This week’s episode is 'Part 2' of the ‘Silurians’ story written by Torchwood and Life on Mars writer, Chris Chibnall.
In part 1, the Doctor, Amy and Rory took a wrong turn on their way to Rio and ended up in the small Welsh village of Cwmtaff, circa space-year 2020. Last week we were left with Amy about to get dissected by a curious Silurian, the Doctor and Nasreen looking out over a sleeping invasion army and Rory left with the important task of keeping a lizard person alive.
The episode opened with an interesting voice-over which explained: “This was the story of our planet - Earth”. “A Day a thousand years past where we came to share it with a race known as 'humanity'.” “It is the story of the Doctor, who helped us find common ground and the terrible losses he suffered.” “It is the story of our past, and must never be forgotten”. This was an interesting way to start the episode, if you didn't miss it (like I did on first viewing) then it might add some weight of historical importance to the events in the episode. This might not be the standard 'rescue the assistant and get the hell out of there' episode – which the first episode set-up. Also the “terrible losses” is ominous, wonder what it means.
So after that brief, and unexpected, voice-over, we are back with the Doctor and Nasreen as they march their way right up to the front door of the Silurian city. Here they trip an alarm and are quickly gassed and captured by some Lizards. Amy isn't having much more fun, after the Lizard questions her choice of clothing and is just about to stick the knife in, he gets called to somewhere else to decontaminate the new prisoners. Convenient.
After a brief check-in top-side with Rory and an increasingly anxious Ambrose, we go back to the Doctor and Nasreen. They are now strapped down, so the the Lizard Doctor can give them the once over and clean out the pesky 'Alien' germs from the human germs. This is bad news for the Doctor is who mostly Alien germs. He starts screaming (note: Matt Smith can't do screaming too well) so the Lizard Doctor stops the procedure. The sister of Alaya (Restac) is not a fan of monkeys so tells Doc to finish him off. Since he ignores her, she questions the Doctor as to where the rest of his invasion force is. He tells her that he's just there to get his people back and to trade them for Alaya. Not 100% on that deal, instead of negotiating (Lizards can't negotiate too well) she decides to just take the Doctor to the judgement chamber and execute him.
Up on the Earth things are getting bad for Alaya (or not, as she seems to welcome death if it will start a war). Ambrose goes down to the basement to try and reason with the lizard, and to maybe bargain it's life for her families. Again, Alaya's crappy Lizard negotiating skills let her down. So, now holding a stun gun, Ambrose gives Alaya a little zap. Alaya screams and then begins taunting Ambrose some more. So she gives her another zap and some-how Alaya is killed. If that's all it takes to kill one of those things then an invasion wouldn't be that bad. Give everyone a taser and/or a clown's 'shock hand shake' thing... and it's curtains for all the lizard folk. Let's hope they never encounter 'man-made' fibre while wearing rubber soled boots.
Now escaped, Amy, and the still alive Mo, go for a wander, they find Mo's kid but they leave him because he seems kind of alive. Then they find some hibernating lizards, Amy and Mo take the guns they are holding and move on. After walking some more they too find the invasion army area, they keep walking some more and then get to the Judgement chamber. Luckily this is just in time to point their new gun looking things at the Lizard folks, who are holding the Doctor and Nasreen. Very convenient. Amy and Mo have no idea how to use the plunger guns so naturally they are captured as well. The Doctor seems pleased with this for some reason.
Putting them all on the chopping block, Restac turns to a computer and taps into a random monitor lying on the floor of the basement the other lot are hiding in. How convenient. Ambrose does not tell Restac that Alaya is dead, but does demand that everyone is freed. Weirdly this doesn't work, so Restac just decides to kill everyone. Then, conveniently, just in time a new character arrives, it seems the Lizard Doctor wasn't that impressed by Restac so decided to wake up the Silurian leader “Eldane”. He quickly dismisses Restac and all the problems are over and everyone goes home.
