“The Power Of Three” – Doctor Who

This season of Doctor Who has been pre-occupied with time in a way that is unusual – and perhaps more personal – than in previous years. Sure, last season had more time distortions and tripping over one’s own past than you could shake a Madame Kovarian brand creepy cane (™) at, but this year we’ve been treated to the life of the Companions stretched over a decade.

For us it’s only been a few episodes, but for Amy and Rory they have been travelling on and off with the Doctor well into the 2020s. It’s a welcome development – the life span of a Companion (by which I mean their time on the show) combined with the relatively low episode count can often mean as if it feels like they give up a whole lot for a couple of spins in the TARDIS.

Whimsical jaunts though they are.

By openly addressing Amy and Rory’s long-term lives on Earth and jaunts with the Doctor it makes any denouement for them a more worthy one. Win, lose or draw, their time with the Doctor was neither brief nor an impediment to living the life that they wanted to live.

And The Power Of Three, though flawed in places, was a perfect showcase for this double life (especially as The Angels Take Manhattan looks set to be all action and sadness with little time to stretch). In short, Amy narrates the story of The Year Of The Slow Invasion – caps author’s own – when millions of small black cubes slowly populated the planet and then proceeded to… not really do anything.

The Doctor, interest obviously piqued, swings by and decides it might be worth his while sticking around to see if it’s a genuine threat or a particularly long-winded marketing campaign.

Or just to lure Brian Cox out of hiding.

The episode does well to avoid the “fish out of water” antics that were charming in The Lodger and worn out in Closing Time, instead using a long timeline to parse out the events of the year. Months go by with nothing happening with the cubes, but it’s just nice to spend some time in the Williams/Pond household as they interact with their jobs, their friends, and their family – including the return of Rory’s dad Brian, who matches the Doctor’s dogged obsession with the intent of the cubes.

There’s also an old school fangasm inducing appearance from Kate Stewart, daughter of the Brigadier and current officer for the Earth-defending group UNIT. I was never a Who watcher in the Brigadier’s days so the reference would have been wasted on me, were it not for the strength of Kate’s character and a determined performance from Jenna Redgrave (yes, of those Redgraves).

Great coat, too.

In time the episode did lost its narrative cohesion, with the cubes coming to life to scan the planet for aliens who judged Earth unworthy of survival to launch their attack. A lot of it didn’t make sense, which was a real shame as the episode had been building nicely in its slow drip-feed of information. But it’s almost impossible to find a Who writer who can nail the necessary trifecta of plot-character-logic that sci-fi requires – and in this case I’m willing to let things slide because the character work worked so nicely.

The central point under-pinning the episode was whether Rory and Amy are willing to give up life with the Doctor, considering its impact on their ability to hold down decent jobs (not to mention have children). Brian was a worthy addition in this record, the parent who was worried about whether his child’s whimsical adventures might one day lead to his demise.

BUT WHAT ADVENTURES.

In the end, the happy couple decided that life with the Doctor was worth pursuing, even being given the blessing by Brian. And while there have been diminishing returns on the appearance and re-appearance of Amy and Rory as it’s happened so many times, it was nice to see them hop into the TARDIS one last time.

Because, of course, the Angels are returning in the next episode, and Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill are saying their goodbyes.

There will be weeping.

 Free Radicals

– Those Redgrave women can rock a pants suit, non?

– “If Fred Perry could see me know he’ probably ask for his shorts back.”

– That cube was playing what is colloquially known as the Chicken Song.

– Theories abound that the events of A Town Called Mercy (and maybe other stories this season) happened during this episode. Would seem to be lent credence by the visit to Henry VIII this week, who they’d already visited by then.

– Apparently the scene where the three re-entered the TARDIS (complete with that awful line from Narrator Amy) was the last filmed by Smith, Gillan and Darvill. Much tears, one supposes.

– UNIT were incorporated quite well in this episode, though obviously quite poor at their jobs. Also “science leads” was both a lovely line and a fantastic message.

– That heart shock death surely left millions of people with severe brain damage, no?

– Did Amy and Rory save anyone but Rory’s Dad on the spaceship?

– Rory’s hair is amazing. I simply have to have him.

– Twitter’s still around in 2020 or so? Who knew.

– Fish fingers and custard. Lovely.

Rory in his pants. That is all.

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About alfla

Playwright, screenwriter, sometime improv enthusiast and full-time television lover. You know, in THAT way.
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