The Big Bang
The Big Bang was the Doctor Who series 5 finale. It concluded many aspects of the story begun in The Eleventh Hour — most obviously by marrying Amy and Rory and by closing the cracks in time — but it left the audience wondering what “the Silence” was and why it wanted the TARDIS to explode.
The series 5 finale was a kickstarter for several overarching stories that would foreshadow major conflicts yet to ensnare the Doctor. While the identity of the Silence was a major topic explored in series 6, the question of why they wanted to blow the TARDIS up remained what the Eleventh Doctor called “a good question for another day” until a denouement during the conclusion of series 7 revealed the perpetrators, while another plot would carry over to series 8, reaching into the Twelfth Doctor’s travels.
The Big Bang had an impact upon Torchwood as well, allowing it to, at least in Russell T Davies’ mind, escape the confines of Cardiff. He said that closing the cracks in time also resulted in the closing of the Cardiff Rift. Although Davies did not explicitly make this point in his subsequent Torchwood: Miracle Day scripts, neither did he allow the Rift to be central to that series, as it had been to previous Torchwood outings.
It was the final story for several key members of the production staff, most notably production designer Ed Thomas, producer Peter Bennett and costume designer Ray Holman.
In February 2013, Steven Moffat revealed that The Big Bang was likely his personal favorite of all the Doctor Who scripts he had written. He further revealed that the title was deliberate sexual innuendo, and referred to what happened just after the credits rolled. Though contemporary Bang viewers wouldn’t have known it, TV: A Good Man Goes to War would later explain that River Song was conceived within minutes of the conclusion of the episode. Moffat therefore claimed that the story had “a filthy joke in the title only I knew about at the time”.
In 1996, Amelia Pond sits in her bedroom, praying to Santa Claus for help mending the crack in her bedroom wall. Believing she has heard something in her garden, she runs to her window. The garden is empty. Later, she gives a drawing she has done of the night sky — complete with stars and the moon — to her psychiatrist, Christine. Christine explains gently there are no stars. The night sky is empty save for the Moon. That night, Amelia overhears Christine and her aunt talking about her. As she eavesdrops at the top of the stairs, she sees a pamphlet advertising the National Museum slipped through the letterbox by a familiar figure wearing a fez. He flees when she notices him. There is a circle drawn around a notice of the Pandorica exhibit and a note reading, “Come along, Pond.”
Amelia and her aunt go to the museum. Amelia runs off and makes her way to the Pandorica exhibit, passing a variety of strange machines on display; other exhibits are quite wrong as well. At the exhibit, Amelia sees another note stuck to the face of the box. It reads, “Stick around, Pond.” This prompts Amelia to hide out in the museum to find out who is leaving notes for her.
After the museum’s close — and Aunt Sharon’s failure to find her — Amelia returns to the Pandorica and curiously sets a hand on it. Mechanisms on the face of the box glow green, scaring Amelia enough to make her back a few feet away. The Pandorica opens, but instead of an imprisoned Doctor, the occupant of the perfect prison is actually the older Amy Pond. Noticing her younger self, Amy tells the confused Amelia, “Okay, kid, this is where it gets complicated…”
In 102 A.D. the Auton duplicate of Rory Williams cradles a dead Amy Pond, comforting himself by telling her how the universe ended; it would mean they never get born, twice in his case. Amy would laugh at that; he begs her to laugh. Suddenly, a fez-wearing Eleventh Doctor appears in front of them, holding a mop. He tries calming Rory by saying it’s not the end of the world, but then corrects himself by saying it’s the end of the universe. The Doctor vanishes and reappears without the mop. A confused Rory is instructed to free the Doctor from the Pandorica; the Doctor is already out. The Doctor explains that he is already out, but back then, which is the present for Rory, he is yet to escape. Giving Rory his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor wishes him luck and informs him to put the sonic in Amy’s top pocket when he’s done with it.
