Saturday, 30 April 2011

Day of the Moon. Review.

Dr Who, Day of the Moon, Area 51
Part 2 of The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon is probably the greatest second episode ever made in the history of Dr Who.

Unfortunately the BBC didn't bother to transmit it and leapt straight to broadcasting Part 3 instead, leading to probably the most confusing opening sequence in the history of Dr Who, as, several months on from last week's cliff-hanger, we now find the Doctor a prisoner in Area 51 as his companions flee Canton and his FBI mates, only for it all to turn out to be a put-up job to throw the bad guys off the scent.

Even having seen the thing twice now, I'm still not totally sure what was supposed to have happened in the gap between the two episodes or whether there was really any point to the prolonged opening sequence. Surely, having fled the scene, straight after the Amy/Spacesuit Girl shooting incident, they could just've got in the TARDIS and set their plan into motion immediately? You know, the one about stopping the aliens?

Still, it did at least give us the comedy highlight of the episode as the TARDIS appears from nowhere to catch the plummeting River Song in its swimming pool.

Dr Who, Day of the Moon, Amy Pond at the children's home

Having done their little run around, our heroes set off to find the girl in the space suit, a quest that takes them to a disturbing children's home. It's these scenes where, shamelessly borrowing its feel from The X-Files, the episode's at its best, thanks to the creepiness of the place and the hapless proprietor who keeps leaving himself warnings to flee the building but then forgets he's the one who wrote them. All the while he blames it on the non-existent children while the place crawls with monsters. In the end, it's all resolved with the Doctor using Neil Armstrong's moon landing to turn the Silence's powers of post-hypnotic suggestion against them, and the world is at last safe for Nixon to run in its best interests.

In truth, the sudden jump from the events of last week's episode to this week's made Day of the Moon feel more like a 45 minute epilogue than an actual continuation, though, in its defence, time seemed to fly by while I was watching it.

On the other hand, that was partly because it felt like there really wasn't enough time to fit in everything it was trying to, as mystery and obfuscation were piled high onto each other like the world's tallest Knickerbocker Glory of Intrigue. It's fine to cram plenty of elements into an opening episode - that merely makes us curious to see how things turn out - but perhaps not so wise to try and do so for the resolution. We did at least, I think, discover that the Spacesuit Girl is (possibly) Amy's daughter and that the Silence want her for... ...erm something.

But if the episode was perhaps an instance of trying to over-pack its suitcase, there was one instance of over- packing that was a triumph of audience manipulation and that was its last scene, in which the young girl, now free of her space suit, turns up dying on the streets of New York, only to start regenerating. How could anyone not want to continue watching the rest of the season after that bombshell? It seems Amy's fears about her future children being affected by her time in the TARDIS has proven to be justified.

One moment that did stick in my mind amid the confusion, was the scene where Amy's exploring the children's home, only for a woman to momentarily appear at a window and say, "No, I think she's just dreaming," before vanishing. Leaving aside the fact it felt like something straight out of Ashes to Ashes, it raised a reminder that the last time we saw Amy pregnant was in last season's Dream Lord episode. With the TARDIS scanner unable to ascertain whether Amy is or isn't really pregnant, does this mean that everything we've been seeing since is a dream? It could explain an awful lot.

On the River Song front, I've now come to the conclusion that it was her past self, in the spacesuit, who killed the future Doctor in The Impossible Astronaut. Mostly this is because when she shot the departing astronaut, and it didn't work, she said, "No, of course not." This'd make sense in terms of River and the Doctor never meeting in the right order. After all, if you shot your past self, it'd presumably have no effect, as killing your past self would mean your present self no longer existed and therefore wouldn't be around to shoot its past self. It'd also explain River being in jail for killing, "The best man I ever knew."

I could comment on the Doctor's odd lack of curiosity about the strange TARDIS he keeps stumbling across but I suspect that he's more interested in it than he's letting on.


Kid said...

While enjoyable (and agreeing with most of what you said above), I got the feeling that it was a pastiche of atmospheric moments and set-pieces lifted from other sources. In other words, it was written with the idea of recreating elements from various other programmes and movies firmly in mind. That's why it jumped about so much.

I also wonder if the kid really is Amy's daughter - maybe it's the Doctor's (cloned) daughter, regenerated as a kid from some unseeen (to us) adventure that nearly killed her, now regenerating again. Pure rampant speculation on my part 'though.

Steve said...

My head's hurting, trying to work out all possible possibilities.

Kid said...

Is there such a thing as an impossible possibility?

Steve said...

Well, as we all know, a great philosopher once said there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns, so who can say?

Kid said...

In fact, is there such a thing as a possible impossibility? (Unknown unknowns are easy enough - they're just the things that we don't know we don't know.)

Steve said...

And what happens when a possible impossibility meets an impossible possibility?

Kid said...

You get quite a long sentence.

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