Mon
Aug 2 2010 10:34am

Doctor Who S5 Finale: “The Pandorica Opens”/“The Big Bang”

Is it possible for episodes of television to make one want to jump someone’s bones? I think it is, because after watching “The Pandorica Opens” and “The Big Bang” episodes of Doctor Who, I found myself desperately wanting to fly over to England and jump all up on Steven Moffat. Steven, I know you’re already married and have kids and all, but come on! Surely you understand what writing of this caliber is likely to do to people. I’m just saying you shouldn’t be surprised by random people jumping on you in the street. Your wife understands, surely. Hell, she helps you produce things! She knows.

In “The Pandorica Opens,” River Song calls The Doctor and Amy by engraving a message on the universe’s oldest planet. They find River in 102 A.D. disguised as Cleopatra, and she shows them a painting by Vincent Van Gogh called “The Pandorica Opens” depicting an exploding TARDIS. (She has a vortex manipulator. There’s lots of time travel. Just go with me, here.) The three then find the Pandorica below Stonehenge and discover that it is using Stonehenge to transmit a message attracting “everything that ever hated” The Doctor to their location. Rather than escape, The Doctor chooses to stay and fight, seeking assistance from a group of Roman centurions, one of whom is Rory! (Wibbledy-wobbledy-timey…wait, what?!)

However, it seems that the Pandorica, designed to hold the “most dangerous thing in the universe” was designed to hold The Doctor! Everything, from the Pandorica itself to the Roman centurions were constructed from images in Amy’s mind (her favorite story as a child was Pandora’s Box; she had a book on Roman history in her room), and a plan was set in motion to lure The Doctor into the waiting arms of all his enemies, who’ve formed an alliance to eliminate The Doctor once and for all! As they gang up on The Doctor and lock him in the Pandorica, Amy is remembering Rory, only to discover that he’s an Auton. Yet, he has Rory in him, too, and he tries to not allow the Auton to hurt Amy. He can’t overpower the Auton in him, however, and he kills her! Oh, and River’s trapped in the exploding TARDIS.

I KNOW, RIGHT?! The Doctor locked in an inescapable box?! Amy’s dead?! River’s kablooey?! I KNOW! How can you possibly follow that up?!

You follow it up boldly, as Moffat did in “The Big Bang,” with an episode that’s even more dependent on crazy time travel than the first part! This second part of the series finale is chock full of cris-crossing through time.

As Auton Rory holds a dead Amy in his arms, Future Doctor (in a fez!) appears via River’s vortex manipulator to tell him that Amy’s not really dead, that he needs to open the Pandorica with his sonic screwdriver, put Amy in it, and put the sonic screwdriver in her pocket. Cut to 1,500+ years in the future where we see Young Amelia Pond on the night she prayed for help with the crack in her wall. (Young Amelia Pond?! In the future?! I KNOW!) She receives signs that lead her to a museum where the Pandorica is displayed as a relic along with fossilized Daleks. Future Young Amy helps Past Older Amy. Future Doctor helps Past Doctor, and in the end, the TARDIS—“something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”—helps Amy and Rory remember everything, thus saving the world, and providing The Doctor with a really dapper wedding outfit to wear to Amy and Rory’s wedding.

Though The Doctor makes a big show of leaving Young Amelia behind (in what is possibly the saddest scene of the finale), the new Mr. and Mrs. Pond (Rory knows who wears the pants in their relationship, and he loves it!) jump onto the TARDIS to fly off into the unknown again.  And we still haven’t seen the last of River Song.

There’s no way that a synopsis could do these episodes justice. It’s the kind of finale you just have to watch. In lesser hands, this episode could have been a convoluted mess. However, Moffat managed to use the conventions of time travel to give us The Doctor at his most selfless, putting himself in the most danger in which he’s ever put himself in order to allow the universe a second chance, thus giving us the second-most poignant and emotionally draining Doctor Who finale ever.

“The End of Time” still holds the record for most emotionally draining. I’ve done a scientific study and taken several polls. Seriously.

The Doctor’s journey in these episodes alone is breathtaking, first as he realizes that he is hated so much by so many species as to make them want to lock him away forever, then as he decides that he loves the universe and the living beings in it, enough to save it, even if it means giving up his own existence.

But it isn’t just The Doctor that goes on a poignant journey here. The story of Amy and Rory has become one of the most wonderful things in the Whoniverse. They are meant to be—they’d have to be to be reunited as often as they have been—and it’s such a refreshing thing for a television show to allow a romantic relationship to last. It would’ve been so easy to make Rory another Mickey, a “tin dog” diversion good for a few choice episodes then relegated to the back-burner. But Rory is too good for that, and Amy and Rory together? Well, that’s just a masterpiece.

