Welcome back, Whovians. Last week we visited Mercy, a town where we learned that making human-cyborg hybrids for wars is a bad idea and that apparently only mothers are sad, kind, and fierce all at the same time.
This time around, we open with the Ponds talking about their two lives: real life and Doctor life. They’re about to choose which one to stick with when suddenly we hear the sounds of the TARDIS.
In voiceover, Amy talks about how they always became part of the Doctor’s life, but he never became part of theirs – except once. As a small cube materializes inside chez Pond at night, she refers to the time the Doctor came to stay the year of the slow invasion.
At this point, I’m kind of excited, because I’ve always enjoyed when the Doctor battles for present-day Earth. It’s happened a few times before – ATMOS, the stolen Earth, Adipose, Canary Wharf, etc – and to me these are often the times both the Doctor and the companion are at their best. Maybe because what they are fighting for – home, family, friends – is right in front of them.
Rory’s dad (I’m so glad he’s back) wakes the couple up at butt-early in the morning because the street is littered with hundreds of the same little black cube that turned up in the Ponds’ living room. But don’t worry. The Doctor is already on it.
The team is in the TARDIS, debating what the cubes could be (Brian has a lot of ideas), and the Doctor decides to use the Ponds’ kitchen as a lab. After we learn that Rory is still a nurse and Amy is writing articles for travel magazines, a team of official and scary looking people with guns and a Range Rover come storming up to the house. Apparently, chez Pond is the origin point for the cubes.
The soldiers usher a half-dressed Rory into the room as a woman comes in behind the invasion. She’s Kate Stewart, head of scientific research at UNIT. Hooray, UNIT is back! I have a moment of hope that we’ll get a surprise visit from Martha Jones. Anyway, the team decides to start observing the cubes 24/7 as UNIT has been unable to figure out anything about them.
They watch the cubes for four days before the Doctor gets antsy and starts running around doing things. He paints the fence, kicks a soccer ball and vacuums chez Pond, managing to kill an hour. OK, so Eleven isn’t exactly patient. Shock. He goes to take off in the TARDIS, assuming Rory and Amy will be coming, but they and Brian decide to stay. Clearly we’re setting up their departure later this season.
Why, yes, that’s exactly what we’re doing. In a quick montage set in October (the cubes showed up in July), Amy agrees to be a bridesmaid and Rory takes a full-time position. Real life, uh-oh. Fast-forward to December: Rory’s at work, and as he wheels a patient away, we see a little girl holding a cube whose eyes glow a creepy blue, and as she sits there a swirly cloud of light can be seen inside the cube.
A doctor (not the Doctor) enters a patient room, and the same swirly thing happens inside a cube he passes. An identical doctor comes in from the other side of the room and when they pull off their face masks, we see some kind of vent-looking thing. Almost like a gas mask, but not in the “Are you my mummy?” sense. The creepy little girl watches, and we hear screaming off-camera.
Meanwhile we see that people have these cubes everywhere – they’re using them as paperweights, decor, mini shelves, and just throwing them away. Fast forward to June and we’re at a party at chez Pond. It’s their anniversary, and while Amy is leaving the Doctor a rambling message about the cubes still just being there, guess who shows up behind her? Eleven!
He takes Amy and Rory, in costume, to the Savoy Hotel in 1890.
After a bit more travel and Amy accidentally marrying Henry VIII, they get back to the party – except they’re in different clothes. They’ve been away for seven weeks. Brian asks what has happened to other people who traveled with the Doctor, and learns the truth – some leave, some get left behind, a few die. Enough with the foreshadowing, Moffatt. We get it. They’re leaving this season.
The Doctor decides to stay with the Ponds for awhile and keep an eye on the cubes. Maybe this time he won’t lose it.
Eleven and the Ponds are eating fish sticks and custard while Brian is, as usual, on cube duty. He keeps nodding off, and as he does, one of them sort of spins around on its own. Uh-oh! Cube action!
Rory is wiping down the kitchen, and while he isn’t looking, the cube he has with him opens and radiates blue light from one side. More cube action. Slow invasion, indeed.
