Doctor Who: 704 “The Power of Three” Advance Review
Reviewed by Benjamin Tavener (Creator & Editor of GeographyBase)
Warning! While I have not included any large plot twists in my review, spoilerphobes should read ahead at their own risk!
One phrase that I would use to describe “The Power of Three” is “Calm before the storm”. I know this sounds very clichéd, but this one really is an exciting ‘running down corridors‘ episode in which the Ponds have their last ‘fun’ adventure with the Doctor.
In my honest opinion, this episode is one of the best this series. This is because unlike the last two episodes, “The Power of Three” is a perfect balance of adventure and emotion and is a success on so many levels. Although it’s the least “Hollywood-style” episode this series, its claustrophobic focus on the Pond’s life with the Doctor seems to draw you in. If you want to find out more about the dark horse episode of the series, then just carry on reading and get ready to get cubed…
This week’s episode, “The Power of Three” begins with a narration from Amy Pond, which is joined by a visually stunning montage of all of Amy’s adventures with the Doctor from “The Eleventh Hour” right up until last week’s, “A Town called Mercy”. We then learn that it is decision time for Amy and Rory and that the time has finally come to choose between a life with a Madman in a Box or a life of nursing and travel journalism. Which would you choose? The Ponds then wake up one summer’s morning to find themselves in, in the Doctor’s words, ‘the invasion of the very small cubes’. The episode develops when UNIT break into the Pond’s residence in search of the Doctor who is greeted by a somewhat familiar woman. It then develops into a waiting game, whilst the Doctor is living with Brian and the Ponds. Although the Doctor struggles to adapt to human life, it is nothing that a quick game on their Nintendo Wii can’t sort out. The plot climaxes when they discover that the Cubes have been waiting dormant, preparing to destroy the human race before they colonise.
The acting in this episode is once again phenomenal. Matt Smith gives one of his most comedic performances as the Doctor to date. Although saying this, he also gives a very strong emotional performance. For example, this is most evident in a scene in which he asks Amy whether she is thinking of stopping travelling with him. After last week, I didn’t think Matt Smith could get any better. Oh wait a minute, he just did! Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill are once again on top form and work really well here to show the Doctor that they have a life outside of his.
Also returning this week is Mark Williams who portrays Brian Williams (or Pond) as a much more adventurous character to the extent that he even produces his own vlog about the slow invasion. Finally, a new addition to the cast is Jemma Redgrave who plays Kate Stewart. Although she doesn’t clock up loads of screen time, she does well with what she has and immediately flows alongside the Eleventh Doctor.
The direction in “The Power of Three” is very different. I do, however, mean this in the best of ways. Douglas Mackinnon uses lots of news reports and TV extracts which emphasises the Earth setting and is very much reminiscent of other Earth invasion stories, such as “The Poison Sky” and “The Stolen Earth”. The director also uses nice smooth transitions between scenes. Most noticeably, Mackinnon directs one of the most humorous montages in Doctor Who. This montage shows the Doctor doing every single chore for Amy and Rory (fence painting, hoovering, fixing the car etc) to keep himself busy and relieve his boredom. This brilliant direction bodes well for Mackinnon’s return to Doctor Who next year.
In terms of the music, most of the tracks heard in the episode are ones written for previous series 7 episodes. In particular, most are taken from “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. However, I must say that I was very impressed to see them used in the right situations and although re-used they definitely suit the tone of these scenes. This said, however, Murray Gold has created a couple of new tracks which are both incredibly emotional and stereotypical sci-fi. For example, the main “Cubed” theme is both very atmospheric and lively.
My only real criticism of “The Power of Three” is the fact that the main alien threat, the Shakri, are presented with a total screentime of less than 5 minutes and this leads to a rushed resolution. However, I liked the fact that it is “Slow Invasion”, because this gave us lots of time for emotional development scenes between the three main characters. Although the cubes are not the main focus of the episode, I believe that the tears welling up at about 14 minutes in is worth the odd compromise here and there.
As per the past three weeks, there is a minimal change to the opening sequence in “The Power of Three”. This week, the Doctor Who logo seems to have been cubed as you can see dozens of cubes within the letters. This obviously represents the Cubes and re-affirms the theme of the number three which is a constant presence throughout the episode. Just after the episode title appears, the TARDIS materialises into a violet coloured vortex, perhaps representing the magical life with the Doctor which they cannot resist.
The main theme of this week’s episode is friendship and although presented as unbreakable in this episode, it is foreshadowed on many occasions that next week might just be the week we have all been dreading, the fall of the Ponds.
In conclusion, this episode is a fun penultimate episode for the Ponds and has done its utmost to make the characters of Amy and Rory so loveable. Although I was slightly disappointed by the alien threat, this was re-placed by a true heartfelt drama, one which will make next week’s episode even more heart-breaking. Well done Chris Chibnall, you have taught us that you can combine emotion with adventure to create one of the best episodes ever made.
Best Quote: (The Doctor):’ I’m not running away! But this is one corner, of one country, in one continent, on one planet, which is the corner of the galaxy, which is the corner of a universe, that is for ever 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!’
Episode Rating: 10/10
UK Airdate: 22nd September 2012 (BBC One & BBC One HD)
Written by Chris Chibnall Directed by Douglas Mackinnon
Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Pond-Williams), Mark Williams (Brian Williams), Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart), Steven Berkoff (Shakri), Selva Rasalingam (Ranjit), Alice O’Connell (Laura), Peter Cartwright (Arnold Underwood), David Beck (Orderly 1), Daniel Beck (Orderly 2), David Hartley (UNIT Researcher)