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Recap / Doctor Who S32 E1 "The Impossible Astronaut"

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The Impossible Astronaut
Doctor, remember where you are...
Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Toby Haynes
Production Code: 2.1
Air date: 23 April 2011
Part 1 of 2

You're going to have to trust us this time.
You have to do this, and you can't ask why.
Amy Pond

The one made in America, with Tricky Dick, a queer guy in the FBI (who now brings Superwholock one step closer to reality), an eyepatch lady in the wall, and an assassination... meant for the Doctor.

And the Doctor adopted a Stetson. Which was also shot. But unlike the fez, it lived. Give that hat a Purple Heart... to patch the bullet hole.

Seems like we're forgetting something...
(sound of rattling breathing)
Oh, well.

Amy and Rory haven't seen the Doctor for two months, though they've discovered references to ridiculous adventures of his throughout history. They receive a letter through the post: a map reference and a date, inside an envelope of TARDIS blue numbered "3". In the distant future, River Song receives a similar envelope, numbered "2", within the Stormcage.

The message leads them all to Utah, where they meet up with the Doctor. Even more time has passed for him since Amy saw him last, he’s nearly two hundred years older, and he talks merrily about the Moon landing in 1969 while stating that they're going to see it now.

But first, the four have a friendly picnic on a present day lakeshore, and the Doctor explains that he's been running away from something for the last two centuries. And he's got to stop running now. The camaraderie is interrupted by the arrival of a number of enigmatic figures: a tall shadow witnessed by Amy, then just as quickly forgotten; an older man carrying a jerry can; and strangest of all, an astronaut rising from the lake. The Doctor warns the others to stay back, whatever happens, before walking forward to talk to the astronaut. After a brief conversation, which neither the other characters nor the audience hear, the astronaut shoots the Doctor, causing his companions to freak out while he begins to regenerate.

And he's quickly shot again. In the middle of regenerating. Which kills him permanently.

The mysterious astronaut then sinks back into the lake, apparently unaffected by an enraged River's gunshots.

Amy can't believe it. But at this point, the old man explains that it is indeed the Doctor, and that he is truly dead. The can he carries contains gasoline, to burn the Doctor's body; River notes empires would fight over the corpse of a Time Lord and Rory suggests they give their friend a proper Viking funeral using a nearby boat. Afterwards, the old man introduces himself as Canton Everett Delaware III, adding that this is the last time he'll see them, but that they'll see him again. He explains his presence as being due to another mysterious envelope, his marked "4". After he leaves, River notices that they haven't seen anyone bearing an envelope with a "1" — who does the Doctor trust most of all?

The answer, to their shock and disbelief, is the Doctor himself — but a younger version, only slightly older than when he left Amy and Rory last series (listing his age as 909). And he's having a Coke at the diner where they all met up earlier that day. After getting past their initial reaction of shock and anger (and after River slaps him in the face), they're able to convince him to travel to 1969. Although hesitant, the Doctor is willing to blindly trust Amy (but not River) after making sure she isn't being compelled or threatened somehow.

In 1969, a younger Canton Everett Delaware III is recruited by President Nixon to investigate a mysterious daily phone call that the President receives from a terrified young girl. Canton isn't thrilled: he was kicked out of the FBI recently because he wanted to get married. Nixon manages to coax him into working as a freelance agent for now. They're interrupted, though, when the TARDIS materialises in the White House and the Doctor fails miserably to be sneaky about it.

Nixon: But who — but who are they? What is that box?
The Doctor: It's a police box, can't you read? I'm your new undercover agent, on loan from Scotland Yard. Code name: the Doctor. These are my top operatives: the Legs, the Nose, and Mrs. Robinson.
River: [scoffs] I hate you.
The Doctor: No you don't.

The Doctor is able to convince the President — after some difficulties with the Secret Service — that he is capable of solving the mystery. He will, however, need A SWAT team ready to mobilize, street level maps covering all of Florida, a pot of coffee, 12 jammy dodgers and a fez. He realises that the child's "name", Jefferson Adams Hamilton, was actually answering the President's question "Where are you?". It's a little girl, and she's is at an intersection of streets each named after these of the founding fathers. (Two of whom, the Doctor remarks, fancied him, but considering the fact that "The Doctor lies...")

