Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thoughts on "The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon"

The latest season of Doctor Who has begun airing, and as always it is a lot of fun. Moffat is up to his normal scares, and once again we have another new scary monster to join the likes of his weeping angels, clockwork robots, and empty child.

There is also a long list of questions growing in the minds of fans, some that have been around since last season or before: Who exactly is Dr. Song? Who is this child that has Time Lord capabilities? Is Amy pregnant, or not? Is or was Dr. Song pregnant? Who is Jimmy the Fish? How are they going to write themselves out of the Doctor’s death?

The biggest questions surround the Silence. They were teased throughout the year last season, and one must think that they will play into more than just these first two episodes. Otherwise it feels like they haven’t quite matched the hype. Not only that, but as things stand right now, there are huge problems with the story.

At the moment we are being led to believe that these aliens have been in charge of humanity since prehistory times. That would mean—among other things—that they have been in charge of things in every single story in the thirty plus years of Doctor Who that has involved humanity. In light of the storyline last year that showed that time can be rewritten, one has to think that we will see more involving the Silence and that they have not always been in charge. It may tie into the seemingly inevitable death of the Doctor we see in the beginning of the first episode this year.

(In an interesting aside, the Silence seem to function in a way similar to the popular—and erroneous—understanding of how demons and temptation function. In this version of humanity, people are powerless to make decisions. They operate completely under post-hypnotic suggestion. The reason that this is an incorrect understanding of temptation, ala “the Devil made me do it,” is that it removes responsibility from individuals. In reality, temptation is when we are presented with a choice to do something that we shouldn’t. Sin lies in the choice to go ahead and do the thing we know we shouldn’t. What we have in this story—as well as the erroneous worldview it presents—is humanity as guiltless robots.)

The other thing to keep an eye on this year is the relationship and trust between Amy and the Doctor. She has asked him to play along on this adventure, thinking that a future version of the Doctor initiated things. If things turn out badly (and we know that as things stand now, they do) then that trust will be seriously damaged. The whole situation with the four invitations is rather fishy. We haven’t seen the last of that to be sure.

All the heavy thinking and speculation aside, these two episodes had some really creepy sequences, especially the moment below where Amy is in the abandoned orphanage. You need the set up and context of the show to fully appreciate everything that is going on here, but you can see how this episode would send kids to hide behind the sofa where one traditionally should watch all Doctor Who.

Here’s hoping the rest of the season continues at this level!

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