After the twisted, creepy darkness of Doctor Who's opening two-parter, you'd expect the show to follow up with a lighthearted episode, but instead "Curse of the Black Spot" was the most horrifying, intricate... just kidding! It was a fun episode.
And I'm wondering if last night's pirate episode of Doctor Who features the first time a particular event happened. I'm sworn to avoid spoilers in headlines and stuff, so I can't be more specific. But if you don't fear to sail under the dark flag of spoiler-dom, then click through and read some dreadful spoilers, me mateys...
Arrrr, you be a doughty bunch. You have sealed your fate, and the spoilers shall follow you to the ends of the Earth. It be too late to turn back now.
So here's what I'm wondering: is this the first time Amy's saved Rory's life? There was a running theme in season five, where Rory dies and Amy can't save him. Rory fake-dies in "Amy's Choice." He dies for real in "Cold Blood" and is swallowed up by the crack that erases him from history. That's the same fate that Amy is able to save the Doctor from in "The Big Bang," but she's unable to save Rory from it. In fact, the fact that Amy can rescue the Doctor from non-existence but was unable to do the same for her husband seems like it was a major point of last year's stories. Did Amy marry a redshirt?
So it's kind of heartening that the big arc of "Curse of the Black Spot" is that Rory is marked for death at the start of the episode, spends about half the episode flailing around trying to avoid his fate, and then gets consigned to death. And Rory himself works out a way for Amy to save him, with a little help from the Doctor.
It feels like a major step forward, for Rory especially, and I find his faith in Amy inspiring. It means that Rory's a major character in his own right, and whether he lives or dies is not merely a matter of Amy's character development. And it feels like a nice change, after Rory helping to save Amy so many times. I love how Rory's instructions to Amy on performing CPR consist of "you've seen people do it on television, just do what they did." And it works — exactly the same as it does on television, with the long delay between Amy giving up and Rory suddenly gasping back to life.
So the reason that Rory's marked for death is because this pirate ship is stuck in becalmed waters, and a Siren is taking anyone who gets the least little cut or scratch — or disease, as it turns out. We eventually discover that the Siren can emerge from any reflective surface, and if you suspected that she wasn't actually killing the people she was taking, but rather teleporting them somewhere, then you win a prize in Who-ology. The "teleportation that looks like death" thing has become a Who trope lately. In fact, the moment Rory starts drowning, the Doctor invites the Siren to take him.
The other thing I quite liked about this episode was the return of a more fallible Doctor, who is not seventeen steps ahead of everyone else. The catchphrase "ignore all my previous theories" is one of the funnier things Matt Smith has had to blurt out, and it lets the Doctor be both cocky and wrong about stuff. Having the Doctor get things wrong is one of the better ways to draw out an episode, and it's nice to see the Doctor working things out honestly, and making mistakes along the way. He even loses the TARDIS!
And he makes the dreadful mistake of wiping off his alien bogeys on Amy's shirt... this is probably going to turn into a whole subplot about Amy's infected shirt gaining sentience and seeking revenge. It will need a catchy name... like Shirtron. (Oh, and Amy has a weird dream about cyborg eyepatch lady. And she's still carrying Schrodinger's Zygote.)
And yes, it was a fun pirate episode, with walking the plank, sharks, those cool hats, cutlasses, the treasure of the Mogul of India, a remorseful pirate who used to be an honorable Naval officer, and a little boy who ran away at sea. And I would not even remotely mind re-visiting Captain Avery and his crew, now sailing a spaceship through the universe and hopefully plundering the riches of the Zygons and the Slitheen and stuff.
But one last question: Is this the one episode of Doctor Who that you won't get in trouble for downloading via bittorrent? It seems like a special exemption should be carved out.