“Shall we do diaries, sweetie?”

2nd May 2011 • Blog Post by Julian Hazeldine •

[Editors’ note: Yes, we were (separately) away from our computers all weekend, and FORGOT to set up the Broadcast Discussion post in advance. Sorry. Seb will be along with a “Day of the Moon” review later in the week, but in the meantime, leave it to Julian to pop up once again and pick up the slack with the following post. It’s INTERESTING. It’s also massively spoilery, of course.]

The gripping conclusion to the opening story of Series Six leaves us loyal viewers with far more questions than answers. A stock take is clearly in order, and so we present Unlimited Rice Pudding’s scorecard of the issues that matter. And a few that don’t.

Is the young girl a Time Lady?

Looks like it; that’s clearly a regeneration at the end of “Day of the Moon”. However, that doesn’t mean that she’s ever set foot on Gallifrey…

Is Amy pregnant?

The readings which to Doctor obtains form the TARDIS give a simple answer of yes and no, with the readings figuring between both readings. This forces the rejection of the view that Amy’s pregnancy was a mere belief induced by the first Silent that she spoke to in “The Impossible Astronaut.” (By the way, this scene was an in-joke recreation of the fake “ninth Doctor survives” ending of “The Parting of the Ways”, in which Eccleston used the TARDIS to subtly scan Rose for temporal radiation injuries.) On the hand, after three months on the run between the two instalments of the story, some physical signs would have become apparent.

There’s clearly a more science-fiction explanation than a mistake on the part of Mrs Pond, but at the moment all we have are a mass of rather nebulous events without the chronological perspective to see the chain of events. The Silence clearly introduced the idea of pregnancy to Amy’s mind, and hoped to profit from it in some way, but it’s not clear what they did to introduced a “shadow” chain of events which cause the TARDIS to read Amy so ambiguously.

What happened in the nursery?

It’s hard to talk about Amy’s health without reflecting on the events in the orphanage. After Mrs Pond got over the shock of Steven Moffat putting his “Blink” hat on, she was surprised by a vision of a strange woman with a cybernetic implant on her eye. This then lead to her discovering a photo of herself holding a baby in the astronaut-girl’s room. The girl herself and then the Silence entered, with the latter being so preoccupied by Amy that they allowed the young girl to make her escape. Amy was then held prisoner and endured some form of torture over five days, before her memory of the ordeal was wiped.

This is the big mystery that episode two of this series introduced. We’re clearly meant to take away that the young girl is somehow the child whom Amy believed herself to be carrying, but there’s precious little data to work with. Until the Doctor can make progress with his quiet investigation of events, there’s little to conjure with.

What were the Silence up to?

We know a great deal about the abilities of the things in corner of your eye, but very little about their motivation. 1969 was clearly a busy year of humanity’s unremembered masters, whose experiments on their abducted child created such headaches for them. After guiding the human race for thousands of years, it seems that the Silence were at last able to obtain meaningful help from their hosts, who were able to furnish them with useful technology. And what did they do with it?

The Silence’s venture looks very much line an attempt to engineer their own pet Time Lord. As Russell T Davies established, the temporal senses and regenerative abilities displayed by the Doctor and his contemporaries were not Gallifreyian physiological traits, but a consequence of controlled exposure to the ‘untemptered schism’ on his home world. The Silence took the NASA spacesuit as their starting point in constructing a sophisticated survival exoskeleton for a human host. Looking at the consequences of their experiment, it seems a reasonable assumption that they them used this to protect a human they exposed to a similar source of temporal radiation, and keep her alive while her body adjusted to the changes. Eventually, she became fully time lord, and was able to break free from the suit.

How advanced is the Silence’s time-travel tech?

This rather begs the question of why they used a human for their experiment.  Why risk another species gaining the power of a time lord, even one they could so easily control? (Note that the girl’s distress calls to Nixon only referred to “the spaceman” as her predator, so presumably the Silence’s memory-redaction still affected here, despite repeat exposure to them.) Could there be some feature of their existence that would always put time-travel beyond them? I’m reminded of Scott Grey’s sinister Threshold corporation from the pages of Doctor Who Magazine’s comic strip, who were physically unable to travel in time. There’s clearly more clarification to come here.

Similar questions could be asked over the Ersatz TARDIS, now established as the Silence’s work. In “The Lodger”, the Doctor only commented on the fake craft’s desire to “leave”, without specifying if this meant into time & space or only the latter. As seen in “The Pandorica Opens”, time –travel technology is becoming more commonplace in the Whoniverse, but Moffat seems reluctant to confirm that the Silence actually possess it. Even minor trips into the near future would have given the Silence the knowledge to recognise a camera phone when shown it, but Carlton’s prisoner seemed baffled by the nature of the device.

