Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Review of Doctor Who's 5x13: "The Big Bang"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Toby Haynes

Amy: “Okay, Doctor, did I surprise you this time?”
The Doctor: “Yeah completely astonished. Never expected that.”

And as surprises go, this is one finale that’s big on satisfaction all the way. Maybe I’m looking at this with rose tinted glasses as I tend to with every finale but this one was really something else. Different as well in a number of ways too.

Last week looked completely doomy – the Doctor trapped in the Pandorica chamber, Amy dead, Rory the Auton and River trapped inside an exploding TARDIS. There was no way that any of the resolutions given to any of these predicaments will satisfy all viewers but I’m one viewer who was rather happy with matters nonetheless.

First off all, I’m glad that River’s vortex manipulator came in actual use. The Doctor can moan all his wants about how it’s a dirty way of travelling (one day, I want a proper explanation for that and not the one we got in “Utopia”) but it’s also the very thing that saved his backside on a few occasions in this entire episode.

The first time involved a lot of timey wimey stuff that Steven Moffat clearly has adoration for using really frequently. He came to Rory long enough in order to get him to open the Pandorica to release and for that, he needed to needle Rory about Amy’s relevance. I’m glad the Doctor was joking about Amy not being important because even I was tempted to punch him during that scene and I knew what he was doing with Rory.

By doing this, Rory actually got back down to the Underhenge in order to release the Doctor from the Pandorica and it also meant that putting Amy into it would be beneficial. Sure, maybe they could’ve done the same type of spell the Master had done to him last year but using the light from the Pandorica to restore Amy was the better approach.

I knew that as soon as the Doctor told Rory that it would take over 1000 years for Amy to be released that he would want to guard the box. Rory’s dedication to Amy all season has been his most endearing trait and it went into overdrive here. I loved that he went through countless eras and multiple disasters in order to keep her safe. Amy Pond really is a very lucky girl.

And there was the return of her younger version, Amelia. The amount of praise Caitlin Blackwood generated in “The Eleventh Hour” impressed me, even though she’s a brilliant child actor and having her back here was wonderful. An Amelia who didn’t meet the Doctor certainly added a complex layer to this episode.

However Amelia had still believed in the stars no matter what her shrink of Aunt Sharon actually tried to tell her and visiting the National Museum made for the best opportunity for Amelia to go and meet her older self. At some point, this was a TV trope that had to be done and here was the best place to do it.

Both Karen Gillan and Caitlin Blackwood played off each other wonderfully and it was nice to see Amy and Amelia converse and get involved in the action, especially when Rory and the Doctor also arrived in time with a Dalek awakening from its sleep in the museum. With every other monster gone, I guess we needed a threat other than exploding TARDIS removing everything from existences, including the stars.

The scenes with the stone Dalek in this episode were interesting. Sure, it’s not as shocking to see the Doctor hit by a Dalek here when minutes before it, everyone was tending to the injured future Doctor and the Dalek’s analysis of the companions only made an impact when it realised to it’s horror that River Song doesn’t believe in mercy.

The choice of having the Dalek’s extermination off-screen worked in this episode’s favour because never has there been a finale to feature the Daleks where they’re not the main threat. They’re actually on the bottom piles when it came to the amount of lingering threats and plot strands for this episode to sort out.

River’s was another one to figure but it’s done in an easier fashion. Being caught in a time loop with the TARDIS saved her life and it’s done better here than it was done in “The Lodger” but Alex Kingston does have slightly less screen time in this episode than she did in the previous one.

Once all those bits were done with, the biggest problem was saving the day. In an unusual way, it’s actually rather straightforward – pilot the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS and create a second big bang in order to have everything else exist. The downside would also mean wiping the Doctor from existence as he closed the cracks.

Matt Smith and Karen Gillan have had plenty of scenes throughout the season to hone their rapport and show the depth behind the Doctor and Amy’s relationship. The scenes where he’s telling the older Amy to remember her parents while tucking Amelia into bed and planting memories of him are damn well clever.

I loved the moments where the Doctor was going back during his moments with Amy throughout the year as the cracks were closed. It was nice to have official confirmation of the two Doctors moment from “Flesh And Stone” but the scenes with Amelia had me nearly welling up, especially when he was talking about how he got the TARDIS and the visible sadness of her forgetting him.

All season long a common complaint with Amy had been the lack of a life she had and with this episode, she suddenly had parents and her wedding with Rory actually happened but it didn’t stop her from realising that something was amiss. The scene where she’s practically willing the Doctor into existence could’ve been terrible but actually it worked out brilliantly. Amy Pond really did get to have her boys and her spaceship but let’s not forget that River was also instrumental in Amy remembering the Doctor.

