By Heather S. Vina
Written by: Steven Moffat
Recap: The “previouslies” involve the story of Amy’s pregnancy, what the baby is, and what she is being used for: to kill the Doctor. It also brings up that a future Doctor was killed in front of Amy, Rory and River, as well as the reveal that River is the child of Amy and Rory.
Despite having left on a cliffhanger last episode, this one picks up several months later. Rory and Amy are back on Earth, and are following some kind of design while driving in a cornfield. They make it to the middle, only to find…the Doctor and TARDIS! The Doctor holds up a newspaper that reveals “Leadworth’s Crop Circle”. Seems the duo drove the word “Doctor” into the cornfield and it was printed in the local newspaper, which is how the Doctor was alerted that they were calling him. I guess they’ve learned that the best way to call the Doctor is to put something out there that will end up in the history books, and he will see it and go back to the time it happened! That’s the same way that River called the Doctor to Stonehenge in Episode 5.12, “The Pandorica Opens”.
And note that he has a different jacket on. I wonder what happened to his other one? This one is longer and a little more old-fashioned.
Amy asks the Doctor if he’s found Melody yet, since he’s had “all summer”. He hands Rory the newspaper and then gives Amy a hug, telling her that she knows who Melody grows up to be, so she knows that he will find her. But all Amy can see is that the Doctor hasn’t found her, yet. Which begs the question: Where was the Doctor looking? And did Rory and Amy spend any time bonding with River before River brought them back home? We never do find out.
Rory interrupts them by commenting on the picture in the newspaper article. There’s an added line through the “Doctor” part that he and Amy didn’t “draw”. The Doctor grabs the paper and looks in the direction of where the line is coming from. Suddenly, there’s a loud roaring and a red car is zooming towards them through the fields!
They all jump out of the way as the car spins to a stop in front of the TARDIS, nearly running the Doctor over. Out jumps a young, dark-skinned woman, whom Rory and Amy know: It’s Mels (Nina Toussaint-White), their “best mate”. She followed them because she wanted to meet the Doctor, who she thinks is “hot” and whom Amy told her all about.
The Doctor asks Mels why he doesn’t know about her, and why he didn’t see her at the wedding, since he danced with everyone there, including the men. Mels tells him that she doesn’t do weddings. The sound of sirens interrupts the little get-to-know-you bit. Seems Mels stole the sports car she is driving and the police are after her. She whips out a gun, much to Rory and Amy’s shock, and tells the Doctor that she needs a getaway. The Doctor asks her where she wants to go. Her choice? “Let’s kill Hitler.”
After the credits, we open with a montage of scenes of Amy, Mels and Rory growing up together. Cute casting on the little actors who play the three kids (Caitlin Blackwood as Amelia, Maya Glace-Green as Mels, and Ezekiel Wigglesworth as Rory), but little Rory looks way younger than the girls do. They look about 10-11, while he looks about 8.
It seems that Mels was always getting into trouble and always answering the teacher’s questions about why historical events happened with “Because the Doctor didn’t stop it.” She seems to be as obsessed with the Doctor as Amy was when she was a little girl. As a young adult, she stole a bus, much to Amy and Rory’s dismay. She also managed to get Amy to open her eyes to Rory’s crush on her, as Amy had been thinking that Rory’s lack of interest in girls was because he was gay, not because he had eyes for no one but her.
On the TARDIS, things are going haywire because, for some crazy reason, Mels shot the console. The Doctor is furious and trying to land it.
In Berlin, 1938, at Nazi headquarters, a worker hides a secret: He’s really a shape-shifting spaceship that is inhabited by miniature people. It’s a “Justice Vehicle 6019”, a Teselecta, and the crew inside track down a high-ranking SS officer, Erich Zimmerman (Philip Rham), and change into him, just before they beam him onto their ship, where he is killed by the “antibodies” who guard the ship. If people don’t wear these security bracelets with the proper amount of authorization on them, the antibodies kill them.
