Reviewed By: Mercury
Review Date: 1/17/19 11:47 pm
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This is the second part of a two-part story following on from The Impossible Astronaut.
I will not exaggerate my issues with this episode as I still enjoy it and rate it a reasonable 7/10 but for Doctor Who that is not all that great and considering all the great elements this has it had the potential to be a 10/10 classic which I think it falls well short of.
Acting, effects, cinematography etc are all excellent, there is some smart dialogue, bits of good humour and a load of great creepy thrills with the scary monsters 'the Silence'. It is also very dark and complex which are things I normally love. The problem is that this does not satisfy the suspense built up in the previous episode, it instead ends up leaving lots of loose ends which when they are eventually brought to conclusion later in the series turn out to not make sense. Writer and showrunner Steven Moffatt has little regard for making things logical or sensible. He goes all out for surprises, twists, complicated plots and excitement but does not ensure things stand up to analysis.
The fun previous episode is followed by this dark, mysterious and rather grim episode which jumps around in its own timeline and throws too many needless ideas into the mix. If it all came together in the end it would be fine but things are left unresolved and rather than clever complexity it turns out rather messy. River Song's back story and character choices which lead from this episode and are made clear later in the series do not make sense to me so while that does not really impact this episode directly it makes some of the contents pretty hollow when watched back. I do not buy the idea that a child raised to kill the Doctor ends up as the River Song we know. It also is a very unpleasant storyline, particularly in a family show, for a pregnant woman to be kidnapped and have her baby stolen.
Various things within the episode do not make sense fully either such as the idea that the Silence have been on Earth influencing humanity "since fire and the wheel". It is another of Moffatt's cool sounding ideas that he takes too far and just seems wrong when you analyse it. A small number of such creatures living mostly in hiding over all that time may make sense but the idea that such numerous aliens are ever present in everyone's ordinary lives (they are shown in crowded rooms, bars etc.) just seems very odd. Yes they are forgotten when you look away but in crowded rooms they would be in sight by some people all the time and would cause reactions. It just does not ring true. The concept of disappearing from your memory when you are not looking is a twist on Moffatt's other invention the Weeping Angels who only move when you are not looking so he is trying to recapture the same dread of sinister things around you in ordinary life. He manages to make the Silence frightening and unsettling but stretching it to say they have always been with us was not a good idea in my opinion. Moffatt always wants ideas and villains to be of epic proportions when a bit of understatement would sometimes be better.
The Silence's motives and push of landing man on the moon seem very vague. The orphanage and a child who appears to be captive but also appears to be free to roam or is unsupervised and escapes all seems very confusing too as does the aspect of the space suit.
The opening sequence with the apparent deaths of River, Amy and Rory annoys me. This brings the number of apparent deaths of companions and the Doctor in the first 16 episodes of the Moffatt era to an extraordinary 10 (if you count the Doctor apparently dying twice in The Big Bang)! That is easily more than Russell T. Davies had in his entire 60 episodes as Showrunner. Incredibly Moffatt features yet another apparent death for Rory (his 4th 'death' in 17 episodes!) in the very next episode after this and continued this trend through his time in charge. It makes it all seem very fake and diminishes the power and emotion each time as all death scenes and grieving turn out to be for nothing. To me it is a cheap trick.
The qualities of this episodes production values, acting and its scary villains make this episode avoid falling too far in my ratings but this should have been safely 9/10 and instead I rate it 7/10 due to its faults.