Warning: spoilers! 

There’s several things I’ve been wanting to blog about these past few days, but in light of just having watched the first two episodes of Season 6 of Doctor Who, I’m going to put them on hold in favour of performing a narrative vivisection. It’s been a while now since Season 5: long enough that many of the small, crucial details hinting at Steven Moffat’s arc for Matt Smith’s Doctor have doubtless slipped my mind. What I do recall, however, is that the final episodes didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time. Or, wait: let me rephrase. I don’t watch Doctor Who because it makes sense, and I’m fairly sure that’s the case for most viewers. I mean, when your basic premise is a species of open-door, case by case worldbuilding with full retconning options and an ad-hoc magic system masquerading as science, continuity and inherent logic are always going to be, to paraphrase one Shepherd Book, a mite fuzzy.

I say that with love, of course. After all, if you want to watch a witty Brit poncing about the multiverse in a police box, Doctor Who is pretty much your only option. But there’s a difference between nonsensical plots and plots which literally make no sense, and while I appreciate that Moffat is very much a creature of the long game, Day of the Moon comes perilously close to falling into the latter category.

But first: The Impossible Astronaut. Good premise, nice creepifying vibes, though I could’ve done without the prolonged image of Amy sobbing over the Doctor’s body. Also – and yes, I do realise that it represents a significant portion of the setup for Season 6 – I wasn’t keen on using his eventual death as a plot device. For one thing, it’s an annoying way to start an episode: the Doctor was always going to reappear again via some miraculous means, and in the interim, we waste time watching the characters grieve for a loss we already know isn’t final. For another, and more importantly, it’s a problematic means of garnering emotional investment in the series. If the death we’ve seen is truly an irreversible event, then Matt Smith must be the last Doctor – which, yes, is possible, but given the show’s popularity and the sheer length of its reign, I just can’t see that fact being flagged with such canonical finality so early in his tenure. Which means it’s probably going to be reversed at some point, or prolonged, or altered, or changed, or whathaveyou, and while I’m certainly interested in seeing how that happens (probable answer: Timelord magic!), I can’t feel any uncertainty about the fact that it will happen. Which makes it something of an empty threat, particularly as it’s been left to hang over the whole season.

Unless the death does stand and the show really is slated to end with Matt Smith. In which case: well played, Mr Moffat! Well played.

Monster-wise, the Silence were genuinely freaky, and a very well-seeded threat from Season 5, though as has been pointed out elsewhere, Day of the Moon was rather rough and ready when it came to how their powers worked. It’s a fridge logic problem, the sort of thing that only niggles in retrospect without really altering the fabric of the narrative: an omission of some facts and a blurring of others, rather than an outright contradiction. What I’m less forgiving about is the idea that an alien species, capable of space travel, who have demonstrably menaced multiple worlds and who, by River Song’s reckoning, have access to at least eight different types of alien technology while on Earth, had to engineer the moon landing because they needed someone to invent the space suit. Because, seriously? No. Even if they’re incapable of creating things on their own, they still have access to alien technology. I’m pretty sure there are alien space suits, you guys!

And while we’re on the subject of continuity being carried over from Season 5: haven’t we already established that there are colonies of lizard people living under the Earth? You know – another technologically advanced race that’s been sharing the planet with humankind since the dawn of history? Possibly I’m just being picky, but seeing as how the Silence also live in a network of tunnels running beneath the surface of the entire planet, it feels kind of odd to think that the two have never encountered one another. Oh, and if the Silence really are responsible for all those strange jitters people feel in empty places, the sensation of being watched – all that stuff – then can we assume that they’ve been working in tandem with the Vashta Nerada? All right, maybe that last one’s a stretch, but the point is, for a race of villains whose coming has been foreshadowed for some time now, the Silence feel underdeveloped to me. Yes, they’re frightening, but how do they fit into the wider Whoniverse as a species? (And why do they look curiously like knock-off copies of Joss Whedon’s Gentlemen?)

The other problem is Amy’s pregnancy-that-isn’t, though maybe that’s only a problem for me, given my stated position on Magical Pregnancies of any kind. Right now, it looks like Amy’s eventual daughter will kill the Doctor (somehow), steal his regenerative powers (somehow) and be reared in an abandoned orphanage in 1969 (somehow) by a creepy caretaker under alien control. With a photo of Amy on her dresser (somehow). Though when she does see Amy face to face, she doesn’t recognise her (somehow). Also, she’s not quite human (the TARDIS effect?) and super strong – strong enough to rip her way out of the space suit (somehow). Except, if she could do that, then why didn’t she do it ages ago? And how, if she is Amy’s daughter, was she stolen away? I’m struggling with all these things. I know it’s the long game, or rather, I really, really hope that it’s the long game, and the only reason it doesn’t make sense is because there’s more to come. But so far, it doesn’t feel like it.

