With Neil Gaiman wielding the pen for this fourth installment of season six, my expectations were sky high. This was going to have to be a damn good episode for me to come away satisfied. And guess what? "The Doctor's Wife" is the best episode in a long time. Maybe since "Blink." It's funny, scary, touching and very quotable. Best of all, it left me with a new understanding of and appreciation for a character who's been there all along but has never before gotten her due.
Spoilers ahead. Stop now if you haven't watched "The Doctor's Wife" and plan to. Seriously. You don't want get spoiled. Trust me on this.
Last chance to leave.
OK, here we go.
The Doctor is lured to a junkyard on an asteroid in its own little bubble universe, where the TARDIS promptly shuts down because its matrix (or soul) has inexplicably vanished. Turns out the asteroid is a giant sentient creature called House (not the caustic doctor variety) that has put the TARDIS matrix into a woman's body. It then takes over the TARDIS body and flies off toward the real universe with Amy and Rory inside. The Doctor and his TARDIS (who prefers the name of Sexy), must build their own TARDIS console and give chase. Meanwhile, House turns the real TARDIS into a house of horrors for Amy and Rory.
What really makes this episode special is the relationship between the Doctor and his TARDIS. Never before (and probably never again), has the TARDIS had the opportunity to speak to her "thief," and she has a lot to say. For starters, from her perspective, she is the one who abducted the Doctor 700 years before - not the other way around - because she wanted to see the universe. And when the Doctor accuses her of not always taking him where he wants to go, she responds that she always takes him where he needs to go.
It helps that the TARDIS is played by the wonderful Suranne Jones. Also, the script allows Matt Smith a wider emotional range than I think we've ever seen from him as the Doctor. For the scene in which the TARDIS and the Doctor say goodbye (or, as the TARDIS says, "Hello"), have a box of tissues nearby.
Other tidbits to love:
- An Ood! Gaiman has said the script originally called for a new alien creature but was changed because of budgetary reasons. A good change, in my book.
- We get to see more of the TARDIS interior, even if it's only a hallway.
- David Tennant's control room makes an appearance.
- "The only water in the forest is the river." A reference to River Song? And if she's the only water, that means there are no Ponds?
- Rory died again (sort of). This is becoming a bit ridiculous.