Timestamp #SJA20: The Nightmare Man

Sarah Jane Adventures: The Nightmare Man
(2 episodes, s04e01, 2010)

Timestamp SJA20 The Nightmare Man

You can’t get him out of your head.

Luke starts the story with a warning that the end of the world is approaching, that it is his fault, and the Nightmare Man is coming for him.

One year earlier, Luke confides in Sarah Jane that Mr. Chandra has given him permission to take his A-level exams early. This will enable him to go to Oxford University. Their discussion is interrupted by the fact that they are chained to a bomb, but fortunately Rani, Clyde, and K9 arrive to defuse the bomb and stop the Slitheen behind it.

Of course, in show tradition, everyone ends up covered in exploded alien goo.

Some time later, Luke passes his exams with flying colors. Some time after that, Luke watches Rani head to school while he packs his room and confides his nervousness in Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane tries to console him with scrambled eggs for breakfast, but ends up setting the kitchen on fire. Rani and Clyde hear about this on their way to school as they lament Luke’s departure.

Sarah Jane presents Luke with her old VW Beetle. She tells Luke that he gave her something to live for in an existence of loneliness. She promises him that Bannerman Road will always be his home and that she will miss him.

Later that night, Luke is awakened by laughing and overheads Sarah Jane and K9 talking about how they can’t wait for him to leave. Turns out that it was a nightmare, and as Luke startles awake he hears laughing. Luke shouldn’t be able to dream due to his genetic makeup, and while Rani suggests that he tell Sarah Jane, he decides against it. He also confides that he hasn’t seen Clyde for a while, and Rani pressures him to visit Luke.

Luke has another nightmare, this time with Clyde and Rani at the school. He meets the Nightmare Man, an entity that feeds on fearful dreams. He tells Sarah Jane about his nightmare and Mr. Smith scans Luke but finds nothing. He receives a text from Clyde and ends up at a surprise farewell party. The friends have a quick chat and Luke suggests that Clyde dance with Rani. After that, he inadvertently falls asleep and comes face-to-face with the Nightmare Man, but is told that he cannot speak the entity’s name. He is woken up by Rani and Clyde and taken back to the dance floor.

Later that night, Luke is sending a message to Maria but still cannot tell anyone about the Nightmare Man. He falls asleep and dreams about Sarah Jane replacing him with a new boy named Josh. His family throws all of their memories of him into a barrel and lights it on fire. The Nightmare Man tells him that one more nightmare will allow him to enter the real world and terrorize everyone.

On the final day before Luke leaves for Oxford, the Bannerman Road Gang throws him a farewell bash. Clyde and Rani keep Luke company but they fall asleep. Luke records the video that we saw in the opening sequence, sidestepping the rules by speaking to the camera and not to a particular person. He orients the camera to capture the events as he falls asleep. The Nightmare Man materializes shortly thereafter, but Luke is trapped in an echoing empty void.

The entity disappears as Sarah Jane enters the room and picks up the video camera. It materializes next to Rani and Clyde and begins to attack Rani as Sarah Jane watches Luke’s recording. Rani’s nightmare involves being pulled into the television by the BBC’s (completely fictional) Louise Marlowe. The Nightmare Man moves on to Clyde as Sarah Jane summons K9 and Mr. Smith to help combat the threat.

Mr. Smith identifies the entity as a Vishklar from the Seretti dimension as Clyde has a nightmare about being a fry cook and being berated by Sarah Jane for his lack of success. Rani’s dream continues as she takes the role of a newscaster being forced to tell the secrets about Sarah Jane Smith.

Sarah Jane and her cybernetic companions use a sentient concrete and a power boost to connect Luke with K9 inside his dream. Luke is able to connect with Rani and Clyde through the dream universe and rescues them through their focus. The Nightmare Man extends his influence onto the rest of Bannerman Road, but Luke, Rani, and Chandra stifle his power so he materializes in the attic, disables K9 and Mr. Smith, and turns his attentions on Sarah Jane.

Sarah Jane isn’t afraid of the Nightmare Man, but the entity is unwilling to send her into the dream. Instead, he materializes in the dream and threatens the team. Luke confronts him, emphasizing his love for Sarah Jane and his friends. The power of their friendship overwhelms the Nightmare Man and pushes him into a nightmare of his own. A nightmare where the elderly Sarah Jane Smith tells him all about Luke’s successes for all time.

The trio awakens as Sarah Jane brings K9 and Mr. Smith back online. Sarah Jane decides to send K9 with Luke. The next morning, they all gather to say farewell to Luke and K9. After hugs and tears, Luke leaves Bannerman Road in the yellow Beetle, eager to face the adventure ahead.


This is a pretty straightforward story, told in a fractured style, that has ties within both its series and year of production. Alongside Amy’s Choice, this was the second story in 2010 to involve a dream universe. It was also the second premiere to serve as a farewell for a series regular, the former being Maria’s departure in The Last Sontaran.

Tommy Knight had previously reduced his involvement in the show to focus on his schoolwork, but when his studies became much more demanding he decided to bow out. The other character to leave the show, the very good boy K9, was written out due to the Australian K9 spin-off. Thus, only Elisabeth Sladen remains from the roster of original full-time regulars that started the show.

This episode played well on both of those fronts. The anxiety and apprehension surrounding Luke leaving the nest is scripted nicely, and is sold by Elisabeth Sladen’s performance. Similarly, I loved the talent exercise of elderly Sarah Jane. We also got a touching and humorous farewell between Mr. Smith and K9, adding a beautiful dimension to their friendly rivalry.

All told, the story was good as both a welcome back and as a farewell.

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”


UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Vault of Secrets

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Rabbit Rabbit – March 2021

Rabbit Rabbit
March 2021

Rabbit, rabbit!

Since at least 1909, a superstition has lived in North American and the United Kingdom that if a person says or repeats the word “rabbit” upon waking up on the first day of the month, good luck will follow for the remainder of that month.

Elements of the tradition exist in the United Kingdom, New England, and even in various First Nation cultures.

While I’m not necessarily endorsing the superstition, it provides a way to look in depth at each month of the year, from history and observances to miscellaneous trivia. The topic this month is February.

History

March comes from the Roman month Martius, the first month of the Roman calendar. It was named after Mars, the Roman god of war, and an ancestor of the Roman people through his sons Romulus and Remus. Thus, the month of Martius was known as the beginning of the season of warfare.

