The episode opens with Amy doing a voice-over comparison of the two lives she and Rory have. One being Doctor life and the other real life. The scene shows quick cuts of the adventures they’ve had in the TARDIS followed by the daily chores of an average, boring life. Amy continues on by saying they’ve always become part of the Doctor’s life, but he never became part of theirs except once. She calls it the year of the slow invasion and we see a tiny cube appear in the Ponds’ bedroom. Brian has several imaginative and entertaining theories about what the cubes might contain and the Doctor asks him to observe them. As the Doctor is in the Ponds’ kitchen experimenting on cubes we learn that the story is taking place 10 years after the Ponds began their adventures with him. Suddenly, the door bursts open and in storm troops from U.N.I.T. accompanied by Kate Stewart, head of scientific research for the group. She tells the trio that U.N.I.T. has experimented on the cubes extensively to no avail.
The Doctor surmises that since the cubes are everywhere and in plain sight they must want to be observed so he stays and observes. Not surprisingly he can’t just sit around doing nothing and ends up going a bit stir-crazy so he decides to leave for a bit. Months pass and the Ponds start making commitments in their “real” lives while Brian continues to observe and record a cube. As Christmas nears, we see a young girl sitting in the hospital where Rory works. She’s holding a cube and her eyes glow blue momentarily followed by a similar reaction from the cube. Next, an older patient waiting in a bed is approached by two men dressed as hospital workers wearing filter masks over their mouths. The patient pulls down one of the masks to reveal the men have a strange, 5-sided grille where their mouth and nose should be. He gets wheeled down a long, lone corridor while the young girl watches with an ominous, blank look on her face.
We’re treated to a montage of quick cuts showing just how the cubes have invaded people’s lives. Now it’s June with Amy and Rory celebrating their anniversary when the Doctor pops back in only to whisk them from a party for a surprise gift of his own. He takes them to 1890 and the newly opened Savoy hotel for a night of classic luxury, promising to return them before anyone even notices they’re gone. It’s no surprise that the romantic evening turns into not only an alien invasion, but Amy somehow inadvertently marrying Henry VIII. Now back at the party, Brian tells the Doctor he knew they were gone because Amy and Rory are wearing different clothes. He asks what happened to the other people who’ve traveled in the TARDIS. The Doctor tells him some left, others were left behind, and a few died. He assures Brian that would never happen to Amy and Rory. Never.
Brian is still diligently monitoring his cube and while he’s dozing off it moves a bit and startles him. Amy sees a cube in their bedroom glow and when she touches it tiny spikes pierce her hand then display a heartbeat rhythm on the surface of the cube. In the kitchen, Rory sees a cube on the table begin to open on a side and display a strange, blue light. In the lounge, playing Wii tennis no less, the Doctor is approached by a flying cube that begins to shoot at him with a laser. It seems all the cubes are becoming active with each behaving differently. Rory is called in to the hospital to help with the onslaught of people injured by cubes attacking them and Brian goes along to lend a hand.
The Doctor and Amy are summoned to U.N.I.T.’s headquarters where Kate tells them about the cubes’ behavior. Secure computer systems worldwide are being breached and Kate tells the Doctor that U.N.I.T. has no idea how to respond. He says not to despair because her father never did. This is when the Doctor reveals that he knows Kate Stewart is the daughter of the late, great Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, former leader of U.N.I.T. It’s right at this time all the cubes cease all activity.
The Doctor goes out for some fresh air and Amy follows. They end up discussing Amy and Rory’s thoughts of no longer traveling with him. He says he keeps coming back to Amy and Rory because she was “the first face this face saw” and he’s running to them before they fade from his memory. The Doctor has an epiphany about the cubes at that point; they were observing human behavior to find our weaknesses. Now all the cubes are displaying the number 7 which begins a slow countdown while the Doctor and U.N.I.T. try to locate the signal that’s controlling them.
At the hospital Rory asks Brian to get some tape from storage and he ends up lost in a corridor where the two masked men from earlier subdue him and roll him away on a gurney. Rory goes looking for him and sees the two men rolling Brian toward a freight elevator where they disappear. Once inside the elevator, Rory finds that one of the walls is some kind of dimensional portal. When he steps through he finds himself on a huge alien spaceship where several people including Brian are laid out on beds.
Back at U.N.I.T. headquarters the Doctor sits in one of the windowed rooms with a cube as it counts down to zero. The cube opens up, but it’s empty. The cubes start killing people around the world by causing heart failure via electric impulse. Even the Doctor has one of his hearts stopped. U.N.I.T. computers finally detect seven inter-dimensional wormholes across the globe with one of them being in the hospital where Rory works. Amy and the Doctor locate the dimensional portal in the elevator and step through to the alien ship where they’re immediately fired upon by a strange looking alien.
