It’s a shame I know Moffat as well as I do, because after that jaw-dropping ending it will be weeks — maybe even months — before we find out what is happening. The Doctor and his companions will be off on a pirate ship next week and we will not learn the meaning behind the ending note until… well, the final song. And yes, that is a deliberate pun on words. Consider the following, as River Song would say, full of SPOILERS.
With the Silence I think Moffat has created one of his finest monsters and to be totally, brutally honest… I’m glad, as frankly, I was becoming thoroughly tired of the Daleks and the Cybermen and if we never encounter them again, it will still be too soon. (“EXTERMINATE!!”) I like scary bad guys, the good, old-fashioned hair-raising sort and these aliens fit the profile. Not only are they profoundly creepy in appearance (their lack of a mouth until they decide to destroy you is particularly effective) but there is an unsettling element to turning your back on them for a second and not only forgetting they are there entirely, but forgetting they exist at all. In terms of pure scare-factor, this episode was superb. I must admit to glancing behind me once or twice while Amy was traversing the sinister halls of that orphanage but I have to say the show’s finest moment was her discovering them overhead, hanging like bats from the ceiling. Ugh. I love the fact that we almost never see anyone marking themselves, just that suddenly along with Amy we discover her arms, wrists, hands, and face are covered in marks, indicating she (and we) have seen them — and forgotten.
The “what the hell is going on here?” aspect of the episode continued for at least the first ten minutes and although it was jarring, I liked it. I also like the continuing evolution of the River Song story, although it became profoundly obvious in this installment that she is his wife at some point — in her past and his future. I’m glad he is devoting some time to making her more likable, because up until last week I could not stand her and with this episode, I have warmed up to her presence considerably. I actually did not mind her grabbing him and planting a kiss on him, particularly considering her flustered, disconcerted response to his confession that no, they have never done that before. (His flailing arms was a nice touch — it was apparent he didn’t mind it, but also wasn’t sure how to react.) But I’m a little confused over that scene — did River Song have her time line messed up all along in the sense that she forgot where the Doctor was in their relationship, or did something happen to conflict with it. Is that a mere blip, a humorous moment in passing, or does it indicate a more sinister undercurrent, that the Silence have infiltrated the TARDIS and their minds in ways they cannot comprehend?
Perhaps the Doctor has dealt with them — and perhaps not. His response to them was ingenious (using their own rare words against them) but last season numerous references were made to them, to the extent that an entire alien race was forced to leave their planet due to their presence. It seems unlikely that they would be so easily defeated — he may have changed the past and impacted their presence on Earth, but that will not prevent their influence from stretching outward into other galaxies. And I’m not convinced that their end game is complete, either, particularly with the emphasis on Amelia Pond. The reverence with which her name was spoken, their claim that she will “break the Silence,” is unsettling — and too, her phantom pregnancy. Am I wrong in assuming that she was pregnant until she entered their presence, that the child in the space suit may in fact be her daughter? That would imply further tampering with time and space, since they would have cultivated the pregnancy, taken the child, and placed her in the orphanage some time before Amy arrived in 1969.
But if the child is a Time Lady (which is what we have to assume based on her Regeneration at the end), that leaves an enormous question — did the TARDIS somehow influence the pregnancy, as Amy joked with the Doctor? Is it not her child, but River Song‘s child? I haven’t forgotten that both of them felt “sick” around the Silence, and I suspect that will become important somehow. Is it the Doctor’s child? Or is the child from an external source completely? When we see her next, will she continue to be a child or will she be an adult? Is she aware of what she is? Is she River Song? I really have no theories at this point, I am merely speculating. But the Doctor knows something is up and that relieves me, because that’s something he is not likely to forget. He will remember and he will find out what happened. It may take him all season, but the mystery of the phantom pregnancy will be solved. I hope.
The dynamic between Amy, Rory, and the Doctor is an interesting one — Rory is still self-conscious and certain that his wife prefers the Doctor, while she is annoyed that he doesn’t realize how important he is to her, and yet… and yet… it’s the Doctor she tells about the pregnancy first. Which isn’t that surprising since most girls would tell their “best friend” first, although I think the husband should have that honor. Does it mean anything? Maybe that Amy is happy in her marriage but that part of her is still the Doctor’s only companion, and there are some things she wants to share only with the man with the Blue Box. Part of Amy is still that little girl in the garden, waiting for him to come back. And really, that’s what I love most about Amy. I don’t know when she became my favorite companion, but she is… even if she does wear mighty short skirts sometimes.
The offhand historical references amused me — “Say hello to David Frost for me.” “Who?” The gay reference made me roll my eyes; I thought we were past that when RTD left. My favorite scene was River Song flirting with the Doctor and then shooting all the aliens and hoping he didn’t notice. That is so like them. The dialogue involved was priceless and how that scene was shot was genius. My mouth was open in glorious astonishment and my ears were straining for every word and I was loving every second of it. If we’d had more of that kind of banter (and he seemed to be enjoying it) all along I might have warmed up to her sooner.
So what say you, fellow Who addicts? Brilliant episode or are you looking forward to scurvy pirates next week more?