Episode 3 – A TOWN CALLED MERCY

Toby Whithouse is a very hit and miss writer. Some of his stories are exceptional, while others are a a bit flat. Unfortunately I thought this one was one of his weakest stories. A lot of that was down to the way he wrote the Doctor. This incarnation is one of the most energetic and childish, but he was written far too immaturely and at points he was annoying. Some of that has to go down to Matt Smith too, but the writing didn’t help. I criticised Daleks in Manhattan earlier in my marathon as we weren’t given a reason as to why the Doctor found himself there. This story was no different, the Doctor just stumbled upon this town, and in my opinion that’s slightly lazy writing. Although I said the Doctor was too silly at times, there was one scene where he was particularly dark. Ever since the Doctor dropped off Amy and Rory at the their new house at the end of The God Complex, a few episodes have explored what the Doctor would be like without a companion. Here we saw him act as if he was alone and was willing to throw Kahler Jex to the Gunslinger until Amy stopped him. I loved that scene, anything where we see the Doctor lash out and show his darker and more ruthless side, I find fascinating. I think pointing the gun at Kahler Jex was a bit too far, the Doctor detests guns after all. We also saw the Doctor considering shooting the Gunslinger which was a completely out of character moment. Amy proved herself as a compassionate and useful companion as she helped the Doctor overcome his rage and allow Kahler Jex back into the town, where he then sought to protect him. There wer some thought provoking issues in the episode too which I liked. There was a cycle of justice and violence which made you think if an eye for an eye is a good idea. The Doctor said; “Violence doesn’t end violence, it only extends it.” Lines like this one is partly why I love the show. Although it’s a sci-fi show, it can teach important social lessons, like this one. We were supposed to see Kahler Jex as a good man just trying to do whatever he could for his cause. However, if he was a good man deep down, he should’ve displayed guilt and sorrow after Isaac jumped in front of the Gunslinger and died for him. Jex literally displayed no emotion or thanks to Isaac, therefore it was hard not to side with the Gunslinger. I liked the conclusion of Jex blowing himself up to end the war for the Gunslinger, and the Gunslinger going on to watch over the town was a nice touch. I didn’t like the Western feel to this episode and the some characters were written poorly. The Gunslinger was designed brilliantly though and his backstory was well written. There were great some great scenes but this is not one of Whithouse’s beat scripts. 6/10

Episode 4 – THE POWER OF THREE

This episode had such a lovely local feel tone, it’s a shame it was horribly let down by the last ten minutes. I don’t know if I missed something but Amy suggested this story was set in 2020. So shouldn’t Kate Stewart have recognised the Doctor? I might be wrong about when the episode was set but I’m sure when Amy told the Doctor it was ten years in and off since they met, that’s what Chibnall was trying suggest. I did enjoy UNIT’s return in this story. It was their first appearance since Placnet of the Dead. Brian Williams also returned and managed to better his first appearance. “Brian’s log” and going to help Rory at work, ass well as his face when he saw the Shakri for the first time were hilarious little scenes. It was entertaining to see the Doctor stuck on Earth just waiting for something to happen. It was something new and it did work and I hope a Chibnall goes on to write some more Earth-bound stories when he takes over as head writer. The cubes themselves were quite an eerie presence and I enjoyed their mystery. Just simply causing humans to have heart attacks was a bit weak, but the image of lots of people lying dead was dark. The Shakri were an awful villains. Just to rely on cubes to kill some of your intended targets is lazy and they never seemed to pose too much threat. In fact it was only a hologram of one Shakri that we saw and even he was annoying and slightly laughable. The resolution of the Doctor just using his sonic screwdriver to reverse what the Shakri had done was very lazy and dissatisfying. Overall, this had potential to be so much better. The cubes were a good idea but they needed a more imposing controller and the ending needed to be a lot more substantial. 5/10

Episode 5 – THE ANGELS TAKE MANHATTAN

Amy and Rory’s farewell was an story that contained plenty of emotion and plot holes. I’ll start with the bad. New York is quite a busy place, and one of its most famous landmarks is the Statue of Liberty. So I don’t care how fast it moved or how few people were around to look at it, there’s no way it got right through the city to behind Winter Quay unobserved. Secondly, Amy and Rory’s gravestones had their year of death and age at death on them, so the Doctor would’ve known what year they were zapped back to. Although they may not have been able to travel with the Doctor as one of their deaths would’ve created a paradox that would’ve “torn New York apart”, why can’t the Doctor park the TARDIS outside New York that year and fly, drive or sail in to see his friends? Yes, it was more dramatic that he’d never see them again, but it didn’t make sense. Although Steven Moffar clearly plans a great deal ahead for some of his story arcs, it’s pretty clear he makes some of it up as he goes along. I think he only decided that Matt Smith’s incarnation would be out of regenerations as he wrote The Time of the Doctor. The Impossible Astronaut and Let’s Kill Hitler both contained scenes which suggested the Doctor didn’t know he had ran out of regenerations, as did this episode. The Doctor healed River’s broken wrist using regenerative energy, but where does he get it from? Anyway, plot holes aside, the Weeping Angels were back, and in my opinion they were at their best since Blink. Winter Quay, the hotel, was such a perfect location for the Angles to hunt in, especially with the old fashioned layout. I enjoyed how this story ran alongside Melody Malone’s book. It was clever running the two side by side and seeing how you couldn’t change the future once you knew about it, in this case River’s broken wrist was interesting to watch. Rory’s; “There’s a gravestone here for someone with the same name as me” line was a bit forced, but Amy’s departure was fitting. Throughout her time with the Doctor she perhaps hadn’t treated Rory as well as she could’ve and at times it was unclear where her loyalties lay. In the end I’m glad she chose to go and live with Rory. The Doctor’s reaction to this was emotional to watch as it was the first time he’d properly lost someone. Overall, despite the flaws in the script, this was a fitting end for the then, longest serving companion of the modern era. 7/10

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