Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) receive envelopes telling them to be at a place in Utah. They find River Song (Alex Kingston), who has received a similar letter. The Doctor (Matt Smith) is also there, 200 years older. He has a picnic lunch for them and offers them a trip to Space 1969. During the picnic, a figure in a spacesuit comes out of the lake and shoots the Doctor. A man named Canton Everett Delaware III (Mark Sheppard) arrives with a can of gasoline and gives the Doctor a Viking funeral.
Amy, Rory, and River talk in a diner and discover that the Doctor himself was invited there by a similar letter. He shows up in the diner, 200 years younger. They tell him what has happened, though they leave out the little bit about him being killed. They all travel back to 1969, where the younger Canton, formerly of the FBI, is briefed by Richard Nixon (Stuart Milligan) about a series of phone calls Nixon has received from a young girl asking for help. The Doctor convinces Nixon to let him find the girl and indeed tracks her down. Amy photographs a member of the Silence, whose power is that everyone forgets seeing them as soon as they turn away.
Canton leaves with them to Florida in the TARDIS. Arriving where the girl is held, they find pieces of a spacesuit and alien technology. River and Rory explore mysterious tunnels that have been spreading beneath the planet for centuries, secretly occupied by the Silence. Amy finds Canton unconscious near a spacesuit and shoots at it with Canton’s gun, only to find the little girl inside. To be continued.
The Silence was created to be as scary as the Weeping Angels and fashioned after the Edward Munch painting The Scream. The story was partly filmed in Lone Rock, Utah, the first trip to the US by the Doctor Who gang, because the 1996 TV movie, though set in San Francisco, was filmed in Canada, and the Daleks in Manhattan episode sent only a small team to New York. The story was dedicated to Elizabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith) who died of cancer just before it was released. Mark Sheppard’s father William Morgan Sheppard played the older Canton Delaware. They had done the same thing on NCIS. Sheppard has played a Brit on American TV, and here he plays an American on British TV.
For actor Stuart Milligan, playing Richard Nixon was an ordeal of prosthetic pieces, false teeth, and hours learning to talk like Nixon. Karen Gillan was genuinely upset playing the scene of the Doctor’s Death. She was puzzled by Alex Kingston’s affection toward Amy as River Song. Gillan did not know, as Kingston did, that the two characters were to be revealed as mother and daughter. Alex Kingston actually slapped Matt Smith multiple times and he got mighty tired of it. The Oval Office was recreated in incredible detail in Wales. To kick off a season with the death of the Doctor instead of ending the season with it was something new.