Thoughts on Doctor Who Series 6 Finale The Wedding of River Song

by Amy Yen

“I got too big, Dorium. Too noisy. Time to step back into the shadows.”

It’s because of that line I can’t completely dislike “The Wedding of River Song,” the series 6 finale of Doctor Who. It’s the same thing I liked about “A Good Man Goes to War,” although that story was infinitely more satisfying. It’s gotten increasingly uncomfortable, in Steven Moffat’s Who, that the Doctor is so universally known, so feared & more disturbingly, that he doesn’t mind it. Like I’ve said before, it’s fun to watch Matt Smith show off, to yell at the skies, “Remember every black day I ever stopped you!” But that isn’t the Doctor, not really. And so, it’s nice to see him realize that.

It’s also fitting that it’s River calls him out that first time, that she realizes it too. I liked the way the wedding played out, the meta nods to the endless speculation about who River Song was. “The woman who marries him or the woman who kills him.” Although, honestly, it’s still a little off to have the Doctor, so long removed from all romantic entanglements, be so overtly committed. And anyway, I always found the fun in the Doctor & River’s interaction to be more in the mystery & promise than the melodrama (“I can’t let you die without knowing by so many & so much, and none more than me”).

A lot of my dissatisfaction with the episode comes from the solution to the Doctor’s death. There was a lot of speculation that it would turn out to be a flesh Doctor & when the Teselecta reappeared early in this episode, I even momentarily thought this might be what it was, but I think maybe I was expecting, or hoping, for something just a little more clever than that from Moffat. It seemed like the easy way out. Maybe that’s unfair. But I also think if that was the solution all along, they should have planted more clues. When we saw the Teselecta Amy in “Let’s Kill Hitler,” the robot clearly didn’t act like Amy. It acted like a robot. But when we see the Doctor through this episode &, even more significantly, in “The Impossible Astronaut,” he is clearly acting like the Doctor. Even in the tiny nuances & the moments where no one else is looking, it’s clearly the Doctor. I mean, we’re talking a straight-up legit looking beginning of a regeneration. Could the Teselecta really be that good, even with the Doctor inside? In a way, it would actually make more sense if it had been a flesh Doctor, since at least then it’s already been established the flesh is basically just like the real thing.

Finally, we get the Question, the oldest question in the universe, hiding in plain sight. “Doctor Who?” Yeah, I don’t understand. I mean, I get it, it’s obviously the question. What else could it be? But how it is oldest question? Obviously the Doctor is old, but the universe is much older, so how can the oldest question possibly be related only to him? And why will silence fall if it’s answered? I’m guessing the whole “fall of the Eleventh” thing means we won’t get the answer until Matt Smith turns in his bow tie.

More random thoughts on “The Wedding of River Song”:

