I think it was a wonderful episode but very complicated and even my inner fanboy was struggling to follow all the threads being drawn together. I think casual viewers would have struggled even more but it was so pacey that before the casual viewers had time to wonder what on earth was happening the story had moved on and there was something new to engage them.
Steven Moffat is undoubtedly a very clever man and a hugely talented writer. I felt as though I'd watched an entire episode before the opening music, with Vincent Van Gogh, Bracewell and Churchill, River Song and Liz10 all appearing before the titles rolled. I think it takes a gifted writer to cram so much into such a short space of time and have it all make sense, indeed feel completely necessary. On the flip side there will be some people who would have preferred something simpler and more straightforward, and who found the whole epic pre-credits sequence overblown and unnecessary. In my experience those people are usually no fun at all.
For me this series has lacked the epic cinematic feel of a lot of RTD era stories, and I blame the budget cuts imposed on the programme by the BBC which have been apparent in some of the special effects this year. Thankfully the quality of writing this series, especially from Steven Moffat, has transcended the sometimes less than impressive CGI and it's clear from last nightâ€™s episode that Moffat has been secretly salting away the pennies to ensure the finale is as spectacular as possible, it looked as good as anything I've ever seen in a Hollywood blockbuster.
Even more impressive is the fact that even as this exciting and complex plot unfolds Moffat still finds to time to rework an old favourite. First the Cyber-arm comes to life, even bluffing itâ€˜s become inactive before stunning the Doctor, then we see a battered Cyberhelmet attack Amy in a scene lifted shamelessly yet wonderfully from The Thing. The moment the helmet divides to reveal the skull within, ejects it ,and begins snapping furiously at Amyâ€™s face is one of those classic moments that no ten year old will ever forget.
In fact this episode is littered with these kind of moments, held together by an awe-inspiring performance by Matt Smith whose sublime interpretation of the Doctor has provided a bracing (and much deserved) slap in the face to his early critics. The scene where the Doctor addresses his enemies and challenges them to take the Pandorica from him was quite simply electrifying and Smithâ€™s intensity doesnâ€™t falter culminating in the scene where his enemies spring their trap and imprison him inside it. Unexpectedly the music is perfectly judged and the reverse of what weâ€™re used to at these momentous moments, and with the slo-mo it's almost painful to watch, a real edge-of-your seat cliffhanger to equal The Stolen Earth.
I canâ€™t believe we have to wait a week to see what happens next!
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