Top Series 7: Part 1 Moments

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John Hussey and Adam James Cuthbert each list their top 5 moments of Series 7: Part 1.

Well it has come to that sad time of year again Whovians; Doctor Who has come to the end of its run. After waiting for another eight months, Series 7 finally arrived with five blockbuster-of-the-week style stories which depicted the final days of the Ponds. We witnessed Daleks in an asylum, Dinosaurs in space, a cyborg gunslinger in Western Times, the Ponds mad life on Earth and in the TARDIS and finally the Weeping Angels taking Manhattan. But the question is; what were the most memorable moments of this first half of an exciting extravaganza of a Series. Me and Adam will now share our own top five moments.

John’s choices

5. Memories of a Great Man

The scene which depicted Kate Stewart and the Doctor talking about her old dad, Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, really did bring a tear to my eyes. He, as many of you will know, is my favourite male companion and I loved his character. So to see his brilliant daughter, who was played perfectly by Jemma Redgrave, was just a lovely tribute to the Brigadier. It really did show that Steven Moffat and Chris Chibnall care for the past and wished to bring that bridge between the now and then a little bit closer. Chibnall certainly did well with his wish to bring back the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (or UNified Intelligence Taskforce as they are now known).

4. The Parliament of the Daleks

The introduction of the Dalek Parliament was a great move by Moffat. It really did bring forward a new dynamic to the Daleks; one that was seriously needed after their overuse and easy defeats during the later years of the Russell T Davies era. Likewise, it also brought about some old styles from the classic era which showed the Daleks once again being an empire on the verge of ruling the universe. We also saw the return of not only the new and deadly Paradigm, but also the Time War Daleks. It gave the Daleks a new and interesting ranking system beyond that of the colour coding system of the Paradigm. Also the conversation between the Doctor and the Prime Minister was just chilling:

Prime Minister: What do you know of the Dalek Asylum?
The Doctor: According to legend, you have a dumping ground. A planet where you lock up all the Daleks that go wrong. The battle-scarred, the insane… the ones even you can’t control. Which never made any sense to me…
Prime Minister: Why not?
The Doctor: Because you’d just kill them.
Prime Minister: It is offensive to us to extinguish such divine hatred.
The Doctor: Offensive?
Prime Minister: Does it surprise you to know the Daleks have a concept of beauty?
The Doctor: I thought you’d run out of ways to make me sick, but hello again. You think hatred is beautiful?
Prime Minister: Perhaps that is why we have never been able to kill you.

Above anything else, this scene really does make the Daleks powerful again. They are no longer scavengers clinging onto life after the Doctor’s last attack. The Paradigm have fulfilled their purpose and created an empire stronger than ever.

3. The Death of Solomon

Now we enter the dark areas of the series beyond the Daleks; we now enter the dark side of the Doctor himself. This scene really did surprise me the first time I saw it because it isn’t like the Doctor to sentence a man, an evil one at that, to such a cruel fate. But then again the Doctor has always had a dark side ever since his first incarnation, so in many ways it’s hardly surprising that he allowed the missiles to destroy Solomon after the dark crimes of genocide he committed to the innocent Silurians all for the sake of their rare cargo. It really did open up a new side to the character; one that was rarely seen before his eleventh incarnation. It just shows that the Doctor has certainly grown darker over the last few years and even after a fun, wacky space-romp; the Doctor can still commit acts of murder to win the day.

2. Will he pull the trigger?

That was the question we all asked ourselves when the Doctor forced war-criminal Kahler-Jex out of Mercy and then pointed a gun to his head. Again, continuing from third place, the Doctor’s dark side took a high spot in my favourite moments due to my fascination about his inner demons. The Doctor is supposed to be a man that we can trust and look up to, but with moments like these, we then begin to question our loyalties and wonder just who the Time Lord really is. He showed off a true dark spark of anger towards Jex, one that even made him question allowing the likes of the Daleks and the Master to escape in his past due to his weakness of mercy, which ultimately has extreme consequences for the innocent.

1. Goodbye Ponds

And last but not least, the Ponds farewell scene. Well I say farewell, poor Rory doesn’t get one as he is zapped away by the Weeping Angels in a cruel turn of events. It is a very tragic scene full of emotions and heart-break and certainly made me respond in the way Moffat was hoping; with a pool full of tears. I couldn’t stop crying for this scene because Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are such fine actors/actresses and they really did play the part and because they too were traumatised by the whole experience, it allowed the characters to seem totally saddened by it all with such conviction; that you totally believed it. That’s why I cried so much. Also the mere thought of the Ponds departure, and the fact we would never see them again after these wonderful two-and-a-half years of seeing them on screen. It was just sad and hard to take in. The finishing touch was River’s encouragement for her mum to touch the Angel and allow her to be with her husband; who she couldn’t live without. The Doctor was helpless and couldn’t do anything to prevent the event which was set in stone.

