Because I love the resignation of River’s guards. They’re just used to it by now. She’s gonna hide the lipstick; they’re gonna get hallucinogened — and she’s gonna get out. There’s just no way around it.
So I have in my possession one of the most wonderful things in the universe: the first half of season 6 of Doctor Who. Are we doing episode reviews? Yes, we are! Will there be spoilers? Most likely. Read with caution. I did see someone blogging at Tor.com who claimed to have written a spoiler-free review of the new Torchwood series and I didn’t even give it the time of day. I don’t see how it’s possible without saying. “There’s Torchwood. This is Jack. And this is Gwen. And over there’s Rhys. And some things happened. And it was cool.” Yeaaaaah — we all know that already.
In any case, lets proceed: The Impossible Astronaut, Day of the Moon. No plot outline here — I don’t think I could do it if I tried! (“So…the Doctor dies — and then he’s still alive. And there’s this kid — but it isn’t really a kid — but it might be! And these things, but you can’t remember you’ve seen them when you’ve seen them…”)
I think the phrase I’m looking for here, the words that just totally encapsulate my reaction to this episode — and, indeed, the season 2-parter opening — are “Gblagh? Hnghg? What — what — what?” Said in my best David Tennant voice, of course.
Everything about Astronaut and Moon is slightly — off. The colors, the feel, the music, the story — everything’s weird. And not in a, “Well, it’s okay; blame the Angels” kinda way but in a, “Lets start out by shooting the Doctor in the chest!” kinda way.
May I point out: I was not okay with that. Yes, I really do stand by what I said earlier: the Doctor should stop at 12 — or 13, depending on how you want to count — there should be no jiggling about with original series canon in this respect — but that didn’t mean I wanted to watch him get shot three times at point-blank range! By someone who may or may not be Amy’s child. Or River’s, for that matter! (Anyone else feel slightly nauseated after watching this one? or do I just have a sympathetic tummy?)
My gut reaction to both Astronaut and Moon, is that nothing feels real. It feels like a freakin’ fever dream: the colors are hypersaturated (check that lakeside picnic scene!) or totally drained (Oval Office, anyone?); the music is funky (electric guitar?); and nothing seems to quite hook together in the right order (so many things I can’t count but we can start with the Doctor, move on to River, then to Amy’s “pregnancy”…) And what’s with the woman in the wall? I really thought I had maybe imagined that until I watched the show the second time around and realised, no, no, it really was as bad as I had thought.
You know what I really love about this season opener? Apart from Canton Everett Delaware III, that is? It’s unsettling — it’s really quite scary and not just because the Silence are a little freaky (does anyone really believe that this is the Silence as in “Silence will fall”? ‘Cause I don’t.) The Doctor doesn’t seem to know what’s going on; River is increasingly off her game and preoccupied; and…I’m not sure we have the same Amy all the time. Or that our time-line is even contingous all the time; I do not think that things necessarily lead one to another here. Or, if they do, that Thing 2 is the same Thing 2 Thing 1 originally started out with. If you get my drift.
I remember saying when I was writing about season 5 at one point that I thought the entire story (or stories?) was taking place in Amy’s head. Obviously, with shows like The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang, this is literally true: Amy’s memories are responsible for how the world is (when her memories have been used to create it) and for recreating it when the universe is gone. And I feel it’s true again here. It all seems to be about Amy or — headache-inducing possibility — Amy’s child? Or is it River’s child? And, really, I have to put my money on the table here: if either of these women end up reduced to being important because of their kid? I am gonna kill something. And it won’t be them. Of all the tropes in SFF, I think I hate that one the most. It really makes me taste metal and want to kick something. Hard.
So I’m going to decide that that’s not what’s happening here because I don’t want to buy trouble.
And there are so many lovely things happening here like the fucked-up orphanage with the crazy Southern dude leaving himself helpful notes all over the walls, but totally unable to act upon them because the Silence keep springing out of the woodwork and screwing his memory all to hell. Again. Some more.
There’s CED III, too. I had my doubts when I heard Mark Sheppard was going to be around in season 6 — I mean, yeah, he had a good hat, but — was Firefly street cred really going to see him through? Oh, totally — man had a ball and I had a ball watching him do it. I love his delight — what I think is both Sheppard’s and Delaware’s — in getting to be one of the TARDIS crew. And I think he and Captain Jack will get along just dandy if and when they ever meet up. 🙂
Last but not least: what the fuck is up with the little girl? I have gone through the list of possible Time Lords so many times in my head, I can’t tell you. I know John Simm said he would come back to do a regeneration sequence for the Master, so I’m fairly certain we’re not looking at the Master mark….14 or whatever the hell he’s up to now. The Rani? Whoa. That would be…whoa — but — also kind of — meh? Lets face it — and I love Kate O’Mara — the Rani never had the same charisma as the Master. Surely not the Meddling Monk, for heaven’s sake! I know RTD brought back the Macra, but that really would be hauling out an oldie-but-goodie. So — a new villain? a new good guy?
What puzzles me — along with a number of other things — is whether or not we’re meant to think the astronaut in some way has stolen regeneration energy from the Doctor? Because as far as I know, that hasn’t ever happened before and can’t really be explained in canonical terms. I suppose…perhaps Moffat is planning to improvise wildly on the “Time Lord metacrisis” concept?
Interesting stuff anyway! A fascinatingly dark opening to the season.