Well, there were people praising "The God Complex" left and right last week for its DEEP AND PHILOSOPHICAL MEANINGS AND WE'RE SO INTELLIGENT FOR NOTICING *insert self-important pipe smoke here*. And that's just fine. Because those same people will be scoffing at how simplistic and naive "Closing Time" is. And that is where I found the charm of this penultimate episode of Series 6.
One thing I love about the Doctor is his desire and ability to take risks. More often than not, they pay off. But there are a few occasions where things go wrong. And suddenly, we have a Doctor who feels the need to drag his companions into this little Time Lord pity-party like he's a thirteen-year-old girl who didn't get asked to the Sweethearts Dance or something. And yes, not everything goes the Doctor's way.
But sometimes, I think we as fans take those failures and amp them up to surpass the Doctor's successes, as though we enjoy watching the Doctor suffer. Or maybe we just feel like jealous of the Doctor and his companions because of all the wonderful adventures they get to go on and any time we can see the Doctor fail, it's just one more notch in our "Well, We Can Feel Better About Ourselves Because You Suck" totem pole (now we sound like those arrogant cheerleaders in high school who have to pick on everyone else in order to feel more important. Guys - we are better than this).
Thank Gallifrey for Craig Owens and "Closing Time."
Number One - I was happy to see Craig and Sophie back (however briefly Sophie was there). "The Lodger" is a favorite of mine and I loved how Matt Smith and James Corden played off one another in that story, so I was glad to see James return.
Number Two - It was good to have a Pond break. Don't get me wrong - I have all the love for Amy and Rory. But I think the Doctor needed a change from some of the guilt they'd been piling on him.
Number Three - In that vein, Craig had so many wonderful lines in this and his words were probably what the Doctor needs at this point. After having to break Amy's faith in him (which - why on Earth do people enjoy seeing other people lose faith in whatever they have faith in? Why is that such a problem to the world at large? That's another topic for another day, evidently), the Doctor is feeling like dirt. But a visit to Craig - now, Craig has seen what the Doctor can do. What Craig knows is this: People were dying when that spaceship was stranded about his flat and the Doctor came along and he was able to stop it. Granted, Craig helped the Doctor do it (another evidence for the Doctor's need for a companion) - but would Craig have ever had the courage to do it without the Doctor?
Number Four - Two Words: Baby Alfie. If I could engineer a perfect Team TARDIS, it would be Matt Smith plus a baby (and likely the baby's parents). Maybe it's because I've become an aunt since this Doctor last encountered a baby, but all those scenes with the Doctor and Alfie were so beautifully done and Matt acted the crap out of those parts. Add in Papa Craig and that's a match made in the time vortex.
(Side Note: Steven Moffat first introduced the concept of the Doctor "speaking baby." I've noticed that when other writers take a concept that Moffat introduces and try to write with it, it falls flat. But Gareth Roberts knocked this one out of the park. All of the "Speaking Baby" scenes were so much fun and I loved all of it).
Number Five - Only because I know people are going to piss and moan about "Ugh - Craig saved the day with love and how stupid is that," just let me tell you something, Harry Potter: The Doctor has voiced his admiration for the human race and he's also voiced his distaste for the human race. If there is anything good about this world and the people in it, it's that we have the capacity to care about each other. My heart broke when I thought Craig was about to become a Cyberman (my first thought was "Oh no! Not Craig!" My second thought was "Oh crap, I'm going to have to sit through another round of 'Pity the Doctor because he screws up everything and everybody' "). But when little Alfie cried and that gave Craig the strength, the courage, the... whatever... to break out of the Cybermen's emotion-killing-machine-thingy - I cheered out loud! From a writer's standpoint, the Cybermen are great for contrasting the difference between the cold-hearted and emotionless life of soullessness and the loving and warm life of love. When you love, it means you have people around who care about you and you have people to care for. Sure, it sounds sappy and silly, but that's because there's not really a way to make it sound as good as it feels. I, for one, liked the ending. Plus, it was a great contrast to the danger that is certainly about to come in the next episode.
Number Six - Because I couldn't fit it in anywhere else: the Cybermen basically took a backseat in this story and just let the emotions play out for the Doctor. They were used as just an adversary for the Doctor to defeat in his normal fashion to give him one last hurrah before heading off to Lake
Number Seven - HOLY COW THE FINALE! Okay, so people were right about River being in the spacesuit. BUT - the point of the next episode is NOT to see River kill the Doctor. The point is to see how he gets out of this one. Because we all know Matt Smith's coming back for Christmas and next season and the season after that. I for one and eagerly anticipating the resolution of all of this.
Bottom Line: The Doctor is leaving the safety of the friendship of a companion and about to meet his death. Why wouldn't he want to bask in that for as long as he can?
Programming Note: I am leaving for a study abroad trip to Serbia tomorrow morning. Because of this, my review of "The Wedding of River Song" will be delayed until I can get back and watch it. This means that I have to be extra-vigilant of spoilers, but I can handle it (with any luck, I might be able to find a decent download link and watch the episode on the plane ride home). The only bad part is that I won't be able to SQUEE with all of you until then :( But do enjoy yourselves.