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“Impossible Astronaut” Review (SPOILERS. Oh, So Many SPOILERS)

WARNING!!! If you haven’t seen “The Impossible Astronaut” yet, do not read this until after you have. I’m gonna get speculative on your asses!

Wowzers. Talk about hitting the ground running. Doctor Who‘s series 6 premiere episode didn’t give its audience any time to breathe, as Steven Moffat & Co. serve up one of the most puzzling and shocking episodes ever. What stood out the most was the sheer scope of the undertaking. It felt like we were watching half of a feature film and not an episode of television, which is due in no small part to the stellar work of director Toby Haynes, who has now directed five (counting next week’s conclusion) episodes in a row. The Utah locations really did add a great deal of realism and believability to the usual fantastical events. The shock of the pivotal scene in act one, which I’ll address in a moment, was perfectly underscored by Haynes’ direction and the pristine lake/beach surroundings. The performances were uniformly good, which is a given by now, and since we know all of the principals very well at this point, we can simply jump into the adventure with them without having to be introduced, something we’ve not had in a premiere prior to this.

Now for the part of the review where I discuss specific things and add my own wild speculation, so just prepare to be wowed (hardly).

-Steven Moffat delivers another of his now-standard time-and-mind-bending stories, this one being a proper mystery with almost none of the action movie tropes that we’ve come to expect (I imagine those will happen next week). By the end of this episode, we know almost nothing and are left with numerous questions that need answering, just the way I like it.

-I liked how we were brought back into the Doctor’s world by having Amy and Rory reading about his exploits in the book and seeing him on TV. Aside from being funny, it makes me think, like they do, that he’s trying to get their attention. I have to assume it’s for something other than the eventual envelope they receive as they surely would have known it was from him anyway.

-The first Doctor we see claims to be 1,103 years old, meaning he’s been traipsing around for about 200 years since we last saw him, yet he looks exactly the same as the second Doctor who says he’s 909. Surely, this will be explained, probably.

-The Doctor has led his companions, plus the older version of Canton Everett Delaware, III to this one specific moment, and only Canton 3 seems prepared for what’s about to happen. The Astronaut appears, though we don’t know who it is, and shoots the Doctor, causing a regeneration which is immediately ebbed when he’s shot again and dies. This scene made me very sad, as I think was the point. We’ve never seen this happen, obviously, as this would be the absolute end of the Doctor’s life. Canton 3 brings a can of gasoline over to burn his body and they load him up on a nearby row-boat and send him burning into the lake.  Now, there are a number of red flags that popped up to make me think this was all a ruse on the part of the Doctor. 1) He tells them in the diner earlier that he’s been running, faster than he’s ever run. This would explain all the popping up in history books in various times and spaces. I think it’s pretty clear he’s been running from the alien in the suit. 2) The alien in the suit appears at the site of the death to watch. I think the death and funeral were all for his benefit. The Doctor wanted to stop running and he knew the only way he could was to die, or for them to think he has died. 3) Canton 3’s appearance at the scene, along with the gasoline he was instructed to bring, point to him being involved in a cover-up and not, like the others, just witnessing a horrible event. He was an FBI guy after all. 4) Lighting his body on fire is a good way to dispose of the evidence, i.e. no way for anyone to examine his body.

-They go back to the diner to see 909-year-old Doctor, and are understandably shocked and annoyed at him, or his future self, for making them watch him die and then have to see him again, younger and totally unaware of what’s happened. I really like the way Matt Smith plays him in this and the following TARDIS scene. He hates it when people know more than he does, especially if it involves him, which explains his combative relationship with River Song.

-They go to the Oval Office in 1969 to help President Nixon and younger Canton 3 with the mysterious phone calls. These calls are being made by a child calling for help. How can the child be calling the President? Why is she ONLY calling the President? And why can she call the President wherever he is? This, surely, has something to do with the omnipresent alien-in-the-suit.

-Amy, feeling sick, goes to the bathroom and sees the alien-in-the-suit and then witnesses, via another poor soul, that people only remember them while they’re looking, and when they turn around, they forget. These are some scary-ass aliens creatures, not the least of which because they can scream and make people pop. These are, apparently, “The Silence” we’ve heard about. Now, we’ve been told all last year, at several points, that “Silence will fall,” which we’ve generally taken to believe that something horrible called Silence will take over everything and whatnot, but what if it means they will fall like the Roman Empire fell? Perhaps, then, the Silence falling is a good thing as it means they wouldn’t be around anymore. Eh, eh? Food for thought. The Silence tells Amy she must tell the Doctor what she knows she must not.

-Based on the things the girl says, the Doctor determines that the calls are coming from a place a few miles away from Cape Canaveral, where NASA is located. In a series of underground tunnels, River and Rory investigate and find, and subsequently forget, a nest of Silence and eventually reach what looks for all the world like the TARDIS-like ship from last year’s “The Lodger.” River also says earlier that worse days lie ahead for her. When Rory asks her about it, she says she dreads the day when the Doctor no longer recognizes her, given the nature of their out-of-sync relationship, and that it will likely kill her. (IT DID!! [kinda]) They are then set-upon by Silence and it looks as though Rory might again die.

-On the surface, the Doctor, Amy, and Canton 3 investigate the stolen space suits and stuff and eventually Canton hears something and runs after it. Amy remembers she has to tell the Doctor something, and that it’s very important. They find Canton knocked unconscious. Amy tells the Doctor she’s pregnant just as the astronaut appears. Without thinking, Amy grabs Canton’s gun and shoots it, trying to save future Doctor, but fails to notice first that it has lifted the visor to reveal the little girl inside.

Now that’s a pretty intense cliffhanger and we’re left with the following questions, or at least I was: 1) Is the girl in the space suit really a little girl? 2) Are we supposed to infer, because of what Amy had just revealed, that the little girl is Amy and Rory’s daughter? 3) How could a little girl be walking around in a full size astronaut suit? 4) Is the space suit actually a TARDIS, which might explain the presence of the console room and “iconic” image released a few weeks ago with the Doctor, Rory, and Amy AND the TARDIS in the visor? 5) I hope this isn’t the case, but is River Song the child of Amy and Rory? 6) Since both Amy and River complained of stomach problems, does that mean River is also pregnant? 7) Is the little girl in the suit the same person as the person in the suit who shoots the Doctor? (I doubt it) 8 ) Have I run out of questions? Maybe for now.

I guess we’ll just have to wait to see if any of these questions/predictions I have come true, or are even relevant. For now, we’ll have to be content with the BBC 1 trailer for part two, “Day of the Moon.”

Amaze-balls, right? Can’t wait. Feel free to share your thoughts, impressions, and weird theories in the comments section.

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Image: BBC

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  1. natasha says:

    no it was river song (melody pond) who killed the doctor. and river is amys and rorys daughter who ends up marring the doctor. and then killing a robot who looked like the doctor so the doctor is still alive. i cant wait for season 7!!!! starts sometime in december!!! and i know the question! u know the question will be said the silence will fall. yea the question was hidden in plain sight. the question is “DOCTOR WHO?” hahaha SPOILERS!!! 😛

  2. Lindsay says:

    OMG it’s SO comlicated. THE SERIES FINALE SOON 🙁

  3. martiniduck says:

    Could the Dr. that gets shot be made of the Flesh?

  4. Sean Murphy says:

    I think the was not shot and did not die, I believe that it was a double, who knew the doctor had to be seen to die, Canton provided the gas to burn the evidence. Did anyone notice his nose half way through the regeneration?

  5. Diego says:

    guys RIVER IS AMYS DAUGHTER. not the doctors and definetly not amy herself watch “when a good man goes to war” it explains all

  6. Johnny says:

    Look in the background in the begining and there is a box the same size as the TARDIS that isn’t there at first and there is someone or something standing next to it and in one shot it is standing then in the next it is laying down! Some think that it is a TARDIS that has the ability to disguise itself!

  7. Amber says:

    I still think it is River that kills the Doctor in the season opening… a younger River. Since that is why she was stolen, and also because she said in a previous season that she killed a good man…

  8. Amber says:

    @CaptainxBumout concerning “Also I don’t see how River could be Amy and Rorys daughter considering they look nothing alike.”
    They look nothing alike because River has regenerated at least once, we saw this at the end of an episode…

  9. KMarg says:

    The girl in the episode is probably Amy’s daughter, they do time travel, who knows what could happen.

  10. alicia says:

    river cannot be the doctor’s daughter, she made out with him, remember. plus i was curious what happened to the original daughter Jenny from when the soldiers were replicating their dna underground and hardwiring military stuff in them, she a timelord and she flew into the starts never to be heard of again? anyways, i think that with this show we can never really predict things, that is why it is so wonderful who wants the spoilers anyways right?

  11. Kelsey says:

    I think that River Song is The Doctor’s daughter because his daughter (the one in the episode ” The Doctor’s Daughter) was good with a gun and when that one guy shot Jenny, his daughter, she regenerated and went to explore the universe. And she has Blonde hair.

  12. Ciara Malone says:

    I have always loved doctor who since i was a little girl i wished i was his girlfriend long a go i wanted to travel different plains and different worlds with him i was always interested in meeting the doctor i live in america and that was my favorite tv show and still is i just dont have cable right now.

  13. Nick says:

    The Doctor has by Time Lord Law 13 regenerations, but he once mentioned that because Gallifrey was no longer, he now had as many regenerations as he wants/needs

  14. Marty says:

    @ Alan Robinson

    and how did the secret service let River Song keep her gun?

  15. Marty says:

    Possible River Song is a future version of Amy?

  16. Alan Robinson says:

    @ Sarah A,

    I can’t remember at the moment any production glitches in Season 5, but there’s a big one in this episode.

    How did the Doctor end up in the president’s chair?

  17. AndyC says:

    Oops. The Scream was painted by Edvard Munch. Well….I’m an idiot 🙁 Sorry for the mistake.

  18. AndyC says:

    Has anyone noticed the Silence look like Vincent Van Gogh’s Scream? Maybe it’s a coincidence. But, I can’t help thinking that might have been on purpose with Van Gogh already have been part of the plot leading up to the The Big Bang.

  19. Becky says:

    The little girl actually reminded me of the girl from “The Lodger”, just as the spaceship from that episode looks like the one in this one. They may be using her as a ruse to gain The Doctor’s attention.

  20. Sarah A says:

    I you go to the Fourth Dimension tab on the episode guide for The Impossible Astronaut, you’ll You’ll see some words are in italics; Put these words together and it reads “All the secrets you seek can be found here on the web”…
    Also, I think the Doctor being married to River is too simple. plus, if you think of it, it’s probably impossible, because they keep meeting in the opposite order. It’s too hard to talk about wibbley wobbley timey wimey stuff on internet, but if you think about it, it’s all there.
    I agree with the theory that the child in the suit is just the fake-TARDIS trying to attract the doctor, a bit like the way it attracted passers by in “the lodger”.
    Also, if you re-watch some of season 5, especially “the lodger”, you see some moments that look like production errors, but actually tie in with the Silence: Amy yells some words like “Hey!” and “Hang on!” as if shes seen something… and forgotten.
    I just can’t wait to see what happens on Saturday!

  21. As a fellow Doctor Who fan, I would love to hear what you think of the animated Who spoof webseries I started…

    …Hope ya like it.


  22. Anthony says:

    Chris, I say wow too. First time watching a Doctor Who series, thanks to you turning me on to this amazing series, and I am just amazed at the first episode. Wowzers.

  23. Phil says:

    I don’t know if it’s the case here but maybe the Doctor pulled the same trick the Master did in ‘The End of Time’ and will just regenerate from a cell sample or something like that.

  24. Kyle Anderson says:


    I didn’t want to believe they were the Silence either, it just didn’t fit with what I was expecting, but the BBC website has a dossier on those aliens calling them Silence, and a single one called a Silent. Like I think I said somewhere before, it seems to me like the Beeb was really worried about getting them branded quickly so they could market a toy and stuff. It bugs me when we know the name of something before the characters do.

  25. genepete says:

    I think it was Canton Everett Delaware III who shot the Doctor. Remember when he gave the Doctor 5 minutes to explain or he said “I will kill you myself?”

  26. Patrick Rose says:

    They’ve written themselves into a real interesting one here. Doctor can’t die there, because of the regeneration thing – If they want to do a new doctor after this, how are they meant to?

    Also, I called Amy’s pregnancy.

  27. CaptainxBumout says:

    First off, it’s not confirmed that those aliens are the Silence. I figured it would be one person/ alien and there are multiples of that alien. I never once thought them to be The Silence as I just figued they were another type of alien to try and stop the Doctor.

    When I saw the astronaut kill the Doctor, I quickly assumed River as it would tie in but it seemed way to obvious so I wonder who it really will be.

    Also I don’t see how River could be Amy and Rorys daughter considering they look nothing alike.

  28. Art says:

    “In his Eleventh incarnation, the Doctor claimed he could regenerate 507 times, although the Doctor may have been trying to show off at the time. (SJA: Death of the Doctor)”

    I was under the impression that the limitation was brought on by Rassilon and without being under the watch of the Time Lords, the Doctor had unlimited regenerations.