The Power of Three is a great character-centric episode before the train wreck of the rest of Series 7. As the IGN review of the episode states:
For the most part, The Power of Three hit every emotional beat with satisfying eloquence, and succeeded in delivering a fitting epitaph to the TARDIS trio. Whether the episode as a coherent whole was up to scratch though, isn’t quite as clear.
The set-up was as brief as it was intriguing – one day, out of absolutely nowhere, thousands of tiny, shiny black cubes started popping up all the globe. While the world and the Doctor flew straight into Defcon 5, the cubes responded by doing the last thing anyone expected – absolutely nothing.
So began the ‘Year of the Slow Invasion’, and an episode in which we (and more importantly, the Doctor) were able to see what Amy and Rory get up to during their non-planet hopping downtime. Inevitably, when the cubes finally did make their nefarious plans known, no-one was expecting it.
For a good three quarters of its running time, The Power of Three was slightly brilliant.
By focusing on the relative mundanity of Amy and Rory’s ‘other’ life, it succeeded in paying off this season’s subtle shift away from the Ponds’ reliance on the Doctor. Whether hanging out with friends, going to jobs they loved, or simply chilling out in bed together, it sold the idea that the Ponds are finally ready for a normal life.
In fact, it was the Doctor’s counter reaction that gave the episode its heart. His big sell to Amy on travelling the universe, and the revelation that he’s not running away from, but to life’s smaller moments was heartwarmingly poetic.
It also had humour galore, with Russell T Davies-style celebrity cameos, irreverent silliness (giving the Doctor OCD on a galactic level made perfect, amusing sense), and – of course – the return of the best companion the Doctor never had, one Brian ‘Diligence’ Pond.
Who needs Oswin when you have a man who can spend four days sat in the TARDIS without a toilet break?
The cubes meanwhile were as beguiling in motive as they were design, and when they finally struck, the terror of a planet-wide collective myocardial infarction (I’ve been watching a lot of Scrubs recently) was genuinely, erm, heart-stopping.
On Kate Stewart: I loved that Moffat finally brought in the Brigadier Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart’s daughter, Kate, into the series.
She had originally appeared in the 1995 spin-off direct-to-video, Downtime, with her father, and Doctor Who companions Sarah Jane Smith and Victoria Waterfield. Since this story, she has appeared in The Day of the Doctor.
And Death in Heaven.
On the Shakri: A part of Time Lord lore, the Doctor was taught about them when he was young, but was believed only to be a legend. For whatever reason, the Shakri they had decided that humanity needed to be wiped out before they began colonizing space. They were led by “the Tally” though we have no idea who or what they are. I have hoped that they would be brought back for another episode in the future at some point.