(As River Song would say: Spoilers!)I just couldn't write anything coherent about The Impossible Astronaut last week, because Doctor Who's Series 6 opener was too much set-up for the second part, and indeed, for the rest of the series. After Day of the Moon, I find I'm able to ask questions and attempt to answer them. Not that I expect to be right about any of it. Now to recap, the questions we were left with at the end of Series 5 are: Who is River Song? Who or what is the Silence and how is it connected to the TARDIS exploding? Who built the TARDIS seen in The Lodger? We got SOME answers, but they just led to more questions. It's gonna be one heck of a season!
The Silents/The Silence
The two words sound much alike. Have we been hearing voices say "Silence will fall", or "Silents will fall"? Or maybe it doesn't matter, and "the Silence" is a word akin to "Humanity". In any case, these are Moffat aliens through and through. Unlike the Weeping Angels which can only move when you're not looking at them, the Silents are edited out of our memory when we AREN'T. And in typical Moffat fashion, they affect the viewer as much as the characters themselves (well, a LITTLE less). So... HAVE we seen them before and forgotten? Fans are now going back through Series 5 to find instances of people directing comments to parts unknown, especially in The Lodger (see Black TARDIS, below). If we weren't aware of them, the same can't be said of others. The Vampires of Venice said they were running from the Silents, and Prisoner Zero knew about them. Certainly, even if they are chased off Earth after 1969, we see one at the Doctor's death in 2011. Still no clue as to their ultimate motives (though they themselves were of the opinion that humans would do well to kill them on sight), but there seems to be a link between them and the Doctor's exploding TARDIS. And does that mean there's a connection to the cracks? The cracks also had a memory editing element to them. Did the Silents come through the cracks from another universe? Are they trying to build a TARDIS so they can bring the rest of their people through? (They tell Amy she will "bring the Silents".) And how long have they been at it? And it seems to hinge on...
This is the truly insane bit of the story. The little girl in the spacesuit seems to be Amy's, but how can that be? Well, we meet the child in 1969, but she's been at the creepy orphanage at least since '67. Amy is pregnant in May '69 (and in 2011), but not in July '69. And the girl seems to be, what, 6 or 7? But there's no reason Amy can't have the baby later in her life, but earlier in History, at which point that picture can be taken, the Silents can grab her, etc. etc. But there's more. According to the TARDIS scanner, Amy is both pregnant and not pregnant, and the child definitely has a "time-head" (or whatever you want to call it). She regenerates! I'm sure there will be 'shippers out there who'll say Amy had this baby with the Doctor somehow. I don't believe it for a second. The Vortex/TARDIS could turn Rose in the Bad Wolf, I'm sure a child conceived aboard a flying TARDIS (the effect of one of those honeymoon trips) could indeed have been affected. Amy's vision of the eyepatch lady in the door could be a premonition of a possible future (for her) or past (relative to 1969). Her quantum baby could have her astride multiple realities (one with a child, one without), which flicked her to the eyepatch lady. Amy's pregnancy is for sure going to be the focus of a later episode. And before you ask whether the child is part Time Lord, remember that regeneration is a Time Lord GIFT, not a genetic heritage. Can the TARDIS hand these out to certain special individuals?
I should also mention the post-hypnotic suggestion the Silent gave Amy in TIA to tell the Doctor what he should and shouldn't know. This may be why Amy tells the Doctor about her pregnancy. So is it in the Silents' best interest that the Doctor KNOW about the pregnancy? Do they need the Doctor to investigate the possibility in order to make it happen? After all, THEY need the child, and I believe they need it to pilot their TARDIS. In The Lodger, it needed a Time Lord. The girl has a Time Lord's abilities. It may be that being in quantum flux makes her non-viable, and she IS dying at the end of DotM. The Silents push humanity to go to the Moon so we'll invent the perfect life-support system... FOR this girl. So they may well play a hand in making her this way. If they're always around, they may even have been the ones to put the romantic music on the TARDIS record player to make sure Rory and Amy would conceive it in the proper conditions. Who knows!
Some have started calling the TARDIS from The Lodger the "Black TARDIS", so I will too. We now know (or guess? the Silents DO steal technology rather than make it) it belonged to the Silents. It was abandoned presumably because the Silents had left Earth or been killed. We see the same set in this story, but get a little more information. River's scan reveals its tunnels go all around the surface of the Earth. What does that mean? Did they turn the entire Earth into a TARDIS? Take control, then send the planet through space and time looking to expand their empire? A bizarre idea, but they wouldn't be the first to try and turn Earth into a big, inefficient spaceship, would they? And maybe this is a coincidence, but the pilot's limited vocabulary of "Help me", sure sounds a lot like the little girl hologram used by The Lodger's Black TARDIS to attract passing souls. That's where it took its template or I'm reading too much into things?
We're getting closer to knowing the truth about her, though she now says she met the Doctor when she was a young girl (I'm reading this as naive, not as a child) and he knew everything about her. A lot of stories are alluded to, though most seem to take place during the 200 years between the present Doctor and the Doctor who dies in 2011. I'm thinking we'll need an episode at some point that hints at a whole life between the two characters, in which they have tons of adventures (perhaps played like A Christmas Carol's many Christmases).
Who she killed, what her exact relationship is with the Doctor... that's all yet to come, though I still refuse to entertain the notion that she is some past character regenerated or recast, not even Amy's daughter. It just doesn't work for me with what we're actually shown.
The Doctor's Death
Obviously, the Doctor's death needs to be undone, because River has said she needed a guide to tell the different Doctors apart. She would have met TWO if Matt Smith is the last Doctor. I think the big question here - apart from who the astronaut is, as the girl did free herself from the suit, unless she must return to it to live in a second incarnation - is WHY the Doctor called those four to witness his death. It has to be some kind of long game to prevent his death, the seeds of which were planted in 1969. It's a paradox. The dying Doctor introduces Canton III to his companions, which will lead them back to Canton in 1969. Presumably, they would have gone to 1969 anyway, except now the Doctor is leery about the whole trip. It probably doesn't happen how it did the first time around, but what's different? He still lands in the White House, still meets Nixon, is introduced to those tapes, and so on. Fighting the Silents still happens. The only really different thing is that he's suspicious (the invitation is brought up again in DotM). What unseen precautions does that make him take? We haven't seen a resolution to this yet because we don't discover at the end that the astronaut and Silent were wiped from 2011. More questions!!!
And now just stuff I liked...
"Apollo 11 is your secret weapon?" "No, that would be silly. My secret weapon is Neil Armstrong's foot!"
Canton III: Awesome character. He can take the piss out of anything. Nixon was his second choice, the Doctor gets only his maps, and he takes the Secret Service down, like, 100 pegs.
The Doctor's firsts are River's lasts. Great set-up, and so, so sad.
Amy's Choice II: Oh don't go there. Not cool. Ah, I see. All a bluff. You're a mean one, Mr. Moffat.
Next Week: Pirates!