Martius remained the first month of the year until 153 BC, and many of the religious observances in the month doubled as celebrations of the new year. Martius observances included Agonium Martiale (March 1st, 14th, and 17th), Matronalia (March 1st), Junonalia (March 7th), Equirria (March 14th), Mamuralia (March 14th or 15th), Hilaria (March 15th and 22nd-28th), Argei (March 16th and 17th), Liberalia and Bacchanalia (March 17th), Quinquatria (March 19th-23rd), and Tubilustrium (March 23rd). These dates do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar.

In Finnish, the month is called maaliskuu, believed to originate from maallinen kuu. During March, the earth finally becomes visible under the snow, quite literally “a month with ground”. In Ukrainian, the month is called березень/berezenʹ, meaning birch tree. Similary, it is known as březen in Czech.

Historical names for March include the Saxon Lentmonat, named after the March equinox and gradual lengthening of days, and the eventual namesake of Lent. Saxons also called March Rhed-monat or Hreth-monath (deriving from their goddess Rhedam/Hreth), and Angles called it Hyld-monath.

In Slovene, the traditional name is sušec, meaning the month when the earth becomes dry enough so that it is possible to cultivate it. That mouthful was was first written in 1466 in the Škofja Loka manuscript. The Turkish word Mart is given after the name of the god Mars.

Observances

The Catholic faith observes March as the Month of Saint Joseph, the believed human father of Jesus. In Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, it is Women’s History Month. On the international stage, it is Endometriosis Awareness Month.

In Canada, March is National Nutrition Month. The United States, on the other hand, floods the market with Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, Irish-American Heritage Month, Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, Music in our Schools Month, National Athletic Training Month, National Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month, National Celery Month, National Frozen Food Month, National Kidney Month, National Nutrition Month, National Professional Social Work Month, National Reading Awareness Month, Youth Art Month, and National Ladder Safety Month.

The March Equinox occurs this month, marking the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.

Trivia

  • March’s birthstones are the aquamarine and bloodstone, both symbolizing courage.
  • The western zodiac signs of February were Pisces (until March 19, 2020) and Aries (March 20, 2020 onwards).
  • The month’s birth flower is the daffodil.

Rabbit Rabbit is a project designed to look at each month of the year with respect to history, observances, and more.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – The Color of Our Food

Culture on My Mind
February 26, 2021

This week, I have food on my mind. In particular, a video from Cheddar about the history and current use of dyes in our food.

It is fascinating to me that Americans invest so much into food appearance, even to the point of tasting something that isn’t really there to begin with. I already knew that we waste about $218 billion dollars of food every year, including the destruction of otherwise perfectly good produce at the grocery store due to cosmetic blemishes, but the psychology is laid bare in this simple eye-opening presentation.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Series Five Summary

Doctor Who: Series Five Summary

Timestamp Logo Eleventh

Series Five shifted gears with a new Doctor and a new showrunner.

Having seen the Matt Smith episodes before, I haven’t looked back fondly upon them. I think part of it was my mindset, especially after binging the episodes from Series One. I’m also a big fan of David Tennant and the paradigm shift from Russell T Davies and David Tennant to Steven Moffat and Matt Smith was a shock.

There’s a lot later in Steven Moffat’s tenure as showrunner to be critical about, but Series Five is much better than I remember.

The big stumbling blocks were Amy’s Choice and The Lodger. In the former case, the issue was presenting a mystery for the audience to solve but leaving out a critical puzzle piece to make the Doctor the smartest man in the room. In the latter case, the story was obviously a filler episode. The season also had a hard time selling me on the love between Amy and Rory. He obviously adores her, but she treats him like refuse far too often.

But it’s hard to be angry with such a fun and interesting slate otherwise, from the “I’m the Doctor” moment in The Eleventh Hour to the Daleks winning the battle in Victory of the Daleks, the return of the Silurians in The Hungry Earth & Cold Blood, and the time-traveling epic that is The Pandorica Opens & The Big Bang.

Lest we forget the most beautiful story in this batch: Vincent and the Doctor. It makes me cry every time.


Series Five comes in at an average of 4.3. That leaves it in a three-way tie for fifth place for the Timestamps Project, coming in behind the classic Ninth Series, the new era’s Series Four, the Eighth Doctor’s run, and the Tenth Doctor’s specials. It’s on par with two other revival groupings – Series One and Series Three – and just ahead of the classic Eleventh Series.

The Eleventh Hour – 5
The Beast Below – 5
Victory of the Daleks – 4
The Time of Angels & Flesh and Stone – 4
The Vampires of Venice – 4
Amy’s Choice – 3
The Hungry Earth & Cold Blood – 5
Vincent and the Doctor – 5
The Lodger – 3
The Pandorica Opens & The Big Bang – 5

Series Five (Revival Era) Average Rating: 4.3/5


Next up, we head back to Bannerman Road with the fourth series of The Sarah Jane Adventures.

UP NEXT – The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Nightmare Man

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Early Year Classics

Culture on My Mind
February 19, 2021

It is time for another batch of American Sci-Fi Classics discussions.

On January 7th, Keith DeCandido, Denise Lhamon, and Michael Bailey stopped by to discuss the 30th anniversary of Dick Tracy.

On January 14th, Sue Kisenwether, Deanna Toxopeus, Darin Bush, and Lola Lariscy asked the question “But is she a Mary Sue?”

On January 21st, Sue Kisenwether, Denise Lhamon, Deanna Toxopeus, Kevin Eldridge, Sherman Burris, and newcomer Maree Jones talked about the purrrfect organism. Yep, it’s all about cats in science fiction.

On January 28th, newcomer Kornflake of The Flopcast podcast joined Denise Lhamon, Sherman Burris, and Shaun Rosado in a deep dive of animated fantasy from the 1970s.

On February 4th, Felicity Kuzinitz, Nathan Laws, Tom Morris, Charlie Morris, Shaun Rosado, and Michael Williams signed up for electroshock treatments as they looked back on the 35th anniversary of Return to Oz.

Finally, to celebrate the season of love, February 11th brought newcomer Jeff Burns, Elizabeth Jones, Kevin Cafferty, Deanna Toxopeus, Lola Lariscy, and Jessa Phillips to the virtual love boat to talk all about the best genre romances.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again): Gary and Joe have a lot more fun discussions planned, so you should stay tuned to the YouTube channel and the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #219: The Pandorica Opens & The Big Bang

Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens
Doctor Who: The Big Bang
(2 episodes, s05e12-e13, 2010)

Timestamp 219 The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang

A roller coaster ride that closes the narrative circle. Mostly.

