Day of the Moon
30 April 2011
After encountering the Doctor from the future who died in front of them, killed by an astronaut from the dawn of the space age, then another from the recent past unaware of the event, the TARDIS crew are faced with an alien menace called the Silence. Given a mandate from President Nixon, the Doctor is determined to uncover the mystery of the alien menace that no one can remember. Rather than posing a threat to the planet, the Silence have secretly been in control of the human race since the discovery of fire. With an empire to destroy, the Doctor designs a clever method to unravel the grip that the Silence holds over the planet Earth, but will it be enough?
I had commented that the Impossible Astronaut was like watching half of a story. If that is true, then Day of the Moon is a third of a total story, raising far more questions than providing answers. It’s a gimmick of Moffat’s writing style that either works for you or it doesn’t, but again in my opinion he has been good on his word to wrap up dangling plots in the past. Even so, it makes me nervous when we are not given an entire story.
But that’s just me.
Much like part one, the second installment opens three months after the closing moments of the last episode when Amy shot the astronaut in the warehouse containing the lost little girl. In that time, Amy, Rory and River have been on the run from Canton Delaware and a crew of FBI officers gunning and bagging them as they are found. The trio of companions are seen wearing sharpie markers (or the 1969 equivalent) and are marking themselves every time they see a Silent in order to keep track, but it hasn’t helped. The situation seems dire. Meanwhile the Doctor is being held in a government facility inside Area 51 where he is bricked into an inescapable prison.
Much like last week, this is very exciting but just as confusing. It raises the stakes by implying that Canton is working for the bad guys and that the Doctor and his friends have been beaten only to reveal that it was all a ruse to get them all back together after three months of data gathering. In that time, Amy, Rory and River have gained no ground but the Doctor has come up with a clever solution to an enemy that removes its existence from your memory, a kinds of answering service/personal data drive. The idea is that after seeing a Silent, you touch your palm activating a built-in recorder and state your experience. When you turn away, the device blinks, telling you that you have a message. It’s very inspired, involves clever narrative ideas and is dead spooky all at once. You never know that the monster is right behind you until you have already forgotten and it is presumably too late.
Amy and Canton hunt down the one lead they have, the little girl. Their search leads them to the spookiest orphanage this side of a Universal picture with a single occupant, a shaky Doctor busy cleaning scrawled messages from the walls telling him to get out of there. Clearly influenced by the Silence, his mind is shattered, but he is also the key to many mysteries surrounding the alien plot.
Amy wanders along alone, very Agent Scully-like, and finds herself in a terrifying room full of empty beds. On her way out of the room, she notices that her built-in recorder is blinking and freaks out. Attempting to break down the door is no good and when she attempts to smash open the window she realizes that her face and hands are covered in tally marks. There is a nest of Silence above her, resting like massive vampire bats. I know that Moffat is very proud of his new creation and he has good reason to be. The dead eye sockets, pale ribbed faces, black-hole-like mouths and now bat-like resting habits is just nightmare smoothie material.
On her way down the hall to investigate a call for help from a child, Amy sees something completely bizarre. A woman wearing a high-tech eye patch peers out of a peep hole that is not there, looks at Amy and says “she appears to be dreaming” before closing the door.
WHAT WAS THAT???
Frustrating, sure, but it opens up possibilities that I am sure Moffat will reach… one day. Not tonight, certainly… but one day… sigh.
Inside another barren room, Amy finds a dresser full of knick-knacks and a photo of herself as a young mother cradling a baby. Stunned, she turns to the still alive young girl, still trapped in the astronaut uniform. Refusing to answer any of her questions, Amy is taken away.
Abducted by the Silence, Amy’s implant is left behind as a kid of transmitter so that the Doctor and Rory can agonize over their friend’s suffering. Moffat does something very interesting here as he leads Rory (and us) to believe that Amy has always been in love with the Doctor through her desperate dialog via the implant. This crushes Rory and reminded him of the centuries he stood by her side as a Centurion, guarding her night and day. It’s poignant and painful and comes around roses when Amy reminds ‘stupid face’ that of course she prefers him to the Doctor. Well played, Moff.
