“Some left me, some got left behind, and some – not many but some – died. Not them, not them Brian, never them.” – the Doctor.
I can’t help feeling that in The Power of Three, the “year of the slow invasion” is actually the MacGuffin designed to bring about a meeting of minds between the Doctor/Amy, Doctor/Ponds. As an invasion it has a lot less oomph than previous ones, and even the deaths (third of the population) are almost casually reversed by the Doctor’s jiggerypokery in the Chakri spaceship. Granted that if you’re on or behind the sofa, you need heaping handfuls of willing suspension of disbelief, but this episode seemed to be taking the piss in its lack of internal logic. On the other hand, it’s the perfect vehicle to explore the relationship between the Doctor and the Ponds, prior to their “heart-breaking” defenestration next week. I predicted last week that there would be more discord, but Chris Chibnall sneakily pulled the rug out from under my feet. Instead, while recognising the disconnection between their ordinary lives and their time with the Doctor, Amy and Rory end up following their hearts (and the Doctor). With Brian’s blessing. It’s good to see him back.
So, these cubes appear all over the world one morning with no explanation, or even a clue about what they’re made of. People take the cubes home and make them part of the bric-a-brac we collect, until one day they all wake up and start doing wildly different things, from playing bad pop music on a loop to attacking people. Oh, and accessing the world’s data. Then they shut down. As soon as people think that’s all they do, and UNIT has declared them safe, the little buggers wake up again and start a countdown from 7. The sting in the tail, when it reaches 0, is a heart attack for everyone in the vicinity. I’ll not trouble you with the plot, which pits the power of 7 against Amy’s “power of 3,” the latter inevitably proving triumphant.
Since this takes place over a year, the Doctor asks to stay with the Ponds while he helps out UNIT, commanded by Kate Stewart, Lethbridge-Stewart’s daughter. And it’s great to watch the Doctor sort of settling down a bit, enjoying fish fingers and custard on the sofa with the Ponds, getting to know their real lives. It’s been 10 years since Amy and Rory’s wedding, and they’ve grown to like their domestic lives, with friends and jobs. They still enjoy adventures in time and space but, as Amy tells the the Doctor, “the traveling is starting to feel like running away.”
This is the crux of the problem. The Doctor runs to things because their existence, compared to his, is so fleeting. Amy is “the first face this face saw,” so she and Rory “are seared onto my hearts…I’m running to you before you fade away.” Because “one day, soon maybe, you’ll stop.” This is good, honest, necessary stuff to hammer out before Amy and Rory leave, a foreshadowing of their departure. Coupled with the Doctor’s admission to Brian that “some left me, some got left behind, and some – not many but some – died.”
We know they’re going out with a bang, and the Weeping Angels in the next episode suggest they’ll never have existed. So when Brian recognises that it’s not so much the traveling they can’t give up, but the Doctor himself, then his warning to “just bring them back safe” sounds like another huge foreshadowing. I don’t doubt that Moffat has a surprise up his sleeve, which will still be “heart-breaking,” though perhaps in a way I hadn’t imagined. And River Song is back. About time, too, with the glorious Oswin in the offing.
But I did enjoy the Power of Three, while they lasted, and there will probably be a catch in my throat at the end of The Angels Take Manhattan.