The Pandorica Opens

France, 1890: Vincent van Gogh finishes a painting and lapses into a screaming fit. Doctor Gachet and Madame Vernet attempt to calm him, but Vernet takes a moment to criticize the painting as one of the artist’s worst.

London, 1941: In the Cabinet War Rooms, Professor Bracewell delivers a rolled up canvas to Winston Churchill. It is the painting, found behind the wall in a French attic. Bracewell tells Churchill to deliver the message.

Stormcage Containment Facility, 5145: A guard answers the phone and hands it to River Song. After speaking to Churchill, River whammies the guard with her hallucinogenic lipstick and escapes from the prison. She breaks into the Royal Collection and swipes the painting. Liz 10 catches her, but after she looks at the artwork, River is free to go.

The Maldovarium, 5145: River meets with black marketeer Dorium Maldovar and exchanges a Callisto Pulse in exchange for a vortex manipulator, fresh from the wrist of a Time Agent.

The TARDIS, in the temporal vortex: Amy looks at the wedding ring as the Doctor lands on Planet One. There they find the first words in recorded history carved into the diamond cliffs: “Hello, Sweetie.” The accompanying coordinates take them to Roman Britain in the 2nd century where they are met by a soldier whose face is smeared with lipstick. They are escorted to Cleopatra, who is really River in disguise. She presents the travelers with the painting.

It is a mixture of Starry Night and the destruction of the TARDIS. It is titled The Pandorica Opens.

River, Amy, and the Doctor discuss the painting, which the Doctor considers a fairy tale, but they all ride to Stonehenge where it is presumed to reside. Amy notes that River warned them about this on the Byzantium, but River responds that she will. That hasn’t happened for her yet. River finds evidence of energy weapons at the site. They open a tomb beneath Stonehenge, missing the active Cyberman head nearby, in search of the mightiest warrior of all time contained within the Pandorica.

Behind a giant door they find a giant box. It is the Pandorica. Amy notes that the story of the Pandorica is similar to her favorite story, that of Pandora’s Box, and the Doctor draws attention to the coincidence. As River and the Doctor examine the box, Amy keeps an eye on the crypt.

Amy wonders how Vincent could know of this and the Doctor notes that the pillars of the crypt are transmitters. They’ve been broadcasting into all of time and space, and River traces the signals to Earth’s orbit. There are at least ten thousand starships in orbit, and every one of them belongs to the Doctor’s enemies.

It’s a veritable Who’s Who of Doctor Who universe villains, including the Daleks, the Drahvins, the Cybermen, the Autons and the Nestene Consciousness, the Silurians, the Draconians, the Sontarans, the Zygons, the Terileptils, the Chelonians (an enemy from the Virgin novels), the Slitheen, the Roboforms, the Sycorax, the Hoix, the Weevils and the Blowfish (crossing over from Torchwood), the Judoon, the Uvodni, the Atraxi, and the Haemogoths (from the novel The Forgotten Army).

Everything that ever hated the Doctor is coming to Earth on this night. River begs him to run but the Doctor has other plans. He enlists the help of the Roman army with River and her futuristic technology. She is greeted by a single mysterious volunteer.

The Doctor continues his work at the Pandorica. After extending the force fields of the box to buy them thirty minutes, he and Amy discuss the engagement ring. The Doctor explains that it belongs to a friend, and hopes that the traces it left behind can spark memories within that friend. He asks if Amy is bothered that her life doesn’t make a lot of sense, but before she can respond they are interrupted by laser blasts from a dismembered Cyberman arm. They nearly escape from the arm, but it shocks the Doctor as Amy grapples with the Cyberman head. She nearly gets the upper hand but it shoots her with a dart and threatens her with assimilation. On cue, the headless body (a Cybus Industries model) marches into view, reattaches the head, and chases the drugged companion.

Amy ends up in a side chamber. The door opens as a sword impales the Cyberman. The sword belongs to none other than Rory. He’s dressed as a Roman soldier and she still doesn’t remember him. The Doctor considers the Cyberman and the Pandorica, eventually coming around to the fact that Rory is alive again and unerased from time.

Rory is fuzzy on how he got to this point, but he still cares for Amy. They’re distracted by the ships descending from orbit and the sudden awakening of the Pandorica. The site and the Roman army are surrounded. The Doctor ascends to the surface, stands on a rock, and addresses his enemies over a communicator. His enemies face him as he threatens them with his rage. He has possession of the Pandorica and it’s opening, and though they have plenty of weapons, he has nothing to lose. He reminds them of all the times he has defeated them in the past and encourages them to do the smart thing and let someone else try first.

The fleet withdraws, granting the Doctor an additional hour. Meanwhile, River tries to pilot the TARDIS to the crypt but it won’t play nice. It takes her to Earth, specifically Amy’s house, on June 26, 2010. A crack appears on the scanner as River heads outside and a voice echoes in the console room: “Silence will fall.”

Amy wakes up but still doesn’t remember Rory. The Doctor cannot explain his presence, but listens while Rory talks about his memories while the Doctor ponders the explosion of the TARDIS. He returns Rory’s ring and dismisses Rory’s return (for now, anyway) as a miracle.

Landing patterns from alien ships have scarred the yard at Amy’s house. Inside the house, River finds a book on Roman Britain and a copy of The Legend of Pandora’s Box. She also finds a picture of Rory and Amy, but Rory is dressed like a centurion in the photograph. River contacts the Doctor and tells him that the Roman army is made of duplicates. The duplicates believe that they are alive, and River says it must be a trap.

On the surface, Amy starts to remember Rory. At Amy’s house, the TARDIS begins to shake and will not respond to River’s commands. The console room echoes with the warning again: “Silence will fall.”

The Pandorica starts transmitting a signal as it cracks open. The soldiers all stop moving and converge on the crypt, their hands raised like Auton hand-blasters. Rory fights his transformation and warns Amy to run, but she remembers him. The Autons seize the Doctor and declare that the Pandorica is ready. The Doctor’s enemies materialize in the room and force the Time Lord into the box.

All of reality is threatened by the cracks in time. The enemies of the Doctor have banded together to save the universe from destruction by his hand. They used Amy’s memories to trap him.

Unable to control himself, Rory fatally shoots Amy. As she dies, he grieves as he fights for control.

River opens the doors of the TARDIS to find a stone wall. She’s trapped as the TARDIS explodes.

The universe dies as every star goes supernova at once. The Earth is left alone in a black void.

Silence falls.

The Big Bang

Leadworth, 1996: It’s the night that Amelia Pond prays to Santa Claus on Easter to fix the crack in her wall. She hears a noise, but her garden is empty. She notes the moon in the sky and later paints the sky for her psychiatrist. She remembers stars in the sky, but no one else can. In fact, the sky is empty except for the moon.

