Published on April 25th, 2011 | by Joe Siegler
The Impossible Astronaut
This weekend brought us the first proper new episode of Doctor Who since last Christmas Day. There are always questions when a new season starts. What it will be like, what its theme will be, etc. After watching this first episode, I’d say we have more questions than usual.
Still, it started out with the usual fluff pieces that an episode 1 sometimes starts with. In this case, it appears to be the Doctor messing with Amy & Rory in time. The Ponds are seemingly settled into married life, and run into the Doctor in history books, in television (Rory has an affinity for Laurel & Hardy), and in one case, the Doctor getting himself in trouble seemingly over having a portrait done of himself which would fit in quite well in Cam & Mitch’s bedroom from Modern Family. This goes on for a little while, until the Doctor meets up with the Ponds & River and they have a picnic in the USA (with some gorgeous filming). That’s about where the light fluffy pieces end.
During the picnic, what I assume to be The Impossible Astronaut arrives. Someone, whose face the Doctor sees, but we don’t gets the Doctors’ attention, but is where the “big event” The Moff promised us. The Doctor willingly goes down there, and gets shot. He starts to regenerate on the beach, and then the astronaut shoots him again, killing him in the middle of regenerating. Now this is a Doctor who is about 200 years older than the Doctor we last ran into. He says he’s 1103 years old, and the last time we ran into him, he was 908. So what happened to the Doctor in the intervening couple hundred years that would make him want to just willingly give up his life like this?
We find out that the 1100 year old Doctor sent an invite to the 909 year old version of himself, who has now teamed up with Amy, Rory, & River after some strong dialogue scenes where River refuses to say who she is and the team reacting to the Doctor being there when he was supposed to be dead. Eventually the team makes it to Washington DC in 1969, and help Richard Nixon try and track down a little girl who had been calling Nixon asking for help as she was afraid of a Spaceman. The scenes with the Doctor & Nixon are quite good. It contains some of the better funny dialog bits. Especially the part where the Doctor refers to Amy, Rory, & River as “The Legs, The Nose, & Mrs. Robinson”. Don’t want to give away all the jokes, but my six year old loved the mention of the fez.
It’s around here where we get introduced to The Silence, although they’re never referred to that on screen. We find out the big thing about them that as soon as you turn away from a Silence, you instantly forget about them. That gives them a huge tactical advantage to get you killed, as you’d stop running away from them. The pre-series leadup billed them as “scarier than the Weeping Angels”. I’m not so sure I buy that, except they seem to hang out in places that accentuate the “scary” of their character. Their voice seems to work for “scary” as do the camera angles used. They’re not as immediately scary to me as the Weeping Angels were first time out.
The Doctor and his team (along with Canton 3) discover the location of Nixon’s little girl, and while there, find a hideout which appears to be used by several Silence. Also discovered is what appears to look like the inside of the spaceship that was the “upper floor” of the flat in The Lodger. Another interesting point about that is that the ship in The Lodger used fake voices asking for help to lure people in. That appears to be the same thing here. Wonder how that plays out in the Part 2 resolution.
We also get a revelation at the end of the episode that Amy says she’s pregnant. Another “well, how will that affect everything” moment.
As I said earlier, this episode is full of questions. However, it had a few (not too) scary bits, some funny bits, and some strange time play with the characters and situations. Typical Steven Moffat. Granted, this is part 1 of 2, and it’s also part 1 of 13, so a lot of it will be setup, but still. Be interesting to see what grows out of this episode going forward. To quote Roger Ebert, “Thumbs up!”
A few interesting “notables” and “questions”:
* The book that Amy Pond is reading in her flat with Rory has a picture of a hot air balloon. Tethered Aerial Release Developed in Style, anyone?
* The school bus that drops Amy and Rory off for their meeting with the older Eleventh Doctor had a “51” on the side of the bus. The place that the Doctor is seemingly incarcerated in during Episode 2 has an “A-51” on the back wall. Area 51? Are the bus and the place the Doctor is being held connected?
* Who is the little girl? Is she River Song, or Amy’s future daughter? Or both?
* Who was Richard Nixon’s first choice for the mission he gave to Canton Everett Delaware III?
* How will the picture Amy took of a Silence on her cell phone come into play?
* Will we ever find out about River’s “spoiler” to the Doctor that’s she’s quite the screamer? Heh.
* The Doctor uses Tegan’s old catchphrase of “Brave Heart” when talking to the younger version of Canton.
* The older Canton Everett Delaware was played by the real life father of the actor who played the younger version of the same character.