Recap: Doctor Who S31 E12 "The Pandorica Opens"
"Hello, Stonehenge! Who takes the Pandorica takes the Universe! But bad news everyone –- 'cos guess who! Hah! Except you lot — all whizzing about, it's very distracting. Could you all just stay still for a minute, because I. AM. TALKING!""Pandorica Opens" was written by Steven Moffat and it is the first part of the 2010 series finale.The episode opens in France, 1890. Vincent van Gogh is ill and screaming his head off, and the entire town can hear him. His doctor explains to Vincent's landlord that he's ill, but she's more concerned about his new painting. It's weirder than usual.Cabinet War Rooms, 1941. The Allies have found a painting in Arles, and it's confirmed as a genuine Van Gogh. After seeing the painting, Winston Churchill gets on the phone to the Doctor. River Song, in a 51st century prison, gets the call instead (relayed by the TARDIS) and breaks out after talking to Churchill. She makes her way to the Royal Gallery, and gets caught nicking the painting by Liz Ten, who lets her go after she sees the painting. River then is able to procure a vortex manipulator fresh off the wrist of a Time Agent (so fresh they're still attached!) after a bit of haggling, and travels in time.We join the Doctor, who's taking Amy to the oldest planet in the universe. There's a message on the cliff side that no-one's ever translated, but that changes today. "Why today?", Amy asks. Because of the TARDIS' Translator Microbes, answers the Doctor. They open the doors, and see in fifty-foot letters, "Theta Sigma, Hello Sweetie!". River's also left the Doctor some co-ordinates, which take the TARDIS to Roman Britain (102AD), where River's playing Cleopatra. As soon as the Doctor gets there, we finally get a peek at the painting; it's the TARDIS, and it's exploding!Luckily, Vincent has left date and map references on the painting, whose name is "The Pandorica Opens". The Doctor insists that it's a fairy tale, while River argues that if it is real, it's here, it's opening and it's related to the TARDIS going kaboom.Cut to the trio on horseback, riding to Stonehenge. River and Amy have a Timey-Wimey conversation about their goodbye last time; "I'll see you again when the Pandorica opens", River had said. Maybe she did say that, but she hasn't yet. Maybe she will have. They move aside a stone and go under Stonehenge. Inside, they find a huge box carved with complicated patterns and symbols: the Pandorica. More than just a fairytale, then, and something's trapped inside. "There was a goblin. Or a trickster, or a warrior. A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos", the Doctor says. Indestructible, can't be caught or reasoned with; it would just drop out of the sky and tear down their world. How did it get caught? Like all fairy-tales, a good wizard came and tricked him. Amy takes a moment to mention that it's a bit like Pandora's Box, her favourite book when she was a kid; all the bad things trapped inside it that came into the world when the box opened. This arouses the Doctor's suspicion: Amy's favourite subject at school, the Romans, and now her favourite childhood book. "Never overlook a coincidence. Unless you're busy, then always overlook a coincidence."It's opening from the inside, breaking all kinds of locks and safe-holders; what could get past all that? What could inspire that level of fear? And moreover, how did Vincent van Gogh know about it, since he won't even be alive for another few centuries? Stonehenge is broadcasting a warning to everyone, everywhere and everywhen; the Pandorica is opening.Wait a minute: a message to everyone, everywhere? So, who else is coming?At least 10,000 starships — but it could be 100,000, a million, a hundred million; the scanners are going into overload. A voice comes through; Daleks. Dalek battleships, at least 12,000 armed to the teeth. Not a problem because they have the element of surprise! The three of them can sneak attack the 12,000 battleships....and they'll be killed... you know what, never mind. Then Cybermen, too; but we can turn them against each other, the Daleks are so angry they'll fight anyone! Then there's more coming through: Sontarans, the Slitheen family, Judoon, Roboform, Chelonians, Nestene, Drahvins, Sycorax, Zygons, Atraxi, Draconians, Terileptils. They're all here for the Pandorica. What could it possibly be? Everything that's ever hated the Doctor is coming for him tonight. River tells him to run, just this once, just run; he can't win, he can't even fight.However, they have the greatest fighting force in the history of the earth with them: the Romans. River rides back to get help, but it's not easy; the general has seen through her Cleopatra gig. It mainly has to do with the real Cleo being in Egypt and dead (for 130 years in total), but don't worry, a faceless, voiceless Roman soldier appears in the doorway to help. Who could it possibly