Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer DVR Dump: Doctor Who 6.02: "Day of the Moon"

“Oh, Dicky. Tricky Dicky. They’re never going to forget you. Say ‘hi’ to David Frost for me.”
-The Doctor

“Day of the Moon” was a continuation of the story that began in “The Impossible Astronaut,” with the Doctor and crew in the United States in 1969. This episode doesn’t hold together quite as well as “The Impossible Astronaut,” probably because I was expecting questions from the first episode to be answered in the second, and that didn’t entirely happen. There were still some good moments and characterization, however. I found President Nixon to be entertaining, even if he was a rather Disney-fied version of the real thing. There was a good sense of camaraderie between the Doctor, Amy, Rory, and River. I think the Doctor works well as a character when he has a lot of friends around. It kind of reminded me of the end of series 4’s “Journey’s End” where the Doctor reveals to his group of friends at the time that the TARDIS was really meant to be piloted by multiple Time Lords at once, and he kind of revels in having enough friends around to actually use it properly. While I think building a good relationship between the Doctor and his primary companion is important, the group dynamic in these sorts of situations can also be a lot of fun.

This episode, although the second part of a two-parter, picks up three months after the end of the first part. And it opens with a massive, rather frustrating fake-out. Amy is running through the desert until she can’t run any more. When she stops, Canton and a bunch of FBI agents catch up to her, and Canton appears to shoot her. The Doctor is at Area 51, and the folks there are building a beyond state-of-the-art prison sell to contain him. River is in New York City, and when Canton catches up to her, she jumps off a high floor of a sky scraper. Rory is the last to be found. He’s at Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona, and for obvious reasons, he can’t run any farther. Canton appears to shoot him, too. The bodies (in body bags) of Rory and Amy are brought into the Doctor’s Area 51 prison. As soon as Canton shuts the door (with himself inside the cell, too), it becomes apparent that all is not as it seems. The show of building the prison and appearing to kill the Doctor’s companions was all an elaborate ruse to give the gang a place to talk out of range of the Silents. Everyone gets in the TARDIS, and the first order of business is rescuing River by positioning the TARDIS swimming pool to break her fall. Then the gang is off on a return trip to Kennedy Space Center.

Before everyone begins their specific missions, the Doctor injects nanorecorders into everyone’s hands. They’re supposed to use them if they have an encounter with a Silent so they can remember it. The recorders will blink if there’s a message. The Doctor tests is by having Canton look at a hologram of a Silent. We don’t know that’s what’s happening at the time, though. All we know is that Canton’s recorder suddenly starts blinking. The whole concept is really creepy, because it’s easy to imagine living in dread of seeing the recorder suddenly blinking and wondering what horror you experienced that you now can’t remember. We also learn at this point that not only can the Silents make you forget you saw them, but they can plant post-hypnotic suggestions, too.

Amy and Canton, in their search for the little girl who was in the space suit, find themselves at a really, really, Southern Gothic-style orphanage. The caretaker at the orphanage has a really warped sense of time, convinced that it’s not even 1967 yet. This should have been a big honing clue that Silents were about making him forget things. Beyond that, creepy messages are written all over the walls in what looks like possibly blood. Because this episode is pretty true to horror tropes, Amy decides to go upstairs to investigate on her own while Canton tries to question the caretaker. She gets locked in a room, and the recorder in her hand starts blinking. She looks up to see a whole mess of Silents hanging from the ceiling like bats. It’s really, really gross.

The Doctor is found by some NASA bigwigs inside the Apollo 11 command module, and not surprisingly, he gets in a bit of trouble for it. Nixon shows u to rescue the Doctor just in time, and he even gets a little “Hail to the Chief” music cue as he strolls into the scene. I have to admit that was pretty funny. With this episode as with the last, it’s always amusing to see what the Brits really think of us. Rory arrives with Nixon and almost breaks a model of the Lunar Excursion Module, looking pretty darn cute dressed up in 60s nerd attire, complete with slicked back hair and thick glasses. I actually didn’t recognize him right away the first time I saw this episode because he looked so different.

Meanwhile, all sorts of creepiness is still going down at the orphanage. Canton is talking to the caretaker about the little girl, and the caretaker tells him that “the child must be cared for.” Locked in the upstairs room, Amy sees a small slot window suddenly appear in a door, and she sees a woman looking through that window. When Amy gets close to the window and tries to touch it, it disappears. Amy opens the door and finds a small child’s room. The room belonged to the little girl they’re searching for. Amy looks at all the pictures on the bureau, and she sees one of herself holding the baby. There’s all sorts of hubbub going downstairs at the orphanage by this point, and Canton ends up shooting a silent. After taking Canton’s distress call, the Doctor tells Nixon to record everything. I love the little jokes they include in this episode to appeal to us American history nerds.

