Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Spoilerers should be shot on sight. (Except that is, for me, purveyor of spoilers to BBC Americans!). Last series, I learned early on about Rory’s return in the finale as “The Lone Centurion” (which took the kick out of what was supposed to be his surprising death at the end of the Silurian episodes). So I figured this time around I’d stumble upon some revelation that would happen in the current series’s final episode. But blast it, I stepped into (rather actively, I admit) a spoiler from the finale of the fall series (see it here if you so dare), which very much affected the way I viewed “Day of the Moon.” Moral of the story (rich, coming from me): Don’t read ahead if you don’t want to be spoiled!
Writing-wise, I can imagine Steven Moffat getting inspired in this conclusion to the series’s two-part opener by stories of alien abductions and probings, a mostly American phenomenon (and thus fitting for these two episodes shot stateside). Moffat evidences his trademark spryness, barely concerning himself with the cliffhanger scenes of the previous episode (Rory and River somehow just managed to escape the Silence’s underground spaceship after being surrounded by, if you will, a murder of Silents; and there wasn’t much ado about Amy having shot and missed the girl in the spacesuit), and instead boldly moving the action three months forward. It’s not a perfect episode; it’s a bit convenient how Canton was able to wangle “You should kill us all on sight” from the Silent ever so perfectly to use against its own species (I suppose it could be said that Gitmo interrogators could learn a thing or two from his soft yet results-yielding approach); and the episode’s resolution has more than a passing resemblance to that seen in “The Eleventh Hour,” in which the Doctor projected a computer virus to all of Earth to “out” Prisoner Zero. Still, amid all the confusion and before you’re able to question its intricacies, Moffat’s story makes for engaging television.
The Silence’s (singular form Silent, plural form Silence) scare factor was amped up in this episode, especially during the Graystark Hall Orphanage scene in which Amy, after realizing by the tally marks on her body that she’s just seen the Silence, looks up to find a number of them hanging from the ceiling like bats. Their enslavement of Dr. Renfrew, perpetually unable to heed the writings on the orphanage’s walls (a motif we’ve seen before in Moffat’s “Blink”), was also terrifying to watch. That the Silence can erase even information about themselves (thus necessitating the nano-recorders provided by the Doctor to his companions) make for almost the perfect camouflage. But as undefeatable as they may seem, the Silence are very well-protected but at the core vulnerable creatures; their ingenious defense mechanisms (memory erasure and the power of suggestion) don’t equate to invincibility. They can still be shot dead, which is actually quite refreshing (aside from being convenient for the Doctor and his companions); they’re not like Moffat’s Vashta Nerada or Weeping Angels, who can be outsmarted but not killed point blank. (It also allows for one of the episode’s most kick-arse scenes, in which River Song, whirlwind-style, shoots the Silence down). We still don’t know what their species is ultimately scheming, but I stand by my theory from my review of “The Impossible Astronaut” that the Silence are after the Doctor’s secret name. Their motivation, for silence to fall, would then make sense: “Fall,” in this context, is similar to the “fall,” or end, of the Roman empire, not a literal fall. For the Doctor to utter his name would mean the end of his silence.
And then we come to the child. Six months after the moon landing, we find the little girl dying in a New York alley and–gasp!–regenerating. A nice bookend to this two-parter, during the first part of which we saw the Doctor’s (failed) regeneration. I wonder what caused Amy’s child (unless it’s a red herring, the photo of Amy and the baby in the girl’s room pretty much confirms she’s Amy’s) to die and thus regenerate? I’m intrigued by Amy’s non-pregnancy after her Silence “probing”; I’m guessing she had told the Doctor about her pregnancy as a way to “implant” the information in his mind for posterity, the way the nano-recorders helped the Doctor’s companions remember the presence of the Silence. Does that mean the pregnancy was something the Doctor wasn’t meant to know, i.e. “what he must never know?” Or is it the opposite? And what an interesting concept the child’s spacesuit is as both life support and prison. I imagine the suit will make a return later on in the series. It can repair itself, and as River indicated, it might seek an occupant (similar to the disassembled Cyberman looking to assimilate Amy in “The Pandorica Opens”). Whomever it is the suit captures, we know that occupant will kill the Doctor in the future.
Now on to the Doctor’s “naughty friend.” I just want to marry Dr. River Song, I do. When the Doctor says, “This little girl. It’s all about her,” I actually think Moffat is referring to River. Last series it was all about Amy, but now, it’s all about River. So yes, I’m guessing she’s the same child in the spacesuit who regenerated by episode’s end. (Don’t ask me why the child doesn’t have a British accent like River; I’d ask, why did the Face of Boe not have a similar accent as Jack Harkness?). And yes, River could very well be a Time Lady (or variation thereof); that she died in The Library means nothing, as the Doctor would have died if he’d sacrificed himself in her stead, as the death would not have allowed him to regenerate either. Outlandish theories aside, the moment River kisses the Doctor is so bittersweet. (There’s something about the way Alex Kingston says, “What? That’s it? What’s the matter with you?” that I find incredibly sexy). It’s so devastating when she learns that this would be her last time kissing the Doctor. (By the way, there’s something perfect about Stormcage as her prison, with its perpetual rain echoing what I imagine to be the perpetual tears brought on by whatever it is she’s atoning for). I don’t quite understand how everything falls into place with River, but I’m looking forward to watching all her episodes in reverse once her story arc has been completed.