Amy is in her room and notices a cube making the same swirly light that it did when the creepy little girl was holding it. She goes to grab it, gets stabbed in the hand, and sees what appears to be a heart beat line going across the side. Rory finally notices the opening cube side, but can’t get a good look because it keeps switching on him.
Good thing the Doctor is right there in the living room, playing Wii tennis. While he does, yet another cube floats in front of his face.
As the Doctor taunts the floating cube, a side opens and a laser blast come shooting out. He ducks, of course. The cubes are attacking all over the place, so Rory gets called in to work. For whatever reason that I’m sure will be abundantly clear later, Brian goes with him. Amy and the Doctor are called to the Tower of London.
In a secret UNIT lair underneath the tower, we learn that the cubes all activated at once, but every single one of them is behaving differently. It’d be my luck that I’d be stuck with the one that plays the chicken dance on an endless loop.
Oh, by the by, Kate? Is the daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, but she dropped Lethbridge because she didn’t want any favors.
Outside, we have a touching moment between Amy and the Doctor about her and Rory stopping, and whether the traveling is running away from or running toward something. Suddenly, the Doctor realizes the reason the cubes shut off after 47 minutes was because they got what they wanted, which was a scan of everything on Earth so they’d know the best way to attack. Suddenly, they’re counting down, starting with 7. Time to get all the cubes away from the humans. Go, go, go.
Brian stumbles upon a long empty hallway while looking for gauze for Rory. He asks two doctors for directions, and lo and behold, it’s our weird face-gasmask friends from earlier. This can’t be good.
Of course it’s not good. Rory goes to the empty hall and sees the two facemask guys pushing Brian into an elevator that’s all yellow inside with caution tape on the doors, but when he tries to follow them in, they’re gone. One wall becomes a portal when touched, so Rory goes through, because that is always a good idea, and ends up on a space ship surrounded by what appear to be unconscious people on beds.
The Doctor sits with one of the cubes as it counts down to zero, and when it does, it opens to reveal absolutely nothing inside. But this is Doctor Who and there are still a good twelve minutes left in the episode, so obviously it’s not that simple.
And I’m right. On the screen, we see people near cubes around the world dropping over from apparent heart attacks. The Doctor falls backward into a chair in the same manner, though in his case it might be a hearts attack (actually, it appears only one of his hearts is affected). It seems the cubes sent out electrical currents that would mess with human hearts. Joy.
There are seven signals across the globe interacting with the cubes, and the closest one is the hospital where Rory works. Probably explains the weird elevator portal and the creepy little girl in the waiting room that apparently no one has noticed is always there by herself.
On the space ship, Rory tries to keep the mask dudes away from his dad, so they come at him with a syringe. Back at the hospital, the Doctor finds the creepy girl based on a signal she’s putting out and powers her down. Then, Amy uses a defibrillator on him and brings lefty heart back to life. The pair find the yellow elevator of doom and go through the portal. Apparently all it takes to wake up Rory is some smelling salts that are illegal in seven galaxies. They’re trying to take him and Brian back home but there’s a bad guy who apparently has psychic powers and looks like he should be a big bad in Star Wars tries to stop them.
He’s one of the Shakri, who were supposed to be just a Gallifreyan myth to scare widdle baby Time Lords. They’re the pest-control of the universe and are there to destroy humanity before it colonizes space. Good to know my entire planet is as welcome as that mouse that ran through my apartment. I guess the cubes are the tray of green poison pellets.
After listening to the Shakri (who was actually a hologram) give a monologue about how awful and pesty humans are, he disappears, and the Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to reverse the effects of the cube and restart the hearts of everyone who were killed. The wave of energy causes the ship to blow up, but Amy, Rory, and the Doctor get through the elevator portal just in time.
After a kiss goodbye from Kate, the Doctor joins the Ponds and Brian for dinner. Amy and Rory are going to give up traveling, but Brian convinces them to keep going. So they do, and voiceover Amy muses about how “cubed” also means “the power of three.”
Next week, we’re going to see the Weeping Angels. In New York! Be still my heart, especially since there’s a shot of the TARDIS materializing in my parents’ neighborhood.