“Impossible Astronaut” Review (SPOILERS. Oh, So Many SPOILERS)
By Kyle Anderson on April 25, 2011
Wowzers. Talk about hitting the ground running. Doctor Who‘s series 6 premiere episode didn’t give its audience any time to breathe, as Steven Moffat & Co. serve up one of the most puzzling and shocking episodes ever. What stood out the most was the sheer scope of the undertaking. It felt like we were watching half of a feature film and not an episode of television, which is due in no small part to the stellar work of director Toby Haynes, who has now directed five (counting next week’s conclusion) episodes in a row. The Utah locations really did add a great deal of realism and believability to the usual fantastical events. The shock of the pivotal scene in act one, which I’ll address in a moment, was perfectly underscored by Haynes’ direction and the pristine lake/beach surroundings. The performances were uniformly good, which is a given by now, and since we know all of the principals very well at this point, we can simply jump into the adventure with them without having to be introduced, something we’ve not had in a premiere prior to this.
Now for the part of the review where I discuss specific things and add my own wild speculation, so just prepare to be wowed (hardly).
-Steven Moffat delivers another of his now-standard time-and-mind-bending stories, this one being a proper mystery with almost none of the action movie tropes that we’ve come to expect (I imagine those will happen next week). By the end of this episode, we know almost nothing and are left with numerous questions that need answering, just the way I like it.
-I liked how we were brought back into the Doctor’s world by having Amy and Rory reading about his exploits in the book and seeing him on TV. Aside from being funny, it makes me think, like they do, that he’s trying to get their attention. I have to assume it’s for something other than the eventual envelope they receive as they surely would have known it was from him anyway.
-The first Doctor we see claims to be 1,103 years old, meaning he’s been traipsing around for about 200 years since we last saw him, yet he looks exactly the same as the second Doctor who says he’s 909. Surely, this will be explained, probably.
-The Doctor has led his companions, plus the older version of Canton Everett Delaware, III to this one specific moment, and only Canton 3 seems prepared for what’s about to happen. The Astronaut appears, though we don’t know who it is, and shoots the Doctor, causing a regeneration which is immediately ebbed when he’s shot again and dies. This scene made me very sad, as I think was the point. We’ve never seen this happen, obviously, as this would be the absolute end of the Doctor’s life. Canton 3 brings a can of gasoline over to burn his body and they load him up on a nearby row-boat and send him burning into the lake. Now, there are a number of red flags that popped up to make me think this was all a ruse on the part of the Doctor. 1) He tells them in the diner earlier that he’s been running, faster than he’s ever run. This would explain all the popping up in history books in various times and spaces. I think it’s pretty clear he’s been running from the alien in the suit. 2) The alien in the suit appears at the site of the death to watch. I think the death and funeral were all for his benefit. The Doctor wanted to stop running and he knew the only way he could was to die, or for them to think he has died. 3) Canton 3’s appearance at the scene, along with the gasoline he was instructed to bring, point to him being involved in a cover-up and not, like the others, just witnessing a horrible event. He was an FBI guy after all. 4) Lighting his body on fire is a good way to dispose of the evidence, i.e. no way for anyone to examine his body.
-They go back to the diner to see 909-year-old Doctor, and are understandably shocked and annoyed at him, or his future self, for making them watch him die and then have to see him again, younger and totally unaware of what’s happened. I really like the way Matt Smith plays him in this and the following TARDIS scene. He hates it when people know more than he does, especially if it involves him, which explains his combative relationship with River Song.
-They go to the Oval Office in 1969 to help President Nixon and younger Canton 3 with the mysterious phone calls. These calls are being made by a child calling for help. How can the child be calling the President? Why is she ONLY calling the President? And why can she call the President wherever he is? This, surely, has something to do with the omnipresent alien-in-the-suit.
-Amy, feeling sick, goes to the bathroom and sees the alien-in-the-suit and then witnesses, via another poor soul, that people only remember them while they’re looking, and when they turn around, they forget. These are some scary-ass aliens creatures, not the least of which because they can scream and make people pop. These are, apparently, “The Silence” we’ve heard about. Now, we’ve been told all last year, at several points, that “Silence will fall,” which we’ve generally taken to believe that something horrible called Silence will take over everything and whatnot, but what if it means they will fall like the Roman Empire fell? Perhaps, then, the Silence falling is a good thing as it means they wouldn’t be around anymore. Eh, eh? Food for thought. The Silence tells Amy she must tell the Doctor what she knows she must not.
-Based on the things the girl says, the Doctor determines that the calls are coming from a place a few miles away from Cape Canaveral, where NASA is located. In a series of underground tunnels, River and Rory investigate and find, and subsequently forget, a nest of Silence and eventually reach what looks for all the world like the TARDIS-like ship from last year’s “The Lodger.” River also says earlier that worse days lie ahead for her. When Rory asks her about it, she says she dreads the day when the Doctor no longer recognizes her, given the nature of their out-of-sync relationship, and that it will likely kill her. (IT DID!! [kinda]) They are then set-upon by Silence and it looks as though Rory might again die.
-On the surface, the Doctor, Amy, and Canton 3 investigate the stolen space suits and stuff and eventually Canton hears something and runs after it. Amy remembers she has to tell the Doctor something, and that it’s very important. They find Canton knocked unconscious. Amy tells the Doctor she’s pregnant just as the astronaut appears. Without thinking, Amy grabs Canton’s gun and shoots it, trying to save future Doctor, but fails to notice first that it has lifted the visor to reveal the little girl inside.
Now that’s a pretty intense cliffhanger and we’re left with the following questions, or at least I was: 1) Is the girl in the space suit really a little girl? 2) Are we supposed to infer, because of what Amy had just revealed, that the little girl is Amy and Rory’s daughter? 3) How could a little girl be walking around in a full size astronaut suit? 4) Is the space suit actually a TARDIS, which might explain the presence of the console room and “iconic” image released a few weeks ago with the Doctor, Rory, and Amy AND the TARDIS in the visor? 5) I hope this isn’t the case, but is River Song the child of Amy and Rory? 6) Since both Amy and River complained of stomach problems, does that mean River is also pregnant? 7) Is the little girl in the suit the same person as the person in the suit who shoots the Doctor? (I doubt it) 8 ) Have I run out of questions? Maybe for now.
I guess we’ll just have to wait to see if any of these questions/predictions I have come true, or are even relevant. For now, we’ll have to be content with the BBC 1 trailer for part two, “Day of the Moon.”
Amaze-balls, right? Can’t wait. Feel free to share your thoughts, impressions, and weird theories in the comments section.
-Kanderson will fall…asleep
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