Since Canton has raised the alarm, the whole crew has a mission to rescue Amy. All they can find in the upstairs of the orphanage is her nanorecorder (that has somehow been taken out of her hand). Rory holds on to it for the rest of the episode because while he can’t communicate to Amy through it, he can somehow hear everything she’s saying. Most of the time she’s babbling about loving a guy, and of course Rory’s worried she’s talking about the Doctor and not him.Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if she doesn’t have the recorder in her hand anymore. Is it magically tuned to her brainwaves across the miles or something? Another thing I don’t love about this scenario is that Amy is a total damsel in distress. I prefer companions who can take care of themselves somewhat. Rose was scrappy and Donna was mouthy. Both occasionally needed to be rescued, but not with the frequency that Amy has, and they also both were sometimes able to rescue themselves. The only thing that makes the Amy as damsel in distress bit at all palatable in this episode is the presence of River, because she can more than take care of herself

River and the Doctor spend some time looking at the space suit and speculating about the little girl who was once inside it. The Doctor reviews the fact that the Silents have shaped almost all of human history and hypothesizes that the Silents only let humans go to the Moon because they needed a space suit to keep the little girl alive. I guess that begs the question of why the little girl is so important, other than the fact that she may have killed the Doctor farther down the line in the Doctor’s personal timeline. Meanwhile, Canton’s paying a visit to the Silent that was shot. He uses Amy’s videophone (and amusingly says he doesn’t know what a video phone is) to tape the Silent saying menacing things. Canton asks the Silent how humans should react to the Silents, and the Silent helpfully says that humans should kill Silents on sight.

Amy wakes up restrained in an unfamiliar room full of Silents. She doesn’t have much time to freak out, though, even though the Silents are trying to play mind games with her about how long she’s been imprisoned, because the Doctor and River show up. There’s some fun banter where the Doctor threatens the Silents by proudly stating how many of them River could easily kill. Then he reveals his big plan to defeat the Silents. We see a TV screen that is broadcasting the lunar landing. In the pause in the middle of Neil Armstrong’s famous line, “That’s one small step for man…one giant leap for mankind,” the video Canton shot of the Silent saying humans should shoot Silents on sight is broadcast. Since Silents can do post-hypnotic suggestion, the broadcast is a call for all humans to actually start killing the Silents. The Silents are understandably unhappy about this, and a battle breaks out. River gets to be kickass and kills them all in this spinning motion. The scene is a little silly with its use of Matrix-style filming.

With everybody properly rescued and safe on the TARDIS, Amy confirms that when she was talking about the person she loves over the nanorecorder, it was Rory. It’s good to have that 100% out of the way, considering Amy and Rory are married and all. There’s also some wrap-up where Nixon talks to Canton about how Canton was kicked out of the FBI for getting married. Nixon wants to know if Canton was kicked out because he wanted to marry and African American, and Canton responds that yes, he is. Nixon seems to be cool with letting Canton back into the FBI despite this, but he’s not cool with the marriage taking place. Baby steps, I suppose. It is the 1960’s and Richard Nixon, after all. The Doctor then has to drop River off at Stormcage. They say their goodbyes, and River moves in to kiss him. The Doctor is surprised, but he goes with it, albeit rather awkwardly. River is devastated to learn that in the Doctor’s timeline, this is the first time they’ve kissed. Since their timelines are roughly opposite, she’s convinced this is the last time she will ever kiss the Doctor.

Back on the TARDIS, Amy and the Doctor talk about Amy saying earlier that she was pregnant. She says she’s really not, and she made a mistake earlier. The Doctor wants to know why Amy told him and not Rory, and of course Rory is using the nanorecorder to listen in on this because he’s still insecure. He rushes in and assures Amy that because he’s a nurse, he’ll be just fine with a pregnancy. The Doctor doesn’t buy Amy’s “I made a mistake” story, so he runs a scan on her. The results vacillate between saying she’s pregnant and not pregnant, which is most definitely odd. Speaking of children in general, we end the episode with another look at the mysterious little girl. She’s slumming it in New York City, and someone asks her if she’s okay. She says she’s dying, but that’s okay because she knows what to do. All of a sudden, she starts shooting out regeneration energy like a Time Lord.

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