Approaching Closing Time

Being 10 and 1 things about Doctor Who's Closing Time. You are approaching spoilers. This will be your only warning.Craig's return. A sequel to The Lodger, Closing Time nevertheless didn't follow up on the mystery ship that was camo-ed over Craig's old apartment. But that's ok. Instead, we focus on Craig himself who, with Sophie gone for the weekend, must take care of their newborn, Stormageddon/Alfie. The story falls very well within the thematic fabric of the season, as Craig makes the ultimate leap to adulthood (something Amy and Rory were robbed of), and introduces the youngest companion ever, keeping things within the realm of Moffat's fairy tale world. Craig even manages to die and return to life, which is must this season. And as far as the season goes, it's a nice change of pace from the rather dark and/or emotional episodes that surround it. It all came off as sweet, and yet worked within the context of the Doctor's impending doom. Writer Gareth Roberts writes the goofiest 11th Doctor, and though he'll likely never write something I'd call "powerful", he still brings the comedy, quirkiness and heart that are key to the Whoniverse. I hope he has another Craig story in him for next year.

Companions and partners. A fun surprise was the appearance of Amy and Rory in the shopping mall. It did cause some Continuity Police Action among fans though. The problem, it seems, is the newspaper at Craig's house, which bears a date just before the Lake Silencio event. It's so small onscreen as to be almost invisible, so it's likely a production goof just like Rory's 1990 badge in The Eleventh Hour. Because of that, people have been wondering if the Amy and Rory seen in Closing Time aren't the same Amy and Rory seen in The Impossible Astronaut, i.e. BEFORE that episode. But if so, they should already be on a plane to America. And how did Amy get into modeling (her career apparently, which is a step up - and not an unbelievable one - from kiss-o-gram) in between A Christmas Carol and The Impossible Astronaut (2 months apart). It's possible she became a model in the two years between the Doctor's trip to the moon and back in The Eleventh Hour, but it seems odd that she would still live in Leadworth if that were so. The easiest explanation is that the newspaper should be ignored and the Williams are actually from AFTER The God Complex. Sure, the Doctor says he dies "tomorrow", but his tomorrow isn't necessarily Craig's. Time travel. A better fit for Closing Time is probably sometime in 2012. Disagree? You're free to do so.

Colchester. What are Amy and Rory doing in Colchester? It's not a big enough city for a non-UK citizen like me to know where it is, but through the magic of the Internet, I managed to spot it in Essex, in Eastern England. Leadworth, where we presume the two former companions still live, is meant to be in the English Midlands, which would probably make the best shopping destination Birmingham, right? Then again, we have no proof the Doctor dropped the two off in Leadworth at the end of The God Complex. Those houses didn't look all that villagey to me, so maybe he gave them a house in Colchester (which would be strange). Maybe they're just visiting family. Or doing a perfume tour. Or the universe is playing its tricks of fate.

Taking it like a man. When compared to how the 10th Doctor took his impending death, Doc11 is a freaking ROCK. Is his serenity character growth through regeneration, or a sign that he has a plan that could yet get him out of it? Matt Smith's portrayal of the Doctor here was excellent, dialing back the silliness he can't help but exhibit in Craig's mundane world, and letting a sort of resolve shine through. None of that "I don't want to go" stuff. At least, not yet.
Cybermen, which ones? The fact that the show hasn't found the means to redesign the Cybermen is really making Cyber-continuity annoying. They look like the Cybus-men from the parallel universe, but they act and feel like the classic Cybermen from our universe. Cyber-ships, Cybermats (I was really happy to see them again - with teeth! - and that they could be defeated with a cookie sheet!), a Cyber-controller with a differently-shaped head, "You will be like uzzzz" instead of "Delete!". They're ours, all right. It may be fanwanky of me, but I really hope we eventually get some kind of onscreen explanation that makes the time-tossed Cybus-men meet our Cybermen and get "assimilated". As for their use here, it really wasn't the focus of the episode. I can understand some viewers being disappointed with how little they mattered or how easily they were defeated, but them's the breaks. More Stormageddon!

The power of love. Not for the first time, the enemies are blown up with love. And this time, the show acknowledges it. The Doctor tries some kind of technobabble explanation, but it's so much easier to call it what it is. While I'd like the Cybermen's heads to lose their explosive properties (it's just dumb, emotional overload or not), I find this perfectly sensible within the fairy tale rules of the present-day Whoniverse.

