Sgt. Spiffy Avatar Posted on 5/1/2011 by Sgt. Spiffy

Our heroes uncover even larger conspiracies in 1969 as America races to the moon and (the) Silence will fall in Doctor Who’s sixth season opening conclusion!

Written by Evan Nathans (editor-at-large)

Who's watching Who?

Those expecting a nice and tidy transition from last week's "The Accidental Astronaut" cliffhanger are in for a surprise - and a big one here. Sometime Who episodes are easy to follow, and sometimes not so much...”Day of the Moon” is the latter, and in many ways it feels like the concluding chapter of a season, not the second-part of a brand-new season opener. Not that there's anything wrong with some fancy special-effects and some clever action, but you might want to take a few notes during this one.

Things actually pick up three months after, and our troupe of the Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan), Rory (Arthur Darville), and River Song  (Alex Kingston) are separated and on the run from the FBI. The Doctor, unshaven and shaggy, has been isolated in the bowels of Area 51, while it doesn't seem that either Any and Rory can escape the waiting body bags of Agent Canton Delaware (Mark Sheppard). River, who’s been hiding out in New York City, would rather take a flying leap (of faith) than give herself over to the Feds. Needless to say, none of this was what you were probably expecting after last week's "little girl in spacesuit gets shot" cliffhanger. If you want simple, I think Jersey Shore is on right about now.

Going any further, anything I say would be giving - in River Song’s parlance - spoilers, so I’ll just say that the rest of the episode involves using recording devices implanted in hands, space suits, alien extinction, and regenerating little girls. Only two episodes into season six and it's pretty clear that Moffat and Company are shooting for another larger, completely connected season in which every episode will be required watching to know just what the heck is going on. This is well-tread territory in the reactivated Who series, with previous multiple-arch story-lines like Bad Wolf to last season's mysterious Crack in Time. And, of course, the equally cryptic mantra that "Silence Will Fall", which seems to be the first of many of last season's mysteries ready to be addressed in season six. Chances are even diehard Who fans will have to watch this one at least twice to catch everything, although that’s probably not saying much.

Personal highlights include the Doctor and River Song’s ongoing time-troubled relationship, which feels like its finally coming to a head. The scene which had them rescuing Amy Pond is a classic, and its nice to see River getting a chance to put her gun-slinging skills to good use. Also, its always fun to see the Doctor asserting himself fully, especially when faced with appears to be overwhelming odds (“I’m clever”) - a little ego never hurt anyone. Especially fun was the clever reveal of the episode’s title’s meaning, as the significance of “Neil Armstrong's foot” and why there’s a gap between his famous “One small step for man...” line and the next syllable; it’s mad clever and you’ll giggle like a kid when you figure it out.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, as there’s definitely a few stinkers mixed in with the good bits. Try as I might I just can’t get behind Stuart Milligan's strange take on President Nixon - and his awful 'penis nose' make-up is still too creepy. Most troubling is how rushed problems and mysteries are solved and resolved here, even by Who's appreciably short standards. When River Song makes the classic 'falling out the window' gesture we've all seen a thousand times before (indeed, even with River, in last season’s “The Time of Angels”), it only takes a quick special-effect to save the day; a pool-equipped TARDIS equivalent to the sonic screwdriver. And speaking of special-effects, is that really the best you guys could do with River’s dive? I mean, come on...

But what of The Silence and their fate? Could such a multiple-season menace (and one that apparently stretches back centuries) be resolved in 45 minutes, and so cleanly? As fond as I have been of the Moffat-run seasons, they haven't been without their moments of lazy writing and use (or overuse) of the old Deus ex machina standard to save the day; sometimes it can feel like they're making things up as they go along. The Doctor essentially condemns the entire race of the Silence to death, despite their inhabiting the Earth alongside humans for centuries, without batting so much an eye. What happened to the boy scout from previous seasons who had no problem lecturing his dim-witted companions on the value of other beings' existence in the universe?

Minor gripes aside, there’s still more than enough magic to make “Day of the Moon” a must-see episode, especially as its looking like you’re going to have to catch them all (sorry Pokémon) to understand what’s going on throughout the rest of the season. There’s still so much left to be discovered, the least of which involves what appears to be a little girl going through a Time Lord-style regeneration at the end. Is or isn’t Amy Pond in “a family way”, and how might that affect Dr. River Song’s long-awaited reveal of just who she really is? And just who the heck is that lady with the eye patch, anyway? I doubt we’ll see any of these critical questions answered in next week’s pirates-themed episode, “The Curse of the Black Spot”, which arrives almost just in time for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Imagine that.

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