Following last week’s run-in with the reptiles and the Crack, the Doctor and Amy continue their travels. The only difference is that Amy doesn’t remember that poor Rory ever existed. So she has no idea why he’s being so nice, taking her to great places like a Van Gogh exhibition at the MusÃ©e D’Orsay.
And it’s at the exhibition that the Doctor sees something that shouldn’t be there – a strange face in the window of The Church at Auvers, which leads him to take Amy to visit Vincent.
There then follows a moderately generic Doctor Who romp. Lots of running, lots of flirting, an invisible monster and another bit of delightfully silly Time Lord technology which when asked to scan the Doctor, correctly identifies him and prints out a picture of his first face.
There are some lovely Doctor lines when he gets bored waiting for the monster to show up
Is this how time normally passes? Really slowly and in the right order?
And Vincent somehow knows what Amy doesn’t – that she’s lost someone…
But all of that is secondary to the glorious, beautiful heart of the story, written by Richard Curtis, a man best known for comedy, but showing a different side here. After the “monster”, a slightly lost, blind and abandoned alien, is defeated, we get to the real point.
First, Vincent gets Amy and the Doctor to lie on the ground with him, and look up at the sky, and he persuades them to see it as he does, and just for a moment, we see it as everything goes a bit Starry Night.
Then the Doctor returns the favour, and takes Vincent to the TARDIS, and brings him to the exhibition of his work, where he’s able to hear an art expert expound on just how glorious and wonderful and special his work was – something he never heard in his lifetime.
After dropping Vincent back home, Amy insists on returning to the exhibition – could this brief moment of happiness have saved Vincent from his depression? Would there be more paintings? Sadly not. Not even the Doctor could save Vincent from himself.
But they did make one difference. One of Vincent’s Sunflowers paintings now carries the inscription
For Amy – Vincent
This was a low-key episode compared to some that have gone before. No world-threatening danger, no great evil. Not even that nasty crack. But it was one of the most genuinely affecting stories I’ve ever seen from Doctor Who. Beautifully done, with an excellent performance by Tony Curran as Vincent.