PICTURE & PLOT SPOILERS BELOW!
I don't neccesarily intend to give reviews of individual episodes as experience proves I can't normally keep it up. However, as the conclusion (of sorts) to "The Impossible Astronaut" which I pontificated on last weekend I feel I must rate this one.
Overall, this was a very slight disappointment, dropping down a gear from the opening episode and from its own non-sequiter pre-credits 'triple jeopardy' where Amy, Rory and River all appear to be executed at the hands of Canton's FBI squad . It still had a deal of tension and scares, but often squanders them with the abrupt changes in tone. Notably, River's skyscraper plunge is negated by a jokey splash into the TARDIS swimming pool and soon she and a fresh-out-of-a-body-bag Rory are campy escorts to President Nixon in full 1969 drag as they spring the Doctor from NASA.
I must say, as I forgot to last week, that River and Rory are a great team, if not the official one. The acting of Alex and Arthur is really excellent with both handling humour and heartache with equal aplomb. Arthur this week had ample time to emote as hard-done by Rory again had reason to believe his wife thought him second best to her Doctor. He also picked up the enigma of Rory remembering his 2000 years as the Auton-built Lone Centurion - I'm sure the already revealed return of this character (meeting the Cybermen) is being foreshadowed here. Of course this could merely be a flashback to the early days of the Pandorica Alliance.
There was a notable difference treatment in this episode over the threat and effect of the Silents. Apart from the creepy orphanage scenes, complete with a nest of 'sleeping' Silents hanging bat-like from the roof they were treated much more casually, notably admitting they had no need for weapons. This, added to their stumbling gait and need to 'charge up' to attack, diminished their threat factor. And ultimately the Doctor was able to stitch them up with their own powers televised for posterity. This seemed a clumsy resolution at first, but rather clever when I thought it through. Conversely though, the audience were directly given a dose of the Silents memory-wipe by deliberately missing bits out of the narrative, giving us all the disorientation felt by the characters. Some might say they had been disoriented enough by these two episodes of course!
Possibly what will piss off casual viewers most was the many threads left hanging, though I never expected anything except the central plot to be properly resolved. If anything this episode muddied the waters further - neither Amy nor the TARDIS scanner can really tell if she's actually pregnant and she finds a photo of her and the strange little girl in the latter's room in 1969. She also briefly saw an eyepatched woman peer from a window that apparently didn't exist - because of casting, that one I know is going somewhere later, but enough spoilers.
And then the most WTF! moment came as a 'six months later' epilogue when we see the girl in a bad state, but OK with it ... because she then regenerates! I did wonder if this bit was on preview screenings, as this came completely from leftfield. Another Moff triumph that! There's now a whole range of buffet options on the speculation table, led by the assertion that the girl is River, who in turn is Amy's daughter. Oh and kudos to the author for another kick in the gonads to the (so easily baitable) 'gay agenda' haterz re Canton's still very prescient aspiration.
As previously mentioned though, this was a bit of a notch down on the last episode. A couple of things that bugged me specifically:
1) what led to the opening sequence of Amy, Rory and River seperately on the run? What 's the story with Canton and his double-dealing? And why have Amy and Rory not changed clothes in 3 months - considering the accumulated tally marks they haven't washed in that time either. At least River is changing outfits! Doesn't bear much thinking about and does detract from realism for me. Amy must really like that redplaid shirt too - she's got it on again next episode even though she was latterly in a different outfit entirely. The non-sequiter opening also robbed us of a proper explanation of how last week's cliffhanger panned out, though Amy's shot missing the girl was briefly touched on.
2) The spacesuit. OK, this may eventually be addressed, but should have been explained as far as the Silents plans were concerned. I just couldn't work out why they needed a spacesuit and had to make mankind go all the way to the moon for it. Especially as it seems to be more than a spacesuit, able to repair itself and have an exo-skeleton for its child occupant. We really don't know who was using who and where the Silents are from - could they be Earth-native? Again, I know we haven't seen the last of them, so I hope more answers are forthcoming - this part of things just confused and frustrated me, more so as they are not the first race or being in "Doctor Who" who claim to have influenced the development on mankind since ancient times.
Screengrabs from Doctor Who Caps