Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Doctor Who Double Whammy! Episodes 2 and 3 of Season 6. Spoilers Ahead!

Doctor Who "Day of the Moon" episode 2 season 6


"Welcome to the danger zone, step into the fantasy,
you are now invited to the other side of sanity.
They call me an alien, a big headed astronaut,
maybe its because your boy easy gets ass a lot."
Katy Perry, feat. Kaye West, "E.T."


The second episode of Doctor Who picks up where we left off three months later. This episode of Doctor Who does a great job of answering the questions raised at the end of "The Impossible Astronaut" concerning the secret Amy tells the Doctor: that she is pregnant. A lore argument broke out on Tor.com over the relevance of the child in the space suit being the Doctor's and Amy's. Following the logic, the argument is in favor of the fan girls. Following the plot, it is clear that the rest of us can take a leap of faith,and trust in Amy to keep her vows to Rory, fearing only for any possible child of theirs, not the Doctor's. Having put that matter to rest, "Day of the Moon" was amazing on more than one level, no matter what our security clearance might be.

Moffat's Writing: Stop-gap Timeline


In this episode, writer Stephen Moffat once again rips apart the fabric of the fictional reality to tell the episode's plot in non-linear fashion. As discussed on Tor.com, Moffat's writing reflects both the fictional reality of the show and the uniqueness of the character of the Doctor. In this case, Moffat uses memory loss as a means to lapse through whole sections of reality and still maintain a streamlined comprehension. In the scene in the orphanage, Amy's palm recorder starts beeping. Her reflection reveals her hands, arms and face to be covered in marks. She has seen scores of the creatures, but her memory retains nothing. Instead of total scene description, we receive the discoveries the same way she does. Lack of dramatic irony builds the suspense and disgust of this scene as Amy moves through the orphanage simultaneously seeing and forgetting a hatching nest of the creatures. Very little is revealed to us by the plot.

By disturbing the linear fictional reality, Moffat raises emotional response to the breaking point. Amy is eventually taken prisoner, leaving her palm recorder behind. Each of Amy's lines purposefully omit proper nouns. She refers to her target audience as "Stupid-Face." Given the implications of the last episode, Amy's attachment to the Doctor and her apparent pregnancy, Rory and the audience can only take Amy's words at face value: she seems to want the Doctor, not Rory, and the dialogue of both episodes appears to confirm it until Amy reveals what we, as faithful followers, should have known all along: that she loves Rory and feared for their (potential) unborn child. Since we only have one scene from Amy's perspective during her capture, we are left with little to go on. Only at the very end of the episode do all of our questions seem answered, and --then again--maybe not.

So Much Laughter in Darkness: Humor in "Day of the Moon"

Fortunately for us, humor often breaks the horrific imagery in this episode. Every time one of our heroes gets in trouble, its President Nixon to the rescue! Nixon has never been so powerful, even going so far as to remind the security officers at NASA that he is their Commander in Chief. The repetitive presidential theme song only heightens the absurdity of the President emerging from the Tardis in both NASA and Area 51. The entire fiasco at NASA is further confounding as Rory, an Englishman, informs the security guards, "America thanks you." Here we are finally confronted with the irony of the entire episode of a British television series taking place in America. As always, the Doctor is full of surprises and the very strategic humor lifts the dark atmosphere of the episode enough to keep tears at bay. Emily Asher-Perin of Tor.com has an excellent essay on the recent dark turn the show has taken. The humor in so much darkness is another twist of Stephen Moffat's talent.

Best Scene--Breaking The Silence


Without a doubt the  most inspiring scene of the episode, The Silence unwittingly give the order for the human race to know them, remember them and kill them on sight. Subliminally received as Neil Armstrong takes his first step onto the moon, even those who will not receive the message for hundreds of  years have been assured of their safety. The Silence watch as their own undoing is revealed on the sepia screen of 1969 by a man who can travel through time, the video for which was supplied by twenty-first century technology. Arguably a scene for a season finally, it is powerful and ironic at once, and (until episode four) is going to be hard to top.

"The Curse of the Black Spot" episode 3 season 6


Basic Plot


Rory, Amy and the Doctor, en route to another adventure, encounter a pirate ship who is beset by a demon, The Siren of legend, who marks injured victims with the black spot. Stephen Moffat drags poor Rory into deep trouble as he is cursed with the black spot and called by the Siren. The focus of this episode is to reaffirm our faith in Amy and Rory's relationship while reminding us that our priorities are to those we love first. Everything else is immaterial. Parallel universes collide, threatening the peace of our heroes while offering hope to a set of wayward pirates and a young boy named Toby.

The Multiverse and Doctor Who

Towards the end of the episode, the Doctor, Captain Avery and Amy follow Rory into the realm of the Siren, who we discover is aboard a ship in an alternate dimension piloted by alien life forms. The Doctor explains to his companions that the universe interacts in layers of universes that sometimes cross paths. In modern metaphysics, those layers of universes that make up the navigable space/time continuum is known as the multiverse. Based in String Theory, the idea is that time and space are not relative, and that both of them can be traversed at the same time or separately using a set of determined coordinates. In the case of this episode, the two realms that have intersected both include becalmed ships with endangered or dead crew members. The Doctor and the others repeatedly get the impression that someone is watching them. The reflections in mirrors, water and other surfaces serve as doors into either alternate reality.

Traveling along the space time continuum through the multiverse is precisely what the Doctor does with the Tardis. Using coordinates, the Doctor chooses when and where he'd like to travel to. So it no surprise that the Tardis attempts to exist in both sets of coordinates, those grounding it in the seventeenth century and those of the alternate alien reality. The result is complete malfunction and confusion.

The idea of the multiverse is not new, and in fact could be linked to Doctor Who as far back as its original series. The multiverse has been a trope for metaphysical poetry and speculative fiction for as long as the genre has existed, used often by fantasy writer Michael Moorcock and, arguably, perfected by horror author, Brian Lumley, author of Necroscope, a fifteen-novel-story about a man who can travel the space/time continuum and speak to the dead. Awesome trope and effective catch-all, the multiverse is ideal for complicating matters in Doctor Who.

Best Scene

The best scene is, of course, the scene aboard the alien ship in which the Doctor puts his hand in something foul, crying, "Alien bogies!" before promptly wiping his hand on Amy's sleeve. As if the exclamation where not childish enough, we are reminded of the Doctor's whimsical disregard for personal space in a blatant act of self-cleansing and preservation. And of course, the Doctor has a habit of doing things just to annoy Amy.


Next Week: Episode 4, "The Doctor's Wife"!


Excitement abounds across the Internet in light of next week's episode, written by Neil Gaiman in true Gaiman style. Gaiman originally (at least to my knowledge) revealed the fact that he had been asked to write a script for a Doctor Who episode at the World Horror Convention in 2010. Our adventurers shall embark next week in search of what could be the only surviving Time Lord besides the Doctor. They will travel to a place that seems to be inhabited by biting hobos. This nerd was not at all surprised to see the flash of a Cthulhu-esq face as a potential enemy. Surprises abound, and do my ears detect Gaiman's singular voice in the trailer? Wishful thinking? Watch the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZAVJOEGnsw and listen for yourself. For more spoiler-revealing content go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/dw/news/bulletin_110507_02 to see interviews with Gaiman and the Doctor Who cast.

The Doctor is a Time Lord of Gallifrey. He travels through space and time with his loyal friends, embarking on weird adventures. But is the Doctor truly the last of the Time Lords? Could there really be just one more out there, or is the Doctor falling into a trap?



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