be?Back to Underhenge, the Doctor keeps scanning the Box, when Amy pulls out the engagement ring. "Are you proposing to someone?" she asks. No, it was a friend of his, the Doctor says, someone he lost. He tries to coax Amy into remembering Rory: sometimes, people fall out of the world, but they leave things behind; faces in photographs, half-eaten meals, luggage, rings. Nothing is ever completely forgotten; if they can be remembered they can come back. The night he picked Amy up — her house was too big, too many empty rooms. Doesn't it bother her that her life doesn't make any sense?Suddenly, something is shooting at them and the Doctor needs to get a closer look. He has a brilliant plan —"LOOK AT ME, I'M A TARGET!"Amy runs out in front while the Doctor gets behind it, tackling it to the ground and disabling it. He warns Amy to stay where she is, while a disembodied Cyberhead approaches behind her. It's crawling and scrabbling around on its wires, and tangling around her wrists (at which point the dessicated human head is ejected) while the arm shocks the Doctor. She slams it against a stone wall, but, before she can escape, a sleeping dart is shot into her neck. "YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED." The one-armed Cyberman walks in and picks up its head.Amy manages to stumble behind a big door and shut it. It rattles a bit and falls open, revealing the Cyberman with a sword stabbed through it and pinned to the wood. Amy passes out, but Rory, in full Roman gear, catches her and carries her out. The Doctor scans her and starts babbling, looking at two huge Cyberguns; Cybermen, Cyberweapons, why is one of them in there, was it locked in by one of its own? There's something right in his face that he's missing, something right in front of him, something big. He'll get it in a minute. He walks away from Rory and —Wait.He pokes Rory quite apprehensively. "Rory, I'm not trying to be rude, but you died. You died and then you were erased from time. You didn't just die, you were never born at all. You never existed." Turns out, Rory doesn't have an answer either. He just died and became a Roman centurion. It's sort of distracting. He walks over to the sleeping Amy. "Did she miss me?" Oh, Rory.There's commotion above them before the Doctor can answer, and the sky above Stonehenge is filled with all kinds of alien spaceships. They're surrounded. The Doctor tells River to get the TARDIS to him, while he grabs the scanner and shouts into it. He addresses each and every single one of the starships: could they all stop whizzing about please, because "I! AM! TALKING!". Who has the Pandorica? He does, next question. Who's coming to take it? Look at him:
— The Doctor
The Doctor: No plans, no backup, no weapons worth a damn. Oh, and something else I don't have: anything to lose. So, if you're sitting up there with your silly little spaceships and your silly little guns and you've any plans on taking the Pandorica tonight; just remember who's standing in your way. Remember every black day I ever stopped you and then, AND THEN, do the smart thing. (beat) Let somebody else try first.The aliens must have dropped the Villain Ball, because they all get the hell out. For half an hour, anyway, to decide who gets to take the first shot.On the TARDIS, River is having some problems. It's not dematerialising right, and it can't be controlled.Back to Stonehenge where Amy's waking up, she bumps into Rory and recognises him as the guy who... did the... swordy thing. The Doctor sends her up to get some fresh air. Rory is rather traumatised and angsts for a bit before the Doctor shuts him up and tosses him the ring. There's no explanation to this; Rory was eaten up by a crack in time and space and now he's here with a head full of Roman memories. It's unexplainable, and to be honest, rather distracting, but the universe is big and sometimes impossible things just happen and people call them miracles. The Doctor's never seen one, but this is close enough. Rory goes after Amy.The TARDIS and River have landed, but the screen is showing a mess of nothing. River goes out the door and the screen cracks. Suddenly a creepy voice from nowhere announces "silence will fall". They've landed outside Amy's house on June 26th, 2010. The door's been broken wide open and there are burn marks on the grass. In Amy's room, River finds a picture book of Romans and Pandora's Box. They're exactly the same Roman soldiers from Stonehenge; maybe they're illusions, maybe they're cover-ups, but they were created from Amy's memories. Then she notices a photo of Amy and Rory together, the latter dressed as a centurion, and we realize that Rory is also a construct.Rory tries to get Amy to remember him. She's crying, but she doesn't know why. She's happy, but why is she happy?The TARDIS is still uncontrollable, the doors won't open and again that creepy voice from nowhere says "silence will fall". The