And then there’s River Song, who’s become an even better character. She’s not simply a wisecracking badass. She’s a woman who loves intensely, and passionately defends her convictions. She isn’t perfect—after all, she’s willing to kill a weakened Dalek point-blank—but she is so much bigger than we ever would’ve thought she could be even after “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead.”

Outstanding character work aside, this plot’s sheer audaciousness made the finale soar. Moffat “killed” The Doctor and his companion—and made it work! (Tim Gunn would be proud.) He managed to work in characters from every other episode this series without it seeming gimmicky. Although there was one questionable moment in his handling of the Cybermen. Since when do they need another person’s body parts? Last we were told, they simply removed people’s brains. Granted, this choice makes the Cybermen even scarier, but this choice seemed unnecessary, especially with everything else going on. The Doctor being imprisoned forever by all his enemies is scary enough! Despite that, the story was perfectly executed.

The performances were brilliant across the board. Smith, Gillan, Darvill, and Kingston are all completely ensconced in these characters, and none of them ever hit a false note. And I was thrilled to see the return of Caitlin Blackwood as Young Amelia Pond, as I am head over heels in love with that girl! It was such a joy to watch her have scenes with her cousin, Karen, too! Again, she needs to be cast in everything ever, please.

Lastly, I love that Moffat and the cast managed to present the End of the Universe as Just Another Adventure. After it was all over, when Amy and Rory jumped onto the TARDIS for The Next Thing, it was a feeling of OK, now what? that I adored. “We just restarted the Universe. You know, whatever.” Gah! Brilliant.

Whatever tiny missteps we’ve seen over the course of the series, it is clear from “The Pandorica Opens” and “The Big Bang” that everything was to a purpose. Everything had a payoff. This two-hour finale was a perfect end to a perfect beginning. We have a great new Doctor and companion (companions!) and I’m looking forward to seeing where they could possibly go after this! Thanks again, Mr. Moffat, for some damned amazing television.

And if I ever meet you in person, I promise I shall try to restrain myself.

Doctor Who returns to BBC America at Christmas!


Teresa Jusino was born on the same day that Skylab fell. Coincidence? She doesn’t think so. Her “feminist brown person” take on pop culture has been featured on websites like PinkRaygun.com, PopMatters.com, and CentralBooking.com (edited by Kevin Smokler). She is currently working on several fiction projects, including a web series for Pareidolia Films called The Pack, which she hopes to debut by the end of the year! Get Twitterpated with Teresa, Follow The Pack or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.

47 comments
Christoper Turkel
1. zizban
After such an up and down season, the ending pulled it all together nicely. I think matt Smith is doing great and here he was finally able to spread his wings.

In a way, through most of the season, Smith's Doctor was overshadowed by the towerinng personallity that is Amy Pond. Here he gets to be his one powerful person.

I loved the finale. It made the whole season worth it.
sofrina
3. sofrina
i agree with teresa on pretty much all levels. it was a fabulous finale. but i am curious about the paradox of amy pond touching amelia pond. we went over all that with rose tyler touching her baby self in season one. so why no drastic consequence here?

other than that, bravo!
Paul Andinach
4. anobium
It's kind of hard to imagine what would qualify as a "drastic consequence" when the universe has already ended.
sofrina
5. sofrina
perhaps the tardis could have finished exploding *instantly*
sofrina
6. ChuckEye
…as he realizes that he is hated so much by so many species as to make them want to lock him away forever…
I don't think it was hatred, so much as “the TARDIS is going to explode and take the universe with it; the Doctor is the only one who flies the TARDIS; therefore the Doctor must be stopped.”

And it was still a little slipshod as to why exactly the TARDIS was exploding…
Paul Liadis
7. strugglingwriter
Ignoring the fuzzy-science-ness, I loved these episodes.

Also, I so want a print of the "Van Gogh" painting of the exploding Tardis.
sofrina
8. Brian2
@ChuckEye, yes, the episode does state the Doctor's being locked up because it's assumed that will keep the TARDIS from exploding. No emotional journey about his being hated by so many species, I think; he just seems to be worried that their locking him up will prevent him from solving the problem. But as for why it was exploding, and who was behind it, that was left for next season. That's made explicit by "Silence will fall."
sofrina
9. Sihaya
Awesome, awesome finale. And you know what's weird? Sometime after I was done watching it, I thought to myself, "Oh, the reviewer at Tor is going to loooove this episode!"

