely people who looked like The Doctor.  The latter two were duplicates, shape shifting in Meglos’ case.  The cliffhanger for The Rebel Flesh introduces a doppleganger for The Eleventh Doctor.  And while this is rather predictable, it does start the viewer wondering if this technology with The Flesh is somehow relevant to the death of The Doctor from the season premiere.  Too obvious?  Perhaps, but this would be a way to have the dead Doctor not be a clone.  Instead, he would be a duplicate, down to the last detail and memory.  I’m inclined to doubt this purely because it is too obvious.

Maybe not evil, but certainly creepy.

While dopplegangers of this sort can be found in other sci-fi shows, what I like about how it is handled here is that there the gangers are not necessarily evil.  They are just scared.  I think Graham and Simpson have done an excellent job of making them characters, but also allowing you to feel the fear of both sides.  On the human side, there is the fear that you have an exact copy.  Does that in any way diminish you?  On the ganger side, you are a new life, but you would also doubt whether or not you are real.  You have all these memories that are clear and distinct, but they are shared by the human version.  While all this could end up with the “us vs. them” mentality that eventually destroyed Cold Blood, it is my hope that Graham has a much more clever resolution in mind, one that doesn’t undermine the material.  While the progression of the story is certainly predictable and has been done before, the journey will be worth it if he does something redemptive with it, rather than destructive.  I’m not sure where he will go, and that excites me because it has real potential.  In the hands of a lesser writer, the gangers will become monsters, and while the humans wouldn’t be portrayed as completely noble, they would be sympathetic in the end.  But Graham is better than this.  He can be just as detail-oriented in his plots as Steven Moffat, but where Moffat uses time-travel as a narrative device (or as spectacle, if you will), Graham likes to tell stories more straight-forward with an emphasis on character.  Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes were both shows with a central mystery, one that was rather metaphysical.  And while clues were revealed along the way to help the viewer understand the resolution (not necessarily solve the mystery), what probably kept us coming back, more often than not, were the characters.  Graham has done a good job of characterizing a few of the humans (yes, some of them are more of the “red shirt” variety).  But person who benefits most from Graham’s character moments is Rory.

I really have enjoyed Rory due primarily to Arthur Darvill’s everyman charisma.  But up to this point, he has been  developed in relation to Amy.  The only time, up to this point, that he has really stood on his own has been when he stayed with the Pandorica for two thousand years.  But even that decision was made because of Amy.  Here, Rory chooses to help Jennifer, both the ganger version and the human version.  In part, he can sympathize because he knows what it feels like to be artificial.  But he is also a nurse, is a caring individual, and seems to have an easier time dealing with the adventures in time and space than other companions have.  Remember, Rory was nonplussed when he saw the interior of The TARDIS.  Rory isn’t dumb.  He sees the life that exists in the gangers and, like The Doctor, wants these two peoples to find a way to co-exist.

Rory gets the majority of the companion moments in this story.  Amy doesn’t have much to do, at least not on the surface.  As we have seen before, Rory has been dying, or almost dying, quite a bit this season.  It is even indirectly mentioned in the script.  Ever since Amy’s Choice, Amy made it clear that Rory was her man, not The Doctor.  She decided that life without Rory wasn’t worth living.  He died two episodes later, but he came back as an Auton.  We are told that this was due in part to the effect of the crack on Amy’s mind.  When The Doctor rebooted the universe, Rory returned again.  This season sees Amy continually confronted with the possibility of Rory dying.  I still wonder if the theme isn’t about Rory dying, but Amy’s fears.  Her fear is to lose Rory.  Death is an obvious way to lose him, but we also saw her grow extremely jealous when Rory was enchanted by The Siren in Curse of the Black Spot.  It seems somewhat hypocritical for Amy to grow jealous when Rory’s head is turned when she has been shown to have a wandering eye herself.  However, my wife pointed out that we have every evidence to think Rory has been devoted to Amy ever since they met.  She has never known Rory to not love and admire her.  It is possible that she has taken this devotion for granted, and The Siren may have been the first time she wasn’t the object of his affection.  In those moments, she was losing him.  And here, in The Rebel Flesh, Rory is choosing to help the Jennifers.  He not choosing self-preservation, but trying to follow his heart and his conscience.  While Amy isn’t necessarily in disagreement (although the script seems to indicate that she doesn’t entirely understand why this is important to him), she is quite frightened by the thought of him getting killed.  Once more, her fears of losing Rory are manifest.

