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Doctor Who Episode 6.13: The Wedding of River Song

by on October 3, 2011

Okay, it all leads up to this.

I felt so guilty about being behind in catching up with Doctor Who that I postponed watching the middle of the Phillies play a live playoff game to watch the Doctor Who episode. There are days I really feel that I’m doing my geekdom a disservice by watching sports, and other weeks where I’m doing a disservice to my sports-fanaticism by watching geeky stuff.

(Or maybe I’m doing my leisure activities a disservice by working)

So with further ado, let’s tackle the final episode of Doctor Who Series Six.

Tick tock goes the clock
He cradled her and he rocked her
Tick tock goes the clock
Even for the Doctor.

Doctor Who – Series 6, Episode 13
The Wedding of River Song | Written by Steven Moffat

Quick synopsis of the plotlines of series 6:

  • The Doctor is killed by an Astronaut suit in Lake Silencio in Utah on April 22, 2011, this is a fixed point in time, and captured in all of the ‘history’ books.
  • Amy Pond and Rory Williams conceive a child on the TARDIS, who is captured by Madame Kovarian an agent of The Silence.
  • The child is named Melody Pond, is part Time Lord (Lady) and is mentally conditioned to become a psychopath capable of destroying The Doctor.
  • The Doctor helps to deprogram Melody Pond, and she changes her name to River Song and becomes an archaeologist.
  • Madame Kovarian captures River Song and places her in the Astronaut suit.

Got it? If not you should watch the previous episodes in Series 6.

Synopsis

  • A time bubble surrounds the day April 22, 2011 at 5:02 PM, merging the past, present and future on Earth. Eventually, this will destroy all of time.
  • The Doctor decides to hunt down the reasons why The Silence want him dead, visiting a Dalek, The Tesselecta, a member of the silence, and finally Dorium Maldovar.
  • The Doctor goes to Lake Silencio and let’s River Song, in the astronaut suit, kill him, but she powers down the weapon systems causing all time to exist at once (on Earth) in a time bubble.
  • The Doctor, as the personal soothsayer of The Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill, reviews the events that created the time bubble, but the Silence are still trying to kill The Doctor.
  • Amy rescues The Doctor and takes him to Area 52 where she, Rory and River have created an army to capture The Silence and rescue The Doctor.
  • The Silence allowed themselves to be captures, and they break free to attack the army.
  • To free the time bubble, The Doctor and River must physically touch. The Doctor marries River Song to convince her that he must die, and they kiss to reset time.
  • Future version of River comes to visit Amy and Rory, and tells them that The Doctor is still alive, that a Tesselecta ship was used in The Doctor’s place, and he was inside the ship.
  • Dorian reveals that the secret that The Silence want to never hear is related to The Doctor’s identity.

    Quotes

    Doctor Malokeh: Not too many late nights in Gaul I hope.
    Emperor Winston Churchill: Just the one. I had an argument with Cleopatra. Dreadful woman. Though excellent dancer.

    Emperor Churchill: I want to see the soothsayer. Where is he?
    Dr. Malokeh:
    In the tower. Where you threw him the last time.

    Emperor Churchill: Explain to me in terms that I can understand. What happened to time?
    The Doctor: A woman

    The Doctor: Hello again. The Tesselecta time-traveling, space changing robot powered by miniaturized people. Never get bored of that. Long time since Berlin.

    Dorium: Give it to me straight, Doctor. How bad are my injuries?
    The Doctor: Well… {Dorium starts laughing}
    Dorium: Oh! Your face!
    The Doctor: Oh you…

    Churchill: You mentioned a woman.
    The Doctor: Yes. I’m getting to her.
    Churchill: What’s she like? Attractive, I assume.
    The Doctor: Hell. In high heels.
    Churchill: Tell me more.

    The Doctor: Been knocking about, bit if a farewell tour. Things to do, people to see. There’s always more. I can invent a new color, save the dodo, join the Beatles. {on the phone} Hello, it’s me! Get him, tell him we’re going out and it’s all on me except for the money and the driving! {to Dorium} I have got a time machine, Dorium. It’s all still going on. For me it never stops. Liz the First is still waiting in a glade to elope with me. I could help Rose Tyler with her homework. I could go on all Jack’s stag parties in one night.

    Maldovar: Time catches up with us all, Doctor!
    The Doctor: Well it has never laid a glove on me!

    The Doctor: I had to die. I didn’t have to die alone.

    The Doctor: It’s going to be five-oh-two in the afternoon for all eternity. The needle’s stuck on the record.
    Churchill: A record? Good lord, man, have you never heard of downloads?

    Madame Kovarian: Oh they’re flirting. Do I have to watch this?

    The Doctor: Why do you always have handcuffs?

    River: There are so many theories about you and I, you know.
    The Doctor: Idle gossip.
    River: Archaeology.
    The Doctor: Same thing.

    River: Then you may kiss the bride.
    The Doctor: I’ll make it a good one.
    River: You better.