I loved watching the moment when the Doctor is shuffling through Amy's timeline, desperately trying to get her to remember him. We realize that alot of the seemingly loose, straggly bits of plot or editing earlier in the season were actually part of the doc's attempts to communicate with her before he's been forgotten. It's not actually an M. Night Shyamalan moment because the whole story arc didn't rely on those details (and that's good), but it's a nice little side mystery.

And yes, yes, yes - I love that Rory and Amy are still together, that we get some couple - any couple - on the TV to last more than a half of a season together.
sofrina
10. LaughingAstarael
While I don't quite agree that this was the 'second-most poignant and emotionally draining finale' (especially not ranked behind End of Time), I do agree that this was a masterpiece. The wibbly-wobbly ball of timey-wimey stuff was even more wibbly-wobbly than usual and my god it worked. It was an amazing, victorious cap to an uneven season, but that's not why I loved it as much as I did.

What makes me love it is simply this: When was the last time we had an uplifting finale in New Who?

Season One had Nine's death/the Doctor's regeneration. Season Two had The Doctor losing Rose (and I know not everyone likes her but that had me in a blubbering puddle). Season Three had Jesus-Doctor and the loss of the last of his kind (again). Season Four had that incredible scene with everyone flying the TARDIS - and then everyone leaving. And End of Time had, well... a fifteen minute-long goodbye.

This? This ended with a wedding and, I agree, an 'OK, now what?' And I just can't wait!
E M
11. herewiss13
I couldn't help but think about how clever the writer must have felt for coming up with the old/new, borrowed/blue analogy. To be fair, it _is_ really clever, but I can just see him going "GENIUS!" when the thought hit him.

...and I loved the fact that they set it up so nicely and I didn't catch it at all. Just sounded like the Doctor reminiscing. Doubly uber-clever.
Alex Brown
12. AlexBrown
Nope. I didn't buy it at all. Unless the Daleks and Cybermen were also affected by the same brain blitz nonsense that made Amy and Rory forget that they'd been attacked by them in the past, I just don't buy the whole supervillains unite thing. And I can think of villains far eviler than the Sontarans. Also, Smith's first Angry Doctor speech was great, but his Stonehenge Angry Doctor speech felt overheated, overacted, and incredibly narcissistic.

I really didn't get or like "The Pandorica Opens". There are few Who eps that annoy me and that was one of them. But I did like "The Big Bang" even if I did have to watch it twice to follow the wibley-wobbley-timey-wimey non-logic. But "Pandorica" felt like a mid-season finale, like an ep a studio would show just before taking a winter break, and with "The Big Bang" as a mid-season premiere in the spring to finish out the rest of the season.

Hasn't Moffat ever heard of Occam's razor? I'm really tired of the over-exposition and heavy-handedness of the storylines. Don't get me wrong, I love the writing, the acting, and the Whoniverse and all its inhabitants, but the stories have been middling for me this season. I feel like I've been overloaded with lackluster eps like "The Shakespeare Code" and not enough fabulous Moffat-ness like "Blink".

And River still annoys me, though to a lesser extent after all that business with the stone Dalek.
sofrina
13. Pendard
A couple more things I loved about this episode:

1) Stone Dalek = AWESOME

2) It's the first Doctor Who season finale to have a happy ending. No bittersweet regeneration, nobody trapped in a parallel universe, no deeply traumatized companion leaving the Doctor, no tragic memory erasure, no OTHER bittersweet regeneration. A fairy tale ending, you could say.

3) Daleks and Cybermen and Sontarans and Silurians and Autons and Jadoon and Sycorax, oh my!

4) But, seriously, the Sycorax?!? How did they get invited to the party? They must have been somebody's "plus-one."

5) The fact that they left something for next season: River and the Silence.

6) The Doctor's tux. Seriously, where can I buy one?

7) "She's Amy and she's surrounded by Romans. I don't think history can take it."

8) The Doctor's elegy to the TARDIS at the end. Brought a wee tear to me eye.

9) Vincent, Churchill, Bracewell and Liz Ten in cameos.

10) "I said OFF the wrist."

11) A nameless demon/trickster/warrior that descends on your planet one day and lays waste to everything, that can't be stopped, can't be held and can't be reasoned with. It's a perfect description of the Doctor from the point of view of any planet he's ever visited, yet he can't recognize it as a description of himself.

12) "I'd trust that man to the end of the universe. And, actually, we've been." -River Song in "Forest of the Dead," another thing for Steven Moffat to check off his list.

13) Space Florida.

14) "I wear a fez now. Fezes are cool." Even Colin Baker had the fashion sense not to go there.

15) "I hate repeats." In the season finale. Thanks for rubbing it in, Mr. M.
Iain Coleman
14. Iain_Coleman
Lots to love about these episodes, but my favourite moment is the way Matt Smith delivers the line "Fezes are cool", like he's daring the Universe to disagree.
sofrina
15. politeruin
Moving swiftly on from the TMI of the opening passage *retch*...

