You can’t help but love the Doctor. Never one to miss a party, or to put a glum face on things, the Doctor loves to be in the middle of an impossible situation. This week, the Doctor pops up on a 17th century pirate ship, Amy and Rory in tow. And apparently, real pirates don’t say ‘Yo Ho Ho,’ much to the Doctor’s chagrin. Prepare to enjoy every cliché on the bounding sea – walking the plank, a child stowaway, treasure, mutiny, and a storm at sea, a ghost ship, a babe with a cutlass, and a curse. But no parrot!
With guest stars Hugh Bonneville (Captain Henry Avery) and Lily Cole (Sea Siren,) this episode feels remarkably like a play on the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise, with a twist.
We begin with the crew of a becalmed pirate ship, run by Captain Avery. The crew is being decimated by a siren, who attacks anyone who has the slightest wound. Apparently, the siren is attracted by blood. When a ship mate hurts themselves, they develop a round black spot on the palm of their hand, and shortly thereafter, a beautiful green siren serenades them to their apparent death. Into this chaos pops our Doctor. He and the Captain battle not only the siren, but the Captain’s inability to cede control to another. There is a running joke about the Cap’n’s quick way with a gun.
Upon this ship, our time travellers appear, as the ‘sensors’ have noted a distress call. Cue many jokes about the 17th century pirates being unable to understand modern technology, which frankly, most 21st century people also find confusing. Be that as it may, the Doctor and crew are denounced as stowaways, and the Doctor himself led to the plank, where he buys time by having the crew practice their pirate laughs. Into the fray, Amy Pond, now dressed as a pirate, with hot pink leggings, and brandishing a cutlass. The crew is terrified of her, not because of the hot pink leggings, but because any little cut will have them marked as fresh fodder for the Siren. Sure enough, she saves the Doctor, but nicks a pirate, and Rory is also dinged in the battle. Yikes! With two now marked for the Siren, it takes Amy and the Doctor, along with the remaining crew, to wrangle Rory below to safety. Although, Amy is not going to easily forget Rory’s comment about the beauty of the green Siren.
The remaining crew repairs to the ammunition room, since there isn’t any water there for the Siren to use as a ‘portal.’ And Captain Avery discovers the stowaway, none other than his own son, Toby, who’s got a nasty cough, and who’s run away to sea to find his famous naval captain papa. Seems the Cap’n told his wife and child that he was in the British Navy, and during the three years he’s been away, his wife has died, and Toby ran away to find his dad. Toby thinks Dad is a big hero, but the crew is happy to let him know that Dad is actually a pirate. Toby is devastated.
Never mind, after rock, paper, scissoring for captain, the Doctor and Cap’n Avery leave the supposedly safe Amy, Toby, Rory, and two unnamed crew members in the gun room, and head for the Tardis. Where, unsurprisedly, Cap’n Avery shows an aptitude for space ship flying. But before they can get organized, the Tardis has one of her famous snits, and the Doctor and Avery have to flee before getting blown up in her innards. And off goes the Tardis, sans the Doctor.
Amy has a brief, very odd, vision of a woman with an eyepatch. This is probably important, but I have no idea why.
Mutiny, mutiny, mutiny! With only two crew members still un-spotted, leave it to one of them to decide it’s time to make a run for it. The treasure is all! But disaster takes the mutineer, and we’re back to our little band. And now the Doctor discovers that it’s not water the Siren needs to appear, but reflections! Any polished metal could be the portal. And Toby is wearing the Cap’n’s medal! Into the drink with all the treasure, or so we think, but it turns out the Cap’n has cached a royal crown for his own purposes. Oh, that’s not good. And of course it’s not.
The Doctor smashes all windows and the one mirror, but they’re still being stalked by the Siren. When the Cap’n commands Toby to find his coat, wherein lies the Cap’n’s compass, the crown is revealed, and the Siren emerges to steal Toby away. The Doctor confronts the Cap’n, saying he couldn’t give up the gold, and now look what’s happened. As they argue, Rory is plunged overboard. Amy wants to dive in after him, but it’s a fool’s game, so the Doctor releases the Siren from a barrel of water, that she might save him. With everyone now gone, the Doctor believes the taken ones may be alive somewhere and has them all prick their fingers and be taken by the Siren.
They come to on yet another ship, but this one was previously piloted by another race. There is a quick explanation of how this Ghost Ship is inhabiting the same space as the pirate ship, in a time collision. The pilots of the Ghost Ship were apparently Alien, and are now all dead, killed by Earth viruses (virii?.) ‘No jabs.’ Says the Doctor. And we discover a large infirmary, filled with men, most of which were previously Cap’n Avery’s crew. There’s Toby, and there’s Rory. They are being kept alive by tubes, and looked after by the Siren, who, it turns out, is a hologram surrogate Doctor, but one without the ability to heal, just able to keep the men alive in a suspended animation. Her siren voice is an anesthetic, so the men are soothed, but unhealed. Toby, apparently, had Typhoid fever, and Rory, of course, had actually been near death due to drowning. She’s kept the men alive, but won’t let Amy take Rory, until Amy signs a holographic contract taking full responsibility for Rory’s after care. Problem is, Rory will die if Amy takes him away.
But never fear, Rory used to be a nurse! He tells Amy how to revive him. Although terrified of failing, Amy and the Doctor grab Rory, and head for the Tardis. Where, of course, she revives him. With all well, we discover that the Doctor is still concerned about Amy’s possible pregnancy, which keeps showing up on the Tardis’ scans as both a positive and a negative. Rory and Amy worry about not telling the Doctor about his demise by the astronaut.
Back on the alien ship, Cap’n Avery is revealed to be the new Captain, with Toby, and the rest of his crew, by his side, as he pilots the ship into the unknown. We can only hope they have given up on the ‘treasure’ aspect of the cruise.
Next week: Neil Gaiman? They got Neil Gaiman to write for them? Who could miss that! Plus, the Doctor has mail! From another Doctor? Stay tuned!