  • So I guess we do still have to see the Doctor tell River his name, otherwise what did she tell Ten in “Forest of the Dead“? I was trying to think if it would make sense for River to tell him that she knew he didn’t die at Lake Silencio, but it hadn’t happened to the Doctor yet. Plus, we still have to see him give her the screwdriver, so we know this isn’t the last we’ll see of River.
  • Cute callbacks to Rose Tyler & Jack Harkness in this episode, but the loveliest moment is the nod to Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, as a goodbye to Nicholas Courtney.
  • “I’m his wife.” “And I’m his…mother-in-law.” HA!
  • “And Doctor Song? Imprisoned all her days?” “Her days, yes. Her nights, well. That’s between her & me, eh?” I can’t tell you how much I want to see about 3-6 more episodes about the Doctor coming to whisk River away from the stormcage to go on random adventures together. I wonder how many of these we were cheated out of seeing in the 200 years between “The God Complex” & “Closing Time.”
  • I would totally go to a live chess tournament.
  • “I can remember it. So it happened. So I did it.” On one hand, I’ve never been a big fan of the unwritten timeline, when something is solved by making it so that it never happened. But I like that the show doesn’t usually ignore that the characters are still affected by it, even when it technically didn’t happen. Like Martha & the Year That Never Was, or Rory’s 2000 years as the Lone Centurian. Amy would feel conflicted about Madame Kovarian, even if it was an awesome move. I also like that it calls back to River killing the Dalek in “The Big Bang.” “River Song didn’t get it all from you, sweetie.”
  • So, the Doctor really did send those envelopes just so he wouldn’t die alone? That’s kind of messed up. Or is it just because of the time paradox that exists because the Doctor knows he & the others receive the envelopes so he knows later on that he has to send them?
  • I love the idea of River visiting her parents after her adventures (although, didn’t she go straight back to jail after the Byzantium? not that that’s stopped her before). River says explicitly to Amy this episode that she has had to pretend she didn’t know she was her mother, that she didn’t recognize the spacesuit. But all that still feels like lazy retcon for the lack of continuality. Supposedly Steven Moffat told Alex Kingston who River was long before anyone else. If they knew, I don’t really see what the excuse was not to plant more clues earlier on. Or maybe Moffat should tell more people what the plan is so they don’t have to retroactively explain things away. Just saying.
  • “You took my baby from me & hurt her. And now she’s all grown up & she’s fine. But I’ll never see my baby again.” Well. I guess that answers that question. On one hand, it’s not like I was ever clamoring to have a baby on board the TARDIS. That would have seriously put a clamp on all the life-risking adventures. On the other hand, I remain completely underwhelmed by the lack of exploration they’ve done on how losing their baby affected Amy & Rory emotionally. Besides “Let’s Kill Hitler,” they’ve basically acted like they’re totally cool with the fact that they were robbed out of raising their child (& “raising” Mels doesn’t count, come on). I think it’s one of the big failures of this series.
  • I’ve read several reviews that suggest most people liked the finale more than I did, but I want to point out this one from io9, which does a particularly excellent job of laying out the major flaws in River Song’s story, including many disturbing bits from this episode that I’d somehow forgotten about. (“You embarrass me.” I can’t believe that was a real line of dialogue.) It also has an interesting analysis of how Moffat plays with time & where the whole Question storyline might be going. Highly recommended read.
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Thoughts on Doctor Who Series 6 Spring Finale A Good Man Goes to War

by Amy Yen

“He’s not a warrior.”
“Then why is he called ‘The Doctor’?”

River Song says it best in the end. Is this what The Doctor thought he would become? Feared? Stories about him whispered between soldiers? It’s not like he doesn’t know it’s happening. He says as much in “The Pandorica Opens,” stands on a rock at Stonehenge & says to his enemies above him, “Remember every black day I ever stopped you!” And finally, thankfully, somebody says aloud what we’ve all been thinking.

Is this The Doctor? Because the Doctor I remember doesn’t ever use his sonic screwdriver as a weapon, pointing it tip-first at flesh-Amy. He wouldn’t let Jack Harkness use his gun on Futurekind trying to kill them, so he definitely wouldn’t insight a gun battle between the cleric soldiers & the Headless Monks. He wouldn’t pantomime guns as Danny-Boy destroys the Demon’s Run communications array. He wouldn’t force the colonel in this episode to give the order to “run away,” just to humiliate him.

I don’t know who that is, but that is not the Doctor.

“Look, I’m angry, that’s new. I’m really not sure what’s going to happen now.” It isn’t new, not really. Remember what Ten did to the Family of Blood? I don’t know when exactly it happened, because it wasn’t simply when Eleven took over (remember he still pointed his screwdriver up to malfunction the Silurians’ weapons & even his disdain for all his enemies’ “silly little guns” in the aforementioned “Pandorica Opens” speech), but at some point, the Doctor became less empathetic, more okay with violence, okay with being feared, maybe a little too in love with being the Oncoming Storm, the last time lord. And because it’s mostly fun to watch him show off, we mostly just went with it, but I for one am relieved that it appears this was at least partially intentional, or at least that Moffatt & the producers are aware of the discrepancy, the change in this very, very established character.

River Song calls him out, in his darkest hour. And then she tells him her secret. Brings the spark back into his eyes. Makes him know, instantly, what to do next. Gives him hope.

Hopefully, it will also signal a return to the Doctor we know & love. Because it’s not like I didn’t like this episode or the first half of this unfortunately split series. But the Doctor’s empathy & kindness & mercy is what makes him a different kind of hero, & it’d be sad to lose what makes him special.