Who blew up the TARDIS in “The Pandorica Opens”?

The flashbacks to previously mentions of the Silence pointedly didn’t repeat the mysterious voice heard in the console room in the finale of last year’s season. If the Silence had to power to hack and destroy a TARDIS, then they should have posed much more of a threat to the Doctor, which suggests that they either have a backer, or there’s a third party at work here.

River was unsurprised by the voice, which suggests that she knew entirely what she was dealing with from an event earlier in her life. As it stands, it looks like the melty-face-men have friends in high places, which we’ve yet to meet.

Who’s the Daddy?

At several points during the story, the idea is very subtly raised that the Doctor might be the father of Amy’s “phantom” pregnancy. She feels compelled to tell him before anyone else, and her pleas for help during her imprisonment are ambiguous enough to give Rory doubts as to where her heart really lies. There’s also that awkward conversation in the TARDIS at the end of the story, where Amy wonders if the time she’s spent travelling with the Doctor might have given her child alien characteristics, unconvincing passed off as her wondering on the effects of temporal radiation, etc. Moffat’s clearly trying to tell us something here. To cap it all, the child which could be baby Pond has a rather striking volcano moment at the end of the episode…

The problem is that other than Amy’s semi-serious attempt to proposition the Doctor at the end of “Flesh & Stone”, the two friends have never looked like a couple.  When Amy thought that the Doctor might be about to ask her to marry him in “The Pandorica Opens”, her reaction was pure puzzlement.

There are two options here. The first is that Moffat is simply trying to sell us a dummy, directing attention away from the rather more sci-fi explanation for unnamed child’s Time Lady abilities. The second is that the show runner had made good on his promise to ensure that “Amy’s Choice”, the only episode not referenced in the Series Five finale, had a sequel in the events of 2011. If Schrodinger’s pregnancy stems from a parallel timeline, then what better place for it to arise then at this key moment in her life, where she finally chose the boy who waited over her raggedy doctor?

Are the Silence still with us?

Hard to say. The Doctor struck a key blow against them in 1969, and any human who watched the moon landing video will now attack them on sight. Unused to having to defend themselves, the Silence’s ability to deal with hostility from their former slaves will be limited. However, our hero was overstating the prevalence of this footage, and it seems a bit optimistic that such a well-embedded race could be destroyed so easily. It’s more likely that there are isolated pockets of the Silence still on Earth, exerting limited control over humanity, and biding their time until they can recover from their defeat.

What’s in store for the Doctor?

Although the three months on the run have diverted Amy & Rory’s attention from the events in Utah, it’s important to remember that the blow struck against the Silence has not changed the course of history. Two hundred years down the line for the Doctor, he will send a summons to his younger self. He will then meet with his best friends at that point in his life, and lure them to be present as he is murdered by an unknown figure wearing the Silence’s survival exoskeleton. There are two questions here. Why would the Doctor voluntarily surrender himself, and who’s behind the suit’s visor?

In addition, there’s a few little niggles that we’ve all got in the back of our minds:

Remembrance of the Daleks

Last year, Moffat comments that we’d get the explanation for Amy’s ignorance of the Daleks, despite their invasion of the planet in Series Four, at some point a significant way down the line. We’re not there yet, but the introduction of a race with an almost-unlimited ability to rewrite human minds and memories feels like something of a stepping stone towards that goal.

Unfinished business in Leadworth

Most of the threads introduced during “The Eleventh Hour” were tied up during the events of “The Big Bang”, but there are a couple of items outstanding. The weird date on Rory’s hospital pass is looking more and more like a production error, and Moffat has stated that the shadowy figure watching young Amelia waiting for the Doctor’s return was a plotline for the finale which he decided not to use. Doesn’t mean he’s telling the truth, of course…

Where did the US government get the magic bricks?

Carton builds the Doctor’s prison in Area 51 using a previously-unintroduced substance, without a word as to where he acquired it. It’s possible that the US government had the stuff lying around in Nevada, but it seems more likely that the Silence provided the technology.  They’d want to keep the Doctor on ice until they could deal with him at their leisure, and the Doctor’s dialogue suggests that Carlton was allowing himself to be manipulated as a ruse to lull the Silence into a false sense of security and allow Amy & Rory time to continue their investigation.

Who is River Song?

Doesn’t feel like it matters so much now, does it?

Julian Hazeldine (aka The Flatmate Of The Site) was slightly surprised to find a battered Type 40 Doctor Who blog in his living room one morning, but has vowed to make the best of the situation by occasionally posting his trademark over-analytical rambling.

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