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Monday, September 24, 2012

Doctor Who Recap: Three's Company!

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 11:44 AM

THE POWER OF THREE Maybe theyre tiny Pandoricas! No? Oh.
  • THE POWER OF THREE Maybe they're tiny Pandoricas! No? Oh.

Welcome to our fourth-ever, supposedly-weekly Doctor Who recap/bullshit session, which is a thing I made up in order to trick the Mercury into paying for my Doctor Who season pass on iTunes. I'm Erik Henriksen, senior editor at the Mercury, and I'm joined by Bobby Roberts, the Mercury's calendar editor. Every Monday we'll talk about the previous weekend's episode of Doctor Who, and all of our opinions will be 100 percent correct, even if they conflict with one other. Or conflict with yours. Speaking of which, if you've got thoughts of your own regarding the Doctor, Amy, Rory, or slug pellets, put 'em in the comments. Geronimo, etc.

ERIK: Cubes! Cubes everywhere! All sorts of tiny cubes! But are they cubes... or are they metaphors for how we keep things around even when we don't need them in our lives??? Like the Ponds keep the Doctor around, maybe? Or like the Doctor keeps the Ponds around, maybe? I feel like this episode had a lot of emotional stuff going on but I also just keep remembering the Return of the Jedi-era Darth Vader hologram who was CubeMaster or whatever.

BOBBY: This was a charmingly scattered house of cards that writer Chris Chibnall built. The last time he wrote an episode, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, he introduced Rory's dad, Brian, who is one of my favorite characters in recent years, right up there with goofy-ass Craig, father of Stormageddon. Brian is back, and maybe speaking to that metaphor you're dancing around, he seems to exist mostly as a walking punchline who every now and again checks the Doctor's impressive chin with reminders not to get his son and his daughter in-law killed. This adds some unexpected poignancy to what is otherwise a really fun, silly episode.

ERIK: Rory's dad is 100 percent fantastic—a character who's smitten with everything the Doctor can do and loves all the weird crap the Doctor brings into Rory and Amy's lives, but also one who—because he's older, like Amy and Rory are starting to get—knows the limits and dangers of it, too. This attitude's more obvious with him, because he's, you know, a dad, but it echoes the same things Amy and Rory are going through: realizing they want stability and their own lives over whatever weird shit (CUBES!) the Doctor's going to make them deal with this week. It's an attitude that should be totally fun-killing and lame, but it doesn't come across that way, which is pretty remarkable. I thought this episode's character stuff was about 10 times more interesting than all the stuff with the cubes, which seemed like just one more monster-of-the-week thing that wasn't bad but wasn't great either—compared to robot cowboys and dinosaurs on spaceships and armies of daleks, a bunch of Legos that spend most of the episode not even doing anything aren't going to be that neat.

BOBBY: Yeah, watching Rory and Amy, over the course of a year, realize they'd rather have a life of their own was really the dramatic thrust of the episode, and led to genuinely affecting moments, such as hearing the Doctor explain why he keeps dropping in on them like some sort of time-traveling Cosmo Kramer, and a quick little throwaway line from Rory that was jarring in its economic profundity: "What you do isn't all there is." Which made the ending of the episode all the more clumsy and off-kilter. I'm really liking that this season is one-and-dones, but maybe this one should have been a two-parter, so as to make the ending feel a little more organic. Because as it stands now, it's basically a mutual breakup between the Doctor and his companions, shown over the course of a year, ended in five minutes with a couple swipes of a sonic screwdriver, with Brian completely reversing his stance on his kid going off with the Doctor, and the Ponds completely reversing their years of growth by posing in front of the TARDIS and uttering a line about "The power of three" that was so cheesedick a friend told me this weekend he was sure the closing credits theme was going to start with "Go go Power Rangerrrrrrs!"

ERIK: I don't know if I'd call that line "cheesedick," because I have some class, but yes, point taken, philistine. I'm still going to be bummed out to see the Ponds go, even if I might already be a little bit in love with the new companion. Whats-her-name. The Sexy Dalek.

BOBBY: About that; it appears Sexy Dalek ≠ new companion. Apparently that character is not the new companion, even though she's played by the woman who does play the new companion, Jenna Louise-Coleman. She might have just been a last minute casting choice. So two characters, played by the same woman? I dunno. Steven Moffat can't do anything without making it like 13 times more complicated than it needs to be. For example, I'm pretty sure that reversal at the end of this week's script was placed there solely for maximum heart-tuggage and tear-spillage for next Saturday when Moffat has the Weeping Angels come to New York and our dear Ponds finally exit stage left, in one way or another. To quote my wife: "If they kill Rory Williams one more goddamn time, I'm going. To be. Upset."

ERIK: Yeah yeah, whatever, but wait. So... new companion... isn't the... Sexy Dalek... but... they aren't the... the actress... Ugh. Okay. I do not understand. Okay.

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