Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

This is the standard that every Doctor Who story should come up to.

It's not brilliant, but it is very good, and I found it thoroughly absorbing.

It revolves around the return of the Silurians or, as some might call them, the Eocenes. (nicely played)

The really interesting thing about these guys is that they're not aliens. They were the dominant race on Earth before humans evolved, and as such they want their planet back. They see us as nothing more than pests to be eradicated, which is pretty much how most of us would feel if we got up one day to find cockroaches everywhere.

Taking its cue from both of the Silurians' previous outings, the focus in this story is once again on the Doctor's beleaguered attempts to negotiate peace.

Though going over old ground, this is such a strong theme that it's worth returning to every decade or so, and 2010's entry is right up there with 1970's Doctor Who And The Silurians and 1984's Warriors Of The Deep.

The Doctor always takes the role of outsider. He always tries to convince both sides to share the planet. He always fails.

It's also one of those tales that works whether you're a long-standing follower of the series like me, or a more recent viewer with no knowledge of episodes from 40 years ago. There's no awkward recapping of what's gone before, because the tale stands on its own two feet perfectly well, thank you. Yet much is non-verbally done to embrace those earlier chapters anyway. Though these Silurians look understandably a bit different, they're also acknowledged as a different variation of the originals.

Similarly, I've found the return of the 1980s TARDIS sound-effects this series to work wonders for assuring me that this is indeed the same world I'm in. Bearing that in mind, episode two begins with a voice-over from Stephen Moore as Eldane, which suddenly makes the whole thing at least feel like the calibre of the original Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

This is another story in which everything comes together really well, which is so positive for the future. The script and direction maintain the mystery and tension very well indeed, and the acting from the guest cast is perhaps the best yet.

Particularly standing out is Meera Syal, who as Nasreen Chaudhry brings a great deal of believability to the standard everyday human role.

There were six things that I didn't like. Ohhh, I always have so much more to say about the things that I didn't like… :)

First, we learn that Amy is still a kissogram despite planning to get married tomorrow. Sorry Rory.

Second, the promotions of Amy and Nasreen to the role of human ambassadors. These two have no authority from the rest of the human race, and upon the Silurians' revealing themselves to the general population, Earth's leaders would almost certainly replace and disavow them, for so many reasons.

Third, the eerie appearance at the beginning of Amy and Rory's future selves, waving from the hill in the distance, needs clarification.

Mainly because 'our' younger Rory eventually gets shot and killed.

So… just what did that older version of Rory remember doing differently all those years ago at the moment when he wasn't shot, and why does this point now unfold in such a new way?

It might be because the appearance of Rory's future self unwittingly contaminates his younger self's decisions, specifically by making him over-confident that he cannot be killed. This is supported by Rory's confusion at his dying, but still not made clear.

The problem with that theory of course is that Rory died saving the Doctor's life. If that older version of Rory had lived, then it seems that originally it was the Doctor who had died, or at least regenerated. Not a word spoken about that either.

Also, I can't ignore that this is poor Rory's second death in as many stories, which somewhat flaws Amy's reasoning as to which dream was genuine in Amy's Choice.

Fourthly, the storyline about the crack in the universe progresses at the end too, which in itself is a great thing, with both the future and the past suffering losses. Well, the future and the past both lose Rory anyway.

Unfortunately, the rules of exactly what the white light does to whoever it touches are still so vague as to suggest that the authors themselves haven't quite worked it out yet.

Let's look at some of the dialogue on the subject in this episode:

i. Doctor: "[If the] time energy catches up with you, you'll never have been born. It will erase every moment of your existence. You will never have lived at all."

ii. Doctor: "Amy, move away from the light. If it touches you, you'll be wiped from history."

iii. Amy: "That light - if his [Rory's] body's absorbed I'll forget him, he'll never've existed!"

iv. Amy: "No way, on the Byzantium I still remembered the clerics because I am a time-traveller. Now you said…"

Doctor: "They weren't part of your world, this is different, this is your own history changing."

