River Song & the Doctor

What is it River Song has against the Doctor wearing hats? No hat is safe from the woman and her trigger-happy fingers! 

So what does Moffat have cooked up for us this season? The Silence, creepy new alien beings (the Silence, obviously), an arc that is going to “worry” all of us (the two hundred years in the future death of the Doctor?), and the revelation as to the identity of River Song. We already suspect that she and the Doctor trade “I do”s at some point in his future and her past (yeah… that blows my mind too) even though they already argue like an old married couple, and now thanks to this latest episode, unless something changes (and we know it will, since Amy is not about to stand by and be useless now is she?) we know how the Doctor will meet his end. In River Song’s presence, just as River Song meets her end in his presence long ago.

I know, I know… that is seriously messed up and dark but almost kind of romantic, if you are so inclined. To be totally honest, I am not sure what to think about River Song. I like her as a character. I like that she has spunk and sassyness and can basically own any man who comes within ten feet of her (if not with her charm, then her knock-out lipstick or the smoking end of her gun). I like her frizzy hair. I even like the innuendos she seems to enjoy trading with the Doctor and her irritating emphasis on “SPOILERS”! (Although, man, she sounds like certain of my acquaintances now and again, screeching about spoilers. If you can’t handle ’em, stay off the internet, people!) Her entrance into the series was not during one of my finest moments. You see, I was in love with Donna at that point because the Doctor finally had a companion who realized he was a total freak, an alien, and did not want to get him into bed. That was refreshing. And then River Song showed up. Her very existence annoyed me. Fortunately, she has started to win me over and I am not nearly as annoyed by her as I used to be, particularly in this last episode. One cannot help a little heart twinge when she confesses to Rory that she knows some day soon she will meet the Doctor, and he will not remember who she is, and her death will soon follow.

But that is neither here nor there, because the main issue with this episode is it’s “what on earth…?” factor. (Okay, so I did not use exactly those words when sharing my thoughts aloud as the episode aired but… close enough.) I have… no idea where this is going. I have a few suspicions as to impending plot twists, but as to how they are going to get out of this mess, what kind of creature is in the suit, why the Doctor summoned them all to attend his death, how the Silence is going to be dealt with, and what Nixon has to do with all of it… no clue. And unusually for me, I have not spent an extraordinary amount of time thinking about it over the weekend. Moffat’s smart. He usually scares the living hell out of me and then makes me cry five minutes later, so I figure whatever he has planned I can trust him to make it worth my time. Still… what on earth?

One thing that has occurred to me is Moffat’s recurring use of little girls. I know it is common to use children but he often uses little girls in his stories… it is a little girl the Doctor first meets in The Girl in the Fireplace, a little girl who opens the narrative in Silence in the Library, a little girl who is crying in The Beast Below, and of course, he first meets Amelia Pond as a child. It makes sense therefore that Amy’s future child will be a little girl. Based on that other rather obvious hints in this episode, does anyone else think that River Song is Amy’s future daughter? Is it a coincidence that around the aliens, both Amy and River Song experience pain? Whether or not that is just them or includes everyone remains to be seen, but it is interesting — and significant. Does Amy’s impending pregnancy mean that she will soon no longer be the Doctor’s companion? If so, who is Moffat intending to replace her with? Furthermore, will time travel and contending with alien beings have any impact on the pregnancy? Presuming it is no coincidence (and I very much doubt that it is), what does this Silence have to do with the Silence in the Library? Is there an implication that the creatures threatening the existence of humanity in that episode were merely a distraction from the real adversary, an advanced and lethal alien race ultimately in some way responsible for the death of the Doctor and River Song? Interesting too that both of them contained mysterious voices, lingering remnants of souls, coming from space suits. Moffat likes to plunder his own ideas and re-use them, so this also reminds me of the Angels in the cavern last season, when they succeeded in killing a great many team members and nearly defeating the Doctor. One of them assumed the disembodied voice of a fallen soldier. Coincidence?

Some of the moments in this episode were sheer fun (the Doctor inserting himself into history and black and white movies, his arrival in America and wearing of a cowboy hat, River Song slapping him into next year, the crack about Americans and their guns, and the overall creepiness of the aliens, particularly in that eerie bathroom sequence) and others tested my patience a bit (honestly, guys, enough with the gay jokes, okay?) but overall it was a solid beginning. I have no idea where any of this is going and really, that’s part of the fun.

Now, if you will excuse me, I very much need a re-watch a certain two episodes from season four…

3 Replies to “River Song & the Doctor”

  1. I am shocked that so many people other than me seem to dislike River Song, but then her entrance was not the best considering half the fans missed Rose and the other half were burned out on the Doctor being romantically involved with anyone!

    Ruth: they should start giving us SPOILERS soon, because otherwise I may just blow a gasket. ENOUGH STRINGING US ALONG ALREADY!

    The Ponderer: thank you, glad you enjoyed it and found my guesses interesting. I don't know if I am right, but it'll be fun to find out! Moffat has really stepped up the level of quality in the series, I think — I love how his mind works (and yeah, his “Sherlock” is MARVELOUS!!) so I imagine he has some good stuff planned.

    You know, you may have inadvertently caused me to realize what annoys me about River Song — the fact that she is a know-it-all. I resent that. It irritates me. =P

    Well, not all Americans have guns (… present company excluded; her name is Magnus) but it is nice to have a DECENT view of America from a Brit for once, since usually they trash us every chance they get. I'm sorry you look back on your life in America with chagrin. I'm the proudest little American flag waver I know. =)

  2. Firstly, awesome review. You made my day. I loved your guesses about where the plot was going. If it goes even slightly in the direction you're wondering, it's no wonder why Dr. Who is among the longest running t.v. series… wow.

    I think River Song will always annoy us. She is that type of character. 🙂 But we did sense a certain humanness in her this episode, which helped my opinion of her.

    Moffat is a genius. My fiancée was really excited when he took over the writing of Dr. Who! I was first introduced to Steven Moffat's work through his Sherlock. Love, love, love. 🙂

    This episode was so good. I really like the portrayal of the US. There is nothing like a Brit's viewpoint of something. Having lived about half of my life in the US and immigrating to Canada about nine years ago, I look down south with a little chagrin sometimes. However, Dr. Who gave me a new perspective. 🙂

  3. I am SO happy Doctor Who is back.

    I've got to tell you, this is probably the 1st episode in ages where River Song hasn't annoyed me. The endless cries of “spoilers!” and never really learning anything substantive about her character last season was wearing on my nerves a bit. I like her spunk but she needed more than that for me to really get “in her camp,” if you will. Thankfully Moffat gave us her conversation with Rory – I LOVED THAT.

    Looking forward to this week's episode!

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