Sunday, 28 August 2011

Doctor Who: Let's Kill Hitler (2)

Mels: 'You've got a time machine. I've got a gun. What the hell. Let's kill Hitler.'

Bonkers! Absolutely bonkers. I don't think I've ever seen anything so mad. 'Let's Kill Hitler' had just about everything: answers, puzzles galore, humour, cleavage, conflict... Rory punching Hitler and then locking him in a cupboard. What more could anyone ask for? (Bearing in mind that this is a family show, not HBO).

I thought that knowing Melody couldn't die (or be harmed in any meaningful way) would strip the season arc of its tension, but it really hasn't. True, we already know River's fate—she dies in 'Forest of the Dead'—but what I didn't count on was Madame Kovarian's scheme to turn River into a weapon actually working. I do think they dismissed the question of how Mels could both love and want to kill the Doctor too quickly, however. Alex Kingston offered an interesting theory on Doctor Who Confidential—she saw River as a sleeper, meaning that her desire to kill the Doctor didn't manifest itself until triggered (presumably, by seeing him). I'm not sure that's what Moffat had in mind, but it's a more intriguing explanation than her simply being a 'brainwashed woman'.

The pacing of the episode was so fast that it was easy to miss the detail. I didn't initially make the connection between Mels and Melody—her darker skin tone completely threw me— but what a brilliant twist! I loved that Rory and Amy got to be a part of Melody's childhood. Despite being lost in time, she was there all along. Little did they suspect that she'd grow up to kill the Doctor. Except that she didn't—at least, not yet. That River is the person in the spacesuit seems so strongly indicated that it just couldn't be anyone else. Or could it? Until I see the face behind the visor, I'm reserving judgement, especially after they threw in that 'time can be rewritten' reminder.

River may have been unable to override her programming, but she was still able to use the last of her regeneration energy to bring the Doctor back. Unfortunately, the process also consumed her remaining regenerations, making Alex Kingston River's final incarnation. Not a bad body to go out in. (Jodphurs? Yes, please!) What I didn't understand is why the Numskulls in the Teselecta chose that moment to torture her. Aren't they supposed to take people near the end of their established time line? This was River's first meeting with the Doctor, meaning that she presumably has plenty of adventures between now and 'Forest of the Dead'. Was it just a case of opportunity knocking and them taking it?

So many great quotes. Which other show gives you lines like 'Shut up, Hitler' and 'Right, I'm putting Hitler in the cupboard'—and if memory serves me correct, he's still there! The whole Hitler storyline was nothing more than a red herring; he was only on-screen for a few minutes. I hope he doesn't do anything stupid when he gets out... like start a war. I laughed out loud at the Doctor's 'You named your daughter after your daughter?' line. (Bootstrap paradox number one.) Ditto with 'Spoilers'. A brilliant reversal! Only Moffat could come up with this stuff and make it so terrific.

I'm glad at least one tabloid rumour turned out to be true—tonight's episode saw the return of Amelia Pond. (Played by the lovely Caitlin Blackwood.) The Daily Mirror (an English newspaper of dubious repute) also promised cameos from Freema Agyeman, Catherine Tate and Billie Piper—despite Billie saying that she was done with her character in the same newspaper just months previous. (Proof, if it were ever needed, that they pay scant attention to their own shitty articles.) They must have somehow gained access to footage of the TARDIS' holographic interface, put two and two together, and come up with five. Typical tabloid nonsense. I'm not sure cameos would have worked, anyway—there was no real reason to bring any of them back.

I loved that River managed to eventually outsmart the Doctor. The Doctor was initially ahead in their battle of wits: he managed to empty two guns, swap one for a banana, and deflect a knife attack—but even Time Lords can't resist a kiss. The old poisonous lipstick ploy. I was genuinely shocked to see the Doctor dead. Actually dead—his regeneration cycle terminated. Thankfully, whatever the Doctor said to River, worked. It was enough to make her realise that he must mean something to her in the future—but what did he say? Did he tell her his name? That was the implication, right? (Which would tie in nicely with 'Silence in the Library'.)

There was oodles of continuity, too. We learned that it was the TARDIS who taught River to fly, not the Doctor. Maybe he was busy that day after all. Since it was Amy travelling through the Time Vortex (whilst on the job) which caused Melody's unique genetic make-up, then River truly is the TARDIS' child. I liked, too, that we got to see River starting out her career as an archaeologist. And in Bootstrap paradox number two (no, I hadn't forgotten), we uncovered the origins of River's blue journal—it was a gift from the Doctor.

We know a lot more about the Silence, too. They're a religious order, not a race—which means just about anyone could be behind them. (Even someone we already know.) Silence falling when the oldest question is asked felt thematically similar to Douglas Adams' answer to life, the universe and everything—but what does it mean? And is River truly free of her programming... or are there more twists yet to come?

Other Thoughts:

—The Teselecta was a mad idea. It reminded me of the Numskulls from The Beano.

—Bootstrap paradox number three was Mels' part in getting her parents together. Without her as a catalyst, it may never have happened.

—The Doctor now knows he's going to die at Lake Silencio on 22nd April, 2011. Which, presumably, means he can do something about it.

—The TARDIS being in a state of temporal grace was a nice throwback to the Tom Baker years.

—I loved the way they explained Rory's motorcycle riding prowess... by brushing it off as just 'that sort of day.' Why not, indeed?

—'Hello, Mr Benjamin' is a line from The Graduate. River's obviously the Mrs Robinson character.

—Mels said she didn't do weddings, but, of course she was there. River dropped in to give Amy her diary ('The Big Bang'), thus facilitating the Doctor's return from oblivion.

—Loved the Doctor crop circle, and Mels' little red Corvette.

—I wonder who Mels was living with all those years? Adopted parents. I did at one point think of Madame Kovarian, but she'd probably have been dead at that point. Plus, Amy would've remembered the eye patch.

—'Cut to the song, this is getting boring.' A nice foregleam of Mels' true identity... which I totally missed on first watch.

—Rory's Scottish accent was awesome.


Doctor: 'You never said I was hot.'

Hitler: 'I think he was going to kill me.'
Rory: 'Shut up, Hitler.'

River: 'Oh, it's all going on down there, isn't it? The hair! The hair just doesn't stop, does it?'

Amy: 'That's Melody.'
Rory: 'It's River Song.'
River: 'Who's River Song?'
Doctor: 'Spoilers.'
River: 'Spoilers? What's spoilers?'

Rory: 'Is anybody else finding today just a bit difficult? I'm getting sort of a banging in my head.'
Amy: 'I think that's Hitler in the cupboard.'

River: 'Well, I was on my way to this gay gypsy Bar Mitzvah for the disabled, when I suddenly thought, 'Gosh, the 3rd Reich's a bit rubbish. I think I'll kill the Fuhrer'. Who's with me?'

Rory: 'Okay, I'm trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I'm really trying not to see this as a metaphor.'

Amy: 'We come in peace.'
Rory: 'When has that ever worked?'

Doctor: 'Sorry, did you say she killed the doctor? The doctor? Doctor who?'

Doctor: 'What is the question?'
Teselecta: 'Unknown.'
Doctor: 'Oh, well. Fat lot of use that is, you big ginge.'

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