The Doctor, sans companions, has apparently been wandering around on his own for a while. He says he’s on a Grand Tour, presumably much like the one Ten went on before he died, but less sentimental. Along the way, though, he stops by to see Craig from The Lodger last season. He says he isn’t going to get involved in things, but the lights keep flickering, and there’s a baby to talk to, and before you know it, he’s accidentally gotten himself a job at the nearby mall, and is investigating strange disappearances.
There’s a “silver rat” and in no time, the Doctor finds that they have a Cyberman problem. The Doctor rewires the cybermat to take them out, but then blabs about it and the Cybermen crush it, which leads to his and Craig’s capture. Craig almost gets converted, until he hears his baby crying and proves that he’s a good dad (which he’s been worried he isn’t through this whole episode). He breaks free and his emotional reaction makes the Cybers explode.
Craig knows the Doctor is going to his death, and is very understanding and kind about it, and he gives the Doctor his stetson, which leads us back to the first episode.
Meanwhile, at the University, River has just gotten her doctorate and is researching the Doctor, when the eyepatch lady and the still-super-creepy Silence show up again and inform her that she was never free of them, and now it’s her job to go kill the Doctor like she was always supposed to.
A fun episode, but also a really sad one. On the fun side, we have this sort of classic romp with the Cybermen, handled in a way where they’re mostly off-screen and there’s only a few of them, which is great. We have Craig and his slight panicky-ness, and we have the imperious baby, and the people at the mall. And then on the sad side, we have the Doctor fully aware of his impending doom and sure that there’s no way to avoid it. It’s never good when the Doctor gives up. He’s also still battling with the problem of his need for companions and his understanding that the need leads to death and destruction and is a selfish urge. And he’s fighting against his natural impulse to help people and fix things. And it’s heartbreaking, all the sadness he’s carrying around.
As a second-to-last episode, this is a pretty strong one. One last hurrah before all the core-story stuff at the end. Advance reviews say it’s a satisfying season ender, which is encouraging, but even if it isn’t, we had this episode, and and it was lovely.
– Amy’s famous! With a perfume she invented from her adventures! It was wonderful getting to see her being happy and well-adjusted, and then immediately sad when the Doctor couldn’t let her see him.
– The shoplady thinks the Doctor and Craig are a couple, and it’s totally adorable. In fact, every scene with her is adorable–she can’t possibly have any idea what’s going on, but she’s friendly and good-natured and cheerful through the whole thing.
– The baby calls himself Stormageddon. Fabulous beyond words.
– This is the second-to-last episode!
– Not a clue. We’d been assuming that the Doctor would find a way around Lake Silencio, but this episode makes it pretty clear that there is no way around. And really, it’s better if there’s story that will be entirely a surprise, right?
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