One last thing I wish to point out, which my wife pointed out to me because I didn’t notice.  The director (possibly this was in the script as well) has provided clues for identifying ganger versus human.  Human-Jennifer is injured and has a limp that the ganger-Jennifer doesn’t have.  One human has a wedding ring on a necklace that his ganger counterpart doesn’t have.  One human has a cold that his ganger version doesn’t have.  This last one could be a clue to the resolution, but it may merely be an way of identifying the characters.  I think this is quite clever and I love the attention to detail.

Yeah, we saw it coming, but it's all in how they use it.

Rebel Flesh review later today

Due to the issue with the US iTunes uploading this week’s episode two days late, my review will be posted later today. Indeed, I was only able to watch it last night, so I’m a bit behind. Not nearly as behind as I will be with the next episode, however. BBC America will not be airing part two this coming weekend due to Memorial Day, which has never been a big day for television ratings. To give Doctor Who as much of a chance for good ratings, they will resume the series on June 4th.

Looks like I get to avoid the internet for a week.

6.04 – The Doctor’s Wife

Written by Neil Gaiman
Directed by Richard Clark

After receiving a Time Lord distress call, The Doctor and his assistants travel to a pocket universe on a rescue mission.

“Are all humans like this?  Bigger on the inside?”

I liked it.

Okay, I acknowledge that I need more.  Evaluating this story on its merits rather than its hype is, I think, the only fair thing to do.  Twenty years from now, when Doctor Who is no longer on our screens (Pessimistic?  Perhaps), the only way to experience this episode will be via whatever digital format we will have, and the hype will no longer be a factor.  So, ignoring the hype and the somewhat easily decoded identity of Idris*, how does the episode work, especially in the larger context of Who?  I think it works quite well.  It expands a bit on the basic origin of The Doctor, but doesn’t really reveal too much, primarily operating to confirm a fan theory, or at least, a theory that I have had for some time, namely, perhaps The Doctor doesn’t so much control the TARDIS as the TARDIS controls him.  The implications are rather interesting, a creature that exists at all points in time and space that guides a mortal that, while being mysterious and knowledgeable in his own right, is still finite (depending on which lifespan of the Time Lords you accept in your personal fan-cannon).  And, as Gaiman says in an interview where he describes scenes that were cut, this same creature leads The Doctor to situations so that he and the companions can put things to rights.  On some level, the TARDIS is somewhat more God-like than The Time Lord ever was.  How well they must have worked together in the McCoy era.

Patchwork people . . . Hints of Brain of Morbius.

But like her stolen Time Lord before her, she has become human.  The Doctor’s Wife is to The TARDIS what Human Nature was to The Doctor, only in her case, she doesn’t forget who she was, she merely has to learn to operate as a new entity.  Which leads to a sensory overload as she attempts to cope.  But cope she does and she quickly learns why The Doctor picks up his “strays”.  Humans are bigger on the inside.  They remind him of The TARDIS . . . so much potential.

This is what Neil Gaiman does when he plays in other peoples’ universes.  Like Alan Moore before him and Grant Morrison (one of my favorites) after, Gaiman takes established characters and mythologies and mines their back catalogues for interesting concepts or ideas, while staying faithful to the current incarnation of what he is writing.  He can bring a new way of looking at an old thing.  Whether the character of Matthew in Sandman or the Batman mythology in Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader, Neil Gaiman is often able to distill a mythology to its essence and write it in such a way as to be at once faithful and fresh.  Often with large amounts of fairy tale added in.

