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Mâvarin and Other Inspirations

A Fantasy Writer's Journal

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NuWho review Redux: The Pandorica Opens
Crack, Doctor Who, Cayenne
Re: Rate / Review "The Pandorica Opens"

I've just read 20 pages of the GB rate thread, and am about to watch the ep for the third time (excluding the bits I rewatched while wading through the posts). I have not rated the ep yet, and may not do so until next weekend. That, for me, would be unprecedented. I always rate an episode within 24 hours, after watching it two or three times.

But I truly don't know what my opinion of this one will be in the long run. So much depends upon how it all shakes out next week. I trust the Moff to fit it all together, but I'm not so sure how much I'll like the final puzzle.

Some points:

1. Anyone complaining in advance about a pending reset button should perhaps consider that the concept of time being rewritten or even unwritten has been building all series. That needs to be paid off, because otherwise it's a violation of the Chekhov's Gun principle. It's not a cheap Get Out of Jail Free card if it's integral to the entire series. To NOT see time rewritten in the finale would be the cheat from a dramatic standpoint.

2. As of the last few seconds of the episode, the armada is gone, the stars are gone and the Earth is gone. We don't know for an absolute fact that the TARDIS is destroyed, but it's the most likely cause of the rest of the Universe (at least the Earth and vicinity) suddenly disappearing. If the Earth is gone, Amy is definitely dead, Auton Rory ceases to exist, and the Doctor, unless he's already escaped somehow, ceases to exist (assuming the Pandorica isn't dimensionally transcendental, which is probably isn't). Unless you want Doctor Who to continue with no Doctor, no TARDIS, no Earth and probably no Universe, of course time needs to be rewritten. Exactly what shape that rewrite takes we don't know yet, but clearly it has to be enough of a "reset" to get the Earth back at the very least. And no, that's not a fake reality, as far as we can tell. It's the one we'[ve been in all season, crumbling into nothing. It's only the Auton Romans that are faked, in the same multi-species conspiracy that created the Pandorica and the fairy tale about it.

3. There is still the possibility of somebody escaping nonexistence via a Crack. Just sayin'. Also, River ruefully wonders "Oh, Doctor. Why do I let you out?" Hmm. [Did she already free him in her personal past? Has it anything to do with her murder conviction?]

4. It isn't necessary that all species in the alliance be the Doctor's enemies per se, nor that they get along in perfect harmony, or even that they all be time traveling species (or based in 102 AD). The species that do time travel could easily give the others a lift via time corridor or whatever, once the threat is recognized across time and space as well as the perceived need to stop the Doctor from (as they believe) destroying the Universe. Even the Daleks didn't set out to destroy reality for the heck of it; they believed they would survive Davros' reality bomb. In this situation they would want the Universe to survive so they can get back to exterminating everyone else and become the masters of the Universe. Since the Doctor has defeated or outsmarted almost all of them at one time or another, an alliance is a reasonable strategy.

5. The above is basically observation, logic and speculation, but from here I go to my opinions about the effectiveness of the episode itself. I liked the pre-titles setup very much, loved Roman Auton Rory, loved River's cheeky notes on the cell wall and the cliff face, and liked the parallels between Rory and Bracewell. The latter is almost enough to redeem that part of VotD, but the fact remains that there isn't the slightest patina of logic or explanation in the Bracewell bomb scene, whereas Auton Rory fighting his programming and Amy trying to help him do that makes a lot of sense. Their failure makes the attempt even more powerful.

6. The Doctor trying to delay the armada with a speech of awesomeness is kind of annoying at first blush; this device loses power each time it's used. What redeems it this time, as others have said is that it's a double bluff. The aliens are outmaneuvering the Doctor, and he doesn't know it yet.

7. Granted, I saw the Peter McKinstry sketch showing the Doctor confined in the Pandorica, but even before that it was obvious to me that there is only one being in the Whoniverse that remotely fits the description of the Pandorica's prisoner. I spent much of the episode berating the Doctor for not figuring this out. But it took my husband to figure out, partway through the ep, that the Doctor wasn't in there yet. The Doctor's obtuseness here is consistent with his many other moments of obtuseness through the season, but I don't like being that far ahead of the Doctor when it comes to figuring out something that important. The Doctor absent-mindedly taking Roman Rory for granted at first was also mildly annoying. [Then it became my favorite scene.]  I think these niggles are a matter of personal taste on my part, not a problem with the writing.

