Review for Doctor Who: Series 6, Part 1 (Warning: Contains Spoilers)
Steven Moffat, the current head writer of Doctor Who, promised us exciting new developments for the show's sixth season since its triumphant return in 2005. So far Doctor Who has been mind-blowing, with terrifying new villains, chilling adventures, and some answers about the enigmatic River Song. Below are my summaries and reviews of episodes 1-7, "The Impossible Astronaut"-"A Good Man Goes to War". As the title states, there are spoilers in these summaries, so if you haven't watched the episodes yet, you have been warned.
Episode One: "The Impossible Astronaut" (Steven Moffat)
After a two-month silence from the Doctor, newlywed companions Amy and Rory receive a TARDIS-blue envelope with map coordinates that lead them to Utah. There the Doctor and River join them for a lakeside picnic, and everyone seems happy and content to be together as the Doctor outlines their next trip to 1969. But something is wrong--the Doctor claims to be two hundred years older than when his friends last saw him, and a stranger arrives whom no one but the Doctor knows. And then things get even stranger with the sighting of an Apollo 13 astronaut standing in the lake. Warning his friends not to interfere with what he is about to do, the Doctor approaches the astronaut, speaks with it a few moments...and is promptly shot. As the regeneration process begins, the astronaut shoots him again and retreats into the water. Amy, Rory, and River rush forward, but they're too late. The Doctor is dead.
The stranger, who identifies himself as Canton Edward Delaware III, provides gasoline for them to burn the Doctor's body. When River asks him why he came, he provides a TARDIS-blue envelope as proof that he was invited. His envelope has a number 4 on it, which gets River thinking. She received an envelope with a 2 on it; Amy and Rory's number was 3. Who received the first envelope, and why hasn't that person arrived yet? When they retreat to a nearby diner to sort things out, they find the first envelope lying on a table, and it was sent to...the Doctor!? But he's dead...rather, he'll be dead in two hundred years, and not telling him what they've seen is the hardest thing Amy, Rory, and River have ever done. They convince this younger Doctor to take them to 1969 where they become embroiled in an FBI investigation into who is calling President Nixon every night and why this caller is so frightened. This adventure introduces them to Canton Edward Delaware III as a disgraced FBI agent and strange villains they can't quite remember. The astronaut also returns, and Amy, desperate to save the Doctor's life, shoots it in the hope that it won't be around to kill the Doctor in 2011, realizing too late that the Doctor's killer-to-be is a frightened little girl.
Episode Two: "Day of the Moon" (Steven Moffat)
"Day of the Moon" picks up three months after the events of "The Impossible Astronaut". The Doctor is a prisoner of the American government for "misleading" the FBI in their investigation. Amy, Rory, and River are running for their lives, avoiding capture while trying to learn more about the creatures behind this conspiracy. Canton oversees the shooting of Amy and Rory but loses River's trail when she falls out of a fifty-story window in New York City. Nonetheless, he delivers the married couple in body bags to the Doctor in his new dwarf star alloy prison cell. It's the perfect prison because no transmissions of any sort can penetrate the walls...which makes it the perfect place for the Doctor, Canton, Amy, and Rory to plan their next move without being overhead. They escape in the TARDIS (concealed in the prison with its invisibility cloak), pick up River before she hits the ground in New York City, and review notes. The monsters, they've learned, are everywhere in America, and they can edit themselves out of the memory of anyone who looks at them. Consequently, the Doctor and his friends have learned very little about them, but the Time Lord hopes to learn more about them by learning the identity of the girl in the spacesuit. He dispatches Amy and Canton to search orphanages near where they first saw the girl while he handles some special modifications to the Apollo 13 rocket, which features in his plans.