Ah, fairytale again.  Who better to write in Moffat’s pseudo-fairy tale era than Neil Gaiman.  With stories that have distinct fairy tale qualities (Stardust, Sandman: Dream Hunters), Gaiman has proven he can write quite comfortably in the genre.  In truth, he can evoke a fairy tale feel better than Steven Moffat (he understands the Rule of Three).

I found the episode quite touching, much like Time Crash, exuding a love of Doctor Who but with more substance.  The Doctor and The TARDIS have, in some way, consummated their partnership, and make no mistake, it is now a partnership.  Even some of my quibbles about why The Doctor would prolong looking for the mysterious girl from Day of the Moon is now answered, in part, because The TARDIS knows the proper time for that confrontation.  Other adventures are more immediate.

And as a final word, I have to share that my wife really enjoyed Matt Smith in this episode.  While she has enjoyed his performance off and on, this was the first time where he felt like The Doctor for the entirety of the episode for her.  And I would have to agree.

Woman with an Eye Patch, Pirates last week, Corsair this week. Doctor Who Pirate Agenda?

*A play on the word TARDIS.  Surely I’m not the only one who wondered.  It was much more fun to speculate Romana or The War Chief, but keeping with New Who building major revelations on its own mythology, the “old friend with a new face” could only be The TARDIS, unless you count The Master as a friend, or believe that Donna can now regenerate.  And would the return of Donna really be that satisfying?  After what they did to her?

Doctor Who and The Unearthly Child

A novelization by Terrance Dicks

While attempting to satisfy their curiosity about an unusual student, teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright find themselves trapped with a mysterious old man at the beginnings of the ice age.

I wrote in a previous post that my preferred Target novelizations were those that took the opportunity to flesh out characters and situations in greater detail than the episodes on which they are based or for the author of the story to give a greater indication of his or her vision of the story than was achieved on television.  Doctor Who and The Unearthly Child does not deliver this.  On the latter point, it can’t.  The original story was written by Anthony Coburn while the novelization fell to the prolific (by necessity) Terrance Dicks.  Now, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with how Dicks adapted this story.  It is perfectly by the numbers and by reading it, you get an accurate vision of what was on the screen.  So accurate that when you actually watch the episode, you see very little difference.  Dick’s adaptation was written about nineteen years after the original broadcast, so I don’t know if he was drawing from scripts or the episodes themselves.  There will be some minor deviations and differences.  I imagine it would be hard to write for The First Doctor when Dicks has written for the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth by this point.  So much development has come to the character and certain ideas of who The Doctor is have changed in the intervening years.  Despite this, Dicks reproduces the Hartnell Doctor quite well.  The characters are reminiscent of who they were on the screen as well.  Of the changes, the most-striking that I noticed was when the idea for using the skulls and fire were devised.  In the televised story, Susan began inexplicably playing with the fire and skulls, which gave Ian an idea.  In the novel, this scene is played much more naturally.  I honestly think it works better.

In my review of the televised An Unearthly Child, I played with the idea of cave-man politics not being so far removed from modern day politics.  In the novel, the political nature of the struggle between Kal and Za is much more explicit.  In fact, this struggle is juxtaposed a bit with the power struggle between The Doctor and Ian.  It isn’t masterfully written, but the idea does seem present and I think the story is better for it.  Likewise, the parallels between Ian and Barbara’s primitive nature (in comparison to The Doctor) and the prehistoric humans are quite striking.  Setting the beginning of an epic (well, long) journey in the dawn of civilization may be a bit heavy-handed, but no more so than beginning a novel range at the point of the first written-epic (see Timewyrm: Genesis).  Yet, as a way to draw parallels between the lead characters and how they could potentially relate to one another, it works great as a metaphor.  Likewise, the TARDIS crew, forced together by circumstance, must learn to work together to survive while at the same time showing Za and his tribe how to work together to survive the ice age.  In many ways you could say that The Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara are the founders of human survival and civilization due to the lessons they taught the tribe.  Those in humanity’s future helped those in humanity’s past to survive and flourish.  How very Moffat.

