"Doctor Who" -- "The Power Of Three"; Seared Onto My Hearts
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"Doctor Who" — "The Power Of Three": Seared Onto My Hearts

By C. Robert Dimitri | TV Reviews | September 24, 2012 | Comments ()


I have the Emmys on in the background as I write this, and I'm wondering where the Doctor Who appreciation is. Yes, I understand that this show honors American programming (although I notice that Moffat's Sherlock received some nomination attention), but perhaps next year the indefatigable British time-traveling television titan could receive a brief honorary montage for its 50th anniversary. (I certainly think it would be more worthy of airtime than that Jimmy Kimmel bit essentially mocking the dead.)

Yes, after all this time, The Doctor and his TARDIS continue to chug along on their adventures with the parking brake engaged. This week mysterious little black cubes are popping up all over the Earth, and all manner of investigation and observation fail to reveal any information for months on end. Not even the close, meticulously logged observation of Rory's father, Brian, renders useful insight. Assuming he disappears in conjunction with the imminent departure of Amy and Rory, it's a shame that Mark Williams will be limited to the two guest spots this season, as he has brought much fun to the series.

The events of "The Power Of Three" take place over the span of a year. Actually, it's a year plus seven weeks if you count the out-of-time jaunt in the middle of the episode. We learn in this episode that counting all the travels outside their normal timestream, Rory and Amy have aged about ten years since they started hitching rides with The Doctor back in season five.

The Doctor and his curiosity are game for observation of the cubes as well, although sitting in one place without much action proves far too slow-paced for him at first. He takes off for a while to leave the Ponds to watch over the Earth, and then he pops back in to take Amy and Rory on the aforementioned jaunt, an entertainingly and quickly told traveling celebration of their wedding anniversary gone haywire despite The Doctor's assurances. That's one of this episode's strengths: a well-edited presentation of the passage of time.

Its chief thrust, though, and what it does especially well, is giving us a humorous and heartfelt tour of these new lives that Amy and Rory have made for themselves outside of the TARDIS as preparation for their final appearance next week. Rory and Amy have come to realize that they enjoy their normal lives, and perhaps it is finally time to end their interstellar travels with The Doctor.

The Doctor senses this, and -- in what in my opinion is easily one of the most affecting scenes in all of new Who -- puts the question to Amy of whether or not she and Rory are about to say goodbye. His monologue to her that follows is not just a testament to his affection for his companions, who find themselves increasingly torn between two lives. It is also a veritable mission statement for all that our favorite Gallifreyan has been doing for his many centuries. Even more than that, it is a call to arms for you, me, and everyone else. It is a beautifully expressed philosophy for how we should view and treat the life, the universe, and everything. If that moment between The Doctor and Amy does not warm the heart of even the most fervent Amy Pond hater with that swelling score as a backdrop, then I have trouble imagining why that person would be watching Doctor Who at all at this point.

Outside of the serialized character content, there is still the matter of the MacGuffin cubes and their nefarious purpose. As we discover, they are the traps of an enemy called the Shakri, who seek to exercise pest control over the universe. In this case, the humans of Earth are deemed the pests, and they must be exterminated before any sort of extraplanetary diaspora occurs. The cubes have the power to disrupt the electrical signals of the human heart. It's fortunate that Time Lords have their dual cardiac nature. The eventual solution to the problem is relatively quick and easy; it's another sonic screwdriver deus ex machina. That's acceptable, though, as this episode succeeds in the journey and its strong character moments.

Worth mentioning and of special note for the classic Who fans is the reappearance of UNIT, headed now by our old friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart's daughter, Kate Stewart. This episode serves as a good salute to the recently passed Nicholas Courtney, and juxtaposed with next week's goodbye to two more companions in the Who universe, that salute is an excellent reminder of the durability and rich history of beloved characters that Doctor Who has given us over the years.


"What do you think we do when we're not with you?"
"I imagine mostly kissing."

"Within three hours the cubes had a thousand separate Twitter accounts."

"Don't mock my log."

"Bit of a shock. Zygon ship under the Savoy. Half the staff imposters. Still, it's all fixed now, eh?"

"Somebody was talking, and I just said 'yes.'"
"To wedding vows. You just married Henry VIII on our anniversary!"

"And some...not many, but...some died. Not them. Not them, Brian. Never them."

"Who do you think invented the Yorkshire pudding?"
"You didn't."
"Pudding yet savory. Sound familiar?"