That night, Amy sees a man in a fez slip a pamphlet through the mail slot. It advertises that Pandorica exhibit at the National Museum with a note: “Come along, Pond.” She visits the museum with her aunt, passing exhibits of antique Daleks and penguins in the Arctic. A note on the Pandorica tells her to stick around, so she hides from her aunt until the museum closes. She returns to the Pandorica and it opens to reveal Amy Pond.

Things just got complicated.

Stonehenge, 102 AD: The Auton duplicate of Rory Williams cradles Amy’s corpse. He cracks a joke and wishes that she’d laugh, but his mourning is interrupted by the vortex manipulated arrival of the Doctor. He’s wearing a fez and brandishing a mop, and he leaves instructions for Rory to open the Pandorica with his sonic screwdriver. He vanishes again.

The present-version Doctor emerges from the Pandorica. Deducing that he will set up the chain of events that have led to his release, he and Rory note the stone remains of the allied aliens. They are echoes in time of entire species that have been erased from existence. The Doctor and Rory find Amy and load her into the Pandorica. A punch to the jaw tells the Doctor that Rory has moved beyond his programming, and the Time Lord leaves a telepathic message in Amy’s head. The Pandorica will restore her to life in order to keep her imprisoned.

The Doctor picks up River’s vortex manipulator and offers Rory the opportunity to travel back to the future. Instead, Rory decides to stand watch over the Pandorica for the next 2,000 years. When Amy awakens in 1996, she sees the video presentation about the Pandorica and the lone centurion who stood guard no matter where the box went. The centurion was presumed dead in 1941.

As the Doctor appears in the museum, one of the Daleks awakens and threatens the Amys. As the Doctor finds a fez and looks for a way to stop the Dalek, a security guard appears and stops the threat with an Auton cannon. That security guard is none other than Rory the Centurion.

While Amy and Rory catch up with a whole lot of smooching, the Doctor analyzes the Dalek and realizes that it came to life when the Pandorica’s light touched it. As it revives again, the Doctor ushers everyone out and starts his chain reaction of events. His bouncing around in time comes to a halt as an older version of himself appears, leaves him a message, and dies without regeneration.

The younger version of Amy also vanishes. Time is still collapsing.

As the travelers rush to the roof, the Dalek opens the Pandorica and casts its light on the statues in the museum. On the roof, our heroes note that the sun has risen. Unfortunately, the sun is really the explosion of the TARDIS. Fortunately, the signal it is generating includes River’s last words, which tells the Doctor that the TARDIS placed her in a time loop to keep her alive. The Doctor jumps to the TARDIS and pulls her to safety in 1996.

River questions the Doctor’s fashion sense. Amy pulls the fez off his head and throws it. River shoots it, blasting it into atoms. Then the Dalek arrives and drives the team back into the museum. The Doctor questions how the Dalek could exist, then develops a plan to cast the Pandorica’s light across all of time and existence by using the TARDIS explosion as an infinite power source.

His plotting is cut short as the Dalek shoots the Doctor. The Doctor falls and teleports away. In her anger, River makes the Dalek beg for mercy (three times over) before killing it in a single shot. When the team heads back to the Pandorica, the Doctor has crawled inside and wired the vortex manipulator to transport the box to the heart of the exploding TARDIS. Rory and Amy thought he was dead, but River tells them about Rule Number One: The Doctor lies.

The downside to the Doctor’s plan is that he’ll be trapped on the wrong side of Big Bang #2. While the rest of existence will be reset, he will never have existed. He asks to talk to Amy one last time before he leaves. He explains that her parents didn’t die but rather were consumed by the crack in time. It has been eating away at her life for a long time, making her the girl whose life didn’t make sense. If she can remember them when the Big Bang happens, they stand a chance of being restored.

With that, the Doctor seals the Pandorica and launches it into the heart of the TARDIS with a transmitted “Geronimo”.

As the universe heals, the Doctor wakes up on the floor of the TARDIS console room. He watches as his timestream unravels and stumbles on the fact that Amy can still hear him. He returns to the Byzantium and has that mysterious conversation with Amy that seemed out of place. He asks her to remember what he told her when she was seven.

He rewinds back to Amy’s house on the night that she waited for him as a girl. He finds her asleep in the garden and takes her up to her bed. He tells her the story of a daft old man who “borrowed” a magic box that was ancient and new and the bluest blue ever. He realizes that the crack in her wall cannot close properly until he’s on the other side. He steps through, avoiding the rest of the rewind of his lives, and the crack seals. Amelia wakes up briefly, then goes back to sleep. The stars are back in the sky.

In 2010, Amy wakes up on her wedding day. Her gaze drifts across the dolls she made of the Doctor to her wedding dress. She’s startled by her mother and breakfast, rushes downstairs to hug her father, then calls Rory to ask him if he remembers something big.

At the wedding reception, Amy spots River outside just before her father’s speech. Rory notes that Amy is crying, then hands her a gift that someone left for them. It’s River’s TARDIS journal, but it is blank. She looks around the room, spotting things that remind her of the Doctor, and has a revelation as a single tear splashes onto the journal.

She interrupts her father’s speech to tell the assembled crowd about her raggedy man imaginary friend. Her belief in him rises as the wind swirls through the ballroom and the TARDIS materializes. She vaults over the table and knocks on the door. The Doctor emerges, congratulates Mr. and Mrs. Pond, promises to leave the kissing to Rory, and moves the TARDIS off the dance floor.

After a night of dancing and celebration, the Doctor heads outside and meets River Song. He returns her journal and the vortex manipulator, then questions her identity as they muse about marriage. River vanishes into time and the Doctor enters the TARDIS. Before he can leave, Amy and Rory barge in and demand to know why he’s taking off so soon. He tells them that the mystery of the exploding TARDIS still remains before taking a phone call about an Egyptian goddess loose on the Orient Express in space.

As he signs off with the member of royalty on the line, Amy and Rory bid farewell to their wedding guests. The Doctor fires up the TARDIS and the trio vanishes into the temporal vortex.


This finale brings a whole lot of guns to the fight. From wrapping up the season-long story arc to laying the foundations for the next big adventure while handing the audience nods to the entire history of Doctor Who, including the prose side of the house. The Doctor is in fine form as he unravels this mystery with Amy as she reclaims her life. River (doing her best Han Solo and Indiana Jones) and Rory carry the action while adding heart through their relationships with our other heroes.

