Monday, June 28, 2010

Doctor Who 5.13 The Big Bang Review

"Okay kid, this is where it gets complicated." - Amy

Okay! Hum, Wow. First things first, that Series 5 finale was rather surprising and not at all what I expected it to be. In fact, it could not have been more different in tone to the episode that preceded it.

That's definitely what I'd like to look like after 1 894 years in a box. Yep.

With The Big Bang, Steven Moffat has pulled off one of the most incredibly complex plotted series finale of Doctor Who yet, and it sometimes felt like my head would explode - along with the Universe - with the complexities of it all; so much so that at one point in the episode, Rory spells out what most of us must was thinking while watching the many time travel intricacies of the story, and listening to the Doctor's explanation as to how he will manage to save the universe: "No, no, too fast, I'm not getting it."

The Doctor with a mop and a fez hat: the universe is saved!

But still, we truly get the sense here that Moffat has carefully planned his ending well in advance of the season, and something tells me that he actually went even further than that, but more on that subject a bit later.

Weren't you outside just a minute ago?

Is it me or do Rory and the Doctor often compare . . . stuff.

Now, when the previous episode ended Amy was dead, killed by Auton Rory, or if you want to be politically correct "Nestene duplicate" Rory; River Song was stuck in an exploding Tardis; and the Doctor was locked inside the Pandorica, surrounded by his many enemies.

The Doctor imparting a very important psychic message to Amy.

The lone centurion, standing guard over his love.

I wont go into the narrative details because The Big Bang is a long and complex story (almost an hour of time hopping and time rewinding adventure) where quite a few many things happen. But suffice it to say that it doesn't take long for the cliffhanger to be resolved, and for the story to hurtle along in true roller-coaster ride fashion.

That's not the sun, that's the Tardis exploding!

If I were River, I would think the exact same thing.

Though it features great special effects, it's the story that takes center stage in The Big Bang. Gone are the multitude of aliens that populated The Pandorica Opens, these ones having been erased from time because, as the Doctor puts it, history's collapsed, races were deleted, and they became after-images and echoes, fossils in time.

It rather does nicely solve the trouble of having the Doctor deal with many dangerous aliens, while he needs to resolve the end of the universe peril our heroes are finding themselves in quite urgently.

River Song, archaeologist and slayer of Daleks!

While the crisis is resolved in an effective, if complicated manner, we are not fully spared from a bit of a deus ex machina early on with the resurrection of Amy Pond by the Pandorica; and the fact that she was not DEAD dead felt a lot like a Russell T. Davis moment here.

However, Moffat admirably plays with the intricacies of time, and he shows us how much he revels in it when the Doctor hops back and forth through time and crosses his own timeline time and again; even going as far as meeting and talking to himself directly - something the Doctor has always been very much against. But I would guess, under the circumstances, that it could not be avoided and served the story intricately so we can give it a bit of leeway.

A hurt Doctor has a plan . . . First, a nap.

The Doctor in the Pandorica getting ready to save the universe.

The Big Bang is quite an emotional episode and yet it's peppered with funny moments and quips – something very much Doctor Who - but it had one particular dark moment that could very well be a portent of things to come in the future for the Doctor.

I'm talking about the scene where River Song shows herself to be quite ruthless to a Dalek. After searching its database, the Dalek knew and actually feared River, and the scene became quite a chilling thanks to some fine acting from Alex Kingston and fine directing from Toby Haynes.

There's definitely more than meets the eye to River, and Steven Moffat yet again leaves us to wonder and puzzle about who she truly is - though I believe more and more that she is the Doctor's wife, as implied by a scene between River and the Doctor toward the end of the episode. But I also think that there is probably much more to it than simply that.

That says it all.

The Doctor heroically hurtling towards his end in order to save all universes.

As I said, there were some very emotional scenes and Steven Moffat managed to pull at our heart strings quite a few times. I was quite moved by Rory's steadfastness and his desire to stand guard for Amy for almost 2000 years. It was poetic and romantic to the extreme and fitting for the Girl Who Waited, that her true love would also wait for her that long. Good thing he was an Auton! It's definitely a plus that he was plastic.

Also, the Doctor's sacrifice to save the Universe was superbly acted by Matt Smith who has shown himself to be quite wonderful as the Doctor. We have at least two more years with him and I am looking forward to every one of them. He was also quite wonderful in the scene when the Doctor watched over a sleeping young Amelia Pond, while he recounted to her the story of why he stole the Tardis, before he faded away. It was very sad Mr. Moffat. Shame on you for making us feel that way.

