River: 'This is the day he finds out who I am.'
episode was a mid-season finale, which is something of a first for us
here in the UK, as our seasons are seldom long enough to cut in two. As
such, despite answering some of our questions, it left most of the main plot threads hanging. We now know who
River Song is, but the central mystery remains tantalisingly
incoherent. Emotionally, tonight's episode had some effective set
pieces, but I'm going to start off with what I didn't like. There weren't many things, so bear with me.
it felt a little too similar to 'The Big Bang'. It had that epic end-of-the-world feel to it, and was infused with the now customary 'everything's so much worse than it's ever been before' type hyperbole
we've come to both know and love. (And sometimes loathe). It's never
true, of course. The Doctor's nadir must surely have been the genocide
of his people. Even if Rory, Amy, and River were to explode, and fish
fingers and custard ceased to exist—depressing though that may be—it would still pale in comparison to the sheer misery of losing everyone
you know and love. However, we get the gist, things are bad, and the
Doctor's world's crumbling. No need to go overboard.
We were also subjected to the now seemingly
mandatory slew of random returning monsters. Captain Avery's cameo was
particularly worthless—he hardly did anything. And the
spitfires were tiresome in 'Victory of the Daleks'—whose idea was
it to bring them back? I'm quite partial to the odd splash of subtle
(and even not-so-subtle) continuity, I just like it to have purpose—which really wasn't the case here. Commander Strax, however, was
responsible for some of the funniest quotes of the episode ('I can
produce magnificent quantities of lactic fluid' being a particular
favourite), and Neve McIntosh should be in every episode. I
loved the idea of Madame Vastra being some kind of 19th Century Ninja—responsible for bringing down serial nutter, Jack the Ripper—and I liked that both Vastra and Strax were descendants of the
Doctor's old foes.
I can't make my
mind up whether the method by which the Doctor deduced Song's identity
was deliberately ambiguous, or whether it was too subtle for my tiny
brain to comprehend. Whose name was on the cot? The Doctor's? Song's?
There were different markings on the side and front, so maybe both? If
it was the Doctor's, that would explain how River knew his name
back in 'Forest of the Dead'—but it doesn't explain how the Doctor
knew Song's identity. Did I miss something? I even watched the
director's commentary, and it completely glossed over it.
The internet was alight on Saturday night with people claiming
they'd known River's true identity all along. No you didn't! You
guessed, that's all. The information wasn't there until the very end.
Since the people of the Gamma Forest have no word for pond ('The only
water in the forest in the river'), it stands to reason that Lorna's
prayer leaf would reflect this linguistic anomaly. I also enjoyed the Doctor's bonkers reaction to
it: he was all childish air kissing, giggles, and guilty grins. I
wonder how Rory and Amy will react when they realise the Doctor's been 'doing' their daughter? He'll probably end up with the Last
Centurion's sword up his bottom.
I was a little
puzzled as to why River couldn't remember being in the space suit. A
memory lapse due to her regeneration? Wibbly-wobbly time-wimey
spacey-wacey stuff? If River does possess a full 12 regeneration
cycle, that opens up all manner of opportunities for her return. We
may even get to see one of her previous incarnations. (If so, how much
do you want to bet there'll be a 'Hello Sweetie' cliffhanger somewhere
down the line?) Initially, I was confused as to why she didn't
regenerate in 'Forest of the Dead', then I remembered that connecting
to the library's core meant certain death even for a Time Lord. River
died so the Doctor wouldn't have to. Potential problem solved.
Was anyone surprised to see the Doctor disguised as a monk? We've all seen Return of the Jedi,
right? And, as is so often the case these days, the Cybermen were
cruelly underused. They were nothing more than cannon fodder for a
pissed off Doctor. Not that their ships exploding wasn't spectacular, but the Cybermen (like the Daleks), are desperately in need of a strong
outing. Sadly, this wasn't it. Admittedly, it didn't harm them terribly, and
there was none of that 'delete, delete' nonsense which often made the Russell T. Davies era so painful to watch, but having the Cybermen in the
story did feel a little like someone had raided the monsters cupboard,
picked out costumes at random, and then chucked them into the story.
There was no reason for any of them to be there. It could have just as easily been Daleks, Autons, and Slitheen, stomping around, farting the place up.
was surprisingly moved by Lorna Bucket's (it's Bouquet!) death.
