I have to admit to a certain amount of disappointment in “The Pandorica Opens” and “The Big Bang”. They tick all the boxes for a season finale, sure. There’s a sense of epic scale, a Big Bad, and some resolved plot-lines from the series, but all together this two-parter just seemed a bit empty. I think the problem lies in my own mind, being fair. I look at the plot and I realise it’s nonsense: why would somebody raid Amy’s house just for an idea to trap the Doctor? Why did the Nestenes actually make a Rory Auton, rather than just one that looks like him? And why did the grand fleet of alien gribblies include species that don’t actually see the Doctor as an enemy (namely the Draconians), and species that haven’t developed that kind of interstellar space travel (namely the Silurians)?
If any of the other finales had been this gappy, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid – lazy plotting is Russell T. Davies’ trademark. But Steven Moffat is very clever and usually consistent. If this needs any demonstration, just look at the way time travel is used in “The Big Bang”. The way the Doctor moves around the episode’s internal timeline is intricate and inspired. Which leaves the obvious questions above to be answered not by the writer’s desperation to create an artificial epic scale, but instead by a desire to leave loose ends for the next series. The Daleks can provide the direct threat, backed up by the other monsters, but the real menace – the voice and the crack – is still waiting to be resolved. Chances are that the odd agglomeration of monsters and the strange fixation of their conspiracy on Amy has an explanation that goes back to that crack. And this is why I felt dissatisfied – this tale was a mid-series break, not a finale. Everything that looks like a resolution probably isn’t because it leaves too many unanswered questions – the whole affair is merely a new set of plot hooks.
To give Moffat his due, that’s awesome, and it shows how confident the production team are in the continuation of Doctor Who. Certainly, with the new series imminent, I’m excited to see where things go. But I’d rather have been thrown more than bones at the end of last series. That said, the humour was spot-on, there was a good sense of menace and excitement, and the unanswered questions do intrigue me. And the intricate time-travel gag at the start of The Big Bang shows that they’re getting the level just right at the moment, with something complex enough for the adult viewer being explained by flashbacks so the kids can keep up. It’s a good balance to keep.
Actually, with all this good stuff going on, maybe it’s churlish of me to be complaining…