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TV Recap: Doctor Who – A Good Man Goes To War

Season 6, Episode 7

By Edwin Davies

September 3, 2012

What does the Doctor purchase for a baby shower gift?

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So, The Doctor and his gang take over the Demon's Run space station, send all the troops and their Headless Monk (or Ring Wraith) allies packing, and everything seems to be going just smoothly, with Amy and her baby rescued and reunited with Rory. And only half an hour of the episode has passed. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, things wrapped up earlier than usual.

Obviously, the story didn't end there. It was all a trap set up by the Eye-Patch Lady (Frances Barber) who, it is revealed in a video-conference with The Doctor, plans to use Melody Pond, who may or may not be part Time Lord because she was conceived in the TARDIS, I guess, as a weapon against The Doctor, who she and her Clerics (previously seen guarding River Song in the "The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone" two-parter. This continuity stuff is intense!) view as something akin to a demon. In a switcheroo that I did not see coming, the Melody that Amy was holding was actually made of The Flesh, and Eye-Patch Lady chose the most harrowing moment to make it pop into a pool of goo, which I found pretty distressing, I must admit. Once her plan has gone into effect, she signs off by saying that Melody will end their war with The Doctor, to which The Doctor replies, "What war?"

Again, that's a bit of that obliqueness creeping in, since it merely hints at a wider conflict that we are only vaguely aware of because, heck, even The Doctor doesn't know about it. However, I think we can let it slide because, as we discovered at the end, River Song is the grown up version of Melody Song. She is Amy and Rory's daughter, all grown-up!

I totally called it! Obviously, it's easy for me to say that now that the cat is out of the bag, or the baby is out of the womb, but once the existence of a baby was revealed last week, I started trying to figure out just what the significance of it might be. It seemed that, with all the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff that goes on in the show anyway, any baby must exist to grow into someone, and River seemed to the most likely candidate. Again, this suggests that Moffat's vision for the show is somewhat bigger than it might first appear, and that he's got plans for River and her various stages of life and her adventures with The Doctor stretching some ways down the road. (Or even, assuming that she is part Time Lord, her regenerations? When The Doctor was talking to the dying female soldier who met him when she was a girl, I half expected her to regenerate and turn into the River that we now know.)

The episode ends in a place of uncertainty, with The Doctor scattering the surviving members of his gang so that he can head out on his own to save Melody (or, if the title of the next episode is to be believed, to kill Hitler!), simultaneously chastened by his failure and River's speech about what a monster he must be turning into if he can terrify a whole army with just the mention of his name, yet emboldened by the knowledge that he must save Melody because she grows up to be Ms. Song. The next half of the series has a lot of questions to answer, and I can't wait to see what Moffat and his team have to offer.

Rating: 8/10




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Speculation

--So, assuming that River is part Time Lord, does this mean that she was the young girl we saw regenerating at the start of the series? Obviously, she was, or a version of her was, the little girl in the astronaut suit from the first two episodes, but is she the same girl who died and was reborn in some American alley? I think she was, but I'm not willing to second-guess Steven Moffat on this one.

--If she is a Time Lord, could that provide the show with an internally consistent Get Out Of Jail Free card for the moment when The Doctor has used up all of his regenerations? It would save them having to come up with some deus ex machine for why he can keep going. (Though the very notion of regeneration was, itself, something that was made up on the fly to allow the show to keep going with different actors, but it's so ingrained now that they'd have to address it eventually.)

--So, the title of the next episode, "Let's Kill Hitler", was a nice, funny WTF moment at the end of a rollercoaster episode, but could it really be that literal? A friend of mine suggested that it could be more figurative, and that what the title actually refers to is the idea of trying to alter a timeline that is meant to be irrevocably fixed by, for example, killing Hitler before he came to power, or saving The Doctor from dying. Alternatively, it could mean that the next episode will be Doctor Who's take on Inglourious Basterds. Here's hoping for Matt Smith versus Christoph Waltz!


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