More random thoughts on “A Good Man Goes to War“:

  • So River Song is Amy & Rory’s daughter after all. Even though this was probably the most popular guess of any of the theories out there, it still gave me chills to actually hear it. Although, how does this “change everything” with the Doctor & River’s relationship? If anything, you would think it improves it, now that he knows. Then why did she spend so much time last year apologizing for when the Doctor finally finds out who she is?
  • Don’t forget, we still don’t know who it is she killed to get sent to prison. “A very good man.” Maybe one that went to war?
  • “The only water in the forest is the river.” I always thought that Amy’s last name being Pond & River’s name being River had to be significant somehow. Nice to see this pay off.
  • A lot of callbacks in this episode to previous one-off characters, much like the beginning of “The Pandorica Opens.” Of course these callbacks weren’t really that cool, since they involved sub-par episodes like “Victory of the Daleks,” “Cold Blood” & “Curse of the Black Spot.” It was kind of fun to see Dorium, the black marketer that River Song tricked into giving her a vortex manipulator last series.
  • Lorna Bucket turned out to be kind of a disappointing one-off character. Not because of anything she did, just because I kept waiting for her to turn out to be someone important, someone maybe that we already met (maybe a younger River Song). Too bad the Doctor remembered their encounter in the Gamma Forest, or else I’d think we’d see that adventure yet. As it is, I guess she’s just there for the Doctor to be sad over & to give Amy the clue that eventually reveals River’s identity.
  • The Headless Monks are not scarier than either the Silence or the Weeping Angels in concept, but in execution, they are creepy as hell.
  • Rory was kind of really awesome in this episode. Yes, having him be in the Centurion outfit is kind of random & silly, but it’s also still kind of cool. His showdown with the Cybermen was a nice moment, as was his meeting with River (although the best part is her reaction to seeing him, especially on the second watch-through when you know what she knows…this is her father).
  • The bit at the beginning, with Amy telling her daughter that her father is coming…”He looks young but he’s lived for hundreds of years”…was that really necessary? Just for that little moment before she says The Last Centurion when you think, WTF? Seriously? They’re really going to go there with it being the Doctor’s kid? Really? I just thought, OMG give it a rest already. The more they try to put tension in the Amy/Rory/Doctor “triangle,” the more irritating I find it. Just let them be! I promise you, you will find that all three characters can stand on their own now. Really.
  • Autumn 2011. Ugh!

Thoughts on Doctor Who Series 6 Episode 2 Day of the Moon

by Amy Yen

The second part of the Doctor Who series 6 premiere, “Day of the Moon,” was simultaneously incredibly fun to watch & unbelievably unsatisfying. This is because, even though since new Who began, they’ve always introduced series-long story arcs, they’ve never been quite this open-ended. “Day of the Moon” completely failed in any way to answer all the questions presented in “The Impossible Astronaut.” That wouldn’t really be a problem if one didn’t also get the impression that they’re not going to address any of those questions until, say, the mid-series finale.

Unfortunately, the end of the episode & the preview for episode 3 definitely suggest that Doctor Who will go on their usual path of adventures-of-the-week with only tiny steps forward in the overall arc until the last couple of episodes. That’s not such a big deal when the overall arc is something as innocuous as “Bad Wolf” or Torchwood, but it is when the arc is Amy being possibly or possibly not pregnant, the little girl in the spacesuit possibly or possibly not being a time lord and, you know, the death of the Doctor. If they seriously don’t address any of this for like three or four more episodes, it’s going to be a very frustrating season.

This is again not to say “Day of the Moon” was a bad episode, because it wasn’t, although it was a little scattered for a Moffat episode. There were a lot of bits where I didn’t understand at all why people were doing what they were doing. Like, besides setting up for a really fun pay-off, why was it necessary to have the whole thing at the beginning of the episode with Canton pretending to lock the Doctor up & hunt down the TARDIS crew? Why were they split up & where they were (& in River’s case, wearing what they were wearing) to begin with? Also, how the hell did Canton & the Area 51 team get zero-balance dwarf star alloy?

