“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 Cosmos. And 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 Doctor
Brilliant. Fantastic. Explosive. In short OMG!!!
What else can be said about the penultimate episode of series 5 of Doctor Who? Well plenty, and as I pretty much said last week, the shit has most definitely hit the fan! There was action and discoveries and some very emotional moments topped by an amazing cliffhanger. But there were also some humorous and romantic bits as well.
Written by Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat, The Pandorica Opens marks the return of the Moff as writer since the Weeping Angels two-parter, The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone. And what a return it is as Moffat ups the ante for the Doctor and his friends, and at the same time starts to tie up all the threads that were strewn about during series 5.
The episode also sees the return of some important faces we've seen throughout this series. Starting with Vincent Van Gogh (Tony Curran), who is in the throws of his deepest depression (something we haven't quite seen in Vincent and The Doctor), which also turns out – as we find out - to be some sort of premonition, as he paints an exploding Tardis.
Then we are brought back into the Cabinet War rooms with Bracewell (Bill Paterson) examining the Van Gogh painting and letting Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice) know it's a warning for the Doctor. But instead of reaching the Doctor, Churchill happens to reach Doctor River Song, future professor and archaeologist, who's locked away in the Stormcage containment facility in 5145.
“Hello you. Have we met?” Ahhhhh, a man and his box. Maybem we should leave them alone?
The hallucinatory lipstick makes its return and River makes her escape, bumps into Liz Ten (Sophie Okonedo) while robbing said Van Gogh painting, sends a message to the Doctor by writing “Hello Sweetie” on the oldest cliff face of the universe, and then when this one shows up to the time and place she set him upon in 102 AD Britain, she pretends to be Cleopatra to his Caesar. Anybody else thinking Hello Sweetie and River Song are really getting cool?
The reunited trio find the famed Pandorica, and it's definitely not a fairytale. It's a huge box underneath Stonehenge – which was an absolutely gorgeous setting by the way and, where better then Stonehenge for the Doctor to meet his greatest peril yet? - and the Doctor is determined to figure out what's inside. But we all know what's really coming right? Because when it actually does open toward the very end of the episode, the Pandorica is *gulp* empty.
Chillingly, it turns out to be a trap for the Doctor and his friends because that legendary feared being? It's the Doctor. It was all a plan hatched by an alliance formed by the Doctor's most feared enemies. Because to them, he is the boogie man, the Big Bad, the worse thing in the whole wide Universe. And they have discovered that the Doctor's Tardis is responsible for the upcoming destruction of the Universe and all it's realities.
Steven Moffat definitely throws all the big guns for his first series finale. He's not happy with the return of one monster like the Daleks or the Master, or the Time Lords. No, no, no. It needs to be bigger, so he brings in many of the Doctor's oldest, and newest, enemies together for the first time ever into one big episode: Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Sycorax, Zygons (even if just in mention – so cool!), Judoons, Silurians, the Nestene Consciousness and the Autons, just to name a few. They all have taken upon themselves to save the universe from the Doctor and have formed an unlikely alliance. This move could have turned into a complete fiasco in less capable hands, and could have been corny or silly; but it turns out to work out splendidly because of the nature of the storyline itself and because Steven Moffat is such in control of it. The man knows what he's doing people (or at least, he appears to)!
But how was it done? How did the Doctor's enemies manage that feat? The answers are scattered inside Amy's House: Something - if not the aliens assembled before us - used Amy's memories to create a perfect trap for the Doctor. The Pandorica? Brought to life from a book she had about Pandora's Box, her favourite story as a child. The Romans at Stonehenge? Also based on a book she keeps in her bedroom – it was her favourite topic at school. River makes the discovery when she's brought by the Tardis itself to Amy's house on that fateful 26 06 2010 date.
But not only do we have an alliance of Doctor enemies, there's also the case of that strange voice inside the Tardis itself that we hear announcing that “Silence will Fall.” What is it? Who can it possibly be? Is it related in some way to Magpie Electricals? River told the Doctor that someone else was flying the Tardis, that it was an external force in control of it. Will it be revealed in the last episode? Is this the Big Bad we have yet to see? Is there even a big bad this season? The Doctor is the Big Bad to his enemies but who is truly the Doctor's Big Bad? So many questions still.
The episode also marks the return of Rory, Amy's fiancee, but there's a catch; Rory Williams really died, and the Rory that's standing there is nothing but an Auton – who were last seen in 2005's series premiere episode Rose - with perfect memories of Rory. But this Auton-Rory really believes he IS Rory Williams, even though he ultimately finds out he's not. He's been created by the aliens from Amy's memories. Well, if it's the only way for us to get Rory back, I'm going to take Auton-Rory with open arms. But one nit pick I have is if Rory was erased from existence, how come there's still a picture of him with Amy in her house?
Now, Steven Moffat is not a man to shy away from big shockers, and after dispatching a companion earlier in the series, Moffat does it again by having Auton-Rory actually murder Amy – even if poor Rory evidently didn't want to do it – at the saddest and most tragic moment possible, when Amy was finally regaining all her memories of him. But I must not be the only one thinking and believing that all these deaths may ultimately be undone. After all, as the Doctor said, history can be re-written and “nothing is ever forgotten, not completely. And, if something can be remembered, it can come back.” Let's keep our fingers crossed then.