Pandorica gives off a high-pitched whine and suddenly all the Romans stop, including Rory. A light comes from the Pandorica and when the Romans start up again, the ones underground are frog-marching the Doctor towards it. In reality, the Romans are perfected Autons, part of the Nestene consciousness, made to forget what they really were — until it was time. Rory's struggling to keep hold of his humanity, while trying to get Amy away. "I'm Rory! I'm Rory! I'm Rory —""— Williams. From Leadworth. My boyfriend. How could I ever forget you?" Oh, Amy.Underground, Daleks have appeared, along with Cybermen, Judoon, Sontarans, etc. The Pandorica opens. It is ready. For what? For the Doctor. Above ground, Rory's lost his hold and shoots Amy while clinging to her.The aliens watch while the Doctor is dragged into the Pandorica. River re-wires the TARDIS. Amy dies.Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans; they've all formed an alliance against the Doctor. They have deduced that the cracks in time are threatening reality and erasing all other universes, and that they have spawned from the explosion of the TARDIS. They're here to save reality from the Doctor under the (false) logic that only he can pilot the TARDIS, shutting him in the Pandorica (while he shouts desperately) in hopes that the TARDIS won't explode without him around. Elsewhere in time and space, River opens the TARDIS doors to... a slab of concrete, as behind her the ship starts to explode. "I'm sorry, my love." The alliance has failed. We zoom out from Rory holding Amy's body, a shot of the Earth against stars and galaxies exploding until all fades out in a black void of nothingness —And then the background music stops, mid-note.Silence has fallen.note
- Action Prologue: The prologue is over six thousand years of a painting traveling from Earth to the Doctor. The action kicks in when River Song is involved and breaks out of prison.
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Amy finds herself stroking Rory's face and can't understand why.
- All There in the Manual: Steven Moffat said that the Cybermen seen in this episode, despite the fact that they have the Cybus logo on their chest, are in fact the Mondas Cybermen. The only reason they look that way is a low budget.
- And I Must Scream:
- Cyber-assimilation, according to the Doctor.
- The fate intended for the occupant of the Pandorica is to be locked into a small cube, under time stop, forever.
- ...And That Little Girl Was Me: Amy thinks this is the case when the Doctor tries to remind her about Rory with his little speech about people "dropping out of the world", asking him if the "she" he lost was nice. The Doctor just decides to change tack.
- Apocalypse How: Metaphysical Annihilation on an omniversal scale. Every sun going supernova at once. It'll be as if the universe never existed.
- Apologetic Attacker: Rory is forced to kill Amy, apologising all the time.
- Arc Words: "The Pandorica Opens" are wrapped up here, since it opens.
- Artistic License – History: The Doctor correctly notes that Stonehenge was already ancient in 102 A.D., but fails to mention that it was a lot more complete, having been gradually quarried over the centuries until becoming a public site. Of course, rebuilding Stonehenge would have been beyond the show's budget.
- The Assimilator: A Cyberman head tries to clamp around Amy's and cyberize her.
- Back from the Dead: Subverted. Rory has returned as an Auton doppelgänger with his memories.
- Badass Boast: Eleven delivers his best speech here, telling everyone fighting over the Pandorica to remember just how many times he's beaten each of them, and to do the smart thing; "Let someone else try first."
- Badass Normal: At first, Rory-as-Centurion seems like this because of his impressive "swording" of a cyberman and then volunteering with fifty of his own soldiers to secure the Pandorica. Then it turns out that he's actually an Auton....
- Batman Gambit: The villains spread rumours of the Pandorica across space and time to trick the Doctor into going there. "A trap the Doctor couldn't resist!"
- Bat Phone: Churchill calls the Doctor, but the call gets diverted to River Song.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: "I hate good wizards in fairy tales. They always turn out to be him." It's a Shout-Out to the Seventh Doctor story "Battlefield", where the Doctor was revealed to be Merlin. It may be worth noting at this point that the Doctor's fate at the end of the episode is quite similar to Merlin's (sealed in an impenetrable cave / castle of air / whatever for the whole of eternity) and may lead to thematically similar results (without Merlin, Arthur's Britain falls; without the Doctor, the universe will cease to exist).
- Big Damn Heroes: Rory-as-Centurion kills the Cyberman in the crypt in the nick of time to save Amy
- Body Horror: The Cyberman helmet trying to assimilate Amy.
- Buffy Speak:
- "Oh, you're the guy, yeah? The one who did the swordy thing." "Thanks for the swording."
- Rory also gets one, too: "... and then I was here, a Roman, a proper Roman, head full of Roman... stuff."
- Catch Phrase: No River Song episode is complete without "Hello, sweetie" (always in a place you would never expect to find it) and "Spoilers!"
- Chekhov's Gun: The ring that's been mounted on the fireplace is finally fired.
- Chick Magnet: River sees a virtual Stalker Shrine of Doctor dolls and toy TARDIS in Amy's room and wonders why she lets the Doctor out of her sight.
- Combat Tentacles: A Cyberman head located outside the Pandorica has a bunch of wires which function for attack and entanglement.
- Comically Missing the Point: Rory, had been erased from time but came back as a Nestene copy with all Rory's memories, notices that the Doctor Failed a Spot Check.The Doctor: I'm missing something Rory. Something that is right in front of me.
Rory: Yeah, I get the feeling.
The Doctor: Don't worry. I'll figure it out in a minute.
- Comforting Comforter: Rory gets a bit jealous when he finds one of his soldiers gave Amy a blanket.
- Continuity Nod:
- You should never put the Doctor in a trap.
- This time Rory is the one wielding a sword, unlike last time.
- Not the first time the TARDIS has exploded.
- For the supposed threat of ending the existence of the universe, the Doctor is kept imprisoned by all of his enemies who are afraid of him. In this respect, he has become, in the eyes of his enemies, a threat no better than RASSILON HIMSELF.
- The Doctor's Academy Nickname, ΘΣ or Theta Sigma, first mentioned as far back as the Fourth Doctor serial "The Armageddon Factor", is part of River's message.
- The Doctor's "No plans, no backup, no weapons worth a damn!" calls back to "The Parting of the Ways" in Series 1.
- The episode is a "direct sequel", according to Moffat, to every episode except "Amy's Choice":
- The episode, from the Doctor's perspective, takes place very shortly after "The Lodger".
- The episode also takes place at around the same wibbly-wobbly time as "Vampires of Venice".
- Part of the episode takes place shortly after the end of "The Eleventh Hour" and "Flesh and Stone".
- The episode takes place before "The Time of Angels" and "Flesh and Stone" from River's perspective.
- The Atraxi ("The Eleventh Hour"), Daleks ("Victory of the Daleks") and Silurians ("The Hungry Earth"/"Cold Blood") are part of the Alliance.
- Van Gogh ("Vincent and the Doctor"), Winston Churchill ("Victory of the Daleks"), and Liz 10 ("The Beast Below") play the part of message couriers.
- Every episode has either been meeting message couriers, discovering cracks or Amy and Rory's relationship developing. All three things become incredibly important in this episode.
- River gets a Vortex Manipulator "fresh off the wrist of a handsome Time Agent" (the people Captain Jack used to work for). Except it's on the wrist, so not Jack himself (unless he got a new wrist).
- The Doctor sonics a severed but animate arm to deactivate it, only to have it come back to life and attack him. At least this time he realises the possibility of it playing possum.
- The Doctor's fate resembles Merlin's (trapped forever in an impenetrable prison by someone who uses his own power against him). In the Seventh Doctor episode "Battlefield", the Doctor turns out to be Merlin. He should have paid attention to the end of that particular story...
- The Underhenge's background music contains a lot of cues from the Cyberman stories of the Tenth Doctor.
- The Doctor's speech to scare off the alien fleet is possibly what River will be/was referring to when she tells the Tenth Doctor "Armies will flee in your wake" in "Forest of the Dead".
- Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: In-universe example: "Only the Doctor can pilot the TARDIS."
- Cranium Chase: Amy finds a Cyberman head that still manages to be a threat thanks to Combat Tentacles. After she gets some distance...
- Darkest Hour: To catalogue: Amy is dead, Rory's the undead auton who killed her, the Doctor's locked in the perfect prison, River's in the exploding TARDIS, the crack in Amy's wall is about to devour all of time and space and that's because these things are all true. It could only be worse if there were snakes in here.
- Deadly Hug: Auton-Rory does this to Amy, who refuses to flee despite his increasingly desperate warnings that he will kill her. He does, and with a finger lazer.
- Deadpan Snarker: "Yeah, I think you probably are."