That being said, the entire idea of the Silence’s invasion, that they’d been planting ideas & controlling the actions of the human race for thousands of years, is as terrifying as the Doctor’s solution, using their own post-hypnotic suggestion against them, is brilliant. “How fast can you run,” indeed.

More thoughts on “Day of the Moon”:

  • “Welcome to America.” Again, much love for Canton. Shades of Will Smith in Independence Day in that scene. Mark Sheppard also makes a great villian, even when he’s just pretending to be one.
  • Loved the recording device hand implants, especially the Doctor’s demonstration of how it works to Canton on the TARDIS & Amy’s completely terrifying (how many times have I used that word describing the Silence? well, they are) scene at the orphanage with the sleeping Silences on the ceiling.
  • Another awesome River escape scene, although it’s very similar to her scene from “Time of Angels,” if less clever (one assumes she would have left a message with her coordinates for the Doctor somewhere in time & space if she had needed to) but more funny (another reference to the TARDIS swimming pool!).
  • “Tricky Dickie. They’re never going to forget you.” A lot of random & gratuitous use of Nixon in this episode, although I enjoyed how he always just immediately started giving whoever it was he was presented to pep talks on patriotism. I also liked that the Doctor tells him he has to always tape what’s going on in the Oval Office & then tells him to say hi to David Frost.
  • River Song & The Doctor share their first (hilariously awkward) kiss after yet another outrageous display of flirting in the final showdown scene with the Silence (“Stop it.” “Make me.” “Yeah, well, maybe I will.”). He certainly isn’t acting like he doesn’t trust her now. He even gives her a formal invitation to come with them. I can’t wait to find out who she is already.
  • I like Rory. I just don’t like that they’re still going there with the Amy & the Doctor ridiculousness. We’re past that point, aren’t we? I did like their make-up at the end. “It’s a figure of speech, moron.”
  • “Rome fell.” “I know, I was there.” “So was I.” Is it significant that Rory sometimes can’t remember his 2,000 years as an Auton?
  • “Incredibly strong & running away. I like her.” Yes, but who is she? Who is that little girl & OMG, is she regenerating?! WHAT?!
  • “This is my friend, River. Nice hair, clever, has her own gun. And unlike me, she really doesn’t mind shooting people. I shouldn’t like that. Kind of do, a bit.” Yes, let’s talk about that. Here’s the Doctor, who abhors violence, who would yell at Jack for drawing his gun. Now he doesn’t bat an eyelash at River Song killing eight Silences (or at Canton wounding one, or for that matter, at the entire human race killing the Silence on sight). It really is a whole new Doctor.

Thoughts on Doctor Who Series 6 Premiere The Impossible Astronaut

by Amy Yen

I must have really missed Doctor Who. I know because all of the callbacks in “The Impossible Astronaut” — from “Hello sweetie” to “fish fingers and custard” — all elicited the same gleeful reaction from me. And why shouldn’t they? Here’s a show where stetsons are cool.

Part 1 of the series 6 premiere is classic Steven Moffat, packed full of extremely creepy monsters, timey-wimey puzzle pieces & clever, clever lines. And while the spacemen (presumably, although it is never actually said, the Silence from last series) are terrifying (you can’t remember them unless you’re looking right at them) & the Doctor recruiting his past self & his companions to…do what exactly?…is both fun & scary at the same time, the best part of the episode to me was the full fleshed out, completely wonderful relationships between the four leads.

The Doctor & Amy are the same as ever, with a full series of complete trust in each other under their belts. Even as the Doctor flirts outrageously with River, he reminds her that he can never truly trust her (cold, even for him). But he will trust Amy.

“My life in your hands. Amelia Pond.” This is nothing new. His life has been in Amy Pond’s hands before & nothing has changed between them. What is new & surprisingly fun to watch is where Rory fits in to all this. With many complaints that Amy & Rory spent very little of series 5 acting like people about to get married, here, they do. Rory has also clearly grown up quite a bit since the last series…he even catches on quicker than Amy about what has to be done. He & River talk logically, maturely, about the clues in front of them, while Amy is still too devastated to think straight. It’s impressive. He’s impressive. And it’s nice to see him develop as a companion on his own, rather than just as an extension of Amy.