But all was not sadness and there were some humorous moments as well, including a rapidly time-hopping Doctor wearing a fez hat, which he seems to have grown fond of. And the wedding scene where the Doctor dances. Actually that was rather somewhat cringe-worthy haha. But good on Smith to go with it!

Okay, How did I end up here?

Yes Virginia, there is a Space Florida.

The Doctor trying to reach Amy while going backwards in his own timeline.

I don't think anyone could have predicted how the finale would actually pan out. I know I didn't. The Doctor fixed the Tardis explosion that created the cracks in the first place by sending himself, while strapped inside the Pandorica, into the explosion in order to create what he called a Big Bang 2. That sequence alone was absolutely magnificent not only for it's sheer emotional force, but also for the special effects which were absolutely top notch – well done The Mill!

The Doctor is back to Amelia Pond's house when she was 7. His watch told him so.

This is one of the saddest scenes in the episode. Really. But it did provide a great line about repeats.

And the Doctor had that ace up his sleeve that we kind of all saw coming, and that ace is Amy Pond. Having lived near the crack most of her life, we finally learn that Amy's special because the universe poured right into her for many years. That's one of the reasons why he took her on as a companion. And the Doctor needs her to remember him in order for him to return towards the end of the episode; which she does on her wedding day, all thanks to the tale he told her while she was sleeping, about it being all a story of something old and new, borrowed and blue. Absolutely brilliant, I had major goosebumps at that moment.

The happy couple on their wedding day: Mr and Mrs Pond!

As you can see, the theme of remembrance and remembering, about not forgetting, played a key part during series 5, and the seeds were carefully sown in many episodes by Steven Moffat throughout the series. So much so that it became clear it would definitely have a role to play come the finale and lo and behold, it did.

The mysterious River Song at work here.

What a nice wedding present! An old blue book.

There were a lot of theories about two Doctors at certain points in the series' timeline. When the Big Bang 2 puts everything to rights, the Doctor ends up reliving the season backwards, before he disappears  from existence. And this is why we get Doctor number 2! I thought this move shows us how absolutely clever Steven Moffat is, and how meticulously he planned everything. That famous scene in Flesh and Stone where a jacket wearing Doctor (keen eyes had just seen him jacket less because he'd lost his jacket to a Weeping Angel) asks Amy to remember what he told her when she was seven? crafted and planned.

Amy knows there's someone important missing at her wedding.

And so the ending of The Big Bang, and of series 5, closes on a joyous occasion, with Amy and Rory getting married and the restoration of everyone – including Amy's parents, who were apparently the first casualties to the Crack. You would think that things would end then and there and that the next series will move on to other things. Well yes and no.

Someone is making an unexpected, or is it expected, visit.

The reason is that Steven Moffat doesn't wrap up the series too neatly. In fact, though the Doctor has saved the Universe, there are many strings that have yet to be tied up, and that I believe will continue playing out in series 6. In this, Moffat differs from Rusell T. Davies, who generally wrapped up every season arc in a neat little bow right at the end.

The Doctor in a tux in a top hat. Are we getting some hints that the Doctor will wear a hat next year?

Stop talking Amy please, just shut up.

The Doctor still has to discover what caused the Tardis to explode in the first place, and what brought the Tardis to its point in time when it did. And what does “Silence will fall” mean? We only got a taste of it in The Vampires of Venice but nothing else since; and to whom did that chilling voice in the Tardis belong to? And to whom does the burn marks on the grass outside Amy's house blonged to? Who was trying to build a Tardis in The Lodger; and where did River land the Tardis for it to be enclosed in some sort of cement structure?

Series 5 will certainly be notable for the absence of a main villain, and I don't know about you, but I think everyone including me expected to see who was behind everything in that series finale. Moffat here deliberately didn't give us an answer – so whoever the villain is, he is still lurking in the shadows and the showrunner is saving him up for upcoming series. Which begs the question: will we find out next year or does Moffat have a longer term plan in mind?

That pic is there just because. You know. Dashing.

And there are also other mysteries left to be resolved. How come River Song remembered the Doctor and Amy despite him being wiped out from existence? She should not have remembered any of them. Yet, she handed her blue diary to Amy as a wedding present in order to help her remember. Is it a plot hole or a clever plot point that will be explored in the next series? It's quite clear from how it ended that River will be back in series 6 and that, in her words, “that's when everything changes.”

Are you married River? Are you asking?