I did have this conversation with myself...

So how did the doctor escape the pandorica?
Rory opened it with the sonic screwdriver.
How did he get the sonic screwdriver?
The doctor gave it to him.
But how did the doctor escape the pandorica to give it to him?
Rory opened it with the sonic screwdriver.
How did he get the sonic screwdriver?
The doctor gave it to him.
Yes, but HOW did the doctor escape in order to give it to him?!
...
Repeat forever.

Bad writing really but then you don't watch this for the writing, it's just some entertaining fantasy fluff and that's all. I wish we had bloody seen the last of river song but that is depressingly unlikely; odious character. Matt Smith has been a revelation though, much better than Tennant and his stupid gurning expressions.
sofrina
16. illukar
Cool things, cobbled together frenetically, with enough pace to at least stop you from picking it apart too much until later.

I am really enjoying both this version of the Doctor, and both his companions, but there are a lot of flat notes falling plot-wise.

This season has had one brilliant episode (VatD), a handful of reasonable but flawed episodes (Angels, Lodger, Finale), and the rest have been well below par.

Still a lot of fun, though.
Eli Bishop
17. EliBishop
Milo1313 @12: The Angry Doctor at Stonehenge speech was over the top, but I'm pretty sure that was deliberate-- a way for the writers to acknowledge that Angry Doctor speeches had become an unhelpful cliche. In the context of this episode's plot, although the Doctor doesn't know it at the time, his "I'm an incredibly dangerous crazy person who can't be stopped" shtick is the worst possible move; if they hadn't been determined to stick him in a box before, that surely settled it.
Ursula L
18. Ursula
I loved the intimacy and scaling down of the story, from the apparent enormously evil conspiracy in TPO to the four people in an empty museum in TBB.

***

I didn't think the Doctor was hated by the conspiracy at all. They were frightened of him.

This wasn't an alliance of evil species. It was an alliance of species of all sorts who recognized a real threat. It's a heroic alliance to save the universe, with the tragic flaw of not realizing that one of the key assumptions of their plan (the assumption that only the Doctor can fly the TARDIS, which was a reasonable assumption) was wrong.

Even the most "evil" species in the alliance are not evil from their own perspective. The Cybermen want to "upgrade" and improve humanity, which they see as a noble goal. The Daleks have their own reasoning, less clear in the stories, but still, from their own perspective, what they are doing is necessary and good.

And the conspiracy made complete sense.

The TARDIS was exploding, causing cracks in the universe that were expanding to destroy all of existence. The sensible thing would be for the Doctor to stop flying the TARDIS, at least until whatever would lead to the explosion was diagnosed and repaired.

But would the Doctor listen to such sensible advice?

He'd never believe the Daleks, Cybermen or Sontarans. The Judoon saw him, in "The Stolen Earth" refuse to cooperate with others or share the capabilities of the TARDIS to try to find the missing planets, instead running off on his own in the TARDIS to try to handle things on his own. The Silurians, just a few episodes ago, saw the Doctor decide that humans were too bigoted to share Earth with another species, and then side with the bigots telling the Silurians to go away for a thousand years an let the bigots have their way. They had no reason to believe the Doctor would do the right thing when it didn't fit his own preferences.

Heck, if the Silurians, or anyone else in the alliance, had someone observing the Doctor at the end of the second episode, they would have seen the Doctor pull a piece of the TARDIS out of the crack, showing that the TARDIS was associate with whatever was causing the cracks, and then immediately fly off in the TARDIS anyway.

The Doctor's own history, biases and impulsiveness created the alliance, as many species who were able to recognize the threat had specific experience that told them that the Doctor would not be cooperative.

***

But overall, the story was just pure fairy tale. And the story makes the most sense with fairy-tale logic, not the logic of hard SF.

A wizard in a magic box sacrifices himself to bring a little girl home to her mum and dad, and then the love of the little girl brings the wizard back to life. A princess asleep in a coffin is guarded by her beloved for two thousand years. An death-goddess makes the most feared creature in the universe beg for mercy and then kills it anyway, to avenge the murder of her beloved.

And they all live happily ever after.

***

I also liked that, while once again, the Doctor was trying to choose for Amy between domesticity and adventure, this time saying that she'll have her mum and dad and won't need her imaginary friend anymore, once again, Amy rejects the Doctor's (and everyone else's) attempts to choose her life-path, and instead chooses to have it all.

Amy brings back the Doctor, and gets to have a life growing up with her mum and dad, and to marry Rory, and to continue to live the life of an adventuring time-traveler.

