S06E04: Now THIS is one hell of a one-off episode of Doctor Who. Written by the incredible Neil Gaiman, The Doctor’s Wife was originally slated to run last year, but due to budget cuts it was bumped to this season. At first I was skeptical, how could an episode titled The Doctor’s WIFE just be shuffled around willy-nilly (quite similar to timey-wimey, don’tcha know)? We’re going to meet his wife! But then I saw the episode and it made complete sense. This episode could’ve gone at anytime, though I am glad they saved it for this, shaping up to be, incredible season. And we do meet the Doctor’s wife, his companion through all his adventures, the one person who has been with him for all seven hundred years of running, his tried and true support system, spoilers sweetie, his TARDIS.
“Biting’s excellent. It’s just like kissing only there’s a winner.” – Sexy
Before we really get into it, let me take off this Nerd Hat and examine the episode objectively. If you are just tuning into Doctor Who you might not get the full significance of seeing the TARDIS personified. Also if you’re not exactly tuned into nerd culture you might not find joy in the simple fact that this was written by Neil Gaiman. So yes, this episode pandered to the more die-hard fans since nearly every line had most of the 40-plus years behind it. But there were still some great, funny lines that one would find hilarious whether they knew what the TARDIS stood for before it was said. And seeing Amy get terrified by an exponentially aging Rory? Yeah, that’s terrifying whether you’ve seen the show or not.
But now the Nerd Hat is firmly back on and it’s time to geek out. This episode is definitely going to go down as a classic Who episode for fans. Why? The TARDIS was personified and it was written by Neil Gaiman. Who has had a long history of attracting great British sci-fi writers (Douglas Adams to name the most well known) and I believe The Doctor’s Wife can go right along there with Adams’ City of Death. Had this not been written by Gaiman though, it would still be a classic. Personifying the TARDIS so the Doctor can finally speak to her? Absolutely brilliant. That’s the kind of idea you see and smack your head while repeatedly cursing to yourself “Why didn’t I think of that? It’s so simple and brilliant!” At least that’s what I did and why Gaiman is married to a rock star chick.
Anyway, the Doctor gets a Time Lord email through a rift in the universe (anyone else think the rift looks like Amy’s crack?…that came out wrong) and so they go zooming through and land on an asteroid that’s actually a sea urchin voiced by a modified Michael Sheen. Why they hire a superstar actor to voice said Sea Urchin Asteroid and then lower his pitch to an unrecognizable level is beyond me. It turns out the Sea Urchin Asteroid actually eats Time Lords and TARDISes and with the Doctor being the last Time Lord with the last TARDIS, the Sea Urchin Asteroid removes the TARIDS matrix (the soul of the ship) and takes up residence. With Amy and Rory locked inside. But more on that later.
But where did the matrix go? Into the body of Helena Bonham Carter-lite (I kid, mostly, Suranne Jones actually gives a remarkable performance though it was quite obvious that she was channeling HBC like whoa. Jones is a great British television actress and seems to be a way better looking HBC). And that’s when things get wonderful. It takes a wonderful writer like Gaiman to give Sexy (though I can’t really see a Doctor like Tom Baker calling the TARDIS Sexy, I’ll let it slide for Matt Smith) a line like “Are they all like this? Bigger on the inside?” and completely flip it around from 40-plus years of hearing it. The Doctor finally gets to demand why she never takes them to where he wants and she finally gets to answer that she takes him where he needs. All in all it was quite wonderful watching the Doctor finally get a chance to interact with the TARDIS like he has never interacted before.
“I’ve been looking for a word. A big complicated word, so sad. I’ve found it now. Alive. I’m alive.” – Sexy
“Alive isn’t sad.” – The Doctor
“It is when it’s over.” – Sexy
Ah, but Amy and Rory are in trouble. After some quick thinking by Rory (way to go Rory!), the Sea Urchin Asteroid decides to play with them as they run around the TARDIS. Now, again, I’m no expert on the classic Who but I believe this is the first time we’ve seen the TARDIS beyond the central control room? Either way, it was quite boring, but I think that was the point. Amy and Rory get separated, which causes Amy to find Rory at different points. At first it’s just a few hours and Rory seems relieved. But after getting separated again she finds him after he’s waited ANOTHER two thousand years. And this time he’s pissed. She manages to run away but then finds him dead, rotted away with scribbles on the way saying he hates her and wishes she would die. It was absolutely terrifying (Rory doesn’t actually think that, it was just in those two thousand years something came and hurt him each night. That’s enough to drive any man insane). But then the Doctor and Sexy show up.
How’d they do that? Well the Doctor built a functioning TARDIS out of the remnants of the discarded corpses of the eaten TARDISes. Sexy gives it the proper weight, as they are her sisters, but they manage to use some spit and gumption and wind up on the deck of Ten’s TARDIS. Then the Doctor uses some clever fail-safes and they wind up back on their deck. And since the matrix of TARDIS would burn through living flesh (which she does), Sexy dies. It was a really powerful scene considering we were literally rooting for some glowing yellow dust to change the lights on set from green to amber, but that’s the power of Who. Then we get to see the Doctor as sad as he’s ever been since, well, Ten’s death. It was such an emotional scene and while I wish we could’ve had more time with Sexy, we do have more adventures to get into and besides she is a ship after all. And one thing I was really glad to find out was the TARDIS is locked on mental passwords. So you don’t have to say the words, you have to think of their meaning. It’s quite clever and could possibly explain how the Doctor can fly the ship and basically fuddle withe controls at random.
Onto the conspiracies of next week! Honestly, I can’t exactly tell what next week is bringing besides something really creepy. It doesn’t really look like a something that while have any impact on the season long arc despite Eye Patch Lady making a rare appearance (probably to remind people of her existence since she didn’t show up this week). So let’s look at Sexy’s last words (her playing with what people will say was another bout of brilliant writing). Sexy muttered to Rory “The only water in the forest is the river.” What does this mean? Well obviously we should think it has something to do with River, but an interesting thought occurred to me that never really occurred before. Amy’s last name is POND, another water based body. Could it be that Amy steps in for whatever crime Rive eventually commits? It’s an interesting connection and considering we’re working with Steven Moffat, it’s not a coincidence. Unfortunately, we’re almost at the halfway point of the season and they’ve been teasing us that it’s going to end on one hell of a cliffhanger. And I can’t wait.