In the fourth episode of the seventh season of Doctor Who, an innumerable amount of matte black cubes fall to Earth and doâ€¦ nothing. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
This is genuinely one of the best episodes of this show, and it’s one I already want to re-watch again and again. There is one point I have to make about a spoiler regarding the next episode, “The Angels Take Manhattan,” but I’ll stick it in the last bullet point and in rot13 if you happen to be one of the only people blessed not to have seen a single bit of promotion for this series of Doctor Who and aren’t spoiled for what happens in it. Otherwise, let’s get to it!
- This is such a satisfying episode to watch because it finally spends times with the Ponds and centers the story around them. Yes, it’s inherently about the Year of the Slow Invasion, but it’s about this couple’s need for the Doctor and how that’s beginning to eat away the life they’re trying to build. Most of my favorite episodes of series involved explorations of the dynamic between Amy and Rory (“The God Complex,” “The Girl Who Waited”), and this episode is no exception.
- I mean, the opening scene in the Pond’s house involve them dealing with the logistics of time travel. Food spoils! Their laundry reeks! They have tons of unanswered messages! And yet? They can’t resist the call of the TARDIS. It’s become an obsession for them, one they can’t seem to let go of, despite that they want to.
- Then, the black cubes arrive on earth. They kind of are appealing in a design sense. How did the production team keep them all so smudge free???
- My god, I know Brian’s “thorough” hypothesis binge about the cubes is entertaining, but it’s also remarkably in-character. Of course he’d be able to rattle off ten plausible ideas about what the cubes were for, and of course he’d be diligent about it. He’s only been in two episodes and I already know this.
- Oh, U.N.I.T is back! Awesome. I like Kate already, too!
- You know, I honestly don’t think it’s a stretch of the imagination to say that people would take the cubes home, make Twitter accounts for them, and act like they were toys. I believe this totally and completely.
- One thing (of many!) that this episode deals with brilliantly is the passage of time. We get a real sense that nearly a year has gone by since the cubes arrived. Part of that comes from the fact that Amy and Rory finally take more responsibility in their personal lives. Rory becomes a full-time nurse while Amy continues writing articles and agreeing to be a bridesmaid. The Doctor actually stays away long enough for them to build this life for each other. Of course, the second he returns, the two are fairly eager to go on adventures. God, how great is their montage scene? The Doctor has the mobile phone charger he referenced in “A Town Called Mercy”!!!!!
- After Amy and Rory do seven weeks worth of traveling in just a few minutes time relative to their party, Brian corners the Doctor to ask about the fate of past companions. WELL, SO, THE THING ISâ€¦ my god, what an uncomfortable scene. You could tell that Eleven was talking about his companions over many, many centuries, and it was a sad reminder that some day, at some point, all of the Doctor’s friends leave him. He’s outlasted them all.
- Oh god, the Doctor wants to stay because he misses the Ponds. My heart.
- Seeing the Doctor live with Rory and Amy reminded me of his time with Craig in “The Lodger,” only the Doctor was clearly not as grating. Well, not as bad as he was the first time he hung around the Pond residence, that is. But he looks like so much fun! I bet I could beat him at Wii Tennis, though, because I’M REALLY GOOD AT IT.
- This episode’s transition from whimsical fancy to bizarre tension is GREAT. Suddenly, the cubes are active, but in totally absurd ways. (And of course the Doctor reacts to the cube near him with nothing but joy. That is so quintessentially Doctor, y’all.) It’s an engaging way to build suspense because the audience is left so bewildered. Why do the cubes act differently? Why does one shoot fire while another plays “The Chicken Song”? What do they have to do with one another, and why do they turn off after 47 minutes?
- I was unbelievably excited/tearful when it was revealed that Kate was the Brigadier’s daughter. Oh my god, has she existed in the canon before this??? I’ve never heard of her! Regardless, she’s such a vital addition to the Doctor Who world, and I really hope we see more of U.N.I.T. and Kate in the future. Right? RIGHT???
- Is it ever explained what those orderlies with square mouth things are?
- I really, really want to see more of this show having moments like the one with Amy and the Doctor sitting at the edge of the Thames, talking about their experiences. It really distills Eleven down to his true purpose. He refuses to take the universe for granted, so he rushes about in order to experience things before they burn away. At the same time, I do think the Doctor is always running, and any iteration of the Doctor post-Time War is always going to be fleeing from that. Still, it’s a fascinating, well-acted scene.
- Oh god, how terrifying is it when the cubes open and there’s nothing in them? Again, this episode is utterly fantastic about suspense, and I appreciate the methodical way in which this whole thing unfolds.
- I got hints of Ten when Amy used the defibrillator on the Doctor. The way he dramatically flailed about reminded me of the poisoning scene in “The Unicorn and The Wasp.” Granted, I don’t think that was intended. It just happens to be fresh on my mind since I just watched it a week ago.
- Now, I know I’ve said that while I’ve seen a lot of classic Who, I still have the vast majority of it to watch. I got the sense that the Shakri are some classic villain or foe that I’m supposed to know and recognize, but I instead felt like I was in the dark. As I understood it, they are essentially a form of pest removal, and by some standard, they determined the human race was a pestilence, too. Ah, a chance for the Doctor to defend the very nature of humanity! I always like episodes like that.
- Brian gave his blessing to his son and daughter-in-law. Ugh, he’s great. Can he go on more adventures?
- All right, as promised, I need to talk about the one thing I know about “The Angels Take Manhattan,” so spoilers for that episode ahead: V fgvyy ungr gung V xabj Nzl naq Ebel yrnir va gur arkg rcvfbqr, naq vg’f n tbbq ernfba jul V qrgrfg fcbvyref. Guvf rcvfbqr va cnegvphyne unf fb znal yvarf gung jbhyq unir bgurejvfr orra pyrire sberfunqbjvat gung vafgrnq srry yvxr gur jevgref ner grnfvat hf jvgu gur varivgnovyvgl bs gurve qrcnegher. V ungr vg! Vg fhpxf gur wbl bhg bs guvf bgurejvfr snagnfgvp rcvfbqr.Â Sbe rknzcyr, gur jubyr zrnavat oruvaq gur rcvfbqr’f gvgyr vf bar bs zl snibevgr guvatf va guvf fubj RIRE. Gung vzntr bs gur guerr bs gurz gung pybfrf “Gur Cbjre bs Guerr” vf n cbjreshy erzvaqre bs whfg ubj zhpu Ebel naq Nzl unir nppbzcyvfurq jvgu gur Qbpgbe. Ohg vg whfg frrzf pehry xabjvat gung va gur arkg rcvfbqr, gurl’er tbvat gb yrnir fbzrubj. Guvf vf abg whfg n pnfr bs zr nppvqragnyyl fcbvyvat zlfrys. Nyy gur cebzbf sbe “Gur Natryf Gnxr Znaunggna” naq gur cerff fghss fcrpvsvpnyyl GRYYF lbh gurl’er tbvat njnl. Fb abj V’z whfg fnq.
All right, here goes: last episode of the fall season tomorrow. OH GOD.
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