When Amy and Canton arrive at the first orphanage, they find it nearly abandoned except for an absentminded old man who thinks it's 1967. There are bright red letters on the walls warning everyone to leave, and the orphanage itself is in terrible condition. While Canton interviews the orphanage head, Amy explores the rooms for any sign of the missing girl. One room yields a hive of sleeping monsters; another is a room that belongs to a little girl--the same girl they saw in the astronaut suit, judging from the pictures on her dresser. Among the pictures, Amy sees a picture of herself holding the girl as a baby. As she struggles to understand, the girl returns flanked by two of the creatures, and Amy becomes their prisoner. Her screams alert Canton, now joined by the recently-returned Doctor, River, and Rory, but they arrive too late. However, they have a prisoner of their own--Canton wounded one of the creatures, and the Doctor is able to communicate with it. It identifies its race as the Silence, and it prophesies, as did many of the Doctor's foes in season 5, "Silence will fall." This spurs the Doctor into faster action, and they track Amy to the Silence's lair and rescue her after ensuring, through the use of video footage and Neil Armstrong's foot, that the Silence will be wiped from the face of the Earth.
Episode Three: "The Curse of the Black Spot" (Steve Thompson)
When the TARDIS answers a distress call, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory find themselves on a pirate ship in the 1700's. Its crew, commanded by Captain Avery, lives in fear of a Siren that marks the sick and wounded with a black spot before coming to claim them. Trapped in a becalmed ocean, they lack the supplies to keep the travelers alive, so they shove Amy below deck and prepare the Doctor and Rory to walk the plank. Amy, however, retrieves a hat and cutlass and proceeds to rescue her boys. In the resulting scuffle, Rory and one of the sailors are injured; the black spot appears on their hands, and the Siren rises from the ocean to claim them. The first sailor falls victim to her unearthly song, but the Doctor and Amy restrain Rory from touching her. The Doctor hurriedly classifies the Siren as a creature that uses water to cross from one dimension to the other and ensures that the crew stays far away from any sign of water by herding them below deck. Once there, Captain Avery discovers that his son has stowed away aboard the ship, and he, too, is marked with a black spot. Determined to get them all out alive, the Doctor, accompanied by a suspicious Captain Avery, goes to the TARDIS to prepare it to get everyone off alive, a plan which goes awry when the TARDIS is hijacked. As if things couldn't get worse, the remainder of Captain Avery's crew mutinies, but they are injured in the inevitable skirmish, and the Siren comes for them. In one instance, she claims a man who is nowhere near the water, forcing the Doctor to re-evaluate his original opinion on the Siren.
Finally reaching the correct conclusion that the Siren uses all reflections, not water, to travel between dimensions, the Doctor sets out to destroy everything that can be used as a mirror. Shortly after he undertakes this mission, a storm blows in, bringing the wind necessary for escaping the Siren's domain. But they still aren't safe from her--when the Doctor destroyed every possible reflection on the ship, he included the shiny treasure on board, but Captain Avery saved a piece. The Siren comes to the ship through that portal and claims Toby and, in a few seconds, Rory, who falls into the ocean and is on the point of drowning. In an effort to find where the Siren takes her victims, the Doctor, Amy, and Captain Avery prick their fingers to attract her attention. She comes and takes them to a ship that is technically in the same spot as Captain Avery's but occupies a different universe. It was also stranded, and its crew died from the Earth germs that crossed the barriers between the universes. The Siren was the medic, and with the crew dead, she took it upon herself to care for the humans in the other world. The sick and injured crewmen, including Toby and Rory, reside in her sick bay, but she doesn't know enough about human physiology to completely cure them. In the end Captain Avery chooses to stay aboard with Toby and the rest of his men so the Siren can continue to care for them, and Amy performs CPR on Rory so he can leave in the TARDIS with her and the Doctor.
Episode Four: "The Doctor's Wife" (Neil Gaiman)
The TARDIS is out in deep space when the Doctor receives a distress call from a fellow Time Lord, his friend the Corsair. Excited at the possibility of there being other survivors from the Time War, he steers the TARDIS out of the universe and materializes on an asteroid. Once he lands, however, the TARDIS systems shut completely down--it's as if the heart of the TARDIS has been sucked out of the shell. Curious, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory go out to explore the planet and are almost immediately confronted by a woman who calls the Doctor "Thief". Two other humans and an Ood are with her; Auntie and Uncle (as the humans identify themselves) ask the Doctor to excuse Idris, the woman who accosts them, since she is mad. The Doctor seems to think no more of the strange encounter, instead asking if there are any Time Lords around. They reply that many Time Lords have come in the past, and the Doctor has more reason to believe survivors have come to this strange little asteroid when, while trying to fix the Ood's translator, he hears hundreds of Time Lord voices.