The more I ponder this story, the more I think about the novel, the more I am coming to like it.  So while Doctor Who and An Unearthly Child may not offer much more than the story upon which it is based, it does help one to re-evaluate the story and engage with it in a deeper and more meaningful way.  The story that Coburn (and here, Dicks) crafted really does work, despite being a bit slow and boring at times.  But metaphorically and structurally, it seems quite ambitious and does achieve some wonderful symbolism.

Excellent passages

First description of Susan:  “She had a way of observing you cautiously all the time, as if you were a member of some interesting but potentially dangerous alien species.”

“Kal saw his hopes of leadership dissolving in the laughter of the Tribe.  He grabbed The Doctor by his shoulder, lifting him almost off his fee.  ‘Make fire, old man!  Make fire come from your fingers as I saw today!'”

6.03 – The Curse of the Black Spot

Written by Steven Thompson
Directed by Jeremy Webb

The Doctor and his assistants arrive on the ship of pirate Captain Henry Avery, a ship that is being menaced by a Siren who marks her prey with a black spot.

“My ship automatically noticed-ish that your ship was having a bit of a bother.”

If my perusing of the internet is correct, it would seem that at one point the follow-up to The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon was to be Neil Gaiman’s episode.  This would have made quite a bit of sense as Gaiman’s episode is highly anticipated due primarily to the much-hyped mystery of Idris’ identity.  Thus, it makes more sense to maintain the momentum of the bold and cocky series opener with Gaiman’s story than with an episode that is rather pedestrian in comparison.  Ultimately, it just doesn’t seem fair to The Curse of the Black Spot.  Granted, it was probably going to be lost wherever it was placed in the series, but this particular placement doesn’t do it any favors.

That said, I found this episode to be a nice space to breathe after the rushing around in the previous story.  Sure, there was a lot of rushing around in this one, but the settings were fewer and the fact that much of the story took place on the pirate ship really made the episode feel as if the scope was much smaller.  Given the virtually intimate feel of this story (compared to the bombast of the previous), I’m quite interested to see how the BBC America ratings progress from here.  FLASH!  BAM! in episodes one and two.  Then we scale it back a bit for this third episode.  But don’t go away, America!  We have Neil Gaiman next week.  Perhaps that is the real reason for slotting this story here.  It might keep the American (fanboy)s watching because we are dangling the carrot of Neil Gaiman and Idris.

Sorry.  Digressing.

As I said, a nice, relaxing story after the Moffat Madness.  We return to the pseudo-historical format, which means there will be aliens menacing the pirates or, in the case of this episode, alien technology menacing the pirates.  Kudos to Steve Thompson for going with a hopeful “menace” rather than a malicious one.  This was possibly the least predictable element of the episode, but still well within the bounds of the pseudo-historical rulebook.  That said, as decent as the episode is, there are a few problems.

Don't Blink - or I might disappear completely (and never be found).

Is it just me, or did one of the pirates disappear from the armory?  Toby cut one, forcing him to stay, but we don’t see him again until the end of the episode.  Did Thompson forget about him?  Did the director and editor not catch this?  Was a scene cut?  I hate to say it but this took me out of the story for a few minutes.  Even as the ship was being buffeted by the storm, I was straining to see if there was just one more pirate in the background rather than feel excitement and anxiety over whether our characters could escape The Siren.  Sadly, there wasn’t a lurking pirate.  He was forgotten.  Maybe he was a Silent.