The Doctor recognizes the alien as a Shakri, thought of as a myth by Gallifreyans. The Shakri are serving “the word of the Tally” and are determined to wipe humanity out of existence. The Shakri are the “pest controllers of the universe” and their sights are set on human beings. The Doctor programs the ship’s systems to use the cubes to re-start the hearts of all those affected by the initial attack, but the energy release will result in the destruction of the ship. Our trio run through the dimensional wormhole just as the ship explodes and all the people around the world get a jump start of their hearts.
Back at the Ponds’ house the Doctor says he needs to go and he understands Amy and Rory have lives they don’t want to give up. Brian corrects him and says it’s the Doctor himself they can’t give up. He urges Amy and Rory to go on more adventures and save more worlds, which they do. As the episode ends Amy is heard in a voice-over saying that they realized that cubed actually means “the power of three” as the three travelers enter the TARDIS bidding Brian goodbye.
While enjoyable as always, this particular episode felt somewhat extraneous and a bit forced. It seemed to exist solely to enhance the idea of how important Amy and Rory are to the Doctor. With the next episode finding us bidding farewell to the Ponds, I suppose the intent was timely, but we already know how important these two are to our titular hero. Heck, he married their daughter so he’s quite literally family.
It was really fun to see Mark Williams again as Rory’s dad, Brian. He’s a wonderful actor who always brightens up any scene he happens to be in and his character on the show is very well written. It would be great to see him spend some time as a companion to the Doctor. Having an older traveling mate could be fun, especially if it’s portrayed by someone like Mark Williams.
For fans of the “classic” series the inclusion of the Brigadier’s daughter was a nice touch. Having her heading up U.N.I.T. brings a sense of continuity to a show whose basic premise is one of constant change. I really hope we see more of Kate Stewart and U.N.I.T. in future episodes.
Knowing the Weeping Angels will be in the next episode has me curious as to how Amy and Rory are supposedly going to make a permanent departure. Surely if they’re zapped back in time they could be easily rescued by the Doctor. I’m a more than a bit worried that the Doctor’s promise to Brian that the couple wouldn’t end up dead will be a broken one. It turns out that my guess from last week about the Ponds looking older was right, but definitely don’t want to be right about them ending up dead. No sir, I want to be completely wrong about that one.
Rory: “What do you think we do when we’re not with you?”
The Doctor: “I imagine mostly kissing.”
Kate: “Sorry about the raucous entrance. Spike in Artron energy readings at this address. In the light of the last 24 hours we had to check it out and the…the dogs do love a run-out.” (Referring to the soldiers)
Kate: “Within 3 hours the cubes had a thousand separate Twitter accounts.”
The Doctor (with disdain): “Twitter.”
Rory: “You said we had to be patient.”
The Doctor: “Yes you! You, not me! I hate being patient! Patience is for wimps!”
Rory: “You just married Henry VIII on our anniversary.”
The Doctor: “Is that all you can do? Hover? I had a metal dog could do that.”
Amy: “The cube upstairs just spiked me and took my pulse!”
The Doctor: “Really? Mine fired laser bolts and now it’s surfing the net!”
Amy: “Secret base beneath the tower. Hope we’re not here because we know too much.”
Kate: “Yes, I’ve got officers trained in beheading. Also, ravens of death.”
Amy: “I like her.”
Amy (referring to a sequestered cube): “Uh, what’s this one?”
Kate: “Try the door.”
Amy opens the door and hears the cube playing The Chicken Dance.
Kate: “On a loop.”
The Doctor: “I’m not running away from things, I’m running to them. Before they flare and fade forever.”
The Doctor: “How do you people manage one heart? It is pitiful!”
The Doctor: “Welcome back lefty! Whoa, two hearts! Back in the game! Never do that to me again.”
Amy: “Where are we?”
The Doctor: “We’re in orbit, one dimension to the left.”
The Doctor: “The pest controllers of the universe. That’s how the tales went, isn’t it?”
Amy: “Wow, that’s some seriously weird bedtime story.”
The Doctor: “You can talk. Wolf in your grandmothers night dress…”
Here are two trailers for episode 5 entitled “The Angels Take Manhattan.” In addition to being the final episode for Amy and Rory, the episode marks the return of both the Weeping Angels and River Song.
The BBC One trailer:
The BBC America trailer: