Doctor Who, "The Lodger" and "The Pandorica Opens"

Craig: “Has anyone ever told you you’re a bit weird?”

Doctor: “They never really stop.”

So. I’m a little behind on these Doctor Who posts, and I apologize. It’s been a bit of a week for the Viola household. The season is finishing on a strong note, however, as we’ve had three great episodes in a row if we include “Vincent and the Doctor” from a few weeks ago. Let’s start with “The Lodger,” shall we?

I adored this episode — it’s probably my favorite of the season so far. The episode that airs in this slot of the season just before the finale is usually a bit odd, and they’ve turned out to be some of my personal favorites (“Turn Left,” “Blink,” and “Fear Her,” which I don’t seem to hate as much as many other viewers). The story for “The Lodger” was apparently borrowed from a comic version starring the Tenth Doctor and Mickey, with Rose filling the role of companion stuck in the TARDIS. There were so many wonderful moments highlighting the Doctor’s alien behavior: he shows up with a paper bag full of money to offer as rent, he does the double cheek kiss to greet everyone, he knows nothing about football but manages to be absolutely amazing at it, he recruits a cat to be his spy and then chats with him in the hallway. I could go on.

When he finally needs to reveal his Time Lord identity to Craig (played by James Corden), we see that instead of Ten’s gentle temple caress, Eleven prefers to transfer knowledge with a headbutt. This entire scene was fantastic; first he transfers general knowledge to Craig, and we see a quick montage of the previous Doctors. According to Wikipedia, we also see Rose Tyler, Cybermen, an Ood, and a Weeping Angel. Obviously, I am pleased about this. Craig is understandably shocked (“You’re a….! And you’ve got a TARDIS!”). The Doctor waves a hand around his own face. “Eleventh,” he says. Another headbutt transfers specific knowledge about why the Doctor is there, and then Amy calls from the TARDIS. “That’s Amy Pond!” Craig shouts, delighted.

I won’t go into much detail about the alien plot of the week, but it was nicely done and had a rather silly resolution, which I also enjoy. This was an Amy-lite episode, which was nice for those of us who have had a problem with her this season. Small doses of Amy were quite nice.

Now, part one of the season finale: “The Pandorica Opens.”

Doctor: “People fall out of the world sometimes, but they always leave traces. Little things we can’t quite account for. Faces in photographs, luggage, half-eaten meals. Rings. Nothing is ever forgotten, not completely. And if something can be remembered, it can come back.”

Well, how are they possibly going to get out of this one? After a season’s worth of build up about these ominous cracks in the universe, things are finally starting to come together. The opening, featuring van Gogh, Churchill, Liz 10, and River Song was epic and as wonderful as our last River-centric intro. And that comment about the vortex manipulator being fresh off the wrist of a “handsome Time Agent” — we’re supposed to assume they mean Jack, right? Is the ability to regenerate limbs part of the Bad Wolf immortality package?

More importantly, Rory is back! He’s now a Roman soldier and Amy still has no idea who he is, but I cheered when he appeared on screen. Rory and the Doctor have an awkward reunion while the Doctor picks up weapons for some reason. I choose to believe he was getting rid of them, as we don’t see them again.

The Pandorica, buried beneath Stonehenge, has been sending out signals across time and the universe. The Doctor and his crew believe that the worst thing in the universe is about to emerge, but the enemies that are currently surrounding them know differently; the Pandorica is a prison for the Doctor. His enemies have formed an alliance, believing that the Doctor and his exploding TARDIS are about to cause the destruction of the universe. What they don’t understand is that River can also fly the TARDIS, and something has taken control of it, forcing her to land at Amy Pond’s house on the day of her wedding — the day when bad things are scheduled to happen.

River realizes that she’s in Amy’s house when she sees the Raggedy Doctor dolls (“Oh, Doctor. Why do I let you out?”). Then she sees a children’s book about Rome, featuring the same soldiers the group had just met. Tucked in the book is a photo of Rory, also dressed as a soldier. When River sees a copy of Amy’s favorite childhood story, Pandora’s Box, she knows something is very, very wrong. She runs back to the TARDIS and calls the Doctor, who decides that the Romans must be copies or duplicates of some sort. Turns out, they’re the same kind of Autons that we saw back in the first episode of the Doctor Who reboot, “Rose.”

Just as they realize this, the Pandorica sends out a signal that changes the Autons from their nice, Roman cover stories into the killing machines they’re meant to be. Amy, who finally remembers Rory, is alone with him as he fights against his Auton self. The Doctor is being locked into the Pandorica, surrounded by pretty much every enemy he’s ever faced, and River is trapped in the TARDIS, which has begun to explode. Amy thinks that Rory has resisted the transformation into full Auton, but he can’t stop himself from shooting her. Shocked, she falls backwards in his arms, apparently dead. The camera zooms out to show the Earth as the surrounding stars explode, leaving us in darkness, alone.

JULY 24: We see exactly how the Doctor manages to get out of this fine mess in “The Big Bang.”

Screencaps from Sonic Biro.

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