“The Doctor receives a distress signal from an old friend. Could there really be another living Time Lord out there? Hopes raised, he follows the signal to a junkyard planet sitting upon a mysterious asteroid in a Bubble universe, populated by a very strange family. The Doctor, Amy and Rory are given the warmest of welcomes by Auntie, Uncle and Nephew. But the beautiful and insane Idris greets them in a more unusual fashion – what is she trying to tell the Doctor? As the Doctor investigates, he unwittingly puts his friends in the gravest danger.”
It has arrived! Neil Gaiman’s episode, Series 5’s supposed penultimate story going into the 2-part finale had been transplanted to this year’s series of Doctor Who, but because the episode was written to stand alone, it still worked even with the context of what happened in the Series 5 finale and the opening of Series 6.
Of course, being a stand-alone, The Doctor’s Wife has the makings of being a filler episode–but it was exceptionally written that it didn’t feel like a filler. Sure it did take us out of the Series 6 arc of the Silence, and the little girl, and the mysterious eye-patch woman that keeps appearing to Amy–but it does give us a bit of a clue as to who River might be. A very vague one, true, but a clue nonetheless.
The story of The Doctor’s Wife takes the Doctor, Amy and Rory into a bubble planet just outside the universe. It clearly spells trap, but the Doctor is so excited at the very small chance that a time lord may still be alive that he throws caution to the wind–oh wait, who am I kidding? This is the Doctor! If there’s even a whiff of adventure (or a wrongdoing, or a child crying) he’ll always throw caution to the wind.
But anyhow, Team TARDIS travels to the bubble planet–only to find themselves stuck in it. And this is where things get interesting: the Doctor meets Idris, a loose screw who has a message for him but can’t quite figure out how to tell him; and then Amy and Rory gets stuck in a runaway TARDIS.
And that’s pretty much what I can say about the episode without spoiling it for those who have yet to see the episode. Up next, I gush about the episode, and try to put into words why I think it’s the best Doctor Who episode since Series 5 began!
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. I did really enjoy Vincent and the Doctor last year, as well as the Christmas special A Christmas Carol. But it’s The Doctor’s Wife that has managed to pull together everything that I enjoy about Doctor Who: we’ve got adventure, space travel, comedy with a tinge of drama–and a re-imagining of an old friend.
When a spoiler came out about the identity of Idris, who is the aforementioned re-imagining of an old friend, many people felt incredulous. For Neil Gaiman to have brought back the mail box from Classic Who, how could he go wrong with the re-imagining? But, alas, he doesn’t. It is perfectly logical how Idris comes to be. And it is a very Gaiman thing to do–I think. I mean, I could imagine Steven Moffat doing this episode and making it really light and really scary at the same time, but Gaiman has this way of writing that makes everything so whimsically dark. And it is perfect for what happened to Idris. (Such a shame about Neverwhere, the television series, though.)
Also, we see the Doctor as he has never been so far: utterly clueless and so very emotionally hurt. It’s nice to see this new side of the Doctor, and I think the emotional state we leave him in at the end of the episode will carry well for the whole of the Series 6 arc.
As for Amy and Rory. . . Well, Gaiman did say that when he first wrote the script, it didn’t have Rory because it was to come after the events of Series 5’s Cold Blood. I think it showed a bit in the corridor scene of the episode. Because the mind-bending thing would have worked way better if Amy had been alone. Then again, we wouldn’t have the following gems, like: “He’s the pretty one?!” And “Just because he’s a time lord doesn’t mean he knows what he’s doing.”
All in all, I am really happy with this episode–especially having come from the less than thrilling pirate outing last week. I hope next week’s episode would be just as amazing.