Doctor Who, "The Big Bang"

Doctor: “We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”

“The Big Bang” opens not where we left off last week, but rather on a scene repeated from the season’s first episode: Amelia Pond praying for someone to come and close the crack in her bedroom wall. This time, however, there is no Doctor. In a therapy session, Amelia paints a picture of the night sky, the moon surrounded by stars — her own version of van Gogh’s The Starry Night. When asked what she’s drawn, Amelia calmly explains that they’re stars. “Oh, Amelia,” her Aunt Sharon says, tired of the same old fairy tale. There are no stars in this universe.

Later, a figure appears at the front door and slips a brochure for the National Museum through the mail slot. Amelia picks it up and finds a message scrawled across a picture of the Pandorica: “Come along, Pond.” She drags her aunt to the museum and quickly ditches her, finding another note attached to the Pandorica itself: “Stick around, Pond.” She hides all day and emerges when the museum has closed. Placing her hand on the Pandorica, the box begins to glow and open. The prisoner inside is not the Doctor at all, but the version of Amy Pond that was shot by Rory last week. “Okay, kid, this is where it gets complicated,” she tells herself.

After that fantastic opening, the story moves back 1,894 years to begin a thoroughly timey-wimey explanation of how the Doctor escaped the Pandorica. Rory sits with a lifeless Amy in his arms, hoping for a miracle. Suddenly, the Doctor appears out of nowhere, wearing a fez, carrying a mop, and talking insanely fast. The delivery reminded me a lot of Ten, actually. He hands Rory the sonic and tells him how to use it to open the Pandorica, then asks him to leave it in Amy’s coat pocket when he’s done. Rory does as he’s told, releasing the Doctor, who is delighted that his future self got involved, as it means he still has a future. The Doctor decides to place Amy in the Pandorica, a prison so strong that it won’t even let its occupant die, and Amy is only “mostly dead.” She can be restored with exterior DNA, to be provided by little Amelia in about 2,000 years. Rory is reluctant to leave with the Doctor, arguing that Amy would be safer if he stayed with her. The Doctor warns him that he’s an Auton, but he’s not invincible. “Why do you have to be so…human?” the Doctor asks. “Because right now, I’m not,” Rory replies. He puts on his helmet and takes his post next to Amy. It’s a really lovely image.

Back at the musuem, the restored Amy watches a video about the mysterious soldier that kept guard over the Pandorica. He has not been spotted since the London Blitz, when he dragged the Pandorica away from a crash site. It’s believed that he died in the fires that night. Amy cries. Oh, Rory.

The light from the Pandorica hits a stone Dalek (back in 102 AD, the end of the universe erased the Doctor’s enemies from existence — the stone forms were left behind like an echo). The Dalek comes back to life and goes after Amy and Amelia, but a guard appears in the shadows. It’s Rory, and he uses his gun to temporarily stun the Dalek. The Doctor appears and leads everyone away from the Dalek (“Come along, Ponds!”), grabbing a fez and a mop in the process. Rory realizes that this is how the Doctor looked all those years ago, so the Doctor pops back and we see him give the sonic to Rory. At the museum, another Doctor appears and he seems to have been electrocuted. He falls at our Doctor’s feet, whispers something in his ear, then dies. “I have twelve minutes to live,” the Doctor says. They turn to discover that Amelia has disappeared; she has been erased from existence.

Are you still with me? Trying to recap this episode is making my brain hurt.

The group runs up to the roof, where they see something that looks like the sun blazing in the sky. But there are no stars in this universe; it’s actually the TARDIS, exploding at every moment in history and keeping the Earth warm enough for humanity to survive. The Doctor realizes that the TARDIS has placed the console room on a time loop in order to protect River, so he uses the vortex manipulator to hop on board and save her. “Hi, honey, I’m home,” he says. “And what sort of time is this?” she jokes.

Back on Earth, the Dalek has gained enough power to fly up to the roof, so the group runs back inside. The Dalek catches up to them and shoots the Doctor, but he uses the vortex manipulator and disappears. “Where did he go?” River cries. “He died,” Amy says sadly. She and Rory go back to the spot where the Doctor fell twelve minutes ago while River deals with the Dalek. In its weakened state, one shot to the eye would kill it. The Dalek isn’t scared. “Reports indicate you will show mercy. You are an associate of the Doctor’s,” it says. “I’m River Song. Check your records again,” she replies, AND THE DALEK BEGS FOR MERCY. Don’t cross River Song, apparently.

