Doctor Who: Series 6, Episode 3 - The Curse of the Black Spot
Published May 9, 2011
This episode was more like the Doctor Who that we know and love. Less of the endless questions, and more of a self-contained story. It wasn’t quite back on top form, but there was plenty to like about this pirate-themed episode.
Lily Cole played a non-speaking ethereal type creature, who would capture anyone with a slight injury. Cue smart little anecdotes about her sending notes before she arrived, the human idea of a curse and “a green singing shark in an evening gown.”
Amy Pond seems to be very at home on a pirate ship. She turned pirate very easily just by putting on a cloak. Maybe wearing a pirate hat makes you instantly know how to sword-fight. Later on in the episode, she also knows which ropes to pull when they try and sail the ship, and also turns nurse. Is there nothing that girl can’t do?
I’m all for strong female characters, but I always thought the companion was supposed to be our glimpse into the Doctor’s world, and it seems like Amy is becoming more superhuman and less accessible as each episode passes.
Hugh Bonneville is most excellent as the pirate Captain, showing a vulnerable side when his long-lost son turned up as a stowaway. I sort of got the feeling there was more to this black spot thing when the child disappeared. It’s unusual for the BBC to kill off a kid, no matter how shocking they want to make the show.
And thus, in reality, the green shark in an evening gown was actually a suped up version of the NHS, an automated nurse trying to fix the world. This bit didn’t make so much sense to me, with confusion over who could stay alive and who couldn’t. Did the pirates have to stay behind? They weren’t all dying surely? Perhaps they just wanted to be with their Captain, who could sail anything because a ship is a ship.
We probably weren’t supposed to be thinking about that too much, instead focusing on the peril of Rory, who was dying yet again. Amy had to save his life, and spent ten minutes promising she would try her best, before giving up on CPR after just a few breaths. Luckily for her, Rory seems to be made of stern stuff and coughed his way back to life almost in spite of her help.
It felt like a poor ending to the episode, for me. The pirate story could have taken far more precedence over another tug at our emotions. Rory has died twice now, Amy has died once, and the Doctor has perished. It’s all a bit boy called wolf.
With so much time spent on Rory, the rest felt rushed. Far too much story to fit in too little time.
Last year, we spent ten minutes watching The Doctor eat various types of food with a little girl that we barely knew. Now it’s all swashbuckling and ten stories at once and there’s that woman we saw last episode, who the heck is she, and look out Rory has died again.
We just need a minute to… breathe.
Seeing the crew on a pirate ship, very unusual, trying to make the best of the situation, is almost reward in itself. The writing should be strong enough to carry us through, rather than such erratic and jarring rollercoaster rides in each and every episode. It almost feels like Moffat got fed up with the fairy tale nature of the last series and has hit double speed. I liked last series. It didn’t need changing.
All in all, Mr Bonneville and the Doctor were the real highlights of this episode. The mysteries of the first two episodes rumble on, and Amy still may or may not be pregnant. Roll on next week, starring the fabulous Suranne Jones. It doesn’t look like it’ll be a calmer episode, but we can hope.