“The TARDIS is marooned onboard a 17th-century pirate ship whose crew is being attacked by a mysterious and beautiful sea creature. Becalmed and beset by cabin fever, the pirates have numerous superstitious explanations for the Siren’s appearance. The Doctor has other ideas but, as his theories are disproved and every plan of escape is thwarted, he must work to win the trust of the implacable Captain Avery and uncover the truth behind the pirates’ supernatural fears – and he must work quickly, for some of his friends have already fallen under the Siren’s spell…”
After the dark two-part series opener, Doctor Who goes a bit light with its third episode, The Curse of the Black Spot. Thing is, it might be light in tone and material, but the whole episode is quite literally dark.
The whole episode is set on board a pirate ship. And, I don’t know about you, but after the fantastic locations of The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon, I thought it was a bit constraining. I guess I’ve gotten used to the wide expanses of land we saw in the first two episodes. But this is what Doctor Who is usually like–limited locations and fantastic storytelling.
Except, I really felt as if this episode was just a filler. I mean, it was still an exciting adventure. Pirates! A curse! A siren! It has all the makings of a really cool Doctor Who story! And yet I felt a bit disconnected from all the characters. I thought it didn’t really move the story along, which is the same thing I felt back in Series 5’s The Beast Below. The only exception? The Beast Below had that really terrifying Smilers. The Curse of the Black Spot‘s monster, the Siren, pales in comparison.
At the end of the episode, the Doctor’s relationship with Amy and Rory ends on the same note as it did in Day of the Moon. And it’s the same thing on the side of Amy and Rory. I even felt that the relationship between Amy and Rory was let to devolve for the sake of a few laughs. But it still went to the same “I’m in love with you” place that it did in the last episode.
The one thing that really didn’t sit well with me is the endangerment of Rory’s life. The first time we saw Rory dead, not counting Amy’s Choice, it was a really powerful scene that changed the relationship of the Doctor with Amy. That scene’s emotions carried through the episodes that followed–until the reveal in The Pandorica Opens where we find Rory alive. Well, technically, not alive–but he was there. And then last week, we saw him getting shot. And now he drowns?
It’s desensitizing. I mean, I understand that an episode needs its thrills and emotional impact. But using the “he’s dying!” card so soon after having used it in Day of the Moon kind of takes the impact away from the actual dying. It’s taken out the meaning of the thing.
There are shows that do this well though, like Supernatural. Even though it’s become of an in-joke that the two brothers keep dying and coming back alive, each time still has an emotional impact because it doesn’t happen in every episode. Each death is still an event.
Not that I’m saying Rory’s ‘death’ in The Curse of the Black Spot wasn’t an event. It was. For all its two minutes. I mean, I’d seriously be saddened if Rory was killed off the show as he has become my favorite companion since the series reboot.
All I want to say is: can they stop killing Rory (or Amy, for that matter) just so we can have a big emotional scene? Please? Though, I guess this plea wouldn’t really help as they’re already filming the finale.
Next week’s Gaiman-penned episode The Doctor’s Wife puts everyone’s life in peril once again. Here’s to hoping we don’t get any more fake deaths.