For all the worrying about Steven Moffat’s dependence on timey-wimeyness, the final episode of the sixth series of Doctor Who, “The Wedding of River Song,” is beautiful, emotional, and most importantly, it makes sense. Whether you think the season was troubled as a whole or not, this finale was truly satisfying.
At the top of the episode, all of time is happening all at once, which is causing it to disintegrate. The Doctor knows he’s going to die soon, but is going on a wild quest to discover why. And then there’s River, who has caused the disintegration of time because she couldn’t bring herself to kill The Doctor. Love makes us kind of crazy, doesn’t it?
I was thrilled that Moffat’s solution to The Doctor’s death was the “robot run by miniature people” from “Let’s Kill Hitler.” All signs were pointing clearly to either a Ganger Doctor or a robot one, and Moffat went with the less obvious choice, which worked really well. His script not only did this well and provided each of the characters with closure and development, but it did so in one episode, rather than as a two-parter. And then there were the teasers for the future, of course….
The question: “Doctor who?” One of our readers, Pendard, deserves kudos for that one, as he was the first to bring that up as a possibility in the comments of my last review. I don’t have a prize, but consider yourself virtually patted on the back. The Doctor is alive, but The Silence are not gone, and we have a whole new story to look forward to involving The Fall of the Eleventh and the Fields of Trenzalor and the First Question Hidden in Plain Sight. This is his best episode since “Blink,” precisely because it manages to be entertaining and thorough while also being tight and precise.
The Doctor has always been someone who defies the universe to challenge him. (“Well, [time] has never laid a glove on me!”) I love that, in this episode, he is the man who will fight until the very end more resolutely than ever. However, his resolution is deeply shaken when he hears about the death of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. (What a wonderful tribute to Nicholas Courtney!) In that moment, we see that The Doctor realizes that there’s no point in going on forever if the people you care about can’t go with you. Struck by the Brigadier’s mortality, The Doctor decides to give in to his own destiny and be okay with dying.
But not for long, because he just can’t resist the idea of being a Doctor in a Doctor Suit and showing the likes of time and the universe that he will not be beaten!
However, River, with her blind (slightly sociopathic) love for The Doctor, forces him into “dying” a second time. This time, however, The Doctor gets to die the right way. It’s always been his M.O. to inspire other people to be their best selves by trusting and believing in them. By dying and not confiding in the person he loves most to have the strength to act, he wasn’t being The Doctor. So, the second time around, he gives River what she needs to give her the strength to be willing to kill him. He marries her, and confides in her. He trusts her enough to put himself entirely in her hands. He could have easily just grabbed her again once Amy uncuffed him, but he didn’t. Instead, he showed her she was worthy of being in on something like this with him. He gambled and he was right to trust her. This episode took a journey through every aspect of The Doctor’s personality, and it was fascinating.
I hope we see River again, as this episode cemented how much I love her. However, even if we never see River Song again, she was given some beautiful resolution. The fact that she’s been keeping all these secrets because The Doctor himself told her to; the fact that all she wanted was for The Doctor to trust her the way she trusted him unconditionally; and the fact that she shared his biggest secret with her parents who are also his best friends; all of these things grounded and explained her motivations completely. She is now someone who is best friends with her parents and who gets to spend the rest of her life with The Doctor. Not a bad life!
Amy has always had difficulty with her emotions, and more often than not chooses to bury them and hide behind a tough exterior. Many viewers have complained of the fact that she hardly ever mentioned her baby. This episode provided her with closure on that score in a way that was entirely character-appropriate. She’s never mentioned her baby, because it was just too much. But put her in the same room with the woman who kept her imprisoned then kidnapped her baby in order to brainwash her and turn her into a sociopath, and she kills without hesitation. All of the emotion she’s held in is released all at once in a single, cold action. River didn’t get it all from you, sweetie. But she isn’t entirely unrepentant, feeling guilty even an entire timeline away, and this speaks to the other side of Amy Pond. The part that genuinely cares for people. In my opinion, that’s the main difference between mother and daughter. River wouldn’t have been sorry about killing Madame Kovarian.
Steven Moffat as Showrunner
While this episode was very strong, and while I’ve always believed that his River storyline would eventually have a point, I don’t necessarily think he did a great job as showrunner this year. He is expert at writing single Doctor Who stories, but trying to spread his latest puzzle-box story over an entire series spread it too thin this time, often relying on tacked-on elements that explained an otherwise unrelated episode’s connection to the main story arc. A storyteller like Moffat should either be capable of selecting stories/scripts based on their thematic similarity to the main story arc, or he should just write all the episodes himself. Aaron Sorkin did that for The West Wing! Then again, he had a coke problem.
In any case, the cast was brilliant all around, the script was wonderful, and it was a satisfying ending to an uneven season.
Teresa Jusino knows better than to destroy time and space for any one man. She can be heard on the popular Doctor Who podcast, 2 Minute Time Lord, participating in a roundtable on Series 6.1. Her “feminist brown person” take on pop culture has been featured on websites like ChinaShopMag.com, PinkRaygun.com, Newsarama, and PopMatters.com. Her fiction has appeared in the sci-fi literary magazine, Crossed Genres; she is the editor of Beginning of Line, the Caprica fan fiction site; and her essay “Why Joss is More Important Than His ‘Verse” is included in Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them, which is on sale now wherever books are sold! 2012 will see Teresa’s work in two upcoming sci-fi anthologies. Get Twitterpated with Teresa,“like” her on Facebook, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.