    Amy: He whispered his name.
    River: Not his name, no.
    Amy: Yeah it was. He said it was.
    River: Rule one?
    Amy: The Doctor lies.
    River: So do I. All the time. Have to. Spoilers. Pretending I don’t know you’re my mother. Pretending I didn’t recognize the space suit in Florida.

    Rory: Are you sure? Are you really sure?
    River: Of course I’m sure. I’m his wife.
    Amy: And I’m his— Mother-in-law.

    The Doctor: Then they can all forget me. I got too big, Dorium. Too noisy. Time to step back into the shadows.

    Dorium: The first question! The question that must never be answered! Hidden in plain sight! The question you’ve been running from all your life! “Doctor Who.” “Doctor Who.” “Doctor Who”!

    Questions and Answers

  1. The Silence call themselves, The Sentinels of History. This is a rather curious statement. Even more than the other revelations.
  2. The Doctor is moving towards the Fields of Trensimore, where most likely his eleventh incarnation will fall.
  3. Apparently the question of Who is the Doctor can never be answered, not just by The Doctor, but by The Universe itself.
  4. Did Amy’s killing of Madame Kovarian cause her death in the world outside the Time Bubble? If not, does Kovarian hold a grudge against her?
  5. The Silence turn on Madame Kovarian. Is she still a member of their order, when she realizes that they would kill her to achieve her goals.
  6. River remembers everything, but says nothing due to spoilers. She remembers killing The Doctor, she remembers the Wedding, she remembers being on the beach.

Analysis

Let’s start with the good.

  • The return of old actors to their familiar parts in this episode were WONDERFUL. Simon Callow as Charles Dickens, Ian McNeice as Winston Churchill, the Silurian Doctor, and especially Simon Fischer-Becker as Dorium.
  • The look on The Doctor’s face when he called up to find that The Brigadier had passed away was heartbreaking. A fitting tribute to the passing of Nicholas Courtney. And a perfect visual of the explanation given in School Reunion that it’s the curse of the Time Lords to watch those you care about wither away and die.
  • Loved the line where The Doctor compares archaeology to idle gossip, which is why he has such contempt for it. Discovering, potential hints and allegations through the sorting and cataloging of old things, versus going out and discovering new things on your own. Captures it perfectly.
  • The scene where River Song, post Byzantium, comes over to Amy and Rory’s house to talk, was really well done. Okay, I didn’t get a mother-daughter feeling, but I certainly got a family feel, having a drink after all of the chaos.
  • Live Chess is inspired! A bit James Bondy, but inspired nonetheless.
  • Loved the full circle from last season finale to this season finale. The talk of marriage between River and The Doctor at The Big Bang, the asking to marry her in Let’s Kill Hitler, and finally marrying her in The Wedding of River Song.
  • I do enjoy the wink towards mature themes in Doctor Who. Love and sex should not be discussed on the show, but we can acknowledge their existence with a wink. Especially with the line: “And her nights… well. That’s between her and me, eh?”
  • A future where The Doctor returns to the shadows and is less quiet, is rather interesting. I am curious to see what they do with it next season/series.

The episode was fine, but was a bit… ehhhhhhhhh….

Basically, the payoff was either cheap but not easy or easy but not cheap. Not sure which. I think it was just too easy. It seemed a little to easy to have a bit of technological slight of hand that would surprise the whole universe.

The ending, when River tells Amy the secret. When is this for Amy? For us, The Doctor just died and Amy and Rory just escaped the time bubble. But for Amy, all of Series six would have just happened. Most likely, this was sometime after the events of The God Complex. If so, why would Amy be reminiscing about her killing Madame Kovarian?

The First Question is the Doctor’s identity? The FIRST question? It’s the first question of the Doctor Who universe, meaning that the first time we met him back in 1963, the first question anyone wanted to know was Doctor “Who?”. But, you wouldn’t call that the FIRST question. Maybe our first question, but not the first question of The Universe. Seems very meta… meaning writing solely for the fans, and not for the story.

It’s an endless circle, and I hate that. The Silence exist to keep the First Question from being asked. So, their sole creation and purpose relates to The Doctor? So they don’t want the Question asked, but if there wasn’t a question to be asked, they wouldn’t exist. My brain starts to hurt with this stuff.

Why in the world did The Doctor need to marry River Song just to tell her the secret that he wasn’t actually going to die. Why couldn’t he have whispered it in her ear without the marriage. Did the urgency of the situation make the marriage seem romantic? Not really. Made it seem like everything else, The Doctor will do anything he can to manipulate people into doing what he wants.

If The Silence were so good at manipulating electricity, then how could the people of Earth just kill them on sight?

The Doctor was in the Tesselecta ship, and so The Doctor started to regenerate on the fields of Lake Silencio? Okay, maybe special effects, but then how would the touch between a robot controlled by tiny people affect The Doctor who is riding inside the ship. If physical touch does it, then how did that work?

Was a fine episode, probably only disappointing because it was the season finale. But it WAS the season finale, and I feel somewhat cheated out of some real answers and some real substance, other than a clever alternate time bubble world, a wedding that had little emotion, and a result that we all knew (The Doctor is alive).

Verdict

C+     Enjoyable enough, but disappointing in enough ways.

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