23 June 2010

Doctor Who - The Pandorica Opens

Written by: Steven Moffat
Directed by: Toby Haynes

Plot: The Doctor, Amy, and River Song find themselves face to face with the mythological Pandorica, a prison in the form of a box that houses the most dangerous trickster in all of history, and every villain The Doctor's ever faced want to get their hands on it.

"Hello Stonehenge! Who takes the Pandorica, takes the universe. But bad news everyone, 'cos guess who?! Ha! Listen, you lot, you're all whizzing about. It's really very distracting. Could you all just stay still a minute? Because I'm talking! Now the question of the hour is, who's got the Pandorica? Answer - I do. Next question, who's coming to take it from me? Come on! Look at me, no plan, no back-up, no weapons worth a damn. Oh, and something else, I don't have anything to lose! So! If you're sitting up there in your silly little spaceship, with all your silly little guns, and you've got any plans on taking the Pandorica tonight, just remember who's standing in your way. Remember every black day I ever stopped you. And then, and then, do the smart thing. Let somebody else try first."

(S05E12) Beautiful, quick, brilliant, stunning, and frakken awesome are pretty good sentiments to summarize "The Pandorica Opens", the first part of the two-part Series 5 finale. Everything that has proceeded this episode, even the seemingly insignificant stand alone installments, find their place in this mega mind-frak of a stellar episode. Thinking back on the episode days after viewing, it's simply gorgeous how perfectly everything ties together and fits. Of course, I have to wait until this Saturday's finale, "The Big Bang" to see how well everything is weaved as a final product, but if this episode is any indication, I'd say this is perhaps the most well thought out season yet.

Let the "Pandorica Opens" accolades begin!

Steve Moffat is a gifted writer, no doubt. His strength with every facet of a script - words, pacing, characters, originality - has made him one of the most respected writers in the Whoverse, if not in the television landscape in general. Before the season began, he described it as a "dark fairy tale." That description has never been more appropriate than here (with the possible exception of the Weeping Angel storyline), as we have a fairy tale box that contains one of the strongest most ruthless beings in all existence, and a woman who is by all appearances just your ordinary run-of-the-mill Scottish redhead, but may actually be one of the most pivotal women in all of the universe. And where this story has gone and is going, that definitely fits the bill of "dark."

All 45 minutes of this episode is jam-packed with information and plot details. It opens with Vincent Van Gogh painting a vision of a exploding TARDIS, which then we flashforward to Winston Churchill (seen in "Victory of the Daleks") retrieving the painting and subsequently contacting River Song in the future (although this is the third time we get to see her in the series, this is the earliest River we've seen yet in her timeline) who breaks out of prison to locate The Doctor. Oh, and River meets up with Liz 10 in the process (from "The Beast Below" in a awesome cameo).

When The Doctor and Amy finally meet up with River Song at a Roman camp, it turns out she's impersonating Cleopatra! The River character has always been a blast to watch, thanks to actress Alex Kingston and writer Moffat (who has penned all her episodes), and this instance is no exception. Turns out there's some serious stuff about to go down at Stonehenge where the Pandorica is getting ready to open, and all the aliens in the galaxy want in.

Matt Smith totally rocks this episode, showing his confusion, intrigue, and admiration towards the Pandorica splendidly. And when the reveal of what the Pandorica is, Smith's work is absolutely superb. Same goes with Karen Gilllan, who is finally given some utterly FANTASTIC stuff to work with. Her final, jaw-dropping, super intense scene with Rory outside is amazing, and her eyes alone convey all the emotion necessary. Truly some of Karen's best work, possibly since "The Eleventh Hour." Alex Kingston gets to play River a bit more jovial since her last appearance, happy and having fun just being around The Doctor. I hope Kingston can guest star in Series 6.

Now about the final 9 minutes: amazing and simply jaw-dropping. And let's not forget BRILLIANT! Now I'm not a Doctor Who database, but as far as I know, nothing like this has ever been written before, and why not? It's such a simple, brilliant, logical, ingenious idea! Of course all The Doctor's past and most nefarious villains would unite to bring him down. And if you can't kill him, what's the next best thing? Imprisoning your enemy under layers upon layers upon layers of security systems! Locking The Doctor up inside the Pandorica is nothing short of a stroke of sheer brilliance, and it definitely sets up high stakes for the finale.

And what's up with River and what's up with the TARDIS? So from my understanding, there's a invisible external force actually controlling the TARDIS and making it go kablooey? Um, what? Well, never to fear, all things will no doubt be explained in some logical way in the finale...

COMING UP: Saturday brings the Series 5 finale, "The Big Bang." With so many plotlines, elements, and questions that need to be addressed and answered, I can't imagine how everything can be wrapped up in one sturdy little 45-minute episode. So here's hoping that Moffat takes a serialized approach and makes this storyline bleed into Series 6, which would be quite nifty.

Little Notes:
  • "Look at me! I'm a target!" Best Doctor Who quote ever?
  • Small little question about Rory in this episode: With the revelation that Roman Rory is actually one of the strategically placed robots [unless there's more to Rory's being there, which is quite realistically possible], why would he have memories of his dying? Considering that Rory was then immediately erased from existence would make it difficult for one of the villains to, like mind-wipe Rory or something like that. Or am I missing something?
  • Was it not the coolest thing you've ever seen to have all those enemies of The Doctor all housed in one room, watching him get dragged off? AWESOME!

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