Now is a great time to admit that the finales of DOCTOR WHO have never really blown me away. For the most part they were either over wrought or never felt entirely earned. I prefer not to think of the horror of the Master’s takeover in Season 3 and even last seasons amazing set up, “The Pandorica Opens” was followed by an overstuffed confusing episode for the finale. This season, however, ended beautifully.
In perfect Steven Moffat fashion, it never answered everything, asked a few more questions and had some wonderful moments of pathos and hilariousness. Its one of my favorite season finales of the new Who. Lets unpack this shall we? It is 5:02pm on April 22nd, 2011—the day the Doctor dies and something is wrong. How do we know something is wrong? Because there are cars floating in hot air balloons and train tracks running through that really phallic looking British building (this building looks like a giant penis). Who but Meredith Vieira (WTF?) should come on the TV and tell us that Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill is riding a mammoth. Aside: That is something I would pay a shit ton of money to see.
Anyway, Emperor Churchill is all, “Cleopatra is a bitch, wait! Why isn’t time moving- it’s always 5:02 on April 22nd!” And his Silurian doctor is all like, “Yes, and?” So Chruchill, the most intelligent and perceptive man in this universe calls for the “soothsayer.” Who, you guessed it, is totally The Doctor sporting a really scraggly, ugly beard. Creators of Doctor Who, Matt Smith is really attractive and trying to hide it helps no one. Churchill wonders what happened to time, the Doctor looks up all mysterious and wise and says, “A Woman.”
Now we are back in the earlier times and The Doctor is getting information from the only Dalek that has shown up in this season so far—good on you Moffat, I was suffering from over exposure to Daleks, I appreciate the self restraint. So he gets some information about The Silence and goes to see a monk will a terrible haircut and eye-patch ladies eye patch. But it’s not the monk guy he was looking for; it’s the little people in the man sized space ship from “Let’s Kill Hitler.” The tiny people give him the weakest link in the Silence’s order, and now he is playing chess with a Viking- except it’s voltage death chess. Voltage Death Chess, best game since Rollerball. So The Doctor concedes the game to the Viking in order to get information on why The Silence want him dead. The Viking takes him to Dorium Maldovar (fat blue guy) who was beheaded by the Headless Monks at Demon’s Run.
Can we take a moment to appreciate how scary some of the shit that Moffat comes up with is? Seriously, those moving skulls in the catacomb were nightmarish, and when they ate up the Viking (after he steps on a trap trying to kill The Doctor) and menacingly looked up the pit, I jumped about 10 feet in the air. After a nice scare we get the comic relief of Doruim’s head talking to The Doctor and asking how bad his wounds are (ha ha, you’re headless!)
At this point, Churchill butts in, apparently he has a problem believing that there are skulls that eat people whole. The Doctor explains that in his universe they were friends, and he senses that, like he sensed there was something wrong with time—apparently Churchill accepts that. Basically he is showing here the same instinct he showed at Yalta. Back in the tomb The Doctor asks about The Silence and we get this gem: “On the fields of Trenzalore, the fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature will speak falsely or fail to answer, the question will be asked […] a question that must never, ever be answered a question hidden in plain sight.” It’s the first question, the one that silence falls after. Do you want to know the question, Dorium asks, YES we all yell back. The skulls look at the Doctor, and then he answers weakily, “of course.”
The Doctor takes Dorium to the TARDIS where Dorium says, “you know the question, you see why you have to die.” WAIT- says Churchill, what was the question? The Doctor starts explaining that there are some secrets that you would kill to protect, and that is what The Silence are doing. But what is that on his arm, a hash mark, and Churchill has a gun. In the TARDIS Dorium revels that The Doctor’s death is a fixed point in time, which we know from being giant Doctor Who fans means it has to happen. But time is not the boss of the Doctor, he can help Rose Tyler with homework, go to all Capt Jack’s stag parties– to prove it he calls up his old friend Brigadier only to find that he died. That could be the saddest thing that has ever happened on Who, for those of you who don’t know Brigadier died a few months ago. It was a great moment that worked beautifully. This makes him realize there is no avoiding death, and so he gives the blue envelopes to his tiny friends in the man spaceship- they ask if they can help in any other way, and he sadly leaves.