The climax of the story plays the typical franchise trope of a universe reset where the protagonists remember everything, but the twist here is that Amy and Rory have to work for it. What’s even more interesting is that the Doctor is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice (without the prospect of regeneration) to save the universe. It’s times like these when we see just how much of a hero the Doctor truly is.

I loved seeing the references to the enemies of the Who-niverse, but one that really stood out was the Cyberman. Given the big C on its chest, the one in this story was obviously a Cybus Industries model from Pete’s World. We last saw them in The Next Doctor, survivors of the Battle of Canary Wharf, and it can be inferred that at least one of them was transported to 102 A.D. to face the Doctor. But the Mondasian Cybermen still exist, right? We haven’t seen them since Silver Nemesis but it stands to reason that they still exist in this universe. That means that they should be the majority of the Cyberman fleet in orbit, right? Would this universe’s Cybermen accept the Pete’s World Cybermen into their ranks without issue?

I think I miss the normal universe Cybermen. Just a little.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Series Five Summarycc-break

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #218: The Lodger

Doctor Who: The Lodger
(1 episode, s05e11, 2010)

Timestamp 218 The Lodger

The Odd Couple and Three’s Company meet a blender.

The TARDIS lands in Colchester, which is far from the intended destination of the Fifth Moon of Sinda Callista. The Doctor is somehow shoved out of the TARDIS as it dematerializes with Amy still inside.

The next day, a young man passes a house where an old man is calling for help. He climbs the staircase and the door closes. Downstairs, Craig Owens and his friend Sophie question a spot of rot on the ceiling and ponder their activities for the night. Sophie gets called away to console her friend and Craig buckles down for a night alone with “pizza, booze, and telly.”

Craig berates himself for not expressing his true feelings for Sophie. The doorbell rings and Craig, noticing that Sophie has forgotten her keys, thinks that this is his big chance. Unfortunately for him, it’s the Doctor answering the advertisement for a roommate with a three thousand pound deposit.

The Doctor invites himself inside and analyzes the spot of rot before taking a look at his new room. After a quick check of psychic paper references, the Doctor starts making dinner as Craig talks about his feelings and lays the ground rules. Meanwhile, the TARDIS continues to phase in and out despite Amy’s best efforts.

That night, the Doctor contacts Amy through an scrambled earpiece that he’s wearing. They reason that the TARDIS cannot land due to the upstairs tenant’s actions, but the Doctor is unsure about what to do. After all, he can’t disclose who he is so he has to act like a normal human.

As another victim stumbles into the house, the Doctor and Amy note a localized time loop. The Doctor pops out for a few items to build a scanner. The next morning, the Doctor takes his time in the shower so Craig checks on the upstairs tenant. The Doctor rushes to the rescue with a towel and electronic toothbrush, but Craig is already safe. The Doctor meets Sophie and agrees to play football while hinting at Craig’s feelings.

It turns out that the Doctor, despite not knowing what football is at first, is a natural. Which does not please Craig at all.

The team celebrates their win and “The Oncoming Storm” agrees to play again in the future. Another localized time loop heralds another victim claimed by the upstairs tenant. The Doctor expresses a need to work faster on his scanner before Amy and the TARDIS are lost to the time vortex forever.

Craig and Sophie have a date night. While Craig tries to tell Sophie how he feels, the Doctor tries to figure out how to turn on a normal screwdriver. Sophie invites the Time Lord to join them, and the Doctor uses reverse psychology to inspire Sophie to aim higher in life than a call center job. Craig bids Sophie goodnight without making his move.

The Doctor fires up his scanner while Amy researches the history of the residence. Meanwhile, Craig fiddles with the spot of rot and ends up poisoned. The Doctor whips up a remedy and Craig sleeps while the Doctor substitutes for him at the call center. He rushes to work to find that the Doctor has pretty much taken over, so he heads back home. Also, Sophie plans to leave.

The Doctor returns to the house and gets some valuable intelligence from a cat. Craig confronts him over the last three days, so the Doctor gives him the telepathic primer on who he is and what he’s doing there. The Doctor knew to come to this house based on a note from Amy that she hasn’t written yet.

The cat reveals that the upstairs tenant has a time engine and is using humans to fuel it. Sophie is the current victim but the Doctor and Craig save her. They discover that the house never had a second story. The top floor is an alien spaceship shrouded in a perception filter and the artificial intelligence in charge chooses the Doctor as a suitable pilot.

Craig saves the Doctor by grabbing the activation control. He survives by focusing on what’s keeping him here, and when he reveals his feelings, Sophie joins him on the controls. They kiss as the ship initiates an emergency shutdown and implodes as Sophie, Craig, and the Doctor rush out.

The house is restored, the spot of rot is gone, and Craig and Sophie are hitting it off in grand fashion. The Doctor tries to sneak away, but the lovebirds catch him and offer him a permanent set of keys. As he wanders off, a crack in time manifests behind the fridge.

As the Doctor pilots the TARDIS back in time so Amy can leave her note, Amy searches his jacket for a red pen. Instead, she finds Rory’s wedding ring.


This companion-lite episode truly is filler. Don’t get me wrong, the episode is very funny and offers the not oft-repeated trope of the Doctor using native technology to solve the problem, but the stride forward in the Steven Moffat orchestrated story arc could have been made at the end of Vincent and the Doctor.

This episode does make a few callbacks, from the Van Gogh nods to the previous adventure to singing in the shower, Verdi’s La donna è mobile, The Oncoming Storm (a purely revival era construct seen thus far in The Parting of the WaysThe Girl in the FireplaceJourney’s End, and Amy’s Choice), a fondness for cats last seen in the Sixth Doctor‘s persona, a surprising talent for sports, and a look-alike for the Eighth Doctor’s console room.

But, yeah, overall this is a humorous throwaway to lead us into the finale.

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens and Doctor Who: The Big Bangcc-break

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Rabbit Rabbit – February 2021

Rabbit Rabbit
February 2021

Rabbit, rabbit!

Since at least 1909, a superstition has lived in North American and the United Kingdom that if a person says or repeats the word “rabbit” upon waking up on the first day of the month, good luck will follow for the remainder of that month.

Elements of the tradition exist in the United Kingdom, New England, and even in various First Nation cultures.

While I’m not necessarily endorsing the superstition, it provides a way to look in depth at each month of the year, from history and observances to miscellaneous trivia. The topic this month is February.

History

February comes from the Roman month Februarius, named after the Latin term februum, which translates to purification. A purification ritual called Lupercalia (dies Februatus) was held on the 15th of the month, coincident with the full moon, which used instruments called februa to avert evil spirits, purify the city, and release health and fertility.

