Note: This episode reveals the identity of River Song and deals heavily with Amy’s apparent pregnancy. If you haven’t seen it or been spoiled about these things already, you might not want to read this yet.
I’m feeling overwhelmed about how to approach this one, so I’m going to try breaking it up into 5-minute segments.
0:00 – 5:00
Loved the reveal of Rory, and Amy’s ambiguous speech leading up to it. As he points out later, it makes no sense for him to be dressed as he is, but it’s still pretty sweet. I like that the Cybermen only have a cameo here; I’m not fond of their new-series incarnation and had feared they’d play a larger role.
5:01 – 10:00
Not really sure what to make of the “Thin Fat Gay Married Anglican Marines” joke, or whether it even is a joke. There’s some clumsy exposition here about the Headless Monks, who are by far my least favorite thing about this episode: they’re stupid on just about every level and almost entirely pointless. I’m assuming we’ll probably see them again, and their induction ritual will seem like less of a red herring, but I hope not. Also, Lorna Bucket is totally adorable and sexy. I love a woman in uniform.
And then we get the Silurian cameo, and even though I feel like she makes almost as little sense as the Monks, I love her anyway. Part of it is that, as we’ve discussed, I love Silurians, but there’s something about the idea of a bisexual Silurian samurai who has just eaten Jack the Ripper for dinner that slips right past all my filters. Also, Jenny is totally adorable and sexy. I love a woman who can handle a sword.
On my first viewing I was kinda cheesed off about the Sontaran, another monster I’ve always loved who’s been increasingly ill-used since its inception (which reminds me, I need to buy The Time Warrior). But on my second I liked the idea more, and found a lot to admire and enjoy in his character. The 4000s sequence alone is more exciting and suggestive of awesomeness than the entire Sontaran two-parter from the Tennant era. It kind of makes me wish Moffat were writing this sort of thing as part of a standalone episode, instead of just a moment of backstory inside an arc chapter.
10:01 – 15:00
So which two Doctors spent River’s birthday with her? Presumably they have to be future Doctors. Somehow I can picture Six being the past Doctor who’d be most game for a threesome with himself. Don’t ask me why.
I like the big blue guy. This show could use more characters like him.
15:01 – 20:00
You can see the bow tie on the Doctor’s shadow, but it REALLY doesn’t look like him at all. It looks like a twelve-year-old boy in a bow tie. Or a baby dyke. Wouldn’t that be a trip if River’s Doctor turned out to be a woman!
More Lorna. She’s so cute, I don’t even care how contrived her role in this story is.
Ew. Tied-off-balloon neck. Just gross. And then we have the “ta-da!” moment, which is moronic. I guess if your point is just “this Doctor is prone to ill-considered grandstanding,” it fits…
20:01 – 25:00
…and I guess it’s part of some plan to create paranoia between the Marines and the Monks, but it really seems like they could have sorted this out pretty quickly. Everyone knows what’s under the hood now; they just have to throw them back and it’s clear the Doctor isn’t among them. Also, we see a couple of Marines die in this sequence (unless they’re just stunned, but Colonel Runaway seems awfully upset over just a stun), so I wouldn’t say they win with no blood spilled.
Oh god, the WWII space fighters. And yep, Captain Avery is back. Mercifully it’s just a shout-out in both cases.
25:01 – 30:00
“Angry” is new? Since when?
“Speaking baby” is cute. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Matt Smith can sell just about everything, really. I wonder why he’s smelling the baby and Amy?
30:01 – 35:00
Thanks to Lungbarrow, one of the last of the New Adventures books, there’s a semi-canonical idea floating around that Time Lords aren’t born but “loomed,” and that their home life is kind of a weak ripoff of Gormenghast. I like the implication here that, loomed or not, Time Lords do still start out as babies (then again, I guess we had this confirmed by one of the Master flashbacks as well).
We get more backstory about Time Lords here, and it’s a little interesting that the Doctor explained so much about his people to the Silurian. I think I’m okay with the idea that exposure to the Time Vortex influenced Time Lord evolution over billions of years (which is a long time even in evolutionary terms, though). I’m not sure about the idea that just gestating in the TARDIS over nine months can produce the same effect, though, even if your midwife is a clever eyepatch lady. But whatever.
35:01 – 40:00
More Monks. Yawn. And they kill off Blue Guy, who asks for it in a display of stupidity that is entirely at odds with his apparent profession as a crafty fence / arms dealer. Maybe he thought he was just buying everyone else time.
Would you believe that it wasn’t until the Sontaran was dying that I realized that Rory being a nurse is a joke about him being second fiddle to the Doctor? The Doctor and the Nurse. Sheesh.
It’s probably a good idea for the Doctor to set the sonic for “dissolve Flesh clones” every time he meets someone new from now on.
40:01 – 45:00
Poor Lorna. Gosh, she’s cute.
I’d heard that this would be the “take the Doctor down a peg” episode, and it’s about time. I don’t like the idea that everyone in the universe is scared of the Doctor. Considering the next episode is called “Let’s Kill Hitler,” it’s not entirely clear that he’s come down any pegs at all, though.
45:01 – 48:00
I don’t see why River’s name should be on the crib at all. If it’s really the Doctor’s, it would be his, right? And if it’s hers, wouldn’t he already know?
In any case, my friend (also one of maybe two people who reads this) was right about who River turns out to be, or at least who she’s connected with. It’s weird, in a “Jacob falls in love with Bella’s baby” way (that’s right, I just implied that Doctor Who is cribbing from Twilight), but it’s fine, I’m down with it. I’m just relieved to have some of the mystery dealt with.
So: did we see the murder she’s been doing time for in “The Impossible Astronaut”? Or is this going to be a Doctor/Rory switcheroo again and she’ll have killed her own father instead, in some episode we haven’t seen yet? I’m going to have to go back and watch “The Impossible Astronaut” again to see how she reacts to seeing what is presumably her own past. Heck, I’m gonna have to go back and watch the Angel two-parter from last season now to see how she reacts to Amy. Something tells me she kept a total poker face throughout all those episodes where she saw her mother and father.
Of course, now we know how they’re going to do Young River Song. She’s going to have regenerated, and they can cast whoever they want. Is she the Doctor’s companion next season? Do they already have someone in mind?
All in all, I really enjoyed this one, probably more than any of the other episodes so far this season. I can think of reasons I shouldn’t have — all the bombastic action and derring-do that feels so out of place on this show, the rushed “magic trick” elements of the Doctor’s plan which make the details mostly irrelevant, the way the whole thing is largely a contrivance to set up the final revelation and the supposed character development which I’m not sure we’ve seen (has he already fallen? is it still to come?) — but I did anyway. I wouldn’t even call the ending a cliffhanger; I’m looking forward to the second half of the season, but I’m not on pins and needles, and that’s just how I like it.