Take that, Happily Ever After. The Princess's story doesn't end when she marries Prince Charming.

***

I also thought that the broken Cyberman outside the Pandorica was brilliant. Never mind how needing fresh human body parts to replace the original human body parts fits with the established story. Even broken and ultimately ineffective, that Cyberman was genuinely terrifying, in a way that even the army of Cybermen in "Army of Ghosts" and "Doomsday" wasn't.

***

I also like having a two-season story arc going on. There are still questions open about why the TARDIS exploded, what the Silence is, and who River is. And all three questions were acknowledged in TBB, with assurances that they'll be answered, soon.
Teresa Jusino
19. TeresaJusino
Whoa! There's a lot of you, and so I'm not going to address specific posts. However, there's one part of my review that I think several of you have misinterpreted, so let me clarify.

When I say that The Doctor realizes he's hated, I MEANT that he's seen as a threat. He's the Big Bad. He's the problem. Whatever you want to call it, he realizes that he's seen as the thing that's wrong. I don't think the alliance of species is a bunch of mustache-twirling evil-doers. I DO think they think they're doing what's in the best interests of the Universe.

And that's what makes it such an emotional moment for The Doctor. He sees that this group of species see him the way he's used to looking at others...and he doesn't like it. It's sad because we've gotten to know The Doctor, and we know that he has the best interests of the Universe at heart. So what happens when the thing that's wrong with the universe is him?

Also, you can't ignore the fact that these are ALL species that The Doctor has, at one point or another, beaten in his efforts to protect the universe, so to COMPLETELY see this as a good-will mission on behalf of the alliance is a bit wrong. You can imagine that, even though they're doing this for a very real reason, there's also a LARGE part of each of them that is happy that they finally have the help and resources they need to beat The Doctor. If you eliminate that aspect, I think you're eliminated the most resonant part of the story, breaking it down to it's simplest plot element re: the TARDIS exploding.
Ursula L
20. Ursula
Also, you can't ignore the fact that these are ALL species that The Doctor has, at one point or another, beaten in his efforts to protect the universe

They're not all beaten by the Doctor. Take two examples:

The Judoon have never directly confronted the Doctor - the closest they've come to being "beaten" by the Doctor was when he flew off on his own in "The Stolen Earth." In "Smith and Jones" the Judoon weren't really aware of the Doctor much at all, in their search for their fugitive. They might distrust the Doctor, but they've not been beaten by him.

River mentioned the Atraxi as part of the Alliance. The Doctor actually helped them catch Prisoner Zero, and while he warned them off of threatening the Earth again, saying he'd protect Earth, he's never harmed them. At the point he warned them off, they weren't even planing on burning the Earth anymore, having successfully captured Prisoner Zero and being on their way home. That's hardly "beaten" either.

River also mentions the Draconians as part of the Alliance, and going by their Wikipedia entry, they weren't really harmed by the Doctor either - he averted a war between Draconians and Humans.

The Alliance is an eccentric bunch.
sofrina
21. sofrina
"eccentric" or "eclectic?"
Ursula L
23. Ursula
I also liked the Doctor getting Amelia a drink.

Never mind the Doctor not interfering with history unless there are children crying. He'll interfere with history just because a child is mildly thirsty. Or at least, if Amelia/Amy is thirsty.

This is perfect characterization of the current Doctor. He flies into the exploding TARDIS not merely to save the universe, but to give the confused child he met in "The Eleventh Hour" her parents back.
Jessica Robertson
24. jessara
"The Silurians, just a few episodes ago, saw the Doctor decide that humans were too bigoted to share Earth with another species"

That particular part of the episode absolutely infuriated me. It wasn't humans who decided to start a genocidal war. It was the captive's own choice to commit suicide by guard. And she was the one involved in attacking unarmed civillians - taking them prisoner for torture.
sofrina
25. Tatterbots
One of the many things I really love about this story is the way it used the Pandorica. We all know about the Sealed Evil In A Can trope (you can look it up on tvtropes.org): the "can" stays sealed and undisturbed for thousands of years, is impossible to open from the inside, is worryingly easy to open from the outside, and contains some phlebotinum that keeps its prisoner alive for ever. Moffat plays with all of these properties.

First, in TPA, we see the Pandorica apparently opening from the inside, which is especially worrying because we know it isn't supposed to do that. (It isn't really, of course - it's empty, and has been programmed to open itself at that time.)

