After the previous episode's slower, more measured approach to storytelling, 'The Power of Three' is a return to the more frenetic pace that we've become used to. It's also a return, of sorts, to the Russell T Davies era of the series or at least it feel like it.
Whether intentional or not this feels like an homage to several episodes from RTD's tenure. We have yet another invasion of contemporary Earth (see 'Aliens of London/World War Three' 'The Christmas Invasion' and many others); celebrity cameos (see every series finale from Series 2 to 4); a large number of the Earth's population being affected by an alien gizmo ('The Christmas Invasion' again) and the presence of UNIT in the Tower of London (oh look - 'The Christmas Invasion' yet again).
Brian Cox and a box
Yet, for all this familiarity, this still feels surprisingly fresh. Present day alien invasions are actually quite rare in the Steven Moffatt era and, when they do occur, they are usually low-key affairs, such as in last year's 'Closing Time'. So it's interesting to see Matt Smith's Doctor dealing with a full-on global disaster. It's also interesting to see how this Doctor deals with UNIT. Compared to his predecessor (who seemed somewhat uncomfortable working with them), the Eleventh Doctor seems far happier in his dealings with the military. That said, of course, UNIT is now less of a military organisation and more a scientific investigation group, ably led by one Kate Stewart.
Before this episode aired, there were a number of people on the forums who felt that introducing the daughter of the late Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart into the series would be an insult to the memory of not just the character but the actor who played him. Happily, after the episode, most of those naysayers had reversed their opinions. Kate is very much her father's daughter: warm and likable yet always remaining professional and having a steely resolve to see things through to the bitter end. Her presence is a fitting tribute to the Brigadier and I very much hope that we've not seen the last of her.
Like father, like daughter
This episode also marks the return of Rory's dad, Brian. for one assumes the final time. He's still a lot of fun but this time round that's tempered by the fact that Brian is concerned for his son and daughter in law. Like Jackie Tyler before him, he wants to know that they'll be safe with the Doctor. When he asks the Doctor what happens to the people who travel with him, the Doctor's response is refreshingly honest. Yet, in the end and knowing what he does, it is Brian who persuades Rory and Amy to go off with the Doctor. I hope that he doesn't regret it.
The heart of the story is all about the 'Three' of the title - the Doctor, Amy and Rory - and how they need to be together. Amy and Rory aren't able to give up their 'Doctor life' and the Doctor just plain misses being with his friends, particularly Amy, the first person the Eleventh Doctor sees. Of course, by the end of the episode the three of them are reunited which we all know means that they are being set up for a big fall. Like most characters in soap operas or anything written by Joss Wheadon, now that they've found happiness these three are destined to have things go horribly wrong for them.
As for the 'Slow Invasion' itself well perhaps it went just a little bit too slowly as they didn't seem to have enough time in the episode for a proper ending. Still, as Stewie from Family Guy once said, at least it didn't end like The Sopranos where they faded to black in the middle of a sent...