Timey wimey! It’s the new indicator that time is magic and whatever the Doctor says about time you should just accept it. Saturday’s season finale, watched by over six million chaps in the UK at the regulation time and at least one (hello there) on iPlayer, featured some pretty flimsy logic and some pretty excellent doctory moments, and kind of a damp squib of an ending for River Song’s storyline.
Ye spoilers be ahead! The cold open is a lot of fun and promises big things from the episode – Winston Churchill is emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and just got back from ‘dancing’ with Cleopatra (ew, Churchill!), to a London with a steam train coming out of the Gherkin, Roman chariots at the traffic lights and pterodactyls in Hyde Park. It’s alternate universe time! And one of a number of throwbacks to last season’s finale – including near-inescapable death for the Doctor, whispered secrets, people remembering the Doctor back into reality, Rory is a soldier and there’s a wedding.
So Churchill – is it just me or did it get kinda English in here? You’d never know a Scot wrote the thing. Or maybe that’s the only way you’d get the gentle self-mockery – has a soothsayer who says he knows why time has stopped and all of time is happening at once; moreover, time is dying. What. No, no it isn’t. People are going from A to B and remembering previous conversations so causality is still running around doing starjumps. Timey wimey. Okay fine.
We then get a montage of the Doctor being pleasingly badass – dismembering a Dalek (remember when they were scary?) then finding the Teselecta, which is posing as an agent of the Silence and will by no means play any further part in this episode. Brief shoutout for making the Doctor be believably badass then have him reading a magazine called Knitting for Girls. Dorium’s head is still alive in a box because timey wimey and he gets some great lines about having wifi and then is more like the Head of the Exposition Department and sets up not only the rest of the episode but also the next season. Phew.
This scene is also arguably the most moving part of the episode, when the Doctor decides to stuff all this ‘fixed point in time’ business and go have adventures with all his friends. He then calls up a point in time where his friend the Brigadier has died. The look of acceptance Matt Smith gives is something he’s been practising all year – ‘it’s time’. He gets out the nice stationery and prepares to write cryptic notes inviting his buddies to a good old-fashioned murder party in Utah. The Teselecta delivers them then continues to play no further part in the episode.
River Song. She’s not the River we had last year, all mystery and evasion and jumping off buildings. Here she’s a helpless victim in a killer spacesuit, and well behind on the info stakes. She’s also ready now to risk the existence of the universe just so she doesn’t have to kill the Doctor. She then musters the strength to resist the suit and makes time wet the bed.
The second half of the episode is all about alternate universe versions of the main cast in the “Area 52″ pyramid full of Silence. Amy and Rory are pretty well rocking their Ultimate Universe looks, and everyone wears the little eyepatch, which turns out to be a kind of bionic USB drive? The point is that they just go ahead with their dialogue while wearing these things as if naught was amiss and, in an episode about the Universe Dying, that was the most jarring thing.
Anyway the Silence escape and turn the Silence technology against the humans, and Amy straight up murders Madam Kovarian, who seems like she missed the boat on being this season’s Big Bad. She goes down like a chump. So I guess Amy has been thinking about her missing baby problem, she just got over it remarkably swiftly? We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that. The show peaks with a very literally timey wimey distress beacon sent with the express intention of showing the Doctor that the universe loves him, and the way to save it is for he and River to get married.
The way it plays out is a bit… dissonant with River’s character, who gets slightly glassy-eyed about the whole affair and has some exceptionally dodgy lines, like “You are loved so much by so many and so much, and by no-one more than me.” Noticeable that the Doctor at no point says he loves her, or even seems terribly excited about it. Oof.
Anyway, turns out he was the Teselecta in disguise and everything’s fine. Amy and River have wine in Rory and Amy’s totally lush garden, where she spills the beans about the whole plan, and how she is in prison, ostensibly for the sole reason that the Doctor can lay low for a couple centuries. She gets to hang out with the Doctor at night though, so that makes up for it? Hard to feel good for River, not gonna lie.
Then Bluehead sets up next season – The Fields of Trenzalore, the fall of the eleventh, god there’s a lot of falling this year – and the question that should not be asked, Doctor…WHO??? Which is very clever in fairness, and will in all likelihood be the thing tiding us over til September 2012.
So as for this season? Fewer standout moments than last year, the Doctor’s development as a character has come at a cost to River Song’s, Amy and Rory also taking a bit of a back seat but seeming pretty capable of carrying future storylines. But it looks like we’re going to be investigating the Doctor’s origins this time next year, and once the slight Doctor fatigue wears off, I’m going to be bloody itching for it.
What was your standout moment from this year? Let us know in the comments.