Well, here we are again.  Another stand-alone episode in the midst of a gigantic story arc and now only three episodes left.  Oh the insanity of it all.  Truth be told, this was an excellent episode and well worth the departure from the many arcs.  I want to keep this as spoiler free as possible since it should not be ruined for anyone.  So here we are, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory are out and about the universe, except this time with not as much Doctor.  We’ve seen in the past that the Doctor lite episode can either be really great (Turn Left and Blink) while others are just horrible (Love and Monsters).  As noted before, this one falls into the category of really great.

Honestly, the episode did what “The Doctor’s Wife” failed to do (oh yes, I went there).  Whereas that episode was meant to be between the Doctor and the TARDIS, it ended up having too much Amy and Rory doing nothing more than taking time away from the main focus.  Now, this weeks episode had the Doctor there only when it mattered, and it didn’t feel tacked on.  I was truly amazed at the way the writer was able to blend some pure sci-fi with emotional scenes.  As a piece of writing it did what I always like, that is having more character interaction than action sequences to move along the story.  Naturally, this wouldn’t matter if the acting was bad, but it just keeps getting better and better every week.

Amy vs Apple and Rory vs Hipster Glasses, what is going on here?

At this point we pretty much expect Matt Smith to be nothing but excellent.  He really has come a far way, and has proven that he can handle the serious moments with ease, making it easy to picture him as a 900+ year old Timelord.  The surprise act of the episode was Karen Gillan.  Maybe it’s because we’ve seen her play the same role pretty much each episode, but given the chance to play Amy differently but the same (hey, that wording may be odd but to avoid spoilers that’s what you get) really shows how well she can act.  I’d have to say she is the best companion of the new series (well it’s between her and Donna since they ruined Rose’s character when they brought her back in series 4).  Arthur Darvill finally is able to play Rory as a strong character, and I really don’t know why he mainly plays him as a wimp.  Regardless, it was nice to see him take control and really show how much he cares for Amy.  Basically, the cast was nothing short of brilliant this time around and Smith better stay on for at least two more seasons.


Warning, possible SPOILER ALERT

Surprisingly, the odd timeline problems in the episode didn’t make it too confusing as the explanation for it wasn’t at all rushed.  If nothing else, it showed how the Doctor doesn’t just pick random people to travel with him as Amy shows some clever survival skills.  Back to the timeline part, which I think may come back to play a part in the story arc.  After all, the Doctor’s and River’s time stream gets reversed, and has yet to be really explained since at the end of episode 8 all she would have to do is find the point after they first met and go there, but something is stopping her from doing that.  Come on, we have three episodes left and about five or more story arcs, where are the answers?  Well, I trust Moffat, but the only worry I have is that too much will be crammed into the final two episodes, making it a tad bit confusing.  Still, this episode has really proven that stand alone episodes can be very well written and engaging for both sci-fi fans and drama fans.

Overall, I’d give the episode a 9/10, simply for the fact that it’s the best stand alone this season and was really well fleshed out in terms of character interaction.  Here’s to next week’s episode with “The God Complex” (come on, another minotaur, already done in the Time Monster with Jon Pertwee).