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New Who 6.2: Day of the Moon

So then! Lots of interesting stuff going on there, and many story-lines clearly still unresolved. These are the things which I'd still like to know more about:

  • Why was future-Canton so sure in The Impossible Astronaut that the Doctor killed by the space suit really was the Doctor?
  • Indeed, how do we get to that shooting at all?
  • I assume the space suit which comes out of the lake is the same one we've seen in these two stories - but does it have anyone inside it? Or is it an independent being in its own right?
  • Could the occupant be the Time Child that Amy is apparently pregnant with - perhaps post-regeneration?
  • What's with that pregnancy anyway - are we to understand that any baby of any species conceived on-board a TARDIS is automatically a Time Lord?
  • Even though River said that the life-support systems on the space suit suggested she was human - albeit incredibly strong?
  • How is the child going to end up back in the 1960s?
  • Why did the Silence want to protect her (in the children's home)?
  • Who is the woman whom Amy sees looking through the hatch on the door of the little girl's bedroom saying "No, I think she's just dreaming"?
  • Why do the Silence say to Amy, "We do you honour. You will break the Silence"? Because she didn't really seem to do that in this story.
  • And why exactly did the Silence want to go to the Moon in 1969? What's going on up there?

All in all, it's pretty clear that we're not done here. And perhaps that's partly why this story felt a bit incomplete in its own right? I did enjoy it, but somehow I felt rather unmoved by the whole - as though I was watching a series of cool scenes and teasers, rather than a coherent story with an emotional truth at its centre. Slickly put together, yes - but perhaps too focused on big-budget scenery and trying to replicate the iconography of The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and not well enough focused on the characters at its centre?

Most obviously absent was any scene in which the Doctor really tried to connect with or understand the Silence. We learnt that they could kill, that they were shaping human destiny for their own ends, and that they themselves thought that humans should kill them on sight. But this all seemed to be simply stated and accepted - never questioned. I'd have liked at least to have had some discussion about whether their relationship with humanity had been all bad - was it symbiotic, rather than parasitic? Now that we've learnt they were there all along, right from "the wheel and the fire", how can we be sure that humanity is even capable of managing without them? Why is the Doctor so blithely ready to assume that we are? As I say, without some exploration of those questions, the story feels emotionally incomplete.

I did very much like the thematic coherence created by the various mentions of empires, though - the direct comparison between the Silence's empire on Earth and the Roman empire, obviously, but also the quite careful suggestion that the moon landing was the first step in founding a Human Empire out in space. It's nice to get direct confirmation that Rory really can still remember his time as a Roman, and it is clearly going to have plot-significance too. After all, this is the second episode in a row that we've been reminded of it. I'm also pretty impressed with Moffat for inventing a new and clever solution to the constant problem posed by historical stories - why is there no other record of the threat / adventure which the story is purporting to show us? Simples - no-one can remember it.

And although I may not have been entirely convinced by this story as an emotional whole, I definitely did enjoy plenty of its individual moments. For example:
  • Canton and Amy investigating the creepy Gothic orphanage in full-blown Mulder and Scully style.
  • Rory's horn-rimmed glasses.
  • Rory's under-stated devastation when Amy is lost - even before he believes that she's saying she is in love with the Doctor.
  • Meta-referential use of television again - focusing on an iconic TV moment, the Doctor asking the Silence, "Have you seen what's on TV?"
  • River's action shoot-out scene in the Silence's space-ship.
  • Canton wanting to marry a black man - oh Gay Agenda, how we have missed you!
  • What looks like yet another historical story coming up next week - and one which makes me glad I've seen The Smugglers.

Maybe the whole will work better on a re-watch?

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 30th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
As I say, without some exploration of those questions, the story feels emotionally incomplete.

This, and the whole bit about the Roman and other empires flags for me the point that the characters seem to have missed; the threat is that the Silents would fall. They just did; 11 toppled them! Houston, we have a problem...

Rory's glasses were a direct lift from Apollo 13 almost-- and I adored his giving a British salute rather than an American one. Though the fact that no one commented on 11 being 'a British spy' or somesuch was interesting...
Apr. 30th, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)
the threat is that the Silents would fall

Ah, of course! Very good. I guess the presence of the abandoned ship in the present day in The Lodger shows that the post-1969 world will manage perfectly happily without them - eventually. But who's to say that the Doctor doesn't need to do rather a lot more to fix the situation first?

Rory was just adorable all round. :-)
Apr. 30th, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC)
Pernickety, but it's "The Silence", not "The Silents". I think they may be modelled on a '90s indy band.
Apr. 30th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC)
Ah, so it is - have just checked the credits. Will correct. I've picked up the alternative spelling from fan discussion during the period between seasons 5 and 6, when people began wondering if the prophecies that "Silence will fall" referred to an alien race rather than actual silence, and suggested that in that case they might be called "The Silents" (i.e. we had all mis-heard).

Edited at 2011-04-30 08:56 pm (UTC)
Apr. 30th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC)
Moffat distinctly pronounces a "t" in Confidential at one point, so it's not just the fans :-)
Apr. 30th, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)
According to the official site, "The singular form of Silence is Silent". So it's no wonder people are getting confused!
May. 1st, 2011 11:14 am (UTC)
It's also Canton not Clanton...
Apr. 30th, 2011 08:34 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid I was so underwhelmed by the first episode - looked good (apart from Nixon who was obviously got from the same agency who supplied the Stars In Their Eyes contestants as he looked and sounded nothing like him) but had no substance that I don't think I'll be watching this episode on catch up. Plus I'm afraid as much as I like Matt Smith as the Doctor I absolutely cannot stand Amy and my dislike of her screeching 'Doctor' at any and every opportunity cancels out my love of him and the beautiful River Song.

