The Doctor: “I wear a Stetson now. Stetsons are cool.”
River: “Whatever that was, it killed him in the middle of his regeneration cycle. His body was already dead. He didn’t make it to the next one.”
River: “A Time Lord’s body is a miracle – even a dead one. There are entire empires out there that would rip this world apart for just one cell. We can’t leave him here, or anywhere.”
Amy: “You’re okay!”
The Doctor: “Of course, I’m okay, I’m always okay, I’m the king of okay… no, that’s a rubbish title, forget that title.”
River: “We’ve told him all we can. We can’t even tell him we’ve seen his future self. He’s interacted with his own past. It could rip a hole in the universe.”
Amy: “Yeah, but he’s done it before.”
Rory: “And in all fairness, the universe did blow up.”
The Doctor: “Time isn’t a straight line – it’s all bumpy-wumpy. There’s loads of boring stuff, like Sundays, and Tuesdays, and Thursday afternoons; and every now and then, there are Saturdays – big, temporal tipping points where anything’s possible. The TARDIS can’t resist them, like a moth to a flame.”
The Doctor: “Swear to me – swear to me on something that matters.”
Amy: “Fish fingers and custard.”
The Doctor: “My life in your hands, Amelia Pond.”
Rory: “What did you mean, what you said to Amy, ‘there’s a worse day coming’ for you?”
River: “When I first met the Doctor, a long time ago, he knew all about me. Think about that – an impressionable, young girl and suddenly this man just drops out of the sky. He’s clever, and mad, and wonderful, and knows every last thing about her. Imagine what that does to a young girl.”
Rory: “I don’t really have to.”
River: “The trouble is, it’s all back-to-front. My past is his future. We’re traveling in opposite directions. Every time we meet, I know him more, and he knows me less. I live for the days when I see him, but I know that every time I do, he’ll be one step further away. The day is coming when I’ll look into that man’s eyes, my Doctor, and he won’t have the faintest idea who I am… and I think it’s going to kill me.”
The Doctors: “Fellas, the guns? Really? I just walked into the highest security office in the United State, parked a big blue box on the rug, and you think you can just shoot me?”
River: “They’re Americans!”
The Doctor: “I’m your new undercover agent, along from Scotland Yard, codename The Doctor. These are my top operatives: The Legs, The Nose, and Mrs. Robinson.”
River: “I hate you.”
The Doctor: “No, you don’t.”
The Doctor: “Dr. Song, you’ve got that face on again.”
River: “What face?”
The Doctor: “The ‘he’s-hot-when-he’s-clever’ face.”
River: “This is my normal face.”
The Doctor: “Yes, it is.”
River: “Oh, shut up!”
The Doctor: “Not a chance.”
The Doctor: “Shout if you get in trouble.”
River: “Don’t worry – I’m quite the screamer.”
Doctor Who returns for its much anticipated sixth season, and boy does it return with a vengeance. Showrunner, Stephen Moffat, wasn’t kidding around when he teased that he had some big plans to shake up the Whoniverse, if just the first 10 minutes of this episode is any indication. I can’t even begin to imagine what the BIG cliffhanger is going to be midseason.
Before I go into the plot summary, I will warn you that spoilers are unavoidable. I major event happens at the beginning of the episode that sets off the entire story. So, if you haven’t watched the episode yet, I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend you don’t read this review.
The episode begins with Rory and Amy, getting used to domestic life, as they wonder what has become of The Doctor, who has left them travel solo for awhile. With the kind of timing only a Time Lord is capable of, they receive a mysterious TARDIS blue invitation to meet somewhere in the middle of the Utah desert. Unbeknownst to them, River Song receives a similar invitation, and the three of them converge to meet with, whom else but The Doctor. Their reunion gets cut short when, during a picnic by the lake, a mysterious figure, dressed in an astronaut outfit, emerges from the water, kills The Doctor stone-cold-dead, and then silently walks back into the lake.
The group doesn’t even have time to mourn him before they run into… The Doctor, who himself, received a mysterious invitation. River surmises that The Doctor they witnessed get killed was from the future, and for reasons unknown, orchestrated their meeting. They all decide not to tell The Doctor about this, as it would create a paradox. Meanwhile, they chase their only lead to the entire affair to the 1969 White House, where President Nixon has been receiving strange phone calls from a little girl on a nightly basis. Naturally, The Doctor immediately gets involved, pinpointing the girl’s location to an abandoned warehouse in Florida. Throughout all of this, Amy keeps catching glimpses of odd looking aliens in black suits, who have the ability to make people forget their presence the moment the person stops looking at them, making them essentially invisible. They are omnipresent the entire episode, but none of the characters can maintain the memory of their respective encounters with them. Who are these enigmatic aliens? Who is the little girl? What does all of this have to do with the murderous astronaut in the future? It looks like we won’t know until next week’s episode, Day of the Moon.
The episode is satisfying in every sense of the word. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I certainly wasn’t expecting The Doctor to die within the first Act. It certainly served as a riveting mystery to be solved, and one that could quite possibly not be solved until the end of the whole season. In the previous season, Moffat has shown that he is willing, and very able, to throw us some curveball subplots, some of which, from as far back as season four, have yet to be resolved (the big one being – just who the hell is River Song anyway?). Moffat is known for his propensity at utilizing the show’s time traveling aspects to tell some innovative and clever stories. It isn’t crazy to think that perhaps, although it may be several episodes, even two more seasons away, we may have just witnessed the Eleventh Doctor’s final moments within this very episode. Although, I very much doubt that – there’s probably a much bigger game afoot.
While the writing was top notch, the acting backs it up considerably. Matt Smith owns the role of The Doctor by this point, and if anyone still doubts it, they’re either blind or stupid. He plays the role with incredible subtly – so much so, that I didn’t suspect anything was amiss with The Doctor until his death. When I rewatched the episode, though, it was more evident to me that The Doctor’s behavior was odd, even for him. He seemed distant, reflective, and somewhat somber, very similar to the 10th Doctor’s attitude when he sensed his end was near. My point is, Matt does a remarkable job hiding that just under the surface of the Doctor’s usual, manic, “happy-go-lucky” personality. Karen Gillan is ten times better in this episode than she was all of last season. She seems to be finally bringing the headstrong, surliness of Amy’s character down a notch, while managing to not compromise the aspects of her character that are likable. The supporting casts of Arthur Darvill and Alex Kingston have some great lines, which they make the most with. Even the guy playing Nixon does a decent enough job.
It’s worth noting, as well, that the creature effects are great. The Silence, as the mysterious, black suited aliens have been named by the BBC website, seem to be heavily influenced by the alien abduction stories of the early 60s, wherein the supposed victims describe their captors as “tall, gray men”. The most creepy of all, though, is the titular astronaut, who only appears at the beginning and end of the episode, but is a pervasive, and ominous, threat all throughout. Moffat has always had a knack for taking everyday imagery, or objects, and making them terrifying.
The Impossible Astronaut is a very strong season opener, with nary a flaw. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time the season opener of Doctor Who has been so gripping. Hopefully, this bodes well for the rest of the season!
Verdict: Fucking Awesome!
Next time… 6x02: “Day of the Moon”