The Power of Three

Doctor Who - The Power of Three 7x04 Okay, so I’ve watched the new episode of Doctor Who, The Power Of Three. And as ever, here are ten things that popped into my head during it. Yes there are spoilers, hopefully not massive ones, but you’d be better off watching it first. And then watching it again afterwards. Yes, that’s best.

Not beating about any bushes, I bloody loved this episode. You wouldn’t want the show to be like this every week any more, but here was a nostalgic run through the all the best bits of the Russell T Davies era. We got a modern-day Earth-invasion story, complete with a comedy parent, a truckload of continuity nods, and newsreel cameos from Professor Brian Cox and Lord Sugar. Yes, it also had the weaknesses of some RTD adventures – the ending was so underdeveloped that even a magic button couldn’t explain it – but The Power of Three was, in every sense, completely gorgeous; RTD spiked through with the swagger that is the hallmark of the Steven Moffat series.

Each episode is like a Hollywood blockbuster and yet it has a different tone to it, falling into a genre each week. Asylum of the Daleks was the action thriller, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was the kid’s adventure story and A Town called Mercy was the Sci-Fi Western, while The Power of Three’s tone seems like a conspiracy theory movie. The idea of the slow invasion was impressive given that the audience lets their guard down bit by bit and it is at that point the black cube of death strikes.

I feel like there are definite parallels between time travel and drug addiction in Doctor Who—like a drug, time travel is fun, it feels naughty, it opens your mind to new and bizarre things, but it wears on your body and your psyche. Regular life doesn’t seem to hold a candle to drug-/time travel-enhanced life, and certainly can’t fit into your regular schedule, so you end up neglecting regular life while you chase the dragon. After a while, even if you’re still getting something out of your addiction, you’re just exhausted by the whole thing. (Note: Drugs are bad.) You cannot invite getting high/the Doctor to your quiet night at home!


Watch Doctor Who – The Power of Three Online

Dr. Who 7x04: The Power of Three

By focusing on the relative mundanity of Amy and Rory’s ‘other’ life, it succeeded in paying off this season’s subtle shift away from the Ponds’ reliance on the Doctor. Whether hanging out with friends, going to jobs they loved, or simply chilling out in bed together, it sold the idea that the Ponds are finally ready for a normal life.

The episode witnesses the return of UNIT, now more scientifically-oriented than military. It is run by Kate Stewart, whom the Doctor soon realizes is the daughter of an old friend. She dropped the “Lethbridge” to avoid being shown favors. But as she found her way to a position of leadership, she drew much on her father’s experience and wisdom, including much that he learned from his old friend.

The Doctor, on the other hand, seemed to savor every moment with Rory and Amy. His memories of their faces being his first and their lives being intertwined were heartwrenching. The Doctor’s love for them far outweighs anything he needs or wants from them, but instead counts for everything he hopes their lives to be once he is gone.

On the other hand, because Chris Chibnall’s script devoted so much time to that, the slow invasion itself was such an afterthought that the Doctor was able to solve the whole problem with a few flicks of the sonic screwdriver. And even though Amy’s narration makes a big deal about how cubes represent the power of three, this was a story where the two companions didn’t do an awful lot to save the day.

Then we come to Matt Smith. He’s just brilliant here, in an episode that asks lots of different things of him. The exploration of the Doctor’s boredom threshold, for starters, demonstrated his already well-established comedy skills (both physically, and in his delivery of a line. His clear displeasure at the thought of Twitter was wonderful). The bored Doctor meant fun for us, but it wasn’t long before Matt Smith’s real range was called upon again. Loneliness, laughs, a literal heart stopping moment, and sadness in one episode? It shouldn’t be underestimated how hard that it is to put across. You may or may not like the eleventh Doctor (we like him a lot), but there’s no doubting the quality of the actor who plays him.

It turns out that they were all part of a processes meant to survey the Earth and all of its inhabitants. (What better way to do so than to be integrated into their lives?) And when they finally activated, these cubes became carriers of a current that, essentially, gave a lot of people heart attacks. (THE DOCTOR INCLUDED! “Lefty” was knocked out.)

So it almost feels like a shame when the cube plot thread finally kicks into gear at the episode’s mid-point. It’s all reasonably diverting but oddly nowhere near as engaging as the episode’s more ‘ordinary’ first half. And top actor Steven Berkoff is wasted in the all-too-brief role of chief villain Shakri.

The Doctor reverses the signal from the cubes, so it re-starts the humans’ hearts and saves the day in an anticlimactic scene where he waves his screwdriver at a computer for a few moments.

The point of the episode was to remind viewers that they needed each other. That they had grown together and even though time was passing for Amy and Rory it wasn’t really for the Doctor. It was a touching episode and quite funny in places aswell. I know next week will be a sad one as I don’t want Amy and Rory to leave yet but I suppose they have too, to breath air in to the show. I just hope they don’t die and that its a case they get too old to travel. Like they pointed out in the last episode 10 years had already passed. The Doctor was running to them before they fade (i.e got old and died) I mean all these could be clues to what happens next week.

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