BY THE GODS OF GALLIFREY – THE PANDORICA OPENS WAS AWESOME!!!!!!
Forgive me for shouting and not maintaining my usual calm, professional prose style but sometimes you just have to yell out loud when you are witness to something so brilliant, so stunningly fantastic, that your head very nearly explodes.
Not that we didn’t deserve it! After all, Steven Moffat has seeded this series of Doctor Who with hints and references and clues that have driven me – and I guess, you too – mad trying to figure out what they all meant. Dreams, fairytales, silence, visions.
We have all invested so much in this and now we have been rewarded in spades by Moffat whose script was brilliant, and by everyone else who was involved in the production of this perfect masterpiece.
But do you know what’s got me nearly sick with excitement? The fact that as good as this was, the best is yet to come.
What do I mean? That this series’ big reveal will only happen next week in the final episode, The Big Bang.
Yes, we’ve now know the Pandorica is a trap baited with Amy’s memories of Pandora’s box, we know it was constructed by the Doctor’s greatest enemies and that it has been built specifically to contain him, forever.
But what about the silence will fall part? Because I don’t think that means no-one can hear the Doctor as he is trapped.
Instead it refers to the thing we have yet to see, the surrogate Moffat if you like, that created the ultimate trap within a trap, of which the Pandorica was only one intricate part.
It was that person or creature or force that took control of the TARDIS and blew it up to shatter reality, that conned the Doctor’s enemies into trapping him to save the universe (or so they thought), that spoke to River Song over the TARDIS monitor saying silence will fall.
Just who or what is that? That’s the big question. My answer? I don’t know, although it did sound – a little – like Davros. Would that be a disappointment if I’m right?
All of that was easy to overlook amid the pants-wetting excitement of an episode that definitely turned it up to 11 (as Moffat said on Confidential).
The pre-credit sequence was worthy of a Hugo all on its own, beautifully linking in earlier episodes as a vision painting from Van Gogh is transported through time to the Doctor, via Winston Churchill, Liz 10 and River Song.
There was also the most beautiful grace note to old Who, when as well writing Hello Sweetie on the oldest cliffs in the Universe, River also added the symbols theta sigma – the Doctor’s nickname at the academy on Gallifrey. Magic!
The rest of the episode continued in this jaw dropping vein as we finally got to see what Moffat could do with a proper budget, which he has obviously been hoarding for these episodes.
Stonehenge! Then the beautiful set of the Underhenge and the Pandorica itself (it said on Confidential the director played John Williams‘ Indiana Jones score while filming that scene, to set the right tone. It more than lived up to its aural signifier).
And then the Medusa-like Cyberman attack on Amy, with reborn Rory slaying the monster, Perseus-style.
Then how about the enormous Alien armada? Truly spectacular, almost like a work of art in itself and another award winner to be. I still haven’t mentioned River Song’s spray-on jodhpurs. Talk about spoilers!
But at the centre was Moffat continuing theme of vision and perception, only this time it was the Doctor who was not what he seemed.
To us he is the eternal hero, but to the creatures he has defeated again and again?
They see him as a monster, or as he said himself a goblin or a trickster or a warrior, the most feared being in all the cosmos, drenched in blood – their blood.
To him when he said that, he was only reciting the harmless Pandorica fairytale. But as he explained in Cold Blood when telling the humans to prepare the world for the Silurians’ return in 1000 years by passing on what had happened through “legend or prophecy or religion”, truth can become fairytales given enough time.
So when he gave his triumphant speech challenging his foes to get past him to claim the Pandorica, he was not scaring them away as we thought, while we thrilled to his heroism and bravado.
“Remember who’s standing in your way, remember every black day I ever stopped you,” he cried and they did, as his words only redoubled their determination to spring their trap.
A key part of that trap and continuing that theme was Rory, seemingly returned from the dead.
Oh, has there ever been a more mesmeric scene in the whole of Doctor Who than when Rory begged Amy to see him for who we was to her? ‘It’s me, it’s me’ he sobbed, allowing Amy’s emotions to overcome the effects of the crack erasing him from time.
It was so beautiful, with Karen Gillen as Amy putting in her best performance of the series and Arthur Darvill’s Rory just as touching.
Yet when we thought we knew what was going on, Moffat switched it again by revealing Rory as an Auton, who was powerless to resist his programming. Was he always one?
‘It’s me’ became ‘I’m a thing, I’ll kill you’ as playful banter became a joyful reunion became Amy’s shattering death. Truly majestic television.
But we weren’t finished yet, with my geek alarm going into overdrive as the Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans (how great was it to see Christopher Ryan’s Commander Stahl again?!) got together to spring their trap on the Doctor.
As a quick search of wikipedia will tell you, Pandora’s Box on which the Pandorica was based contained all the evils of the world which escaped when it was opened, leaving only hope inside.
Here those evils were the Doctor’s enemies and their intentions (both of which only became clear once the box had opened) and the Doctor – as he has said so often this series – is the hope.
I wonder if the Doctor has even watched The Shawshank Redemption? I bet he has, because I think it would have appealed to him, especially the main character Andy Dufresne’s line about hope.
“It is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies,” he said.
It was that hope that helped Andy escape from Shawshank, along with a rock hammer and the application of pressure over time as his friend Red comments.
Like Andy, the Doctor has plenty of all three, as well as – I suspect – the time vortex manipulator River Song used and then left lying next to the Pandorica.
So when he gets busy living (that’s enough Shawshank references – ed)and busts out of the Pandorica, what then?
Like I said, I don’t know, but given that the Doctor told the Weeping Angels that he was one thing you never put in a trap “if you’re smart, if you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow”, you can bet the bad guys won’t like it.
I will also bet we haven’t seen the last of Amy’s house that makes no sense.
What is in those empty rooms? Could the Doctor have left the key to salvation among Amy’s raggedy Doctor keepsakes?
And – this only just occured to me – why does an old house with a downstairs, an upstairs and a loft have a second flight of stairs leading to a third floor?
Now, that’s got me thinking.
Could there be another perception filter up there, like in The Lodger, hiding something that doesn’t want to be seen, or at least not yet? The Doctor maybe? Another TARDIS? The big bad?
We shall find out in seven days, but here’s hoping The Big Bang delivers on this magnificent scene setter, which was a classic.
Bravo Mr Moffat, bravo.
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