Meanwhile, Amy excuses herself to go to the bathroom, because she's feeling sick. In there, she has an encounter with the shadow she saw earlier: a terrifying alien in a nice suit. The thing casually kills another woman, and warns Amy that she must tell the Doctor something. As soon as anyone looks away from these aliens, though, they forget that they have ever seen them. Amy, in a smart mood, manages to take a photo of the creature using her phone.

Our heroes and Canton travel to the location that the Doctor deduced, finding strange alien technology there — including an astronaut suit. The Doctor realises that when the little girl said she was scared of a space man coming to "eat me", she probably meant the suit. River and Rory investigate an underground passage, unaware that it is full of the strange aliens which they keep seeing and forgetting. River tells Rory that she lives her whole life hoping to find the Doctor again, but that each time she sees him, he's younger and he recognises her less and less. One day, she says, she'll look into his eyes and he won't know who she is. And her sheer grief might kill her.

They discover a weird, TARDIS-like vessel which Amy and the Doctor might have recognized, but before they can discover anything about it, something unseen happens to Rory.

Canton runs off after he hears the little girl again calling for help; following him, the Doctor and Amy find him unconscious, his gun lying next to him. As she struggles to remember something, Amy suddenly tells the Doctor that she's pregnant. The Doctor asks why she's telling him, of all people. She tells him that he ought to know the answer to that one. But before she can elaborate, the astronaut appears. Hoping to change time and save the Doctor's life, Amy immediately grabs Canton's pistol and fires at the astronaut... just as it lifts its helmet to reveal that it is the little girl.

Next time: "Day of the Moon".


