Sunday, April 24, 2011

Doctor Who: The Impossible Astronaut


Brilliant. Fantastic. I laughed and cried (and sometimes groaned at the sheer volume of dialogue recycled from earlier episodes). I also spent most of the episode thinking, "Steven Moffat what are you doing?" The season 6 premiere of Doctor Who left us with enough questions, complications and conspiracies to make me start looking for a tropical island and a spinal surgeon with delusions of grandeur ("We have to go back!").

If you're looking for a recap or more in-depth review, go elsewhere. There are plenty of those on the web today. I will spent the remainder of this post addressing the main questions I was left with when the end credits rolled. WARNING: Huge spoilers ahead. If you haven't watched "The Impossible Astronaut" and plan to do so, do not read any further. You will be sorry.

Still here?

OK. Let's get with the speculating.

1. Who killed the Doctor?
A person in an Apollo spacesuit walked out of a Utah lake, exchanged a few words with the Doctor and shot him with a laser. When the Doctor started to regenerate, the person shot him again, effectively killing him for good.
  • Suspect No. 1: River Song. She is in Stormgate prison because she killed a man: "The best man I've ever known." Who else could that be besides the Doctor, who has been the focal point of her life? Working against this theory: It's way too obvious.
  • Suspect No. 2: An earlier version of The Doctor, like say the one who goes to 1969. River takes the blame. I think this is more likely.

2. Why was the Doctor killed?
I have no clue. But here is what I hope the reason is not: An attempt to avoid a paradox. Amy, Rory and River watched the Doctor die, which means the future Doctor is obligated to go to his death to close the time loop and, by extension, avoid the destruction of the universe. There's no emotional resonance in that. It would be a cop out.

3. Who was the little girl?
A little girl made several calls to President Richard Nixon, saying she was scared of the astronaut and for someone to save her. In the cliffhanger, Amy told the Doctor she was pregnant. Not 10 seconds later, the astronaut walked in and lifted the visor. It was the little girl! Amy fired a shot and then got a look of horror on her face.
  • Option 1: Amy's daughter, but I think this is a red herring. It's what we're supposed to think.
  • Option 2: young River Song. More likely. This would be her first encounter with the Doctor. It would explain why older River was so eager to jump down a hole in the ground (to get away before her younger self showed up) and got all nostalgic with Rory about her time with the Doctor.
  • Option 3: hologram. Most likely. River and Rory found a control panel that's straight out of "The Lodger." Remember the hologram? It took on several forms (including a little girl) and pleaded that it needed help in order to lure people into the ship. This little girl talked a lot like the hologram in that episode. Plus, Amy firing at a hologram would have no consequences, such as a dead little girl.

4. What's up with the Silence? (Or is that Silents?)
Here's what we know. They look like a cross between Munch's "The Scream" and the Gentlemen from the Buffy episode "Hush." They blew up the TARDIS last season. You forget about them completely when you're not looking at them (Don't blink! ... Oh, wait, wrong monster). They kill people with lightning blasts (which I didn't like ... I thought the writers could have come up with something more unusual). They know things they shouldn't know (Amy is pregnant, the Doctor dies). They have an unhealthy interest in the Doctor. What we don't know: Why are they intent on messing with the Doctor? What do they want? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

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