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Recap: Doctor Who 6.03 “Curse of the Black Spot”

Lily Cole scares the crap out of some pirates, Matt Smith is adorable, and Johnny Depp does not make a cameo in this week’s standalone episode of Doctor Who. I’m feeling itchy just writing about it, because there is a timehead baby mystery to solve, and we’re just standing around playing swordfighting in funny hats.

Chekov’s timehead baby law is clear.  If a timehead baby regenerates in the first act, it’d better do something timey-wimey by the third act. But no. We’ve got pirates. Let’s get on with this, then.

The TARDIS gang has landed on a pirate ship, and they are not greeted warmly. The pirate ship is cursed, as we see in the opening clip, and any of the crew who are injured are marked with a black spot on their palm and then snatched away without a trace by a mysterious singing siren. When the Doctor, Rory and Amy are discovered, the pirates assume they’ve stowed away. The Doctor is sent down the plank, with Rory set to go next, and the pirates send Amy off to the kitchen to make them some sandwiches.

Instead, Amy puts on pirate clothes, grabs a cutlass, and kicks a little ass. The pirates, knowing even a little nick will bring their doom, do a fine job of convincing Amy she’s a swordfighting prodigy. She swings in on a rope, bowling down several pirates and scratching another:

Pirate: You’ve killed me!

Amy: It’s just a scratch! What kind of rubbish pirates are you?

She swings back through on her rope, but the pirates tackle her, sending her sword flying right into Rory, who is really having a time of things on his adventures with the Doctor. He gets a spot on his palm, and the pirates warn that the siren will be coming to take them, because she can smell a drop of blood. Sure enough, here comes glowy green Lily Cole, ready to sing them to death by making them stupid and then turning them into smoke. Apparently. The crew saves Rory, which makes Lily Cole turn red and hiss, but the other pirate is lost. Then the running and solving begins.

The Doctor uses his adorableness to make friends with the Captain, but rubs some of the other pirates the wrong way when he calls their curse silly:

Pirates: She’s like a shark!

Doctor: Yes, just like a shark! In a dress! And green, and singing! A green, singing shark in an evening gown.

The Captain demands to see the Doctor’s ship, and then there are leeches, which bring about some more running and splashing. The Doctor assures them all they’re safe down below, right before Lily Cole pops up behind him to take the guy bitten by a leech. He’s smoke. The rest of the pirates, the Doctor, and Amy dragging Rory go through a door and latch it. The Doctor deduces that Lily Cole must be using water as a portal. They head to the armory, which is full of gunpowder, dry as a bone, and housing another stowaway, a little boy with a cough. The little boy is the captain’s son;  he told the boy he was in the navy. The boy’s mother is dead, and he has typhus, so he’s clearly going to be the moral center of this story.

The Doctor and the Captain set off to find the TARDIS so the Doctor can get Rory and the boy away from the siren.  Amy, Rory, the rest of the pirates, and the boy stay behind, but the pirates leave them after telling the boy his dad is a pirate. The boy gets brave and points a cutlass at one of the retreating pirates, then nicks him. The uncut pirate leaves, and the other pirate starts barricading the door. The Doctor and the Captain are trying to fly the TARDIS in to rescue the others, but the TARDIS is stolen in a burst of green glow.

More running. The Doctor and the Captain run into the fleeing pirate, who shoots at them and then runs behind the door to the treasure room before burning himself on his torch. The Doctor and the Captain hear the siren’s song, then see a glow under the door where the fleeing pirate (Mulligan!) is auf’d. They run in when the danger has passed and discover there is no water in the treasure room, so the Doctor amends his water hypothesis to deduce the siren travels by shiny things that reflect. At the same time, The Boy is down below fiddling with the very shiny medal his father gave him before running off with The Doctor. They run below to save the others, and the Doctor is cute. Then he busts out all the windows and mirrors. Which, wouldn’t that leave lots of little shiny things everywhere? Then the Doctor throws all the shiny treasure out the window holes.  Everyone left is forced to wait on the ship until the water chops up a bit and they can catch a wind to some land.  This gives the Captain and The Boy (Toby!) to have parent time, and Nanny Tighpatch from the Silence orphanage to pop her head in and tell us absolutely nothing while being creepy. She sounds a bit like a birthing coach, no? Like a timehead baby birthing coach? Tough shit, we’re not finding out anything this episode.