Next, the "thousands of years" part. This is set up explicitly in TPA. The Doctor gets shut in the Pandorica in 102 AD, but we already know that the important date is in 2010, where River went in the TARDIS. Would Moffat leave the Doctor in there for all that time? After all, something similar was done on Torchwood, where it was played as if it made no long-term difference to anything. I hated the way they did that, so for me, shutting the Doctor in the Pandorica was the ultimate cliffhanger, with my estimation of one of my favourite writers at stake. In the UK, the summer solstice fell during the week between the two episodes, and when I saw the usual dawn celebration at Stonehenge on the news, I really wondered whether in an alternate universe those revellers were dancing on top of the Doctor. The idea made me shudder.

But I shouldn't have doubted Moffat's judgement. He didn't triple the Doctor's lifespan at a stroke - he knew that would have been too big a shakeup for the show. All the same, an Evil Can that doesn't have someone sealed in it for thousands of years isn't doing its job; it's an empty threat, and it becomes lame. So in goes Amy. And someone ought to experience the weight of all those centuries, so we've got Auton Rory standing guard. Rory is now older than the Doctor, but if he never mentions it again I won't feel cheated, because it only happened in one of the timelines that merged together at the end - in the other one he's young and fully human, so it's reasonably plausible if he acts that way in future. I'd like to think he remembers his vigil in a "I'm proud that I did this awesome thing for the girl I love" way, but not in a "I've spent most of my life guarding the Pandorica, and the relatively tiny amount of time I spent being a nurse in Leadworth, millennia ago in my personal timestream, feels almost irrelevant now" way. Because that's what he deserves.

Amy emerging from the Pandorica when we had no idea she was in it ("Okay, kid, this is where it gets complicated") is a lovely WTF moment. And while Moffat's at it, he debunks the "undisturbed for thousands of years" part of the trope. The Doctor finds the Pandorica pretty easily, so what are the chances that nobody else would? ("Never underestimate a Celt," as he says.) No, it gets taken away and hauled around Europe and the Middle East, becomes a famous unsolved puzzle, and ends up in a museum! (This season's been full of museums. Doctor Who Confidential went into some detail about the other anomalies in this one, like the Nile penguins. And young Amelia showing her disdain for the stone Daleks by sucking noisily on her drink was another moment I loved.)

How about the Pandorica being worryingly easy to open from the outside? For once this works in the protagonists' favour, although it does feel like a bit of a cheat. These days I expect stable time loops - they're part of the Doctor Who landscape, and I enjoy them - but I think the Daleks et al ought to have anticipated this one.

The restoration field is the most genius bit. Its existence doesn't make sense - if you want to lock someone away for ever, wouldn't it be easiest just to let them die? But the occupant of an Evil Can always does survive, so we are not surprised when we are told the Pandorica has a restoration field inside. Perhaps its makers put it there because, well, just because you have to have one. When it is used to resurrect Amy, we think it's served its purpose, but then it's used again to reboot the universe, turning it to the protagonists' advantage in a really spectacular way. The irony is that the Pandorica really does save the universe, just as its makers intended, although not at all as they envisaged.

About the coalition of villains - they really do hate the Doctor, because they fear him. This even goes for the ones he hasn't actually harmed. What else should he expect if he goes around making bombastic speeches like that? So they demonise him. They might be ready to blame him unjustly for almost any misfortune, the way the Nazis used to demonise the Jews, but in this case they've actually got some evidence that the impending threat is connected with him, because it really is the TARDIS that blows up. Their hatred blinds them to the idea that the situation might not be black and white. Actually, I think it's very strange that River can fly the TARDIS. She's even better at it than the Doctor, so can he really have taught her? I think there might be a stranger explanation, which might make the villains' mistake more excusable. I hope we find out soon.
sofrina
26. Tatterbots
Duh. When I say TPA I mean TPO, The Pandorica Opens. Not "apens". Sorry.

(Captcha: "469-70, 471, 472-4 sackett", the weirdest I've ever had.)
Ursula L
27. Ursula
Regarding the stasis/restoration field, given the violence of the Doctor's last regeneration, keeping him from dying and regenerating, and possibly blowing up the Pandorica and escaping, makes complete sense.

And we knew that the Evil Alliance had stasis technology, as the Silurians were keeping the bulk of their population in stasis. And we just saw this, a few episodes ago. So it isn't a trick out of nowhere.
sofrina
28. Tatterbots
Yes, I like that idea. The only thing I can think of against it is the eerie "Silence will fall" voice and the outside force that was controlling the TARDIS when River was on board, which makes it seem that something else caused the explosion. But perhaps the Doctor's enemies think his regeneration would do it - they don't have to be right. Or perhaps they are right and the mysterious voice is a distraction.

We still don't know why it was 26/06/2010. I wonder if a future episode will see them revisiting Amy and Rory's wedding in the style of Back to the Future 2 revisiting the school dance.

