As all Doctor Who fans know this run of episodes will conclude with the last time we’ll see companions Amy and Rory and over the past few weeks hints have been dropped to why the couple will want to depart the Tardis. Over the past three episodes we have seen The Doctor visit the Ponds on a less regular basis, while they seem more eager to get back to their regular lives commenting at the end of last week’s mission that their friends will be wondering why they are rapidly aging. These themes come to a head at the start of this week’s episode, which is narrated by Amy, as Rory points out that they have two lives – regular life and Doctor life with the former not really getting a look in with the couple realising that they have to choose but just not straight away. We are told though that this was the only time that The Doctor stuck around as it was the year of the slow invasion.
The invasion comes from small cubes that start to appear overnight with nobody on Earth knowing exactly what’s going on of course a mystery like this eventually attracts The Doctor’s attention as he descends upon suburbia. The trio along with Rory’s dad Brian, once again played with gusto by the brilliant Mark Williams, attempt to discover what the cubes actually are by cooking them however they are quickly stopped by armed police. These police are soon revealed to be part of the Doctor Who military group known as U.N.I.T who are headed up here by Jemma Redgrave’s head of scientific research Kate Stewart, whose heritage will bring a smile to the face of older Doctor Who fans, she informs the group that they have tried everything to discover what secrets the cubes hold but have been unsuccessful. As the discovery of what the cubes actually want turns out to be a waiting game, and patience isn’t exactly The Doctor’s strong point, he decides to leave the cubes where they are essentially leaving Amy and Rory to their own lives.
The Doctor returns nine months later to celebrate the wedding anniversary of The Ponds and after some time-travelling hijinks agrees to stay with the couple for a time until he discovers what the cubes are actually being used for. The cubes eventually start to spring into action with each cube doing something completely different such as taking Amy’s pulse, attacking The Doctor or subjecting one pour soul to hearing ‘The Birdy Song’ on a loop for infinity. As the cubes begin to countdown The Doctor and Amy return to U.N.I.T’s special base underneath the Tower of London however they really should’ve followed Rory and Brian to work as all of the action seems to be taking place at the hospital what with the little girl with the glowing face, the evil twin doctors with weird mouths and that out-of-order lift that doesn’t just go to the next floor.
Though the cubes story is an intriguing plot the bigger story here is Amy and Rory’s lives constantly being disrupted by The Doctor and the continuing frustration that they feel when they drop everything in order to join him. Though you wouldn’t know it to look at them it’s been ten years on and off since Amy and Rory kicked off their married life meaning that they joined The Doctor on a much less regular basis. I was quite bemused that Amy, whose career CV essentially consists of kiss-o-gram and model, is now writing travel articles for a magazine while Rory is still working part-time at the hospital. As The Doctor goes off once again they essentially commit to long-term engagements her agreeing to be a bridesmaid at one of her friend’s weddings while he goes full time at the hospital however when their time-travelling pal reappears at their anniversary party they go off for seven months before returning to the party in different clothes with only Brian noting the difference. There are several fairly emotional scenes in this episode that are beautifully handled included one between Brian and The Doctor at the party where Rory’s dad wants to learn the fate of The Doctor’s previous companions where he has to admit that some of them have indeed snuffed it while with him. Some fans will also want to get their hankies out in the heart-to-heart that Amy and The Doctor share beside The Thames where he tells her he knew their split was coming but is sad as her face was the first that his face saw.
It is this story of Amy and Rory’s possible departure from the Tardis that is the much more engaging part of The Power of Three partly to do with the fine acting in these scenes and partly to do with the poor conclusion to the sci-fi portion of the show. Personally I found that the cube story was built up well with the mystery of why they were appearing and who was controlling them being an intriguing plot strand which also allowed for much comedy including Brian creating a daily log of the cubes’ activities and the revelation that a 1,000 separate Twitter accounts had been created for the cubes. In addition there were some inventive uses of guest stars, including Professor Brian Cox and Lord Sugar, which made the cube invasion sound like a realistic phenomenon that could indeed happen at any time. The re-introduction of U.N.I.T was also well done with Jemma Redgrave’s Kate being a great plucky heroine who is incredibly British and who I hope pops up again in future episodes as I liked the relationship she shared with The Doctor. My problem was that the way The Doctor finally overcame the problem of the cubes was a little hurried and seemed fairly simplistic with Amy’s final line also being a bit cheesy.
In contrast the focus on the Ponds’ life and how it is impacted by going off with The Doctor was handled and scripted splendidly as it blended the humour that the show is known for with some more tender scenes between the characters. I thought both Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan were great here playing a very believable married couple, albeit it one who occasionally travel through time and space, and they made you totally feel for them when they realised they had to start living their normal lives. Matt Smith was also great portraying The Doctor as both child-like, such as in the scene in which he busies himself with household chores so he doesn’t get bored, and later fairly emotional when he realises he must say goodbye to Amelia Pond. I also loved Mark Williams as Brian whose gone from being a baffled Brit abroad in Planet of the Dinosaurs to a gun-ho ideas man who wants the best for his son and daughter-in-law with his speech to the trio at the end of the episode also being fairly memorable it’s just a shame that the Ponds are leaving as I would’ve loved to have seen much more from Mr Williams.
For me The Power of Three will stick in the mind mainly due to the story involving the Ponds rather than the cube invasion which will probably appeal more to the younger audience. While I enjoyed the initial idea, as well as the introduction of Kate Stewart, I feel it petered out towards the end with their inevitable defeat feeling a little too easy. It was though a powerful penultimate episode for the Ponds exploring their relationship with The Doctor as well as their relationship with the real world and seeing them trying to make up their minds which one they want the most.
Did enjoy The Power of Three? Do you think it set up the Ponds’ final episode well? Leave Your Comments Below.