KT doesn’t know if there’s a plan yet; she hasn’t finished talking.
DOCTOR WHO: 5.05 “Flesh and Stone”
As it turns out, the answer to last week’s cliffhanger is gravity: simple and clever. Even more clever, it turns out to be the nicely set up kind of solution that pays off a second time at the episode’s climax — but that would be getting ahead of myself.
I’m not quite as enamored with this episode as I was with part one, partly because the surprise of the Angels is wearing off, and partly because the episode spends so much time in high gear, and all the frenzy gets a bit tiring.
It’s the quieter, smaller moments that I found most effective. I liked the way the beginning of Amy’s countdown was hidden in plain sight within the dialogue. And after all the repetition of “don’t blink,” having Amy unable to open her eyes worked really well to heighten the tension. The sequence in which Amy, eyes closed, was gradually abandoned by the people who were supposed to protect her was deliciously creepy.
The setting that Amy is carefully not looking at is a nice contrast to the catacombs of last week — although there are some generic spaceship corridors, most of the episode is spent in the ship’s “oxygen factory” — a forest of cybernetic trees. It’s pretty cool, and even though I said the Angels are less interesting here than they were a week ago, they do look very picturesque among the trees.
Another thing I enjoyed amidst all the frenzy was the way the Doctor put a big lampshade on his usual process. He’s not usually one to sit and plan things out; he tends to do a lot of running — chasing or being chased — and then he comes up with brilliant solutions in the nick of time. So what’s the plan, Doctor? No idea, he’ll know when he’s finished talking. And then he’ll do a thing, but right now, “it’s a thing in progress; respect the thing.” There you have it, the basic Doctor Who story, in a nutshell. But I digress.
Throughout the episode, we get a lot of tantalizing tidbits about River Song. As the bishop hinted in part one, she’s a prisoner working toward a pardon, and she earned her incarceration in the Storm Cage (whatever that might be) by killing a man. A very good man, we’re told, a hero to many and the best man River says she’s ever known. Wouldn’t it be very clever of Steven Moffat to be setting up the Doctor’s next regeneration already? Because with those very significant looks, I’m willing to bet he’s the man in question.
I’m also willing to bet that the crack that keeps showing up has a course charted towards the season finale – but darned if I have any idea what might come out of it. (Just please, please let it not be Daleks.) So far it seems that anything that falls into the crack ceases to have ever existed at all. I loved the mention of the Cyberking in that context — ‘cause really, you think a giant robot could have gone all Godzilla on Victorian London and the newspapers wouldn’t have gone wild over it?
By the end of the episode, River and the Doctor are bantering again, but this time in a more relaxed and comfortable way. For his part, the Doctor seems much less bitter about having to deal with her. Murderer or not, he seems to mean it when he says he’ll look forward to seeing her again — and after these episodes, I will too.
On the other hand, the very end made me reconsider what I think of Amy. Much as I love Martha and Rose, the total lack of romantic interest between Donna and the Doctor was one of the (many) things I liked about season four. And more than anything, I don’t want to see another companion saddled with an unrequited crush like Martha’s. So what to think of Amy’s sudden advances?
Granted, they weren’t entirely out of the blue. Amy had a comment in “Victory of the Daleks” about fancying someone you shouldn’t (which I’d been hoping meant something else). Plus, she’s spent most of her life waiting for the Doctor — drawing pictures, making little dolls — so it’s easy to see how that would lead to an infatuation.
Then again, maybe she’s just acting out because she’s scared about getting married. And why exactly is she so uncertain about it, anyway? Is it a cold feet kind of reason or does she sense the big bad thing that is apparently going to happen on that day?
And for that matter, has anyone worked out what Amy was supposed to remember when the Doctor said, “Remember what I told you when you were seven”?