strange_complex: (Eleven dude)
[personal profile] strange_complex
Well, that was pretty damned clever, wasn't it? RTD set out explicitly to ask questions which Classic Who had always left unresolved - like what about the companions' families? And what happens to them after they've left the TARDIS? Now Moffat is doing the same thing, but on the level of grand plots rather than small, human characters. What if all the Doctor's enemies worked together for once? And what if he was the one causing the universe to implode? They're important questions, and it's great to see them being explored.

I'm very impressed by all the people over on [livejournal.com profile] doctorwho who have been insisting for weeks that they saw someone moving around in Amy's house with a torch before Amy and the Doctor had got in there at the end of Flesh and Stone. We now know that they were dead right, and it was River. And I'm entirely prepared to believe that there will be more of this. Maybe jacket!Doctor is a projection of himself which he somehow manages from within the Pandorica? Not substantial enough to really do anything in the immediate present, but capable of projecting himself into bits of his own past to direct Amy (who surely won't really be dead) in the way he needs?

River generally was cool, of course. Very James Bondish, offering the blue guy in the bar the cure to the micro-explosives she's just slipped into his drink. And I also liked the idea of the Doctor's massed adversaries drawing on all Amy's childhood memories to create a scenario that she would believe, and that would therefore draw him in. I thought that was a nice comment on the role of the companion in helping the Doctor to connect meaningfully with the worlds and people he encounters.

Obviously the Romans were great, even when they turned out to be fake plastic Romans. In fact, I thought the way they were handled was very clever, really. Because what can the Romans ever be to us but pictures in books and little plastic soldiers which we bring to life with our minds? Normally Doctor Who indulges us in the fantasy that we can travel into the reality of the past - at least vicariously through the Doctor and his companions, anyway. But this time it made us think we were meeting real Romans, and then pulled the rug from under that, and made them explicitly fake after all. Very, very meta-referential.

Yet at the same time, the Doctor also keeps telling us that "if something can be remembered, it can come back". Obviously the immediate in-plot resonances of this are to do with Amy and Rory. But it's also as though, at the same time that Moffat is reminding us that Romans-on-TV aren't real, he's also saying that the real past does have genuine power and presence so long as we collectively remember it. I am so glad that Moffat chose to hang all this around an example from ancient history, rather than any other time period. ♥.

But that wasn't the only fun Moffat was having with history anyway. Amy's question about why Stonehenge doesn't look new in AD 102 draws our attention to how hard it is for human beings to really grasp the concept of long time periods. River playing at being Cleopatra in AD 102, and all the Roman legionaries falling for it, was good too - and in retrospect a pointer to the fact that none of the legionaries themselves were 'real' historical personalities either. And I couldn't help but fixate on the Doctor's line to Rory: "She's Amy and she's surrounded by Romans. Not sure history can take it." I know it was primarily just a joke, but there's a little baby nod to the idea of the Doctor as a defender of the course of Earth history in there somewhere, too.

And letting River get to start history off with the earliest written inscription was awesome! The Greek lettering, incidentally, began with the letters 'Theta Sigma' - i.e. the Doctor's Academy nickname. The rest didn't seem to mean anything I could work out, though. They ran 'Phi GAP Gamma Upsilon Delta an-archaic-form-of-Sigma'. It would be very odd to use that last letter in an inscription which also has the more regular classical-period Sigma; and I can't really make any sense out of the rest. So I guess it is either just meant to be the coordinates that the Doctor is talking about in the next scene, or maybe 'hello' in Old High Gallifreyan (to go with 'Theta Sigma' essentially meaning 'sweetie').

A few random questions which occurred to me:
  • How does hallucinogenic lipstick actually work? Doesn't it affect the wearer, as well as people she kisses?
  • What's the stone wall which River sees when she opens the TARDIS doors? Is it part of Stonehenge? Surely the TARDIS explosion can't blow up Stonehenge - especially since it seemed to be in exactly the same state of ruination which it is now already.
  • If the whole thing with the Pandorica is a trap set up by the Doctor's collected enemies, who damaged that Cyberman that was left lying around in pieces at Stonehenge? There's clearly been some kind of fight, there - so who was involved?
  • I know it isn't really likely to happen for boring real-world reasons. But if the Pandorica combined with Stonehenge is broadcasting a signal which brings the Eleventh Doctor to see what's going on, isn't is just possible that earlier Doctors (or indeed later ones, for that matter), might hear it too? Even just the Tenth would be nice.


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Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 00:14 (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
they saw someone moving around in Amy's house with a torch before Amy and the Doctor had got in there at the end of Flesh and Stone

Trying to see this, are they definitely saying Flesh and Stone, before the light goes on in Amy's room?

Because it's on screen for all of half a second, at most, and I really can't see any movement. So either it's a different scene, and I can't think of any, or it's only visible on the HD version, which I can't watch, or they were seeing things, but they happen to be right anyway.

James Bondish, offering the blue guy in the bar the cure to the micro-explosives she's just slipped into his drink

See, I was more reminded of Locke Lamora (well, book 2), but it's not exactly an unused trope. Rather nasty though.

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 10:53 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Farnsworth don't aks me!)
From: [identity profile] strange-complex.livejournal.com
I'm sure that scene is in Flesh and Stone, but I could well be wrong about it coming before they go into the house. It might be after they come out instead - in fact, now I come to think about it, part of the debate on the comm may have been around whether they'd left the light on or not, and whether the light seen from the outside was a torch. I did try to find the relevant posts last night to link to them, but [livejournal.com profile] doctorwho generates too many posts for me to manage to find the one I wanted, especially when I was quite keen to go to bed!

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 20:55 (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
We're rewatching it. River arrives outside Amy's on the 26th. The Doctor and Amy leave at the end of Flesh and Stone as it turns midnight and becomes the 26th, so River gets there after they've left.

It doesn't give an arrival time for her, but it could be at any point after midnight, but not before.

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 02:02 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] damien-mocata.livejournal.com
My opinionated answers to your random questions:

How does hallucinogenic lipstick actually work? Doesn't it affect the wearer, as well as people she kisses?

My presumption is that it's something that River is possibly immune to, by some way of application (like never letting her lips touch), or that she's engineered immune to (having a gene sequence immunity).

What's the stone wall which River sees when she opens the TARDIS doors? Is it part of Stonehenge? Surely the TARDIS explosion can't blow up Stonehenge - especially since it seemed to be in exactly the same state of ruination which it is now already.

This wouldn't be the first time the TARDIS has done something metaphoric as a literal suggestion. After all, back in "The Edge of Destruction", the clock runs backward and melts because they're running out of time. I get the feeling the wall is a metaphor for "We should never have come here because we'll never leave. "

If the whole thing with the Pandorica is a trap set up by the Doctor's collected enemies, who damaged that Cyberman that was left lying around in pieces at Stonehenge? There's clearly been some kind of fight, there - so who was involved?

The Doctor does mention that the locals (i.e. Celts) are violent, and as Roman weapons are shown to actually kill and dismember a Cyberman, I imagine it's someone on Earth. Big question is why was the stupid thing wandering around outside it's ward?


I know it isn't really likely to happen for boring real-world reasons. But if the Pandorica combined with Stonehenge is broadcasting a signal which brings the Eleventh Doctor to see what's going on, isn't is just possible that earlier Doctors (or indeed later ones, for that matter), might hear it too? Even just the Tenth would be nice.

I don't think any Doctor can receive the signal because it's been engineered so that he can't! After all, The Daleks are now (in theory) the only race out there that can reliably time travel, so perhaps the signal is invisible to detection by a TARDIS (that said, I think the line of "The Doctor is the only one who can operate the TARDIS" was a bit daft, mainly because Daleks can operate their own damn ones!