Rory follows the Doctor’s instructions, opening the Pandorica with the sonic. A confused Doctor quickly deduces he’ll set up the chain of events that lead to his release. Rory questions the Doctor about the stone remains of the Alliance; they are the after-images of the races that now never existed due to the destruction of the universe. He then wonders where Amy is; Rory gives a remorseful look. Showing Amy to the Doctor, Rory asks if there is anything he can do for her. The Doctor says he can if he had the time, angering Rory, as he continues to explain that all lifeforms except for them and humanity have been deleted from existence; “Your girlfriend isn’t more important than the universe.” Losing his cool, Rory gives a good blow to the Doctor’s jaw, knocking him down. The Doctor quickly pulls himself back up, laughing, and relocates his jaw, welcoming Rory back; he had to be sure.
Putting Amy in the Pandorica, the Doctor explains that she is not an ordinary girl due to having the universe pouring through her dreams ever night thanks to the crack in her wall, so when the Nestene took a memory print off Amy, they got a bit more than what they bargained for — Rory’s soul inhabits his Auton replica. Sealing the Pandorica once more with Amy inside, the Doctor explains to Rory that it prevents people from dying as it’s a form of escape; it can stasis-lock Amy in a near-death state until it gets an external sample of her DNA, which will take around 1900 years. Recovering River’s vortex manipulator, the Doctor sets it for the future. Offering Rory a lift to the future, the Doctor is bewildered when he decides to remain behind to guard the Pandorica. Despite the warning that he’ll go mad from never sleeping, Rory insists; the Doctor relents, but warns him he isn’t indestructible and gives him fair warning of all the things he knows can cause an Auton to be destroyed or become faulty before vanishing into the future.
In the museum, Amy explores the Pandorica exhibit, paying no mind to the younger version of herself. She finds a video on “the Lone Centurion” — a man in Roman armor who protected the Pandorica wherever it went for 1839 years. He was last seen in 1941, dragging the box away from an incendiary bomb; it is believed the Centurian died in the inferno. Amy realizes he was Rory, retaining her recovered memories of him, but there is no time for her to dwell on this. The restorative light from the Pandorica has reactivated a stone Dalek in the exhibition and it’s heading straight for the Ponds.
The Doctor appears, having used the vortex manipulator to travel 1894 years into the future. The Dalek shoots at him and Amy, prompting them to take cover with young Amelia; they’re trapped. A museum guard appears and the Dalek deems him unarmed. However, the guard declares, “Wanna bet?” and uncaps his hand, revealing a laser gun to disable the Dalek. Amy rejoices when she sees that the guard is the Auton Rory. They kiss while the Doctor realizes the “light” from the Pandorica restored the Dalek partially. He also takes a fez from a display, putting it on Amelia, who refuses it; the Doctor dons the hat himself. The Dalek begins coming back to life once more due to the Pandorica still being open.
The Doctor leads the group away from the Dalek, blocking the door with a mop to buy time. When Rory recognizes his appearance, he fixes the timeline by travelling back to 102 A.D. and ordering that version of Rory to let him out of the Pandorica. He leaves the notes for Amelia, all of which led her here. Humorously, the Doctor even fulfills Amelia’s request for a drink while running around the timeline, snatching it from the earlier version of herself at the museum. A confused Amy wonders how the Doctor keeps vanishing, making him explain what the device on his wrist is: “cheap, and nasty time travel; it’s bad for you. I’m trying to give it up.”
As they head for the roof, another version of the Doctor appears at the top of the stairs, badly injured. He falls down the stairs and whispers in the Doctor’s ear before dying. The Doctor announces he has only twelve minutes to live. Amy is confused, but Rory points out that they can’t just leave his body there. Feeling challenged for who’s in charge, the Doctor asks Rory what they’re going to do about Amelia. They look back to see nothing but Amelia’s spilt drink. The Doctor explains history is still collapsing, and now there was never any Amelia Pond, confusing Amy; how can she be there when her younger self isn’t? The answer being that they are all anomalies in the timeline, so they have greater immunity than those who are normal. They head for the roof.
