Review: Doctor Who "The Power of Three"
“In the latest episode of Doctor Who the focus is, rightly so, on the Pond family.”
In Amy and Rory’s second last episode as companions, this week’s Doctor Who focused mainly on the Pond family’s unique relationship with the Doctor. As Rory and Amy start to come to terms with their lives being constantly upended by the Doctor, the entire planet is thrown into chaos and only their triad can save the day.
The storytelling in this episode was very interesting and characteristic of how Stephen Davis presents the Doctor’s adventures to us. In the length of the episode, the story spans an entire year. Mysterious cubes are suddenly all over the planet one day when everyone wakes up. Whether they were planted at different times, or other time zones or hemispheres had them first is never addressed. Noticeably absent from being mentioned this episode are Torchwood. Whatever the organization once was has no bearing in the UK at the present, with the military science oriented U.N.I.T. returning to fill the space in the story Torchwood once did. Ah, the perils of being a spin-off.
The focus of this episode is, rightly so, on the Pond family. Amy Pond gives us first person narration, almost as if she is telling the audience a story about this particular adventure with the Doctor. Like most companions, Amy and Rory were both swept up into the time traveling hurricane that is the Doctor. Since Amy and Rory have both been around the Doctor since his current incarnation, he seems to keep drifting back towards both of them. This episode features a lot of time in Amy and Rory’s present life; Amy working as a writer for a travel magazine (wasn’t she a model a few years back?) and Rory working part time as a nurse. Though they aren’t saving civilizations from destruction or keeping the fabric of the universe from tearing apart, they live good, honest lives and are happy with their station. Amy and Rory are appreciated in their lives as well. People notice when they disappear with the Doctor for long amounts of time. At Rory’s first shift back at the hospital, a doctor tells Rory how good his manner is with the patients, and how smoothly things run when he is there. He’s offered full time work and so opens up the choice of which life he should choose to put his time into. Rory and Amy on the porch, realizing the duality of their lives was some majorly sad foreshadowing. Even though we’d seen this particular scene in the promo, it’s especially poignant in the context of the episode. At what point do you stop the adventure, start a family, and start living in a linear fashion? Not today, no. Not today. Rory and Amy are as connected with the Doctor as he is to them; at this point they function as a team.
“Matt Smith is just fantastic in the episode. In three short sentences, he poignantly conveys The Doctor’s esteem for everyone who ever traveled with him.”
It struck me as a bit strange that when adventuring with the Doctor, Rory and Amy could be gone for months at a time. If you’re traveling in a time machine, couldn’t you just return thirty minutes after you’d left. We know the Doctor is absent minded and time is largely irrelevant to someone who is 900+ years old. Since being swept up in their adventure last episode, actor Mark Williams reprising his role as Rory’s father has been a delight. His role brings a lot of perspective to the show; most of the Doctor’s companions are younger and more open to seeing the world being presented in a different way. Rory’s father is decades older than the average companion and had never in his life time conceived of traveling through time and space. The moment last episode where all he did was sit in the doorway of the Tardis floating about the Earth was beautiful and said so much about the character. For most of us, space travel in our life will only be a dream. To see the Earth from space would be life changing. Rory’s father immediately takes to the Doctor’s exact word: watch the cubes for any change. He considers this a mission he is charged with and will not let the Doctor down.
A big part of the episode is the Doctor’s ADD. He can’t sit still long enough in one place to observe any changes in the cubes. He pops out into the time stream and we are left with the Pond family again, living their normal lives, working their jobs, and being part of the larger cut showing that everyone in the UK and worldwide has now dismissed the cubes as just a strange phenomenon. Though there is no explanation for them, life must go on. And in the forward linear fashion of time, we get to Pond wedding anniversary and Amy making a snarky phone call to the Doctor’s answering machine. He pops in to whisk them both away for a fantasy honeymoon. This, of course, goes horribly awry and the three end up bouncing around through history before returning to the same day they’d left, later in the afternoon. Seven weeks from their perspective and yet only minutes from Rory’s fathers perspective. Here is where the tone gets more serious. Rory’s father starts to recognize that the Doctor isn’t some good natured, time traveling hero, but something much older and deadlier. He asks the question every new companion seems to forget: what happened to the rest? It isn’t a happy journey for most. Some lost in time, some stranded in alternate dimensions, some unable to remember anything that happened without their brain melting, and even some getting killed. Rory’s father sets the hard deadline for the Doctor at that point, he needs to let Rory and Amy go. Matt Smith is just fantastic in the episode. In three short sentences, he poignantly conveys The Doctor’s esteem for everyone who ever traveled with him.
The story resolution for the cubes themselves is fairly dull and easy. Of course the portal to the ship of origin in the UK is in the hospital where Rory works! The villain looked scary but was merely a hologram. When Doctor Who described the Shakri as a “myth to keep the youth of Gallifrey in their place,” I was expecting something much more formidable. Anyone that would give a time lord nightmares doesn’t sound like something you should mess with. Once the pre-programmed hologram ends, the Doctor is standing right in front of the control panel with his trusty sonic. With the Doctor at the helm, he is easily able to reverse the effects of the cubes, overloading them and destroying the Shakri ships. The world is safe for another week as Amy, Rory, The Doctor, and Rory’s father sit around the kitchen table. Rory’s father has had something of a change of heart, urging them both to continue on these adventures most people would give anything to experience. However, the damage is done; Doctor Who knows he must let them get on with their lives, Rory and Amy know they have to make a choice. With only one episode remaining for the Pond’s (The Angels take Manhattan) I really hope they get to happily retire and don’t end up stranded in another era.
Geek Smash rating: 85/100 – Excellent story structure, powerful acting performance, and a good group adventure.
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