Jun 13 2011 6:02pm

Doctor Who S6, Ep 7: “A Good Man Goes to War”

Doctor Who episode

I’m very lucky that I can compartmentalize. A lot of reviewers don’t do this, and when their viewing experience is hampered by unfortunate conditions, it often taints their reviews, which reflects negatively on a show/film that might otherwise have been considered very good. You’ll be hearing about my hampered viewing experience in another post, which I believe will also reflect the viewing experience of many people on this side of the (Amy) Pond.

However, I am happy to report that the final episode in the first half of Series 6 of Doctor Who was solid, both from an emotional and a plot standpoint. It also featured a big reveal that wasn’t really as big a reveal as all that, a couple of gay soldiers, and a lesbian Silurian.

Spoilers below!

Doctor Who episode

After the troubling cliffhanger at the end of “The Almost People,” “A Good Man Goes to War” shows Amy having given birth to a baby girl she names Melody (Pond! Oh, poor Rory...). She’s being held prisoner by Madame Kovarian (the artist formerly known as Silver Eye or Eyepatch Lady, played by Frances Barber) along with her soldiers and the Headless Monks (great band name) on an asteroid base called Demon’s Run, so named for what happens when a good man goes to war (the demons, they run).

Speaking of good men who make people run, The Doctor, in his effort to save Amy and her child, enlists the help of beings from many different species who owe him a favor. These include a Sontaran nurse; Silurians led by Madame Vastra and her human companion, Jenny; a couple of Judoon; and an old, blue black market trader, Dorium Maldova. Meanwhile, Rory discovers Amy’s location by being a badass and storming a Cyberman base by himself in his Centurion garb (he should only wear that ever). The Doctor attempts to recruit River Song to his effort, but she doesn’t go, telling Rory that this is the day The Doctor finds out who she is. The Doctor’s army gains some unexpected help from one of Kovarian’s soliders, Lorna Bucket (Christina Chong), who had met The Doctor when she was a little girl growing up in the Gamma forests. She makes Melody a good luck cloth with her name written in the language of her people and gives it to Amy, who accepts it after initial skepticism, and warns Lorna to be on the right side of The Doctor when he inevitably comes for her.

Doctor Who episode

Just when The Doctor thinks he’s outsmarted Kovarian and her forces, he realizes that Amy’s baby isn’t actually Amy’s baby, but a Flesh baby. He tries to warn Amy, but not only gets to Amy too late to warn her, but too late to prevent much of his forces from suffering fatal injuries. When River appears, The Doctor is furious at her for not having arrived to help sooner. That is, until she reveals who she really is, which makes him darn near giddy with delight.

River is Amy and Rory’s daughter.

She also has Time Lord DNA, was likely the girl in the spacesuit in “The Impossible Astronaut” and “The Day of the Moon,” and can regenerate.

But we don’t really know that for sure. All we know for sure is her parentage, and that she and The Doctor have a romantic relationship. We still don’t know why she will be so important to The Doctor beyond that romantic relationship. Does she kill him in “The Impossible Astronaut?” Is that why she ends up in the StormCage, or was it something else? And in what incarnation has The Doctor been going on all these trips with her?

I love how Steven Moffat tells us huge things without really telling us anything at all.

Kudos to Moffat for including not only a gay couple (Thin One and Fat One), but also a lesbian couple (Madame Vastra and Jenny). Especially wonderful was the raunchy humor he managed to sneak in. When Madame Vastra says to Jenny “I don’t know why you keep me around,” she then flicks her ridiculously long, reptilian tongue out to kill someone, then retracts it and looks knowingly at Jenny. I died. Also, I’m one of many people in the camp that believes that Madame Vastra and Jenny should have their own crimefighting spin-off show. Expect a “Moffat’s Women” column about them soon.

Doctor Who episode

The best thing about the episode was the feeling that we’re involved in an Epic Story. From the rapid-fire opening to the revelation of River’s parents, from Rory’s heroism to The Doctor’s comeuppance, to the entire thing revolving around a fought-over child, this episode felt like a Big Story that is passed down from generation to generation. It felt like a fable that should have always existed, and now does. Moffat used a made-up nursery rhyme in “The Beast Below” in Series 5. Here, he has River recite a poem about Demon’s Run, which adds to the feeling of this being an actual legend.