January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period. It was the last month of the calendar year until the time of the decemvirs (around 450 BC), when it became the second month. It was at times truncated to 23 or 24 days, and a 27-day intercalary month called Intercalaris was occasionally inserted immediately after February to realign the year with the seasons.

Ancient February was full of holidays and observances that have no parallel in the modern Gregorian calendar. Along with Lupercalia, these included Amburbium (date unknown), Sementivae (February 2), Februa (February 13–15), Parentalia (February 13–22), Quirinalia (February 17), Feralia (February 21), Caristia (February 22), Terminalia (February 23), Regifugium (February 24), and Agonium Martiale (February 27).

When the Julian calendar came into existence, a leap day was inserted once every four years at the end of February. This tradition continued with minor changes as the Gregorian calendar took over.

Historical names for February include the Old English terms Solmonath (mud month) and Kale-monath (named for cabbage) as well as Charlemagne’s designation Hornung. In Finnish, the month is called helmikuu, meaning “month of the pearl” because when snow melts on tree branches, it forms droplets that look like pearls of ice when they freeze again. Similarly, in Polish and Ukrainian, the month is called luty or лютий (“lyutiy“), meaning the month of ice or hard frost.

In Macedonian the month is sechko (сечко), meaning month of cutting (typically wood), and in Slovene, February is traditionally called svečan, related to icicles or Candlemas. This comes from sičan, also svičan and sečan, meaning “the month of cutting down of trees”.

In Czech, it is called únor, meaning month of submerging (typically of river ice). Another Slovenian name was vesnar, after the mythological character Vesna.

Observances

In Canada and the United States, February is Black History Month (or African American History Month). This observance celebrates and educates people about the culture and history of the African diaspora.

The United States adds several other observances: American Heart Month, National Bird-Feeding Month, National Children’s Dental Health Month, and Turner Syndrome Awareness Month.

The United States also has several food related observances, including Be Kind to Food Servers Month (in the state of Tennessee), California Dried Plum Digestive Health Month, Hot Tea Month, National Soup Month, and Oatmeal Month.

On the international stage, the Season of Nonviolence runs from January 30th to April 4th.

Astronomically, February is full of meteor showers:

  • Alpha Centaurids (early February)
  • Beta Leonids, also known as the March Virginids (lasting from February 14 to April 25, peaking around March 20)
  • Delta Cancrids (appearing December 14 to February 14, peaking on January 17)
  • Omicron Centaurids (late January through February, peaking in mid-February)
  • Theta Centaurids (January 23 – March 12, only visible in the southern hemisphere)
  • Eta Virginids (February 24 and March 27, peaking around March 18)
  • Pi Virginids (February 13 and April 8, peaking between March 3 and March 9)

Trivia

  • February is the only month that can pass without a single full moon. This last happened in 2018 and will next happen in 2037.
  • February is the only month that can pass without a single new moon. This last happened in 2014 and will next happen in 2033.
  • February’s birthstone is the amethyst. It symbolizes piety, humility, spiritual wisdom, and sincerity.
  • The western zodiac signs of February were Aquarius (until February 18, 2020) and Pisces (February 19, 2020 onwards). In 2021 they will shift to 17–18 due to the leap day in 2020.
  • The month’s birth flowers are the violet, the common primrose, and the Iris.

Rabbit Rabbit is a project designed to look at each month of the year with respect to history, observances, and more.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #217: Vincent and the Doctor

Doctor Who: Vincent and the Doctor
(1 episode, s05e10, 2010)

Timestamp 217 Vincent and the Doctor

Demons take their toll.

The Doctor and Amy visit the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The Doctor is being very nice to Amy to distract her from something she doesn’t quite remember. While Doctor Henry Black leads a tour of the Vincent van Gogh exhibit, the Doctor spots something evil in The Church at Auvers. The Doctor gets the exact date that the painting was created, compliments the doctor on his bow tie, and drags Amy to the TARDIS.

The TARDIS materializes in Auvers-sur-Oise where the travelers find van Gogh at a café. Apparently the artist is a cheapskate drunkard whose talent is ill-regarded. Amy defuses the situation by offering to buy a bottle of wine and share it with him. When the Doctor introduces himself, van Gogh mistakes him for a medical professional sent by his brother to help. They trade small talk until a woman’s scream draws them to a young woman’s murder scene. The distraught mother throws stones at van Gogh, calling him a madman and driving the trio away. They all retire to van Gogh’s residence for the night.

Vincent thinks that no one sees any value in his work, but Amy is starstruck. Vincent believes that there is so much more than what the normal eye can see, and having travelled throughout all of time and space, the Doctor says that he doesn’t need to be told. Some time later, Vincent is high on coffee and the Doctor offers to make some tea before they hear Amy scream. They investigate and are attacked by a creature that only Vincent can see.

He later sketches the beast for the Doctor, who then takes the picture back to the TARDIS, all the while stalked by the creature. He feeds the image into a portable device, but doesn’t have any luck until he takes it outside and captures the creature’s reflection. Identified as a Krafayis, the beast chases the Doctor through town.

Once he loses the Krafayis, the Doctor is shockingly reunited with Amy and they return to van Gogh’s home. After a gracious gift of sunflowers, the Doctor tells his companions about the Krafayis and they plot to paint the church in order to lure the creature.

After some waiting, the Doctor checks on Vincent. The artist is lying in bed, sobbing, distraught that the Doctor and Amy are prepared to leave him. The Doctor tries to console him but Vincent turns violent. The Doctor and Amy realize that van Gogh’s suicide is only months away, but as they prepare to execute the plan themselves, Vincent is ready to go.

As they walk to the church, Vincent asks Amy why she’s sad. Amy denies being sad, but Vincent notes that she’s crying, almost as if she’s recently lost someone. They watch the funeral procession for the girl, then carry on to the church where Vincent begins to work. When Vincent spots the Krafayis, the Doctor takes the identification device, his sonic, and a bit of confidence into the church.

Despite being told to stay behind, Amy rushes into the church as the Doctor is attacked. They hide together in a confessional, but since the Krafayis has fantastic hearing, it finds them in short order. Vincent distracts the creature and they all escape. The Krafayis chases them into another chamber, and while the Doctor and Amy hold the door, Vincent rushes off with a plan of his own. The Doctor tries to talk to the Krafayis, but it’s not interested in discussion. As the Krafayis circles the room, the Doctor realizes that it is blind. When it charges, Vincent inadvertently impales it with his easel.