Amy and Rory discover that the Doctor’s body is gone. The Doctor hadn’t really died, but instead used the others as a diversion so that he’d have time to wire the vortex manipulator into the Pandorica. He plans to fly the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS so that the restoration power will use the TARDIS’ memory of the universe to bring everything back: Big Bang Two. The Doctor, however, will be on the wrong side of the explosion, stuck in the void. He will be erased. He calls Amy over to say goodbye and tells her to remember her parents. They didn’t die, they were absorbed by the crack in her wall, which was eating away at her life for years. If she remembers them, they can come back, and then she won’t need her imaginary friend anymore. “Amy Pond, crying over me, eh? Gotcha,” he says with a smile.

The Doctor flies toward the TARDIS and suddenly wakes up on the floor of the console room. After a quick moment of comedy (“Oh! I escaped!”) the Doctor realizes that he’s stuck in a rewind of his own life. The timeline is unraveling. He notices that Amy can hear him but not see him, so he goes back to the forest scene from “Flesh and Stone.” Many people called this, but it was still so satisfying to see it happen. The Doctor begs Amy to remember what he told her when she was seven. The next stop on the rewind brings him back to Amelia’s house, the night she waited in the garden. He picks up the sleeping girl and tucks her in for a bedtime story. I loved this scene — Matt Smith was excellent as he delivered his monologue.

Doctor: “It’s funny, I thought if you could hear me I could hang on somehow. Silly me. Silly old Doctor. When you wake up, you’ll have a mum and dad, and you won’t even remember me. Well, you’ll remember me a little. I’ll be a story in your head. That’s okay. We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? ‘Cause it was, you know. It was the best. A daft old man, who stole a magic box, and ran away. Did I ever tell you I stole it? Well, I borrowed it—I was always going to take it back. Oh, that box. Amy, you’ll dream about that box. It’ll never leave you. Big and little at the same time. Brand new and ancient, and the bluest blue ever. And the times we had, eh… would have had. Never had. In your dreams they’ll still be there. The Doctor and Amy Pond, and days that never came.”

He knows that the cracks won’t seal off completely until he’s on the other side of them. “I think I’ll skip the rest of the rewind,” he says. “I hate repeats.” We see his shadow get absorbed by the crack as it closes, and Amelia stirs for a moment. The next morning, we’re back to June 26, 2010: Amy’s wedding day. She’s confused to find her parents home and feels like she’s forgetting something, but she’s so happy — the happiest we’ve ever seen her. At the wedding reception, Amy and Rory laugh and celebrate. She sees River Song walk by the window, dressed in black, and Amy suddenly becomes very sad. She starts to cry. Rory hands her a blue book with a cover that looks very much like the TARDIS, explaining that a woman left it for her. “But why?” she asks. Rory explains that it must be “what you should at have at weddings,” that old saying. Everything clicks for Amy. She stands up and talks about her imaginary friend, the Raggedy Doctor.

Amy: “I found you in words, like you knew I would. That’s why you told me the story—the brand new, ancient blue box. Oh, clever, very clever.”

Rory: “Amy? What is it?”

Amy: Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. And something blue.”

The TARDIS materializes and the Doctor emerges, dressed in his finest tux. It was a fabulous moment. The party continues into the night, the Doctor dances like a muppet, and he looks on as Amy and Rory dance closely. “Two thousand years — the boy who waited. Good on you, mate,” he says. River stops him outside, and he returns her diary. He didn’t peek, he explains. They have a cute moment where he gets totally flustered after asking if she’s married, and she tells him he’ll find out who she is very soon. “And I’m sorry, but that’s when everything changes,” she says.

Amy and Rory join the Doctor in the TARDIS and they all take off for the next adventure, the first season finale in new Who that didn’t result in heartbreak for the Doctor. The one element of this episode I didn’t like was the joke about Amy kissing the Doctor at her wedding. She clearly loves Rory, but she’s lusting after the Doctor right in front of him? It felt very strange.

The season had some disappointing episodes, but the last few were wonderful and I can’t wait to see where it all goes. I don’t want to wait until Christmas for the next special, but alas. Until then, I’ll be watching repeats. I don’t mind them as much as the Doctor.

Screencaps from Sonic Biro.

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