“My naughty friend here is going to kill the first three of you to attack, plus him behind, so you maybe you want to draw lots or have a quiz.”
Broadcast Date: 30th April 2011
The second episode in this latest series jumps three months ahead, instantly pulling me into the adventure with explosive Murray Gold music paired with budget blowing establishing shots in the Valley Of The Gods. It’s a fantastic opening but it the flashbacks detailing the ‘escape’ from episode ones cliffhanger makes the ending even more of a disappointment. But because we’ve jumped so significantly in time, it looses me into trying to work out what’s been going on since last time, which is a great thing.
The fact we have to watch the same events with all three companions is a little tedious but the location work is so good I barely notice as River Song makes another leap of faith from a skyline. The Doctor being locked in the ‘perfect prison’ smells of ‘The Pandorica Opens’, Moffat reusing his ideas again, the gap between reusing getting smaller each time. I’ve fallen in love with the scene inside the perfect prison and the effects work on the door, it’s only taken five minutes but the episode has proven fantastic already. The Doctor catching River creates more continuity work but proves River’s point about the Doctor always being there to catch her (from ‘The Time Of Angels’).
|In the TARDIS|
Cue opening titles and Moffat’s jumping all over the place with his timeline, creating more and more confusion. I hate this on first watch, but it makes brilliant rewatch material in order to work everything out. The initial TARDIS scene is full of more attempts to make ‘trailer lines’, emphasising speeches that aren’t always necessary such as “We’re not fighting an alien invasion, we’re leading a revolution”.
Plot points leap at the screen, far too many to mention here otherwise I’d never be finished, but one thing that isn’t picked up on is how the characters found the photo of the Silence on Amy’s mobile phone. We’re back at the children’s home now, with a creepy location and some nice direction, the post-hypnotic theme is picking up now, the line about closing in 1969 is chilling and brilliantly acted. Then we reach Amy trapped in a room with a mass of Silent’s/Silence on the roof, creating one of my favourite shots from this episode.
Focusing on the Doctor, I’m not too keen on the zoom out shot showing Apollo 11, it looks a bit tacky and feels out of place due to how its shown, but the Doctor gets some more classic Eleventh Doctor foolishness. Nixon shows up and feels really poorly written, I’ve got a huge problem with how Nixon’s portrayed in this episode, especially in contrast to the last. It feels like he’s written to be Rory, but he gets some good lines here with the Doctor. Stuart Milligan’s spitting of the letter P mixed with poor characterisation and stereotypical Presidential music irritates me though, feeling wrong in more ways than one.
|"You should kill us all on sight", The Silence|
Amy’s stalker in the form of what’s being labelled in fan circles as ‘The Eye-Patch Woman’ is weird and mind numbing, as are the photographs of the child contained in the room she enters. All creating more and more questions for the audience, Moffat loves doing this but I hate not knowing! The Girl/Astronaut returns with some Silents now, as another approaches Canton! It feels a bit odd that bullets aided by fast paced music can beat them. Murray Gold’s setting his best work up here, as our characters are all finally together again, barring Amy who’s succeeded in getting herself taken.
Finally the way has been paved for a beautiful, emotional scene with Rory as Arthur Darvill shines with whatever material he’s given. He can somehow act quite funny and incredibly emotional at the same time, making me think he’d actually be a good choice for role of the Doctor himself.
Speaking of the Doctor, he has his own trouble in the way of flashbacks from previous episodes, finally learning who he’s up against and the level of threat is instantly raised for the Doctor. First Amy is taken and now the Silence have revealed themselves!
More and more questions are being raised from Moffat and the Doctor as he ponders over the TARDIS-blue envelope. Sadly Rory’s returned to moping over Amy and thinking she loves the Doctor more than her own husband, a story that was done last year and has turned boring by now. I’m surprised it’s taken Doctor Who so long to do a story about the moon landing, but the ideas turned up in this scene over the Silence forwarding human technology in order to get there is fantastic. We get a lot more plot strands but no answers quickly here, with Canton recording the captured Silent speaking.
|Matt Smith's finest hour|
In the Silent’s base, Amy awakes to see her captives, paving the way to one of my all time favourite Matt Smith scenes. The Doctor, teamed with River and Rory invade the lair, giving out an absolutely breathtaking monologue from Smith, some fantastic flirting between the Doctor and River (such a good moment!) and some poor, overlong moments between Rory and Amy. The set up of seeing various civilians watching the moon landing is boring now, it’s been done numerous times in the Russell T Davies era and just feels like a cheap, easy way of showing events on a ‘global’ scale. That aside, this is about five minutes of absolute fun, a joy to watch.
I’ve seen a lot of criticism over the Silence being defeated too easily in comparison to how long it’s taken to set them up (leading back to 2010’s ‘The Eleventh Hour’) but personally, I think their ‘execution’ is brilliantly handled and very cleverly written, taking into account the whole post-hypnotic theme developed here. I was also shocked (and surprisingly happy) about a gunfight in the show between River and the Silence. Maybe, like the Doctor, the audience shouldn’t like it but kind of do a bit.
As Rory and Amy rekindle their love, there’s a lovely scene with the Doctor escorting River back to her Stormcage cell. The relationship has finally begun for the Doctor, as it nears its end for River. Steven Moffat has come up with a fantastic idea with this relationship and how it works, as it gets more fun for the Doctor and the audience, it gets worse and worse for River.
|Who is she?|
This will obviously lead into episode seven of this series, ‘A Good Man Goes To War’, as will the next two plot devices we get here; Amy being pregnant and a mysterious little girl who appears to be Time Lord in appearance. Personally I’m not too involved with the whole ‘Amy’s Pregnant’ storyline but the little girl is, at the very least, intriguing. But, for now, there are a few weeks stepping back from this ‘main plot’ for an adventure aboard a pirate ship and a trip outside the universe. Be back here soon for ‘The Curse Of The Black Spot’.