"Time Is What Prevents
Everything From Happening At Once."
- John Wheeler (1911-2008)
Apparently, he was right. When River Song once again doesn't do what she's told,
time folds into itself. And to fix it all, The Doctor has to go back the
where it went wrong… and die.
THE WEDDING OF RIVER SONG
by Steven Moffat
Directed by Jaremy Webb
We start in London, a mad new version of history where Rome never fell, and
Winston Churchill is the Holy Roman Emperor. But he starts to question
little things that nag at his mind, like the fact that no matter what, day, or
what time of day it is, it's always April 22, 2011, at 5:02 in the afternoon. This is, of
course, the point in time The Doctor is killed by a mysterious figure in an astronaut
suit. We learn it's River Song, and at the last minute, chooses to
discharge her weapon and prevent herself from doing so.
Small problem: The Silence have created a Fixed Point in time, a point that
must occur, or like removing a pillar from a bridge, the whole structure will
collapse. So by changing it, she's killed time, instead of The Doctor. River considers that a fair trade, but The Doctor doesn't, and must find a way
back to the point and let it occur as it should.
At its core, this is a mirror-imaged retake of last season's finale, "The
Big Bang." History has gone wacky as a result of a bad decision, and The
Doctor must find his friends and fix things by (seemingly) sacrificing himself. Instead of the skies being filled with his enemies, this time it's filled with
his friends — too bad they couldn't afford showing them to us. As is usually
true, the things I found lacking about the episode are from my own expectations. We saw a number of threads come to a logical end, and in keeping with Steven
Moffat's style, got a few more started. It's been a wonderful season, and
this brought it to a happy ending.
GUEST STAR REPORT
Quite a few old friends in this episode. Ian McNiece is back as
Churchill, Richard Hope as his Silurian physician Malokeh, and though you
couldn't tell under that makeup, that was Mark Gatiss as Gantok. His
billing as "Rondo Haxton" is a tip of the hat to
Rondo Hatton, a
character actor from the '30s and '40s, who used his acromegaly to get a lot of
work as heavies in Hollywood. It's also a nod to the way they used to
disguise Anthony Ainley's appearance in stories with a pseudonym. Indeed,
Gatiss played The Master in one of the Big Finish plays, billed as "Sam Kisgart," an anagram of his name. And "Haxton" is passably similar to "Saxon," The
master's most recent false name in the show.
One delightful surprise was Simon Callow, reprising his role as
Charles Dickens from one of the first episodes of the new series, "The Unquiet
Dead," written by Mark Gatiss and featuring Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, an
ancestor of the character she'd play the next year on Torchwood.
Meredith Vieira, former host of NBC's Today and current host of
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire got a cameo as a newsreader in the episode. They ran a
feature on her appearance on Today back in the spring.
THE MONSTER FILES
The Silencemake a return, and an assumption made last week
seems incorrect. The alien creature that we refer to as The Silence
(though technically it's the name of their order) do appear to be in charge, and
Madame Kovarian serve at their pleasure. The eye-drive (which, until I saw
written down, mentally spelled "iDrive") was a neat explanation of how she could
work with them, and provided a delightful way to scare the bejabbers out of us
in the teaser photos.
BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS (trivia and production details)
MEKKA-LEKKA-HI, MEKKA-HEINY-HO - Since The Doctor was able to open
Dorium's box, can we assume he finally added a setting for wood to his sonic
screwdriver? Or more likely, is he just releasing metal catches within the
OLD SOLDIERS NEVER DIE - While Elisabeth Sladen got an on-screen
memoriam after her passing, Nicholas Courtney, who'd passed away a couple months
previous, did not. This moment was a nice tribute to the man who played
The Brigadier for decades, appearing with more Doctors than any other character
on the show. Most recently seen on Sarah Jane Adventures, he had
also appeared in a number of Big Finish audio adventures dedicated to UNIT. Five rounds, rapid, in his honor.
"So do you think you can top last year's Christmas special?" - Charles
Dickens is giving a "no-spoilers" recap of A Christmas Carol, and
describing it as "past, present and the future, all at the same time" just hangs
a lampshade on what's happening on screen at that moment.
"My friends have always been the best of me" - The recurring theme of
The Doctor's companions comes around again. While I still can't say I like
the morose and negative opinion he has of himself and how he leaves his friends,
at least he realizes that they're an important part of his life.
"Time can be re-written" "Don't you dare" - Yet another redux — that's
the same two lines, from the opposite speakers, we heard from River and The
Doctor as she prepared to sacrifice herself in Forest of the Dead. An
important difference is that here The Doctor knows (well, is pretty sure) he'll
be okay, while River doesn't. Yes, he prepared a way to save her, but she
isn't aware of it — she can only hope against hope that he'll think of
"Serving time for a murder she can't remember" - Not actually a lie,
more a way to make the younger, out of control River feel better about what
she's going to do. It's quite clear in her other appearances that she new
perfectly well who she killed, as did damn near everyone else.
"You grew up with a time rift in your bedroom, you can see what others
can't" - It's been a recurring theme in Amy's life as well — her lifelong
exposure to the Crack made her sensitive to shifting timelines, plus her time
spent in the TARDIS made her able to remember things, even after they vanished
from time itself. But it's always funny that it's twice that she forgot
Rory, and NEVER forgot The Doctor.
If you look, you'll see drawings of Daleks, Cybermen, Smilers, Silurians, and
the events of The Hungry Earth, Vampires of Venice and Curse of the
Black Spot. Interesting point though — she never met the Cybermen in the
series. She met them in one of the recent adventure games, however, Blood
of the Cybermen, which apparently are being treated as canon.
