Day of the Moon

Review by Mark Bousquet

“DAY OF THE MOON” – Series 6, Episode 2, Story 214 – Written by Steven Moffat; Directed by Toby Haynes – Part Two of the Series 6 opener sees the Eleventh Doctor imprisoned at Area 51 and Canton Everett Delaware III hunting the Companions down. Canton has ordered that a big shiny black prison be built to hold the Doctor but everyone promises not to call it the Pandorica. The Companions were on a secret mission to find the Silence and it turns out they’re everywhere and they’ve been here for a very long time. So it’s time for the Doctor and TARDIS 3 to deliver a global eviction notice to the creepy bastards in the black suits. Because The Silent Are- Wait, Did That Little Girl Just F*cking Regenerate?

I’m definitely going to have to watch this episode a second time because I spent half of the show tonight yelling at BBC America to stop showing all those commercials. It’s a total buzz kill, but I suppose it gets me to do what they want – buy the episode on iTunes later this week.

Maybe it’s because we’re all becoming more attuned to Moffat’s clear intent to tell one big epic story, but I find myself more interested in the unanswered questions raised here than the actual resolution of the story set-up in THE IMPOSSIBLE ASTRONAUT. I hate that. I’ll take the blame but it’s like going to see a magician, I suppose, in that I’m more interested to figure the tricks out than I am at enjoying the illusion being created before me.

Huh. Know what? I’ve never been to see a magician. Not a real one, anyway. There was this one dude at a Christmas party that-

Well, you probably don’t care about that, do you?

I think when we start worrying more about the ongoing mystery and become less concerned with the story at hand we start devaluing the stories that don’t play directly into the ongoing story, or at least don’t offer us a tantalizing crumb to dine on. So let me try to feast on the meal before we go hunting down every last crumb, eh?

DAY OF THE MOON is a creepy, X-Files-esque, dark stormy night and lingering aliens episode that relies on style and mood to carry the day. There is very little of the sharp, fast-paced dialogue that peppered ASTRONAUT and the plot is actually sorta simple, and the resolution is actually sorta not what I wanted, so MOON feels less like a story and more like a step. That’s not a great thing. If Series 6 is this dark, mysterious walk up some creaking stairs in an abandoned house, then when you get to an episode like DAY OF THE MOON it should feel like you’ve reached a landing. Like, yeah, that was a spooky set of stairs we just climbed and we’ve got a ways to go but this is a good place to asses what’s what.

Unfortunately, MOON feels like we put our foot down on a landing, took half a breath, and then the bulk of the landing fell away, revealing only a step in its place. I think there’s needs to be something permanent and tangible that rewards you for the journey up to this point and I don’t feel that MOON delivers that sense of completion.

Look back at ASTRONAUT. What mysteries are set up there that we care about? There’s the death of the Doctor, the identity of the Astronaut, Amy’s pregnancy, the identity of the girl, and the Silence’s attempt at TARDIS construction.

Which of those mysteries are resolved in MOON?

None of them.

We don’t revisit Lake Powell at all to see the Doctor’s death from a new angle. We don’t know whose inside the Apollo suit when the suit kills the Doctor. We find out that Amy’s not pregnant and then find out that she is-isn’t-is-isn’t-is-isn’t-is-isn’t- stupid TARDIS scanner. We don’t know who the little girl is, but we do know she’s got a picture of Amy in her bedroom looking very mom-ish. And maybe I missed it but I’m pretty sure we don’t find out why the Silent are building a TARDIS or how close they are to completion.

Instead, we get the Silence accidentally ordering humanity to “kill us all on sight,” River brought back to prison, and Amy …

Right. Okay. Look. Speculating is part of this ride so we might as well jump in, right?

I think one of the keys with understanding the Moffat Epic (the long-form story that we’ll all see only when it’s all over) is that you have to pay attention to the bits the show doesn’t explain. I’m not talking about the obvious big mysteries like who killed the Doctor, either, but the inconsistent bits that the show raises and then doesn’t answer and that we all might miss because we’re glowing in the aftermath of the resolution.

Obviously, there’s something really, really wrong with Amy. She’s adamant that she’s both pregnant and not pregnant at different times. The TARDIS scanner confirms alternately that she is and isn’t pregnant in an unending loop. When she gets kidnapped by the Silence and Rory is listening to her frightened pleadings from wherever she’s being held, she talks about how she knows the Doctor is coming for her and that she’s always loved him or … yeah, I’m gonna need to see it again to get the exact wording down, but it’s clear that she’s talking about the Doctor, only later when Rory asks her about the “man who fell from the sky” she insists she meant him and that it was just an expression. She seems to mean it, too.

So what’s the deal with Amy Pond, eh?

It seems to me that there’s two Amy Ponds – the one that’s in love with the Doctor and the one in love with Rory. Except it almost seems like it’s more than that because I don’t mean that Amy is conflicted. I mean that it’s like there’s actually two of them, perhaps even inhabiting the same body but out of step in time or something, which would lead to the TARDIS scanner confusion.

And then when you take that photo of Amy looking all mommish with the little girl (would it have killed Moffat to give her a name?), aren’t we being invited to think that somehow, someway there’s an Amy Pond who had a baby? And then when we get to the end and we see that little girl start to regenerate like she’s a Time Lord … aren’t we supposed to connect these dots?