Adam’s choices

5. “First there were the Daleks.”/ “Statues, the man said. Living statues that moved in the dark.”

I couldn’t decide between them. Although I’ve criticised some of the creative decisions he’s made, I can’t fault Moffat’s opening sequences this year. When I sat down to watch Asylum, I’d expected it would start within the Asylum, with human survivors, say recording their final testament, as they’re cornered by sadistic, menacing Daleks in the claustrophobic and dark corridors. I was taken aback as the story opened with a sweeping shot of the hellish and devastated landscape of Skaro. The portentous and succinct narration created a tense, dramatic and exciting atmosphere. The Doctor is then seen to emerge, literally from the shadows, as if summoned from the proverbial grave. He confronts the narrator, Darla, who claims her daughter is a captive of the Daleks. The Doctor haughtily laughs at her when Darla states she escaped them. I would consider this our first insight into the Doctor’s darkening character this series, as he states his intention to be forgotten (“I wish they would stop”).

Voiceover narration is one of the techniques associated with film noir, so it wasn’t surprising to see the cinematic technique feature in Angels, evoking the noir setting from the start. The montage of statues, reminding us of their omnipresence within the story, created a foreboding atmosphere. I’d imagined we would see a striking contrast between the sci-fi of the Angels and the gritty realism of noir, with Garner being our eyes and narrator. Winter Quay was a clever and disturbing concept – the “battery farm” of the Weeping Angels. I’d like to forget the Statue of Liberty though.

4. Kahler-Jex’s suicide

I think it’s important to recognise that both Jex and the Gunslinger displayed parallels to the Doctor himself: all three are war-veterans, emotionally affected by their experiences, and the strength of the story’s drama came from the exploration of these parallels, and the antagonism between them. Jex’s act of suicide demonstrated an act of bravery in the end, ending the bloody war for both him and the Gunslinger. The religious facet to Jex’s backstory made him ambivalently sympathetic. He was a flawed character; perhaps even a coward – much like the Doctor himself. Jex did what he believed to be right, and although he proudly defended his actions, if only to secure peace for his world, he still expressed guilt for the innocent lives he’d sacrificed, troubled by the weight on his conscience. He sought redemption in the end. His suicide gave the Gunslinger a second chance at life, a new purpose. He would no longer be plagued by feelings of bloody revenge, a man ashamed by his monstrous appearance, believing he couldn’t return home. A poignant scene.

3. The fall from Winter Quay

I realise my choices may be depressing (consecutive suicides, after all) but this was definitely a more heartfelt and emotional scene. It showed, quite simply, that Amy and Rory’s love was eternal. Rory left more of an impression on me, as he asked Amy to give him the courage he needed. Rory was a hero: vulnerable yet strong and brave; a good man. As far as endings go, I would’ve preferred the fall, as it showed, one last time, that Amy does love him, and will die with him. I also prefer her final words here (“It’s called marriage”).

2. The Doctor meets Solomon

This was the highlight of Dinosaurs for me. The Doctor meets a truly despicable villain in Solomon: callous and avaricious, a rather adult villain (the implied dark sexuality of his ‘material’ interest in Nefertiti), his depravity reflected in the scars on his face. The intense atmosphere of their dialogue was, however, somewhat jarring with the story’s predominately light-hearted tone. I enjoyed the scene for its mature dialogue, dark atmosphere, and the captivating performances from Matt Smith and David Bradley.

1. “Today I honour the victims first.”

I’ve always been fascinated by the Doctor’s darker side. I think it presents us with a new depth and insight into the character’s multi-layered and tortured psyche. The scene actually begins when Jex, commenting on the similarities between them, enrages the Doctor by accusing him of being a coward.  Matt Smith excels at conveying the Doctor’s old age: here depicted as a man suffering from a lassitude derived from the evils he has fought; the injustices and atrocities that prevail despite his heroism. I loved seeing the Doctor challenge Amy’s faith in his principles, claiming she won’t shoot him when she points a gun at him in turn, showing how haughty he’s become. When the Doctor justifies his actions, preparing to put a bullet in Jex, Amy questions just how desperate he is that he’s willing to contradict his moral code. It says a lot about their relationship as well, simply through the nuanced performance: Amy’s small, innocent smile touching the Doctor’s darkened, wearied soul.

Why not list your own favourites in the comments?