Of course that didn't happen. That would be too convenient and we can't have that. The Doctor decides that this is a prime opportunity to use some of his diplomatic skills and tasks Amy and Nasreen with talking with Eldane to broker a peace between the species. Quite how the rest of the human race will all end up agreeing with this deal is a mystery, but that doesn't seem to phase the Doctor. So they chat and Amy and Nasreen decide to give the Silurians all the crappy bits of the planet in exchange for all the Silurians technology. Which is fine by Eldane, he isn't the best negotiator. It's probably because he is a lizard.
This is all going great until Restac gets together some of her army and Ambrose comes down to the city with the dead body of Alaya. As a backup plan she sets the drill for a collision course with the Silurian city where her family is, clever girl. All this comes to a head, but it soon all gets conveniently sorted. People decide to stay with the Lizards, Lizards die, Lizards go back to sleep, the drill gets blown up, Rory gets shot. Oh yeah, Rory was shot.
Conveniently, right next to the Tardis, just as they are about to leave, the Doctor, Rory and Amy notice another time crack. The Doctor realised that, where there's an explosion there's shrapnel. He puts his arm in the crack and pulls out something. Just as they are about to leave again, Restnac conveniently arrives. In her dying breath she fires at the Doctor with her plunger gun. Brave Rory dives in front of him and takes the hit. He dies. The Doctor sees that the time crack is expanding so pulls the crying Amy away from Rory as the light from the crack starts to take him, deleting him from all of time. Now in the safety of the Tardis, Amy starts to forget Rory, so the Doctor tries to make her remember. Then the Tardis lands topside, jolts her and she loses her memories. The Doctor is upset for her. That just leaves that Shaprel, the Doctor opens the handkerchief that the sharpnel was in, it's part of the Tardis... :O
This episode was a bit of a mixed bag for me. While it felt kind of enjoyable, and there was some good action in there, looking back on with a second viewing, the story wasn't that great. I liked where the first episode was going, the evil creatures from beneath the Earth couldn't be reasoned with and just wanted their planet back. They had just as much a right to it as the humans, so the Doctor had to sort out this moral conundrum. But in the end the episode took a much easier route. The evil lizards we had met in the first episode were dismissed as mere, 'power crazed military personnel'. That gave the second episode a fractured feeling, they dumped in new characters, a convenient voice-over and removed most of the peril instilled in the first episode. The lizard doctor was not what we were lead to believe and Eldane might as well have been a human in a mask who had infiltrated lizard society. Which would have been an interesting twist.
Then there's the Ambrose and Tony characters. They were fairly well built up in the first episode. But here they were sidelined and driven off a cliff. When they decided to turn the drill back on it was far too convenient. It didn't feel quite right that she would want to do that, she was going to the same place as the drill after all. But it was even more bizarre that Tony went along with it. He was angered at Ambrose's actions mere minutes before-hand, there was no reason for him to do this. Then Nasreen chose to stay with Tony and ignore the fact that he tried to kill them all just a few minutes earlier. None of this part of the episode worked for me. Overall the pay-off for the Silurain story was weak - subtlety, character progression and believably went out the window.
The very end of the episode was a bit better. After they had dispensed with the Lizard stuff, the plot of the season kicked back in. Here Rory's death was unexpected and Gillan did a great job at conveying the grief she felt, only to have it removed a moment later. Matt Smith topped off her work well by showing how upset he was for her. However there is a problem with this moment. While Rory had some great work to do in the last few episodes, and his character was slowly growing; this week, the episode where they killed him off, he had very little to do and wasn't around for most of the time! Since his death was kind of important, to Amy at least, you would expect him to have more of a role the episode where he dies. The episode should have built to that rather than tacked it on and have him randomly shot. Sadly, for most viewers, he will be remembered for about as long as Amy remembered him. It's a shame he's gone, I think his clueless nature and fear for what is going on around him could have made him a good companion. Maybe a 'Xander Harris' type of character for Doctor Who. Perhaps he'll come back towards the end of the season. Time will tell.
Next week the Doctor and Amy visit Vincent Van Gogh, no doubt because there's aliens bothering him.