Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Check your records again."

I bet you thought I'd forgotten all about the end of Season 5 of Doctor Who, didn't you?

HaHA! I had not! And now that we have a double-DVD player lash-up that allows me to actually watch my damned Season 5 DVDs, I have rewatched the season ender and now have comments. HaHA!


So, anyway, yes, spoilers ahead. Don't read if you haven't seen the end of Season 5, yaddayaddayadda.

On with the show.

I'm not even going to try to give any kind of story re-cap with this two-parter because, well, I can't. It's a little confusing and rather roundabout in parts and, really, I'd just be guaranteeing that I would miss out on some super-important detail and look like a fan failure, and nobody wants that.

So here are some unordered thoughts on The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang.

1) It was so nice to have a season ender where I didn't use up every tissue in the house and have to go sniffling for a wad of toilet paper or some paper towels. I know a lot of fans have complained about the emotional intensity of the series under Moffat's direction as opposed to good ol' "Reach In and Rip Your Heart Out" Davies, but I'm enjoying -- have enjoyed? am planning to continue enjoying? -- this slightly lighter approach. Not that I think the base-level intensity of the stories that need to be intense or the intensity of the character relationship has changed; I have seen people argue that they think they have -- that they think the quality of the show has gone all to hell and this is just fiddly-diddly "kids' stuff" now and to them I say: Fooie. Or, more accurately: "I'm the Doctor."

Because if you seriously think the Doctor has gone fuzzy-wuzzy in his old(-er) age or that Matt Smith is playing the Doctor-lite, I invite you to rethink The Beast Below, Vincent and the Doctor, Amy's Choice, and/or The Big Bang and then reconsider your opinions. This isn't a gutless wonder version of the show; this is just less of a "heart on my sleeve" version of the show. If you want confirmation of that, watch the Doctor's face when Patient Zero, as Amy-and-the-Doctor, accuses him of being a disappointment. Being slapped with a fish just isn't in it.

All that said -- and probably to be said again and elaborated upon at some point in the near future 'cause, gosh, am I tired of people hatin' on 11 -- this was a slightly underwhelming season ender -- and that was kind of pleasant. The end of Season 4 and the Tennant specials were just so much dramatic tension and everything was being ratcheted up and up and up for the giant pain-fest that was The End of Time that it was nice, in comparison, to have a relatively quiet finale. Yeah, there was a serious problem; yeah, it had serious consequences; yeah, some shit had to go down in order to get things resolved (and are they really resolved? of course not!) but no-one got eaten like a hamburger; there was no brain-burning; and the Doctor didn't have to crash through a roof or absorb any unhealthy amounts of radiation. Admittedly, he did have to explode and then deal with the consequences -- in one of the best scenes in the entire two-parter, if not the entire season -- but it seemed easier to watch somehow.

2) Amy and Rory make my heart happy. Rory, in particular, makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside and I hope someone hugs Arthur Darvill on a regular basis just to thank him for showing up on a daily basis and being made of awesome. His re-meet-up with the Doctor is one of my favorite moments in the ender: I love his final dry rejoinder to the Doctor's babbling on about how there's something important he's missed that's right in front of him: "Yeah. I think you have." Rory has learned just a massive amount over the course of this season and his ability to be stand-up -- and to stand up to the Doctor which is not easy -- is just fantastic. The whole "Mr. Pond" dialogue between him and the Doctor is wonderful and I love that he steps up to the challenge without a moment of hesitation at the end. And, no, I don't feel it's just because he wants to follow Amy.

3) Amy is...the center of all things. I have a feeling that Amy will continue to be the center of all things. The Doctor likes her; River likes her; the TARDIS likes her. This is like the trifecta of "Things Which Are Dangerous But Want To Be Your Friend."

4) River. I may be the only person out here not panting to know what super-secret-uber-chocolatey something River is going to turn out to be. Despite this stance, I would like to point out two things: A) the Dalek. Has anyone ever seen a Dalek beg for mercy from anything? *listens* Yeah, that's what I thought. B) River comes back on her own. I've watched The Big Bang a number of times now and I'm convinced that she comes back into the rebuilt universe on her own steam and, unlike Amy and Rory, remembers what's going on. Why else would she send in her (blank) diary to Amy? She knows what has to happen and, as River always does, is doing her best to jog it along.

5) Does anyone else think that a tiny -- just a teeny tiny -- portion of The Pandorica Opens depends on the Doctor not listening closely to anything he is saying?

6) But forget that: lets talk about the fabulous -- but fabulous -- monologue at the end of The Big Bang. It's wonderful. The Doctor moving backwards through Amy's time-stream and trying to plant enough cues that she will be able to save him and up? A little bet, yes, I think so. He has to give up because she has to make the final steps on her own, without him, and the Doctor always hates doing that. I would like to point out once again the difference between 10 desperately trying to keep Donna from remembering and 11 practically rearranging galaxies to keep Amy remembering -- both Rory and himself. But -- on the other hand, is he the dark shadow moving through Amy's house at the beginning of Eleventh Hour or...not? Personally, I'm leaning towards not.

So the end call? Fantastic stuff. The more I watch it, the more I like it. I've gone from "eh -- it was good" to "wow, that was great" in about 3 watchings. Every time I watch either or both episodes, I see more things, notice more details.

Plus, what is not to like about an episode in which you get this:

I mean...yes, right? Yes.

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