Contributor: Gregg Wright
As over-saturated in popular culture pirates have become, they still hold a lot of appeal for me. I wasn’t sure if “Doctor Who” could do an interesting pirate-centric episode, though. I was about ready to write this one off as a disappointing, generic stand-alone episode. But then around two-thirds of the way through, it abruptly made a turn for the better.
The episode starts out like an episode we’ve seen many times before. The Doctor arrives somewhere in time and space, and before long, a menace of some sort is picking people off one by one. In this case it appears to be some sort of siren that goes after anyone who’s bleeding, disintegrating them into a swirl of smoke when she touches them. The events that transpire aren’t particularly scary, and it all felt like pretty standard fare for “Doctor Who”. There were some bright points, of course. Hugh Bonneville makes for a good guest star as Captain Avery, Navy officer turned pirate captain. I enjoyed seeing the Doctor surprised at how quickly Avery took stock of the TARDIS’s controls.
As I said, I was fairly unimpressed by most of the episode up until around two-thirds of the way through, when things went in an unexpected direction. The explanation for the “siren”, it’s origins and where it came from, were pretty good. And the situation allowed for a satisfying resolution for Captain Avery and his son (as well as his crew). Watching Avery and son bond as they pilot the ship toward the binary star system, with the rest of the crew joining them, is a great place to leave them at.
The resuscitation of Rory scene was a bit of a weak point, I thought. How many times have we seen this scenario play out in other movies and TV shows? Amy desperately tries to get Rory breathing while the Doctor looks on, concerned, until Amy finally gives up. And then a few moments later, Rory sputters back to life. Can this even happen? I understand, “Doctor Who” isn’t meant to be the most believable show. But with such an over-used trope, I’d be more forgiving if I learned that this could actually occur.
That odd eye-patched woman, who only Amy seems to see, makes another appearance in this episode. It almost seems like a memory fragment, inserting itself into Amy’s reality, of a time when Amy was in a hospital of some sort. Perhaps she’s glimpsing the future? Amy briefly flashes back to the Doctor’s death again, and Rory has to remind her of the importance of not telling him about it. Also, the Doctor is again seen scanning Amy. And again, the scanner jumps back and forth between positive and negative. I think we can be pretty certain now that Amy is pregnant with something that’s not 100% human.
The stand-alone adventures are much more likely to disappoint me than the myth-arc episodes. But thankfully, this episode is at least average. I’d be impressed if all the stand-alone episodes this season were at least as good as this one, which wasn’t the case last season.