Setting up the finale. The Doctor picks up those blue envelopes and a Stetson, all seen in The Impossible Astronaut. That makes him the "Future Doctor" that gets killed (but see the next item). Meanwhile, the Silents catch up with River Song just after she becomes a doctor and put her on the road to killing "the best man she's ever known". The episode ends with her in a spacesuit at the bottom of Lake Silencio, presumably acting on a programmed impulse to assassinate the Doctor. It's all coming to a head and the time loop is closing. Can't wait to see how many connections the finale makes with the rest of the season.

Has it really been 200 years? If the Doctor in Closing Time is The Impossible Astronaut's "Future Doctor", is he really 200 years older than Season 6's "Present Doctor"? In other words, have there been 200 years of (companionless?) adventures between The God Complex and Closing Time? Or was the Doctor lying about his age in the season opener to fulfill some secret plan? We can assume he at least had the adventures Amy and Rory notice in The Impossible Astronaut - spending time under ladies' dresses and walking across set in Laurel and Hardy pictures, and whatever else he's rattled on about. Would that include, for example, a number of adventures with River Song (their wedding, for example, wink wink)? We'll find out more next week, but in Closing Time, the Doctor does talk about being really old (900, 1100, what's the dif, right?). If he IS older, that opens Matt up for offers from Big Finish, but more importantly, it also slows down the Doctor's regenerations. The Face of Evil did much the same with the 4th Doctor. Without such holes in his history, it just looks like the longest-lived hero on tv changes bodies every couple years. Such a man would not have made it to 909. Or 1109.

Shhhhh. Speaking of the fourth Doctor, the hypnotic shushing in Closing Time has to be a tribute to Tom Baker's frankly annoying shushes designed, it seemed, only to step all over the other actors' lines. That Doctor did have hypnotic abilities, and their use in this limited form did make for a fun running gag. Seems that every time he sees Craig, we discover a new Time Lord power. Hm.
Petrichor. Remember that word from earlier this year? Petrichor is the smell of rain, something I wouldn't have registered had it not been one of the TARDIS' passwords in The Doctor's Wife when Amy had to imagine "the smell of dust after rain" to unlock a door. Now it's the name of her perfume? Mmm, musty. (And another indication that the scene occurs after The God Complex and not before The Impossible Astronaut, or Amy would have remarked on the word.)

Eyepatches. I read an interesting theory on Madame Kovarian's eyepatch and I relate it here: What if it's what protects her from forgetting the Silents once she looks away? She certainly doesn't seem to have a problem working openly with them. I'll add this to the theory: The eyepatch might do so by projecting the image of a Silent continually right into the optic nerve.

That's it for me this week, but Closing Time or not, there's one more episode to go before we can put the chairs on the tables and turn off the lights. So see you next week!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Most heartbreaking line of this episode: "Don't worry, it's just a little light going out."

Siskoid said...

So true. I hear a lot of grumbling about this episode, and I agree the plot isn't the best ever, especially in light of the rest of the season, but it has tons of little moments of comedy and pathos that will make it very rewatchable. Something I can't say of the first block's flight of fancy, i.e. the pirates episode.

snell said...

I'm going to throw a little theory out here. Everyone sort of think that The Flesh is somehow going to be used in resolving the Doctor's death. Logical, if too easy.

But let's not forget...we never saw how (if?) the Doctor disposed of the Teselecta shape-shifting justice robot, did we? A Kamelion Jr., if used properly, and certainly the Doctor could rig it up to work without dozens of miniaturized people inside...or maybe the Teselecta reclaimed it and decided to rethink their approach, and prevent killings rather than punish perps.

To that end, note that we never saw the "older" Doctor's TARDIS in The Impossible Astronaut. Where was it? Did he stash it somewhere? Or was he really the Doctor...?

Siskoid said...

I really like that theory, Snell!

LiamKav said...

There is the regeneration effect as he got shot to think of...

snell said...

Ahh, but the "regeneration effect" is visually identical to the "time vortex energy" from the TARDIS (Parting Of The Ways, Doctor's Wife). So if you put some time vortex energy inside someone (or something), it's leaving would look identical to what we saw in Impossible Astronaut. Hmmm...

Toby'c said...

On the subject of Amy and Rory showing up earlier in the timeline, my guess is that the Doctor dropped them off earlier than The Impossible Astronaut at the end of The God Complex - most likely unintentionally, though if it wasn't it would explain why he didn't leave them in Leadworth.

 

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