8. On the other hand, the developments in the Amy storyline were brilliant. My annoyance all season with the word Pandorica, which sounded like a lame sf-redress of the name Pandora, disappeared when it was revealed that it was supposed to be exactly that. Add to that the Doctor revealing his concern over the girl alone in a big, time-cracked house, and the revelation that the Romans and Pandorica were devised from her memories really works pretty well.

All these elements will either get more awesome as Moffat frills in the massive holes (cracks?) in our knowledge next week, or become less satisfactory if some element doesn't quite work in the end. Until then, I suspect that whatever grade I give this one will be regretted by me later, when I want to raise or lower it.


Favorite scene:

The Doctor: Okay, Romans. Good. I was just wishing for Romans. [Barely glances at Rory.] Good old River. How many?
Rory: Fifty men up top, volunteers. [points at Cyber suit] What about that thing?
The Doctor: Fifty? You're not exactly a legion.
Rory: Your friend was very persuasive, but, uh, it's a tough sell.
The Doctor: Yes, I know that, Rory. I'm not exactly one to miss the obvious...
[Rory tries and fails to interrupt]
The Doctor: ...but we need everything we can get. Okay. Cyber weapons. This is basically a sentry box. The headless wonder here was a sentry. Probably got himself duffed up by the locals. Never underestimate a Celt.
Rory: Doctor...
The Doctor: Hush, Rory, thinking. Why leave a Cyberman on guard unless it's a Cyber-thing in the box? But why would they lock up one of their own? Okay, no, not a Cyber-thing but what? What? Nooo, missing something obvious, Rory, something big, something right slap in front of me. I can feel it.
Rory: Yeah, I think you probably are.
The Doctor: I'll get it in a minute.
[The Doctor walks away. A moment later there is a crash as he drops the Cyber-weapons. He reappears and stares at Rory. He pushes against Rory's breastplate. Rory rocks on his heels.]
The Doctor: Hello again.
Rory: Hello.
The Doctor: How have you been?
Rory: Good. Yeah. Good. I mean, Roman....
The Doctor: Rory, I'm not trying to be rude, but you died.
Rory: Yeah, I know. I was there.

Re: How will Amy not die?

Notice everything. What happens at the very end, AFTER Amy dies and the Pandorica closes?

1. The TARDIS appears to blow up.
2. Everything out in space around the Earth blows up and disappears - the armada, stars, galaxies, whatever.
3. The Earth disappears.

Now, unless the Earth slipped into another universe, it doesn't matter what state Dead Amy and Auton Rory were in just moments before. The planet is gone, taking them with it, as well as the Pandorica itself. There is no way forward for those characters from that moment in time.

But what were we told repeatedly in Flesh and Stone, supported by later episodes? Time can be rewritten. Time can be unwritten. Cracks are appearing throughout space and time, starting from the explosion of the TARDIS on 26 June 2010. The cracks connect "two points in space and time that should never have touched." Furthermore, the Doctor stuck his hand through a crack and survived. Prisoner Zero slipped through a crack and survived.

Amy's house may be a TARDIS, or contain a TARDIS, or contain part of a TARDIS.

And River has a time agent's vortex manipulator. [Actually, no. We last see it lying on the ledge of the Pandorica exterior with the Doctor. No, wait. She's wearing it in the TARDIS scenes.]

For any of this to be solved, the Doctor has to be freed before the Earth ceases to exist in 102 AD. I see three ways for that to happen. Any one of them works for me:

1. via crack
2. via River and her vortex manipulator
3. via Amy and her mysterious third floor.

Or maybe all of the above.

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I'll be happy as long as the maybe pending time rewrite includes Rory as a regular companion along with Amy.

Well, yes! There's definitely a "meant to be" quality to Amy and Rory's relationship, and Arthur Darvill was absolutely outstanding as Roman/Auton Rory. If even the not-quite-real Rory is this heartbreakingly wonderful, it would be a shame for the character not to be restored along with the rest of the universe.

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