Trapped in the Pandorica by his enemies, the Doctor is powerless to prevent the universe from ending. The collapse isn’t instantaneous, and Earth is at the epicenter, growing cold and dark as every star in the universe vanishes. Young Amelia Pond remembers the stars, though, despite what everyone tells her as the changes ripple backward through time.
Freed from the Pandorica, the Doctor embarks on an elaborate attempt to manipulate the timeline; while Earth still exists, he can influence its history and make changes to the present. But he’ll need help, and there’s where the problem lies: Amy is dead, River has probably died in the cataclysmic explosion that has ripped the TARDIS apart, and Rory isn’t who anyone thought he was. Time is running out, even for the Time Lord.
written by Steven Moffat
directed by Toby Haynes
music by Murray Gold
Guest Cast: Alex Kingston (River Song), Arthur Darvill (Rory), Caitlin Blackwood (Amelia), Susan Vidler (Aunt Sharon), Frances Ashman (Christine), Barnaby Edwards (Stone Dalek), William Pretsell (Dave), Halcro Johnston (Mr. Pond), Karen Westwood (Tabetha), Nicholas Briggs (Dalek voice)
Notes: Notes for this episode could spoil major elements of the story, so you’ll find the notes below.
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: Strange even by Doctor Who standards, The Big Bang features a number of characters making supreme sacrifices for one another, and it answers a number of questions raised during the rest of the season, but leaves some very big ones open for next season – it would seem that Steven Moffat is planning on playing a longer game than the average season of Doctor Who under Russell T. Davies.
The all-star line-up of villainy from The Pandorica Opens evaporates fairly quickly here, with the exception of one very cranky, 1800+ year old stone Dalek who really serves as more of a nuisance than anything. And really, that’s a good thing – having captured the Doctor, the pantheon of bad guys could either vanish from existence, having miscalculated rather spectacularly what the effects of eliminating the Doctor from time might be, or they could rampage through the second episde like crazed Visigoths, which wouldn’t even make a terribly appealing video game, let alone crowding an already complicated episode which runs almost ten minutes longer than the usual 45-minute running time of the modern series’ episodes.
And though the resolution is epic – there’s talk of “rebooting the universe,” a concept which may or may not have much more drastic implications for the show’s internal continuity down the road – the path leading to it is rather light-hearted. Those accustomed to RTD’s apocalyptic season enders may find the degree of lightness off-putting, but again, it points toward what much of the latter half of this season has revealed: Matt Smith’s Doctor works better when he’s not just being written as a generic Doctor. The eleventh Doctor’s penchant for off-format stories continues here, and when things become more serious and emotional, he works well in those scenes too. At the end of his first year in the TARDIS, Matt Smith is the Doctor, in the vein of some of the show’s great eccentric leading men (Troughton, Tom Baker and McCoy) – not bad company. It’s also extremely refreshing, after the companion-for-a-season RTD era, to see the TARDIS take off for its next round of adventures with the same companions we’ve had for much of the season.
The Big Bang ends up being very satisfying, but also very different from the season finales Doctor Who has given us in recent years. The lack of resolution for every dangling plot thread is very welcome – some of the season enders of recent years have had a little too much “with one bound, Jack was free” reset-button action; going into the sixth season, we still have a story to follow. (If River Song’s final words in The Big Bang are anything to go by… several stories to follow.) Doctor Who has already developed into a very different show with a very different tone, and now that we’ve seen how it all fits together… I like it.
Notes: The Doctor tells Rory that he’s a Nestene, but this is technically incorrect; the Nestenes are large, squidlike creatures who control the plastic-based Autons, so technically Rory is an Auton.