As an aside, something must have brought all those aliens there in the first place. We know Sontarans don't have time travel, and without using Untelevised adventures, not all those races have encountered the Doctor at this stage of Time.

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 10:55 (UTC)
ext_550458: (TARDIS)
From: [identity profile] strange-complex.livejournal.com
On the last point, I guess that makes it likely that the Daleks are leading the alliance. Part of their preparations could have included zipping around time to pick up other races from the times when they had developed an enmity towards the Doctor.

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 11:49 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rhube.livejournal.com
This would also explain the confusion between Nestine autons and Dalek duplicates. The Doctor talks about a duplicate of Nestine design. Which is possibly sloppy thinking, or lack of Old Skool knowledge, but I'd like it better if they were a hybrid of duplicate and auton technology, formed of the alliance.

Date: Monday, 21 June 2010 22:03 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swisstone.livejournal.com
We know Sontarans don't have time travel

Don't they? Has Time Warrior been retconned out?

Date: Monday, 21 June 2010 22:50 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] damien-mocata.livejournal.com
Pretty much. In The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, Staal mentions that they weren't allowed to take part in the Time War. That certainly implies they don't have reliable time travel to fight in it.

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 07:58 (UTC)
ext_22618: (Default)
From: [identity profile] bewarethespork.livejournal.com
The Greek writing was actually a series of coordinates - written, I assume, in Old High Gallifreyan (in The Five Doctors, for example, Gallifreyan script looks remarkably similar to Greek). The fact that Theta and Sigma were the first two letters is a nice shout-out, though. :D

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 10:31 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] parrot-knight.livejournal.com
The Five Doctors Greek lettering was a continuity reference back to the first (1972) edition of The Making of Doctor Who, where the Doctor's name is a mathematical formula expressed in Greek letters and mathematical symbols. The Doctor's name from the book, which isn't Theta Sigma, turns up on an inscription there. However, given that Bob Baker and Dave Martin were working on The Three Doctors at the time The Making of Doctor Who was published, the use of Greek letters might have encouraged them to change the name of the villain Ohm to Omega, and so Theta Sigma turns up later in their work.

(This is just me spooling out old-fan knowledge...)

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 10:35 (UTC)
ext_22618: (Default)
From: [identity profile] bewarethespork.livejournal.com
Thanks for that! I just remembered Old High Gallifreyan looking an awful lot like Greek lettering in The Five Doctors and assumed that's all there was to it. I didn't know any of the backstory at all. Thanks!

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 11:00 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] parrot-knight.livejournal.com
Thank you for all the ideas about the presentation of history - I was too wrapped up in the intertextual stuff... but the Stonehenge as 'old' line was definitely an informational point about periodization in general terms, and a corrective to any tendency to divide time into a 'present' and an amorphous generic past.

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 11:12 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Pompeii sundial)
From: [identity profile] strange-complex.livejournal.com
No worries - you've done the intertextual stuff beautifully. The more I think about it, the more pleased I am about the corrective effect which you refer to in the Stonehenge line. It speaks of a very intelligent approach to history and time, which actually Moffat's work has always displayed - but certainly isn't generally shared. I'm all for seeing it more firmly established in the popular consciousness.

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 11:03 (UTC)
chrisvenus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chrisvenus
Maybe jacket!Doctor is a projection of himself which he somehow manages from within the Pandorica

jacket!doctor? I'm obviously forgetting something...

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 11:06 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Sherlock Holmes trifles)
From: [identity profile] strange-complex.livejournal.com
It's a whole theory (http://community.livejournal.com/doctorwho/5964332.html) going the rounds on [livejournal.com profile] doctorwho and other like communities. Basically revolves around a future!Doctor popping up from time to time in some of the stories we've already seen.

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 11:39 (UTC)
chrisvenus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chrisvenus
wow... that is such an awesome theory...

