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15 May 2011 @ 03:58 pm
DW 6x04 "The Doctor's Wife": *\o/*  
Spoilers, obviously. So after last week, I was really down on this series. I was also nervous about this episode for the same reason that most people were pre-emptively overjoyed: Neil Gaiman. I first learned of him with "Sandman", which I saw pieces of and which was frankly beyond me at the time but certainly seemed impressive, and I adore "Good Omens"; but the only other works of his I've read are "American Gods" and ... oh, that recent one with the kid in the graveyard, and both of them just left me cold. (I'm sure they're technically fine, and I know many loved the second book in particular, but I just couldn't connect to anyone in either book.) But I really, really liked this episode.

First, the bad, to get it out of the way:
- Could they possibly have made the interior of the TARDIS more boring? They had a chance to romp through every set BBC Wales owns, but no, all we get is one bland-yet-ugly corridor after another. What a wasted opportunity.
- I had a little trouble connecting emotionally at weird moments. I think that's mostly me; when I look at those moments, they should have worked. I suspect that's in part because once again, OMG they killed Kenny! we had yet another Rory-death fake-out, and the moment that started I just completely disconnected, because I didn't buy it for a second. (I'm almost to the point of laughing at these moments, they're so predictably fake, but I'm not quite there yet.) With that break in emotional continuity, I found it harder to stay engaged, much as I actually wanted to.
- The four people confuse me. I don't get how they got there, to an extent that distracts me, and setting Idris apart in the naming conventions feels too obvious to me. That said, I like that Nephew was an Ood and no suggestion was made that this weirdly blended "family" considered itself at all unusual.
- Why would the Doctor, a non-Earth being, ask the House, a non-Earth being, if it was like an Earth creature (a sea urchin) in order to clarify its nature? (He wasn't only clarifying matters for Amy and Rory; he was actually asking.) Oh, Earth-centricity, you plague my sci-fi so.
- They're still using that rubbish American-style series-recap credit-sequence thing. Is that just a BBCA addition, or do Brits have to suffer through it, too?

