The Power of Three – Season 7 Episode 4


Another Saturday night, another episode of Doctor Who.  I must say it was both shocking and saddening to see the adverts for next week’s “season finale”.  On one hand, with these quick “mini-seasons” we’ve been given the last few years, the DVD releases are coming out faster; which is good because I couldn’t make out half of what the villain in tonight’s episode was saying…  On the other hand, it seems too quick.  Like taking the Concorde from Hamilton to Toronto…and yes I know the SSTs have been retired.  We just get up to speed, the series finally gets things headed in the right direction after fumbling for the first few weeks, and now we get hiatus until Christmas.  The NHL is locked out so that means no HNIC (Hockey Night in Canada for those who don’t follow), what to do, what to do with my Saturdays now?  I suppose this means I now have no excuse for not watching Walking Dead this season as it airs, but that’s a Sunday night thing, and while I’ve enjoyed that show, I know I won’t be reviewing the episodes, though I have enjoyed doing that this season with Doctor Who.

Tonight we got Episode 4, The Power of Three, and there are things I wish to say about the title of the episode that I hope will not be taken as spoilers.  I suppose the best way to approach this is to briefly sum up the story.  The world wakes up one morning to find millions if not billions of tiny black cubes suddenly materialized all over the planet. All of them identical, all of them indestructible, and all of them seemingly just dormant cubes.  They defy analysis, they don’t seem to do anything, but they are the beginning of the “slow invasion”.  The Doctor takes up residence with Amy and Rory to try and analyze them and we get to see their lives with the Doctor just floating in the background, playing Wii, and waiting for the cubes to do something…or anything!  Apparently now Amy writes articles for a travel magazine, I guess high end modelling didn’t work out for her ( ???? ) and Rory is still a nurse (at least that makes sense!  Relax good reader, my rants about the Ponds will come to a close next week as we all know they are leaving the show).  Nearly a year later the cubes finally activate and they are a threat.  Working from a base underneath the Tower of London, the Doctor joins with Kate Stewart, the scientific head of U.N.I.T. and also daughter of one of the Doctor’s closest friends.  She dropped the “Lethbridge” from her name to avoid any preferential treatment you see.  The cubes have had a year to gather information about Earth and soon launch their attack, sending out electrical impulses that cause massive cardiac arrest in almost a third of the human population.  Finding out who is controlling the cubes, the Doctor, Amy and Rory travel through a space portal to an orbiting Shakri ship.  Working together, the Doctor and his companions repel the invasion, destroy the cubes, save the day and show the Shakri the true meaning of “cube”, and that is The Power of Three, because the three of them worked it out together you see.

The end of the episode was a little obvious, aside of course from the Doctor saving the day, but based on the title of the episode, you had to know that the “three” of them would solve the problem together…but they didn’t really, Amy and Rory just kind of came along for the ride at the end and the Doctor worked more magic with his sonic screwdriver…  I did enjoy the episode for many reasons.  There were a few nods to the show’s past, we see U.N.I.T. and get the obvious name drop with the Brigadier, and even a quick mention of Zygons, (Terror of the Zygons is one of the last two original series episodes left to be announced for a North American DVD release date).  As well it told things from a little different narrative perspective than we usually see, maybe not as effective as the “Doctorless” episodes in Series 2, 3 & 4, but still varied enough to give a new spin.  I do think it could have been a little more powerful, or a little more effective if they changed the title of the episode.  If this one were titled “The Slow Invasion” or even “Cubed” I think it would have been a little better.  If you call it “Cubed” they still get to have their line at the end about a cube being the power of three, but it doesn’t give anything away by the end of the opening credits.  I had a similar thought with the Season 1 Eccleston episode “Dalek”.  I know that they were trying to hook the viewers, and needed to increase awareness for the newly returned show, and what better way to do it than with Daleks, but I think the suspense and “fear factor” of the episode would have been off the chart if they had a different title.  If that episode had simply been called “Metaltron”, the reveal of the Dalek would have been exponentially more amazing…maybe even raised to the third power….hey, “To The Third Power” could have been a pretty good title for tonight’s episode too!  If anyone out there connected to the show is reading my stuff, get in touch, I’ll volunteer to help out a bit!

Another sore point with me about tonight’s episode was that again the sonic screwdriver was too powerful.  JNT (John Nathan-Turner) may have done a lot of things wrong with the show towards the end of the classic series, but he was fairly on track when he stopped the writers from using the sonic screwdriver after Peter Davison’s The Visitation and all the way through to Sylvester McCoy and the end of the classic era.  His reasoning was that it made for lazy writing and that it was becoming far too easy for the Doctor to get out of a jam when he had his magic wand.  I have to somewhat agree when watching the Matt Smith episodes.  It has been used as a tricorder, to reprogram alien computers, act as a flashlight, lure flying sharks, and almost anything else the writers could think of.  Come on, can we dial it back a bit?  Originally it was a fancy, sci-fi lock picking device, with some minor electrical or “sonic” wave sending abilities.  It is not really a weapon, because the Doctor is supposed to be better than that.  Having it solve every problem for him, kind of diminishes his character to me.  A quick scan and it tells him everything he needs to know about the cube, or an alien computer?  I know in some Eccleston episodes it appeared to do the same, magically interfacing with a computer, but at least in those episodes, it appeared that the Doctor had disassembled and was “hot-wiring” the device with the screwdriver.  Those uses showed us an intelligent, resourceful hero; I’d just like to see it get back to that a bit.


Next week, The Angels Take Manhattanand we sadly take a break from Who until Christmas.

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Posted on 12-09-23, in Doctor Who and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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