It’s also Rory who gets from River the straight answer about the “far worse day” she’s dreading so much. It’s not just that she & the Doctor keep meeting out of order. It’s that they’re essentially meeting in the opposite order. Which means the day is coming when she will meet a Doctor that has no idea who she is. Of course, we’ve already seen this, their adventure in the Library. But it’s heartbreaking hearing it from her. Because it’s taken a little while to love River Song (her, and not just the idea of her), but as she corrected the Doctor’s movements in the TARDIS (“Just admiring your skills, sweetie”), it is hard not to.

More random notes on “The Impossible Astronaut”:

  • I loved Canton Everett Delaware III. I’m a little predisposed to it, having enjoyed genre TV staple Mark Sheppard as Crowley on Supernatural, Romo Lampkin on Battlestar Galactica, Sterling on Leverage, Valda on Warehouse 13 & a million other things, but I was pleasantly surprised to see him so well used here in what is reportedly just a guest role. But Canton is a companion, both officially (he is invited to travel in the TARDIS & even gets Rory’s awkward orientation) & spiritually (he delights, rather than panic, in the face of the impossible). I didn’t think of it until later, but what’s brilliant about him is he is our companion introduction — a plot device that reintroduces the wonders of the TARDIS to the audience (think Ten mouthing along with Martha, “It’s bigger on the inside!” “Is it? I hadn’t noticed!”). Usually this is accomplished when the Doctor invites someone new on board, but since this is the first series since series 2 that does not introduce a new full-time companion, we get Canton as a stand-in.
  • “We’re in a box that’s bigger on the inside that travels in time and space.” “Yeah, basically.” “How long has Scotland Yard had this?” HA! I’m really sad Canton is not recurring now. Also, not a bad American accent, Mark Sheppard. It’s kind of funny that he uses his British accent on all his U.S. roles & here, on the quintessential U.K. show, he plays an American.
  • So, the Doctor’s “waving” at Rory & Amy through history books was pretty much the most hilarious thing of all time. I mean, the painting, with the cherubs & the trident? SERIOUSLY.
  • “What face?” “The ‘he’s hot when he’s clever’ face.” “This is my normal face.” “Yes it is.” So, the Doctor flirts now? This one does, it seems, mostly with River Song (although the line about Jefferson, Adams & Hamilton was pretty funny…wonder which two fancied him?).
  • “Human beings. I thought I’d never get done saving you.” Really, so many good lines in this episode.
  • Not one, but two “Doctor who?” lines in this episode. Interestingly, neither of them are answered with “Just The Doctor.” Also, Canton gets to say the “bigger on the inside” line. The Doctor wasn’t even paying attention, so it didn’t even make up with Rory not saying it.
  • Have I mentioned lately how much I love the Eleventh Doctor’s Theme?
  • Nice callback to the Master’s funeral pyre with not being able to leave a time lord’s body up for grabs.
  • “A lot more happens in 1969 than anyone remembers.” Right, like Ten & Martha Jones getting stuck for three months while Sally Sparrow fights off the Weeping Angels.
  • The spaceman kind of looks like an Ood.
  • Utah is gorgeous. Makes me want to go there, which I can say is a new feeling.
  • Amy is pregnant. Wait, really?
  • So, I’m reading a few reviews that are criticizing the episode for being overly mythology-heavy & inaccessible to the casual viewer. They are not wrong. If you’re watching Doctor Who for the first time, this is probably not the episode to do it. There’s not even a previouslys to catch you up on how the blue box is bigger on the inside, who River Song is, how time can be rewritten, etc. But as a fan of Fringe, the most mythology-immersed show on TV right now, I have to say, accessibility is overrated. The serialization, the mythology, the call-backs, that’s what makes this episode so damn fun. If you want to know what’s going on, go back, start with “Rose,” like I did.
  • In memory of Elisabeth Sladen. Goodbye, our Sarah Jane Smith.

PS: So Part 2 of the premiere, Day of the Moon, looks incredible: