Please take out your TI-89s, we're going to practice multi-dimensional cubic functions
Welcome again to my little corner of the Internet, where I tell you what happened on a show that you’ve probably already watched. But I try to do it with sarcasm and pop culture references, so hopefully that makes it all right. This week’s episode, while lovely, was a prime example of how episode previews do not seem to aptly convey the actual content of the episode. Whether or not that’s a bad thing is up to you.
Caution: there are at least three Doctor Who spoilers in this review.
Our opening segment is a voice over courtesy of one Amelia Pond, our sexy ginger companion that we’ve grown to know and love. She basically gives us the summary of what we’ve come to learn about her and Rory over the past few episodes- they have a life with the doctor and a life on Earth as normal people. These things do not necessarily mesh well.
This week’s font theme is what I’m going to call “cubic tessellate.” Also does it seem like the Time Vortex is getting purple-er?
Brian Williams (Rory’s dad) is harassing the Ponds bright and early one morning. It appears that overnight, a bunch of black cubes have shown up all over the planet. The Doctor, examining one in a playground, confirms they’re all identical and, for all appearances, completely inert. Brian spouts off some wacky theories, though really it’s hard to accuse him of being a crackpot when everything in this show is so insane. Meanwhile, Amy and Rory say they can’t help the Doctor solve his little puzzle because they have jobs- a concept that absolutely baffles him. Amy marvels that they’ve been travelling with him on and off for ten years. So, wait, it’s 2022? Or maybe 2020? Are we sure those boxes aren’t just the iPhone 10S? The Pond’s reverie is interrupted by a miniature army invasion, led by one Kate Stewart, leader of the new version of UNIT. We rehash the idea that the boxes aren’t doing anything, and that makes them dangerous. They’ll have to watch them for activity.
The Doctor, of course, is not terribly patient. He does a lot of housework to try to pass time, but is unsuccessful. Well you know the ol’ saying- once you go non-linear, you never go back. Mr. Williams, on the other hand, is an expert waiter. I guess that’s a Williams/Pond trait. The Doctor leaves the cube observation to the three of them and hops in the TARDIS.
Time passes. Rory agrees to a full time nursing position. (Aside: what kind of hospital lets you be a part time nurse that comes and goes as you please?) Amy agrees to be a bridesmaid in someone’s wedding. They make commitments. They behave like adults. They are okay with it. It is not interesting.
In December, we see a little girl at the hospital. Her eyes glow blue (the spice must flow!) and two “nurses” inject a man (probably, I don’t watch scenes with needles) with some stuff. Meanwhile, the cubes are still inert and scattered everywhere.
In June, the Ponds celebrate their wedding anniversary. The Doctor shows up. He takes them on adventures- to the Savoy and to meet Henry VIII, among other things. When they return to the party, Brian asks how long they’ve been gone. Seven weeks. Brian asks what happened to the other companions. Things get dark, as they generally do when we talk about the Doctor’s past. The Doctor asks Amy if he can stay with them.
Fast forward a few weeks to July. Really it’s been just over a year at this point. So in the voiceover, when we heard the Doctor stayed for a year, I assume he was actually just popping in and out for the past year. Anyway, the cubes start acting up- Brian’s spins around, Amy’s stabs her and monitors her pulse, and Rory’s opens up. The Doctor, who has taken to Wii Tennis, is attacked by his. It floats around like K-9, except for the part where it shoots lasers at him. There have been a lot of homages in this episode. The cube stops firing lasers at him to browse the Net via their Wii. Rory is called into work, as other people are being attacked by their cubes. The Doctor gets a psychic paper message from Kate at the new UNIT, and he and Amy head to the Tower of London.
This new UNIT situation has set up their base in the basement of the Tower, which isn’t ominous at all. There are stations monitoring different cubic functions, and I don’t mean the kind you can do with a TI-89. Also we learn that Kate is the daughter of one of the Doctor’s former companions. Forty-seven minutes after they started acting up, they abruptly return to their inert state.
Amy and the Doctor stare out over the Thames. She accuses him of always running away from things. He defends himself, going into one of his marvelous rants about the beauty and wonder of the universe, and insists he is not running from anything, he is running to it. For all his beautiful imagery and wonder, it falls a little flat. He always comes back to the Ponds though, because they’ve imprinted on his heart like adorable little goslings. Or maybe his heart is the gosling in this analogy. I’m not sure. Anyway, his talk with Amy makes him realize the cubes have what they wanted.
As he runs back into the Tower, the lights go off. The cubes begin their countdown. No one knows what will happen at the end, but it bodes poorly.
Brian is trying to help out Rory at the hospital. He wanders off to find a supply closet when those not-nurses from back in December take him hostage and wheel him though a portal to another dimension in the back of an elevator. Rory spots them just in time and pursues them through the same portal, ending up on what is clearly some weird spaceship. This show consistently makes me doubt the reliability of elevators.
In the Tower, the Doctor locks himself in a cubicle with a cube. Yeah, I went there. He waits for it to countdown to zero. At first, it seems as though nothing is happening; but then the video monitors show people on the streets suddenly collapsing, clutching their chests. Indeed, the Doctor’s left heart repeatedly attacks him. However, he figures out this means some sort of energy pulse is emanating form the cubes, and traces its nearest source to Rory’s hospital.
Rory, meanwhile, has found his father but is having trouble waking him up. The not-nurses attack him.
The Doctor and Amy run to the hospital, despite his heart failure issue. They find the little girl with the blue eyes from December’s attack- she was a drone used to monitor the cubes and route the power to activate them. He disables the drone with the sonic screwdriver, then Amy un-disables him with a defibrillator, no doubt because we’re a little behind on our “Matt Smith is shirtless” quota for this season. They find the elevator is hosting the source of the energy spikes, and comment on its clichéd-ness. I concur.
On the spaceship docked just one dimension to the right, Rory is also unconscious on a gurney. The Doctor wakes him up with intense space-magic bath salts. Meanwhile Emperor Palpatine, aka the Rani, monologues his cause. Classic villain. His race, the Shakri (maybe, I am too lazy to look it up) want to destroy humans before they can leave Earth and colonize outer space. The Doctor gives his usual defense of humanity- people of hope and ingenuity. Aww, Doctor, you always make me feel like maybe humans aren’t terrible. Then I ride public transportation and that feeling swiftly passes. The plan is to dispense a second round of cubes to off the 2/3 of the population that still remains. The Rani’s hologram disappears to do a show with Tupac. The Doctor re-routes the energy to defibrillate the sufferers instead. Somehow this energy pulse also blows up the ship. Hands washed, people healed, Shakri (at least one out of seven) blown up, all is well in the universe. Well, this alternate universe where London gets attacked by aliens on a semi-regular basis.
The gang enjoys dinner. The Doctor says goodbye, figuring the Ponds have chosen the “real” world for the TARDIS. Brian tells them to go, saying they have an opportunity no one else can claim. They get in the TARDIS and head out into the great unknown. With a corny “cubed” joke, to boot.
This episode was solid in regards to emotions/feelings, but lacking on action and arc development. Sometimes I feel like they don’t know what to do with Amy and Rory. What is the big profound impact we have to look forward to? What are we building up? There wasn’t any “mistaken identity” or “who is the Doctor” stuff this week, and I am excited to know where we’re going with that. I feel like it’s especially relevant with the 50th anniversary coming up. Holy shit, this show has been around twice as long as I have. Damn, I love it.
Next week: Angels! River! New York City!