Another human willing to lay down her life for the Doctor. Despite
claims that he never forgets a face, he couldn't remember Lorna's. Maybe
they meet in the Doctor's future, or maybe there's just been too many to
remember. In the end, Lorna realised her dream, and dying beside her
hero, with her face in his hands, was a fitting conclusion to her story. Let's not forget that she was also instrumental in revealing Song's true identity. Without her prayer
leaf we'd probably still be none the wiser—so kudos to young Lorna.
accolades all around tonight. Matt Smith was as brilliant as ever. His
emotions during those final scenes, where he wrestled with failure,
uncertainty, confusion and, ultimately, revelation, were all
magnificently handled. Even Arthur Darvill managed to elevate Rory from
drippy (but marvellous) sidekick, into the kick-ass Last Centurion of
future legend. His face (along with Karen's) on hearing Song's bombshell
was just perfect.
Karen also had a strong episode.
Her character had to cope with the loss of her child, the recovery of
her child, the loss and recovery of Rory, and Melody turning into a
puddle... all in the space of 48 minutes. I loved the way she looked at
the Doctor at the end. Although losing Melody wasn't strictly his fault, in reality, the Doctor's always
to blame. It's a companion's lot—the realisation that, despite the Doctor's innate goodness and many
sacrifices, he's so dangerous to be around. None of them are
untouchable. There'll always be someone out to hurt the Doctor.
They're part of that now, and they'll always be targets. It's his one weakness. He knows it. We know it. His
enemies know it. Amy knows it too, but for one fleeting moment, she
blamed him anyway. And didn't it hurt him?
So, are we any further forward? Not enormously. We know why Amy's baby is half Time Lord. Apparently, knobbing aboard the TARDIS can
effect human DNA. Apart from that, we're pretty much in the dark as to
the whos, whys and wheres. At least we know that Melody will be safe, as we know
that River survives until 'Forest of the Dead'. So we know that the Doctor prevails. The question is: how and at what cost?
—The next episode's called 'Let's Kill Hitler'. I wonder what that subtly titled episode will be about?
—The Doctor was oddly evasive answering Amy's question about him having children. Why? We all know he has.
—How did Kovarian know to take a fake baby along as a decoy? These evil
types are always so wise. Just not wise enough to shoot the Doctor
when he's unarmed and standing right there in front of them.
—I thought River's reaction to Rory in the Stormcage was peculiar.
Sometimes I wonder whether the 'good man' she'll end up killing will be
Rory. He's getting bigged up a lot lately.
—We now know when Amy was taken. Sometimes before America. Which would make it between seasons, presumably?
—'That's a whole different birthday.' Hints at a two Doctors scenario, methinks.
Amy: 'Rory, no offence to the others, but...er... you let them all die first, okay?'
Rory: 'You're so Scottish.'
Rory: 'Where is my wife?'
Amy: 'I wish I could tell you that you'll be loved. That you'd be safe and
cared for and protected. But this isn't a time for lies. What you are
going to be, Melody, is very, very brave.'
Doctor: “Amelia Pond! Get your coat”
Cyberman: 'What is the Doctor's message?'
(Cyber Fleet explodes)
Rory: 'Would you like me to repeat the question?'
Boy: 'Will I be okay?'
Strax: 'Of course you will, my boy. You'll be up and around in no time. And
perhaps, one day, you and I will meet on the field of battle and I will
destroy you for the glory of the Sontaran Empire.'
Boy: 'Thanks nurse.'
Strax: 'Captain Harcourt. I hope some day to beat you in the glory of battle.
When I will crush the life from your worthless human form. Try and get
Dorium: 'Why would you need me? I'm fat, I'm blue.'
Doctor: 'Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.'
Doctor: 'Hello Melody Pond.'
Rory: 'Melody Williams.'
Amy: '....is a geography teacher, Melody Pond is a superhero.'
Amy: 'I knew you were coming. Both of you... my boys.'
Doctor: 'And really, you should call her Mummy. Not big milk thing.'
Amy: 'Okay, what are you doing?'
Doctor: 'I speak baby.'
Amy: 'No you don't.'
Doctor: 'I speak everything.'
Doctor: 'Look, I'm angry. That's new. I'm really not sure what's going to happen now.'
Madame Vastra: 'When did this baby... begin?'
Doctor: 'Oh, you mean...?'
Madame Vastra: 'Quite.'
Doctor: 'Well how would I know? That's all human, in private, stuff. It just
sort of goes on. They don't put up a balloon or anything.'
Strax: 'It's strange. I've often dreamed of dying in combat. I'm not enjoying it as much as I'd hoped.'