Last time Toby Whithouse wrote an episode, it involved a strange vampire/fish hybrid that stalked the canals of Venice. This time out, he was seemingly charged with writing the end of Amy and Rory’s adventures with the Doctor. Quite a bigger challenge, I’d say.
As is often the case in some of the more recent episodes of Doctor Who, this was a standalone adventure that was really just the coat-hanger for something much bigger. It was signposted right from the start in big neon lettering – the Ponds won’t be on the TARDIS for very much longer.
It was Rory using the past tense, and staring up at a picture pondering about missing the smaller victories in life. It was the Doctor spotting a potential new companion, and firing Amy. It was Ms Pond finally having to see him as he really is – “just a mad man in a box.” We’ve had subtle hints throughout the series but today, we were bashed over the head with it.
Thus, it was no surprise when the TARDIS rolled up outside a house, and the Doctor dished out some keys. When does he have time to talk to estate agents, I wonder? Rory didn’t get it, even though he’s the one that fell out with the time travelling lifestyle first. Amy was right on the ball.
I’m assuming they’re back for the finale, but their time must be up in the blue box after that. It’s sad, to a point, but equally, it does feel like they’ve come to a natural end. There’s only so long Amy can run around time and space without pining for her daughter before it gets odd. And there’s only so long that Rory can put up with lives being sacrificed before he can’t take it any more.
The story itself was nothing to write home about. There was a lot of good banter going on, particularly at the start when the gang first found themselves in a hotel. Much of the dialogue in this episode was super-sharp – but Whithouse has always been good with speech.
The concept was a psychological thriller with an alien/minotaur (another hybrid, eh?) stalking the corridors. Lots of rooms filled with your bad dreams. I wonder what would be in mine.
The twist that it was feeding off faith and not fear was actually rather good, and I did like the way it transitioned into breaking Amy out of the Doctor-loving bubble. Calling her Amy Williams really did signal the end. We never got to see what was in Amy’s bad dream room. My money is on the dead Doctor of the future.
There was quite a high body count this episode – with the potential companion the last to go. Only the strange creature played by David Walliams survived. He did a pretty good job, although the character really just seemed to be there for the Doctor to have a quick rant about cowardice.
For me, the best bit was the return of the familiar Doctor Who music. If it has been in recent episodes then I have not been paying close enough attention, but I really enjoyed hearing that good ol’ Eleventh Doctor soundtrack again – it’s menacing but has a jolly air to it, something that Doctor Who could really do with a bit more of at the moment.
Next time, it’s James Corden again. He managed to play it straight last time, so I hope he doesn’t ruin it on a second attempt. I’m assuming there will be no Ponds, so it might be a glimpse of what the future Doctor Who will be like – give or take the amount of Corden involved.
There are just two episodes left this series. It has both flown by and also seems to have been going on forever.