TARDIS Thoughts: Countdown to Christmas, Day 4: Series 7, Episode 4 - "The Power of Three"


Countdown to Christmas, Day 4: Series 7, Episode 4 - "The Power of Three"


Welcome to Day 4 of the Countdown to Christmas series! The world is still here, apparently. Today, I'm analyzing episode 4 of Series 7, "The Power of Three." (A title which I said last post made me think of Charmed - in that series there is a power called The Power of Three that the three main characters possess, as well as a spell that activates it).

This episode presents an interesting scenario: The Doctor has made the Ponds so much a part of his life/world, but what would happen if he became part of their everyday lives for a change? As Amy narrates in the beginning:

Every time we flew away with the Doctor, we'd just become part of his life. But he never stood still long enough to become part of ours. Except once. The year of the slow invasion. The time the Doctor came to stay.
Therefore, unlike most Doctor Who episodes, this episode takes place primarily in our world. It's interesting to see how the Doctor acts when he's out of his element like this. He gets antsy when he's not busy (a lot like me, actually). We see him passing the time by kicking a soccer ball with his knees about 5 million times, painting the fence in the Ponds' back garden, doing something with the yard, vacuuming the living room, and playing Wii Tennis (complete with the Wii Tennis Racket accessory).

But why does he have to do that at all? Well, because the Earth has been invaded by these small, mysterious black cubes, and the Doctor wants to monitor them. But they're not doing anything as of yet, so he needs to pass the time.

There is very little time traveling in this episode. At one point, the Doctor takes the Ponds on a little 7-week adventure (in which the previous episode apparently took place) resulting from him trying to take them to the Savoy in the 1890's for their wedding anniversary. In the process, Amy accidentally marries Henry VIII (and, as we learn from the previous episode, Rory leaves his mobile phone charger in Henry VIII's en-suite), among other things.

Most of the episode, though, is about the cubes. I like the comic relief through Rory's dad keeping a video log of what's happening with the cubes. Sounds like something he would do. Meanwhile, through all this, the Ponds' normal lives go on, sometimes with the Doctor and sometimes without, resulting in Rory being asked to be full-time as a nurse and Amy getting invited to be a bridesmaid, which is weird for them because they don't usually commit to anything long-term due to them never knowing when the Doctor will show up and whisk them away somewhere. (Oh and Amy's a journalist now, which means she got a job between "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," when she confessed she was unemployed, and now).

Finally, randomly, the cubes activate, doing all sorts of weird things. This results in the Doctor getting called to UNIT, a scientific/military organization headed up by a blonde-haired lady named Kate Stewart, whose base is located under the Tower of London. Amy accompanies him, while Rory heads to the hospital, having been called in to help due to the crisis with the cubes, accompanied by his dad, who decides to tag along. Rory's dad, however, gets captured by a couple weirdo orderlies with cubes for mouths and transported to a spaceship in another dimension via a portal in an elevator, and Rory, seeing them do so, follows them.

The Doctor decides to confront the cubes and heads into a bunker to face one UNIT has captured (among many, including one that does nothing but play "The Chicken Dance" in an endless loop LOL) while Kate and Amy look on. The countdown on the cube gets to zero, and anticlimatically, nothing happens. Except that the top of the cube opens, and nothing is inside.

But just when you thought things were back to normal...people who were exposed to the cubes start collapsing due to heart failure. And the Doctor, who was just with one of the cubes, starts experiencing cardiac arrest as well, but manages to stay conscious because he has two hearts, so at least one is functioning. The group - Kate, Amy, the Doctor, and UNIT's resident techie - pinpoint the nearest energy source for the cubes as coming from the hospital where Rory works. Throughout this whole scene, the Doctor keeps having close-calls with his heart, and he wonders aloud how humans ever manage with just one heart.

Amy and the Doctor head to the hospital, ready to find the source of the energy, when all the sudden he semi-collapses again from his heart trouble. Amy, always the quick thinker, spies a nearby defibrillator and uses it on him, even though he protests. It does the trick and the Doctor is back to normal (though with a unbuttoned shirt), though he warns Amy to never do that to him again. They track the energy down to this girl we kept getting glimpses of earlier in the episode, who it turns out is an android. The Doctor deactivates her with his Screwdriver. Then he and Amy find the portal in the elevator and step out into the dimension beyond. (As an avid fan of all things Alice in Wonderland, I appreciated the Doctor's reference to Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, where he says the portal is a "looking-glass" before stepping through it with Amy).

