Doctor Who The Big Bang review (spoilers) – ‘Ok kid, this is where it gets complicated’

A top-hatted Doctor in The Big Bang

A top-hatted Doctor in The Big Bang

I’VE taken a bit longer than usual to write The Big Bang review because I had to close down all the non-essential bits of my brain to husband my resources and work out what on earth I had just watched.

Talk about wibbly-wobbly! Never mind timey-wimey!

I mean, I know time travel, I’ve grown up with it, I’ve seen the films, read the books.

But in my head, fellow fictional time traveller Doc Brown was left exclaiming ‘Great Scott!’ in a bemused frenzy, while Marty McFly cried ‘this is heavy’ and Bill and Ted mouthed a breathless ‘whoa…’, in the middle of a most excellent jamming session.

Even the 10th Doctor could only cry ‘What! What! What!’ as my previous experiences left me wholly unprepared for 55-minutes of mind-warping storytelling from Steven Moffat.

Hell – the first 10 minutes threw in more surprising twists and turns than most shows manage in a whole series.

First of all young Amelia opened the Pandorica in the present day and found her older self in it, with young Amelia’s dna healing older Amy after she was shot by Rory in the past.

She’d been put in the Pandorica to heal by the Doctor after he escaped in the past by travelling from the future to get Rory to free his past self using the sonic screwdriver the Doctor gave him so he could travel to the future to travel to the past and get Rory to  free him … are you keeping up?

When the revitalised Dalek screamed for mercy before being offed by River Song shortly afterwards, I knew how it felt as the Doctor crossed the streams and jumped into his own timeline (a major no-no, or so I thought) to save the universe from ending and leave millions of viewers scratching their heads with daft grins on their faces.

Thank god for the fez then, which was a handy tool to stay on top of what was happening as well as a wonderful comic prop.

Although I have to mention that as well as marvelling at the audacious time-cheating rule-bending to get everyone where they needed to be, I was also feeling a little bit cheated at this point too.

Why? Because once again, the thing which the first half of the finale spent building up was blown away in part two before you could say just like that.

This time, the escape-proof ultimate prison Pandorica was dismissed even faster than the ‘everyone is the Master’ machine in The End of Time.

Although the Pandorica’s role in the rest of The Big Bang – keeping Amy alive and saving the universe  by flying into the exploding TARDIS and all that – at least helped to redeem it, one day I hope to see the big part one problem actually be a problem in part two in a Doctor Who finale, and not just a convenient plot element.

But you could make an argument that the Pandorica being to prisons what Gary Glitter is to child-minding was a price worth paying, given the wonderful way the rest of the episode played out, with real emotion to go alongside the clever plotting.

I loved Rory’s decision to guard Amy and the Pandorica (that’s four paragraphs in a row for that word now, another first for the blog!) which cemented their love for each other. By the end of the episode he was plain old Rory again, but I’ll miss the gun hand.

Moffat really came into his own though when he constructed the Doctor’s sacrifice and then flashback as a deeper echo of the multi-layered narrative he started the episode with – but rippling out across the while series and proving everyone who spotted ‘the other Doctor’ in Flesh and Stone was correct.

Going back over his own time and fixing the cracks meant – in another fairytale analogy – the Doctor put Amy together again. Just like a duck pond without any ducks,  the Doctor explained her house was empty as the crack in time had eaten away parts of her life (Specifically the parts containing Danny De Vito)

Now she has her life back, my fingers are crossed her snappy bantering – which I presume was meant to reveal her shattered but hidden emotional self – will be toned down, as it was hard to watch at times this series.

But the real  trick was using clever wordplay to seed the means for the Doctor’s salvation into the sleeping mind of a seven-year-old girl who believed in stars while making it sound like a sentimental tribute to the lives he has known. Despite having watched every Derren Brown show I didn’t catch his keywords, but was caught up in the moment as the perfect Matt Smith disappeared into the crack with the beautifully played phrase ‘I hate repeats’.

When Amy remembered hher raggedy Doctor at her wedding and brought him back with the phrase ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ it was pure, undiluted TV magic which had me cheering.

The Doctor in his top hat

The Doctor in his top hat

And did you notice the necklace she was wearing when she did it? It was an apple – like the apple she gave the Doctor when she first met him in The Eleventh Hour and that he used to earn her trust in the same episode.