  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Old NASA space suits didn't have a SCUBA style respirator, so they didn't produce the Vader Breath sound effect. But it's creepy and ominous, so it works.
  • Action Prologue: A fast-paced montage of what the Doctor's been up to since we last saw him.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Richard Nixon is portrayed as a much more honest & upstanding man than he was in real life.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Genderflipped to All Boys Want Bad Girls when River tells the Doctor to trust her. Deconstructed when the Doctor points out that just because he likes her doesn't mean he trusts her.
    The Doctor: Now I love a bad girl, me, but trust you?
  • Alliterative Name: "Rory, the Roman."
  • All There in the Manual: Nowhere in the episode is the Silent named. Instead you have to look at the credits to find it, and even then, as clarified in "Let's Kill Hitler", "the Silent" is a member of "the Silence".
  • Alternate Landmark History: It is mentioned that they were created in honour of the Doctor, whom they worshipped.
    River: Have we done Easter Island yet? They worshipped you there. Have you seen the statues?
  • Amnesia Danger: If only Joy remembered long enough to call for help.
  • Anyone Can Die: The Doctor himself is shot at the start of the episode.
  • Badass Boast:
    • "I just walked into the highest security office in the United States and parked a big blue box on the rug. You think you can just shoot me?" Subverted when River pointed out that, as Americans, they would.
    • Canton also does one on the Doctor's behalf.
      Canton: Mr. President, that man walked in here with a big blue box and three of his friends, and that's the man he walked past. One of them's worth listening to.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Amy asks the Silence why they killed the other woman in the bathroom, they answer "Joy". But then they say the woman's name was Joy, ignoring Amy's question.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The Doctor, in the Oval Office, upon being discovered, informs the President that he's their new operative on loan from Scotland Yard.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Averted. The Doctor says he looks forward to the reason why River slapped him, but does so sarcastically.
  • Behind the Black: You'd think that Amy and Rory would've seen the Doctor and the Cool Car before they got off that school bus in Monument Valley, but nope!
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: River and the Doctor.
    The Doctor: These are my top operatives, the Legs (Amy) , the Nose (Rory) and Mrs. Robinson (River).
    River: I hate you.
    The Doctor: No, you don't.
  • Big Bad: The Silence.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Amy screams it after the Doctor is shot the first time, and River does the same when the Doctor is shot again while regenerating.
    • At the end, the Doctor shouts "No!" as Amy shoots at the Astronaut.
  • Blasé Boast: The Doctor very casually tells Amy, Rory, and River to never think that they're capable of playing games with him.
  • Blatant Lies: As River helps the Doctor with his piloting behind his back:
    The Doctor: Did you touch something?
    River: No.
  • Buffy Speak: Rory when exiting the TARDIS in the Oval Office to aimed guns: "No shooting! Very much not in need of being shot!"
  • Call-Back:
    • Back in "The End of Time", the Doctor told Wilf that if he was killed before his regeneration could be completed, he would be fully dead. Now, River says more or less the same when the Astronaut shoots the Doctor.
    • When the companions tell the Doctor he's going to have to trust them and not ask who gave them the summons, he asks Amy to prove it by swearing on something that matters. Her choice? "Fish fingers and custard."
  • Call-Forward: River's talk with Rory towards the end of the episode perfectly predicts what happens when she meets the Doctor for the final time. Apart from her fearing it more than death — and we know it's her death too. Kind of. In a reversed way. Only not really reversed.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: You cannot tell someone you have seen a Silent, even if you have told yourself to tell someone.
  • Captain Obvious: "Canton Everett Delaware III. That was his name. How many of those can there be? Well, three, I suppose."
  • Cardboard Prison: Stormcage is starting to look like one — this is the second time River breaks out. One wonders if she's only there because she wants to be. It's got to the point that River will openly pack and inform the guards of her travel plans. This incites an armed response, that evidently did nothing to stop her.
  • Cargo Envy: River blows on the muzzle of her revolver.
  • Cliffhanger: Amy shoots at the Astronaut just as it reveals it is the little girl, while Rory and River are ambushed by the Silence.
  • Cloaking Device: The Doctor uses this to briefly hide the TARDIS in the Oval Office.
  • Code Name: The Doctor, the Legs, the Nose and Mrs. Robinson.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Richard Nixon turns around to see the Doctor standing in the Oval Office taking notes, the Doctor distractedly gestures for him and Canton to continue with their conversation, oblivious to their alarm at seeing him.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the "prequel", there is a tape rolling while a child is talking creepily just like in "The Empty Child".
    • This isn't the first time the Doctor's taken a companion or three to see the Moon landing.
    • The Astronaut rises out of the lake like the Dalek rose out of the river in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", and the way Ace rises out of the lake in "Battlefield".
