For a Doctor Who episode that left me feeling cold throughout most of its one-hour running time, the last five minutes sure did sting. I probably should’ve seen it coming, considering the telecast foreshadowed the “terrible losses” our Time Lord protagonist was about to suffer, but alas, that wasn’t the case.
Of course, I’m not alone on this one. [SPOILERS ahead, so don’t say you weren’t warned!] Poor Amy Pond, tossing off a casually cruel “Other way, idiot!” to the ill-fated Rory only moments before his shocking and untimely death. I kind of liked that episode scribe Chris Chibnall didn’t succumb to the temptation to have Amy break character and treat her betrothed in an atypical lovey-dovey fashion, or to make Rory’s death a drawn-out, maudlin affair. Rather, it all played out in the most mundane sort of way: The Doctor postponing a TARDIS-enclosed escape from the Earth’s toxic core to examine the ominous crack in the wall/time/space; furious Restac making one final attempt at vengeance for the death of her gene-chain sister Alaya; Rory blindly jumping in front of The Doctor and taking a shot to the chest. “I don’t understand. We were on the hill. I can’t die here,” he said on his deathbed, noting how he and Amy had waved to their future selves from the TARDIS.
Maybe Doctor Who has gone all Final Destination on us. Rory did, after all, cheat “death” after getting turned into a pile of sand two weeks ago during “Amy’s Choice”; perhaps the universe decided his “dust to dust” moment couldn’t be delayed any longer?
Then again, Rory met a fate worse than death, as the wall-crack’s eerie/sparkly light encompassed his body and erased any evidence or memory of his existence. Moments later, Amy was back on the planet’s surface, blithely unaware Rory ever lived at all. “There I am again. Hello, me!” she chuckled, forgetting she’d seen the same scene (with extra Rory) at the start of her adventure. And right there we understood why our narrator called Rory’s death a loss for The Doctor, not for Amy; thanks to the enigmatic, over-arching time-crack, Amy wasn’t aware she’d lost anything in the first place, while The Doctor’s imploring statement — “Rory still lives in your mind!” — fell as silent as a library.
Still, I have to wonder: What will become of the engagement ring Rory left in the TARDIS? Is there a chance Who‘s writing team will let the love absorbed by a simple piece of jewelry bring him back to life, and maybe save the world in the long run? I’m choosing to believe that’s the direction we’re headed, particularly since I feel like goofy-handsome Arthur Darvill hasn’t yet gotten the full opportunity to explore the Rory role. And let’s not forget Amy’s brief confusion that she thought she’d seen a second person on the hill alongside Future Amy. Plus, her wedding dress is still awaiting her in the present. And nobody likes an abandoned bridal gown!
I’m not really sure the rest of “Cold Blood” warrants too much discussion. Dramatic trumpet music was utilized aggressively, but it couldn’t mask the fact that the entire homo-reptilian environment looked like a bad set piece from early-era Who. Not to mention the fact that the entire story arc lacked any real urgency. Restac may have pulled a surprise by offing Rory, but we already knew from the voice-over intro that she wasn’t going to stop a human-lizard peace treaty. And the lessons imparted to Ambrose and Elliot seemed too pat by half. Be your best self? Seriously? Let’s save that kind of chatter for more appropriate venues, like Oprah.
That said, what do you make of the Doctor finding a charred hunk of TARDIS inside the crack in the wall? Was there any significance to his plea during decontamination that he relies on human germs to help keep himself alive? (Only being a Russell Davies-era Who convert, I’m not sure if this was established fact from back in the day, or a new facet of our hero’s makeup.) And what do you think will be the “greater losses that are still to come”?
Discuss below in the comments, and as always, if you’re located across the pond or watch your episodes early on the old Internet thingie, please keep spoilers to yourselves. Your antiquated, U.S. brethren thank you!
Follow Slezak on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak.