(MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)
“Okay kid, this is where it gets complicated”
Amy may well have been talking to us, the viewers, when she said that line at the start of the episode! I’ve watched ‘The Big Bang’ more than a few times, but I don’t think I’m anywhere near fully comprehending it. My fault or Moffat’s? Was there any logic to really comprehend, or was it another logic-free, emotion and jargon filled Doctor Who finale?
We were treated to another cracking pre-credit teaser, beginning with little Amelia Pond, and ending with her opening the Pandorica to…Amy Pond! We find out there are no stars in the sky, and are peculiar exhibits inside the National Museum. Throughout the episode, Steven Moffat was in dialogue with the audience. Of course, with his favoured ‘wibbly wobbly timey wimey’ philosophy, this interaction was necessary. Think Blink, multiplied by an appropriately large number. Actually, think of all of Moffat’s Doctor Who stories, right from 2005, and you’ll be a little closer to understanding this episode.
We are greeted with ‘The Empty Child,’ Amelia Pond. She, like Jamie (Are you my mummy?) in that episode, is disfigured. Not physically, of course, but mentally and temporally, by that crack in her wall. Her memory has been continually emptied by that dastardly crack. She’s lacking parental figures, like Jamie with his spooky ‘Are you my mummy?’ And, like Jamie, the final resolution ends with her. But more on later. The first fifteen minutes are incredibly demanding, utilising the ontological paradox to the extreme. This was the ‘get-out’ clause for The Doctor; through wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff, he gives Rory the sonic screwdriver that will open the Pandorica and set The Doctor free (one question: how did the screwdriver open the Pandorica?).
And we were asked to swallow a lot about the Pandorica. It contains a ‘restoration field’ that either keeps people alive inside the Pandorica or revives them. This is the get-out clause for Amy. When The Doctor is released from the Pandorica, he puts Amy in there to stay for about 2,000 years. Auton-Rory opts to stay with Amy to protect her. The Pandorica heals all wounds, like time itself, apparently. Of course, then we are back at the beginning, when Amelia opens the Pandorica in 1996. And this is just what the Pandorica needed to revive Amy; living DNA. Thus, two of the three cliffhangers were resolved. In a touching scene, Amy reads about the mysterious protector of the Pandorica, who she realises is Rory. The girl who waited, the boy who waited…but was there any logic hanging the two resolutions together? I felt that we were asked to merely accept the magic powers of the Pandorica…
“What in the name of sanity are you wearing?”
I believe that Moffat knew he’d dug himself into a hole with that fantastic finale. In fact, The Doctor (using that Vortex Manipulator to travel through time), when reaching 1996, says something like this: “We are running into a dead end where I’m gonna have a brilliant plan that basically involves not being in one.” Surely Moffat thought this exact thing when constructing ‘The Pandorica Opens’ cliffhanger? Surely that’s the philosophy of this episode? The parts about the Pandorica were the weakest of the whole episode. They felt like an RTD resolution, explained a little more clearly. However, when The Doctor kept saying that they were in the ‘eye of the storm,’ thus unaffected by the ‘total event collapse,’ all I could think about was the awful ‘Last of the Timelords.’ Although, in a strange way, it makes sense for a museum to be the ‘eye of the storm.’ All that history encased in one big building.
This was the major problem of the episode; the quick, illogical resolution. The Pandorica proved to be the panacea, the cure-all. It contained a memory of the universe, thus flying it into the exploding TARDIS would start a second ‘big bang,’ thus correcting everything. It was a massive reset button, in fact. Almost like magic, in fact. Too much seemed to be made up on the spot, like the TARDIS’ ‘time loop’ to save River Song. However, once I thought about it, she realised the provenance of this cure-all: The Doctor Dances. The Pandorica served as that Chula medical ship that contained all those nanogenes. They proved to cure everything, making sure that nobody died. And as Jamie was the key to that panacea, Amy/Amelia was the key here.
“Did you dance?”
The lack of logic wasn’t the only irritating aspect of ‘The Big Bang.’ There’s the ‘Silence will fall’ thread. Who blew up the TARDIS? Who is River Song? The intricacy of Series 5 points to serious forethought, however. He also has some audacity as well: expecting an audience to stay intrigued until next year, especially an audience reared by RTD to have everything wrapped up in a nice little bow (Of course, as I’ve seen the rest of Matt Smith’s era of The Doctor, I know some of the answers to the above questions. But we had to wait for years!). At the end of Series 5, I was eager to be given answers. But I also thought that Moffat never really had a grand plan, but had to make it up as he went along.
And that’s how I feel about ‘The Big Bang.’ I am under the impression that Moffat had to make things up constantly to dig himself out of the holes that he created. To be honest, at times, it felt like any other finale; the reset button, the quick, illogical resolution, etc. However, at the same time, it’s far better than ‘Journey’s End’ and ‘Last of the Timelords.’ Moffat’s intricate, meticulously laid-out series arc made the viewer more willing to forgive him over the ‘magic’ resolutions. It’s his fairy-tale, and the fairy-tale aspect has worked surprisingly well with the Doctor Who format. But don’t we want science fiction from Doctor Who, rather than magic? I feel that a lot of ‘The Big Bang’ was conjured up with a spot of magic…
VERDICT: 6/10. An entertaining finale that sadly falls to into the RTD era of Doctor Who finales: emotion, nonsense and reset buttons over logic and a satisfying resolution!
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(Click here for my review of Doctor Who, Series 5, Episode 12: The Pandorica Opens)