    • The Doctor's meeting on the lake with the Astronaut resembles the meeting with the Watcher on Tower Bridge in "Logopolis".
    • Creepy astronaut that may not be an astronaut? Can we say "The Ambassadors of Death"?
    • "Human beings. I thought I'd never be done saving you." A line straight out (tense-shifted) of "The Time of Angels".
    • Right before that, the Doctor notes that "a lot more happens in '69 than anyone remembers." While ultimately, it's foreshadowing of the Silence and what they are capable of, on the surface, it's a reference to the Doctor's many adventures in 1969, most of them as the Second Doctor.
    • Rory pokes the Doctor in disbelief and asks "How can you be here?" the same way the Doctor did to Rory in "The Pandorica Opens".
    • The TARDIS has been invisible before, in "The Invasion".
    • The TARDIS "decloaking" effect recalls the TARDIS being pulled into the Capitol in "The Deadly Assassin".
    • The Silents' control room in the tunnels is the same as the proto-TARDIS on top of Craig's apartment in "The Lodger". The Doctor mentions it in the next episode, implying they're the same ship.
    • The above mentioned Badass Boast recalls a similar response by the Doctor in when Winston Churchill threatened to take the TARDIS key by force.
    • The Doctor in the diner even brought his own straw.
    • When talking to the Secret Service, the Doctor refers to Mr. Delaware as "Canton 3". This is the same shorthand that was used in "The Beast Below" to refer to the Kings and Queens of England (Liz 2, Henry 12, Liz 10).
    • The last time a future version of Eleven died, it was Rory who made sure the body was respected by draping his coat over him like a shroud. This time he makes sure to give him a Viking Funeral.
    • The Eleventh Doctor doesn't like wine, but mockingly replies to Amy that he must have drank it at some point on his life. The Third and Fourth Doctors were very fond of it.
    • Rory's nickname: "Rory the Roman".
    • "Brave heart, Canton" is a Fifth Doctor reference.
    • The Doctor is having trouble remembering exactly where he parked the cloaked TARDIS again... like in "The Invasion".
    • The danger of the Doctor's body being used as a commodity was seen in the Eighth Doctor novel Alien Bodies.
    • The fez in the Laurel and Hardy film.
    • The Doctor's request for "twelve Jammie Dodgers and a fez".
    • When we see Stormcage Prison responding to River's packing, there's an establishing shot of men running down a windowless corridor/tunnel with a wet floor, a favourite shot of Russell T Davies.
    • The Doctor saying "Don't play games with me."
  • Cool Car: The red Edsel station wagon.
  • Cool Helmet: The space helmet.
    The Doctor: [wearing the spacesuit helmet] Look how cool this stuff is!
  • Cool Old Guy: The Canton Everett Delaware III from 2011 is one of the Doctor's trusted guys and takes all this in stride.
  • Cry into Chest: Amy cries onto the chest of the Doctor after he was shot.
  • Dramatic Pause: After the Doctor is shot on the beach and we see the regeneration process start, the music swells and becomes dreamlike — only to stop abruptly when he is shot a second time. A second later, another track, with a much more scary feeling, replaces the first.
  • Eagleland: The Doctor comments on the American agents' readiness to run around pointing guns.
    The Doctor: You think you can just shoot me?
    River: They're Americans!
    The Doctor: Don't shoot, definitely no shooting!!
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Silence have built tunnels and control rooms under the whole Earth.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: One of the times River says "I hate you" to the Doctor is when he gives her the codename "Mrs. Robinson".
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Silent speaks with a noticeably deep voice.
  • Fanservice: A painting of Matt Smith with only a wisp of cloud keeping him decent for television.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Amy and Rory's bus is number 51. The next episode will prominently feature Area 51.
    • The Doctor's comment about "More happening in 1969 than anyone remembers." This is because the Silence make you forget their existence the moment you look away.
    • You can only remember things about the Silence when you see them, including past encounters. When River finds them underground right after they get to the warehouse, she looks terrified.
    • There's lots of foreshadowing to Amy being pregnant. The Doctor says she's gained weight, Amy explains away one bout of Silence-induced memory loss as being sick (probably chalking it up to morning sickness), and, at one point, the Doctor tells Amy and Rory to go home and make babies.
  • Geeky Turn-On: River obviously enjoys it when the Doctor pulls a particularly nice bit of deduction.
    The Doctor: Doctor Song, you've got that face on again.
    River: What face?
    The Doctor: The "he's hot when he's clever" face.
  • He's Dead, Jim: Old!Canton says that the Doctor that was shot by the Astronaut is definitely the real Doctor and definitely, permanently, dead. Of course, it's the Doctor, so you know there's something else going on, but you won't find out what it is until the season finale.
  • He Had a Name: Inverted horrifyingly with the Silents.
    Amy: You didn't have to kill her, she couldn't even remember you.
    Silent: Joy.
    Amy: What?
    Silent: Her name was Joy.
  • Heroic BSoD: When Amy returns to the diner, after the Doctor's funeral, she staggers in with a thousand-yard stare on her face, and can't concentrate on what River and Rory are planning.