Second problem, dramatic-tension CPR scenes are becoming quite the cliche.  As near as I can tell, the only way to make them work properly is to make them a character moment.  The Curse of the Black Spot certainly sets this up.  Why should Amy, rather than The Doctor, resuscitate Rory?  Because Rory trusts that Amy not give up whereas The Doctor might.  However, when the time actually comes to resuscitate him, she does give up.  One of the more effective ways to treat this scenario was in the first season of LOST when our hero Jack must resuscitate Charlie, a character who’s heart had stopped.  The scene is very tense and continues way longer than expected, and this is with a character who we hadn’t seen die already in the show (unlike Rory).  Even when Kate pulls Jack away, he cannot give up, and continues to pound on Charlie’s chest.  In the end, Charlie is revived (sorry for the spoiler, but it’s hardly the most revealing spoiler for LOST).  For Jack, this was a character moment, illustrating in action that he is a man that cannot give up, he commits to actions even when they appear foolish.  In The Curse of the Black Spot, it seems rather contradictory that Rory would place his faith in Amy’s stubbornness, only to have Amy prove that faith misplaced.  I don’t believe the scene was played properly and that the tension was entirely gratuitous.

Another issue:  why was the Siren not able to save the crew of her ship?  Had she not yet been activated?  As near as I can tell, and it doesn’t seem this was explicitly stated in the episode, the crew died of an Earth virus before the Siren started gathering humans.  Thus, she didn’t have any information to work with.  Perhaps if she had started gathering humans first, she could have saved the crew.  I think this was implicit in the episode, but I’m not entirely sure.  I’m going with it, however, because it makes sense to me.

In discussing this episode with my wife, she expressed her joy to see how all the characters have settled into compelling and interesting people, how their interactions are fun and enjoyable to watch.  All the characters have done this except for The Doctor, who she finds less interesting and, quite frankly, less Doctor-ish.  And I agree with her.  While she didn’t entirely buy Matt Smith’s performance in series five, she did enjoy it.  But this series, we both feel that he seems off.  For me, it is hard to not be reminded of the Lawrence Miles assertion of Matt Smith as Jar-Jar Binks when you see The Doctor making an icky-face when he realizes he has alien “boogies” on his hand.  But I also wonder if Matt Smith has made a decision regarding how he is playing The Doctor this series due in part to the opening episode and the death of The Doctor.  The Doctor we met that was 1100 years old seemed more like The Doctor from where we left him in series five: older, more mature, and just a bit tired.  But that is not The Doctor that we have now.  The Doctor we are watching is two hundred years younger, and in order to convey that, Smith has rightly had to dial-back his performance a bit, make The Doctor a little more innocent.  And yet, I think he may have gone too far.  The Doctor seems to have regressed a bit too far, to a point prior to The Pandorica Opens, and possibly to a point prior to The Beast Below.  I think he is playing The Doctor much too innocent, quirky, and wacky.  So, is it a deficiency with Smith, with the director of this episode, or with Moffat?  Who is dictating the performance more?

But enough criticism.  I enjoyed viewing this episode.  It was a nice break from last week.  I’m just a bit sad that this episode will most-likely be forgotten in the rush and hype from the “bigger” episodes this series.  It probably won’t stand out because it is perfectly average.

Next Week: The Space Pirates . . . in Space!

Series 6.02 – Day of the Moon

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Toby Haynes

The Silence have infiltrated all nations and use post-hypnotic suggestions to manipulate humanity.  How can The Doctor and his assistants end a centuries-long occupation by a hostile alien force?

The X-Files: The Next Generation

 Rory: What kind of doctor are you?
River:  Archaeology.  Love a tomb.

It is hard to not see further influences of The X-Files on this story.  In the two part stories, The X-Files would often give a re-cap, then take us either to a completely different location with totally new characters, or jump ahead to some other incident our characters are involved in, only to catch the viewers up later.  As mentioned previously, Doctor Who has entered modern sci-fi storytelling.  And to a degree, it is what Doctor Who would be if it were created now.  It it’s own way, Moffat Who is serialized.  Old Who was also serialized, actually more-so than series six.  But that was storytelling at the time, drama told over successive parts.  Moffat Who is following that pattern, but it is doing so according to modern television.  Shows like Lost, The X-Files, and Babylon 5 are the modern form of serialized storytelling.  While there is the appearance of stand-alone stories in Moffat Who, in reality there are none.  Even in series five the stand-alone stories either had a opening segment or closing segment that connected to the series arc.  Moffat Who is more arc driven that RTD Who.  As series five is, I think, a transitional series (from RTD to Moffat

Try not to get any on you.

