We watched this in our hotel room during Fashion Week, on a TV that stubbornly refused to show BBC America with anything approaching the description “clarity.” Lorenzo was busy and didn’t pay too much attention to the show, but about halfway through, he looked up from his work and said, “It’s not a very good episode, is it?” “It’s okay,” said Tom. “At least a couple times a season, you just have to turn the show over to the people it was intended for: kids.” We wish we could say we’re so young at heart and charmingly child-like that we love these types of episodes the most, but to be perfectly honest, we found this one hard to sit through the first time out. There was just a bit too much of the “throw everything at the wall to see if it sticks” school of Who-writing. Which, when you think about it, only makes sense for an episode titled “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.” But our first impulse was to say “The dinosaurs on the spaceship were enough. Did we have to add Nefertiti, a Great White Hunter, and Rory’s dad to the mix? Plus Silurians and the 24th Century Indian Space Agency? PLUS bitchy robots?”
But the week passed us by quicker than we’d like and we never got around to a recap, so we sat down and watched it in the comfort of our living room when we got home. Turns out? This was a great episode; for kids and adults. It managed that very rare trick of starting off frivolously and loudly, and ending ominously, with a sense of doom and a reaffirmation of what has always been true: The Doctor is a children’s adventure hero who will coldly kill when the situation warrants it. In fact, it was the darker undertones that really made this episode for us.
Oh, sure. Eventually we got into the wacky spirit of the proceedings, helped in no small part by Amy, who had several really great moments, among them the “Yes. Yes I am.” when “Neffie” asked her if she was a queen, the “Hanging around with the Doctor taught me to push buttons whenever I’m in a new place” scene (which is a hilariously on-point description of The Doctor’s M.O.), and finally the line that reminded us that yes, she’s still River Song’s mother: “Um, I’m easily worth two men. You can help if you want.”
It was also fun to see The Doctor and Rory have an adventure mostly apart from Amy that didn’t consist of “We have to save Amy!” Amy was fine and having adventures of her own, so we got treated to some of that awesome Smith/Darville chemistry (including a full-on-the-mouth kiss, which led us to wonder which aspects of the story would be most protested if this was an American kids show: the murder, the rape threat, or the fact that two men kissed). As much as we love the Amy/Doctor relationship, with its intense, known-you-my-whole-life/my-whole-life-has-been-devoted-to-you dynamic, we really love seeing Rory and The Doctor work their way through a problem. He’s that rare Companion who has no problem freaking out on The Doctor for being irrational and irresponsible and over time, you can tell how much The Doctor has grown to respect him for it.
But The Doctor hasn’t seen the Ponds for ten months and Amy is concerned he’s “weaning” them off of him. He insists that he’s not, but then at the end, Amy and Rory effectively ask for that very thing. They want to go home for a little while. But that’s not really how the Companion relationship normally works. Normally, you sign on for a stint in the TARDIS and when you want to go home (or are forced to leave), your stint is up and The Doctor is moving on to someone new. With the Ponds, The Doctor has something different; something closer to actual family. Which makes a certain amount of sense, since technically, Amy and Rory are his mother- and father-in-law.
Which reminds us: Why did Brian not know who The Doctor was after he materialized in the middle of the dance floor at Amy and Rory’s wedding? At least last season we got a “I don’t do weddings” wave of the hands when Mel was retconned into their history, but there was no mention of why Brian doesn’t know The Doctor or seem to remember this event. Couple that with the fact that Solomon’s computer database couldn’t identify The Doctor after we’ve been told for the last two seasons that he’d gotten “too big” and too well known and we’re wondering if Oswin somehow managed a bigger trick last week than anyone realized. Could she have somehow wiped all memory of The Doctor from the universe, instead of just from the Daleks?
And it was a throwaway line, but Rory mentioned being 31 years old as of this episode, which would have to mean the events of “The Eleventh Hour” had to have happened close to ten years ago on Amy and Rory’s timeline. We’re not suggesting that actually means anything, but it is interesting to note. Moffat loves to play around with time and he’s aged this doctor 200 years in the last 3 years of show time and aged his companions a decade in that same time. Whether it means anything or not, it certainly binds these three characters together in a way previous Doctor/Companion relationships didn’t. She really has been obsessed with him her whole life and he really has had only the Ponds as his Companions his whole “life.” There’s an intensity to the relationship that supercedes most prior Doctor/Companion relationships, which tend to be intense to begin with.
Which brings us to our final point: the sense of finality hanging over everything. The Doctor was speaking the truth when he said he wasn’t weaning the Ponds off him. What he failed to mention was that he’s weaning himself off the Ponds. That “You’ll be there till the end of me!” “Or vice-versa!” exchange was perhaps a little too on-the-nose, but it can’t be denied, this intense relationship, for whatever reasons, is coming to an end soon and both Amy and The Doctor know it on some level. We’re stocking up on Kleenex now, because we have a feeling the departure of Amy and Rory from the show is going to outdo the embarrassing weepfest that greeted Donna Noble’s tragic end.
[Photo Credit: BBC America]