The crew uses the SS officer’s body to try to capture Hitler (Albert Welling), using their “justice mode”, which seems to be a beam of light that shoots out of the robot’s mouth. The helmsmen (Davood Ghadami) realizes that they are too early in Hitler’s timestream, but before they can change their plans, the TARDIS comes crashing through the window and knocks down their Zimmerman ship.
The Doctor, Rory, Amy, and Mels come stumbling out, the Doctor warning them away from the deadly smoke coming from the TARDIS as a result of Mels shooting the console. Rory checks out the Spaceship Zimmerman, while the Doctor tries to figure out where they are. He quickly deduces it when Hitler pops up and thanks them for saving his life, much to the Doctor, Rory and Amy’s mutual disgust.
Before much more can happen, the Spaceship Zimmerman pops up and Hitler freaks out, shooting at it. Rory saves the day by punching Hitler in the face (and how many people wouldn’t love to do that?) and grabbing the gun from him. Amy checks out the Spaceship Zimmerman and the crew have him pretend to faint when the Doctor questions him. The Doctor’s suspicious of this “perfect” faint, but everyone is distracted when Mels announces that she’s been shot.
The trio rush over to Mels, while the helmsman in the spaceship checks out the TARDIS. He tells his captain (Richard Dillane) that it’s “her”. If they take her down, they will get the entire year off.
Rory tries to save Mels and tells the others to keep her conscious. The Doctor talks to her and she tells him how she used to dream about him when she was little. She tells him that she was going to marry him. He tells her that it’s a great idea; they should get married. She asks him if he shouldn’t ask her parents. He says, as soon as she is better, he will get them on the phone. She says there’s no need to bother; he can do it now, since they’re right here.
Everyone looks at each other in shock, as Mels smiles and says, “Penny nearer.” The Doctor grabs Rory and Amy away from her as Mels starts to fill with the golden light that signals a regeneration: “Penny dropped.”
Rory wants to know that’s going on. Mels tells them that the last time she regenerated, she ended up as a toddler. She stands up and Amy asks the Doctor what is going on. He questions her on Mels’ name, which is ‘Melody’, and Amy tells him that she named her daughter after her best mate. The Doctor corrects her and tells her she named her daughter after her daughter. Mels tells them that it took her years to find them, but she’s glad that she did. They got to raise her, after all. Before Rory can point out that if Mels is Melody Pond, she must also be River Song, Mels changes…into River.
River is excited about her new body and enthuses about the different aspects of her features, while the Doctor, Amy and Rory struggle to come to terms with who River is. The crew in the spaceship realize that it’s Melody Pond, “the woman who kills the Doctor.”
River finally gets down to business. She pulls out Hitler’s discarded gun and aims it at the Doctor. Rory and Amy are shocked, but the Doctor was expecting this, as she’s carrying out what she was programmed to do, which is kill him. Seems he made moves to stop her, and every gun that River grabbed, he had already disabled. There’s a fun little montage of her trying to shoot him and then it flashbacking to how the Doctor had already taken care of the weapon before she even got her hands on it.
Alas, it turns out that River’s plan was never really to shoot him, but to poison him, as she does with a kiss. The Doctor collapses in pain and realizes what River did to him. She warns her parents not to follow her, then drops out of the window onto the street below. The helmswoman in the ship (Amy Cudden) scans the Doctor and says that he’s right, he is dying, but the helmsman tells her that that can’t be right.
The Doctor gives Rory and Amy the sonic screwdriver and then sends them off to follow River, while he goes into the TARDIS. River runs into a group of German soldiers. She fends off their attempts to shoot her, with her residual regeneration energy, and then steals their guns. She’s off to go shopping! Rory knocks out a soldier, and he and Amy take off after her, while the Spaceship Zimmerman builds himself a motorbike and takes off after them.
The helmsman tells the Captain that it’s impossible for the Doctor to be dying now, because he’s supposed to die in Utah in 2011, that it’s a “fixed point in time”, and it can’t change: The Doctor must always die then and he always will. Um, I think you need to talk to Jack about “fixed points in time” not always being so fixed.