"Is that all you can do? Hover? I had a metal dog who could do that."

"You're never going to believe this. My cube just moved."

"Yes, I've got officers trained in beheading. Also ravens of death."

"I'm not running away, but this is one corner of one country in one continent on one planet that's a corner of a galaxy that's a corner of a universe that is forever growing and shrinking and creating and destroying and never remaining the same for a single millisecond, and there is so much - so much to see, Amy - because it goes so fast. I'm not running away from things. I'm running to them, before they flare and fade forever."


Classic Doctor Who Bonus:
This week I watched 1973's The Three Doctors. Unlike the last few weeks, the link between these two episodes is more tenuous: they both have "three" in the title. Certainly, strange things start happening on Earth that begin both adventures, but that's a descriptor that could be applied to all the episodes set on Earth, is it not?

This is a good, fun episode. It represents the first time that the producers brought multiple incarnations of The Doctor together, and the fun interplay between Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton is the highlight of the show. It makes me very excited about the prospect of seeing Smith and Tennant together, should it happen for next year's fiftieth anniversary special. William Hartnell is also a strong presence in his time on screen; it's unfortunate that illness kept him from more active participation.

The plot is your typical Doctor Who end-of-the-universe catastrophe. The Time Lords bring the three incarnations together, thus violating their laws of time, in order to defeat the evil Omega. Omega is a Time Lord whose experimentations gave the Time Lords the power of time travel long ago. Unfortunately, his discovery ended in disaster for him, as he is stuck on the other side of a black hole. He is embittered and craves vengeance. In this realm he rules absolutely, using his will to create and destroy. He has discovered a way to threaten the existence of our universe by flinging anti-matter through the black hole's singularity. Functioning as an Atlas figure that holds his alternate universe together, he needs another Time Lord to take his place as the force of will that maintains his domain so that he can finally leave.

Highlights include an army of goofy-looking anti-matter blob monsters, the central skeptical role of the Brigadier in the adventure, a mental duel of wills between Pertwee's Doctor and Omega that manifests itself as a wrestling match, and Troughton's Doctor's need to play his recorder.

In anticipation of next week's mid-season finale, my Doctor Who friends and I also revisited a few other exits for companions past by way of fast-forwarding to the ends of episodes. We watched the departures of Jo (sad in the abruptness of The Doctor's exit), Sarah Jane (the saddest), Leela (abrupt and bittersweet), K9 Mark I (clever), Tegan (her second exit - abrupt, jarring, and sobering in its reasoning), and Peri (her first exit...simply bizarre).

Until next time, my Whovian friends, stay away from anti-matter and seemingly harmless cubes.

C. Robert Dimitri does not want a tragic conclusion to the story of Amy and Rory. He thinks we have earned a suitably happy ending.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Jezzer

    I have not hated Amy Pond even ONCE this season. Someone alert the Vatican there's a miracle up here in this bitch.

  • Carrie/Teabelly

    Moffat can't seem to do a swift goodbye to save his life. It's all long and lingering and over doing it and saying goodbye to every companion who ever lived (no, I'm not still bitter about Ten's departure at all).

    I like Rory and Amy, and I think they work well with this Doctor, and I really, really don't want anything to happen to either of them, but this episode was clearly filler. I don't mind stand alone episodes, but at this point I just want them to get on with it. If you're going, go, and let's all be happy/sad and move on.

  • Morgan_LaFai

    Two things that jumped out at me in the episode:

    1. The combination of Amy & Rory deciding to have normal lives, Rory's da talking them into continuing, and most significantly the line, "Not them Brian, never them," sent shivers up and down my spine. This could have been a great way to say fair well to the Ponds, especially if it had been a two parter, but now I just know deep in my gut that all will not end happily.

    2. Just starting hearts is probably not enough. Factoring in how much time it would have taken the Doctor to get from Unit to the hospital, then adding the time actually seen on the show (roughly 5 min) I am fairly certain that all the victims would be brain dead. But maybe I am just picking nits with that one.

  • Tinkerville

    Does anyone else think there's a chance that the past four episodes are all taking place *after* the events of The Angels Take Manhattan? As in, the Doctor has seen Amy's death and now he's going back to when she was alive to cling on to her and Rory? Just a theory but as he definitely seems to know what's going to happen it crossed my mind.

