So now we know who is inside the Pandorica. I'll be honest, even avoiding spoilers, the answer was the one I was expecting. But that isn't a criticism. It's the most satisfying answer given the underlying story arc of the season. Spoilers will follow...
The Pandorica Opens had most of the hall marks of modern Doctor Who season closers. Guest appearances from earlier episodes; a threat to the universe etc. But on top of that it had that Steven Moffat style. The snappy dialogue we've come to expect; some heart wrenching character moments; a story that holds to it's own internal logic and an underlying mystery (to be solved in the final episode perhaps).
From the opening scenes as a message winds its way through time from Van Gogh all the way to the Doctor (courtesy of River Song), I was captivated. The pace is fast from beginning to end, but the tone changes ever so slowly as the episode progresses. Starting off as pure action and adventure, it gradually develops darker elements and by the final third I was just waiting for the shoe to drop.
You might argue that throwing quite so many aliens into a single episode is overkill, but Moffat made it work and gave us a threat big enough that the alliance was convincing. He's also created a cliffhanger that appears very difficult to get out of without doing some sort of rewind. We'll see, however.
The Pandorica Opens wasn't perfect mind you. It was really never explained why there was a broken down Cyberman near the Pandorica. Nor why if it could reattach its head, it hadn't already. That sequence felt a bit like filler to me. Well done, but filler none the less.
The Rory scenes on the other hand were pure brilliance. I'm still not sure we know the whole Amy story. Something doesn't feel quite right. But the way the elements of Rory's death in an earlier story and Amy's lack of memory of that were woven into this was wonderful. As was the echoing back to Victory of the Daleks as Amy tries to talk Rory into shaking off his programming. Great performances by both Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill here made me really empathize with the characters.
Speaking of performances, Matt Smith once again holds the whole thing together. His Doctor, sometimes manic, sometimes assured, always brilliant is just captivating to watch. There's so much going on with his facial expressions, his hands as well as what he's saying. For all that the Doctor is an over the top character, this is a subtle performance giving it real depth.
I really can't wait to see the season finale. Moffat has built up a lot of expectations here. There are some major questions to answer. How does the Doctor escape? Is Amy really dead? What is the deal with Amy anyway? Who was that voice? Did the TARDIS really explode? Based on past performance I'm expecting good answers to all of these questions.
Really I don't know what more people could want from a Doctor Who finale. Or at least the first part of one.
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