‘Hear’ be spoilers…
I like a bit of writing like this. It bats you around the head with its cleverness, it’s self-referential, and even didactic. That’s not a bad idea sometimes, as it means we get a lesson in time travel, and we know what’s at stake, because we’ve dealt with The Doctor messing about with timelines like this before, with Rose and her Dad (ok she did the messing in Father’s Day) and on Mars (Water of Mars – which also featured a Flood).
So, we get a prologue explaining what the lesson will be because too often, the audience must accept what happens, tra la, la, la, something, sciency-sounding something, sonic, plus McGuffin. This time we get the definition of how, with the Bootstrap Paradox, even if we – and The Doctor – don’t understand the motivations of the string pullers behind it all, or even ‘who’ they are. And look, I’ve linked to a definition of Bootstrap which cites the episode I’m trying to explain, which thus renders this null and void. Hey ho.
Anyway, remember, as River Song said in The Pandorica Opens, good wizards in fairy tales; they always turn out to be him. This means, somehow, The Doctor is always his own string puller. Which is another way to say, artfully, it’s always the writer, who was, of course, inspired by an idea popularised by another science fiction writer. I mean the concept is named for writer Robert Heinlein. More circles within circles, writing referencing writing.
Writers get ideas from every where and every when, they are the consummate thieves of ideas across time and space, taking even from their previous works.
And there maybe a theme here, vis a vie Pandorica and it’s time loops, because everything The Doctor said then in that same episode, applies in this episode: the universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and… ridiculous and sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles, and… that’s a theory.
Nothing is ever forgotten, not completely, and, if something can be remembered, it *can* come back. Sure, like Amy, like Rory, like Clara and especially like The Doctor. Preferably not as ghosts, but you know, whatever.
There was a goblin, or a… trickster. Or a warrior. A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or… reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky…in a hearse and be a new really quite scary threatening alien. But a lil bit like the 4,5,7.
No plan, no backup, no weapons worth a damn, oh, and something else I don’t have: anything to lose!
So The Doctor, with nothing left to lose (again) because he knows he will die and because an alien is messing with the deaths of others, but already having used a hologram of Clara to lure the ghosts in the previous episode, defies his future and prevents this death. His ghost was a hologram but he still doesn’t know, though, how the sheet music he had, came about. But we all dance to the rhythm (another way to measure time) anyway.
And then, when all is lost this new Pandorica opens and, rather than a suitcase full of bad, it’s The Doctor inside.
The other thing
It’s also yet another episode where the Doctor causes a thing linked to the thing he’s investigating. He’s in a lake caused by a flood, which he caused earlier, which is later. He and Donna were in a volcano in Fires of Pompeii, which they cause to explode, destroying what they later know as the ruins of the town, but he saves the man he later looks like.
My head hurts. But the magic is in how the writing gives such narrative effects regarding timelines inner consistency.
Beyond all the breaking of the fourth wall, which was a tricksy way to introduce another episode about how we communicate, making this episode a reflexive commentary on communication. A writer gets actors to say things, those things tell us truths about the human condition, through the magic of make-believe pretending.
And those things we learn? They are the things we listen for, and how we listen, how we learn what we need to know, how spoken words aren’t needed sometimes, and how at other times, how we remain who we are when we are dying, and how we need the people around us to speak for us, and to tell us what we need to know, after death. It comes down to love, survival and death, for all of the cast, who were superb, even if some didn’t get enough time.
Found in Translation
We have another ex-soldier type being eloquent but real, in death, this is becoming a trope. We have the translator speaking for both Cass and for Clara when she’s scared. And the translator too, Lund, who didn’t read the words that make the dead into ghosts, because of his importance to Cass. We have Clara being all Doctory in the base, risking lives, Cass going all Clara-rebellious, while being additionally clever with listening and reading the silent speech of the ghosts, the scientists learning how to express themselves for the benefit of others, and an intimidating alien using the dead as messengers sending an invitation to come and enslave the world.
Tell me, what wasn’t there to like?
Even the Sonic Sunglasses became directly useful as glasses removing the imprint.