  • Identical Grandson: Inverted here. The actors playing the older and younger Canton are father and son.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Alluded to by River when she says she's "quite the screamer".
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: Averted Trope. The astronaut's visor is usually shown down, and is very reflective. When it is raised, it's in broad daylight, but the camera cuts away before we can see it. The second time, it's dark.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • On the nature of the Doctor-companion relationship:
      The Doctor: I'm being extremely clever up here, and there's no one to stand around looking impressed. What's the point in having you all?
    • In a bit of Leaning on the Fourth Wall, while explaining the entertainment value of days of the week, he ends by saying that most times the world hangs in the balance on a Saturday; the day that Doctor Who airs new episodes. In his own words: "Time isn't a straight-line. It's all... bumpy-wumpy. There's loads of boring stuff, like Sundays and Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons. But now and then there are Saturdays. Big temporal tipping points when anything's possible. The TARDIS can't resist them. Like a moth to a flame." Wink, wink, nudge, nudge...
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Jefferson Hamilton Adams is taken from a set of street signs at a three-way intersection. It isn't actually an example, however; when Nixon asked his mystery caller where and who she was, she only answered the former, but Nixon mistook it for an answer to the latter.
  • Meaningful Name: The Doctor is shot at Lake Silencio.
  • The Men in Black: The Silence are this, from the neck down. Above the neck, they're The Greys, combining the most terrifying aspects of both tropes.
  • Metaphorgotten: The Doctor is not sure whether he wants to fly or knit in 1911.
  • Merlin Sickness: River says that she and the Doctor aren't just meeting in random order, they're travelling in opposite directions: every time they meet, it's later for one and earlier for the other. However, later episodes will prove this isn't always the case, and the two can meet out of sequence.
  • Mind Screw: Plenty. The Doctor is truly killed at the lake (according to River and old Canton at least), Amy says she is pregnant, the Silence have an Elaborate Underground Base under the whole Earth, and the Astronaut is the little girl, whom Amy shoots.
  • Mood Dissonance:
    • When the Doctor is shot, he begins to glow, and like all regenerations, it is painted as a scene of mournful beauty. Beautiful golden flames wreath his body, powerfully sad music rises — then bang, the music stops.
    • The Doctor has died, permanently, and the surviving companions are fiercely debating what to do now. Cue a younger Doctor stepping out of the gents' to crack jokes and ask what everyone seems so broken up about.
  • Mood Whiplash: The scene in the bathroom, flipping between comedy and horror each time the woman (Joy) turns her head. She asks the Silent if he is wearing a Star Trek mask, and is then electrocuted.
  • Morning Sickness: Amy feels sick in the White House, then feels very sick in the warehouse, prompting her to tell the Doctor she is pregnant. The nausea may also be an effect of the Silence.
  • My Death Is Only The Beginning: The Future!Doctor invited three friends to witness his death and they assume it is because he has a plan to avoid it with the help of them and his own younger self.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg:
    Nixon: But who — but who are they? What is that box?
    The Doctor: It's a police box, can't you read? I'm your new undercover agent, on loan from Scotland Yard. Code name, the Doctor. These are my top operatives, the Legs, the Nose, and Mrs. Robinson.
    River: I hate you.
    The Doctor: No, you don't.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Amy after she shoots at the Astronaut, and sees in that same instant that it's the little girl.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • "A lot more happens in 1969 than anyone remembers" may be a reference to the 1969 episode where Jamie and Zoe get their memories wiped.
    • Not to mention, this isn't the only Moffat episode set in 1969. Ten and Martha got stuck in that year in "Blink", and Martha mentions that they went to see the Moon landing four times.
    • This line is also Foreshadowing, considering this is a Future!Doctor because he uses the word "remembers", possibly referring to the Silence's forget-me effect.
    • The repeated question, "Doctor who?" Turns out to be Foreshadowing, as well.
  • Nausea Fuel: invoked An encounter with a Silent seems to elicit this reaction in people after their memories have been wiped. May be linked with the adrenaline rush caused by the sight, and the ensuing confusion as to why when they are forgotten.
  • Nightmare Face: The Silence. Especially when one kills Joy in the restroom and it looks like it's growing a mouth.
  • Non-Action Guy: Rory is very reluctant to explore the cave with River, yet he is rather put out when he's relegated to explaining the TARDIS to Canton.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The trip to Easter Island and Jim the Fish. The second incident ends up being important, as when another Doctor turns up at the diner, River uses his ignorance of "Jim the Fish" to deduce that he's younger than the Doctor they met earlier.
    • The Stormcage guard's remarks imply that River has broken out after "packing" before.
    • The first minutes of the episode are filled with references to the Noodle Incidents the Doctor gets into after seemingly dropping Amy and Rory off for a while.
