"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!"
— The Doctor
Written by Steven Moffat. 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 (well, not exactly...) after a bit of haggling, and, well, 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, you guessed it, "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. ...Ah.
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."
And 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? Well, 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?...Oh.
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. But they can surprise them; three of them against 12,000 battleships
and they'll be killed... you know what, never mind. And then Cybermen, too; but we can turn them against each other
, the Daleks are so angry they'll fight anyone! But there's more coming through: Sontarans, the Slitheen
. And 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.
But 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, well, dead (for 130 years, actually). 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. Well, 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. And 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? But 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 —
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 really 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?"
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: 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
And the aliens must have dropped the Villain Ball
, because they all get the hell out.
Well, 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 when the screen cracks, and 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
that 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?"
Underground, Daleks have appeared, along with Cybermen, Judoon, Sontarans, etc. The Pandorica opens. It is ready. 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
- 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: What Rory uses to stop himself killing Amy. And then, he falters for a moment. Possibly he faltered because he was distracted because he was so happy that Amy recognised him?
- Hidden Villain: Even though we know how they caused the cracks (by destroying the TARDIS), we still don't know who the real Big Bad is.
- Hope Spot: The aliens are scared of the Doctor's Badass Boast! Rory's been brought back! Haha, no.
- 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, this time he's the "goblin, or a trickster, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies". And like in the story, he's tricked. Big time.
- 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
- Large Ham: The Doctor's Badass Boast speech. And it is awesome.
- 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, 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. "Attempt" being the keyword here. 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 recent novel.
- Look, a Distraction!: The Doctor and Amy both do this in turn to the cyber-arm.
- Losing Your Head: The decapitated Cyberman actually 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. 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: Ohh, missing something obvious, Rory, something big, something right smack 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 A 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, nonetheless.
- 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 / Musicalis Interruptus: 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 uses it to buy 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. Or not, since the intergalactic coalition uses the myth of the Pandorica to trick the Doctor into finding it, so they can trap them. And then they place the Doctor inside, effectively making the myth true.
- Revenge Before Reason: The Alliance. The Doctor tries telling them why locking him in the Pandorica is a very bad idea. They don't listen.
- Robotic Reveal: Rory and the other Romans.
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: It certainly looks that way at the end...
- The Roman Empire
- Running Gag: "Hello, sweetie."
- Schmuck Bait: The Pandorica certainly borders on this.
- 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 throw 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 basically 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, more recently, Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) (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.
- 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.
- 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 for the Doctor.
- Tears of Joy: Amy, once Rory names himself to her. And she has no idea why.
- This Is My Boomstick: River awes the Romans this way.
When you fight Barbarians, what must they think of you? Roman Commander:
Riddles now? River:
Where do they think you come from? Roman Commander:
) 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
- Too Dumb to Live: Amy, ignoring several obvious signs that Rory is losing control of himself, including Rory frantically telling her to go.
- Took a Level in Badass
- Rory, though taking them at A-level happens in the next episode.
- How many fans felt about the Cybermen in this episode.
- Unwitting Pawn: Vincent, Churchill and River Song for the villain alliance's Kansas City Shuffle, 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: So very, very much.
- Who Will Bell the Cat?: The Doctor points this out in his speech.
- You Will Be Assimilated: A Cyberman head to Amy, word-for-word.