- Delayed Reaction: "I'm not exactly one to miss the obvious..." and, a few seconds later, "Missing something obvious, Rory, something big, something right slap in front of me, I can feel it!" "Yeah, I think you probably are..." "I'll get it in a minute!" He does. And "it" is that the guy he's talking to died and was erased from time quite a while ago. The look on his face is priceless.
- Dissimile: The Doctor uses one to explain what the Cybermen do: "It's just like being an organ donor, except you're alive and sort of... screaming" .
- Downer Ending: Amy is killed by Auton Rory, River is trapped in the T.A.R.D.I.S as it explodes, causing the Time Cracks which lead to the end of the universe, and the Doctor can't do anything about any of this because he's just been locked in the comos' best prison.
- Dynamic Entry: Rory's Big Damn Heroes.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Pandorica was built to hold "a nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies:" the Doctor.
- The End of the World as We Know It: The end of the episode — the whole universe is RetGone.
- Face Framed in Shadow: Rory's first appearance.
- Foregone Conclusion: River has favourable memories of the events pertaining to the Pandorica, as established in each of the two stories we've seen connected to her. Then again, this is Who; Timey-Wimey and all that...
- Foreshadowing: The Doctor notices something's oddly coincidental when he founds out that Pandora's Box was Amy's favourite book, and Roman history was Amy's favourite subject.
- Fridge Logic: "Does it ever bother you, Amy, that your life doesn't make any sense?", for an In-Universe example.
- Funny Background Event: During the Doctor's phone-call with River, while she's at Amy's house, you can see a Roman briefly wielding the Cyberman's weapon, trying to look Badass. Several of them, in fact. As the scene continues, it's clear that they've lined up to have their turn at it.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Rory wants to know which Roman gave Amy her blanket.
- Heroic Willpower: Rory uses this to fight his Auton programing. He lasts much longer than the other Autons but the finger lazer comes out regardless.
- Hidden Villain: Even though we know how they caused the cracks (by destroying the TARDIS), the Big Bad isn't revealed for three and a half years.
- Hope Spot: The aliens were scared off by the Doctor's Badass Boast! Rory's been brought back! Haha, no.
- Hollywood Torches: Which the Doctor lights with his sonic screwdriver.
- Humanity Ensues: Auton-Rory is the only one to fight his programming.
- Internal Homage:
- Ironic Echo:
- Variation — the message relayed by the one-off heroes at the beginning turns out to have been sent by the Legion of Doom pretending to respond to it.
- According to River, the Doctor usually turns out to be "the good wizard". Turns out that this time he's the "goblin, or a trickster, or warrior soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies". Like in the story, he's tricked.
- Instant Sedation: Averted; Amy takes a long time to go down after being hit with a tranquilliser, and feels significant effects before she does so.
- Kansas City Shuffle: The entire legend of the Pandorica is just a cover story for the villain alliance's plan to lure the Doctor to the Pandorica and trap him inside. By doing this, they aim to stop the cracks destroying the universe.
- Landmarking the Hidden Base: Stonehenge is an X that marks the Pandorica. If you were to bury the most dangerous thing in the universe, you'd want to remember where you put it.
- Large Ham: The Doctor's Badass Boast speech is loud, dramatic and awesome.The Doctor: Could you lot just stay still for a minute 'cos IIIII! AAAAAAAMM! TAAALKIIIIING!
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: June 26th, 2010, the date of the explosion that caused the cracks in time and space, is the airdate of the next episode, The Big Bang.
- Legion of Doom: The Daleks, Cybermen, the Sontarans, the Judoon, the Hoix, the Weevils and the Blowfish, the Uvodni, the Sycorax, the Silurians, the Autons and Nestenes, the Atraxi, the Terileptils, the Draconians, the Roboform, Zygons, Slitheen, the Drahvins and the Chelonians (from the Doctor Who Expanded Universe) have all joined forces to attempt to prevent the explosion of the TARDIS and thus The End of the World as We Know It by imprisoning the Doctor in the Pandorica. It also counts as an Enemy Mine for the Daleks and Cybermen in regards to "Doomsday". Of note is that the Atraxi, Weevils, Uvodni and the Blowfish are merely easily-missed extras in crowd shots whereas the Terileptil, Draconians, Drahvins, Chelonians and Slitheen only "appear" as name-checks by River. River also mentions the Haemogoth, an obscure race that were only mentioned in a novel.