    For me the episode works a lot better when you think of the cubes as a subplot to the Amy/Rory normal life story. It was a shame because I thought the cubes were quite fascinating, as were the Shakri, but they weren't fleshed out at all. He fixed the damage the cubes did in all of 30 seconds, we saw the Shakri for even less than that, and most of it didn't make much sense (the cube-mouthed people, the kidnappings, etc.) But when I thought of those things as the backdrop instead it made it a bit better.

  • Green Lantern

    C. Rob - Way to keep old school Who in our thoughts. I applaud your efforts, m'man.

    True story: After plowing through the entirety of "Farscape", I told my friend Doodler (who is as much a Time Lord as I am superhero), that I wanted to watch the entirety of "Doctor Who" in the same manner.

    "But G.L," he says, "that's 26 years worth of television!"

    "Yeah, I know."

    And on we went. Started with Hartnell, then through as much of Troughton as exists, and finally up through Pertwee's intro...

    ...and then Katrina happened. And we never got to finish. So yes, sometimes you have to run TO things.

    I'm gonna love to hate next week.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    There was a lot of good this time. The story itself had time to develop, and the interactions between the characters were well written and played.

    The rest was pretty sloppy, again. The Big Bad - the Shakri - have potential. A race that has been a Time Lord myth for uncounted ages? Tell me more, damn you! The resolution of the episode, as well as the child sitting unnoticed in the hospital, had the feeling of just being inserted so that the episode had any kind of plot. The whole thing could have been a story arc spanning multiple episodes, which could have spared us the pain of watching "Dinosaurs On A Spaceship" and "A Town Called Mercy".

  • Meenama

    But wasn't the Shakri make up brilliant? Now that's a character and race that can be developed over time.

    Another favorite part of the episode was when the Doctor called the cubes, "slug pellets". Reminded me of the times I put out the "nasty cake" for unwanted rats!

  • Pookie


  • Pookie

    Listen, the guy is wear a tweed jacket and a bow tie, you do the math.

  • Pookie

    Boy I tell ya, Dr. Who looks like he’s some older gentleman’s companion.

  • bleujayone

    Yep, it's me again and the meandering 11.....let's go.
    1. Overall a charming episode....minus the last five minutes or so. I have found that a commonality with all the episodes this year is their need to rush to conclude everything at the last minute. some more than others. I would have preferred if the invasion of the cubes was little more than an off-screen MacGuffin; it really wasn't about the cubes but rather the relationship the Doctor has with Amy & Rory. How does the problem get solved? Who cares. The seen week adventure wasn't really covered and it did just fine. That said, let's move onto the last few minutes....

    2. I'm slightly confused/annoyed by the Shakri. Was the Scorpius hologram a representation of them? If so what were the "orderlies"? They looked nothing like the hologram. Were they humans that were altered or a different sub-species or were the Shakri and organization rather than a race?

    3. Where are the LIVING Shakri? Or are we falling back on "they're all dead and the machines they had are operating all on their own" premise not unlike several other Eleventh Doctor stories? If so, it's kind of lazy.

    4. The Shakri hologram was never really all that specific on what exactly the human race did to get the label of "pests". It was also not established that they were time-traveling people, so how would they know what the human race would or would not do? And if they were time travelers, why go to the early 21st Century and waste a year observing the best way to kill them. Why not travel back even a couple hundred years when there were far fewer of them to bump off. Or better yet go back to prehistoric time and screw with evolution altogether?

    5. The character of Kate Stewart, believe it or not, was actually already introduced to Doctor Who continuity about 20 years ago in a spin-off movie featuring The Brigadier, Sarah Jane Smith and former Second Doctor companion Victoria as they fought the Yeti. Kate was estranged from her father then. It was kind of nice for some of the more diehard Who fans who probably suspected what was up long before the reveal. Based on the the recent loss of Nicholas Courtney and Elisabeth Sladen, it was a nice wink back to UNIT.

    6. I still say The Doctor already knows what's going to happen to Amy and Rory. I think one of the reasons he keeps coming back is that he knows that and wants to share the universe with them while he still can.

    7. I like Rory's father. And I do like that NuWho continues to show us each of the Companions' families. If you go by the original run, most of the people that traveled with the Doctor rarely if ever had to contend with their absences among family and friends. So while this particular story is a little more in depth with the travels, its something that has been touched on all the NuWho Crew before.

