[A revised and improved version of this essay appears in my book The Eleventh Doctor: a critical ramble through Matt Smith’s tenure in Doctor Who.]
Writing about The Impossible Astronaut last week, I noted that I was going to entitle my article “The Impossible Astronaut: First Impressions”, and the entire article would consist of the following: “What?”
So, predictably, here are my first impressions of Day of the Moon:
It’s pretty much impossible to discuss this episode without spoilers, because the whole story was an intersecting mish-mash of mystery plots. If I tried to be unspoily I wouldn’t be able to say much more than “There were some aliens, and the Doctor did something clever”.
So be warned — SPOILERS FOLLOW.
Well, then. What do we still not know?
Why was “Get out” written all over the orphanage? If Amy wrote it, she would have recognised her own handwriting, so I don’t think this can be a Sally Sparrow retread. Who closed and locked the door when she was in the room with the sleeping Silence? Why? Who unlocked it? Why?
Who was the woman with the eyepatch, who Amy saw through the window in the door to the little girl’s room? Why was the hatch there and why did it vanish? Why did the woman say “No, I think she’s just dreaming”? Who did she say it to?
Now that we know the alien race who can’t be remembered are called The Silence, what does Series 5’s repeated threat “Silence will fall” mean?
Why did The Silence have a TARDIS-like console room identical to the one in The Lodger? Wikipedia, rather disappointingly, says that “the control room set used from The Lodger was used again for this episode. Moffat wanted the set to be used again, feeling it would be a suitable Silence base. The set was adapted to give it a darker, evil feel.” But surely we can hope for a story-internal reason. Was The Lodger‘s ship actually The Silence’s?
The Doctor reasoned that The Silence incubated the Apollo program as a way of causing a space suit to be made — but why did they want one?
Why did The Silence Kidnap Amy? What was their plan for her? They tell her “We do you honour; you will bring the silence”, but what does that mean? They are The Silence? Is that different from the silence?
Is Amy in fact pregnant? Why doesn’t the TARDIS know? It seems that its built-in pregnancy scanner is trying to tell us that Amy’s uterus is in a superimposition of quantum states. How will the midwife cope? (And will the baby have a time-head? I loved that.)
Who is the little girl that we first saw in the suit at the end of episode 1? Is she, as the photo in her room invites us to believe, Amy’s daughter? If so, with whom? If Rory, then how was she able to regenerate at the end of the episode? If not Amy’s daughter, is she River’s? With the Doctor? That would explain the regeneration. Or could she be The Doctor’s Daughter, from the terrible episode of the same name?
How did the little girl get into the spacesuit at the end of the last episode and during this? Did it “eat her”, as suggested? How did she get out, after Amy saw her?
We are still no closer to answering the long-running question: who actually is River Song? Could it be that the girl in the space suit is River? Why is River in prison? Who is the “best man I ever knew” that she killed?
And we are also no closer to knowing who killed the Doctor, despite having thought about that in detail last week? Will he continue to have been killed?
What else might The Silence have done that no-one remembers? Did they impregnate Amy? Ugh. Would Moffat go there?
And finally, most important of all: is a review a review if it consists of nothing but questions?
I’ll close with a few observations.
We saw that River is an excellent shot — she took out all of the Silence in the control room — but we know that Amy is is a very bad shot, having missed the astronaut at the end of the last episode from point-blank range. This is hardly conclusive, but does seem to gently suggest that they are not related.
The Silence look kind of like The Gentlemen from the classic Buffy Season 4 episode Hush — the one where everyone’s voices are taken away. They share the same formal elegance, unhurried menace, and distorted, shiny heads.
And of course the name of the alien race called The Silence chimes (har!) with the modus operandi of The Gentlemen.
I doubt that has any plot significance, but I wonder whether it’s a deliberate homage.
Finally — where now? As usual I avoided the trailer for next week, but from what I’ve not been able to avoid finding out, it seems that it will be much more of a self-contained romp, and so we shouldn’t expect much in the way of resolution of any of the issues raised last week and this. I love a good, provocative mystery or six, but is Moffat pushing it too far? One insightful commentator noted, “I think Steven Moffat’s audience is going to start getting a bit frustrated if we don’t start getting some answers soon — it’s just too much to hold.”
Come on, Moff. Give us some answers.
Not all of them. But some.