One of the big differences between Series 5 and Series 6 so far is that Series 5 seemed to be more fairytale-like. It felt more like Peter Pan. So far, Series 6 feels more like The Odyssey.

Moffat gave us, in Lorna Bucket, a wonderful counterpoint to the argument River makes against The Doctor at the end about the perils of what his being The Oncoming Storm mean. Yes, to Lorna, “Doctor” means “warrior,” but it doesn’t inspire fear in her, it inspires hope. The title of the episode is “A Good Man Goes to War,” and The Doctor is that good man.

Doctor Who episode

And here is the tricky thing, which a friend of mine brought up and has given me much food for thought, because it seemed out-of-character to me, too, when watching the episode. River makes a huge production about how all of these horrible events are The Doctor’s fault, and how he needs to change his behavior or things are going to get worse. Yet, the fact of his being The Oncoming Storm is something that she’s bragged about before in her future (his past). Also, let’s remember that the species he stops are often doing horrible wrongs and, if left to their own devices, would leave the universe worse off than when they found it. It seems strange for River to lay blame at The Doctor’s feet knowing that, and having been his #1 cheerleader up until this point. It could be that in her future, because she’s older, she’s better able to reconcile his contradictions. Still, she has that special diary of hers. It isn’t as if she doesn’t already know what happens and how The Doctor will act in key situations. Perhaps she’s making this argument on purpose to get him to do something she knows he needs to do? It was the one moment in the episode that felt false, but Moffat usually doesn’t waste words, so I anticipate that there is a reason for this “mistake.”

The performances were amazing across the board. Matt Smith continues to soar as The Doctor, and Karen Gillan’s Amy was heartbreaking. We’ve seen Amy be on her guard before, or suspicious of the world, but here we see her absolutely defeated. Hollowed out like a Halloween Jack-O-Lantern only to be slapped in the face by life again, this time with the happy (if weird) surprise that River is her daughter, meaning that her Melody will be kept safe. Alex Kingston as River did something beautiful here that we’ve never seen before. For the first time, when she is looking at Amy and Rory, we see innocence and openness. She’s still a mystery wrapped in an enigma, but we see in her face as she reveals herself to her parents the little girl she talks about when she talks about her history with The Doctor; the little girl that’s going to be swept off her feet one day. Lastly, Arthur Darvill as Rory was a revelation. He was at once an action hero and a sensitive father. The scene when the Sontaran nurse is dying and Rory insists that he’s a warrior only to be told “I’m a nurse,” was breathtaking. In Rory’s face we see the determination of a man who believes that being a nurse and being a warrior are not mutually exclusive. Rory is a man who is both.

And now, we have to wait all summer for the rest of this tale, which is just as well as there’s already plenty here to sink our teeth into!  Here’s to killing Hitler in the fall!

Teresa Jusino wants a Rory in Centurion Garb of her very own. She can be seen as the teen geek in the current Bordertown book trailer. Her “feminist brown person” take on pop culture has been featured on websites like,, Newsarama, and Her fiction has appeared in the sci-fi literary magazine, Crossed Genres; she is the editor or 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, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.

1. Aqua
"Should i repeat the question?" = Awesomeness.
Elias Rangel
2. erangel
Amazing episode indeed! Even the pirates came to the party.
@Teresa I didn't knew there was a such a big fan reaction to Madame Vastra. I did a quick google search and even found a Facebook page.
3. wandering-dreamer
I like the comparison between season five and peter pan and season six and the odyssey, I had heard of the peter pan analogy before but this one seems to work even better.
Also, I don't think it's actually that comforting that Melody is River (I was surprised at how much I like this idea though, I'm just having a lot of fridge horror about it). I mean, if River=girl in spacesuit then she's been raised without her parents, probably kills the Doctor (or flesh!Doctor or Whoever that was) and generally has a pretty awful childhood. I mean, if Amy and Rory saw her grow to adulthood then they wouldn't need her to tell them who she is, they would know eventually and that worries me.
And on a final note, I can't get over the fact that River was concieved on the Tardis (if Moffat and Neil are anything to go by, on the ladder to the bunkbed too XD), ie her significant other's space/time ship and her parents are good friends, I can't believe I haven't seen that much fanart about Rory freaking out all over this yet.
Sean Fagan
4. sef
Hm, I don't think River Song was saying the Dr shouldn't do the things he does -- but that he should be aware of the results of them. Not just in getting the job done, but what happens elsewhere -- the human aspect, to put it one way.

