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The Big Bang
OK, kid. This is where it gets complicated.

In the final episode of series 5, and the second half of the first Season Finale to have been written by Steven Moffat, we find ourselves transported back to the 1990s, where, once again, the fate of the universe is at stake. Initially, as the above quote lampshades, we are dragged out of our comfort zones somewhat and presented with some rather strange and confusing occurances. Fortunately, these are intriguing rather than alienating, and before long it all starts to make sense.

While this story delivers all the excitement, dramatic scenes and big explosions that we've come to expect from these finales, it also contains a number of scenes that are very funny, particularly towards the start. Moffat also takes quite a different approach to plotting from Russell T Davies, and I felt it for the better: rather than attempt to tell an entire, especially dramatic narrative over the course of two episodes, with perhaps a few callbacks to earlier episodes, Moffat instead uses this episode to finish the story we didn't realise we'd been watching since "The Eleventh Hour". True, we had some clues in the form of the cracks in the universe, which have a clear precedent in the form of Davies' use of Arc Words, but Moffat takes the idea one step further. In this instance, not a single prior episode of the season is forgotten, and moments which might have seemed irrelevant (or at most a bit strange) the first time around are revealed to have been of vital importance to the story. The upshot of this is that "The Big Bang" is able to pace itself, allow time for the laughs and the scares and those wonderful character moments - this episode contains some absolutely perfect scenes and lines of that nature - and still manages to resolve itself, if not completely plausibly, then at least without resorting to deus ex machina.

Of course, one can easily turn that around into a criticism, which is that this story simply does not work as a standalone; you have to watch it in context to get the full effect. For that reason, I would not say it was an outstanding episode in its own right. As a season finale, however, it's definitely the best so far, serving as an excellent conclusion to the most cohesive story arc since the show's revival.
I'm weird: My favorite new series finale was Last Of The Time Lords. The Big Bang comes pretty close, however. Both tried to actually do new things and didn't just give in to fanwank like The End of Time, Doomsday, or Journey's End did. My personal favorite moment of this episode was the ending with the Doctor comforting Amy.

I didn't like the scene with the stone Dalek begging for mercy, however. The Pandorica Opens got the whole "single weakened but still dangerous monster menacing the heroes" thing much better with the damaged Cyberman. River owning the Dalek might have made her own character look cooler, but it also made its entire role in the episode seem trivial.
comment #7208 Scardoll 7th Apr 11
Agreed, that was a weaker moment. It also seemed out of character for a Dalek, which made River come off as a bit of a Mary Sue to me.
comment #7257 BobbyG 13th Apr 11
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