I sat down with a buddy (Hi, Buddy!) and watched S7 over again in the order I'd proposed. And it doesn't work.
Also, here are links to my (spoilery!) reviews, if you're so inclined: Asylum, Dinosaurs, Mercy, Po3, Angels.
Spoilery explanations and revisions behind the cut.
Here are some additional things I noticed in the re-watch:
- In Angels take Manhattan, River says that she was pardoned ages ago, as apparently the Doctor had never existed... that someone has been going through space and time deleting himself from history. By this logic, Asylum of the Daleks should have come before Angels.
- Brian. The Doctor meets Brian on a spaceship... with the dinosaurs... and then recognizes him again in the Power of Three, pt 1. Po3 had to come after Dinos, then.
So my revised order goes something like:
- Pond Life
- Bulb change!
- The Doctor is exposed to the nanocloud
- Oswin erases all of the Doctor's info from the Pathweb
- The fall of the Ponds
- Reference to bulb change!
- Amy's speech at the end where she tells the Doctor go to back in time and essentially make her entire life with him fixed in time? Or something?
- Doctor meets Brian
- Rory/Doctor becomes official (there are many gifs for this occasion).
- The Doctor kills a dude
- "Crikey charley"
- THAT MEANINGFUL LOOK AT THE END (shaddup)
- Hello again, Brian!
- The Doctor declares that he likes his enemies "vulnerable, with a nice Achilles heel"
- The cell charger thing.
- The mid-episode "Can I stay"/"I've missed you" change of heart
- "Crikey moses"
- Reference to the cell charger thing
- Doctor almost straight-up murders a dude, but Amy sets his candy ass straight
You'll notice that it wrecks some of the narrative head of steam I'd built up. (It's okay, there's always AU fanfiction.) A couple of details now fit better, especially the Doctor's tendency towards violence. It feels really good to be able to place Asylum.
Other details really stand out to me. For example:
- Amy attaining glasses pre-Angels. As none of the other episodes feature her sweet specs, that means this episode couldn't have been directly continuous with any of the others this season. The unfilmed post-script suggests that Angels directly follows Po3, but if it did then the first five minutes of Angels wouldn't make any sense.
- The split in Po3 and the Doctor's obvious change of heart in the intervening period of time now have no real explanation.
There's also some wobbly unexplainedness between Angels and Dinos. The Doctor goes from super-emo-kid mourning-face to casual, "I have a gang now, come along Ponds!" I can kinda see how Amy's afterword might have suggested that the Doctor could USE HIS TIME MACHINE and travel back in time to visit her and Rory... and if not, how he may have figured it out from traveling with River, as that's basically her whole conceit. But I'd imagine he'd have been... weirder about it? More emotional? The 11th Doctor is a weird, emotional guy. He was weird and emotional with River, pretty much always, and River isn't "seared onto his hearts".
Plus, post-Angels, the Doctor has Amy's glasses. So if these other eps happened post-Angels, the Doctor has to lose the glasses.
I'd be tempted to scrap the whole idea, if it weren't for some of the more concrete continuity fumbles, like the cell charger thing. Am I reading too much into one line which references a minor scene?
This is not exactly subtle! YOU SAID IT OUT LOUD WITH WORDS.
But I really think that we're just not seeing the whole picture yet. This is only the first five episodes of the season. I'm expecting that future episodes will fill in some of the gaps here. (Though not anytime soon... apparently even more changes are going to happen in the Xmas episode. Minor spoilers at this link.) River Song is confirmed to appear next year, though, and if I'm right, it might fit in the Angels-Dinos gap. Also, that's when the Doctor might pick up the "Crikey!" exclamations...