So, with Rory's corpse now absorbed by the crack in the universe, the Doctor and Amy have a new history - one in which neither of them ever met a guy called Rory.

At the end of the episode Amy, having forgotten the heroic Rory's existence, makes reference to having seen only her future self standing alone on the hill at the tale's opening. Amy's memory of events has changed but, and here's the thing, the Doctor's hasn't, even though Rory had also become a part of his own history too. Apparently, the Doctor still has total recall of Rory.

This disparity means that Amy can now remember a truer version of her travels in the TARDIS than the Doctor can. The Doctor's memories are wrong. Amy can also remember a truer version of her travels in the TARDIS than we the viewers can. Oo-er.

Fortunately, for those of us keeping score, Rory made very little impact on the plot in his five brief episodes.

Unfortunately, he did make some impact. His actions in The Eleventh Hour - photographing Prisoner Zero's zombies and lending the Doctor his phone - were arguably pivotal.

Yet Earth was not burnt by the Atraxi, and the Doctor and Amy both survived.

Worse, there's a scene wedged in at the start when Rory goes to great pains to take Amy's engagement ring back to the safety of the TARDIS, something that he has never worried about before.

He only does this so that, at the end of the story, after Rory's lifetime has been wiped from history, the ring can still be paradoxically there, quickly hidden from Amy by the Doctor, again with no explanation for how. I can assume here that the TARDIS is somehow protecting the ring from causality, but once more this is stated nowhere.

So does an exact duplicate of the same ring now also sit unsold in a jeweller's shop somewhere in Ledworth?


This lack of thinking cause and effect through, or at the very least failure to clearly communicate what effect the white light is actually having, makes me doubt that the resolution of this storyline will be properly thought-through either, so my expectations for it are consequently lower.


Perhaps the real problem here is the ambiguity of the word 'history'.

The only way that I can make sense of this tangle is to suppose that whenever the Doctor speaks of 'history', he does not define the word as meaning actual events that have physically taken place, but rather the present perception of them.

Y'know, in the same way that a history teacher communicates what they believe happened, rather than what actually happened.

After all, the word 'history' can arguably mean either the events themselves, or the record of them, and indeed has both definitions over at

In fact, far from wiping the events of Rory's life from ever having actually happened, it seems that it's only Rory's physical body and others' memories of him that disappear in this episode. The consequences of his previous actions clearly still continue to exist. (for example, the Doctor still hasn't been shot a moment earlier)

Maybe this will also turn out to be why, again in The Eleventh Hour, Ledworth's duckpond still remained, despite the absence of any ducks from its history. Y'know, maybe the ducks flew into the crack in the universe, so everyone forgot about them, but their duckpond stayed untouched?

The Angel that disappeared from Amy's mind in Flesh And Stone is a trickier one, however it could be argued that it counted as a physical record of the Angel that went into the light, and therefore a part of its 'history' in this definition.

Again though, none of this seems to have been stated anywhere. In fact, as we can see from the quotes above, Amy clearly believes that the changes do indeed happen to actual past events, and the Doctor doesn't correct her.

However, if my theory of only recorded history being changed is the philosophy being followed here, then I have two things to say:

1. This meaning needs to be clearly expressed in the programme, so that we have a story to follow.

2. This looks like the best series of Doctor Who ever!

Whatever, these are great ideas to conjure with, and hopefully the writers will learn as they go.

And hopefully we will too!

Fifthly, despite all of the above, the Doctor still safely reaches his hand through the crack in the universe, and would you believe finds exactly what he's looking for lying just there. Right there. If only he'd thought to do the exact same thing with Rory's body a moment later.

(FANTASTIC pay-off moment later though!)

Sixth, and finally, as my closing observation, immediately after Rory's death the Doctor locks a distraught Amy inside the TARDIS. So she desperately hammers her fist on the door to burst out again, except that it opens inwards.

Sorry, it's just that last moment really ruined the entire credibility of the whole series for me.

Otherwise, thoroughly enjoyed this!

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