TV Recap: Doctor Who - The Power of Three
By Edwin Davies
September 24, 2012
As Amy says in voiceover, she and Rory have been living two lives; one in which they are a married couple with friends and jobs and bills to pay, and one in which they travel across time and space battling aliens and witnessing fantastic sights. They've maintained the balance well enough over the years, but strain is starting to show. Amy agrees to be a bridesmaid for her friend and Rory takes on a permanent position at the hospital, both of which require stability and certainty, but in both instances we get the sense that the people around them see them as unreliable and flakey, i.e. the sort of people who disappear for months at a time with no explanation whatsoever. Even when they are dropped right back in time where they left - as happens when The Doctor takes them away for an anniversary trip that winds up lasting weeks - they still age at a normal rate, which means that they're several years older than they should be. (A concept that I first saw explored in an episode of the little-remembered time travel show Seven Days.) Basically, they can't keep living the way that they have been, and they have to choose between real life and Doctor life.
At least, that's what the episode wants to appear to be about, but after introducing the idea early on it ends up being sidetracked for much of it, only coming back in at the very end when it manifests itself as unwarranted sentimentality. Now, I like sentimentality as much as the next man (I cried at fucking War Horse, for Christ's sake), but it has to be earned. Since the episode was so devoted to an adventure and showing how exciting they can be for Amy and Rory, there wasn't much question over whether or not they would choose to stay with The Doctor, and the scene in which they reached that decision felt horribly forced. Once again, the show looks to be laying the groundwork for their exit without ever committing to it. Since the episode ended with the three together, seemingly stronger than ever, the emotion of that scene ultimately seemed a little hollow knowing that they won't be around for much longer.
Now, that may be a problem arising from my knowing that they are going to leave soon, but I think it speaks to a deeper problem with the episode that I spent my time thinking about the production of the show, rather than getting swept up in the story itself. By reiterating what we already know - that The Doctor and Amy and Rory are all friends and it's all swell - this episode was the worst example yet of the stasis that the series has fallen into this year as it waits for a big change to come. Unlike the other episodes, though, that sense of waiting wasn't alleviated by an exciting episode of television.
- On the plus side: it was great to see Mark Williams back as Rory's dad, Brian, and I thought his involvement in the plot by monitoring the cubes was funny and sweet.
- To illustrate how bereft of good lines this episode was, the only one that stuck out to me was Matt Smith's slightly contemptuous delivery of the word "Twitter", though even then it was for the wrong reasons, since I couldn't help but think of it in terms of Steven Moffat's recent exit from the social networking site. (I realise the episode was finished far in advance of that happening, but I couldn't help but imagine that some disenchantment with the site might have been percolating even then and bled into the script somewhere along the line.)
- I liked the reintroduction of UNIT, the planet-wide military organisation that was a big part of the show during its earlier incarnation, and the introduction of Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart as the new leader. This was probably the only major event in the whole episode from a big picture perspective, so I hope it means we are going to see a little bit more of both UNIT and Stewart going forward.