River happens on a restaurant where several wealthy and nicely dressed patrons are eating. She bursts in and fires the guns she stole from the soldiers, announcing that she needs a new wardrobe, so everyone has to strip. The screaming people, dressed in only their underthings, streaming out of the restaurant clue Rory and Amy in on where their errant daughter is.
The Doctor orders the TARDIS voice interface on. It first takes the form of himself, but the Doctor dismisses it, demanding someone he likes. It then cycles through Rose, Martha and Donna, but the Doctor tells it that that’s only “guilt, guilt and more guilt.” Give him someone he hasn’t screwed up, yet. The voice interface turns into Amelia and the Doctor accepts this one. He goes on about her, little Amelia Pond, but the voice interface insists it isn’t Amelia and that he will die in 32 minutes. It tells him that there’s no hope for a cure or for him to regenerate, due to the poison. The Doctor begs for something to inspire him to get moving, but the voice interface insists it’s not Amelia. The Doctor is on the verge of unconsciousness when Amelia’s voice says, “Fish fingers and custard.” Inspired, the Doctor drags himself up and gets moving on saving the day.
Outside the restaurant where River is, the spaceship catches up with Amy and Rory, and miniaturizes them, absorbing them and taking on Amy’s likeness. Rory and Amy are saved from being destroyed by the antibodies by the helmsman, who tells them that they aren’t guilty of anything.
Fake Amy confronts River and tells her that she killed the Doctor. River fails to realize this really isn’t her mom. Fake Amy tells her that she killed the Doctor on the “orders of the movement known as the Silence and Academy of the Question.” River doesn’t deny it, though she says she doesn’t remember it all, so Fake Amy opens her mouth and traps her in a beam of light, same as Fake Zimmerman did to Hitler. The “ladies” are disturbed, though, when a tuxedo-wearing Doctor shows up with the TARDIS and interrupts them.
The Doctor scans Fake Amy with his “sonic cane” and realizes that it’s a robot, with 423 lifesigns on board it. Amy manages to signal with the sonic screwdriver that she and Rory are inside the robot, but before the Doctor can do much more, he has an attack and has to sit down. River tries to run, but the robot stops her. The Doctor demands to know what is going on. The Captain talks to him from Robot Amy, explaining that Melody Pond is the woman who kills the Doctor. As time travelers, they have taken on the responsibility of “punishing” the criminals who have gotten away with their crimes throughout history. They extract them before their time of death and “give them hell.”
The Doctor is appalled, and demands to know what they have on his history. The Captain denies him this, saying that foreknowledge is dangerous. Amy confronts the Captain. She tells him that the Doctor is her best friend and River is her daughter. The helmsmen says that if she’s family, she gets family privileges. The Captain reluctantly gives her permission to access the records.
The Doctor interrogates the robot, asking why he is wanted dead and by whom. It tells him that the Silence is not a species but a religious order or movement, whose core belief is that “Silence will fall” when the question is asked. The first question, the oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight. Alas, it does not know what the question is.
The Doctor collapses in pain again, so the Captain gives the order to give River “hell.” The Doctor cries out to Amy and Rory, and the Captain lets Amy talk to the Doctor. The Doctor demands that she do something to save River, so Amy does: She uses the sonic screwdriver to mess up her and Rory’s bracelets, and the antibodies come out. She demands that the Captain stop it or she will take out the ship, but he refuses, so she zaps everyone’s bracelets and the antibodies go to attack them, as well. The Captain shuts down the beam and River is released. Then he demands an emergency beam-up from the mothership, leaving Rory and Amy on the ship alone to be attacked by the antibodies.
Amy calls out to the Doctor, begging him to save them, but the Doctor can’t even crawl to the TARDIS. He begs River to help him save them, but River still doesn’t know who “River” is.
Rory and Amy are on the brink of being killed when the TARDIS surrounds them, saving them from death. They’re thrilled that the Doctor saved them, but it turns out it’s not the Doctor; it’s River. River tells them that the TARDIS taught her how to fly it. She tells them that the Doctor told her that she’s the child of the TARDIS, but she doesn’t know what he means.