Ursula L
29. Ursula
I'm not saying that the Evil Alliance thinks that the Doctor's regeneration is responsible for the explosion of the TARDIS. Although, now that you mention it, it seems plausible. Just why is there steam/smoke constantly venting within the TARDIS control room?

But the Doctor's regeneration did do serious damage to the TARDIS, requiring the TARDIS to regenerate. Does the Alliance know this?

The Alliance merely needs to be concerned about the effects that the Doctor's regeneration would have on the Pandorica. Would the Pandorica explode or be critically damaged from the force? Would the bindings holding the Doctor in place be broken, freeing him to move about within the Pandorica, and perhaps figure out an escape?
sofrina
30. Kevin J Marks
One unstated loose end, that I bet Moffat did on purpose:
the Weeping Angels can get out of the time-eating crack too (and does Amy still have a bit of one in her eye?)
sofrina
31. N. Lesley
In (likely) unimportant fan-nod, I loved how the first two letters of Gallifreyan/Greek on the River-graffiti were Theta Sigma, the doctor's old college nickname.

It was probably just a fun, subtle bit of fanservice, but wouldn't it be wonderful if it wasn't? If River was an old college buddy like the master? Most people do have more than one friend in college, so who knows? That would also explain why she can fly the tardis and write gallifreyan. Maybe that's the name she whispers in the doctor's ear in Forests of the Dead?

Stranger things have happened, and several of them have happened in the Whoniverse.
sofrina
32. Caitrin
I loved the finale! I really love the new Doctor and Amy and I'm actually happy Rory is back :D

However there is a rumor going around that Matt Smith only wants to do 1 more season and then wants to move on :(
MC Z
33. Hapalochlaena
The name that River whispers into the Doctor's ear is the Doctor's TrueName™ which, as confirmed by the showrunners in the accompanying Confidential episode, has never been (and never will be) revealed in the history of the series.

#

Teresa, many thanks for the Season 5 commentaries. I hope to see you again when the Christmas special and S6 come around.


And just in case a full index of Teresa's Doctor Who posts doesn't turn up here at tor.com, here's mine.
Steven Halter
34. stevenhalter
politeruin@15

That sequence also bothered me some. The only out I can think of is that there were actually multiple time lines going on and we don't see one of them. It did seem like a bit of lazy writing there.
On the other hand, I really enjoyed the rest of the episode.

I had a thought that the voice that keeps repeating "Silence will fall" might be the Master since he has that drumbeat in his head that he wants to stop. It seems somewhat like the master to destroy the universe to get rid of an annoying sound.
Ursula L
35. Ursula
That sequence also bothered me some. The only out I can think of is that there were actually multiple time lines going on and we don't see one of them. It did seem like a bit of lazy writing there.

I took that sequence as a time-loop, made possible by time travel. Same as was set up in "The Lodger" with Amy leaving the note for the Doctor at the end of the episode, for him to find at the beginning of the episode.

Not logical when you think of it in linear time, but completely possible for a time traveler, and with less concern than is typical for a time-loop paradox as the universe was collapsing anyway.

It's not a trick used often on the show, to have the Doctor go back in time to set things up for himself, but it is something that is quite possible within the logic of time-travel within the show, given limits of fixed and fluid events, etc.
Steven Halter
36. stevenhalter
The difference is that in The Lodger, Amy is free to act. She is in the Tardis and can go back and leave the note. No particular contradiction.

In The Big Bang, we start with the Doctor in the Pandorica. He comes back in time and gives Rory the sonic. At that point the Doctor had not been given freedom of action in his current timeline.

I would have liked a bit with Rory deciding he has to do something, spending a few years figuring out how to open the Pandorica, freeing the Doctor, who then goes back and gives Rory the sonic to speed things up...and then we get a fine time loop going.

Not saying that it couldn't work in the current mode, just that I would have liked the little extra.
Ursula L
37. Ursula
The difference is that in The Lodger, Amy is free to act. She is in the Tardis and can go back and leave the note. No particular contradiction.

Amy wasn't free to act.

She was trapped in the malfunctioning TARDIS. It is only once the fake-TARDIS is neutralized that she is freed from the malfunctioning TARDIS and able to go back and leave the note that lets the Doctor find and neutralize the fake-TARDIS.

It is the exact same thing - someone who was trapped, after being freed, going back in time to leave the tools needed for someone else to free them.