A magic apple was a wonderful end to the fairy story of Moffat’s first series at the helm, which hit immensely satisfying high points but also had some inconsistent moments too, especially Victory of the Daleks and Cold Blood.

While we’re still waiting to find out what the silence was and who was behind it, those unanswered questions point to a fully plotted multi-season arc in Doctor Who, just waiting to unfold (and one that involves a Neil Gaiman episode in the near future too).

We should also get the answer to the other big questions too, like who is River Song, apart from someone who can make a Dalek – a bloody Dalek! – beg for mercy and then off it anyway?

And more importantly, now Rory and Amy are married, is he rechargable or battery operated or human and do they have a ‘If this TARDIS is rocking, don’t come a-knockin’ sign to hang on the door when they are … erm … testing the time rotor?

They are for another time though. Now is a moment for crazy dancing and top hats, and for pressing play on the Sky Plus again, to see how much I missed this time around. And for voting in my end of season poll – click here to have your say on the series or here to rate Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Steven Moffat.

And for offering Steven Moffat his latest, but not his last, scyfilove tip o’the cap, for delivering intelligent and emotional and heartfelt stories for anyone who wants to watch and enjoy them. Well done sir.

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26 thoughts on “Doctor Who The Big Bang review (spoilers) – ‘Ok kid, this is where it gets complicated’

  • Wait. The previous doctor said that he can’t jump to his own timeline.
    So how could the dying Doctor jump to 10 minutes of his own time line and pretend to be died?

  • 494alex

    on

    @ Brandon
    Im guessing the paradoxes were able to happen since the universe was at the point of collapse, so there was nothing much left to rip a hole in.
    The thing about Amy touching herself is called the ‘Blinovitch Limitation Effect’ within the series. Basically something bad happens when the same person/object meets itself. Usually touching at least. Probably isnt as drastic with Amy since its not technically the same Amy. And the universe collapsing theory. However you DO see it when the screwdrivers touch each other, even if the effect is slight.

  • The Proffessor

    on

    Of couse Rory is human and yes married couple would be having sex. The TARDIS is a vast area.

    @Brandon

    Of course, you might as well expect as much reality from Peter Pan, this is fiction not reality. I have been watching the Doctor for a very long time since he was played by Tom Baker in the 1970’s. If you want a heavy does of fantasy watch Dr. Who. If you want reality watch CNN.

    My son and I enjoyed this series, however I felt the part about bringing the Doctor back was very much like Peter Pan. “Clap if you believe in fairies!”. I have no problems with the 5th season and look forward to watching the episodes ahead.

  • Brandon

    on

    I’ve said it on multiple different reviews, and I’ll say it again, just this time I won’t elaborate as much.

    Problems I had with this episode = It breaks the most fundamental rule in Doctor Who, it breaks the “paradox” rule.

    These are things that could not have happened without a paradox:
    1.) Amy touched her younger self. (Alright, maybe since the older Amy was a “Anomaly” so therefore never existed and the younger Amy isn’t who she used to be, its an alternate reality)
    2.) The doctor touched himself on the shoulder and whispered something into his ear. (Even if he is an “Anomaly” that would have created a huge paradox I would think, unless “Anomalies” just don’t count.)

    But the #1 thing that bothers me, is something that you touched on, which is that the entire build up to the episode before this was just pushed aside; and not in a way that made any since. I know the Doctor came back in time to save himself. But he never actually got out of the Pandorica before that. This type of story telling makes the reality aspect of the series negligible. It felt almost as if I were watching a children’s cartoon, like the loony toons, where the producers really don’t have to care about if something makes since or not. That is definitely not what I want Doctor Who to turn into, and I’m afraid that it will at this rate; at least for the finales.

    • I haven’t seen the episode yet, as I live in the states. I couldn’t help myself to read the spoilers because I love the Doctor so much. After read the “spoilers” several times, it looks a lot like a scene from Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure. Both the guys are in jail and they something to the effect of “when we get out of here, we have to remember to come back here and give ourselves this tool so we can get out of here.” It left me scratching my head for years, but now it kind of makes sense.

  • Aleks

    on

    Thanks for the episode summary and the discussions from everyone. It really helped identify some of the subtler aspects of that wibbly-wobbly finale.

