REVIEW: Doctor Who - "Day of the Moon"
Last night, Steven Moffat brought his two-part opener to series six of Doctor Who to a close, and what a close it was! I’ll get to that ending soon enough, but first off, here’s my review of “Day of the Moon”. I’ll try to keep it spoiler-light, but there a few parts of the episode I want to dig into, so I can’t guarantee anything!
It was a great idea to pick up the action 3 months after the end of the last episode. It helped enforce the idea that the Silence are not an enemy who can be easily removed from the planet – it all gets back to the fact that they’ve been here since the beginning of human history. Question: if the Silence have been here that long, were they wearing those suits the whole time? Somehow, the idea of them wearing animal skins like the early humans is a bit of a buzzkill, but whatever…
I know I spent a lot of my last DW post talking about the Silence (or is it The Silent, like in the end credits?), but I find many episodes of this show are defined by the enemies the Doctor faces, so I’ll share a few more of my thoughts on these baddies.
Having them hang from the ceiling in the orphanage like bats or vampires was an interesting touch – just one more thing that makes them super creepy. The idea for the companions to make black marks on themselves whenever they saw a Silent was also suitably spooky: it tied in well with the scenes where they are being chased by government officials, making them look insane and desperate.
They used a different technique for approaching the Silence’s powers this episode, one that I thought really expanded well on the memory wipes from last episode. This was especially noticeable when Amy was in the orphanage bedroom by herself, and she suddenly saw the marks on her arms and face, and heard the message saved on her biometric implant. Last time, the audience were third-person observers: we saw the characters experience a Silence sighting, then promptly forget it. This time the audience was brought into the perspective of the character; we do not see the Silence, but the signs of a sighting just appear. It’s like the memory wipe has been extended to the audience, and we begin to feel just as freaked out as the character.
This storytelling technique has a really cool side-effect that ties into the premise of the show: when the sightings of the Silence are “hidden” like they are in this episode, it’s like the character and audience experience a bit of personal time travel without the TARDIS. One moment, we know the Silence are not present, and the next, we have seemingly travelled through time, "waking up" on the other side of a Silence sighting. In a show already known for complex time-travel plots, this technique adds a whole new layer of awesome to the mix.
There were also some great character-based moments in this episode, usually involving the witty banter we expect from Doctor Who. Rory’s insecurity around the Doctor is getting a bit hard to believe, but I’m willing to wait for it to go somewhere. The kiss between the Doctor and River Song was predictable, but hilarious, especially with the Doctor awkwardly waving his arms. The only thing that I didn’t like in this episode was the climax, where the Doctor had seemingly found a way to resist the Silence’s memory wipes. I might have missed something, but I can’t remember him explaining that. Other than that, this was a nearly perfect episode.
Before I get to my star rating for the episode, I’ll touch on the ending. It was…wow. As I mentioned, I’m still new to Doctor Who, but even I appreciated what was happening there. I think the scenes in the orphanage with Amy and the indecisive scanner in the TARDIS were a bit of a red herring – I don’t think the explanation for that ending is quite as straightforward as it may seem. I’m sure it will fuel some intense speculation amongst fans for a while.
This episode gets three and a half stars out of four for some great storytelling and fun character bits, especially the really interesting “time travel” effect of the Silence memory wipes. It just missed out on a perfect score with that climactic shootout with the Silence, which I felt was a bit rushed and not adequately set up. Other than that, it was great fun, and I look forward to next week’s episode and the inevitable review here on Professionally Incoherent!