Screencaps by enchantedfleur.
Mysterious envelopes with coordinates, enemies who vanish from your memories, and the Doctor’s death at the hands of an Apollo astronaut? Series 6 starts with a bang as the Doctor, Amy, Rory, and River Song reunite in the American Southwest for a picnic that turns dark as a strange astronaut rises out of a lake and zaps the Doctor. Catching the Doctor again before his regeneration can be completed, the astronaut seemingly kills the Doctor. The mystery deepens as a man named Canton Everett Delaware III shows up to assist with the Doctor’s viking funeral and insists “I won’t see you again, but you’ll be seeing me” and Amy spots a strange figure that she forgets as soon as she turns away from it.
Distraught, the companions return to a roadside diner where another envelope just like the ones the Ponds and River received sits on the table, its owner absent. Absent, that is, until the Doctor himself emerges from the restroom, two-hundred years younger and, since it’s in his future, no idea of what’s just happened. With the future Doctor’s last message cryptically referencing “space, 1969”, the Doctor and his companions transport right into the Oval Office where President Nixon has recruited a much younger Canton Everett Delaware III (or “Canton” so I don’t have to keep writing his whole name) to investigate a series of mysterious calls from a young girl who strangely has a direct line to Nixon, wherever he may be.
Putting the TARDIS in silent and invisible modes (with a little help from River), the Doctor leaves the ship just as Nixon and Canton are listening to a taped conversation with the girl (yep, the infamous Nixon tapes). A tackling by Secret Service, the reveal of the TARDIS, and an old-fashioned standoff with federal agents later, and the Doctor recruits himself (as a special agent from Scotland Yard) to solve President Nixon’s mystery. As the Doctor pores over maps to determine the child’s location, Amy sees the figure again, a strange gray alien with no mouth (the Silence). She sees it again in the White House restroom, where its strange ability to not be remembered is seen every time a White House worker turns her back to the alien. It blows the woman away and Amy snaps a picture on her phone before running out and once again forgetting the alien.
Pinpointing a spot in Florida, the TARDIS gang takes off with Canton in tow. What they find is an empty warehouse, or so they think. Exploration of the warehouse reveals tunnels, hundreds of years old, in which more of the Silence are hiding out. Of course, once River and Rory turn away, they forget they’ve seen the aliens. A cry from Canton brings the Doctor and Amy running, and as they find his unconscious body laying on the floor (and Amy reveals that she’s pregnant), the astronaut appears — with the little girl inside the suit. Suddenly, Amy grabs Canton’s gun and fires, hoping to end the threat before it kills the Doctor. Thus ends part I.
Fast forward three months later, and Canton is chasing down Amy, Rory, and River, shooting and seemingly killing them. Mysteriously, each companion has a series of tally marks on his or her body, the reason becoming apparent as River sees the Silence and marks herself with a pen. Meanwhile, the Doctor sits in the middle of a hanger, chained as scientists attempt to build a prison out of white dwarf star blocks around the Time Lord. As the prison is completed, Canton drags in the body bags of Rory and Amy into the prison, sealing it shut. Amy and Rory then emerge from the bags unharmed, the Doctor de-cloaks the TARDIS, and off they are to rescue River from falling off a building.
As they all commiserate in the TARDIS, Amy, Rory, and River explains the many times they’ve seen the Silence over the past three months, and it’s apparent that the team is not with an invasion so much as an empire based right here on Earth. The Doctor then installs a recording chip in each of them so that they can record a message whenever they see a member of the Silence. Canton and Amy then travel to an all-but-abandoned orphanage while the Doctor tampers with the Apollo 11 capsule.
The orphanage is certainly a creepy place, falling into disrepair, with “Get Out!” written on the walls, and a caretaker who isn’t all there, insisting that it’s 1967 and there are still children in the orphanage. Canton and Amy then make the horror-cliché mistake of separating to get answers. As the door shuts in the room Amy explores, she has a message to herself on the recorder saying to get out. Looking into the window reveals many tally marks, just as Amy looks up to see a dozen Silence hanging from the ceiling.
The Doctor is then busted tampering with the capsule, but fortunately President Nixon walks in to get the Doctor released from custody (with Rory and River along). Exploring more of the orphanage, Amy sees a woman with a strange, metallic eye patch peering out of a door window, but as Amy goes to it, the window shuts. Entering the room, it’s empty, but has the appearance of a child’s room including pictures of a little girl — and Amy holding a baby.
The astronaut/child then confronts Amy as two Silence appear in the room with Amy screaming as the door slams. Meanwhile, Canton and the caretaker receive a visit from the Silence who proclaims that they have ruled the world since the wheel was invented. Canton then shoots the Silence and runs to help Amy, joined quickly by the Doctor, Rory, and River. However, they only find the empty spacesuit and Amy’s recorder in the room, yet Amy’s recorder is still transmitting her words. Everyone rushes back to the prison cell with the wounded Silence, where Canton uses Amy’s phone to record a video message from the Silence that “you should get us all out of sight.”
The Doctor and River open the spacesuit to discover it’s a life-support system for the little girl who was inside it. Apparently the Silence have been manipulating humanity for a very long time, and the whole moon mission wasn’t prompted by the Cold War, but by the Silence’s need for that spacesuit. As the Doctor and Rory try to figure out how to save Amy, we find out that Rory remembers all 2,000 years of his time protecting Amy in the Pandorica. Amy, it seems, was transported to a room that oddly resembles the other TARDIS control room from last series’ “The Lodger”.
The Doctor says as much as the TARDIS crew arrives and he sets up a television while River keeps a gun trained on the Silence. Turns out the Doctor’s tampering was to provide a link between the video on Amy’s phone to the camera on the lunar capsule, transmitting the message Canton recorded to everyone across the globe. This makes the Silence instantly visible to all humans with the command to repel the aliens whenever they are seen. As the Silence attack the team, River finishes off the aliens with her gun.
As the Doctor leaves Canton in the Oval Office, Nixon asks the Doctor if he’ll be remembered, with the Doctor responding “they’re never going to forget you” and “say hi to David Frost for me.” Nixon promises to let Canton get married after all, until of course he finds out that Canton intends to marry another man, to which the President responds that “the moon is far enough today.” The Doctor drops River off back at prison and the Doctor, Amy, and Rory discuss the pregnancy/non-pregnancy, and the Doctor’s private scans of Amy switch from positive to negative and back.
With the lingering question of the little girl, she appears in an alley where she begins to regenerate…
Definitely a trippy episode. There are plenty of lingering questions for this series, and hopefully we’ll get some answers before the show goes away until the fall. There was a nice moment by River that foreshadows her run-in with the Tenth Doctor, in which River expresses her fear that one day she’ll run into the Doctor and he won’t remember her. Stuart Townsend does a great job as Nixon, and it’s hilarious to see the very tape recorder that will one day result in the President’s impeachment over Watergate.
Ultimately, mysteries abound, setting the stage for what is bound to be a series that will leave you scratching your head and Moffat pushing the boundaries of what Doctor Who is all about.
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars