Doctor Who recap: S6x03 The Curse of The Black Spot
ARRRR: Here be spoilers, mateys.
After the series opening episodes, “The Impossible Astronaut,” and, “Day of The Moon,” gave us circumstances and mysteries that I suspect we’ll be goggling over long after this series ends, the third episode gives us a more traditional adventure, written by Steve Thompson and directed by Jeremy Webb. With Pirates.
The episode opens with sailors in a dinghy, rowing through mist-shrouded waters, towards a becalmed ship. We’re shown a table full of treasure and the grave and fearful attitudes of the sailors, one of whom, McGraw, is described as, “Wounded.” The Captain, (Hugh Bonneville,) looks at the wound, revealed to be but a scratch, and tells him, “You’re a dead man, McGraw,” looking not at the wound, but at a black spot on his other palm.
Ethereal singing is heard, throwing the sailors into a panic, “She’s here,” exclaims Captain Avery, and they force McGraw out onto the deck, locking themselves in the captain’s quarters and binding the doors with a pendant bearing the image of a mermaid. The crew emerges, to find McGraw vanished.
“Yo ho ho,” exclaims the Doctor, emerging from a hatch, with Amy and Rory in tow.
My reaction to “The Curse of The Black Spot”, tracks very closely to the way I reacted to the fifth series episode, “The Lodger”. This episode comes on the heels of two very intense episodes, and because the audience is already on tenterhooks, it feels a bit lacking, not on its own merits, but because it stops the momentum of the rollercoaster.
However, that said – it’s a rollicking adventure. I do think that either killing Rory, or putting him in mortal danger, is a trope that’s in danger of becoming a running joke. Where it’s warranted, it’s understandable, but in this episode, it feels too much like a ploy to raise the stakes when Amy, in particular, is already reeling from having seen the Doctor die, and carrying that secret.
Among the high points are: guest star Hugh Bonneville,who inhabits a very thinly-drawn character and makes him live and breathe, as well as Amy Pond being a BAMF with a sword. I’m hoping everyone was also taking note of not only the Siren’s song, but also the score as a whole. The first two episodes featured a much more percussive, less orchestral, darker score, but TCoTBS’s score is appropriately grand, without verging into grandiose.
Every series of Doctor Who has episodes that don’t work quite as well as the others, particularly within a series arc, and these episodes usually fare better on re-watch. “The Lodger,” as we now know, contains vital information about the arc of the sixth series, and in itself, is a charming view of how odd the Doctor is, and that he’s just as concerned about one human being, as he is about a million of them.
With the reveal that the Siren is a, “Nurse,” program, on an abandoned ship occupying the same temporal space as the pirates’ vessel, and traveling via reflections, the plot unfolds as you’d expects. The captain and crew become space pirates.
Some interesting and puzzling bits: The TARDIS acting a bit tetchy, and the idea of a nurse, rather than a distress call, again, echo back to “The Lodger”. I think as the series arc plays out, it’s tiny details that will continue to matter. The TARDIS still can’t decide if Amy’s pregnant, so this is something we’re going to be watching for, throughout the series. The woman with an eyepatch is back, with her cryptic pronouncements, too. I suspect we’ll continue to see her, throughout the series.
Is this the best episode of the series? No. Is it the worst episode ever? Of course not. I think it will hold up within the context of the series, and on its own strengths, over time. It’s a bit of breathing room as we tick down to the mid-series break and hey – PIRATES!
Next up: The Neil Gaiman-penned, “The Doctor’s Wife.” S6x04
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