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 11:21 (UTC)
ext_119234: (Default)
From: [identity profile] katsmeat.livejournal.com
Amy's question about why Stonehenge doesn't look new in AD 102 draws our attention to how hard it is for human beings to really grasp the concept of long time periods.

Well, exactly. Most people can't grasp the idea that distant times may be distant from each other.

But equally, they find it hard to grasp the idea that distant places can be distant from each other - people always seem surprised that flying from Sydney to Auckland is about the same as flying from London to Athens.

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 11:57 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Ulysses 31)
From: [identity profile] strange-complex.livejournal.com
Indeed! I wonder how long it takes to fly from Mondas to Skaro? ;-)

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 11:43 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rhube.livejournal.com
I wondered about that last point. I still think some older/younger Doctors HAVE to turn up, given all the sightings. And there's a whole history thing going on. And I still feel that there's more to that abortive Time Travel device we saw in The Lodger that we haven't delved into yet.

Interesting commentary all round, though!

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 11:58 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Redneck damn toot!)
From: [identity profile] strange-complex.livejournal.com
Oh, definitely - The Lodger leaves some big unanswered questions. Knowing Moffat, I think they will be answered sometime soon.

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 16:40 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] p-dan-tic.livejournal.com
I think the give away line about the lodger thing coming back was when (in the pandorica opens) the doctor was talking to amy and said something like "think about it amy, big house lots of empty rooms"..............

either way, I don't think any episode has excited me before the begining credits as much as this one did............

(edited to clarify what bit I'm talking about)
Edited Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 16:41 (UTC)

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 17:44 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rhube.livejournal.com
I think, with all the talk of perception filters and teh fact that it not resolved at all why the time machine was there and where its owner went...

Interesting point about that line, too!

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 22:32 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] surliminal.livejournal.com
Actually yes, why have they been giving us these line ups of the previous Drs all season if not in some way to have them all alerted now and perhaps in some non-actual-actors-appearing-way help tethered Eleven??
(Actually the visions of the lineup of former Doctors also somehow reminds me of the vision of kings macbeth sees fromtghe witches. had SM been reading macbeth lately or am I just weirding? (I haven't read it since ooh 1978 or so..)

Date: Sunday, 20 June 2010 13:57 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thanatos-kalos.livejournal.com
What I noted most about the theta was its meaning derviced from military papyri (something so obscure that it must be coincidence, but never mind :P). In Roman casualty lists written in Greek, the dead are 'theta-ed', as in thanatos. Far too obscure to be intentional, but intriguing nonetheless.

Date: Monday, 21 June 2010 01:39 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] steer.livejournal.com
If the whole thing with the Pandorica is a trap set up by the Doctor's collected enemies, who damaged that Cyberman that was left lying around in pieces at Stonehenge?

Most likely it was just a part of the trap -- keep him distracted and busy rather than thinking because if he was really thinking he'd have had to come up with a better explanation for, say, Rory being there.

I think the greek letters were just meant to be the co-ordinates and being in greek was just to give them a "sciency" feel. Could be interpreted as numbers? I think numbers are meant to have dashes though.

209 500 403 94

(I think) where I've taken the liberty of assuming the last four characters actually had a small gap in the middle. Doesn't mean anything though.

Not sure it is so meaningful.

Date: Monday, 21 June 2010 09:21 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Cathica spike)
From: [identity profile] strange-complex.livejournal.com
Good thought about the Cyberman being part of the trap - although I suspect a fully-functioning, undamaged Cyberman would have been even more distracting!

Date: Monday, 21 June 2010 01:57 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] steer.livejournal.com
How does hallucinogenic lipstick actually work? Doesn't it affect the wearer, as well as people she kisses?

Dozens of possible ways the most obvious being she has taken the antidote beforehand or she is wearing an "undercoat" of something non permeable by the active chemical.

.What's the stone wall which River sees when she opens the TARDIS doors?

I presumed she had muffed the landing (she had been saying it wasn't safe to land) and landed actually inside something -- that is maybe underground.

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