Vex and Silents

So the gloves are off for 2011. Moffat and team are back juggling the format and more story arcs than ever before with, allegedly, each of the three-to-four regulars getting their own little saga. We the audience have been thrown in the deep end, with a flip-flop of the usual fare of two-part finale – but could anyone really have seen things become this deep so soon? And this dark for a family show?

Doctor Who has changed, and it’s come at a time of weird courtship of the US market, complete with the slightly divisive “I’m Amy Pond…” introductory voice-over. It’s all well and good to assume the audience knows DW, but to then foist the brand-new, high-end and glossy series upon a nation who still think ‘British teeth’ is an adequate punch-line begs the question whether we’re witnessing a fool’s errand in action. But no, remarkably the stunt appears to be working.

The story, though – aliens are already here and have been for centuries, knitting a space suit or something (I’ve seen their fingers, I think that’s why they might have needed a hand with the tricky bits); we’ve got Richard the third in the White House, cowering behind divided curtains, and the Doctor is dead-ish. We’ve also got the issue of Amy’s Condition to ponder over, a golden-handed girl, a possible Lodger link and then, just as you turn around, a strange lady wearing an eye patch. River’s song we must now take as a given, and the Doctor’s death has for the moment been sidelined in a very ‘meta’ way by the TARDIS’ resident jammy dodger, but where the hell do we go from here? It’s merciless TV for a family show, and by this episode’s last ten minutes I was genuinely wondering whether too much has been loaded into this two-parter.

The story, though – well, there is one, sort of. A cheat of a story, really, and a blatant exercise in keeping as many balls in the air as possible with its teasers and lead-ins. The defeat of the Silents is a clever trick, but achieves most of its brilliance by being a plan unfolding not only under the slitted noses of the aliens, but from behind the aforementioned arc-building elements. On the positive side it’s good to see that such an audacious plan actually gives everyone currently holding a blue enveloped invitation to the Doctor’s death something to do – Canton (a great character well cast) included. As core companion it’s fitting that Amy shoulders the greatest burden of the Doctor’s death, and Karen Gillan holds this role down better than last series, but for me the best character beats simply belong to the two more-attuned to the assails of time – the backwards-flowing River and ‘Rory the Roman’. River’s first and last kiss at Stormcage is truly sad stuff – you almost don’t want her story to be undone, as it surely must be at either (or both) ends. Dave tells me he thinks there’s more to Rory’s flit of insecurity than meets the eye – and surely no one would have dropped his Legionnaire backstory on a new audience without very good reason, especially Moffat.

But we wait and see, the story being far from over, and something of a sketch at this stage not unlike its feature President (no historic reinventions or reassessments, this is the Who historical as punchline). Canton really was great though. If the 2011 series wasn’t already about the return of familiar faces then I’d definitely be calling for his return. As it is we can’t know if we’ve truly seen the last of him yet. It’s a much smaller Who universe these days.


One Response to “Vex and Silents”

  1. the_other_dave Says:


    The weird thing about Canton is the way he turns up and assures everyone that this most certainly is the Doctor. No bad for someone who hasn’t seen him for just under half a century, AND understands the nuances of “I won’t be seeing you, but you will be seeing me.”

    I think and hope are return is very likely on the cards…

    That said one thing struck me rewatching this. The future Doctor is the one leaving messages for Rory and Amy, he’s also the one sending them invites, because he most certainly knows they have to be there…
    … but has the Doctor Doctor (current) simply dropped them of home with only a random suggestion they will catch up. If it wasn’t for his future self’s intervention – would he have ever seen them again?

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