So the episode ends on one of the biggest Doctor Who cliffhangers of all time: Amy's apparently dead, the Doctor is being locked inside the Pandorica (fear not, we all know he will get out, the real question is how? Perhaps the vortex manipulator that enables time-travel that River acquired earlier in the episode and is probably now hidden on his wrist? Or will River use it to get herself and the Doctor out?) by his countless enemies and River Song is caught in the exploding Tardis.
Ppphhheeewwwww! What a wild ride!
The Doctor's many enemies are about to achieve something together that they could not by themselves. Is this the end?
We can clearly see that all the money saving episodes such as Amy's Choice, Vincent and the Doctor and The Lodger went into the finale; well at least, it's first part. There were a lot of great FX by The Mill, with the many and very cool alien spaceships. Plus we got our own version of the Star Wars Cantina type set again, which was VERY reminiscent of the space bar seen in The End of Time. From Star Trek to Star Wars references littered around this entire series, Steven Moffat is my kind of guy.
The acting was great again, nothing new on the horizon to add to what I've said quite a few times. Matt Smith shines as always and I loved the speech he gave on Stonehenge to the massing alien ships in the sky. Great stuff. Karen Gillan was OK and I didn't mind her this episode, but I do hope she gets better at acting. Arthur Darvill, what can I say, I love thee. My letter to Stephen Moffat to make you a series regular next season is in the mail. I said it before and I say it again, Amy is at her best with Rory.
Alex Kingston was in splendid form in this episode. I still think that her character, River Song, is the Doctor's wife, contrarily to some who believe that she's the future Doctor. Too many things make no sense for that to be really true. And if anyone is basing themselves on the statement that only the Doctor can pilot the Tardis, remember that the Doctor's companions all piloted the Tardis in Journey's End. Plus, who better than the Doctor's wife to take out her hubby's Tardis? That and the fact she said “I'm sorry my love,” when the Tardis started to explode. I don't believe she was addressing the Tardis at the time. Maybe we'll find out next week - or not.
The Earth and an exploding Universe. Yep, in the words of the Doctor, things are very not good indeed.
There it is. A splendid episode, and I really hope that the final part will be as good as this one. The previous series, with Russell T. Davies, have had a tendency to have their finales be inferior to the episode that preceded them. Let's hope Moffat won't let us down!
Next Week: The Big Bang! No trailer. Biiiiiiig Mystery. How will the Doctor and his companions get out of that situation? Put me in a coma for the next 6 days.
My Rating for the episode: A big whopping 9.8/10
The vortex manipulator that River Song acquires earlier in the episode at the Maldovarium is an item used by Time Agents. Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman - Doctor Who, Torchwood) and Captain John Hart (James Masters - Torchwood) both have been sporting it. The Time Agency was created in the 51st century and was shut down in the 52nd. The blue alien mentioned the item was “fresh off the wrist of a handsome time agent.” Does it come from any one of them, or from an entirely unknown time agent? It WILL most definitely play a role in saving everyone in The Big Bang.
I really felt like I was watching an Indiana Jones movie when The Doctor, River and Amy entered the Un-hedge and discovered the Pandorica. The effect was nicely supported by Murray Gold's very John Williams-like score.
The Doctor gets electrocuted – again.
How cool was the Cyberman's decapitated head? It was moving around with it's electrical tendrils and I felt like I was watching a scene taken right out of John Carpenter's The Thing. I have to say that cyberman was really frightening and effective, more so than all the times I've previously seen them in new Who.
River Song in that story is from from an earlier time frame than the River Song from The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone.
Some Favourite Quotes:
Amy: My favourite topic at school: “Invasion of the Hot Italians.”
River Song: Hello sweetie
Amy: River! Hi.
The Doctor: You graffitied the oldest cliff face in the universe.
River: You wouldn't answer your phone.
The Doctor: 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 Cosmos. And 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.
River: I hate good wizards in fairy tales. They always turn up to be him.
The Doctor (to the Pandorica): Hello you. Have we met?
The Doctor: Dalek fleet, a minimum of 12 000 battle ships armed to the teeth. Aaaahhh but we've got surprise on our side, they'll never expect 3 people to attack 12 000 Dalek battleships cause we'd be killed instantly, so it would be a very short surprise. Forget surprise.
River: Doctor listen to me, everything that ever hated you is coming here tonight. You can't win this, you can't even fight it. Doctor, this once, just this one time, please, you have to run.
The Doctor: There are fruit flies living on Hopotum (spelling) 6, they live for twenty minutes and they don't even mate for life . . . there was gonna be a point to that, I,ll get back to you.
The Doctor: Nothing is ever forgotten, not completely. And, if something can be remembered, it can come back.
The Doctor: Does it ever bother you Amy that your life doesn't make any sense?
The Doctor: Never underestimate a Celt.
The Doctor: Ohhh! Missing something obvious Rory, something big, something right slappy in front of me I can feel it!
Rory: Yeah, I think you probably are.
The Doctor: I'll get it in a minute.
The Doctor: Rory, I'm not trying to be rude but you died.
Rory: Well, I died and turned into a Roman. It's very distracting.
River: Oh Doctor, why do I let you out?
River: I'm sorry my love.