The universe never existed, and yet in that void of nothingness hangs a small blue planet, heated and lit by the explosion that will ultimately wipe it from existence as well. So where do we go from here…?
Well, to keep us guessing, the episode starts nearly 2,000 years later, where stars at night are a fairytale and it is only young Amy who seems to have any kind of memory of them. It’s at times like this that the short story-telling time of these episodes (even when extended as in this case) lets the drama down slightly. We could easily have some time devoted to a world where people vanish, never having existed, bit by bit. As it is, this whole possibility is bypassed.
From here we start a ride along writer Seteven Moffat’s complete grasp of the possibilities of controlled travel through time. He does it well, weaving the story around these hops through time, and throwing Causality to the wind. This is one of the major changes the series has undergone over the years. For many years, it needed some vast machine like the TARDIS to have enough power for time travel, but by the mid-Seventies, in a story by Robert Holmes, Sontarans were able to flit across the universe. Later on, Robert Holmes introduced the idea of Time Agents, further weakening the exclusivity of the Time Lords as, well, lords of Time…
So this episode has perfect and precise flitting about time and space over a period of 2,000 years, and it’s only because Moffat makes such a good job of it that this easy time travel is excusable, if only just. It’s a pleasure to sit back and wonder how Moffat is going to have the Doctor in a situaton where he will end up with a fez and a mop!
The idea that people are erased from time has more or less worked through this season, although it doesn’t always work. For instance, in the story with the Weeping Angels, if the soldiers walked into the crack and cease to have ever existed then surely other soldiers would have been sent on the mission and so should have then appeared? A minor point in this episode, but if the museum exhibits ceased to exist, then why did their display areas still exist?
Never mind, the rest of the episode holds together pretty well everyone gives a good performance. Even Amy, the elder, has stopped that wide-eyed stomping around the place and her remembering the ‘raggedy man’ was a touching moment.
Best of all, though, was Matt Smith, who has taken over the mantle of the Doctor with consummate ease. I can believe that this is an ancient mind in a youthful body and he is wacky without being silly. I like him – and he looks great in a fez!
In last episode’s review I asked many questions, and thankfully most of them have been answered. The ‘enemies’ of the Doctor working in unison still remains daft and not credible, even in the context of Doctor Who, and I do like the fact that not everything has been tied up. I actually don’t care for “Miss Smug” River Song very much, so I’m not very interested in the truth about her, but the “Silence Will Fall” voice is most intriguing. So although the arc stories idea is a bit old hat now, at least this one spans more than one season.
I look forward to what’s to come next, and finally less with hope and more with anticipation…