Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Whole Terrible Wonderful Universe of Impossibilities—The Rings of Akhaten review

Through crimson stars and silent stars and tumbling nebulas like oceans set on fire. Through empires of glass and civilizations of pure thought. And a whole terrible wonderful universe of impossibilities. 
--Night Terrors 
After reading the second half of this post, I realized the author’s three objectives for a companion’s first trip in the TARDIS fit nicely alongside some of the things I was still hoping to see in Clara.  I thought she needed to be enthusiastic, a good listener and compassionate—and all three of those traits were displayed in this episode.
First of all, the visuals. Oh my word, this is the most beautiful planet I’ve seen since Apalapuchia—and we don’t know how much of the scenery in the episode was the Two Streams Facility and how much was natural. And the inhabitants—we finally got some proper aliens. Okay, they were humanoid in the sense of bipedal, symmetrical, but they have unique facial features and clothing, so it counts. And they weren’t out to kill us, which is even rarer. The scenes at the end, with him silhouetted against the Old God, were beautiful in their starkness.
Secondly, the Queen of Years. Eleven is especially sweet when kids are around, and Merry Gejelh was no exception. Her scenes with Clara were adorable too. Full props to the actress—really, she had the most important role in the episode after the Doctor and Clara and she knocked it out of the park! And she’s only eleven years old. That mixture of fear and determination is so hard to pull off and she nailed it!
Speeches—oh, there were some absolutely wonderful ones

All the elements in your body were forged many, many millions of years ago in the heart of a far away star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space after so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets, and on and on it went. The elements came together, and burst apart, forming shoes, and ships, and sealing wax, and cabbages, and kings, until, eventually, they came together to make you. You are unique in the universe.
 When we’re holding on to something precious, we run. We run and run as fast as we can and we don’t stop running until we are out from under the shadows.”

I have lived a long life and I have seen a few things. I walked away from the last great Time War, I marked the passing of the Time Lords, I saw the birth of the universe and I watched as time ran out, moment by moment until nothing remained, no time, no space, just me. I walked in universes where the laws of physics were devised by the mind of a mad man.I watched universes freeze and creations burn,I have seen things you wouldn’t believe, I have lost things you will never understand - and I know things, secrets that must never be told, knowledge that must never be spoken… knowledge that will make parasite gods blaze! So come on then! Take it!
 Oh, my Doctor…it hurts, it hurts so much to see you in pain. To see you standing up to a vengeful god with nothing to offer but your worst memories—and then when Clara came with the leaf—-things that never were, infinities of possibilities, and of course I thought of River, and then the Ponds, and everyone he’s ever lost, from Susan to Katarina, the first companion who died, and Romana left in e-space….

But as for Clara, this episode showed her character much better than Bells did. She’s curious and eager for adventure, following the time-honored tradition of wandering off in strange places and making friends. And the way she talks to Merry—as a friend and an equal, treating her seriously. But she doesn’t hesitate to go after her when she’s in trouble either. She listened to Merry. All traits I was hoping to see—needed to see, to know that she’ll help the Doctor heal.
The lullaby at the end—that had better be on the soundtrack, or else!
(more coherant thoughts will follow at some point)

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