    8. I just realized that Rory and Amy rescued Rory's dad, but left all the other people behind. Were they already dead, or is it "too bad, so sad, we outta here"?

    9. That must have been a real quick run to the hospital and search to find the doorway to the ship, for the Doctor to be able to revive all the people put down by the cubes. The whole thing from beginning to end had to happened in under six minutes of real time, right? After that it would have been pointless to revive them. What would have happened to anyone with a cube in a car or aircraft or machinery? The death toll should still have been catastrophic.

    10. I would have liked the Doctor to have mentioned by name the Companions that died on his watch, or at least some sort of remembering. There were technically only three (Katarina, Sara Kingdom and Adric) although we see Perri Brown killed on screen, he was told later that it was a lie and she had married Brian Blessed....sort of.

    11. Again, minus the rather ham-fisted wrap-up, the story itself was nice. I had almost expected a "Doctor Who Lite" episode where he just pops in and out occasionally. I can only expect that we are not getting a happy ending with the Ponds next week. I would guess Moffat is going to try to be clever, but given what's happened to the other NuWho Companions, I almost have to expect death is coming for real this time. However much I didn't warm up to Amy, I still didn't wish death upon her- if only for Rory's sake.

  • BWeaves

    1. In his short time on screen, Brian has become one of my favorite companions. It's a shame we don't get to see more of his adventures. He's smart. He figured out that Amy and Rory were gone for a long time from the party, and he called the Doctor on it.

    2. I also like Kate Stewart's small time on screen. I hope to see more of her. The Brig was one of my all time favorite characters, and Kate seems to have personality.

    3. Speaking of The Brig, his part in the Three Doctors was fun. When he has to explain to his superiors who Patrick Troughton is, he tells them he's the Doctor's (Jon Pertwee) assistant. Also, it was The Brig's first trip in the TARDIS.

    4. I loved comparing Patrick Troughton's Doctor and acting style to Jon Pertwee's. Pertwee was the comedian, but played it straight and stuck to the script. Troughton was the better actor, but improvised his lines, so he came off much more natural. Their bickering was fun. They played off each other nicely.

  • ExUSA

    I enjoyed this episode for what it was, and ever since I realized that I didn't like Amy because of the way she was written (through no fault of her own, I've since come around on her in her waning days) but there are a few things I noticed during the ep which bugged me, one of which adds to my sneaking suspicion that Moffatt only has a finite amount of tropes in his wheelhouse.
    1) The nursing attendants a ripoff of The Empty Child gas masks. Why? There are so many cool types of aliens to imagine, why retread this? (Moffatt retreads a lot, dudes. Girl in the Fireplace= Amy's entire arc. I get the sneaking suspicion that he's a bit miffed he gave away his stuff to Davies, and is trying to redo it now he's the boss...)
    2) The scout child. This child presumably sat in the same waiting room for months, in the same clothes, in the same position (and lived without eating or moving, but that's another issue). Couldn't they had added in a throw away line about a perception filter or some such just to gloss it over? If Rory is the caring nurse we are told, presumably at least *he* would have noticed this child there day in and day out during his shift. Did I miss this explanation, or was it glossed over?
    3) I still saw bodies on the gurney in the background as Amy/Rory/The Doctor rushed off the exploding spaceship. They just left them there. WHY?????

    I've noticed a trend here that anyone who points out anything other than glowing praise for this incarnation of Who gets downvoted a lot. It's a bit silly, and I think discourages discourse about a show that people are very passionate about. I love Who, I just don't love this season that much. I think of the commentary on this site as a bit more intellectual, so it's a bit of a shame that you can't have a frank discussion, warts and all.

  • thisonenow

    I think there's a distinct difference between having a finite amount of tropes in one's wheelhouse and being particularly drawn to certain tropes/ideas so much that you keep wanting to explore them in different ways. Moffat is hardly the only writer/producer who likes to return to certain themes in their work over and over (really- let's be honest- this is true for every writer). I mean, there's a reason auteur theory exists.

    There's a lot of stuff about Moffat's work I like, and a few things I'm really not a fan of, but I can appreciate that maybe he wanted to revisit a great idea that he used in a single episode and re-work and explore it more with a multi-season arc.

  • Meenama

    Glad you are enjoying Amy during her swansong. Personally I'm glad she is off - however would have enjoyed seeing more of Rory and his dad Brian. In response to your points.

