The cool stuff
The bits I enjoyed at the time included:
- Clever playing around with the classic trope of wanting to use a time machine to kill Hitler (see also Stephen Fry's novel, Making History), and why that can't be allowed in the Doctor Who universe.
- Flash-backs into Amy, Rory and Mels' childhood together... though young!Rory did seem a great deal younger than young!Amy, which was a bit disquieting.
- Mels generally.
- The dialogue about the interior of the TARDIS being in a state of temporal grace - yet another lovely "Yes, we know it's canon - don't take it so seriously" moment.
- The Doctor being all guilty about every single one of his (main) new-Who-era companions.
- Finding the ultimate answer to the ultimate question before you find the question itself.
- Hitler still being in the closet at the end of the episode.
And the bits which jolted me out of that state of enjoyment as I watched, and in retrospect have grown big enough to outweigh it entirely were:
- Amy setting killer robots on an entire ship-full of people who really didn't deserve it, and whom she didn't know in advance had any kind of escape mechanism. I know she had to save River, but was there no other way?
- Melody Pond / River Song giving up all of her remaining incarnations at once for the sake of a man. I get that the fact the programme revolves around a male hero-figure makes a bit of this sort of stuff inevitable, but the rules aren't immutable! Moffat gets to make them up. And he could so easily have achieved the same effect by, for example, just saying that the Doctor could be revived with nothing more than a kick-start from the last little remnant of River's regeneration energy. And then she could have helped the Doctor just the same, and still retained the possibility of her own awesome Time-Lordly future, complete with multiple further regenerations. But no. Because of the choice Moffat made, she doesn't get that now.
- River Song being shown as taking up archaeology in order to find the Doctor, rather than because she's genuinely intellectually interested in the subject. Which, speaking as someone who chose much the same subject because it is fascinating and stimulating and offers me all sorts of opportunities to stretch and prove myself personally and intellectually, is FUCKING INSULTING.
- Oh, and yet another fake death, still further reducing the chances of any meaningful emotional engagement when characters actually really do die at any point in any future episodes.
And of course there are the usual unanswered questions, too.
For a start, are we going to see or learn any more about the Teselecta (i.e. the doppelganger robots full of tiny people delivering 'justice' across time)? What mothership did they escape to, who passes the sentences which they execute, and according to what criteria? And most importantly, how did they acquire the art of time-travel? Very few races in the Doctor Who universe have the ability to do that - and still fewer to use it responsibly.
And obviously there are still many of the same unanswered questions about who River is going to kill, and what's up with the Doctor dying in Utah in 2011, etc. etc.. Except that I'm so sick of being strung along on those points that I'm afraid they only make me feel half-frustrated and half-indifferent now (as indeed they did at the end of episode 7), rather than excited as I assume Moffat intended.
Anyway, fun at face level, but I just wish I could concentrate better on the fun and the cleverness without having to keep on being distracted by the fail.
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