Post Game TV Recap: DOCTOR WHO S6E7: A Good Man Goes To War

Post Game TV Recap: DOCTOR WHO S6E7

Some will swear they saw it coming, some will claim they're disappointed, and some will be investing in cryogenics so they can sleep through till the next episode airs. But no one can say the last episode of the semi-season wasn't exciting. And yes, silly buggers, there will be Spoilers.


by Steven Moffat

Directed by Peter Hoar

The Doctor goes after something he's never seemed to need before - help. He travels across time and space, collecting powerful people who owe him a favor. Because persons unknown have kidnapped Amy Pond and her unborn child, and The Doctor and Rory Williams will crack the galaxy in half to get her back. The only person who won't come is River Song - and as we learn at the end of the episode, she's got a Very Good Reason. On Demon's Run asteroid, a mysterious woman and an army of religious fanatics plan to take Amy's child, who was conceived on the TARDIS in the middle of the time stream, and as a result, is born with Time lord DNA. They plan to raise her and train her to fight against The Doctor, who they already view as the most dangerous man in the universe. Only at the end of the battle, when he realizes he been tricked, twice, with the same con, does he learn that he'll be able to get everything fixed, because he's been hanging out with their daughter for quite a long time...or at least, will do.

Moffat has yet to write a duff episode. Each one adds more detail and richness to the Who mythos, each one plays fast and loose with time, and each one keeps you riveted. Everybody gives stellar performances - Karen Gillan is steely-strong, Arthur Darvill rises to the role of true hero, finally getting to come to Amy's rescue, and the swagger that Matt Smith gives to The Doctor as he gleefully watches his plans comes together finally bites him in the ass.

There's enough going on in this episode that fans will have more than enough to digest and discuss before the series continues later in the year.


Two guests this episode have the distinction of playing several members of the same alien race, several times, over the course of the new series.

Neve McIntosh and her delicious accent played sister Silurians Alaya and Restac in the two-parter The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood last year, and plays Madam Vastra here.

Dan Starkey (Commander Strax) also played two Sontarans in one story, The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky. He almost shot Mickey Smith and Martha Smith-Jones as Jask at The End Of Time, and here again as the funniest wet-nurse you'll ever see. Since the Sontarans are a clone-race, having one actor play various members makes perfect sense. Christopher Ryan (Mike "the cool person" from The Young Ones) has also played two different Sontarans in different episodes.

Christina Chong (Lorna Bucket) will soon be seen in the new Johnny English film, and had a starring role in Monroe, a British medical procedural that was a thinly-veiled lift of Fox's House.


The Cybermen have undergone a small redesign in this story. So far we've seen the Cybermen of the alternate "Pete's Earth" universe, created by Cybus Industries. The stylized "C" logo is seen on their chestplates, but here. for the first time, they're not there. This raises the question of whether or not they're "our" Cybermen, the formerly-human beings from the planet Mondas (and later, Telos) who have plagued the Doctor for so many years. There's a possibility that the history of the Cybermen was altered in the universal reboot at the end of last season - since the Cybermen present at the end of time were "parallel" models, perhaps that was the template used when the history was rebuilt?  One way or the other, they're clearly back up to major threat level, as opposed to rag-tag fugitive fleet.

The Headless Monks were created via a text by Steven Moffat. When filing the opening museum scene for The Time of Angels, the director mentioned that since the location looked so much like a church, it would serve to have a line referencing that. Moffat texted back that the museum, the Delirium Archive, was "the last resting place of the Headless Monks". Moffat has done a good job of taking hastily tossed in details and fleshing them out later - in that same episode we get to see "The crash of the Byzantium" as first mentioned in Silence in the Library, River Song's first appearance.

Part of The Church, the religious-based army first seen in The Time of Angels, Moffat describes them as being the SAS / special missions force of The Church - "so hard, they don't bother with brains at all".

Madam Vastra and Commander Strax are two examples of exactly how many adventures The Doctor has had that we've never seen. Much like The Corsair from Neil Gaiman's episode, they appear fully formed, with an apparent complete but never revealed history, and leave the viewer salivating for more details. They are both similar in that they are members of races that view The Doctor as an enemy, but are unique in that they have both been given by him either a penance or a punishment, depending on one's point of view. Strax clearly sees his as a punishment, being made to serve as a nurse to "lesser races", but serve he does, and judging from how good at it he is, he's putting his heart (and apparently, breasts) into it. Vastra seems to have accepted her position in Victorian London happily, even taking a human (female) Companion of her own, though one more romantic than any of The Doctor's. Strax seems to see The Doctor's arrival as a chance at parole, while Vastra seems to look it more as a chance to pay back a favor.

The likelihood that we'll see the stories behind these characters on screen is slim, but the odds that we'll see it chronicled in a novel or other "official" source are far better. Heck, there's probably a couple dozen Fanfics about each one already, at least a couple trocks. If someone isn't working on a team-up between Vastra and Jago and Litefoot, then Ford is no longer in his Flivver, and all's not well with the world.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS - Trivia and production details

SET PIECES - The Birthing Chamber Amy spends much of the episode in has seen a lot of action this season. It started its life as the Oval Office in The Impossible Astronaut, was the acid room in The Rebel Flesh, and appears again here. The folks on the show are exceedingly good at squeezing a nickel and getting two dimes.