Amy and Rory find the Doctor lying on the steps, dying. Rory begs the Doctor to tell them how to save him, but the Doctor says that no one can. He asks to speak to River. He tells her to find River Song and to tell her something for him. He whispers it in her ear. River tells him that she’s sure that River knew.
The Doctor dies and River asks a grief-stricken Rory and Amy who River Song is. Amy goes to the robot and demands it access River Song’s records, and change into her. The robot does. River finally discovers who she is.
Amy asks River what the Doctor whispered to her, but River doesn’t answer her. Instead, she lights up with regeneration light, and asks Rory and Amy if the Doctor is worth it. Amy says he is. River goes to the Doctor and lays hands on him. He wakes up and asks what she’s doing, but instead of telling him, she says, “Hello, sweetie” and kisses him. They’re both bathed in regeneration light.
River wakes up in a hospital bed with Amy and Rory standing over her. She asks where she is. Amy tells her that she used up all of her regenerations to save the Doctor. River says she had to try. The Doctor must have known that she could save him, but he said that no one could. The Doctor interrupts and tells her, “Rule 1: The Doctor lies.” River smiles and drifts back to sleep. The nurse tells them that she will be fine; she just needs to rest. The Doctor corrects her and tells her that River will be “amazing”. He sets a bright-blue, new TARDIS journal on her bedstand.
The Doctor, Rory and Amy are back in the TARDIS. Amy questions the decision to just leave her there. The Doctor tells her that the Sisters of the Infinite Schism are the best nurses in the universe and will take good care of her. He, Amy and Rory have too much foreknowledge of the future for River, and foreknowledge is a dangerous thing. While he’s saying that, he’s looking at the readout from the robot, which proclaims the date and time of his death. When Amy asks what it is, the Doctor turns it off and says it’s just some stuff he downloaded.
Rory asks the Doctor about River’s brainwashing and if it’s over now. He points out that the River they know is in prison for murder. Amy wonders whose murder. The Doctor just smiles enigmatically and turns away. Amy asks if they will see River again. the Doctor tells her he’s sure River will come looking for them. Amy wonders how anyone even tries to look for him. He just smiles at her again: “Oh, Pond. Haven’t you figured that out, yet?”
The Luna University, 5123. A professor asks someone why they want to study archaeology. River leans forward, with her journal in her hands, and tells him that she’s “looking for a good man.”
Review: I have really enjoyed Steven Moffat taking over as showrunner of Doctor Who. Frankly, I think season 5 was the best season of the new show, and I am quite enjoying this season, as well. That being said, he still has his weaknesses. One of them is his ending one episode on a cliffhanger, then picking up with little-to-no addressing of where the characters left off in the last episode, and what happened between then and now.
For example: how did Amy and Rory get back to Earth? What happened with them and River? I mean, they just found out that this woman is their daughter. Yet, we hear nothing about what went down between them after that? River just left them back on Earth and that was it? That was a huge plothole for me.
Plus, at the end of “A Good Man Goes to War”, the Doctor said that he knew where to find Melody. Yet, when he comes to see them, he still hasn’t found her. What has he been doing? Where has he been looking? Did he just go off and visit River in another of her timelines? Was he really looking for baby Melody?
This is the same thing that happened between the Christmas episode and the beginning of this season, where suddenly, the characters are in a completely different place than they were when we last left them, yet we have no explanation for what happened in the interim.
And how the heck did Melody, who had regenerated into a child in 1969, make it all the way to London to end up as the child of a family that lives near her future mom and dad in 1996?
There are some questions I expect will be potentially answered later on, such as what happened to River as Melody and what was done to her. But some of these others, I expect, we will never hear answers for. While I adore Moffat’s writing and showrunning, I do wish he would tighten some of these things up, or, at the very least, give us a quick answer here or there in the dialogue.
