[Review] - Doctor Who, Series 7 Episode 4, "The Power Of Three"

Courtesy of the BBC

Well that was... nice. It was really rather pleasant. A good old fashioned Doctor Who in so many ways. An alien invasion, a Stewart at his side, and the world in the balance. It felt like going home again. And in a series of film-sized plots, easily the most subdued episode this series. The slow invasion gave us ample room to focus on the Ponds, and for the first time this series they weren't useless, or pointless. It wasn't Doctor-lite, but it was certain companion focused, and awarded us a couple moments of sheer heart-warming goodness.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains seemingly inert spoilers, that will suddenly awaken, and harm you.

A couple words, before we begin, on the Brigadier, and why he is important. Aside from being the longest serving companion, with regular appearances on the show across nine series, and guest appearances in a couple others. He was the first companion that you could legitimately say was the Doctor's friend. Their relationship was uneasy at times, mostly down to conflict between the Brig's duty and the Doctor's methods, and the Brig was always more skeptical, and less likely to give into the crazier notions of the Doctor's.

The two found the ultimate respect for each other, and it is in his later appearances, in Mawdryn Undead, and Battlefield, and in that heartbreaking scene from last year's series finale, that you see most clearly that these two old men, who had seen war and invasion, and fought side by side, were kindred spirits and the greatest of friends. It is the ultimate shame that Russell T. Davies never found a moment to bring him back during the early years of the revival. As much his appearance on Sarah Jane was wonderful, it wasn't with her that the Brig had the connection.

So to see the return on UNIT, in a non semi-villainous role, and to see a Stewart at the helm brought tears to my eyes (methaphorical tears, of course). And considering that she is occupying the place that the Doctor himself held for so long was a wonderful decision, and speaks to the effect the Doctor had on the Brig. Rather then instruct his daughter to follow in his own footsteps, he told her to follow the path of a better man.

The rest of the episode was a slow burn, and if I had a major complaint, it was that the final reveal lacked the effect that the build-up had. Part of me would have preferred if the cubes had just disappeared, and went unexplained. Some grand experiment by some unseen force, to leave the Doctor eternally puzzled, until the next time they show up. And, exactly why the alien ship was collecting people was never explained, and was essentially just a way to get Rory on the ship for the final confrontation.

But the heart of the episode was on the life of the Ponds, and this episode actually was what I expected the Pond Life web series to be. And is something of a first for the show. Occasionally, we see what happens to companions after they leave the Doctor, but rarely do we get to see the process of companions getting ready to leave the Doctor. Usually, the decision is snap, as it was with Leela, or Martha; or the decision comes in the face of a sudden, unexpected turn, like Tegan or Donna. To see characters outgrow their life with the Doctor is new, and paints a fuller picture of these characters as real people. Such is luxury the modern series has, when actors and writers know they'll be departing well ahead of time, and credit goes to Moffat for playing it all with a lighter touch then Davies did when Tennent left the show.

The episode was full of little delights. Mark Williams was again in top form, and stole the show from the regulars as Rory's dad, and drat it all that he wasn't introduced earlier. It is between he and the Doctor, as it was with Wilf, that the show can examine it's history, and share the losses in a way that he never can with his friends. Some left, some were left, and some died. So powerful, and so succinct. It's admissions like this, with the delivery of Smith behind them, and the comfort of the performance of the man receiving them, that make this show a real joy from time to time. Depending on the Pond's ultimate fates, I'd champion Williams occasional return, as I would the impressive Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart (making her first canonal appearance, after having been introduced in an unofficial capacity some years ago), to whom a recurring role needs to be gifted immediately. Doctor Who needs UNIT as much as it needs anything else.

It was also a critique of our culture and times. In the old days, an alien invasion could be swept under the rug, or explained away. In this era, nothing is invisible. 24 hour news, twitter, camera phones. Nothing goes unnoticed. And the way humans stock pile the cubes, using them as mundane parts of their environment, like shells and rocks picked up on holiday, was perfect. I absolutely believe if something like this were to happen, it would happen exactly as this. It was would be written off, and pushed to the side view, ignored once the news cycle passed, unless it caused us trouble. The only thing I think the show missed out on, is that someone somewhere would have collected the cubes and used them in street art of some kind.

Frustratingly, the Zygons got a jolly good shout out, with smouldering effects, but went unseen (for the sake of a very good gag). They rank high on my list of creatures that need a proper return at some point soon. But I'll take what I can get, for now.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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