    1. Thought the cubed nursing attendants were brilliant. And no didn't think they were a rip off of the Empty Child gas masks. However believe the episode was rushed and should have been in two parts -- giving time to develop more aspects and characters of the story.

    2. Re. The scout child. Well maybe there was a perception filter of a sort masking her.

    3. The bodies on the gurney. The Doctor had just worked out how to resuscitate a third of the Earth's population and he is getting slapped for abandoning the 20+ bodies on the spaceship!


  • bleujayone

    The controversy about leaving people on the gurneys on the spaceship doesn't get counterbalanced by resuscitating all the other people on Earth because it isn't in the Doctor's character to leave ANYONE behind without even an effort to try to save them. He's destroyed entire armies, planets even his own incarnations for the sake of one human being. Once he realized Amy & Rory were still there, he should have said something like; "Well so long as you're here, go wheel the rest of those people back to the portal!" or some such line. Instead, they are treated like background props. The episode should have either stated that they were dead already or that they were too far gone to save. Also the whole thing about capturing people seemed to contradict the purpose of the cubes in the first place. But that's another can of worms. The point is, the Doctor would NEVER just ignore a human in need. Every failure to save someone has always been a tragedy in his mind.

  • Jezzer

    I just assumed the other people on the gurneys were dead, and they just hadn't killed Brian yet. A line to that effect would have been nice.

  • I appreciate a good discussion of any kind, especially Who. Sometimes fandoms can get so rabid that they can't even see straight. That's when it's time to pick up a book and go outside.

    I am glad that someone else had issues with the scout child and the fact that they just left those people behind. I told myself that the other people on gurneys were already dead, but that wasn't clear. I honestly wasn't sure why they were there in the first place. The cubes were scanning and observing humanity, so what was the point? I know that the focus of the episode was the integration of the Doctor into the Pond's homelife (which was lovely... I want the Doctor to have a Wii on the TARDIS and I *loved* his disdain of Twitter), but the resolution was laaaaaaame.

    I also am wondering about the timeline of this season. Are these airing in sequential order? I think that "A Town Called Mercy" could have occurred during the seven weeks that they were traveling during their anniversary party. Timey-wimey, indeed.

    However, that conversation with Amy was wonderful. Seared on my hearts. It reminded me of Ten with Donna. I'm definitely not ready for next week, even if it means the return of the Queen of the Badasses, River Song.

  • Milly

    People - including you and I - may down vote if they don't agree with a comment. When critiquing a tv programme, it's all opinion and like arseholes we all have one. I may not like yours, and you may not like mine, but we still have them.

    And unlike Rikishi, I'm not going to force mine on you when you're groggy by the turn buckle.

  • Blake

    Yes watching the scene with The Doctor and Amy was definitely moving, so much so I had to watch the first episode from Season 5 right after. I also don't understand all the hate directed towards Amy and as much as I'm looking forward to Oswin I will miss her.

    I think the promise of seeing a different version of Smith's Doctor and how Oswin will change him is the most exciting part of Amy's exit.

    Life was like...

  • Milly

    The Guardian's series blog made a nice comment about this episode, that it was full of the warmth and the deliberate tugging on emotions of the Russell Davies years, but not as overly sweet. After watching the episode for the third or so time, thank you BBC iPlayer, and smiling at certain sections, it was one I'll go back to time and again. You can view it out of sequence and it will still be touching, similar to the way that The Girl in the Fireplace can be watched by non-Whovians and enjoyed because of the social developments in one 45 minute period.

    If The Girl in the Fireplace was the Doctor in romantic love, then this episode showed the Doctor having love not just for Amy & Rory but for everyone he has called a friend.

  • Ted Zancha

    I'm a little freaked out and sad that next week is the last week for this part of the season. When does the show come back?

  • joe

    christmas day

  • "If that moment between The Doctor and Amy does not warm the heart of even the most fervent Amy Pond hater with that swelling score as a backdrop, then I have trouble imagining why that person would be watching Doctor Who at all at this point."

    You win. It was sweet and cozy. But I'm still jumping up and down in anticipation.

  • Nimue

    But, but my Rory.....he's the boy who waited.

  • Oh, but you know that's NOTHING compared to Amy giving him up. *eyeroll*

  • Scottieboy

    I understand that Sherlock qualifies for the Emmys because it receives money from BBC America, making it an "American" programme. Doctor Who doesn't, which is a shame. They're missing so much!

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