The first time I watched this episode, I cried foul on Mels having been this best mate of Amy and Rory’s, since we had never ever heard of her. I figured, if she was this important, then she would have been mentioned before. I’ve seen it before in TV, where the writers decide to introduce an important character, several seasons into the show, and decide to act as if they have always been incredibly important to the plot or other characters, despite the fact that no one had ever mentioned them before. I find it annoying. So, I was finding it a little annoying about Mels, as well.
But watching it again and thinking on it some more, I wonder if maybe Mels was someone that had always been there…in this timeline. In the original timeline that took place in season 5, Amy grew up as an orphan being raised by her aunt, with her parents long gone. But at the end of the season, everything changed. Suddenly, her parents were always there and they were the ones who raised Amy. Maybe that’s the same thing with Mels: She wasn’t there in the original timeline, so therefore, we never heard about her in season 5. But she did exist in the rebooted timeline, which happened at the end of season 5. Therefore, it would make sense that we hadn’t heard about her before this.
At least, that’s the explanation that I came up with!
I’m curious about the different effects that regeneration has on Time Lords. For the Doctor, a regeneration always seems to come after some traumatic fatal injury or illness, and temporarily results in erratic behavior and memory loss. For River, it didn’t seem to do this. Unless her manic behavior after her regeneration really wasn’t her natural personality at the time, but a result of her regeneration. The only other Time Lord I remember seeing regenerate (The Master did most of his off-camera. The only one I remember seeing is when he stole the body of Nyssa’s father because he was out of regenerations) was Romana. That was due to her deciding to change her form, rather than any physical need. So, it’s hard to truly compare regenerations for Time Lords, and see what is normal and what isn’t. But it was interesting to me that the Doctor’s are usually so debilitating, yet River was pretty fine after hers.
The manic behavior at the beginning of her time as River could have been from the regeneration, and could explain why she went from killing the Doctor to saving him with her remaining regenerations. Because I found it a little hard to swallow that she went from being so crazy to being so touched by the Doctor’s compassion and desire to save his friends that she ended up saving him. But if she was calming down and settling down after her regeneration, then it would make more sense to me that she would be more open to saving the Doctor, when she had just tried to kill him.
I do hope they address something with Amy and Rory – Amy, especially – just accepting that they have lost any chance at having their baby back. Would they really do that so easily? This is one of those questions that has the potential to be answered down the line, so I’m willing to wait, but I really do hope that Moffat addresses it, somehow. Making River Amy and Rory’s daughter was pretty gutsy and bold, but he needs to deal with it seriously, because watching Amy and Rory just shrug off what happened to their child is going to be difficult for me to swallow.
I’ve seen some complaints about the Doctor asking for Rory’s permission to hug Amy and how misogynistic that is. But I disagree. Amy’s never been portrayed as a woman who is afraid to stick up for herself and what she wants, so if it were something that bothered her, I think that she would have said something by now. For me, I always thought it was a nice acknowledgement of respect towards Rory’s feelings. Not that Amy is his property, and he needs to give permission for her to do something, but it’s respect for the fact that Rory is Amy’s husband, now, and there have been times in the past when his feelings have been hurt over Amy’s relationship with the Doctor, often due to Amy’s lack of sensitivity. There’s no interference on Rory’s part in Amy and the Doctor’s relationship, or their closeness, and there’s no asking of permission that they continue to be friends. It’s more an acknowledgement that Rory is Amy’s husband, and a reassurance to him that there is nothing romantic between the Doctor and Amy. I think it’s nice. There are too many instances on television where you see one side of a couple being insensitive to the other, over their relationship with someone else, and the person who is upset is supposed to be silent and just take it because they are “too” sensitive or something. In this case, it’s nice to see someone’s insecurities being acknowledged and quietly reassured, and still keeping intact all of the relationships between the three players involved.
There are some amusing little moments as River’s little digs at the Doctor come back to her. When she asks who River is, the Doctor replies, “Spoilers,” something that River would always do to him. When she greets him with “Hello, Benjamin,” it’s a line from the movie, The Graduate, and echoes back to the Doctor calling her “Mrs. Robinson”, a character from that movie, in 6.01, “The Impossible Astronaut”.
