7.4 – “The Power Of Three”
Squillions of little black cubes appear across the world and proceed do nothing. For several months. So The Doctor moves in with the Ponds and eventually the cubes do something. It all turns out to be a plot by an ancient race who want to wipe out humanity before it can spread out across the stars.
When the big event for the series, at least this half of the series, has been publicised so much in advance, it seems that the episodes running up to it can’t help but be just precursors to it. We’re just killing time really. The Ponds WILL be leaving us next episode; we knew it at the time. “The Power of Three” is just a warm up for the big event.
There’s almost a reasonably smart little story spread thinly beneath the Pondness. The cubes appearing everywhere and doing nothing are quite intriguing. They remind me of a Nicolas Fisk sci-fi novel from my distant youth – Trillions – about a shower of tiny space crystals all over the Earth. Obviously, they’re being snatched up all over the world, being distributed so that every person on Earth will have at least one of them nearby. Obviously, they’ll do something eventually. And when they finally do act? Surely it will be something out of this world and original? Ah….well, the story is smart up to a point. The cubes do have a silent girl sitting at Rory’s hospital, and she seems to provoke a pair of weird orderlies with square mouths to steal a patient or two, for reasons not very well explained. But hey – silent, strange-faced things are all over New Who so why not have them here?
We also get the re-introduction of U.N.I.T. in this episode, led by Kate Stewart (the Brigadier’s daughter, played ably by Jemma Redgrave), at first as a bunch of black-armoured, gun-toting SWAT type troops and we get to see their HQ at the Tower of London.
Actually, the weird orderlies I mentioned before do have a function – they grab Rory’s Dad (who is just allowed to accompany his son to work? In a public hospital?) and give Rory a reason to find the wormhole to the alien spaceship. And then…the cubes do their thing!!! Billions of people collapse with heart attacks, including The Doctor, who fortunately has another one to keep running on. This should be an enormous, calamitous, nigh-on apocalyptic event but, well, it just sort of happens. And hey, The Doctor’s being so funny, what with him having the two hearts and having one of them arresting on him.
Amy defibs The Doctor so they both get up to the spaceship and he rejigs the ship computer to reverse the heart attack effect, essentially defibrillating the entire Earth. If only he’d had to reverse the polarity! Come on, it’s what he actually did, isn’t it?
I’m rambling, but it’s because I’m reluctant to write about what the episode is really about…
It’s all about The Power of Three, see. It’s about Amy and Rory and The Doctor and how they’re just so fabulous because they have exciting, wacky adventures, sometimes by accident (Zygons! Underneath the Savoy where The Doc gives Amy and Rory an anniversary present. Ho Ho!!).
It’s about Amy and Rory and The Doctor and how they have two lives, The Doctor life and real life but real life is sort of catching up with them and they’re starting to realise that they have to choose and they might want to settle down, and how Rory’s Dad realises that, sometimes, The Doctor’s companions die.
It’s about Amy and Rory and The Doctor and how they have to keep on travelling together because it’s the Power of Three that defeated the non-plot of the Shakri to wipe out humanity because that’s what they do, these Three, that’s how it works (except for the bulk of the show’s history where it’s mostly been the Doc and ONE companion).
It’s about Amy and Rory and The Doctor and how…oh, fuck it. This is not a story. It’s indulgent clap-trap. Companions come and companions go and, when they go, it can be heart-breaking (like Sarah Jane and Jo) or even heart-warming (like Ian and Barbara, or Romana). But it doesn’t have to have a whole bloody episode devoted to just how wonderful this Doctor and companion team is so that the big moment of their departure is made so much more poignant. Did Moffat and Chibnell forget the old rule of storytelling, that you should SHOW and not TELL?
There’s one lovely little scene when The Doctor and Amy sit on the wall by the Thames and, honestly, that’s all that was really needed. That could have slotted into a proper story, instead of having a half-arsed story slotted into an indulgent “celebration” of our three heroes. Except, this one little scene blows the whole shonky, inflated premise of this episode away – there is no Power of Three and since Series 5 there never has been. Rory has his moments (and Arthur Darvill always did the work) but he is still just a sidekick – Amy is THE companion, the one and only. One little scene earns this 6/10 but it was so close to being a 3/10.
Written and edited by Richard Barnes