TV Recap: Doctor Who – Day of the Moon
Season 6, Episode 2
By Edwin Davies
September 3, 2012
I'm focusing a lot on that sequence in the orphanage, but it was a terrifically well-executed piece of horror that reminded me less of Doctor Who and more of The X-Files. The eventual moment of Amy discovering a room full of Silence nesting on the ceiling was brilliantly scary, but the whole build-up of her and Canton working their way through the house, separating, then of Amy seeing a mysterious woman wearing an eye-patch who disappears after leading her into the room where she is trapped and kidnapped, was a wonderfully suspenseful sequence.
Anyway, after the marks prove only semi-successful, The Doctor implants recording devices in the hands of everyone so that they can record any and all contact they have with The Silence. The devices, which glow whenever someone has left themselves a message, initially seemed like a fairly cheap re-appropriation of devices that Moffat has used in the past, but he managed to use them to great effect. Rory over-hearing Amy talking whilst she was being held by The Silence was very touching since it played into his protective feelings towards her and, when he thought she was saying that she was in love with The Doctor, it also revisited the rich vein of insecurity that made Rory and Amy's relationship such a strength of the last season.
In the broader context of recording devices, Moffat used them to make one of many great, sly jokes about Richard Nixon by having The Doctor be the one who tells him that he should have recording devices in The Oval Office at all times so they can track any encounters he has with The Silence. It's a funny, clever use of real history to support the plot that also realises the universal truth that Richard Nixon is the funniest President (cf. Futurama, aroooooo). The running joke that had The Doctor use Nixon as a get out of jail free card whenever he encountered military resistant was great, particularly the topper of having him stroll out of The Doctor's seemingly impenetrable prison.
That was just one of the instances in which the episode used real historical events to advance its plot, none of which felt as clunky as the show sometimes can be when it tries that trick. This culminated in the crux of the episode, in which The Doctor used The Silence's own nature against them by slipping in footage of one of them saying that humans should kill them all on sight into the live feed of the Moon landings, in doing so compelling the half a billion people watching it to subconsciously start hunting The Silence down.
As I said, I found all of this fun, but in the end I wasn't really sure what it all meant. It's clear that Moffat is setting a lot of pieces in motion that should hopefully come to something by the end of the season, or hopefully at the end of this initial run of seven before the show takes a four-month break, but just throwing these things out there is not in and of itself satisfying. I don't want to pre-judge where the show is going because I like this kind of television, the kind that expects you to hang around for a little while to get the most out of it, but individual episodes need to feel complete and coherent, which “Day of the Moon” did, but only by the skin of its teeth.