TV REVIEW: Doctor Who - The Power of Three

The Power of Three finds the Ponds torn between their two lives, real life and life with the Doctor. Meanwhile, mysterious black cubes begin appearing everywhere with no explanation and no conceivable motive. Spoilers sweetie!

To try and sum up the plot of this episode, and do justice to everything that happened, briefly and succinctly would be near impossible. A ridiculous amount happened; from the welcome return of Brian Williams (Mark Williams), Rory (Arthur Darvill) actually doing his job whilst Amy (Karen Gillan) hangs out with her friends, then there's the supposed cube invasion which turned out to be an attempt at genocide, the Doctor (Matt Smith) starting to realise his companions are going to leave him, UNIT coming back, a Lethridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) appearing and... well I'm not going to go on, you've probably seen the episode yourself.

Put simply, there was too much happening. As Jen has observed, Doctor Who is very much a victim of its episode run-time and nowhere was that more evident than in The Power of Three. The slow cube invasion was an excellent concept, a true sci-fi gem that could have been utilised to ramp up the tension before the big Steven Birkoff-related reveal. In between, however, we got a stupid amount of time-jumping as the Doctor got bored so swept Amy and Rory away to times gone by. Instead of creating a cohesive storyline, Chris Chibnall's script instead opted for mining the largest amount of jokes and references he could. It was still entertaining, but far too frenetic to become truly invested in.

As such, the reveal that it is the Shakri, a galactic pre-emptive policing system who want to get rid of the human race before they can conquer space, becomes both rushed and slightly anti-climactic. It is left to yet another convenient 'sonic screwdriver solves everything' conclusion, something which I had hopefully thought we'd left behind in the Davies era. Poor Steven Berkoff had barely anything to do except look evil then aggrieved. After the fantastic twist in Asylum of the Daleks or the ridiculously tense climax of A Town Called Mercy, this paled in comparison. It does, however, get points for providing some of the most terrifying facially challenged people since the "where's my mummy" child (Which still haunts me. Bloody Moffat).

Thankfully, despite the many plots, the episode still had an inherent strength and entertainment value because of the performances of the key players. Seeing the Ponds in their two lives added another depth to their characters because, whilst we've always seen companions' families, it is rare that you see their wider social circles. The ever-growing sense of doom surrounding their departure continues this week with Brian questioning the Doctor about his previous companions. His 'just get them back safe' at the end of the episode was practically dripping in dramatic irony. 

As always, Smith remains the strongest performance and he was giving a fair amount of emotional yo-yo-ing to do this week, as well as demonstrating a Doctor at only half his coronary capacity. In amidst all the mania, he still manages to convey the darkness we've been seeing in previous episodes, the anger and the loneliness that never goes away. It's a masterful performance and Smith is further cementing himself as an iconic incarnation of everyone's favourite Time Lord.

For me, this episode has been the weakest of the current run with too much plot, frenetically jumping from one scene to the next whilst trying to cram as many jokes and references in as possible. That being said, it's a testament to the quality of this latest series that The Power of Three was still an enjoyable watch and further confirms that the Ponds' departure is going to be a very sad episode indeed. Both Jen and I will be reviewing The Angels Take Manhattan next week, together, at the same time. Who knows how on Gallifrey that will turn out.

- Becky

You can read Jen's review of A Town Called Mercy here.

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