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Doctor Who Series Finale, Part 2

June 30, 2010

So the series is over. The day has been saved, along with the universe, and will remain so until at least Christmas, and in the meantime we have the Doctor Who adventure games to occupy us. These games aside (I’ve not played them yet) this year has been a terrific one for Doctor Who. The new series, the new Doctor and the new production team have all contributed to an absolutely brilliant series finale. It was thrilling, engaging, funny and emotional, everything Doctor Who should be, and it was extremely well put together and well executed. One of the best series finales of the new Who so far without question, and a good ending to a very enjoyable series.

If I had to pick a favourite thing about this episode it would be the effective use of time travel as a plot mechanism. A lot of the time in Doctor Who the time travel is merely an introduction; they arrive somewhere, somewhen, and get involved in some ongoing situation, and before you know it the time travel is forgotten about, save for a few time-period jokes. Once the story gets going the time travel element is largely ignored, which is a shame as it could be one of the show’s most effective assets. That’s why I think Moffat’s plot arc has been so good in this series. Moffat is a man who properly knows how to use time travel and how to incorporate it into plots, like in Blink (the original wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey episode) and even The Girl In The Fireplace (fast path vs. slow path). The Big Bang was probably his most complicated use of time travel so far, particularly if you have difficulty thinking 4-dimensionally. One example that I know has flustered a few people is the scene at the beginning where the Doctor helped Rory free him from the Pandorica, from the future, even though the Doctor’s escape depended on him already being out so he could go back and help Rory release him. This scene required an appreciation of timey-wimey logic rather than everyday causality, but thanks to the accompanying scene in the museum where we see how the Doctor was able to travel back to instruct Rory the 4-dimensional plot becomes easier to understand. This enlightenment is particularly helpful since it comes just before we see future Doctor who’s just been shot by the Dalek. This adds nicely to the tension over the next 12 minutes, especially as we think we know what’s going to happen when this time is up. It’s a showcase of Moffat’s skill as a writer that even here, once the 12 minutes are up and we’re sure we know what’s going to happen, he can still catch us out, and without relying on any significant deux ex machina.

This brings me onto the second part of the episode. After the universe has been restored and the Doctor has had his brilliant “I escaped then, brilliant, I love it when I do that” line he starts rewinding, unseen, through his own timeline. Here we can see the holistic way the series plot-arc plays out, particularly with the scene in Flesh and Stone that I was going on about last time. It seems that the 2 Doctors theory that I pooh-poohed did hold some weight after all, just like 2 years ago when I said that the idea of the Doctor’s hand growing into a new Doctor was silly and would never happen and look how that one turned out. I was also wrong about River Song being Amy’s aunt. C’est la vie though, just because my predictions aren’t always right doesn’t mean I’m going to stop. They’re too much fun anyway, plus it’s given me something to talk about other than the football.

Among the other things that I liked about this episode (for there are many and I shan’t list them all) is how Amy’s background was resolved. I particularly liked how the Doctor used the ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ rhyme to get him and the TARDIS into Amy’s head ready for her wedding day. Again, brilliant holistic writing. Even the bow ties were relevant! I also really liked Rory and how he stayed with the Pandorica, and especially that Amy saw what he’d done when she was released from it by Amelia. I wasn’t such a fan of Amy’s comments about her and the Doctor kissing though, especially as she’s just married Rory, but I think we’re supposed to assume that she’s joking when she says it. I hope they don’t have her fancying him in the next series because that would get awkward and too soap-opera-esq pretty quickly, especially as Rory and Amy now both seem to be permanent companions. I hope they’re both permanent anyway, I’m a big fan of the idea of more than one companion, and especially so if neither of then have a romantic link with the Doctor. Having two companions rather than one would be a nice variation to the kind of dynamic that we’ve seen over the past few years when it’s been the Doctor +1, and it’d make the show more like it used to be before the reboot when the Doctor would travel with a few companions at a time. I should also mention River Song because once again I thought she was brilliant. Many people I’ve spoken to have said that she’s their favourite Doctor Who character and it’s not hard to see why. She’s a ballsy character and can stand up for herself independently from the Doctor in a way that the normal companions sometimes can’t, and she adds an aura of intrigue whenever she appears in the Doctor’s life. Her face-off with the Dalek was brilliant as well, especially her making it beg her for mercy. The “I’m River Song, check your records again” line was very effective too, even more so if you remember that the Doctor used an almost identical line in the Library episodes, where he first met River Song.

So all in all it was a very well-done finale, and aside from some timey-wimey confusion everyone I’ve asked liked it too. It isn’t over yet though – we still don’t know what was piloting the TARDIS or why it exploded. I assume that this is going to be the centre-point of the Christmas special and if so (though I could be wrong again) I think it’ll round off the Doctor Who year nicely. We shall have to wait and see.

Best bits:

  • The Richard Dawkins reference.
  • The Doctor’s disappointed face just before the “I can get a fez” line.
  • What in the name of sanity have you got on your head?
  • Cardiff Museum! Brilliant!
  • Me from the future. I’ve got a future, that’s nice
  • The visual effects were very good, especially when the Doctor was flying the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS.
  • How awful the Doctor was at dancing. Nice nod to The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances I thought.
  • The use of ‘Geronimo’ without it being too cheesy or shoehorned in.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Keri permalink
    June 30, 2010 11:22 pm

    I really enjoy your blog—it’s creative and well written. Have also been using it as a bit of a cheat since you see the episodes a few weeks ahead of me in the U.S. I like spoilers, though.

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