Russell T. Davies seems to have started a trend! Suddenly, fashion dictates that before any sitting Doctor can leave, they have to take a Farewell Tour and say goodbye to old friends. Thankfully, in the case of this week’s episode, “Closing Time,” The Doctor made only one stop.
And don’t worry. The above statement really isn’t a spoiler. Mostly because the next episode is the last of the season, and I still have no idea what the hell’s really going on.
Two Lodgers and a Baby
This season benefited from the return of one of the best new characters from Matt Smith’s tenure, the wonderful Craig Owens, played by the almost criminally sweet James Corden. It’s the day before The Doctor is supposed to be killed in (and by) “The Impossible Astronaut,” and The Doctor, having said goodbye to Amy and Rory, is looking to connect with another human who means something to him. Meanwhile, Craig is now married to Sophie, the love of his life with whom he first got together in “The Lodger” last season. They now have a baby son, Alfie, and Craig is being left alone with Alfie for the first time when Sophie decides to give them bonding time and go away for the weekend. However, neither Sophie, nor his mother, nor Craig are very sure that Craig can handle dealing with the baby on his own. Enter The Doctor, with his magical shushing powers, who translates Baby and tells Craig that Alfie prefers to be called Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All and would really rather his father wear him in a baby carrier, because Not Mum is way too slow when he’s summoned.
It was a wonderful choice to continue the progression of Craig’s increasing confidence in himself by following him to the next stage of his life. He’s already gotten past his insecurities enough to get the girl, now he must get past them again and realize that he is capable of being a good dad. However, I wish that writer Gareth Roberts didn’t simply recycle “The Lodger” in order to make it happen. Instead of aliens with a time engine accidentally crashing and getting stuck, it’s Cybermen, but the result is the same. Craig defeats them with love. I know that Gareth Roberts has other stories in him. I just wish he had more stories for this character.
Recycling aside, the episode contains hilarious and heartwarming moments that make the stale plot worth it. All the bits with the baby were amazing, and Matt Smith proves once again how wonderful he is with children. He also shows us The Doctor’s sensitive side as he confesses to a sleeping Craig the fact that he’s supposed to die the next day. And of course, there was the moment when The Doctor distracted Craig from looking at the Cybermen’s ship by pretending to profess his love and go in for a kiss. The truly wonderful thing about that moment? Craig doesn’t respond by saying “But I’m straight!” He says, “But I’m taken!” A subtle, but meaningful difference that made that moment, as well as the partner/companion jokes throughout, funny for the right reasons.
The chemistry between Matt Smith and James Corden is magic, and it’s fun to watch The Doctor have a male best friend in Craig. He is able to be more laid back and loose around him than he can be around anyone else, and he pals around with him in a way he never could with Rory. Having Craig be the one who gives The Doctor his Stetson before he heads of to the U.S. was a lovely touch.
A Complicated Melody
I didn’t have a huge problem with this episode. However, since this is the last one before the season finale, the fact that we still know so little about what Melody Pond’s purpose actually is, despite her scene at the end, has me very concerned. I mean, yes, she’s supposed to kill The Doctor, and yes I figured the little girl — who was Melody — was in the spacesuit. But why does it have to be her? Can only Time Lords kill other Time Lords? Why does it have to be older Melody and not the little girl? And why go through this convoluted plan in the first place?
Madame Kovarian and her plan to kill The Doctor is starting to remind me of this:
Also, is it me, or was superimposing Alex Kingston’s face on the space helmet really creepy? Steven Moffat came through for me last season with “The Pandorica Opens” and “The Big Bang.” I still believe that all can be revealed in the next episode, but at this point it had better be good. The Doctor deserves more than the kind of plan that is the stuff of Disney comedy.
Doctor Who airs Saturdays at 9PM ET on BBC America.
Teresa Jusino is going to name her first child Stormageddon. She can be heard on the popular Doctor Who podcast, 2 Minute Time Lord, participating in a roundtable on Series 6.1. Her “feminist brown person” take on pop culture has been featured on websites like ChinaShopMag.com, PinkRaygun.com, Newsarama, and PopMatters.com. Her fiction has appeared in the sci-fi literary magazine, Crossed Genres; she is the editor of Beginning of Line, the Caprica fan fiction site; and her essay “Why Joss is More Important Than His ‘Verse” is included in Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them, which is on sale now wherever books are sold! 2012 will see Teresa’s work in two upcoming sci-fi anthologies. Get Twitterpated with Teresa,“like” her on Facebook, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.