On the building’s roof, their attention is drawn to the “sun” in the sky. Rory questions the Doctor as to why the TARDIS exploded; “Good question for another day.” The Doctor then makes them think; the sun was erased with every other star in the universe, so what’s burning in the sky? The object keeping the Earth warm and light is his TARDIS, exploding at every moment in history. Rory’s Auton-enhanced hearing picks up a voice in the sky, which the Doctor amplifies with a satellite dish. It is River Song, whose last words — “I’m sorry, my love” — are repeated over and over. The TARDIS’ emergency protocols have locked the console room in a time loop to save her life. The Doctor uses the vortex manipulator to rescue her and bring her to the roof. River is cautious about Rory, but the Doctor calms her down. River explains that she has questions, but number one is, “What in the name of sanity do you have on your head?”. The Doctor explains he wears fezzes now since they’re cool; Amy removes it from his head and tosses it in t he air, where River blasts it to pieces. The group is shot at by the regenerated Dalek. They retreat to the museum below.
The Doctor runs through the museum, deducing that, along with the restoration field, the Pandorica contains a few billion atoms of the universe as it was. This was how the Dalek returned despite being erased from history. The Doctor formulates a plan involving these atoms, the restoration field and the exploding TARDIS. Just as he is about to reveal it, he is shot by the Dalek, who has followed them; the Dalek lacked enough energy to make the blast quick and painless. The Doctor uses the vortex manipulator to disappear. Amy and Rory know where he is and go to him while River stays behind. As River is an associate of the Doctor’s the Dalek believes she will show mercy; she tells it her name and to look her up in its database, knowing one blast from her gun to its eyestalk will kill it. The Dalek then begins begging for mercy, shaking in fear.
Downstairs, Amy and Rory are confused. The Doctor’s corpse is not where they left it. River returns to remind them the Doctor lies, informing them the Dalek is dead as well. The Doctor had pretended to die to make them decoys to buy him time. They return to the exhibit and find the very weak Doctor has strapped himself into the Pandorica. He will use the vortex manipulator to fly the box into the heart of the TARDIS, exploding at every point in history. The explosion will release the atoms of the preserved universe, restoring it. River admits gravely that the plan will work only if the Doctor seals himself on the other side of the cracks. The entire universe will be restored, but not the Doctor. He will never have existed at all. However, all the good he has done for the universe will remain.
The Doctor and Amy say their goodbyes, and he admits that he took her with him because her life didn’t make sense… living in a large house with only her aunt. He then asks Amy what happened to her parents, and she answers that she lost them but is alarmed when she cannot recall the specific details. He explains that they weren’t killed when Amy was young, but consumed by the time field in her bedroom wall which has been eating away at her whole life. He assures her that as long as she remembers her parents, she can bring them back like she did Rory and with her family around her she won’t need her imaginary friend. He pilots the Pandorica into the explosion (texting River “Geronimo!” on the way), and resets the universe, disappearing from existence…
…and sits up on the floor of the TARDIS console room. He rejoices he has survived being erased — until he sees Amy and himself from a week earlier, travelling to Space Florida; his timeline is unraveling, meaning, “Hello, universe, goodbye, Doctor.” He calls to Amy. She hears him, but cannot see him. His life rewinds further. He is in a street in Colchester, watching Amy leave a note for him underneath Craig’s advertisement for a new lodger. She still cannot see him. The Doctor notices a crack in the road behind him, sealing itself.
He rewinds to the Byzantium; he approaches Amy — her eyes shut to avoid being killed by the Weeping Angel — and encourages her to remember what he told her when she was seven. He rewinds to 1996 and finds Amelia asleep in her back garden, awaiting his return. He carries her to bed and tells her the story of how he stole — or, rather, “borrowed” — the TARDIS, describing it romantically as “ancient and new, and the bluest blue ever.” He sees the crack in her wall and tells her it can’t close properly until he’s on the other side and steps through, preferring not to see the rest of his life rewind. The crack in her wall closes. She wakes to an empty room and quickly goes back to sleep.