More conversations, then a storm breaks out, and everyone is on-deck pulling on things and dodging other things swinging on ropes while the Captain yells at them. He tells Toby to get his coat, which has his compass in the pocket, and as the boy is bringing it to him, a big shiny crown rolls out and across the deck. The siren comes and takes Toby, because the Captain was greedy. Then Rory falls off the side of the boat. Amy wants to dive in after him, but the Doctor says they need to release the siren and let her take him. He’s pretty sure that everyone is still alive, and that the siren is taking them somewhere instead of killing them. Amy, the Captain, and the Doctor slice their hands with the sonic screwdriver and wait for her to take them away or turn them into smoke. She does the former.

Because, as it turns out, the siren is an alien doctor and she’s only trying to fix people in her invisible hospital spaceship, conveniently parked on top of the pirate ship, but in a timey-wimey vortex thing. She’s like Captain Jack Hotness’s nanocritters in “The Empty Child.” They find all of the pirates, Toby, and Rory on suspended beds, and behind a curtain is the TARDIS, which the Doctor hugs. They discover they can’t unhook Rory without making him drown again, and Rory tells Amy she’ll need to save him with CPR.

The Doctor tells the Captain they need to send the ship back into space, and the Captain decides to stay with the ship so Toby can stay alive, and then he’s the captain of a spaceship instead of a pirate ship. Okay, whatever.

Amy saves Rory, eventually, and that’s all I’ve got to say about that scene, other than GIVE RORY A BREAK. HE’S A TIMEY-WIMEY JOB.

There is a brief scene with the Doctor checking out the TARDIS Preg-o-Gram, which still flashes back and forth for Amy’s Mysterious Uterus. Just like last week.

I think I would have enjoyed this episode a lot more if I watched it like I did for series 1-5, in big chunks on Netflix. I think I will enjoy it more when I rewatch this season a jillion times in the future. Right now the suspense of the timehead baby is killing me just a little, and I can’t concentrate on awesome but distracting things like pirates and a mermaid.

Next week (IN LIKE TWO SHORT DAYS!) is the much-anticipated episode written by Neil Gaiman, “The Doctor’s Wife.”

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

7 replies on “Recap: Doctor Who 6.03 “Curse of the Black Spot””

I think Moffat said at some point that he will never stop killing Rory. So we should all get comfortable.
If this episode had been at any time last season, or later this season after we’d gotten some answers, I would have liked it way better. I mean, PIRATES. But I (like the rest of you) was so intent on ANSWERS that this episode seemed bad. I really wanted it to be the regenerating girl hidden in that barrel, not typhus Toby.
Also, I watched all of Doctor Who as Season 5 was airing (which was confusing!) so I always had new Who to watch. This whole “wait-a-week” thing is for the birds.
But also, next week is Neil Gaiman and we need to focus on the potential for awesomeness in that and just let him tell his story and wait yet another week for answers. Or so I keep telling myself.

I was disappointed by this episode after the epicness of the first two. Besides that, I was watching it at the family-in-law and I can’t show them how amazing Doctor Who is with an ep like this.
And Moffat should really give Rory a break. A ‘Rory-dies-again’ fluke isn’t funny after more than two uses.

Things that make me confused: Why Rory would be still drowning if they took him off of life support. I mean, his body was out of the water no matter what, no?

Things that piss me off: The great useless Preg-o-Gram that tells us nothing and is beyond pointless.

I agree, I think if this were a fun diversion between timehead moments, I’d like it a lot better, but right now I’m very focused on WHAT IS GOING ONNNN MOFF JUST GIVE US MORE TIMEHEAD BABY.

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