Doctor Who was back on Saturday with the penultimate episode of Series 7 Part 1, The Power of Three. Out of all five episodes from the first part of the series, this was the one that caught my attention the most. When it was filming we barely knew anything about it, only that it focused on an invasion of black cubes and had the return of UNIT. That’s all we really knew until we saw the first footage from it. It is writer Chris Chibnall’s second episode of the series (the other being Dinosaurs on a Spaceship), and he definitely didn’t dissapoint.
One day the humans wake up to find billions of black cubes everywhere. They don’t do anything, and they have no idea where they came from. The Doctor obviously investigates (with the help of UNIT), and as it takes about a year before they do something the Doctor has to do something he’s never had to do before: move in to his companions’ home. For the first time we get to see the everyday life of Amy and Rory Pond, which is actually rather boring. Their entire development this series is about how they have these normal lives and responsibilities away from the Doctor and are slowly drifiting away from him, and that’s highlighted in a great exchange between Amy and the Doctor. It’s the last time we’ll see the Pond’s happy before their dark ending in The Angels Take Manhattan next week.
Having the Doctor move in with them allows for some great comedy scenes, including the Doctor being driven up the wall by boredom and having to “be busy”, which includes playing football and painting a wall. It offers a strange explanation for why he travels all the time, a funny reason. Plus, technically, he is their son-in-law, so it only adds to the belief that Amy and Rory have to keep their crazy alien child under control.
Kate Stewart gets a fantastic introduction in this episode as the daughter of the late Brigadier and the new head of UNIT, and Jemma Redgrave and Matt Smith have great chemistry. We also get the welcome return of Brian Williams, Rory’s dad, who thankfully gets some more character development here. We see that he is willing to do anything for the Doctor (including watch the cubes for four days) but is worried for his son and his wife’s safety. He and the Doctor have a heartfelt exchange near the end where Brian asks him what happened to the other companions, in which we see a reference to the previous companion Adric (who was killed at the hands of the Cybermen), and the Doctor later promises to keep them safe, which unfortunately won’t happen.
As I previously said, Amy and Rory get lots of character development here and it sets up their last episode next week really well. Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill are, as usual, on top form, as is Matt Smith. But the best performance was definitely from Mark Williams as Brian Williams. It makes me incredibly sad that this is probably the last time we’ll see him. As I had previously said, Jemma Redgrave is great as Kate Stewart and I hope we see more of her.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all great for me, and I know many agree. The concept of the cubes is great, and the entire idea behind the episode, but I can’t help but feel that it was a bit of a wasted opportunity. We find out in the last five minutes of the episode that a race called the Shakri were behind it, and you know what? They were so forgettable that I can’t even remember what the reason behind the invasion was properly. The ending was utterly rushed, and there were a lot of plot holes. Why were the hospital staff (with cubes in their mouths) kidnapping hospital patients? What exactly was the point of the little girl? Why didn’t she draw attention? What was the point of abducting humans? And a lot of people didn’t notice this, but there were tons of hospital patients left on the Shakri ship when it exploded.
All in all, The Power of Three probably would have been better had it been a Doctor-lite story, really focusing on Amy and Rory. Maybe have a few appearances here and there, but not as much presence as he had in the real episode. The plot holes and rushed ending really took me out of my prior enjoyment of the story, which is why I can only give it a rating of…
Stay tuned to UTF this weekend for Everything You Need To Know About The Angels Take Manhanttan, and for the review of that episode sometime next week. And don’t forget to watch it either!