I'm afraid I've reached the same point I reached in the chess scene of the first Harry Potter film ie I no longer care if they live or die. I'm shocked to 'hear' myself write that but it's true.

Hope you are feeling better today than you did yesterday :-)
Apr. 30th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
If you're going to watch any of the rest of the season, you probably should watch this - as I've said, it's setting up some quite epic stuff that will clearly pay off later. But if you don't care whether they live or die any more, and won't be watching the rest of the series, then fair enough!
Apr. 30th, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
I'm really shocked I feel like this about it as although I'm not as big or dedicated a fan as you I've always loved watching it but all I could think yesterday whilst watching was a mix of 'shut up Amy' and instead of cheering when the 'could rip a fabric in the universe' line came out I tutted that that old chestnut was being trotted out again.

Maybe I was just having a bad day as I knew I'd be spending today with Pandy's family....
Apr. 30th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
And why exactly did the Silence want to go to the Moon in 1969? What's going on up there?

As I read it, it's not stated that they did. They needed a spacesuit (or similar) for reasons that aren't clear, but humanity getting the technology to go to the moon was a bi-product of that, rather than the moon being an aim for them in their own right.

Clanton wanting to marry a black man...

The way that scene was played made me bristle. With the wink from Nixon, it was almost the comedy tag scene. The moon is nowhere near far enough; we've seen Canton as an old man, and for the whole of his life, he'd have been unable to marry the man he loved. That's not a subject for comedy: it's a tragedy, pure and simple.
Apr. 30th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
Ah, I see what you mean about the space suit - could well be.

I do take your point about Nixon's reaction being a bit insensitively over-played. It would have been more realistic for him to be straightforwardly angry / shocked, rather than trying to make a joke out of it.

On the whole, though, I feel it's nice to see Moffat at least trying on this front. It's been sadly lacking since RTD left.
(Deleted comment)
May. 1st, 2011 06:10 am (UTC)
Moffat created the first openly gay character in on-screen Doctor Who (Algy); he certainly has credentials in the area.

But equal same-sex marriage is a very raw live issue today, both in the US and here. Nixon's reaction may even have been accurate for 1969 for all I know, but having it used as a throwaway joke was, IMO, very wrong for a series made in 2010.
(Deleted comment)
May. 1st, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
I agree with this too - I mean, you've got an actual historical character there, so write him as him, not as any other sympathetic side character. This includes reactions to revealing statements.
May. 3rd, 2011 01:36 pm (UTC)
My view might be rather different on the subject. I was struck how Nixon seemed willing deal with the racial aspect - refelcting the changing views at the time - but balked at the homosexual aspect.

Now of course putting forth racial baring of marriages is something almost nobody outside the BNP would ever argue. So to me there was a sense in which looking at that statement from 2011 we were being asked to see the parallels and thus accept that both need to be acceptable.

But that's just me.
May. 3rd, 2011 01:37 pm (UTC)
Oh and of coruse you could say that nixon viewed the inter race marriage to be "as far as the moon" but that got done.....
May. 2nd, 2011 01:37 pm (UTC)
Right, thanks to the vagaries of Dutch TV, I finally managed to catch up. Things to note include the fact that I think that we can see the 900-year old Doctor, in the background, listening in on the rest of the gang when they meet to discuss his future-selfs death. (Its just after the Doctor asks Rory if people are angry with him & Rory answers that he’ll go and find out, in case you’re interested)

Also, I get the impression that ‘The Silence Will Fall’ is something to do with a paradox – possibly a version of the grandfather paradox. If Amy has a child that kills the doctor, preventing the time travel in the first place, then that could be the silence that is referred to. This also ties in with the comment that Amy will ‘break the silence’, possibly by giving birth – and this would tie in with the cracks in space/time that are following Amy around, not following the Tardis (though, presumably the Tardis explodes due to the paradox when Amy is killed at the end of the last series?)

Perhaps. Or, this could be an episode that was brought to us by random rolls of a dice on an event table and I’m spuriously associating random events.
May. 2nd, 2011 10:36 pm (UTC)
I think that we can see the 900-year old Doctor, in the background, listening in on the rest of the gang when they meet to discuss his future-selfs death

Interesting catch, and I think probably quite likely as well. Certainly, it would be incredible if the 900-year-old Doctor didn't know one way or another about the future shooting on the lake shore - he is a LORD of TIME after all!

And yes, I think that comment about Amy 'breaking' the Silence has a lot of mileage still in it yet. We'll just have to see exactly what it means...
May. 2nd, 2011 05:51 pm (UTC)
Here via who_daily :-)

I did enjoy it, but somehow I felt rather unmoved by the whole

My thoughts exactly and the way I felt about almost all of S5, tbh.

There was some good stuff in the episode, as you've pointed out, but I do worry that Moffat is throwing all these questions, clues and red-herrings at us just because he CAN, rather than because they have any relevance to the plot.
May. 2nd, 2011 10:39 pm (UTC)
Yup. A lot of fans complained about RTD putting too much emphasis on pushing the emotional buttons - but I'm beginning to feel the absence of an emotional core to these stories. I'll certainly keep watching, especially because Moffat's story-writing style means that there may still be as-yet-unexpected emotional depths to what we've already seen so far. But I'm starting to feel that there is a happy medium between emotionally truthful writing and good plotting, and that neither RTD nor Moffat have quite hit it.
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