The Power of Three
It seems like ‘The Power of Three’ is going to be one of those episodes which divide opinion; indeed, the crowd that I was watching it with started debating its relative merits a good five minutes before it had even ended. On one hand I loved its sharp, modern edge, while on the other it’s been roundly criticised for being slow, lazy and not living up to expectations. So who’s right?
Firstly, the good bits. The signature style of Sherlock was all over this episode, from the smart floating text to the way the terribly ordinary setting of the house looked so blindingly cool. Not to mention that the way that the Doctor himself seemed somehow Holmes, leaping around, bored and mad, in a normal world. It was bright, edgy, sexy and new; the shape and concept of the episode was something we haven’t really ever seen before. While it had elements of the ‘Sontaran Stratagem’/’Poison Sky’ double episode, there was a different shape to the episode than we usually see, with the longer time frame changing the look of the whole thing. Although we all know and love the Doctor as the totally omniscient hero, it’s great to see him taking a little longer to work things out and being stumped for more than a couple of a seconds at a time, not to mention the fangirl dream that is the Doctor with a home life.
Seeing Amy grow up is turning out to be a great ride, as she sets aside the mini-skirts and boots for a more mature outlook; no longer is she the manic, reckless girl we saw in Asylum, but instead a loving, mature woman. If there’s one thing you can say about this episode it’s that it’s a very fitting tribute to the departing Ponds. Their life is full and fun and beautiful, they’re funny and they love each other. Despite all its faults, you can’t deny that this episode is full of warmth and love for the couple who have been the Doctor’s greatest companions.
On the other hand, a whole lot of the criticisms levelled against it are totally valid. Both the pace and the tone of the episode was chunky and uneven; some comic, some serious, with the long periods of tension and talk clumsily counterweighed with the three or so minutes of lightning fast action and exposition. The balance of characters was out too, as while the Doctor, Amy and Brian had a few touching moments, Amy and the Doctor’s emotional chat ran on just slightly too long and was slightly too mawkishly overwrought. Equally, a show only has enough space for so many show-stopping performances, and poor old Rory, who only recently managed to crawl out of the comedy side-kick trenches, ended up being relegated to make way for the others to emote madly. To be honest, it could have been an episode from the previous series, as despite having put this particular storyline to bed a long time ago Amy seems totally obsessed with the Doctor, with Rory barely featuring.
As for the elements which were totally nonsensical, don’t even get me started. The cube playing loud, stupid music? The Brigadier’s daughter? The numbers? The mashed-up face people? The featuring of Brian Cox and Sir Alan Sugar? The villain of the piece being an automated computer program?! I’m not looking for real quality here, just something that makes sense! Again, watching it you just can’t help but struggle with the feeling that while we love Doctor Who for being made by its biggest fans, recently we’re getting the first negative repercussions of this. Suddenly the men who’ve loved this all their lives have the chance to make it themselves, and while it’s cute, it’s a show, not their playground. It’s hard to shake the feeling that some of these episodes are just a jumble of all the things they always wished they could include.
‘The Power of Three’ made me unhappy. All style with no substance, it was disappointing right to the last cheesy, embarrassing, nonsensical line, and for the first time in this series I think it’s an episode that neither the young or the old fans will be able to find it in their heart to appreciate.