It turns out the ship belongs to the Shakri, a race the Doctor believed was just a myth, a sort of boogeyman for Gallifreyan kids to keep them in line. The Shakri intend to use the cubes to exterminate (to use the Daleks' catchphrase) the human race before they start colonizing space. But the Doctor's not about to let that happen, so he reconfigures the cubes to turn people's hearts back on - the way Amy restarted his hearts with the defibrillator. Therefore, the world is saved, and after the three return to Earth, the Doctor is thanked by Kate Stewart, then proceeds to dinner with the Ponds and Rory's dad. At the end, the Doctor says he must get going, and acknowledges that the Ponds have normal lives they don't want to give up (this is in response to a conversation he and Amy had earlier), so he is more than willing to leave them behind this time. But then Rory's dad speaks up:

Actually, it's you they can't give up, Doctor. And I don't think they should. Go with him. Go save every world you can find. Who else has that chance? Life will still be here.

So, basically, after all this time, Rory's dad has given his blessing to his son and daughter-in-law's adventures. The Doctor offers Rory's dad the chance to come along, but he refuses, saying someone has to water the plants, and asks only that the Doctor bring them back safe. The Doctor and the Ponds then head for the TARDIS once again, as Amy narrates:

So that was the year of the slow invasion, when the Earth got cubed, and the Doctor came to stay. It was also when we realised something the Shakri never understood. What cubed actually means. The power of three. 
I found that last shot notable, because, despite being the second-to-last episode of Series 7 part 1, this episode was actually the last to be filmed of the five. Therefore, this was the last episode in which Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill played the Ponds - their true goodbye to their roles.  And what a great episode to leave on. Granted, I haven't seen "The Angels Take Manhattan" yet, so my opinion on that might change. But I can imagine it must've been tough for them to film this episode, knowing it was the last. (The three getting in the TARDIS was the last scene Karen, Arthur, and Matt Smith shot together, apparently, according to BBC One - and in an interview Karen said they cried after the doors shut. In the same interview, Matt Smith admits he's going to miss Karen and Arthur but acknowledges that "all good things must come to an end").

The episode does a great job exploring the Doctor's love for Earthling humanity and his love for the Ponds. The Doctor's catchphrase "This planet, these people, are precious to me. And I will defend them to my last breath" shows up again when one of the cubes activates in front of the Doctor. And as if that weren't enough, the Doctor launches into a monologue about humanity in front of the Shakri:

So, here you are, depositing slug pellets all over the Earth, made attractive so humans will collect them, hoping to find something beautiful inside. Because that's what they are. Not pests or plague, creatures of hope, forever building and reaching. Making mistakes, of course, every life form does. But, but they learn. And they strive for greater, and they achieve it. You want a tally. Put their achievements against their failings through the whole of time, I will back humanity against the Shakri every time.

The Doctor's love for the Ponds comes up in a conversation he has with Amy while trying to figure out what the cubes want. He asks Amy if she and Rory are planning to stop traveling with him (something he's sensed). She says they haven't decided, and admits the traveling seems like running away. The Doctor points out that Earth is just one tiny bit of a huge universe and that there's so much more to see. But he admits that he's known for a while that they will stop traveling with him one day. And then the kicker:

AMY: Then why do you keep coming back for us?
DOCTOR: Because you were the first. The first face this face saw. And you're seared onto my hearts, Amelia Pond. You always will be. I'm running to you, and Rory, before you fade from me. 

Aw. That is just such a great line. By "the first face this face saw," by the way, he's referring to the first episode of Series 5. Amy's face was the first face the Doctor saw after regenerating into the Eleventh Doctor, seeing as he crash-landed in her backyard. Hence, the connection. That episode is also referenced in this episode, by the way, in a scene where the Ponds and the Doctor eat fish custard, the fish fingers-custard thing the Doctor kind of invented in that episode, while watching the UK version of The Apprentice. I also noticed things that were like the end of Series 2 - the android girl looked kind of the possessed girl in "Fear Her," and the way the cubes just appeared and people just accepted them as part of their lives was a lot like how people just welcomed the ghosts and ghost shifts in "Army of Ghosts."

We're almost to the end of Series 7 Part 1. I've come to like the Ponds, especially Amy, a lot. I almost don't want to watch the next episode, knowing their fate. I just might cry. We'll see.

Tomorrow's Day 5, so time for the Doctor Who fall season finale, "The Angels Take Manhattan"! Look forward to it!

I just realized I miscalculated the days, and Day 7 at this rate would end up being Christmas Eve and not Christmas Day like I thought. But I think it'll work out. I'll just split up the prequels, doing prequel 1 on Sunday and prequel 2 on Monday (Christmas Eve). Then Christmas Day will, of course, be devoted to the actual Christmas Special. I will likely do a live analysis as it is airing here, if possible, so be prepared for a BIG spoiler warning there.

Well, that's it for now. Cheers!

Episode quotes taken from The Doctor Who Transcripts.

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