I is for The Impossible Astronaut

“The Impossible Astronaut” is the first in a two-parter story and it’s the first episode of series six of Doctor Who and it kicks off the series with a bang.

Steven Moffat’s time as the showrunner of Doctor Who gave us some epic and often somewhat convoluted stories. His story arcs are ones that tended to impact nearly every episode leading up to the finale which sometimes I liked, while other times I preferred the more subtle references of RTD era. “The Impossible Astronaut” kicks off one of those more convoluted story arcs as it introduces a new alien villain in the Silence and the episode starts with the Doctor getting killed!

Of course, all is not what it seems and the Doctor that Amy, Rory, and River Song get killed by an astronaut in a lake in Utah, is 200 years older than the one they then meet in a diner. Time travel heh? This does lead to an interesting scenario where the audience and the companions knows something of the Doctor’s fate while he doesn’t. The Doctor isn’t the one who’s usually in the dark so this dynamic where the companions are forced to keep a secret to preserve timelines when that’d normally be the Doctor’s job sets up some interesting potential conflict.

One of my favourite moments in this episode is when the Doctor can tell that his friends are hiding something from him, he asks Amy to swear that’s she’s not lying by swearing on something that matters. Amy thinks for a moment and then she chooses fish fingers and custard. I love how that is a shorthand for their relationship, for the night they first met when she was a little girl, and how that night and the fish fingers and custard is something that matters so very much to the both of them.

“The Impossible Astronaut” also features America in the 1960s and the space race which is always an interesting and fun historical period full of potential. Mark Sheppard plays Canton Delaware III, a former secret service agent, and he’s a nice addition to the TARDIS team and I liked his practicality and level-headedness even when suddenly presented with the reality of aliens and time travel.

And as I mentioned before “The Impossible Astronaut” gives us the Silence. They’re truly unnerving creatures that you forget about as soon as you’re no longer looking at them. Anything could happen while you’re in their presence but as soon as you look away you forget seeing them and anything else anyone might’ve said or done near you. Plus, they have electricity-like powers they can destroy people with so you might not escape them at all.

“The Impossible Astronaut” is a pretty good series opener. It immediately pulls the rug out from under you and then leaves you with a sense of foreboding because we’ve seen the Doctor die and the rules of Doctor Who state that big events like that can’t be changed. Then there’s the mystery of a little girl phoning President Nixon and an alien race lurking in the shadows. It starts the series with a bang and this is where the show clearly started to get a bigger budget and more of an American fanbase as suddenly this little British show was filming in America and not just in quarries in Wales!

One comment

  1. The actor that plays Nixon in this episode does a very good job. I wish Mark Sheppard’s character would have had the chance to return.

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