Who), series six will be full-blown Moffat era, Moffat in its purest form, if you will.  Thus, I think we will see episodes more closely connected to the arc.  If this theory is correct, we shall see it in the next episode.  All that said, I can see why people wouldn’t like it.  Pseudo-serialization aside, this is a far cry from the feel, look, and tone of the classic series.  Even the storytelling is quite different.  And I think the demographic for the show is not the family viewing that many would say it is.  Sure, there is no sex and the language is mild, but the show is darker, scarier, more complex (both narratively and conceptually).  I think the demographic is more firmly rooted in adolescents, established fans, and possibly people who like “cool, dark stuff.”  This is Doctor Who that can take root in American television.  This is Doctor Who that can appeal to the modern science fiction television viewer, but not necessarily to the person who watched old Who.  But I also think I would be unwise to judge the rest of the series based on these two episodes.  I look forward to seeing what the next few bring, and who knows, we may get some great stories that are less Moffat-y and more traditional.

The Eleventh Doctor is not an authority figure.  Evidence is two-fold.  First, he needed Nixon to travel with him to command people.  Second, Amy specifically says The Doctor is her friend, her best friend.  This is rather interesting as I’m not sure how many previous companions would describe their relationship with The Doctor as friendship.  Sarah-Jane Smith, perhaps.  Maybe Jamie McCrimmon.  But overall, The Doctor has maintained a certain distance.  As I mentioned in the previous review, Moffat Who is “The Doctor mucking about in time and space with his friends.”  This bears out here.  Sometimes he is a bit manipulative as well.  But it is all about friendship now.  I can see some objection to this, but in reality, I’m not sure it is a horrible thing.  I believe that The Doctor is going through a bit of an existential crisis, albeit an unconscious one.  Without the identity of being a Time Lord, a designation that is largely meaningless in a universe without Time Lords, The Doctor can now choose what it means to be a Time Lord.  He last did this in The Waters of Mars, and the universe (well, Adelaide) slapped him down for it.  He cannot resurrect Time Lord society in and of himself.  Thus, being the last of the Time Lords is merely a designation but not any type of identifier.  He can either go around being moody and sulky (which the Tenth Doctor was not above doing) or he can redefine himself.  He has no people to react against, no one to run from.  He can choose to be who he wants to be, providing that his choice is to not be a Time Lord.  Thus, The Doctor is no longer the man he once was.  Unless The Time Lords return, he can’t be.  With this in mind, it is fairly significant that we end the episode with a scene where a little girl regenerates.  This girl is possibly the daughter of Amy Pond, perhaps from a timeline that could be but as of yet is not.  Are The Time Lords returning?  And if so, will the be the original Time Lords or a rebuilt race.  Perhaps The Doctor is, to quote Obi-Wan Kenobi from Timothy Zahn’s Heir To The Empire, “The last of the old, the first of the new.”

The dynamic of the companions are interesting in this episode.  Yes, we have the reaffirmation of Amy and Rory’s love and I hope we have no more of the love-triangle issue, especially now that we have strong confirmation that River is not just teasing The Doctor.  There is no room for the triangle with a romance on the horizon.  In the earliest incarnation of the show, the companions had to fulfill the following roles:  they needed to ask questions, they needed to be rescued from danger, and one needed to be a fighter.  The first two were usually done by the female characters, while the male companion would be

"I've got your back, sweetie."

the fighter.  Day of the Moon gives us that dynamic.  Amy needs to be rescued.  Rory and Canton asked the questions, and River Song played the alpha-male fighter.  I enjoyed this dynamic and while I know we won’t see River in every episode this year, I enjoy a character that can fight, when needs demand, and not be lectured about it.  The Doctor always wants to find a way other than violence, but let’s face it, so many of the stories end in violence, even in the classic series.  Sometimes it’s like the Billy Jack films, which often preach non-violence and tolerance, but in the end, Billy Jack isn’t a half-breed Native American, ex-green beret martial artist just to make him an interesting character.