LISTEN...DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET? - The level of security over the final reveal of the episode paralleled that of the reveal by Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. The crew were issued scripts with a false ending - that false ending was performed at the initial read-through, and only as the time of the filming approached were selected members of the crew (and obviously, the cast)given the proper ending. Humorously, the hangar that stood in for Demon's Run was so large and had poor enough acoustics that when they filmed the scene, a lot of the crew STILL couldn't hear it over the sound of the generators and fans in the room.

'Digger says he once chased the Atraxi off a planet, then called them back for a scolding" - Indeed he did, in Matt Smith's first adventure, The Eleventh Hour.

'He said 'run' ... He said it a lot." - Much has been said about how even the most fleeting of moments with The Doctor is life-changing. Elton Pope, Sally Sparrow, Donna Noble; many people meet him once and spend years trying to understand it, or see him again. At the end of the episode The Death of the Doctor on Sarah Jane Adventures, Sarah talks about some research she's done into other of his Companions. The ones she's found have all dedicated their lives to making the world better - Jo Grant become an environmental activist, Tegan Jovanka spoke out for Aboriginal rights, and a "Dorothy something" running a company called A Charitable Earth...A.C.E.

"Thank you Parker...I won't be needing you again tonight." "Yes, milady" - The older among you (raises hand) will recognize this as a tip of the hat to Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward and her chauffer Parker from Thunderbirds.

"The Doctor took me ice skating on the river Thames"  the 1814 Frost Fair seems to be one of his favorites. It's appeared in two non-televised stories, one on the BBC website for Christmas called "The Frozen" featuring the Tenth Doctor, and a Big Finish audio adventure called Frostfire featuring the first Doctor. This may be the first time a non-TV adventure has come so close to being referenced on the show.

"He is not a goblin or a phantom or a trickster" - Similar terms were used to describe the beast within the Pandorica as well. And the Trickster is an old enemy of Sarah Jane Smith, also making an attack on The Doctor through Donna in Turn Left.

"Run away" - The Doctor is rarely this vindictive. At the end of The Family of Blood we get an idea as to how far The Doctor will go when pressed. In both cases he's doing it to protect those he's befriended, even loved.

"I speak baby" - TARDIS translation circuits my ear. According to the rules set down by Shelly Mayer in Sugar and Spike, all babies speak the same language. I like to think that this speaks volumes about The Doctor.

"They must have taken you quite a while back, just before America" - The biggest question being asked is exactly when Amy was taken, since it's clear that she's been gone "for a long time". Best guess is during the events of The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon, or as The Doctor says, just before. It's where we first see "Eyepatch lady" now known as Madame Kovarian, so she's clearly been taken by then. The first moment we see her, she mentions that the thinks Amy's sleeping - something that one might say when checking up on a recent patient / prisoner, no?  So was she taken during the episode, or just before, as The Doctor surmises? 

One moment she's alone is in the restroom, face to face with the Silence, whose exact role in the plot has yet to be made clear. She could have been replaced at that point - she feels the queasiness or what we now assume was morning sickness beforehand, and afterward she doesn't. Though one would wonder why they'd choose to give the duplicate a cell phone with evidence of themselves on it. There's lots of time off-camera it could have happened as well. It may not be important enough to pin down, just that she WAS taken.

"Then why is he called 'The Doctor'?" Steven Moffat presented his theory on The Doctor's name on a USENet post some years back. His theory was that "Doctor" was a Gallifreyan word that each planet took to mean "Healer", and now some have taken to mean "Warrior". It's similar to the character Butler in the Artemis Fowl books - the Fowl clan have been served by the Butler clan for so long, it became the word for "servant".


Well, we do see another mobile, this time on The Doctor's crib, so that certainly seems to suggest it was a deliberate motif. But while we learn the secret of River Song, we're still gleefully in the dark on so much more. No clue what role the Silence play - are they taking order from Madame Kovarian, or are they giving them, unbeknownst to her even?  What can happen in a century that would turn The Church from a group happy to have The Doctor's help, to one ready to kill him?

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO - Well, this leaves us in a bit of a quandary. The episode is called Let's Kill Hitler. We've seen clips of Nazis in the assorted teaser footage, so likely they're not talking about Adelaide Hitler of Croton-on-Hudson. But details?  Not a sausage. We don't even have a firm date - BBC America has been throwing around "Late Summer", other sources and promos are calling it closer to early/mid Fall, and some British tabloids are claiming the production is behind, and the rest of the season may not air until later than that, which would mean no DVD release in time for Christmas, which would be disastrous for the BBC ledgers, as the show is a massive cash cow. So we'll just have to see.

As for what else we'll see in the second half:

  • The return of Craig and Sophie from The Lodger (where we last saw a ship that resembled the Silence's)
  • Some delightful (a word which here means "horrific") looking doll-creatures
  • Another episode by Mark Gatiss, and possibly another on-screen role.
  • Time Runs Out?
We'll be bringing you some stuff in the Gap to keep you busy, but until then, hope you've enjoyed what you've seen and heard so far. Keep in touch on the Newsarama Facebook Page.

Vinnie Bartilucci got his fez in the mail yesterday, direct from Egypt, in a box covered with Arabic that he's sure wasn't pored over and examined by the Department of Homeland Security at ALL. His blog The Forty Year-Old Fanboy is where he says all the things Newsarama won't print, or more likely, already has people who say it better.

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