    Regarding how the prior episode built up to the Pandorica and then it seemed like it was just dismissed in the first minute or so of the beginning of the finale episode, I have come to expect this since first watching the b&w Doctor Who cliffhangers. The end of each of these shorter episodes always got the Doctor and his companions into a situation that seemed unsolvable and certain to bring the end to future adventures. The beginning of the next episode, however, invariably had the Doctor dismiss the problem within the first minute. So, I have come to expect this and the use of this plot tool does not surprise me. What surprised me in this finale was how the Doctor was able to use the invention to withhold him for eternity into a useful tool to resolve the problems of the diminishing universe created by the explosion of the Tardis. I thought this was rather clever on Moff’s part.

    Really enjoyed this season. There’s great energy and great fun in the storylines. As always, looking forward to the next episode!

    Cheers!

  • Anne-marie

    on

    Just one teeny-tiny thing I picked up on (may well be overanalysising)… but I thought it was beautiful that in Amy’s new world there were no stars in the sky and that she painted them there when noone else could see them. I thought this was beautiful because of the earlier episode “Vincent and the Doctor” and his painting “Starry Starry Night”. Just a small thing but if it was intentional – stunning.

  • Jimbo

    on

    People getting hung up on Rory’s badge: It’s been completely debunked as a production error. Dismiss it lest you set yourself up for the disappointment of never getting your answer.

  • I always miss the clues in previous episodes as im always concentrating on the current story im watching. So was really surprised about the last episode. I thought it was done really well. I feel that Moff wants to sort out the whole river song story so he can put it to rest and move on so expect the next series to be just that. Im really surprised we didn’t find out who was behind the tardis blowing up but im sure it will link in with the next series and also don’t forget the voice we kept hearing in the tardis! Well done Moff.

    • I expected the voice and silence thing to be sorted too Ben, but it seems the Moff has planned your actual multi-series story arc so we must wait and see. Of all people, I have faith he knows what he is doing.

      As for River, she is an enigma.

  • I’ve been so happy that they have actually used time travel so much in this series. It’s usually just been a framing device for all the tales of the Doctor, but with Moffat on board they seem to have embraced the whole concept correctly.

    As for River – I was wondering if she was a future incarnation of the Doctor, but that doesn’t fit. The fact we have seen how her tale ends in the Library makes it so much trickier to figure her out.

    Will we see Omega in the next series?

    Are Bow ties cool?

    When will we get a Smith, Tennant, Eccleston, McGann cross over?

  • This was one of the most amazing moments in sci fi tv’s history. Mr Moffat is maybe the best DW writer to this point.

    As I am greek, I have the liberty to say that american producers and writers would never approach the ingenuity, the sheer weirdness and the boldness of english sci fi writers.

    The last season episodes of Doctor Who surpass easily all the fantasy findings of 6 seasons of Lost, of all the Stargate spin offs and of many other american sci fi tv shows…

  • Kat Salmon

    on

    At the end of Amy’s choice, the doctor caught a a glimpse of a reflection of his alter ego, just before the episode ended. Could season 12 see a return of this ‘other doctor’ as the character who forced the Tardis to land and attempted to destroy it in the season 11 finale?

    I also agree that Rory is human and not a plastic auton. As time has been reset and Amy’s parents have been brought back, it makes sense that Rory is now alive and well as a regular human. Maybe the name badge will be significant next season??

  • Jamalam

    on

    I don’t think Rory was an Auton all along. There was a human Rory who died at the end of Cold Blood and the Auton Rory was created by the Alliance to create a mystery that the Doctor “could not resist”. The original Rory’s knowledge of the Doctor and his character etc came from Amy’s childhood obsession with the Raggedy Doc!

    Also I may be wrong but I thought that since the universe essentially got “rebooted”, the current Rory is actually human (and thus not battery operated, no Rory-Remote either!). Surely if Amy’s life long love was plastic, one of the couple would have noticed and brought back the Doctor earlier?

  • Johnny

    on

    Rory was a real person from Ledworth, he was killed (as a human) and erased in Cold Blood, and was created as an auton using Amy’s memory of him (there were traces in her head) and the centurion photo in the Roman Empire book by the Nestene consciousness, but they went too far, giving him all the humanity elements from Amy’s memory too.

    Therefore, the mystery of the hospital id is boggling :/

  • Can’t wait for the next series and find out more about the Doctor and River Song. Beautifully set up and suggests that the Mofster has the future well-mapped out.

    And I want to go back and watch the whole series and pay attention to every detail – as we were advised to by the Doctor at the start.

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