I'd take "The Lodger" as actually being subtle worldbuilding for the time-hopping in "The Big Bang", establishing that time-loops can be used to free people under the right circumstances. That way the concept didn't just get created from nowhere when the Doctor needed it to escape from the Pandorica.
Steven Halter
38. stevenhalter
That's a good point, I can see how the two are the same -- trapped in a single timeline with a non linear loop breaking the trap.
sofrina
39. politeruin
Ursula

That's all very well and dandy, i get the non-linearity timey whimey plotting but that doesn't excuse poor writing. Using this means you can lazily resolve anything without having to think up something clever, which seems to have been the theme of this series in hindsight.

Moffat has quite easily failed to live up to the hype as far as i'm concerned.
Paul Andinach
40. anobium
I'm not sure I believe that the Alliance knew about the Doctor's violently explosive regeneration. But I don't think they need to. They don't need to have any specific knowledge, just a suspicion.

Talking in tropes again, what's the other thing everybody knows about the kind of monster that gets Sealed in a Can?

It's this: If you kill it, it will come back again. Usually at the most unexpected and inconvenient moment possible.

The Alliance don't need to have the slightest idea how the Doctor could turn death to his advantage. All they need is a suspicion that he would. Somehow. Because he's the Doctor, and that's exactly the kind of thing he would do.
Ursula L
41. Ursula
Even more simply, the Daleks, in "The Stolen Earth" killed the Doctor, and saw that he came back. So "escape through death" was something they knew he could do.

Various members of the Alliance had seen the Doctor in his different incarnations and knew that he cold change form under the right circumstances. Not all members may have realized it was a die-regenerate cycle, rather than changing form at will, but being able to change form would be a particular difficulty for imprisoning someone. What if they could, say, change to a microscopic or miniature form and slip through a crack in the doorway?

Putting the prisoner in the Pandorica in some sort of medical stasis, similar to that which kept the Silurians alive but asleep, seems a more effective way to neutralize the Doctor than to merely kill him. Like the immobility and unconsciousness of general anesthesia, it would be far more restrictive and controlled than merely locking someone up.

With the Doctor, you want to imprison his mind, as well as his body. Given enough time to think, there is the possibility that he'll think of a way to escape. So you plan the prison to stop him from thinking.
sofrina
42. TMuscat
To anyone still wondering about the apparent change in Cyberman technology: In 'Doomsday', the Cybermen needed to quickly convert more and more people to increase their army and fight the Daleks. In such emergency situations, normal upgrading would take too long, so the Cyber-armour was built around the Human victim - confirmation of this is in the 'Torchwood' episode 'Cyberwoman'. The upgrading process would therefore be not as effective in keeping its subject's longevity as the normal process (for isntance, the normal process included extremely effective preservatives for the brain replacing its normal liquid), so presumably the Cyber-armour would need to be programmed to ssek out a new host once its old one dies.
sofrina
43. TMuscat
@ 15. politeruin : The whole thing with the Doctor, Rory and the screwdriver is not a case of bad writing, but is an occurance of a phenomenon called a TEMPORAL PARADOX, in particular the predestination paradox. Try looking it up!

A practical example: A man travels back in time to discover the cause of a famous fire. While in the building where the fire started, he accidentally knocks over a kerosene lantern and causes a fire, the same fire that would inspire him, years later, to travel back in time. - The original source of the fire cannot be determined as the man is in a time loop/predesitnation paradox.
sofrina
44. ChrisW
Re: the Zombie!Cyberman

First, the creators have confirmed that the Cybermen appearing in the finale weren't the same Cybus industry cybermen created on Pete's World, but rather the modern incarnations of the classic Who villian. Obviously, they look the same - that's because they just don't have the money to redesign the suits (and I don't see why they should, anyway, they are pretty awesome). The old cybermen replaced bits of their bodies piecemeal, if I remember correctly, more along the lines of what happened in Cyberwoman (with less gratuitous skin-showing). And come on, the idea of a Cyberman that can function despite being dissembled is terrifying.
sofrina
45. TMuscat
@ 44 ChrisW: Good to know about the Cybermen, I hadn't seen that bit of info about them being the same classic ones. Could you please tell me where you found this, so that I can be more informed next time? Thanks!
sofrina
46. xanderphillips
I don't like the cheat of giving the plastic roman the screwdriver so he can free the doctor. The actors have to be able to step into the first iteration of the time loop at some point, and there was no explanation for that given.

Oh, and given his enemies' knowledge of the Doctor, would YOU have locked him in the box AND NOT TAKEN AWAY THE SCREWDRIVER???
sofrina
47. xanderphillips
And another thing... What about daughter Jenny? Will she ever come back into the series?
Jordan Wright
48. Anthropocene
Daughter Jenny married David Tennant in real life, and Georgia Moffett, who plays Jenny, is the real-life daughter of Fifth Doctor actor Peter Davison.

talk about timey wimey... hopefully they all come back as guest actors in future episodes.

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