The Doctor does some fiddling with Apollo 11 and tracks the Silence to their base of operations just as they are about to operate on Amy using their primitive time machine (last seen in the Lodger and Impossible astronaut for anyone keeping track). They state that she will ‘deliver the Silence’ and given her pregnancy, I am not sure if they are speaking of her child or her actions in the time stream. It seems to involve Amy’s child, given the photograph and the time machine but… what’s it all for and how does it lead to them destroying the TARDIS (seen last year)?
It’s like the Silence have woven an elaborate web to get Amy to this point in time, but before they do, the cavalry arrive.
After rigging a device in the nose cone of Apollo 11, the Doctor is confident that he can deal with the Silence. Using their very weapons of post-hypnotic suggestion and television, he beams a message all over the world ordering anyone who sees it to kill every Silent they see on sight, then of course forgetting all about it. Sure, it’a a bit ropy, but it utilizes the Doctor’s brilliance and shows that he is indeed a genius. I’m all for that kind of resolution.
River Song once again reminds viewers that she is a female Han Solo and guns down every alien in blaster range, the Doctor waves his sonic screwdriver about (why? no idea) and the battle is won. I disliked this ‘kill ‘em all’ solution as it terribly ham-fisted but moreso I was annoyed by River Song being a crack shot. I mean, when did she become such an amazing markswoman? Is she just a never-ending wealth of plot conveniences? Safe cracker, linguist, engineer… what’s next, card shark and HVAC specialist? It’s a bit silly and obviously the only reason that the scene occurs is to get fans of her character pumping their firsts yelling “YAY, RIVER!!” I can live with it, but it’s unnecessary.
The series 6 two-parter was full of weird statements that grounded it in America along with a few ‘Doctor… WHO’ jokes that I found odd. Again, not a big problem, but they stood out to me. Moffat uses this well in the Doctor’s parting shot to President Nixon to record everything and trust no one, reassuring him that no one will ever forger ‘Tricky Dicky.’ Maybe it’s crass to some, but I found it worth a chuckle.
The coda of the episode involves Amy’s child (or not child) as she discusses the subject with the Doctor and her reasons for not revealing the pregnancy to Rory. The plot thread of ‘it’s the Doctor’s baby’ hung in the air like the ripe smell of a Magic: The Gathering basement competition but was just as quickly dispelled. Amy knows that the baby is Rory’s, but is paranoid that traveling in the TARDIS may have caused some mutations or problems in the womb (the effects of which we see almost immediately after this sequence).
As Rory and Amy celebrate the happy news, the Doctor runs a quick TARDIS scan of Amy’s womb, revealing a pregnancy that is and is not there. Flickering in and out of existence. It is clear that the baby has been altered in some way by gestating in the TARDIS, but what will the result be?
Cut to: a homeless and sickly young girl on the streets of some bad part of town. On the verge of death, she throws out her arms and begins to regenerate (in the typical RTD way of throwing back one’s arms and shooting flames throw her arms and neck).
What the….? Ooooookay… so that too will be addressed at some point… presumably. Anyone keeping track of the many dangling plot threads?
In a similar vein to last week, I’m torn on this one. It was entertaining, clever and impressive both in terms of effects, story structure and character (and had the Doctor using his mental capacity to solve a problem), but it was also full of holes that are not likely to be tied up for quite some time. Will it be worth it? I can’t say. I don’t subscribe to the theory that the child is young River Song as it makes no sense whatsoever. But then again, the Face of Boe and Captain Jack had nothing to do with each other either, and look how that shook down.
This is a tough one, but it did showcase a deadly new alien, an ambitious slant of the alien invasion idea and plenty of tense moments. Unfortunately, much of its success hinges on the answers to the what the Silence were doing with a time machine, who was in the Astronaut uniform and what is up with the child.
Next week… nothing to do with any of this.
ARGHHHH! It’s Curse of the Black Spot, so it is!