Now we come to the curious case of “The Curse of the Black Spot,” which moved from its original slot as the ninth episode of the season to No. 3, to sort of lighten up the early portion of the series, which show-runner Steven Moffat feared was shaping up to be too dark. The season also appears to be rather self-referential and deeply entangled in the Doctor’s personal mythos. This story of a becalmed pirate ship beset by a malevolent mermaid is the calm before the storm sure to be stirred up by “The Doctor’s Wife,” the hotly-anticipated story from prose legend Neil Gaiman – the mere title of which has fandom clutching its pearls.
The big problem I had going into “The Curse of the Black Spot” was incredulity that it could be moved from the back half of the season to the front half – specifically, from a slot after the promised “game-changing” midseason cliff-hanger to a spot in the roster airing before the midseason break. This begs the question, how much of a “game-changer” can that episode seven cliff-hanger be?