And Rory (boy is he perfectly gangly, as evidenced in this episode). His significance is now slowly manifesting itself, and I like the direction the Moff is going with him. I was growing convinced there was no rhyme nor reason to his inclusion in the show as a companion, but Moffat’s angle here–the husband vs. the best friend–is becoming very intriguing. I’m interested to see how the Lone/Last Centurion’s 2,000 years worth of memories, which he seems to be able to shut away, will bear some importance later on in the series.
Finally, what can I say about Canton Delaware III? Please bring him back for more episodes! How somewhat fitting that the day after a royal wedding, most online posters’ theories about him being gay were confirmed very cheekily in this episode. Last week, I truly thought his mention of his desire to marry being a crime was just Moffat joking about how marriage should be criminal. Let the ban on gay marriage fall! How awesome to have a progressive Doctor!
Overall, a memorable opening two-parter for “Doctor Who.” I foresee a dip in writing quality with next week’s episode (I almost want Moffat to just write every single one), but I’m open to being proven wrong, a la Gareth Roberts’s enormously fun “The Lodger.”
- Dr. Renfrew tells Canton, “The child. She must be cared for. It’s important. That’s what they said.” But why? Why did the Silence want to, according to River, keep the child alive and give her independence? We understand the spacesuit was able to provide her this very protection, but why specifically a spacesuit? And how was the child able to force her way out of said spacesuit? River mentions she must be “incredibly strong.” The only other incredibly strong person I see from this episode is River herself, hence my theory that she’s the child in the future.
- Who was the eyepatched woman whom we briefly saw saying, “No, I think she’s just dreaming?” Is this the Madame Kovarian in the ultimate spoiler I mentioned at the beginning of this review?
- I know that the series 6 finale will involve a young Rory and a pterodactyl terrorizing him. I wonder if the avian dinosaur will scoop the kid up and drop him in front of young Amelia, thus giving meaning to Amy’s figure of speech, “dropped out of the sky.”
- The Silent spacecraft similar to the one in “The Lodger” was probably a product of budgetary recycling. So much of that going on, it’s a wonder they didn’t just bring back the Pandorica in place of the “perfect prison” of this episode.
- “Yeah? Welcome to America.” -Canton, after a Silent dismisses its species’s need for weapons.
- “She can always hear me, Doctor. Always. Wherever she is, she always knows that I am coming for her. Do you understand me? Always.” -The Lone Centurion, right before Amy calls for the Doctor to save her.
- “This is a videophone. Whatever a videophone is.” -Canton, upon videorecording the Silent’s words to use against its own species.
- “I love you. I know you think it’s him. I know you think it ought to be him, but it’s not. It’s you. And when I see you again, I’m gonna tell you properly. Just to see your stupid face. My life was so boring before you dropped out of the sky.” -Amy wishing to see her true love while held captive by the Silence.
- “Oh, and this is my friend, River. Nice hair, clever, has her own gun. And unlike me, she really doesn’t mind shooting people. I shouldn’t like that but I kinda do a bit.” / “Thank you, sweetie.” / “I know you’re all team players and everything, but she’ll definitely kill the first three of you.” / “Well, the first seven easily.” / “Seven, really?” / “Oh, eight for you, honey.” / “Stop it.” / “Make me.” / “Maybe I will.” -The Doctor and River, flirting in the midst of rescuing Amy from the Silence.
- “So what kind of doctor are you?” / “Archaeology. Love a tomb.” -Rory and River, after the latter kills every last Silent in sight, as the Silent ordered.
- “This person you want to marry. Black?” / “Yes–” / “I know what people think of me, but perhaps I’m a little more liberal–” / “–he is.” / “I think the moon is far away for now, don’t you, Mr. Delaware?” / “I figured it might be.” -Nixon and Canton, on the FBI agent’s wish to marry.
- “Right. Okay. Interesting.” -The Doctor, upon kissing River the first time (or from her perspective, her last time).
- “You could let me fly it.” / “Or we could go where we’re supposed to.” -The Doctor and River, squabbling like a married couple about who should be let to drive the TARDIS.
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- Elsewhere: “‘Doctor Who’ & Fairy Tales: Traveling Back To One’s Childhood to Re-Learn What A Story Is” on Ruelle Electrique
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