(all spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode! and no comments from party poopers — this is a love fest only / previous: “Flesh and Stone”)
Yes, alien vampire fish people in 16th-century Venice: very cool. But really: all the sexual innuendo! Though we can hardly call it innuendo: it’s just, you know, uendo. It’s all right out there in the open, and it’s all on the Doctor. Busting out of a stripper cake. (And can you imagine his chat with Lucy, in her bikini? How does he find out she’s diabetic? How does that even come up?) He says flat out that Amy is “a great kisser.” The “Moulin Rouge in 1890” — you know, with all the half-naked dancing girls and the invention of the striptease and the high-class prostitutes — is “amazing.” Exchanging naughty glances with pretty local girls in “romantic” Venice. The “slightly scary girls” who make him go Ooo at the prospect of their not letting him go.
Okay: The Doctor owes Casanova, history’s greatest lover, a chicken, over a bet they had. Can we guess what the bet was about? Yes, we can.
Not-at-all veiled jokes about whether the Doctor or Rory might better be able to sexually satisfy Amy: “Yours is bigger than mine” / “Let’s not go there.” Fish from space who are, the Doctor notes, “buxom.” The Doctor explicitly commenting on the alien fish space mom engineering mates for her ten thousand sons: “Eww. I mean, I’ve been around a bit, but really, that’s… eww.” The Doctor wolf-whistling at Signora Fish Lady, and then flirting with her:
And it’s not just us reading into this that he’s flirting. This is the text. With the camera this close, that’s intentionally intimate. His “think of the children” — that’s intimate.
In one episode, we get more of a sense of the Doctor as a sexual being — as a man who is very interested and very experienced; as a man who can use sex as a weapon — than we have across the entirety of the almost 50-year-history of the show.
(My theory: Russell Davies, as a gay man, was in love with the Doctor, and so his tenure on the show was very much from the companion’s/fan’s perspective, because we’re all in love with him, too. Steven Moffat, as a straight man, is imagining himself as the Doctor, and what he’d get up to with all of time and space at his command, not to mention the Doctor’s charisma. The Doctor is a Mary Sue for Moffat. And I think it’s fantastic.)
And of course the subtext of all this naughty, naughty text is: Will Amy choose the Doctor (whom even other people, like Guido, can see is interested in her: “Actually I thought you were her fiancé,” he tells the Doctor)? Or Rory, who genuinely loves her and is very sweet — “You big stupid Spongebob”; who finds it hard to insult even alien villain fish boy’s mother — and might even be able to catch up with all the dazzling life out there?
And then there’s the subsubtext, about the crack in the universe and the Silence…
I still think Amy herself is the crack, and that the Doctor is going to find his hearts broken harder than they ever have before. Not necessarily that he’s more in love with Amy than he ever has been with anyone else before — I don’t think that, though I think he always ends up with a huge soft spot for all the girls who travel with him (insert Moffat-esque line about hard spots, too). But because we’ll going to learn that he is responsible for the crack in the universe in the first place, the crack that brought Amy into his life and created her to begin with.
I’m stocking up on Kleenex for the finale now…
Random thoughts on “Vampires of Venice”:
• Cell phone cameras:
The bane of those trying to police the timelines… and surely the salvation of the Fox Mulders of the world, who are trying to prove weird stuff — like time travel and alien fish people — really exists.
Rory may not have been able to snap this picture, but surely he got some others. Amy probably has, too. Just because we haven’t seen her taking photos on Starship U.K. and during the Blitz doesn’t mean she hasn’t been doing so. And will those images end up on Flickr or Facebook eventually? I bet they will…
• Hydrate me, hydrate me…
• Ooo, I wish we could make out the details of the Doctor’s library card:
Do you think it’s for the Library?
• The creepy pale girls who don’t like sunlight:
are very Hammer Horror, aren’t they?
• I don’t trust Carlo the steward:
Well, actually, it’s more like I don’t trust Steven Moffat anymore. I feel like I have to second-guess everything (and that’s a good thing — I love being kept in my toes by my entertainmen!). When the Doctor ended up unconscious after being zapped by the door at Signora Calvieri’s School for Pale Creepy Girls Who Don’t Like Sunlight, and then the next time we see the Doctor he’s running around doing stuff like normal, I had to think, Wait, is this a wibbly-wobbly Doctor? Because he was just unconscious and now he’s fine…? And it seems to be that that was not the case, that we just skipped over the Doctor waking up.
But it primes me for thinking that Carlo the steward must be more than what he seems. He enjoys his job too much and too easily, for one, certainly for a 16th-century guy who’s serving alien fish vampire people. And so when we see him, toward the end of the episode, dragging valuables out of the Calvieri house as the world is ending (apparently)… well, surely he dragged out some alien doodad that will come back around to bite someone in the ass later (the Doctor, most likely). Or maybe Carlo is, like, some other renegade Time Lord who survived the destruction of Gallifrey (hello, Drax?), or the Black Guardian, or who knows?
I just don’t trust that anything is what it seems anymore. Damn you, Moffat!
• One thing I would have liked to have known that this episode didn’t go near: What, precisely, is the reputation the Signora Calvieri has for her girls’ school? Because girls either go in never to be seen again, or they’re just walking around the town all mysteriouslike. For a Renaissance girls’ school to have gotten such a reputation, surely it must have a track record of getting rich important husbands for these girls, or positions at court, or something. Right?
• The sonic screwdriver can heal wounds?
This is new.
And in this whole “I don’t trust Moffat” vein — heh: vein — I think the fact that Amy got her blood sucked my alien fish people is gonna come back to haunt her…
• Not just alien fish people: alien fish people with Oedipal complexes:
• Again with the beautiful design. I love how the 16th-century Venetian look:
mimics the fish look:
• This is how beautifully the show balances humor and poignancy:
Poor Guido. He’s simultaneously funny, in Rory’s ridiculous T-shirt, and sad, standing there watching his daughter be ripped from him one last time.
• Did you notice the cool alien fish carving on the balcony of the Calvieri house?
• “Hard to believe it’s the same man who let an entire race turn to cinders and ash,” Signora Calvieri says to the Doctor. Who? What? When? Where? During the Time War, obviously, but… details! I demand details!
And then: “I told you, you can’t go back and change time,” the Doctor tells her. But when did he tell her this? We didn’t see it! Is this a wibbly-wobbly moment?
• All the ten thousand little fish boys are still in the canals, aren’t they? Yikes. I guess they’ll die off eventually…
• This looks familiar:
It looks like the crack in the universe, don’t it?
• Great quotes:
“The life out there, it dazzles. It blinds you to the things that are important. I’ve seen it devour relationships and plans. Because for one person to have seen all that, to taste the glory, and then go back… It will tear you apart.” –the Doctor, to Amy and Rory
“Am I thinking what I think I’m thinking?” –the Doctor
“Gunpowder… Most people just nick stationery from where they work.” — the Doctor
“Your daughter? You look about nine.” –Amy, to the Doctor
“She kissed me.” –the Doctor, about Amy, to Rory
“And you kissed her back?” –Rory
“No, I kissed her mouth.” –the Doctor
“You should be in a museum, or in a mausoleum.” Signora Calvieri, to the Doctor, when she learns he’s from Gallifrey
(next: Episode 7: “Amy’s Choice”)