Before I go into details on the season finale of Doctor Who, I want you to know that I fully intend to go back and watch the whole season again, in one sitting, just in case I’ve missed anything. Something I love about this new era of Doctor Who is the trail of clues planted along the way that pay off at the end of each series. Bad Wolf, bees and now the mystery of Amy Pond. The girl who waited.
When last we left our space- and time-traveling heroes, Amy was dying, Rory was mourning, River was exploding and the bad guys were locking the Doctor up inside the Pandorica. “The Big Bang” begins as the series began: with little Amelia Pond. We see an alternate version of events, where the Doctor never came to visit, yet still haunts the subconscious and artwork of our young protagonist.
In many ways, the adult Amy Pond doesn’t seem like a logical extension of Amelia Pond at all. We are supposed to believe that the quiet and lonely little girl with the imaginary friend somehow grew up to be the extroverted, tough-talking adventurer we see now. Where is that little girl who was so worried about the crack in her wall? When Amelia and Amy eventually meet, face to face, the disconnect is even more obvious. The little girl isn’t brassy enough to be the young Amy. And Amy isn’t haunted enough to be the adult Amelia. It’s a conundrum and probably best not to think about too much.
Amelia encounters and opens the Pandorica, but the Doctor is not inside. Surprise! It’s Amy. “Okay, kid. This is where it gets complicated,” she warns Amelia, and boy does it. The rest of the episode employs enough wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey tricks to make Tennant blush. But at the heart of this episode is the heart. The finale (and the whole series, really) has been about love. Rory’s love for Amy. Amy’s undiscovered love for Rory. River’s love for the Doctor. The Doctor’s love for humanity. Believe it or not, all that love is vastly more complicated than the timey-wimey stuff. When the Doctor scolds, it hurts, because he loves us and we love him. When Rory refuses to leave Amy, though it will mean thousands of years of duty, it’s heartbreaking, because he loves her so much. And River…River gets more and more complicated as we go along. We can assume that her relationship with the Doctor becomes deeper in some future time, and yet, it comes with a dire warning, too.
How the Doctor manages to save the universe again is somewhat less crucial this time around than how his human counterparts save themselves and each other. In that respect, this episode belongs more to Rory than to Amy or the Doctor.
And speaking of the Doctor, Matt Smith had ridiculously large shoes to fill by taking on the role from David Tennant. I must say he’s done a splendid job, imbuing the character with just the right balance of charm, eccentricity and arrogance. If I don’t have warm and fuzzy feelings for him, I think that’s by his own design. This Doctor is more aloof, more stern, with a quicker temper. In fact, he reminds me of an ex, who liked the idea of a relationship with humans, but just didn’t know how to connect or interact beyond the role of greatly amused observer. It’s a good place for a character to start, though, and I look forward to more years and adventures with the 11th Doctor.
But, really, Steven Moffat? Space Florida?