The acting was good again and everyone did admirably in their respective roles. It was great to see Caitlin Blackwood back in the role of young Amelia and it served well as a sort of book-end ending to The Eleventh Hour. And from how the episode ended, I now have every hope that Arthur Darvill will be back in series 6 as a full time companion.

Before I finish, I need to add just a bit more about the Special effects which were very effective here as well, as it was last week. The Mill has outdone themselves and I'm quite certain that most of the FX money was saved for the last two episodes. However, it would have been nice to have the same quality of special effects throughout the series – which wasn't the case. I hope that this will be remedied to in the next series.

I'm not quite certain if the end of the episode is ushering us into what may be the story for the Christmas episode or not. However, the adventure the Doctor, Amy and Rory are embarking upon next seems to include royalty, and an Egyptian goddess loose on the Orient Express  - which happens to be in space! Really cool. But whatever the adventure will be next, sign me up for Christmas.

All in all a wonderful episode, a fantastic finale to series 5, and a great end to the maiden season of Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat and the entire Who cast and crew.

My Rating for the Episode: 9.8/10

Interesting tidbits:

Amy's father's name is Augustus Pond? Really?

Some Interesting Quotes:

Amy: OK kid, this is where it gets complicated.

The Doctor: Me from the future. I got a future, that's nice.

The Doctor: Come along Ponds.

The Doctor: Vortex manipulator. Cheap and nasty time travel, very bad for you. I'll try to give it up.

The Doctor: You can do loads in twelve minutes: suck a mint, buy a sledge, have a fast bath.

The Doctor: Hi Honey, I'm home!
River Song: And what sort of time do you call this?

River: I dated a Nestene duplicate once, swappable head, did keep things fresh. Right then, I have questions, but number 1 is this: What in the name of sanity have you got on your head?
The Doctor: It's a fez, I wear a fez now. Fez's are cool.

The Doctor: The box contains a memory of the universe and the light transmits the memory, and that's how we're gonna do it.
River: Do what?
The Doctor: Relight the fire, reboot the universe.

River: I'm River Song. Check your records again.
Stone Dalek: Mercy.
River: Say it again?
Dalek: Mercy!
River: One more time.
Dalek: (shrieks) Mercy!

River: Rule one, the Doctor lies.
Amy: Where's the Dalek?
River: It died.

The Doctor: Amy Pond, crying over me hey? Guess what.
Amy: What?
The Doctor: Gotcha.

The Doctor: Oh! OK, I escaped then, brilliant! Love it when I do that. Legs, yes. Bowtie, cool. I can buy a fez.

The Doctor: I'm rewinding, my time stream unravelling, erasing, closing. Hello universe, goodbye Doctor.

The Doctor: I think I'll skip the rest of the rewind. I hate repeats.

Amy: There's someone missing. Someone important. Someone so, so important. Sorry, sorry everyone. But when I was a kid, I had an imaginary friend, the raggedy Doctor, MY raggedy Doctor. But he wasn't imaginary, he was real. I remember you! I remember! I brought the others back I can bring you home too! Raggedy man I remember you and you are late for my wedding! I found you, I found you in words like you knew I would and that's why you told me a story, the brand new ancient blue box. So clever, very clever. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue!

The Doctor: Hello everyone! I'm Amy's imaginary friend but I came anyway.
Amy: You absolutely, definitely may kiss the bride.
The Doctor: Amelia, from now on I shall be leaving the kissing duties to the brand new Mister Pond.
Rory: No! I'm not Mister Pond, that's not how it works.
The Doctor: Yeah it is.
Rory: Yeah it is.

The Doctor: Two thousand years, the boy who waited. Good on you mate.

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.

Amy: Oy! Where are you off to, we haven't even had a snog in the shrubbery yet.


  1. Woah! This one was long!
    It was indeed a very intricate plot and all made perfect sense - except from the bowtie changing from burgundy ro navy blue while his timeline was winding back.
    Anyway! It was brilliant - apart from Karen's blank expression. As Rory said, WOO TOO FAST! I got the explanation but it's way hard to explain to someone else all the TARDIS explosions and the Pandorica's part in it. It all made perfect sense.

    Gotta say that once characters travelling in time shouldn't touch themselves in order to avoid a paradox but now Amy touched Amelia and nothing happened.

    BTW, who from Harry Potter was in the finale that I didn't see? An why was John Simm seen in a closed reunion with Moffat? Hope the Master's back!!!

    Moffat said on Confidential that next season is all abt silence and who's River Song.

  2. You know, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one whose mind went into the gutter as the Doctor and Rory touched... screwdrivers and spark flew.