- Look, a Distraction!: The Doctor and Amy both do this in turn to draw the cyber-arm's fire. "LOOK AT ME! I"M A TARGET!"
- Losing Your Head: The decapitated Cyberman spends most of the episode trying to regain its head.
- Manchurian Agent: The Romans are actually Autons programmed to think they're human, including Rory. They're so well-programmed that they even respond to River's lipstick.
- Not Now, We're Too Busy Crying over You: The episode makes an Overly Long Gag out of the Doctor completely failing to make the connection that the person he's talking to is Rory, a companion he had mourned the loss of in a previous episode. It ends up being just a simulacrum of Rory, but one that seems to have Rory's soul.The Doctor: No, I'm missing something obvious, Rory, something big, something right slap in front of me, I can feel it...
Rory: Yea, I think you probably are.
The Doctor: I'll get it in a minute.
The Doctor: Hello again.
- Not Using the Z Word: Just like in their only previous appearance in the Revival Series, the Autons are never referred to as Autons. Their being controlled by the Nestene Consciousness is mentioned but not their name.
- Oblivious to His Own Description: The Doctor tells us of the legend of the being trapped inside the Pandorica: "A goblin. Or a trickster, or a warrior. A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. Nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it — one day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world." The Doctor doesn't seem to realise that sounds exactly what his enemies would describe him as.
- Oh Crap!:
- River as she watches the TARDIS exploding.
- She wrenches the TARDIS doors open, as the BBC orchestra play a triumphant high note. Only to find a concrete wall in her way. Biggest Oh Crap! moment ever.
- The Doctor has one as well when the Alliance reveal that they truly did make the Pandorica to trap what they consider the most dangerous being in creation: HIMSELF.
- The black market salesman in the beginning, when River Song reveals that she drugged his drink with micro-explosives.
- Opening Shout-Out: The scene of River flying the TARDIS while dodging lighting strikes.
- Painting the Medium: A favourite of Moffat's: in the last few seconds of the episode even the BGM stops. "Silence... will fall."
- Playing the Heart Strings: As the Legion of Doom march the Doctor into the Pandorica, only the swelling strings can be heard.
- Poison-and-Cure Gambit: River puts micro explosives into a dealer's wine and then offers him the detonator to buy for her black-market vortex manipulator.
- Pre-emptive Declaration:Salesman: What kind of micro-explosives?
River: The kind I just put in your wine.
- Real After All: The Pandorica is no fairy tale. The intergalactic coalition uses the myth of the Pandorica to trick the Doctor into finding it, so they can trap them. Then they place the Doctor inside, effectively making the myth true.
- Revenge Before Reason: The Alliance is too busy locking the Doctor away to listen to him explaining why locking him in the Pandorica is a very bad idea.
- Robotic Reveal: Rory and the other Romans are revealed to be autons when they react to the signal and produce finger lazers.
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: It certainly looks that way at the end when the suns explode.
- Running Gag: "Hello, sweetie."
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Doctor investigates the eponymous Pandorica, which is advertised as containing the most feared being in the universe and is starting to open. It's empty. The Pandorica was created by a coalition of the Doctor's enemies to trap him inside, because they believe he will destroy the universe, and it's opening so that they can put him in — due to time-travel, he has arrived before the myth started. The Doctor is predictably fascinated; "What could be so dangerous?" he wonders. You.
- Sealed Good in a Can: Although from the point of view of the people sealing the can, they're sealing an evil.
- Shipper on Deck: The Doctor throws the engagement ring to Rory and tells him to go get the girl.
- The Cyberman head saying "You will be assimilated" to Amy is a nod to the arguments about whether the Borg was copied from the classic Cybermen and whether the new series Cybermen were overly influenced by the Borg.
- The "oldest text in the universe" that River uses to communicate with the Doctor near the beginning sounds very similar in the Doctor's description to God's Final Message to His Creation from So Long And Thanks For All The Fish. note Especially since, thanks to Douglas Adams being a Doctor Who writer and script editor, there's already been a fair amount of crossover and cross-pollination.
It could also be a shout-out to the spin-off novel Set Piece, where one of the Doctor's companions uses the same trick to arrange a rescue after being stranded in Ancient Egypt.
- The Cyberman head crawling along on tentacles is straight out of The Thing (1982) or the facehuggers in Alien.
- The Cyberman re-attaching its head is very similar to a scene in The Faculty or a certain death-scene from the game Dead Space.
- The idea of agents/replicants who do not know their true nature and, on a signal, activate their attack goes back to The Manchurian Candidate (hence the Manchurian Agent trope) and Battlestar Galactica (2003) (Rory's shock as he activates and tries to march off is similar to the Tomato in the Mirror Cylons).
- Skyward Scream: The Doctor calling out to every monster in the sky: "I. AM. TALKING!"
- Soundtrack Dissonance: A beautifully tranquil version of Amy's theme plays in the episode's final scene as Amy dies in Rory's arms, the Doctor is sealed in the Pandorica, River fails to prevent the TARDIS from exploding, and the universe ends.
- Spy Catsuit: River breaking into the Royal Collection wears a tight black outfit that shows off her cleavage.
- Stable Time Loop: The Alliance creates the Pandorica based on a book Amy read, which recounts the myth of Pandora's Box. Since the Pandorica is shown to transmit its signal to all time periods, it's implied to be the original inspiration for the myth.
- Subverted Trope: Count 'em.
- Back from the Dead, Death Is Cheap: Nope, that's not the real Rory.
- Evil Versus Evil: Looks like the Legion of Doom's been just fooling the Doctor with their fleet.
- Real After All: The Doctor has passed off the Pandorica as a Fairy Tale, now he sees the real thing. Except it is just a Fairy Tale, and this one has been created by the allied villains as both trap and bait for him.
- Sealed Evil in a Can was actually Sealed Nothing in a Can and a Batman Gambit. Although the Alliance are attempting to seal an evil being into the sturdiest can they can make.
- Badass Boast: The boast, while awesome, did not really make the Legion of Evil Aliens flee, it was all part of the plan.
- Big Damn Villains: Hohoho, they think they're saving the universe. They're not. As of the next episode, they actually did. Just not as they intended.
- Heroic Willpower: Auton!Rory can't stop himself from killing Amy.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Commander Stark for General Staal. Completely justified, as the Sontarans are a clone race, but it's still only the third time in the entire series, old or new, that the same actor has been brought back to play a different Sontaran. Since the Sontarans only appeared in four classic-series stories, it is even more justified.
- Sympathetic P.O.V.: When all of the alien species conspire together to put the Doctor in the Pandorica, it shows us that, from their POV, the Doctor is the bad guy, whereas we've always seen him as the good guy who always defeats the evil aliens.
- Tailor-Made Prison: The Pandorica has every form of security, from time stops and deadlocks to matter lines. Layers upon layers of it to hold the single most dangerous being in all the universe.
- Tears of Joy: Amy cries once Rory names himself to her and she has no idea why she's so happy.
- This Is My Boomstick: River awes the Romans this way.River: When you fight Barbarians, what must they think of you?
Roman Commander: Riddles now?
River: Where do they think you come from?
Roman Commander: (draws sword) A place more deadly and more powerful and more impatient than their tiny minds can imagine.
River: (pulls out a blaster and disintegrates a table) Where do I come from?
- Time Travel Tense Trouble:Amy: Okay, this Pandorica thing. Last time we saw you, you warned us about it, after we climbed out of the Byzantium.
Amy: No, but you told the Doctor you'd see him again when the Pandorica opens.
River: Maybe I did. But I haven't yet. But I will have.
- Title Drop: The Pandorica Opens is the title of Vincent's painting.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Rory is not the human Amy and the Doctor traveled with. He's an auton.
- Took a Level in Badass
- Rory is no longer making a fool out of himself when he tries to fight. Now he's a roman centurion, a proper roman, filled with "roman stuff" who can bring down a Cyberman! With a sword.
- Unwitting Pawn: Vincent, Churchill and River Song unknowning aid the villain alliance's Kansas City Shuffle to trap the Doctor along with the Doctor himself. River again, and potentially the villains themselves, for the as-yet-unrevealed real Big Bad.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: In the jail scene, look carefully where River takes her knock-out lipstick out from.
- Villain Team-Up: Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Autons and several other evil and aggressive aliens want to prevent the Doctor from destroying the universe. Hence the Alliance.
- Wham Episode: Rory's an auton, Amy's dead, River's stuck in the Tardis, The Doctor's sealed inside the greatest prison in the universe, and the universe has begun ending.
- Who Will Bell the Cat?: The Doctor points this out in his speech; he's defeated all of them, time and again, so who wants to take a shot first?