River Song’s story will most-likely end this series.  Too much attention was drawn to Silence in the Library last episode.  Too much attention was given to the emotions River has toward The Doctor and how from this point on (from her perspective) they no longer have a relationship.  From The Doctor’s perspective, however, it is beginning.  Narratively, I think her story is close to its end.  This story was possibly the most I’ve enjoyed her character.  She was finally given some emotional substance rather than being a temporal gimmick.

I guess they did technically fall.

While I loved how The Doctor defeated The Silence, I don’t think they are gone.  We still don’t quite know how The TARDIS was hijacked.  We know that it is connected, in some way, to The Silence, but we don’t for sure know if The Silence were involved.  The only clue we have is the voice that said “Silence will fall.”  Perhaps The Silence were like many occupying forces, they were, by their sheer power, holding another force back.  Perhaps something or some one wanted The Silence to fall, wanted The Doctor to defeat them, so this other force could move in.  Pure speculation, I know.  We also don’t know why The Silence wanted the girl.  This really is like The X-Files, lots of questions.  Unlike The X-Files, however, I think Steven Moffat has an ending in mind.  Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying the ending will be satisfying.  I hope it will be, but I’ve been burned by other shows that appeared brilliant, but dropped the ball in the end.  I’ll wait and see for Moffat’s era.  On further reflection, however, I think my major hope for the return of The Silence is due to how they were not fully fleshed out.  I mean, we had an entire series (five) building up the threat of The Silence, and they are defeated in two episodes by a post-hypnotic suggestion delivered via television broadcast.  We still don’t know what their motivation was, why they were manipulating humanity, where they came from, and how they related to the exploding TARDIS.  I have some speculations on this, but they are merely speculation based on the barest clues given in this episode (and I think calling them clues is being rather generous).  I want The Silence to return so they feel adequately threatening.  And again, I think they will return.  The build-up in series five is screaming that this story is not over and this is a feint on the part of Moffat.  Why do the fish-people from Vampires in Venice mention escaping The Silence.  Shouldn’t they have forgotten The Silence when they turned away?  Did they develop their own ways of remembering or do The Silence only affect humans, making them less than parasitic and more symbiotic?  When the TARDIS is hijacked, we are told “Silence will fall.”  Who said this?  If The Silence hijacked the TARDIS, why would they predict their own demise?  Or are they being clever about their own name?  Perhaps their marketing division came up with a war chant that is broadcast when they invade.  “You are being invaded by The Silence.  Please remain calm.  Silence will fall.”  No, we will see them again.

In all, though, I’m quite excited.  The final shot of the regenerating girl makes me very excited.  I’ll admit that while I enjoyed The Deadly Assassin from oh, so long ago, I didn’t like the definition it gave to The Time Lords.  I liked when The Time Lords were mysterious forces that we never saw, something that The Doctor was cautious about.  Robert Holmes did a great job of building their society, but it took away the mystery.  RTD gave the mystery back by killing them and writing about them cryptically.  Steven Moffat may be rebuilding them.  Then again, rebuilding The Time Lords might be too big a plot development.  Again, The Doctor rather needs them to be his old self again, as he doesn’t have anyone to react against, but I think the show does well by not having the convoluted, and occasionally dull, Time Lord continuity.  I would love to be able to speculate more on what Moffat is doing here, but I really don’t have enough to work with.  I’m just glad that the mystery of The Doctor’s death at the beginning of the series is still an unknown.  It seemed too much to deal with that, The Silence, the mysterious girl, and introducing the show to old fans and new.  Once more, series five was the transition, and we are now moving forward into Moffat’s era.  It should be an interesting journey.