TV Recap: Doctor Who – The Curse of the Black Spot
Season 6, Episode 3
By Edwin Davies
September 3, 2012
I will admit to losing a little interest once the action moved from the pirate ship to the space ship where the Siren existed - mainly due to the talk of how reflections were gateways to other dimensions, which stopped an episode that up until that point had barrelled along at a phenomenal speed - but that was more than compensated for by the two reunion scenes on the spaceship. Firstly, Rory tells Amy that she will have to resuscitate him when he is disconnected from his life-support machine, which was a great showcase for both Gillan and Arthur Darvill, and even though I knew that he was going to live, I thought that the show beautifully handled the scene in which Amy tries and tries and tries to keep Rory from dying. (Even if, as someone who has had some First Aid training, I thought it looked like she was doing it wrong.)
Secondly, the captain was reunited with his son and decided to stay with him on the spaceship, rather than take him back to his own time and watch him die slowly of fever. His arc - former decorated sailor turned pirate who can't give up his treasure and ultimately is responsible for his son being taken by the Siren - felt really rushed, and his turnaround at the end didn't really feel all that earned as a result, but again the performance of the actor in that moment saved the scene. Bonneville really captured the sadness of the character and the mixture of shame, love and devotion that drove his decision.
One of the aspects of this episode that I really liked, since it revisited one of my favourite themes from last season, was that The Doctor kept getting everything wrong. He thought that the Siren could travel using water, then realised that she moved using reflections. He thought that the Siren was a hunter, then he realised that she was actually a doctor, just one that did not know how to heal humans so she kept them hooked up to her machines. I’ve always really responded to Matt Smith's portrayal of The Doctor because he does not play him as an all-knowing lonely god, but as a fallible being who just tries to do his best with what the situation gives him. His constant reappraisal of his theories based on evidence also worked as a nice illustration of deductive reasoning, too, even if the situation was anything but logical.
So, a strong episode all in all that only really faltered in its shift from the second to third act, since it went from full speed ahead adventure romp to slow, contemplative sci-fi. Yet the two different sides to the story were both so individually strong that the show’s inability to bridge them successfully is easily forgivable.
The show dialled back on the over-reaching arc of the series this week, with no mention of The Silence that I could detect - though that makes sense since The Doctor thinks that he has defeated them and isn't in too much of a hurry to find out what they are all about - and only a brief glimpse of the weird woman that Amy saw in the orphanage. A nice reminder that something else is going on, but not really anything that we can read into just yet.