All in all, there are some questions left unanswered and some threads that were sadly not mentioned again, but it’s a great episode and follows along this season’s plot of who River is and what happens with the Doctor quite nicely!
Mels: You said he was funny. You never said he was hot.
The Doctor: Sorry. Hello. Doctor not following this; Doctor very lost! You never said I was hot?
Mels: Well, let’s see: You’ve got a time machine; I’ve got a gun. What the hell; let’s kill Hitler.
Amelia: Why are you always in trouble? You’re the most in trouble out of the whole school, except for boys.
Mels: And you.
Amelia: I count as a boy.
Mels: It’s all right for you. You’ve got Mr. Perfect keeping you up.
Amy: He’s not even real, just a stupid dream I made up when I was a kid.
Mels: I wasn’t talking about him.
Amy: What, Rory? How have I got Rory?
Rory: Yeah. How has she got me?
Amy: He’s not mine.
Rory: No. No, I’m not hers.
Mels: Oh, come on. Seriously, it’s got to be you two. Ugh, cut to the song; it’s getting boring.
Amy: Nice thought. Okay, but it’s completely impossible.
Rory: Yeah. Impossible.
Amy: I’d love to, he’s gorgeous, he’s my favourite guy, but he’s, you know, gay.
Rory [at the same time]: A friend. [pause] I’m not gay.
Amy: Yes, you are.
Rory: No, no, I’m not.
Amy: Of course you are; don’t be stupid. In the whole time that I’ve known you, when have you shown the slightest interest in a girl?
Mels: Penny nearer.
Amy: What? I’ve known you for ten years. I’ve seen you practically every day. Name one girl you’ve paid the slightest attention to. [Rory stares at her for a second then runs out. Amy realizes what has been staring her in the face and runs after him, calling his name.] Mels: And the penny drops.
Amy: Where are we?
The Doctor: A room.
Rory: What room?
The Doctor: I don’t know what room. I haven’t memorized every room in the universe, yet. I had yesterday off!
The Doctor: Oh, hello, sorry, is this your office? Had a sort of collision with my vehicle. Faults on both sides. Let’s say nothing more about it.
The Doctor: You named your daughter after your daughter.
Mels: It took me years to find you two. I’m so glad I did. You see? It all worked out in the end, didn’t it? You got to raise me, after all.
River: Who is River Song?
The Doctor: Spoilers.
Rory: Does anybody else find this day just a bit difficult? I’m getting this sort of banging in my head.
Amy: Yeah, I think that’s Hitler in the cupboard.
Rory: What’s wrong with you? What has she done to you?
The Doctor: Poisoned me. But I’m fine. Well, no, I’m dying, but I’ve got a plan!
Amy: What plan?
The Doctor: Not dying. See? Fine!
The Doctor: Extractor fans on! Oh, that works!
German Officer: What are you doing here?
River: Well, I was on my way to this gay, Gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled, when I suddenly thought, “Gosh, the Third Reich is a bit rubbish. I think I’ll kill the Führer.” Who’s with me?
Amy: Can you ride a warbike?
Rory: I expect so. It’s that sort of day.
The Doctor: Voice interface, come on, emergency!
TARDIS hologram coming on, in the form of Eleven: Voice interface enabled.
The Doctor: No, no, no, no, no! Come on. Give me someone I like! [Changes to Rose’s form] Thanks! Give me guilt! [Changes to Martha’s form] Also guilt! [Changes to Donna’s form] More guilt! Come on. There must be someone left in the universe I haven’t screwed up, yet!
TARDIS hologram as Amelia: Voice interface enabled.
The Doctor: Oh, Amelia Pond, before I got it all wrong. My sweet little Amelia.
Rory: Okay, okay. I’m trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I’m really trying not to see this as a metaphor.
River: Are you serious?
The Doctor: Never knowingly. Never knowingly be serious: Rule 27.
River: He said no one could save him, but he must have know that I could.
The Doctor: Rule 1: The Doctor lies.
You can watch this episode, and the rest of season six of Doctor Who, on Amazon.com.