Written by: Steven Moffat
Directed by: Nick Hurran
Oh, and spoilers. SPOILERS! By no means read this (at all, really, it’s not especially edifying) but especially if you’ve not yet seen the episode and care about watching these things unspoilerised…
So. The new series of Who begins, with this year’s random changing of the schedule being an autumn start with a break, then Christmas, then more next year. What wasn’t new, and is becoming usual with Who, were the usual pre-airdate entreaties to those who’d seen the previews to keep silent on the ‘surprises’. I must admit, as I get older and grumpier, I get less worried by spoilers. If something depends on a reveal or twist, it increasingly seems to me, then it’s not going to stand up to re-watching. 1
In this case, though, the surprise was rather cunning. The usual fan-person viewer (by which I mean, well, me), upon seeing the early scenes with Oswin, would naturally and immediately deduce that she was a Dalek, remembering similar multiple-level realities/dreams from previous Moffat episodes, in particular the girl/CAL from Silence in the Libary. Usual me was then distracted, though, by thinking: “Hang on, that’s the new companion, she can’t be a Dalek!”; and, thusly, tiresome old men like me were a still a bit surprised when it turned out she was a Dalek after all! (Although: shouldn’t her voice have sounded like a Dalek? Perhaps it should. OR SHOULD IT? To be fair, I didn’t even consider this on first viewing, so it probably doesn’t matter…)
Is it a good episode though? I enjoyed it, as I always have and always will Doctor Who, and yet:
a] Personally, I don’t think Daleks scale very well. The gazillions of Daleks in the Parliament were far less scary or threatening than the single one in the brilliant Dalek, and the new thing of them being disguised as humans that then grow eye-stalks just made me think, “Oh no, they’re not going to do the tiresome “Who’s a Cylon” thing all series, are they?
b] I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to claim a set of new-man cufflinks or anything, but a lot of Amy’s character and plot points recently have been about whether or not she is, or will be, pregnant, which seems a shame, given the character’s beginnings in Series 5. (Especially as Amy’s emotional reactions to tall of this last year were largely skipped over for getting on with the adventure reasons. Which is fine, although did make think, last year, at times, a bit: “Just do one thing or the other!”) Aho! I yield to no chap in my love of Amy and Rory as companions, and Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill’s portrayals of same, but the whole, “I let you go!” business seemed (to me a catastrophically unbeliavable failure of communication for characters that have known each other (virtually) all their lives. (And yes, I am one of these people that perhaps prefer Who not to overdo the emotional and soapy side of things, but I’m quite capable, still, of having something in my eye whenever I re-watch the end of Family of Blood, or more or less any of the Bernard Cribbens episodes. There are other examples.) The, “Things happened, we split up,” seemed much more believable.
c] I quite liked the Dalek reboot, “Doctor Who?!?!?!?!” business, although if it just gives the Doctor another huge advantage over them I’ll probably go off it. (Then again, he can’t use the “Do You Know Who I Am?!” tactic on them from now on, which is a Good Thing. Aho! Now to watch it again on iPlayer and the repeat on Friday….
1 The classic example of this, is, of course, The Sixth Sense;. In my experience, people who’ve seen this divide exactly in to two types. Those who didn’t see the twist coming and therefore (it seemed to me) thought the film marvellous; and those who saw the twist almost immediately, and therefore (it seemed to me) thought the film rather a waste of time. Tellingly, I don’t know anyone, from either group, who has watched it more than once.