"You have an office on a train, that's so cool" - James West, special
agent of the US Secret Service, had a traveling headquarters on the private
steam train Wanderer in the TV series The Wild Wild West. If
someone hasn't done a DW/TWWW crossover, I've had a higher opinion of the
Internet than it deserves.
"The Death of Time, The End of Time" - Another mirror-image — In
Day of the Moon, it was The Doctor in Area 52 with a sign warning people not
to interact with the prisoner. Just not translated into hieroglyphics
"Do you know what else he is? Not here." - So beautiful, so
dangerous. So awesome.
"What am I doing?" "As you're told" - Once again, another
callback — that's what River says all The Doctor's friends do, back in The
"I consent and gladly give" - Who wants to set the over-and-under of
how many fannish weddings will use this by the end of the year? It may not
surpass the Sealing ceremony from Battlestar Galactica or the Klingon mating
ritual, but there's gonna be a lot of bowties worn at weddings in the future.
"I just climbed out of the Byzantium - you were there" - That would be
the events of "The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone," the first time Amy and River
"I killed someone." "In an aborted timeline, in a reality that never was."
- Amy's decision about Kovarian was utterly justified, but she still has to bear
the weight of the choice. And River's advice is virtually the same that
The Doctor gives Rory about the older Amy in The Girl Who Waited.
"I got too big, too noisy… time to step back into the shadows" - This
is likely the rejiggering of the character that Moffat alluded to in several
interviews. He made a proper fool of himself in the beginning of the
season, "trying to get noticed", as Amy described it. This will give him a
chance to work on a more personal basis again, rather like the Lone Ranger, if
Yes, if you really want to, there's lots of "Yeah, but what about" moments
here. River said that she was in charge of the TARDIS, yet The Doctor has
it with him inside the body of the Teselecta. But of course, at the time
that they were all at Lake Silencio, there were two TARDISes there. The
older Doctor (inside the Teselecta) had one, and the younger one, who we
followed through the season, had his in the diner, back by the restrooms. So that's explained.
If you want to explain how the Teselecta can grow a beard, or be shaved, or
just plain work so much better than it did before, not to mention how it
survived being thrown into the new timeline at all, well… that might take a bit
"DOC-TOR...WHO?" - Aside from being an obvious meta-textual reference
(indeed, it goes back to the first episode of the series) it's likely more than
merely what his name is. Surely there are (were) any number of Time Lords
who knew it, and we know that in the future, River will know it. Likely
it's more about his origins; why he chose to become the man he is, what things
he did to make him the man he is.
BIG BAD REPORT /CLEVER THEORY DEPARTMENT
As is traditional, as Moffat closes some doors, he blows open some windows. Once again, we've been told about a specific event, taking place on the Fields
of Trenzilor, at the time known only as "The Fall of the Eleventh."
Now, the first jump made is that right now, The Doctor is "the eleventh" — he's mentioned it several times over the last two series.
We might be hearing about an event that will culminate at the time of the 50th anniversary of the show, or when Matt Smith finally leaves, or possibly
not for a very long time, just a thread for another showrunner to pick up. But there's plenty of other bits of thread to think about.
The Silence are still in play - The Silence are still after him — the
very fact that Dorium is returned to his pedestal at the end shows that they
haven't been erased from history or anything. They're still out there,
they only assume their greatest work is done since they believe The Doctor to be
dead. But should news to the contrary ever reach them, we'll surely see
them back again. Even Madame Kovarian may not be gone — as Rory observes,
all those events never happened, and he's rather an expert in being killed in
River's tale is not yet over - While we may have seen her story come
to a dramatic close, it's not finished. There are still endless tales that
can be told with them and their assorted escapes and escapades, but the
important one that has yet to occur is when they go to Darillium, he actually
tells her his name, and gives her the sonic screwdriver that she carries in her
last meeting with him in The Library. Also, note that in "Silence in the
Library"/"Forest of the Dead," there's no mention of her incarceration — was
it simply never mentioned, was is not a life sentence, or by that point in time
was she found retroactively not guilty due to The Doctor being alive?
More with Canton Delaware? - For a person he only met once to become a
trusted enough friend to ask for help at the time of his death is an interesting
situation. True, at that time he was about the only American he knew that
was around at that period of time, but more likely he was merely setting up the
dominoes so the events of the rest of the adventure (and indeed the whole
season) would occur. Still, the tone in Canton the Elder's voice as he
sees everyone suggests they may have met more than once. I wouldn't mind
that. Also, It would please me to hear that he finally did get married
after all those years.
NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO -
As is true of any end of the season, a bit of a question. The next
adventure game The Gunpowder Plot drops imminently, and the Christmas
episode is filming now, featuring a number of World Famous In England comedians
like Bill Bailey and Alexander Amrstrong (a.k.a. the voice the Mister Smith on
Sarah Jane Adventures). Karen has said in a couple places that she is
coming back next season, but in honesty, Amy and Rory's story seems to have come
to a logical conclusion here, so bringing them back might not be the best move
to carry the show forward. It's been announced that next year's series won't start until the fall, so odds are filming for it won't
start until late spring/early summer. We might see 13 episodes run
straight through until Christmas next year, but more likely we'll see another
split season, starting in the fall, the Christmas episode in between, and ending
in spring of 2013.
And 2013, in case your watch is stuck on 5:02, will be the 50th anniversary
of the series. Moffat has promised something is in the planning, but
obviously won't say what.
Vinnie Bartilucci was actually at a wedding yesterday, and didn't
the River Song jokes blow thick and fast, in between Godfather references. His blog
Year-Old Fanboy is probably where he'll start running his Inspector
Spacetime recaps. He has been Tumblring
of late as well.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!