Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Pandorica Opens

On Saturday, if you were geographically blessed (in the UK), you took in a very exciting episode - part one of two in the Doctor Who Series 5 finale. If you do not live the UK, you have to wait another three weeks or sneak it on line somewhere (that's what we did).

How was it ? Let's have a look at the numbers - this Doctor Who episode averaged a respectable 5.9 million viewers for BBC One on Saturday evening, according to early overnight data.


If you do not want spoilers, escape now before we roll into the episode details from wiki . . .

The Doctor and Amy Pond travel to the oldest planet in the universe where a legendary message turns out to be another "calling card" of Dr. River Song. Following the coordinates from the message, they arrive at Roman Britain in 102 AD and find River posing as Cleopatra. River explains that she has received warning of the destruction of the TARDIS from a painting by Vincent Van Gogh ("Vincent and the Doctor") that in 1941 reached Winston Churchill and Professor Bracewell ("Victory of the Daleks"). Churchill had attempted to warn the Doctor himself, but the TARDIS instead connected his call to River; she subsequently escaped from prison and encountered Liz 10 ("The Beast Below"), who had Van Gogh's painting in her collection, and then used a Vortex Manipulator to transport herself to the oldest planet then to the coordinates in the painting. The Doctor realises the painting and destruction of the TARDIS may be connected to the "Pandorica", a fabled prison for the universe's deadliest being, and rationalises that it must be stored in a memorable location, the site of Stonehenge.

At Stonehenge, the Doctor, Amy, and River find a passage to an underground area, which the Doctor terms "Underhenge". Inside, they find the Pandorica, a room-sized metal box outfitted with every type of lock imaginable. The Doctor and River become concerned when they discover that the Pandorica is opening from inside and transmitting a message across time and space, drawing many of the Doctor's foes to Earth. River warns that "everything that ever hated [the Doctor] is coming tonight". The Doctor refuses to flee and instead enlists the help of some of the nearby Roman soldiers, led by a mysterious centurion who volunteers.

Back underground, while Amy questions the Doctor about the engagement ring she has found, the pair are attacked by the debris of a Cyberman's suit trying to find a new host. The Doctor is stunned and Amy sedated with a flechette. She runs away and is rescued by the mysterious centurion, who turns out to be Rory Williams. The revived Doctor is baffled to find Rory alive, since he is supposed to have been erased from history by the crack in the universe ("Cold Blood"). Rory is even more confused and says he simply remembers dying one second and being a Roman soldier the next. Rory tries to connect with Amy using the engagement ring that he had left aboard the TARDIS, but she is still unable to remember him.

As more enemies gather in orbit, the Doctor temporarily delays the aliens and instructs River to bring the TARDIS to Stonehenge. Although shown to be an expert TARDIS pilot ("The Time of Angels"), River now finds the machine impossible to control and gets locked on course for Amy's house on June 26, 2010 - the very date the explosion is to happen ("Flesh and Stone"). Whilst she ventures outside, the scanner screen suddenly cracks in the familiar shape, while an ominous voice declares "silence will fall". River finds huge foot prints in the garden and explores Amy's bedroom, still full of representations of the Doctor and the TARDIS. She also finds elements such as Pandora's Box and the Roman soldiers within Amy's drawings and books. She relays this to the Doctor, who starts to worry they might all be imaginary constructs taken from Amy's mind to entrap him, and believing their own cover story until they are activated. Amy meanwhile has an emotional conversation with Rory who is attempting to get her to remember him. The TARDIS begins to malfunction dangerously. Upon discovery of the date to which River has been taken, the Doctor orders her to get out of that timezone, but the TARDIS is now controlled remotely. He urges her to get out, as the TARDIS engines are supposed to shut down automatically when no one is on board, but she finds herself locked in.

Suddenly, Rory and the 'legionaries' with the Doctor are activated: they are Autons. 'Rory' remains with Amy, struggling to retain his human consciousness and stop himself from killing her. Shortly after she remembers who he is, he loses control and shoots her. Meanwhile, the other Autons capture the Doctor and take him to the now-open Pandorica, which proves to be empty. Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen and others arrive and reveal that they have formed an alliance and built the Pandorica as a prison for the Doctor, as they believe he is about to destroy the universe. The Doctor pleads that they have made a mistake and the TARDIS, not him, is about to destroy the universe but the Daleks refuse to believe that anyone else can fly the TARDIS.

River frantically manages to hot-wire the TARDIS door, but finds her way blocked by a stone surface. She declares, "I'm sorry, my love," as the TARDIS goes critical and explodes. Rory is still cradling the apparently dead Amy. The Pandorica closes on the Doctor, and a dramatic reveal shows explosions surrounding the Earth.

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