  • No Peripheral Vision: It's pretty well established that there wasn't a whole lot around Amy and Rory's bus stop in Utah. How they missed the station wagon with the Doctor on the hood as the bus came to a stop stretches the mind a little.
  • Not So Invincible After All: Word of Moff has this trope as part of the reason behind killing the Doctor. Regeneration is more like a saving throw than anything else: Time Lords can be killed (almost) as simply as humans, and the Doctor has only survived so long through guile, wit, and hiding in the TARDIS.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Just because you can't remember doesn't mean there's nothing there.
  • Not What It Looks Like: The Doctor on being found naked hiding beneath a woman's skirts by a sword-wielding Cavalier. "You know, this isn't nearly as bad as it looks."
  • Ominous Walk: The Astronaut has a very creepy Slow Walk, natural because a space suit is heavy. Also, in a later episode, it is revealed the suit wasn't entirely under the wearer's control.
  • One Drink Will Kill the Baby: Averted Trope. However, viewers asked why Amy, who thinks she is pregnant, is drinking wine during the picnic. When fans started asking why she'd drink if she believed she was pregnant Steven Moffat replied "She's Scottish".
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The Secret Service are played by fairly transparent non-Americans. Also, Canton says "Scotland Yard have..." instead of the American "Scotland Yard has..." when the Doctor gives his alibi. Also, Canton seems to have pick up a bit of Cockney accent in the forty years since the space program...
  • Personalized Pledge: When Amy Pond asks the Doctor to blindly trust her, he asks her to first swear her honesty. She swears it on the meal she gave him at their fateful first meeting.
    The Doctor: Swear to me. Swear to me, on something that matters.
    [long pause]
    Amy: ...Fish fingers and custard.
    The Doctor: [Beat] My life in your hands, Amelia Pond.
  • Phrase Catcher: The always-popular "it's bigger on the inside" line by Canton in regards to the TARDIS, and good ol' "Doctor Who?"
  • Please Wake Up: Said by Amy to the future Doctor after he is shot.
  • Politically Correct History: Averted. Nixon really did have at least one black Secret Service agent.
  • Power of Trust: Double subverted; when River tells the Doctor that he has to trust her not to reveal what's going on, he bluntly points out that, as much as he likes her, he knows barely anything about her — and what he does know suggests that she's a murderer, and has possibly murdered him at some point. She might be many things, but "trustworthy" isn't one of them. He is, however, willing to trust Amy.
  • The Public Domain Channel: Rory is watching it at the beginning; The Flying Deuces is out of copyright. Presumably, getting permission from a rights-holder to show a digitally altered clip from their movie would have been just too much of a hassle.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Despite the high amount of racism at the time, Nixon really did have at least one black Secret Service agent.
  • Rebel Relaxation: The Doctor leans on the hood of the Edsel and makes himself comfy in the Oval Office.
  • Refusal of the Call: Because his friends won't tell him who sent the envelopes, the Doctor initially refuses to go to 1969 like he's asked, insisting that Amy and Rory go home while River returns to prison.
  • Resigned in Disgrace: Canton has been forced to resign from the FBI due to an unknown scandal, eventually leading to him being hired by President Nixon to investigate the inexplicable phone calls haunting him, and from there, becoming a companion to the Doctor. "Day Of The Moon" eventually reveals that the scandal was due to Canton being gay and in an active relationship with a black man - both frowned upon in the 1960s.
  • Reverse Psychology: "Canton, on no account follow me into this box and close the door behind you!"
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: River, Canton, and the Secret Service agents wield revolvers. Amy grabs Canton's revolver and fires it at the Astronaut at the end.
  • Running Gag:
    • From bowtie to fez to Stetson.
      The Doctor: I wear a Stetson now. Stetsons are cool.
    • Also, River killing the Doctor's hat. First the fez, now the Stetson.
    • The old "Doctor who?" gag gets used twice.
    • The fez gets mentioned, and the Doctor wears one in a "blink and you'll miss it" moment during the Laurel and Hardy film.
    • The Doctor repeatedly says something that prompts River to state "I hate you." Following which he replies, "No you don't."
      The Doctor: [lying on the floor of the Oval Office] River, have you got my scanner working yet!?
      River: [in the TARDIS] Oh, I hate him.
      The Doctor: No you don't!
    • "Archaeologist" as an insult.
    • The Doctor eating or drinking something, and then spitting it out.
  • Scenery Porn: The shots of Utah are amazing!
  • Schmuck Bait: The Doctor to Canton: "Under no circumstances follow me into this box and close the door behind you!"
  • Shock and Awe: One of the ways in which the Silents attack is electric zap!
  • Shout-Out:
    • Joy asks the Silence in front of her whether it's "some kind of Star Trek mask".
    • The Doctor swears he ended up in the Oval Office by accident; he was looking for the Oblong one.
    • The underground tunnels seem borrowed from the Alien franchise.
    • The sound the aliens make sounds quite a bit like the Predator.
    • The Doctor calls River Song "Mrs. Robinson". Also possibly a reference to his recently having met Frank Sinatra. Not to mention that The Graduate was a fairly recent release at the time this episode is largely set in.
    • The Viking Funeral resembles Darth Vader's funeral at the end of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, using the same shot, except with the Doctor's face instead of Vader's helmet.