In 2010, Amy wakes on her wedding day, surprised when her mother brings her breakfast. Her mother informs Amy she may toss the breakfast out the window as her father’s a terrible cook. Amy races downstairs to see her short father, studying a joke book for his speech at the reception. Amy finds her reaction to her parent as odd and she has the lingering feeling there is someone or something else missing. When she phones Rory to see if he feels the same way, he agrees with her because he loves and fears her. Amy excitedly gets ready for her wedding.
At the reception, she enjoys listening to her mother whisper insults about her father or giggles that her father is taking time to correct his speech. Amy then spots River Song outside, walking past the window. Rory presents her with a wedding gift someone has left — River’s blue TARDIS diary, all its pages blank. Amy begins to cry, wondering why she is so sad. Rory tries to explain away the diary by reminding her of the old wedding saying: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.” She notices some of the guests at the other tables; a bow tie and braces catch her attention just as a tear hits River’s diary.
Amy interrupts her father’s speech to announce that her imaginary childhood friend, “the raggedy Doctor,” is real and he is late for her wedding. Her mother and aunt sigh, remembering how many psychiatrists they sent her to. Amy continues yelling that she brought everyone else back from the time field, so she can for him as well, which is why he told her that story when she was little, about the ancient, brand new box. Abruptly, the TARDIS — old and new, borrowed and blue — materializes in the middle of the room. Amy walks up to the TARDIS and asks the Doctor if she’s “…surprised him this time.” The Doctor steps out in top hat and full evening dress, admitting that he is completely astonished. Everyone at the wedding is shocked to discover that the Doctor wasn’t a figment of Amy’s imagination, while Rory suddenly remembers everything that happened to him and doesn’t understand how he could possibly have forgotten, especially being nearly 2000 years old.
The Doctor introduces himself to the crowd. Amy imitates part of the wedding ceremony, telling him he can kiss her. However, the Doctor stops Amy, informing her the brand new Mr Pond will be taking care of the “kissing duties” from now on. Annoyed, and thinking the Doctor doesn’t understand earth customs well, Rory tries explaining that marrying Amy gives her his last name, but relents when the Doctor says his version is correct. The Doctor says he’ll move the TARDIS as they’re gonna need the space for dancing, which is why he came. When everyone starts dancing, the Doctor does so badly, making Amy giggle (“You’re terrible! That is embarrassing!” she shrieks) and amusing the children present; he even tries teaching them his moves. Later, watching Amy and Rory slow dance, the Doctor notes to himself that Rory is ‘the boy who waited’ and, after guarding her for two thousand years, truly deserves his happiness.
The Doctor leaves to return to the TARDIS, now parked in Amy’s garden. River Song appears behind him. He returns her vortex manipulator and her diary, explaining that the writing has come back, but he didn’t peek ahead. As River thanks him, the Doctor asks if she’s married herself. She wonders if he is asking, and he says, “Yes,” then stammers when he realizes he has just unwittingly proposed to her. River teases him with further affirmations. The Doctor wonders who she really is. She says he will find out very soon, when everything changes. She leaves abruptly via vortex manipulator.
Amy and Rory, still in their wedding finery, enter the TARDIS and encourage the Doctor to take the night off. He is reluctant — they still do not know what led the TARDIS to the date of the temporal explosion and destroyed it, much less why. He also has not figured out the meaning of the “silence.” As he ponders, he takes a TARDIS phone call: an Egyptian goddess is on the loose on the Orient Express in space and the royal on the other end is concerned. The Doctor turns to bid Amy and Rory goodbye, but Amy runs to the door, bids her former life “adieu” and closes the TARDIS doors. The Doctor smiles and fires up the engines, sending the TARDIS spinning through the time vortex…