Aired 26 June 2010
As it turns out, the scope and ambition of ‘The Pandorica Opens’ was only the beginning as ‘The Big Bang’ continued with and even surpassed those aspects of its predecessor, resulting in a very satisfying conclusion that demands the attention of its audience.
Following a necessarily lengthy recap of ‘The Pandorica Opens,’ events then shift forward in time 1,894 years to a young Amelia Pond saying her prayers during ‘The Eleventh Hour’ before effortlessly shifting her to the British Museum where she comes upon the Pandorica. Steven Moffat again proves adept at tying together all of his previous episodes, continuing with the feel of every episode along the way being important. However, the intrigue increases as Amelia turns out to be the only one who can open the Pandorica, resulting in the bigger mystery of the older Amy being revealed within its confines.
Fortunately, that mystery ends up being one of the easier ones to explain as the Pandorica keeps its prisoner in stasis. But the weaving back and forth was just beginning as, back in the past, Rory meets up with the Doctor, now sporting a fez. This version of the Doctor is using a time vortex manipulator to jump between the two time zones, and quickly explains that Amy is not dead but that the universe is ending. As such, Rory needs to help get the Doctor out of the Pandorica and, strangely, to put the sonic screwdriver in Amy’s pocket.
And so, Rory releases the original Doctor from the Pandorica and places Amy inside with the sonic screwdriver as instructed. This time travel paradox may seem messy or sloppy to some, and in a way it does undermine any potential threat the Doctor faces in the future if he can, but it certainly serves to move the characters around to their necessary positions to drive the narrative forward. Hopefully, this does not become a go-to plot device and is instead attributed to an instability in time as the universe faces collapse.
Taking a step away from the monumentally blockbuster events, however, this sequence allows for a touching and quieter moment for Rory, who is easily the most developed of supporting characters from a companion’s pre-Doctor life since the show’s return. Here, his decision to stay with Amy and to guard the Pandorica for nearly two millennia- inspiring legends along the way- truly shows the type of man he is and provides a sad but triumphant moment for the man who would do anything for Amy.
As matters progress, it becomes increasingly clear that events are steering toward another metaphorical reset button, a device last used to less-than-stellar results in ‘The Last of the Time Lords.’ The means of stopping the end of the universe is to, in essence, create a second Big Bang using both the TARDIS and the Pandorica. Fortunately, though this storytelling device is hated and ridiculed by many, Steven Moffat at least manages to make events leading up to it and following it logical, at the same time explaining some plot questions from previous episodes.
As the Doctor sacrifices himself to save the universe, following several moments of sheer genius against Daleks in the museum, the mystery of the cracks and the reset start to unfold. The crack in Amy’s wall has been affecting her for a very long time, indeed, and suddenly the lack of family shown on screen and the emptiness of her large house all start to make sense. Her family returning alongside her memories of them is fantastic, but even this is only an appetizer for the bigger revelations.
For as the universal reset is taking hold and the Doctor is fading out of existence as the last beacon of the original version, the Doctor begins rewinding throughout his previous actions in this series. Suddenly the Doctor’s seeming wardrobe change for one scene in ‘Flesh and Stone’ as he talks to a scared Amy makes perfect sense, and proves without a doubt how clever the storytelling in this series truly was. Although the Doctor claims to hate repeats, this sequence of revisitations- even with most occurring on the sideline- provides some of the most welcoming and heartwarming scenes of a very action-packed finale.
And yet, even after all of those events that lead up to Amy and Rory’s emotional wedding, Steven Moffat still has one moment of genius left to spare as the old wedding adage of ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ proves pivotal following Amy and Rory’s wedding gift of an old, blue book. Suddenly the Doctor’s talking and rambling, even to the young Amelia, take on a much deeper note, and the surprise turn of events at the wedding is a superb triumph for both the Doctor and Amy’s characters.
Perhaps the most amazing feat that ‘The Big Bang’ accomplishes, though, is that it doesn’t tie up everything nicely, leaving plenty of room for more mystery and answers in the future. The reason for the TARDIS’s explosion is still unanswered, as is the question behind the silence falling, surely strong foundations for the episodes and series to come. And, impressively, the events are so engrossing and epic that River Song’s involvement can go this long without mention. She is, of course, masterfully complex and vital to finding a resolution, always a welcome presence on screen, but it’s the hints at the Doctor’s future that she offers that are the most enticing. There may just be another wedding on the horizon, after all.
In the end, ‘The Big Bang’ is the perfect encapsulation of this series as a whole. It’s not perfect, but the ambition and scope alongside the attention to minute details and emotional moments are absolutely undeniable. Matt Smith has been pehaps the biggest triumph of all for showrunner Steven Moffat, though, as he has expertly portrayed the whole gamut of emotions while veering toward a slightly darker persona. Karen Gillan has proven to be a perfect companion for his Doctor as well, and their continued adventures- hopefully with Rory included- will have a lot to accomplish to meet and surpass this first run of stories.