That being said, I love River Song, I love theorising about the possible arcs and reveals of awesome TV shows (theory: River is Amy and Rory’s daughter!) and because I embrace the senselessness, I love Doctor Who even when it appears to make no sense, if only because Matt Smith is so magnificently daft. So despite my doubts and wonderings: bring it on!

  1. I always refuse to think about Dr Who episodes. Have done that since I was little and watched the old series. They’re thoroughly enjoyable in the moment, but never stand up to a hard look.

    I too love River Song and her face at the end of the episode was amazing.

  2. Jeremy says:

    I am really starting to get the feel that River Song is going to be the Doctor’s Wife, which would be SO disappointing, because the Doctor has always been above romance (well apart from Rose, but she was different), but I did love the idea of their first kiss being her last….very cool.

    I was pretty disappointed by the Silence, honestly. They didn’t see the be all and end all that we’ve been hinted at for the entire season 5 – he defeated them too easily! Which makes me wonder if they are coming back. There are still unanswered questions left, though, like who piloted the TARDIS to make it explode and who organised all the big bads to trap the Doctor in the Pandorica? Is that just me – are there answers to this?

    And speaking of season 5, how did River Song appear at Amy’s wedding? I thought they were meant to all have forgotten about each other and the Doctor!!

  3. Grace says:

    I must say, I agree on many aspects.

    The death of the Doctor really does vex. Particularly since, assuming the Doctor’s death is final, the BBC has essentially shot itself in the foot. It seems humans, inherently, find it necessary to fix what isn’t broken. In fact, the habit of screwing with a winning formula has killed many a TV show (Ghostwhisper, is the only one which comes to mind presently, although I’m certain there are others).

    I just can’t see how the Doctor can escape this one. Not without creating a paradox, and I’ll be very disappoint if Steven Moffat decides to use the “Paradox-Get-out-of-Jail Free” card.

    Additionally, Amy’s pregnancy irks me, for a multitude of reasons –
    1) The only ‘symptoms’ of pregnancy which Amy showed was the nausea after seeing The Silence and the Doctor idly mentioning “And you’ve put on a couple of pounds. I wasn’t going to mention it”
    2) River also displayed nausea after seeing The Silence. So do we make the assumption that they’re both pregnant? Or is it simply a coincidence?
    3) At the beginning of Day of the Moon, Amy, River and Rory have been running 3 months but Amy shows no signs of being pregnant. Yet she later finds the picture of herself and the child. As the Doctor is being held prisoner, I presume it is safe to say none of them have travelled in time, that is to say, that since Amy admitted to being pregnant, they’ve all stayed on the same time line.

    3 months isn’t even anywhere near the normal gestational time period. Also, remember that the child is easily between the ages of 5 and 7 and that the orphanage closed down 2 years prior to Amy’s announcement.
    For the mathematics to work here, Amy, at some point in time, must travel, give birth and give up her child somewhere between 1970 and 1972 (if my estimate on the child’s age is correct).

    Also, the Doctor’s first is River’s last – how does River know it’s her last? I can’t fathom how this is conceivable, not unless River is aware of her own future timeline.

    It’s just not working. I do believe that Steven Moffat’s writing has improved over the past season, however.

    And despite their resemblance to the Gentlemen, I do appreciate the Silence’s similarities to the stereotypical alien sightings which, to a certain extent, grew out of the space race. I though that was a nice touch.

    So, what I intended as a brief, few comments of the slight discontinuity of Season 6, has since turned into something far to long and essay like. I shut up now.

    Thanks for a great review.

  4. […] should not be impossible things! But as keen readers of this blog may recall, I was not impressed with the start of Season 6, primarily because they failed at hurdle number one. The Curse of the […]

  5. […] getting her back – is a good one. Ditto the reveal about River Song, although seeing as how I already picked this a few episodes back, it was less of a big surprise than a confirmation of fact. Even so, the […]

  6. […] then, the show is the brainchild of Steven Moffat, who hasn’t got aspectacular track record when it comes to writing women, and to whom the following quote from 2004 […]

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