Who Review: The Power of Three
This week’s story was very much an Amy-Rory-centric story, which is only to be expected since they’ll be leaving us on Saturday. The idea behind Chris Chibnall’s tale was to look at the Doctor’s intrusion into Rory and Amy’s life from their point of view. So there’s lots of time spent on Earth, and we even get to see Rory in action at the hospital.
Strange, small, black cubes are appearing all over the world. They seem to do nothing, and, even after close analysis, no-one can figure out what they are and what function they perform. Even the Doctor is baffled. And his old friends, U.N.I.T., are similarly perplexed. So people go about their lives, using the boxes for decoration, to prop things up, as art pieces. Until one day, they start to move…
Meanwhile, Rory and Amy have had time apart from the Doctor, and are finding normal life to be quite enjoyable, actually. They can make plans, and expect to fulfill them! But will they be able to resist the call of the TARDIS when the Doctor comes to stay?
SPOILER ALERT!! My comments may (and likely will) contain spoilers for those that haven’t seen the episode. If you want to stay spoiler-free, please watch the story before you continue reading!
I thought the premise to this story was really interesting, perhaps one of the most original ideas for a Doctor Who story in a while. Innocuous cubes scattered all over the world, left for days, weeks, months, gradually being accepted by people as they ignore the lifeless objects and carry on with life. Of course, the catch is that they’re not doing nothing. They are, in fact, patiently observing Earth, humans, human systems, and so on. They were designed to be left alone so they could monitor the Earth unhindered. And once they’ve collected all the data they can gather about humanity, they plan to use it to take over.
Alongside this, we have the story of Rory and Amy, and their attempt to live a normal life. What I found interesting are the time lapses in their story. This adventure is supposed to take place ten years after Amy’s first ride in the TARDIS. We are supposed to understand that months go by where they don’t see the Doctor. Part of the point is that the Doctor keeps coming back to them, because he genuinely enjoys having Amy and Rory around. Again, this is clearly anticipating Saturday’s episode. Aside from giving the fans a lot of leeway to write fan fiction, I wonder why it’s important to note the great lengths of time the Doctor is away. Is this simply to say that the Doctor misses them when he’s off on his own? Or is there something more to this? Possibly not. But part of me also tries to wrap its head around the idea of a Time Lord jumping ahead in their lives. Why come back a month later, when he could return a minute after he left? In the classic series, this would be accounted for by the Doctor’s inability to make the TARDIS land predictably. That doesn’t seem to be much of an issue anymore. Anyway–wibbly wobbly timey wimey…
Did you notice the clever play on words? What’s the power of three? A cube! And, as the Doctor points out, in reference to himself, Amy, and Rory, you should never underestimate the power of three. (Note also Ecclesiastes 4:12! Yeah, I just had to throw that in, didn’t I…)
I have two problems with this story. One small problem, and one big problem. The small one has to do with the “I’m bored” sequence, where the Doctor cleans the house, paints a fence, etc. Okay, light humor, make the kids laugh, etc. But it seemed so out-of-place. Too frivolous. This is Doctor Who, not Benny Hill. Please remember that, guys. The big problem was the ending. Such a great story, with so much potential… and the Doctor fixes everything with a wave of his sonic screwdriver. This is exactly why John Nathan-Turner destroyed the sonic screwdriver in 1982! I’m a big fan of the device, but as Russell T. Davies says, its function is not to let minor problems (e.g., a locked door, an uncooperative computer, etc.) get in the way of the story. It shouldn’t ever solve the problem. Not like that. It seemed to me as if Chibnall suddenly realized he was 40 minutes into the story and he had to wrap things up quickly. Yet this would have made an EXCELLENT part one of a two-part Autumn finale. Perhaps I’m jumping the gun, and Saturday’s story will be related. The fix didn’t really work, and somehow the Weeping Angels are behind the boxes… I can only hope.
To sum up, a really good story, let down by a bit of silliness, and a rushed ending. I still enjoyed it, though. Such is Doctor Who!