But honestly, those are entirely minor, and I very much liked this episode.
- Canon Doctor/TARDIS OTP! This takes the one teensy moment I actively enjoyed from last week and makes it epic. And I really liked the way they interacted. This wasn't Moffat's typical nauseating shrewish woman/henpecked bloke model; these two squabbled equally and connected deeply. They love one another (and say it), and he finds her (or at least her usual form/self) sexy, but their relationship isn't about sex. What?! A "male" and "female" connecting in a way that ignores sex?! Unpossible!! I can't even say how much I adore seeing this rare concept in a mainstream program.
- The TARDIS stole him as much as he stole her! I love that the story the Doctor has told everyone (including himself) for so very long is recontextualized here with the addition of the viewpoint of the other living being in this relationship ... yet it's not so much a rewriting of history as recognition that this story is still about the Doctor but not only about the Doctor.
- The TARDIS is better than the Doctor in ways that make sense for the character. When she upstages the main character, it's in ways that have to do with her established self. (She knows her own interior better, she knows her own archived versus deleted rooms, she can make a console move through space because she is the motive force behind her own usual console, she is more a creature of the Vortex than even a Time Lord and acts/has knowledge accordingly, etc.)
- The old fanon that the TARDIS always takes the Doctor where he needs to be is now canon. It's a charming concept and I love seeing it made official.
- The TARDIS re: River ... my flist is delighted that the TARDIS seems to support the Doctor/River 'ship. That 'ship makes me queasy still, but to the extent that the TARDIS isn't the typical possessive, heteronormative, jealous "wife" figure — oh, yes, I'll definitely take that!
- Another Rory death scene, yawn, and yet — look at just what upset Amy. She feels guilty that Rory is always waiting for her; she fears he'll grow to hate her or perhaps already does, over timing mismatches she can't (or can't always) control. That is an angle on their relationship I find interesting.
- Last week felt like something constructed inside Amy's head: The Doctor runs around being constantly wrong and accomplishing next to nothing; the TARDIS is, essentially, malfunctioning and useless, just as when Amelia met the Doctor; they try to find answers until Rory is lost, and then they just give in; the Doctor sits around doing not much of anything while Rory is dying, with Amy the only one doing not much of anything; Rory's "death" is built around his trusting her persistence and her giving up quickly, failing him. This episode, in contrast, has the Doctor and the TARDIS as active participants; considering that they're most of what I'm watching the series for, I call that a win. Amy and Rory, meanwhile, are trapped on another vessel and in peril, much like "A Christmas Carol", which is an interesting parallel, but they do get more to do here.
- In another contrast to last week, this time, when the TARDIS is out of control or being stolen away, the Doctor's response is to try to keep control or to get it back. That is, in fact, the correct answer!
- Rory is rattled at having to watch someone die (sort of). The dialogue setting that up was a titch clumsy (as with Harriet Jones, yes, we know who you are!), but I do like that they don't ignore his in-character perspective on events.
- The TARDIS thinks Rory is the pretty one! On the one hand, I agree that he's just as pretty; on the other, I wonder if the TARDIS is judging that only on physical appearance or on other characteristics as well/instead. Either (or both) works for me!
- Biting is "just like kissing but there's a winner". Ha! That takes the kiss moment, which left me a bit o.O, and makes it perfect — that and the Doctor's scramble to avoid her potential kisses/bites afterwards. Hee.
- The Doctor gave the married couple bunk beds because a ladder is cool, and that trumps everything! Hee!
- It is now canon that Time Lords can potentially change their sex/gender (presumably during regeneration). Excellent. And the other Time Lord didn't feel like himself/herself without the specific tattoo ... suggesting that even other Time Lords don't get perfect-desire regenerations and in part make themselves by their own actions. I like that.
- I'm sure I missed most of them, but I really appreciate the callbacks. Jettisoning rooms — straight out of "Castrovalva", yay! I've heard that the box calls back to something from Two's era, maybe? And Rory and Amy on the stairs, with the guy in the lead suddenly struck by a mental disruption — there's just a titch of "New Earth" to that. The only callback that didn't work for me, actually, was "Basically ... run!"
- Rory knows that the answer to "why shouldn't I kill you now?" is to point out that ends the fun, because he knows that buying time can only help. His particular expression of it is a bit gruesome, but it's a smart approach in general.
- A TARDIS boneyard. It's tragic and yet lovely.
- The Idris!TARDIS was strange and uncontrolled in very effective ways.
- The general atmosphere was cool and engaging. The very opening, with its odd dialogue, got my attention right away, nestling right up against the "too quirky" line without quite crossing it, and the visual styling just really worked for me.

This reaction is all tossed together with no particular through-line, and I'm probably missing a few things, but I just wanted to get down much of what I liked. It's so rare for me to be squeeful about anything, but this episode really deserves it!

Originally posted at Dreamwidth | Comment | comment count unavailable comments
 
 
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Lady Moon-Loona-cyjennytork on May 15th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
One tiny detail for clarification, because I've seen the episode in question...

Yes, the box was a shout-out to one of Two's episodes. There was a mad Time Lord making trouble and he would draw the other time Lords to him by sending them mailed notices in cube form.
michelel72: DW-Catmichelel72 on May 16th, 2011 01:36 am (UTC)
Oh, cool. I haven't seen much of Two at all, and I thought I'd seen a passing reference but I'm a spoilerphobe and so didn't look into it. Thanks!
Sophia: DW: Amelia: look up in hopesophia_sol on May 15th, 2011 10:07 pm (UTC)
Yesss to all of this! The episode ABSOLUTELY deserved it. (You make some good points about the less-good aspects of the episode. I'd noticed some of them, but not all of them. But overall they are minor in the face of how awesome everything else is!)
michelel72: DW-GeekPridemichelel72 on May 16th, 2011 01:38 am (UTC)
Oh, I know! And while I'll quibble with a few things, they're so very much outweighed by the good here!