At this point Churchill makes a really good point, why did you invite these people you care about deeply to come watch you die? Are you really that much of a narcissistic douche—imagine how awful that would be, watching your best friend die. He says something about not dying alone, but I think its crap. So we are back at the lake and The Doctor goes over to the astronaut rising out of the water and talks with River. The suit is in control and she will kill him, he says she is forgiven and then, “Hello, Sweetie.” Nothing happened, River re-wrote time and now everything is fading to gray. Back in 5:02 time, Churchill and The Doctor realize they were defending themselves and look up only to see a nest of Silence! Gas canister goes off and there is Amy Pond speaking like James Bond and she is wearing… an eye patch!
Awake on the train we find out that Amy is ok, and remembers everything because she is a girl who can do that. She gives the Doctor his suit and bow tie, he asks about Rory and she says, “my husband?” And shows him a picture she drew that looks NOTHING like Rory. In walks Captain Williams, who gets a big smile from The Doctor and nothing from Amy, cause she apparently can’t figure out that she’s insane in love with him. It’s adorable watching those kids fall in love over and over again. They go into a pyramid called Area 52 where there are hundreds of Silence imprisoned and where River is waiting and nasty eye-patch lady is a prisoner. Isn’t the design of the Silence terribly cleaver? They look like what human lore has postulated Aliens look like, with the big head and eyes, throughout most of modern history. It is a nod to their power, they erase themselves on site, but humans have still been seeing them for all of our history and instinctively know what they look like. They become all the more frightening because we recognize the nightmare.
The Doctor goes over to River who starts confessing her love to him and he’s all, “why can’t you just let me die!” Doctor, I know a lot of ladies have confessed their love to you through the years, you could be a bit more sensitive. Yes, River screwed up all of time and now it’s disintegrating, but still. SHE DID IT FOR LOVE! The Doctor touches River and it makes time go forward, see they are the opposite poles of the disruption and if they touch things go back to normal. River is not able to accept this, so she has the Doctor handcuffed. Everyone is bantering when they notice water is leaking from the ceiling. The Silence are coming, they are coming to kill you with electricity in the eye-patches that they short out. Even eye-patch lady’s eye-patch starts to kill her, and she is very peeved.
Everyone runs upstairs to where there is something that The Doctor needs to see except Rory who is defending the door despite being in immeasurable pain. He is a mensch that one! The Silence come in and say to Rory, “Rory Williams, the man who dies and dies again. Die one last time and know she will never come back for you.” But, it’s Amy and she does come back, and mows those big headed dudes down with a giant machine gun. Eye-patch lady asks for Amy’s mercy to which Amy says, “Ha! Bitch please- you stole my baby, suffer the consequences” and puts the eye-patch back on her so she can have voltage fry her brain into fried jell-o. Amy Pond, one ruthless bitch.
River and The Doctor are on top of the pyramid which has a space beacon and has sent a message out that The Doctor is dying and millions responded with a resounding, “Oh No! Can we help?” River tells the Doctor she loves him some more though The Doctor seems very intent on dying. So he asks to be un-cuffed and wraps his bow tie around he and River’s hand and asks the parents of the Bride to say, “I consent and gladly give.” The Doctor leans forward and whispers something in River’s ear and she brightens up considerably. “I just told you my name,” he says and then he and River kiss as everything goes bright. Time is set right and The Doctor has died.
Amy is in her yard with two glasses of wine and in pops River, fresh off the adventures with the Weeping Angels last season. River is a sweet and good daughter so she tells Amy a secret, a secret that makes them jump up and down for joy!
Back in the tomb with the horrifying skulls a hooded figure brings Dorium back to his resting place, and Dorium being the smarty that he is knows it is The Doctor. How did he escape? Well, he wore the tiny people in the people sized spaceship to the lake, and what he whispered in River’s ear was to look in his eye- where the real Doctor was waving about happily. “But your fall at Trenzalor is still coming,” and so is the question, the question that Dorium shouts after him as The Doctor enters the TARDIS, “Doctor, who?” So there you go, more questions were asked than answered and Moffat and Co. have set up some serious consequences for the fall of Eleven. There was a lot of exposition in this episode- so much that I think I just got carpal tunnel from writing the recap, but it moved quickly and was great fun. See you at Christmas!
From Reel Vixen, 10/5/2011: http://reelvixen.com/?p=920