There’s something very quantum about this episode, and rather boxy (but not clumsy in the least, my only criticism would be that I need more John Hurt as the Doctor in my life forever — a spin off? Can that happen? Everything that led up to him popping over and talking to himself?)
I want to take a moment to think about all the boxes in this episode of Doctor Who. There’s, of course, the TARDIS, the biggest box of them all. There’s the fact that we view the Doctor and his exploits within a box (any sort of screen, really). There’s this, the first thing I thought of when I saw the Moment– and I pray that I’m the only one who’s made this joke so far:
There’s the little clear box that makes Gallifreyan paintings. The paintings themselves are boxes, three-dimensional and housed within a square frame. And, here’s where the quantum comes in, the whole episode was an exploration of Schrodinger’s cat. Is Gallifrey alive or dead? It’s in the box– the picture frame. It’s fate is in the box, the Moment. But what is it, truly? Alive or dead? Gallifrey Falls, or No More? Box, box, box!
And beyond this episode there’s the Pandorica, a box. There’s the ring box in Amy’s pocket. There are the heads in boxes, the mysterious little black cubes that appeared all over the world, the Hello Sweetie written on the home box of the Byzantium! Containers, everywhere you look. And why would that be? Could it be the one structure that’s permeated all of Whoville? What ties the first Doctor to the Eleventh? It’s his devilish good looks, for sure, but it’s the big blue box.
While I’ve got your attention, I want to deviate from boxes for a moment– Moment, ha– and talk about the translation circuit.
Surely the Doctor didn’t shoot NO MORE onto the wall in English. Certainly not. But it would have taken so many more gunshots to write it out in Gallifreyan. So, let’s talk about how motions and movements can be translated by the translation circuit. If we watch someone write in Greek while we’re in Athens with the Doctor, the man’s hand will seem to move to write English words. Isn’t that fantastic? And if we visit an alien species who can only talk through smells, we seem to emit those smells. And if we talk to someone who only speaks sign language, they see our hands move as they should be moving. Some might argue that it’s simply translated in our heads, but we see their mouths move as they should move… when they’ve got mouths to move, and it only stands to reason that it goes much, much further than that.