Auntie and Uncle go on to introduce the newcomers to the House, which is the name the asteroid has taken for itself. It is a sentient asteroid that looks after Auntie and Uncle, and it also claims many Time Lords have come through the temporal rift during their travels. It invites the Doctor, Amy, and Rory to stay and rest for awhile, and the Doctor quickly accepts the invitation. He sends Amy and Rory back to the TARDIS to fetch his sonic screwdriver, but once they reach their destination, he pulls his sonic screwdriver (which he had all the time) out of his jacket pocket and locks them in before going off to investigate the other Time Lord voices he heard. Unfortunately for him, he learns he was only hearing the numerous Time Lord distress signals that have fallen into this side universe over the centuries, and he accuses Auntie and Uncle of tricking him to purposely bring him here. He reveals he knows how the House keeps them alive over the centuries by giving them new body parts from those of other travelers--among the donors was his friend the Corsair. Enraged, the Doctor is prepared to leave immediately, but the House hijacks the TARDIS and leaves the Time Lord stranded. Never one to be stuck for long, he confronts Idris, who foretold when he first arrived that the little boxes would make him angry. How had she known? She was the TARDIS. The Doctor had remarked that the TARDIS matrix had been bled from the shell, and here she now was as a human girl. The TARDIS then assists the Doctor as he endevours to construct a working TARDIS console from the remains of other TARDISes that have been eaten by the House. Their makeshift console carries them into an archived control room where Amy and Rory have been chased by the House. The House deletes the archived room in order to provide enough thrust to break into the bigger universe and, in doing so, removes the group to the main console room. The TARDIS, who is dying in her human body, is able to vanquish the House and regain control of the actual shell. She tells the Doctor the one thing she has always wanted to say to him--"Hello"--before finally leaving her human form.
Episode Five: "The Rebel Flesh" (Matthew Graham)
All is quiet in the TARDIS when the Doctor suddenly announces to Amy and Rory that he is dropping them off for fish and chips while he investigates "stuff". As Amy protests that she doesn't want to be left out of the action, the TARDIS is swept into a space tsunami. The Doctor manages to pilot out of it and lands the TARDIS at a monastery on Earth where the sound of Dusty Springfield lets the travelers know that they are not in the Middle Ages. Instead the monastery is a factory for flesh, a form of matter that can be programmed to take any shape. The shape the flesh takes most often is human; they become Gangers (short for Doppelgangers) for workers completing tasks too dangerous for actual humans. The workers wire themselves into their Gangers' brains and control them for their various tasks, a process which isn't considered dangerous because the Gangers technically aren't alive...at least, that's what the scientists tell people. The Doctor sees how the flesh is growing towards something that could be alive one day, but that problem is relatively unimportant at the moment. Enormous solar flares are coming, and he is determined to get the factory crew out of their island monastery before the storm comes. Miranda Cleeves, the foreman, balks at this, saying they'll ride out the storm. When the solar flares arrive, however, an enormous shock of energy knocks everyone unconscious, and the Gangers have gone missing.
Rory goes off to search for Jennifer Lucas, a young girl who had an instinctive trust of the nurse, while the Doctor works to organize the situation as he always does. He insists that the Gangers be treated as fully human, but the others aren't as accepting, and the misunderstanding leads to war.
Episode Six: "The Almost People" (Matthew Graham)
This second part of "The Rebel Flesh" starts immediately following the creation of a Ganger Doctor, which Amy treats with outright suspicion, claiming he isn't the real Doctor. The first Doctor, however, sees this as a perfect opportunity to learn more about how Gangers feel and think. Rory, meanwhile, encounters two Jennifers, but one melts the Ganger version of herself and enlists Rory's aid in making peace between the humans and Gangers. Both armies are fighting to get out of the factory first, and peace is certainly the last thing on anyone's mind..even Jennifer's, who turns out to be a Ganger herself. She tricks Rory into leading the Doctor, Amy, and the humans into an acid vat, but the Ganger Doctor convinces the Ganger of Jimmy, one of the workers trapped in the acid vat, to let them go free by using the love the two Jimmys have for their son, Adam. Unfortunately Ganger Jimmy is too late to save his counterpart, but he releases the remaining humans, and they work together to halt the insane Ganger Jennifer. The Ganger Doctor and Ganger Miranda remain at the factory to kill Ganger Jennifer while the Doctor takes Amy, Rory, the human Miranda, and the two surviving Gangers to their respective homes where they hope to encourage better human-Ganger relations.
All's well that ends well...or so it seems. After leaving Miranda and one of the Gangers at a press conference, Amy begins to have labor contractions...but she isn't pregnant. Or is she? The Doctor reveals now that Amy is a Ganger; the real Amy is elsewhere and about to give birth. He dissolves the Ganger, prompting Amy to wake up in her real location. Almost immediately a woman's face appears above her and tells her to push.
Episode Seven: "A Good Man Goes to War" (Steven Moffat)
On the asteroid of Demons Run, Amy gives birth to a girl she names Melody Pond, and she promises her daughter that her father, the Last Centurion, is coming to rescue them, which is exactly what Rory and the Doctor are in the midst of doing. They pump the Cybermen for information about Amy's location and raise an army of those who owe the Doctor a favor. One of these is River, who, oddly enough, says she can't come to the Doctor's aid until the very end of what is to become known as the Battle of Demons Run. However, Vastra and Strax, a Silurian and Sontaran, come when the Doctor arrives to enlist their help, and their collective resources enable the Doctor to take down Demons Run without killing anyone.
The Ponds are reunited, and the Doctor is tying loose ends when Vastra ventures the central question: why was Melody kidnapped? Scans on Melody's DNA reveal that she is human plus Time Lord; exposure to the time vortex while she was still an embryo altered her genetic makeup so that she now resembles a primitive Time Lord. As the Doctor copes with this startling revelation, all his plans unravel around him--the Headless Monks, who were part of the plot to kidnap Amy and Melody, return to seize the baby by force, and Madame Kovarian, the eye patch lady tells the Doctor it was a pleasure to fool him twice the same way. Too late the Doctor realizes the obvious--the baby is a Ganger; the real Melody is already far from the asteroid. Madame Kovarian then wakes the real Melody, causing the Ganger to melt in Amy's arms. As the Doctor prepares to find Melody, River arrives and confronts the Doctor with the actions that led to this day--he has become a legend of fear, and Madame Kovarian's people kidnapped Melody to train her as a weapon to bring down the Doctor because they are so afraid of the Time Lord. After suitably chastising the Doctor, River finally reveals her identity to him, Amy, and Rory--she is the adult Melody Pond.
The obvious story arc for season six has been Madame Kovarian's appearances to Amy in "Day of the Moon", "The Curse of the Black Spot", and "The Rebel Flesh". The Doctor explains in "A Good Man Goes to War" that Madame Kovarian's appearances were instances of reality bleeding through the dreamlike state of controlling her Ganger. Beginning in "The Impossible Astronaut", there is the is-she-isn't-she question surrounding her pregnancy. There is also the appearance of the Silence, who were foretold in "The Eleventh Hour", "The Vampires of Venice", and "The Pandorica Opens" from season five. Exactly who the Silence are and why they want silence to fall has yet to be explained as does the Doctor's apparent death at the hands of the astronaut in "The Impossible Astronaut". In addition, there are still unanswered questions about River Song's past although it seems likely that she was the little girl seen regenerating at the end of "Day of the Moon".
Well, the first half of season 6 has certainly been exciting! I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see what surprises await us in the second half, which premieres in the fall with "Let's Kill Hitler".