As the Krafayis lays dying, Vincent is sorry and the Doctor comforts it. Vincent realizes the parallels between the creature and himself, and the Doctor remarks that sometimes winning is no fun at all.

The trio later lay under the stars as Vincent muses about the Starry Night. The next morning, the Doctor and Amy say farewell. Vincent admits that, despite his experiences over the last couple of days, he won’t do well on his own. Before they leave, the Doctor invites Vincent to join him for a short trip.

They return to the TARDIS, now covered in handbills, and Vincent has one extraordinary bigger-on-the-inside moment. They take him to the modern day and the Musée d’Orsay where Vincent is astounded by the art all around him.

The truly beautiful moment is when he enters the exhibit of his own works. Speechless, he takes it all in as the Doctor asks Doctor Black about his opinion of van Gogh. The words tear Vincent’s emotions open as he realizes his impact on history. The Doctor comforts Vincent, and the artist thanks Doctor Black for the moment.

They return Vincent to his own time. Vincent teases Amy about marriage, but Amy claims not to be the marrying kind. The TARDIS dematerializes as a happy Vincent walks away. The travelers return to the Musée d’Orsay, but they find that nothing has changed.

Vincent van Gogh still committed suicide. His portfolio is still the same.

Well, almost the same. The church no longer houses the Krafayis, and the famous sunflower painting is dedicated to someone special.

“For Amy, Vincent.”


For Doctor Who‘s first real venture into the topic of mental health, they hit the mark on many levels for every main character.

For Amy, we see the theme of repressed memories. She lost her fiancé to the mysterious crack on the last adventure, and the Doctor’s been spending his time trying to balance that big bad thing with a handful of good things, including Arcadia and the Trojan Gardens. This trip adds to that pile of good things by introducing Amy to Vincent van Gogh, over whom she fangirls like she’s never fangirled before.

The discussion about her mourning Rory is poetic, particularly with the idea that Vincent can see her pain. She doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but you can tell that it’s gnawing at her. That’s going to take its toll.

For the Doctor, we see the reminder that he cannot fix or solve everything. The Krafayis seemed like a terrible menace, but in the end we discovered that it was afraid because it was blind and abandoned. Similarly, his admirable efforts with both Vincent and Amy did not solve their problems. It reminds me of Doctor Who and the Silurians.

For Vincent, we get a beautiful story about personal demons, as well as the reminder that one good day doesn’t solve mental illness. The former is obvious: Vincent confronts his illness, eschews the Doctor’s ham-handed attempts to rouse him from bed, then confronts the Krafayis. Defeating that demon cost him with both sorrow and the departure of his new friends, and no amount of good things could stop the bad thing that lay on Vincent’s path.

Thus, we get the moral of the story in an excellent quote from the Doctor:

The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things.

Mental illness and trauma can’t just be wished away. Even if the Doctor couldn’t quite wrap his head around the idea, Doctor Who did an admirable job in exploring it in a tearjerker of an episode.

There are some smaller notes to look at as well. I was amused about the Doctor’s impatience with the normal passage of time. I was also amused by the recurring revival-era theme of historical figures being infatuated by the travelers (The Shakespeare CodeThe Girl in the Fireplace). Finally, I loved the sequence with van Gogh’s Starry Night, particularly how it placed us into his headspace to build the art.

Oh, yeah… I also learned how to say “van Gogh” in multiple regional ways. Special thanks to the Grammarphobia blog for their advice.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Lodger

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #216: The Hungry Earth & Cold Blood

Doctor Who: The Hungry Earth
Doctor Who: Cold Blood
(2 episodes, s05e08-09, 2010)

Timestamp 216 Hungry Earth Cold Blood

Time travel can be cruel.

The Hungry Earth

In the year 2020, a team led by Dr. Nasreen Chaudhry is engaged in the deepest drilling project in history. This is taking place in Cwmtaff, Wales, and they’re seeking minerals that have appeared recently but haven’t been seen on Earth of over twenty million years.

Mo Northover, the night watchman at the site, heads to work only to be greeted by an earthquake. When his security monitors cut out, he investigates and finds a hole in the floor of the storage area. When it seals up, he reaches through the seal and is dragged inside.

The Doctor, Amy, and Rory land in Cwmtaff shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, they were aiming for Rio de Janeiro. The Doctor is fascinated by the local flora, and Amy spots a version of Amy and Rory from ten years in the future. The Doctor is intrigued by the ground feeling wrong, so he sets out for the nearby mining operation. Rory returns Amy’s ring to the TARDIS and encounters Ambrose and Elliot, Mo Northover’s family. They mistake him for a police officer and ask him to investigate the supposed vandalism of their family plot. One of her deceased relatives has been taken, coffin, body, and all.

The Doctor and Amy arrive at the mining facility where they meet Dr. Chaudhry and Ambrose’s father, Tony Mack. Suddenly, the floor starts to give way and Amy partially falls into one of the holes. The Doctor orders the drilling to stop while he holds on to Amy’s hand. Unfortunately, she slips beneath the surface. The Doctor determines that the earth was bio-programmed to attack when it perceives a threat. He also hears evidence that another drill is at work underground. The minerals and grass were warnings to stay away, and while the team was drilling down, something else was drilling up.

Something is coming now and has erected a forcefield dome over the village.

Rory and Elliot investigate the gravesite. Elliot presumes that the coffin was taken from underneath. They find the Doctor when the dome goes up, and Rory is distraught to learn about Amy’s fate. Ambrose also learns about her husband’s fate as the team move to a nearby church and set up a security network around the village to monitor whatever is coming.

The Doctor also makes inroads with Elliot by trusting the dyslexic boy to make a map of the village.

The attack begins with the dome cutting off all light from the outside world. The electricity is knocked out, disabling the security network. Elliot, who had left to find his headphones, is chased and captured by a reptilian being. The group rushes outside to find him and Ambrose finds his headphones. She is attacked by the being, and when Tony tries to save her, the creature stings him with a venomous tongue. The Doctor sends Ambrose, Tony, and Rory back to the church while he hunts the being with special infrared sunglasses.

He knows who they are.

He and Rory set a trap and capture it, prompting the rest of the intruders to retreat.

Amy awakens in a transparent coffin-like box. She is soon knocked unconscious by gas. Meanwhile, the Doctor talks to his prisoner, identifying her as a Silurian. Her name is Alaya, and he admits that he’s tried to broker peace between humanity and her species numerous times, but has failed mostly due to humanity being uncompromising. Alaya is set on war with humanity, so the Doctor returns to the church to declare his intent to go to the Silurian tribe’s home and negotiate directly with them.