    • It also closely parallels the Master's funeral a couple of seasons ago.
    • The Silents are a lot like the Gentlemen from Buffy, who could make people silent. They also resemble the Slender Man, quite a bit, and their sucking in breath when they kill Joy resembles the Dementors.
    • The tapes of Nixon's telephone calls are a nod to his real-life taping of practically every conversation he held in the White House, which later came to bite him in the ass during the Watergate scandal.
    • "Space. 1969."
    • Mark Sheppard's Character is named Canton.
    • The Tunnel King Thwarted Escape scene is of course a shout-out to all those WWII POW escape movies.
    • Mark Sheppard's character is a carbon copy of his one from Dollhouse, at first.
  • Stable Time Loop: The companions believe that the Doctor is trying to pull off one of these by inviting them to his death and then showing up as a two-hundred-years-younger version of himself.
  • Stage Whisper: Amy, Rory and River discuss an Awful Truth that they absolutely cannot tell the Doctor... under the glass floor of the TARDIS console room, with him directly above them. Fortunately for them, he's too caught up in his musings to overhear them; he doesn't even seem to notice they've gone until he wants to see them looking at his showing off.
  • Sting: River slaps the Doctor hard enough for the background music to temporarily stop and change track.
  • The Stoic: Canton practically has Nerves of Steel. He gets a brief moment of wonder when he sees how the TARDIS is bigger on the inside but quickly accepts it and compliments the Doctor's "wheels".
  • Sunday is Boring: The Doctor calls Sundays boring in comparison to Saturdays, which tend to be temporal tipping points where exciting things happen. (Also counts as Leaning on the Fourth Wall, since the show was known for airing on Saturdays at this time).
    The Doctor: Time isn't a straight line. It's all? bumpy-wumpy. There's loads of boring stuff. Like Sundays and Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons. But now and then there are Saturdays. Big temporal tipping points when anything's possible. The TARDIS can't resist them. Like a moth to a flame. She loves a party.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: When River is shooting at the Astronaut, she "fans" the revolver to make shooting faster, but only gets off five shots. She used the first one to shoot the Doctor's hat off earlier. Once out of bullets, there's nothing more she can do to stop the Astronaut.
  • Take That!:
    • Airing two years before the American so-called Defense of Marriage Act outlawing same-sex marriage was struck down by the Supreme Court, American character Canton refers to a marriage being illegal.
      Canton: I wanted to get married.
      Amy: And that's a crime?
      Canton: Yes.
    • When the Doctor appears in Nixon's office:
      The Doctor: [nonchalantly] I just walked into the highest security office in the United States, parked a big blue box on the rug and you think you can just shoot me?
      River: They're Americans!
      The Doctor: Don't shoot!
  • Timeshifted Actor: The Sheppards as Canton Everett Delaware III.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: In the Moffat tradition. We have the Doctor inviting his companions to attend his death which he already knows will happen; invites someone else who they haven't met yet, but he's met them; and also invites his past self to meet up with them after everyone's seen him die.
  • Title Drop:
    • In the flashback:
      Cavalier: Where is the Doctor?
      Noblewoman: Doctor who?
    • It happens again later.
      Canton: Doctor... who, exactly?
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: It was stated that someone on the main cast would die. Amy? Rory? River? The Doct — no, wait, Matt Smith still has the rest of the season on his contract. It's the Doctor. Specifically, one 200 years older than the usual one. The TARDIS team have to convince Doctor to try and save the Future Doctor without the Doctor knowing who he's saving or why.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: A variation. When held at gunpoint by a bunch of the President's men, the Doctor cockily attempts to use the fact that he's just obviously played havoc with the laws of space in time right in front of them to intimidate them into thinking he's bulletproof. Unfortunately for him, as River points out, he's dealing with with the most gun-happy people on the face of the Earth, and they'd probably shoot him anyway if he pushed his bluff too far.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Averted. The Doctor begins to regenerate when he is first shot, but the Astronaut then shoots him again, killing him outright before the process can take effect.
  • Tranquil Fury: The Doctor is very annoyed that his companions are hiding who their recruiter is, a future Doctor, and says, quite calmly, "don't play games with me. Don't ever, ever think you are capable of that."
  • Vader Breath: The astronaut because of its helmet and space breathing device.
  • Viking Funeral: For the Doctor; the companions place him in a boat to burn his body out on the lake.
  • Wham Episode: Big Bad of the series making a first appearance? Check. Main character apparently Killed Off for Real? Check. On top of this, the fake TARDIS returns, probably connected with the Silence; and Amy is pregnant.
  • Wife Husbandry: River says she first met the Doctor when she was pretty young and the Doctor knew everything about her at that point, which quite turned her head. Rory also seems troubled by the implications of this for Amy.
  • William Telling: River shoots the Doctor's hat off.