As for River Song, it finally looks like we’re going to know who exactly she is and sooner than even I expected. At this point, if she is his wife, then it’s been built up to an extent but if she’s not, then that’s fine too. Either way, I’ll be looking forward to seeing her in the next season along with Amy and Rory.

And that’s the other thing – Amy and Rory are staying. I knew it was a definite with Amy but I had my doubts that Rory would stay and I’m so glad that I’m wrong. It’s actually nice that we got a finale for once where none of the main cast has actually left. It’ll be interesting to see how many Steven Moffat can achieve that during his tenure. Even his predecessor wasn’t able to really pull that so it’s nice to see that Steven has.

Lastly, the Pandorica/cracks in time plots may have been resolved but the silence element most definitely wasn’t. The mystery voice in the TARDIS from last week didn’t show up in this episode and the Confidential mentioned that the silence bit is the main theme for Season Six along with River’s identity. Now that’s one way of keeping me interested for next season and then there’s the assumed hook for Christmas with an Egyptian Goddess on the Orient Express as well – can it be December now?

Also in “The Big Bang”

The episode did literally start at the beginning with the events of “The Eleventh Hour” playing out differently for Amelia.

Amy (to Amelia): “Okay, kid, this is where it gets complicated.”

Amy’s Aunt Sharon was briefly seen in this episode and her parents are called Tabetha and Augustus.

The Doctor: “Your girlfriend isn’t more important than the universe.”
Rory (punches him): “She is to me!”
The Doctor: “Welcome back, Rory Williams.”

Amelia: “Who are you?”
Amy: “It’s a long story. Oh, a very long story.”

It’s kind of a shame that we didn’t get a small scene where all the monsters left the Underhenge but I guess with time, it wasn’t really needed.

Amy (re other Doctor): “Is he dead?”
The Doctor: “What? Dead? Yes, yes. Of course he’s dead. Right, I’ve got 12 minutes, that's good.”

The Doctor (to Amy): “Today, just dying is a result, now come on!”

The museum not only had a stone Dalek and the Pandorica box but it also had Nile Penguins, Australian Polar Bears and Himalayan Pharaohs to boot.

Amy: “I’m sorry, I can’t hear anything.”
Rory: “Trust the plastic.”

Dalek: “Records indicate you will show mercy. You are an associate of the Doctor's”
River: “I'm River Song, check your records again.”

We got a fair amount of costume changes in this finale between the Doctor, Amy, Rory and River. Shame that Amy and River teamed up to dispatch of the Doctor’s fez, though I loved him in the black suit for the wedding.

The Doctor: “Amy Pond, all alone. The girl who didn’t make sense, how could I resist?”
Amy: “How can I just forget?”
The Doctor: "Nothing is ever forgotten, not really but you have to try."

The Doctor (to Amelia): “It's funny. I thought if you could hear me, I could hang on somehow. Silly me, silly old Doctor. When you wake up, you'll have a mum and a dad and you won't even remember me.”

This episode was around 55 minutes long, shorter than “Journey’s End” but the same length as “Last Of The Time Lords”.

The Doctor (to Amelia): “In your dreams, they’ll still be there. The Doctor and Amy Pond and the days that never came.”

Rory: “Amy, what is it?”
Amy (re Doctor/TARDIS): “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

River: “Did you dance? Well, you always dance at weddings, don't you?”
The Doctor: “You tell me.”
River: “Spoilers.”

We didn’t get the title of the Christmas special at the end of this episode but I loved the Confidential showing the US promotional circuit that Matt, Karen, Steven, Piers and Beth did for Season Five.

The Doctor: “River, who are you?”
River: “You're going to find out very soon now and I’m sorry, but that’s when everything changes.”

The Doctor: "Sorry, something's come up. This will have to be goodbye."
Amy: "Yeah, I think it's goodbye. Do you think it's goodbye?"
Rory: "Definitely goodbye."

Chronology: 102 AD, 1996 and June 26th 2010, which is the very day that this episode aired on BBC1. And we got another BBC game this week - "Blood Of The Cybermen".

Well, “The Big Bang” certainly had a lot to brag about, didn’t it? Plotlines mostly resolved, the hint of others coming into fruition next season, Amy’s life finally making sense, no major cast departures but with the Doctor showing up on The Sarah Jane Adventures before Christmas, will Amy and Rory also be destined for a trip to Bannerman Road as well?

Rating: 10 out of 10.

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