When Tony suggests dissecting Alaya, the Doctor refuses. If they want their loved ones back safely, Alaya must be unharmed. Nasreen asks to go with him, and he refuses at first but finally relents. Her “bigger on the inside” moment in the TARDIS is short-lived, however, when the Silurians drag the ship beneath the surface.

Amy wakes up on a surgical table. Mo is on the table beside hers and warns her that she will be dissected while still alive. Elsewhere, Nasreen and the Doctor find an underground Silurian civilization stretching for miles.

Cold Blood

A Silurian tells the story of how he remembers when he met the Doctor 1000 years ago and the losses that the Time Lord suffered because of the failed attempt to negotiate peace.

The Doctor and Nasreen investigate the Silurian city and trip a security alarm. They are greeted by Silurian warriors who knock them unconscious. Luckily, the security alarm stops the physician from dissecting Amy and she’s able to pickpocket a device to set her and Mo free. They find Elliot in some kind of pod with monitors attached. Amy convinces Mo to keep moving, promising that they’ll get him out.

The Doctor and Nasreen are strapped to surgical tables and decontaminated, causing the Doctor to yell in pain. The process is overseen by Commander Restac, a Silurian who is related to the missing Alaya. The Doctor convinces them to stop the decontamination process since it will kill him. He then discusses terms with Restac as he learns that the drill was destroying the oxygen pockets above the city. Restac decides that instead of negotiating, she’ll execute the intruders instead.

Amy and Mo find two warriors in suspended animation. They take their weapons and stumble across an army. In the church above, Ambrose learns about the poison running through Tony’s veins and starts to treat him. She demands an antidote from Alaya and attacks her with a stun gun. Rory tries to prevent Alaya from dying, but he is unsuccessful. Ambrose is remorseful.

The Doctor tells Nasreen about the history of the Silurians. Restac is surprised, but furious after she learns how humans have killed her kind in the past. When they reach the courtroom, Amy and Mo arrive but are soon disarmed. Restac dismisses Malohkeh and prepares to execute the prisoners. She contacts the humans above to negotiate for Alaya. When she’s unsuccessful, she threatens to execute Amy, but is stopped by Eldane.

Eldane is the Silurian leader, awakened by Malohkeh to stop Restac’s brash actions. The prisoners are freed and the Doctor negotiates a peace, asking the humans above to come down with Alaya. While the Doctor negotiates this temporal tipping point and appoints Nasreen and Amy as ambassadors, Ambrose encourages Tony to reactivate the drill on a timer in case things go wrong.

Mo is reunited with Elliot and the Doctor learns that Malohkeh has been researching humans for a long time. The Doctor apologizes to Elliot, and as they return to the negotiating table, Malohkeh investigates the opening of the cryo-storage facilities. Restac has been awakening the warriors. When Malohkeh discovers this, Restac kills him.

The humans arrive and share their bad news. The Doctor tries to patch things but Ambrose is defiant. At that moment, Restac arrives and finds out what happened. Ambrose reveals that the drill is set and Restac orders her troops to open fire. The humans run with Eldane and end up cornered in a laboratory. The venom in Tony’s blood is reprogramming his DNA, the Doctor and Nasreen develop a plan to destroy the drill, and Eldane decides to use a toxic fumigation to stop Restac’s coup.

The Doctor asks Eldane to set his hibernation chambers to awaken everyone in 1000 years, and then asks the humans to spread the word as religion or rumor. Tony decides to stay behind when he learns the Silurians can cure his wound. Nasreen also opts to remain with Tony, thanking the Doctor for helping her fulfill her dream of seeing the Earth. They will awaken with the Silurians in 1000 years. Everyone else runs for the TARDIS.

When they reach the TARDIS, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory spot another crack in time. The Doctor reaches into the crack and pulls back a piece of shrapnel from the temporal explosion. Restac crawls onto the scene and takes aim on the Doctor, but Rory jumps in front of the blast and dies.

Amy is frantic but the Doctor has no choice but to leave. The crack absorbs Rory and as the Doctor starts the TARDIS into motion, he pleads with Amy to remember Rory before he’s erased from time. She tries, but the TARDIS is jostled as it lands and her concentration is broken. Everyone on the TARDIS rushes outside just in time to see the drill destroyed.

The Doctor tells Ambrose to make up for her actions by raising Elliot to be the best of humanity. The Doctor and Amy return to the TARDIS, and Amy waves at future Amy across the way. She thought she spotted someone else but cannot be sure. As Amy enters the TARDIS, the Doctor takes a look at the shrapnel he pulled from the crack.

It’s a piece of the TARDIS.


This story took the whole ride, from humor and lightheartedness as the Doctor screws up yet another beach trip, to the excitement of revisiting a classic enemy, to the absolute tragedy of killing a companion.

Not just killing a companion, but erasing them from all existence. It was brutal and Amy’s reaction was gut-wrenching. Rory joins Katarina, Sara Kingdom, Adric, Kamelion, K-9, Astrid Peth, Adelaide Brooke, and River Song in an elite and morbid club. Of course, we had to know it was coming as soon as the Doctor emphasizes that the negotiations were a temporal tipping point instead of a fixed point. It also gives a bit of hope that Rory will return somehow.

(Yes, I know he will.)

The return of the Silurians was a welcome touch, especially since we haven’t seen them since 1984, as was the direct nod to the Doctor’s previous attempts to negotiate peace between them and humans. With Doctor Who and the SiluriansThe Sea Devils, and Warriors of the Deep, the Doctor has tried (and failed) to broker peace.

The costuming was superb, echoing back to the armor and net-like garb of previous Silurian appearances. Even more impressive was actress Neve McIntosh and her double-duty performance as both Alaya and Restac. Both characters were unique in appearance and (most importantly) personality. She was magnificent.

The Matt Smith era also continues its tradition of recycling plot points and calling back to franchise touchpoints: the earth was also hungry in Frontios; mining and drilling were critical in both Inferno and The Green Death; the Master used an energy barrier to cutoff a village in The Dæmons; Rory unknowingly duplicated Jenny’s sacrifice in The Doctor’s Daughter; the gravity bubble returned from Victory of the Daleks; the Silurians used the heat ray weapons from Warriors of the Deep; and the Fifth Doctor also called celery an “excellent restorative” in The Caves of Androzani.

The message of this story is also important. We should all aspire to be the best humanity has to offer.

Also, spread the word. As of last year, the Silurians will return in the next millennium.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Vincent and the Doctor

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.