Vincent and the Doctor
The Doctor: Bow ties are cool.
Production Code: 1.10.
Story Number: 210.
A “celebrity historical” which has much more to it than that glib phrase suggests…
With continuity of the previous nine episodes gone from Amy’s memory, with no Rory in more ways than one, you might expect this to have not much to do with the rest of the season. However, the absence of Rory is still present in the story and the themes and motifs of the season are very much to the fore in this story.
Compare this story to The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone (at first glance two very different stories), but there are certain ideas that recur in each. In the earlier story, a monster that can turn you to stone, (a fate Amy escapes) and while the “Krafayis” in this story can’t turn you to stone, with the look of the beast it seems it has been modelled by the storytellers on the “Basilisk” – half-bird, half-lizard, it could turn people to stone by meeting their gaze (like the Weeping Angels). This turned-to-stone idea recurs in the final scenes of the Musée d’Orsay as the statue that Vincent, the Doctor and Amy pass on the stairs is Perseus having slain Medusa, holding her head aloft.
This idea of the hero (like Perseus) conquering the monster also features in another sculpture, that over the door of the Church at Auvers: it makes the connection of the monster to the Basilisk explicit. Of course, the story shows that the “monster” isn’t just simply a “monster” at all, it’s more complicated than that. Also, it’s used as a metaphor for various other elements of the story, from being “alone” like the Doctor, to a representation of Vincent’s inner turmoil.
With Amy and the Doctor’s help, he “slays” this turmoil, at least for a while: the end scenes emphasise it’s more complicated than that.
With the Doctor explaining to Amy at the end about good things and bad things, it’s not hard to see that the Doctor is remembering Rory even if Amy isn’t.