Matt Smith has now fastened himself to my psyche as The Doctor. Something about seeing the raw emotion of this one got to me. I finally feel at home.
I don’t what it’s been all season that has had me on edge. I didn’t not like any of the episodes, some were really quite good. But, it’s like all season I’ve been sitting on the couch in a distant aunt’s living room trying to get comfortable watching The Doctor. I never quite sunk in and put my feet up without the fear of messing up her perfectly quilted ottoman. And then we met Vincent Van Gogh. I literally felt all the tension and anxiety slip away as I immersed myself into his stunning, colorful world. Not only were my feet up, but I pulled out the couch bed, threw a pillow at my feet and watched with bated breath as this vibrant fantasy unfolded before me…
I think the episode’s writer, Richard Curtis, has to take almost all the credit not withstanding Tony Curran’s perfect portrayal of Van Gogh. I don’t think anyone would disagree that the last seven minutes were the most emotionally charged minutes of Who, possibly, ever. And the splendor of it all was that I was taken completely off guard by my reaction. When the realization set in as to where The Doctor and Amy were taking Vincent, I was really worried. I was dreading the backfire and volatility of that impossible moment. But Vincent’s reaction and the innocence on his face was absolutely breathtaking while Dr. Black described his adoration for the man that unbeknownst stood inches from him… and even before that moment; the absolute purity of how Van Gogh wonders at the other artwork in the museum before stepping into his art room. I was slayed.
Let’s talk about the acting here as well. Matt Smith truly became the mythical man in this chapter. And Karen Gillan, absolutely shone. Smith channeled what Who is all about; the humor (“bow ties are cool”) and the classic interaction with the Krafayis at a human level, understanding that it, too, was a tragedy of its own, left behind; blind and afraid. Such a perfect Doctor moment. And another great quote in response to Amy’s question about his plan:
“It’s a thing; it’s like a plan but with more greatness!”
Gillan’s emotion in this episode brought the exciting giddiness a companion should have. I mean, to be able to meet Vincent Van Gogh?! You better be giddy! She felt real to me, unable to not get attached to such a wonderful man and truly wanting to save him. She’s brought this level of emotion before, but never as believable. And I gotta give a nod to Bill Nighy who so subtly portrayed Dr. Black, the art historian (and the only good thing to come out of the H2G2 movie as Slartibartfast). Tony Curran, who is forever in my mind now Vincent Van Gogh, was, well, Vincent Van Gogh. Um, Starry Night scene anyone??
Overall, this was hands down, my favorite Who episode this series. This is the type of episode I can only hope the writers and Moffat aspire to for the balance of the series as they get more comfortable in their couches. Matt Smith has now officially settled in as my Doctor and this episode certainly added to my pile of good things.