Remember, the Silence tell Amy that she’s been in that room for a very long time. And if they actually have their TARDIS up and running … isn’t it possible that the Amy we see at the end of this episode is actually an Amy that’s five, ten years older than when she got abducted?

Or, given what that little girl does and given what that picture of her and Amy implies and given how the Crack in the Universe was following Amy around …

All I’m saying is that I’m on the lookout for a fobwatch somewhere in Amy’s possession.

This is what I mean about speculation potentially spoiling the show – this is fun to talk about and it’d be great if we could all sit around a table and chat this out, but doesn’t that mystery ruin the episode a bit? I’m 1,100 words into this reaction and I’ve barely scratched the surface of the plot because I think MOON would rather you speculate about what’s coming than appreciate what’s just passed.

There’s a lot of really good stuff here. Except for the resolutions left unanswered this is a really compelling episode. The opening sequence with Canton tracking down and apparently killing all of the Companions is really well done. I’m not a big fan of time jumps in between two parts of a story so when MOON starts with a “THREE MONTHS LATER” card but then Amy is running and Canton is chasing and her face is all marked up … it’s good stuff.

Mark Sheppard is a fantastic actor and so easily straddles that good guy/bad guy line that I was actually wondering if he’d turned against them or been influenced by the Silence to turn against them. When he ends up killing all of them (with River jumping off a building instead of being shot) you kinda figured this was all gonna be some big swerve and that’s exactly what it turned out to be as we find out Sheppard is working with them, giving the Companions time to investigate the Silence. Somehow he gets the fine folks at Area 51 (who are holding the Doctor in chains and refusing to let him shave) to build some super prison with Comic Book Science Building Blocks. The point is to put the Doctor, Amy, and Rory inside this black box (with the TARDIS hanging out in invisible mode) so they can figure out what they’ve learned about the Silence.

Which is exactly what we knew about them last episode. The Doctor has a new device he’s built to help them keep track of their Silence encounters, since they’ll forget about them as soon as they’re not looking at them. It’s nice to see the Doctor using his science abilities to build something sciencey, isn’t it? Even if it’s basically just a tape recorder? Sometimes you get the feeling that the Doctor invented the sonic screwdriver, made a killing at the IPO, and then has rested on his laurels for the last 800 years.

Canton and Amy then go looking for the little girl, whom the Doctor figures the Silence took from a local orphanage. What’s this sequence like? Have you ever watched X-Files? Because if Amy playing FBI in a sharp business suit doesn’t make you think of Scully, well, then you’ve got about 8 seasons of watching Amy’s mom do what Amy did this episode.

Canton and Amy find a time-scattered Doctor who’s in charge of the abandoned facility. The house has words scrawled all over the walls but don’t worry, the Weeping Angels don’t show up. Because it’s a creepy house Canton and Amy decide to split up, and Canton (the pro) goes with Dr. Renfrew, while Amy (the not-pro) goes off on her own. Good plan. Amy ends up in a room with the Silence sleeping on the ceiling and it’s a really effective horror scene.

But here’s one of those bits where maybe is Moffat is trying to pull a sleight of hand because the door to this room closes and then all of these time jumps happen and then suddenly the door opens again. There’s a lot that happens here that we don’t see.

Amy gets out of the room and walks down a hallway and … yeah, there’s a woman looking at her through a hole in a door saying something about Amy dreaming and then when Amy checks the door nothing is there. And then the plot just forgets about this because Amy has to find the photo with her and the little girl and then the girl in the spacesuit comes in and then the Silence comes in and then we cut back to Canton to hear Amy screaming.

And then there’s all that stuff with Rory hearing Amy yapping about how she loves the Doctor.

And then there’s a showdown with the Silence that has the Doctor using the moon landing to undo the Silence’s mind control while simultaneously mind controlling everyone to do what he wants – which is for everyone to kill the Silence when they see them. Which, yeah, not such a cool move but the Doctor figures this will chase the Silence off Earth but … can they get off Earth? Weren’t we supposed to think the Silence convinced the US to go to the moon because they needed to go to the moon? And their TARDIS isn’t complete? So the Silence … what? Goes into hiding?

Well, the good guys win, the Doctor says goodbye to Nixon (who helped out a lot this episode but didn’t really add all that much to the episode except for a bit of the funny) and then he’s dropping River off back at Stormgate. He offers to let River come along but she says No and then they make out. It’s his first kiss to her and her last kiss to him and at an undisclosed location Russell Davies wondered how they could do this scene without anyone crying their eyes out.

River seems a bit taken aback that they haven’t kissed before in the Doctor’s timeline but I don’t know if we’re supposed to make something of that or not.

At the end of the episode, we get a fantastic “Did you just see that?!?!?!?” moment when we pick up the little girl’s story six months down the line. She’s in New York and dying, but tells a homeless man she can fix it …

And then she starts to regenerate.

DAY OF THE MOON is a strong, moody, atmospheric episode, but I think it needed a big resolution beyond defeating the Silence. The acting is phenomenal across the board but the episode could have used a few more connecting moments. It felt like everyone was kind of doing their own thing this time around, with only a brief Doctor/Rory scene bringing the Companions together. I wish there had been more of that.

Originally Published May 1, 2011

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