There’s really no scenario more classically “Doctor Who” than that of the misunderstood monster. These episodes are often fillers and don’t offer much by way of propelling the plot, but instead the development of characters is the focus. Much like last year’s episode, “The Beast Below,” or, “Vincent and the Doctor” (my two favorites from the Matt Smith-era), this sort of episode could be placed anywhere in the middle of the season and still make sense.
Really, this episode was a much needed break after the clusterfuck of plot forced down our throats these past two weeks. We’re not sure of anything left off in the last episode (Amy’s pregnancy is still left up in the air), but there was a lot of fun. We got to see Karen Gillan in full pirate drag, sword fighting and being a general badass, which is always neat because Amy is just the right companion to make play out of the situation they were in. She’s plucky like that. Another great moment is when the Doctor is separated from the Tardis (as Amy is separated from Rory and the Captain from his son, Toby) and they are all eventually reunited. We see Amy rush to her husband, the Captain to his son and the Doctor to his Tardis. The way the scene plays out makes it laugh-out-loud good.
In Saturday’s “The Curse of the Black Spot,” we are dropped into a situation (a pirate ship) dealing with a certain alien/monster terror (a siren that appears to turn men into dust upon touching them) along with a skeptical guest character, often historical in nature, (The ship’s captain) who distrusts the Doctor at first, only to develop a friendship or understanding that helps defeat/understand the monster (discover that the siren means no harm and is actually a stranded alien care provider). It’s formulaic, but in no way is it cliché or boring.
In this case, we have Captain Henry Avery (played by Hugh Bonneville), as a pirate who’d disappeared in the 18th century. Avery is one of the smart characters who isn’t terrified by the idea of time travel. Instead, when required to pilot the Tardis, he replies “a ship’s a ship” with casual disinterest. Avery’s ship is plagued by a siren that attacks men when they are weak (bleeding, sickly, frail), marking them with a dark spot on their palm before taking them.
It doesn’t take long for danger-prone Rory to get injured, marked and eventually thrown overboard (they really have no shame in abusing Arthur Darvill), leading the cast to retreat to the ship’s cabin to search for options. Eventually, the Doctor discovers the siren entering the ship through reflections. The group disposes of anything that could reveal a reflection: still water, glass and all the pirate booty the ship had taken. Or at least, they think they disposed of it. Avery is too greedy to put his crew’s safety before his own wealth and keeps a shiny crown, allowing the siren entrance to the ship where she takes Toby.
The remaining crew soon find that she had been taking the weak and wounded down below to her sick bay where she keeps them alive until the ship is able to return to a proper intergalactic hospital center. Rory, Toby and the rest of Avery’s crew are down there attached to life-support devices. Rory had nearly drowned before the siren rescued him, so he was still left in that state when Amy got to him. He then uses his nurse smarts to tell her how to revive him (using CPR) once he’s no longer on life support. I’ll suspend my disbelief for a lot of things (you have to with this series), but how does the Doctor live 900 years without learning human CPR or, at the very least, figuring it out? He’s supposed to be a genius. You’d think he’d be able to perform a procedure I learned in the eighth grade.
On that same note, while it’s a touching thing that Amy refuses to give up on her husband and will stop at nothing to revive him, it’s becoming tiring to watch Rory die/nearly die almost every week. I’m starting to worry about getting a complex; every time I see him on the screen, I’m convinced he’s going to cause himself harm.
I know I’m not alone with this. In fact, on Twitter the other night, I saw someone at-reply (@reply?) Steven Moffat (who, for the record, didn’t even write this episode) and demand that he “stop killing Rory,” to which Steven replied with a short and blunt “no.”
That Moffat is something else. And, no matter how often I throw things at the television during his programs or curse his name as I punch a wall, I really do love how faithful he stays to the original program. He allows there to be quintessentially “Doctor Who” episodes even though it’s been on the air for 32 seasons (in total). He’s very much a fan first and his affection for his work is so obvious; he’s having a ball living out his childhood dreams. Lucky bastard.
Note: Due to the summer break, I’ll be keeping up with weekly Doctor Who posts on my blog: www.ifonlyhehadabeard.blogspot.com. Check it out.