Aqua: one of the many amazing things Moffat did in this episode was that he managed to make Rory SCARY. And completely in character.
Charles Dunkley
5. cedunkley
Considering the Doctor asked who Lorna was after she died I was wondering if - while she met him when she was a child a long time ago - he hasn't met her as a child yet. Will he be going back in time to the Gamma Forest? Will that be where he goes looking for Melody? It would be cool to see the younger counterpart to Lorna just as we originally met Amelia at the beginning of Season 5.

Overall, this was a fantasic episode. I loved the look on River's face when Rory came to visit her at StormCage to recruit her to help. Alex plays River so wonderfully. She had some of her best moments in this episode.

And Matt Smith just keeps getting better and better as the Doctor. The Eleventh Doctor may just yet end up being my favorite of them all when all is said and done. And that is no easy accomplishment.
6. Tatterbots
Delighted to see your review. I too was puzzled by River's telling off the Doctor at the end. It seems like his great fall hasn't happened yet. I can't think what on earth it's got to do with Hitler, but I bet it's going to be fun finding out.

This is a nitpick, but please can you take the apostrophe out of Demons Run? I just checked the teaser article the Radio Times printed at the beginning of the season, and it doesn't have one.
8. WonderGirl
As I see it, one of the things that gives Who depth is that the Doctor is such a mythic figure--wizard, trickster god, savior, man of constant sorrow--and I loved it that AGMGTW addressed this, then made me rethink just how problematic the myth can be. When the Doctor can do whatever seems to rectify the situation and then go swanning off, it's all too easy for him to escape consequences, but it looks like some pretty substantial consequences are building up now.

"Let's Kill Hitler"? Oh, Moffat. Now you're just trolling.
Helen Peters
9. Helen
My favorite part? When Amy is telling Melody that her dad is on the way, that he would always find them, that he's feared in the universe (forgive me if that bit's wrong, it was over a week ago I saw it); I love the way we were left guessing was the Doctor the baby's father?? I had no doubts before this that Rory was the dad, but it left me thinking...hang on, can't be, then she said 'and he's better known as'... short pause when my brain screamed NO!!!! can't be; and she finishes 'the last centurian'; YAY!!! Rory is a force to be reckoned with in the whole of the universe!
10. cranscape
I think River's journal is her writing down the events as they happen to her. I don't think it is a complete book or she could look ahead for spoilers she hasn't even experience yet. They are just so she knows where the Doctor is at compared to where she is at. She adds to it after the events happen to her. They are her timeline.

It seems as though the Doctor doesn't fix things so that River gets to grow up with her parents, but then again wouldn't that be robbing River of who she is if they did that? River in her death scene does not want a single word rewritten. While it sucks for Amy and Rory being completely rewritten would suck for River much worse. The good and the bad make up a person. River, and adult (and on who knows what regeneration...the little girl regenerated so this River isn't how the baby would have grown up looking), redeems herself from whatever she does and that is part of her story. If anything the Doctor is happy at the end because seeing grown up River alive and reasonably well means that they somehow win. Maybe. It's hope at least. Not sure what Amy will make of it all.

I'm thinking the Doctor doesn't run into River again until she is at least 18 because otherwise their future relationship would be a bit ick. And with that thought -- he doesn't have to run into a River who looks like ours. Our River has regenerated at least once if not more times.

All in all I liked it. Rory got to be heroic which really completes his character development, River got to give the Doctor a lashing instead of constantly taking one (because honestly, his hubris to this old school fan is a bit much. You can win the day without being such a demigod as New Who has made him out to be. Ten more than Eleven, but even Eleven has had his moments.) and did you see the Silurian Lesbian couple? We'll be seeing them again I hope. Too bad she wasn't Jenny Two or something. Miss a chance there, Moff.
11. JCHicks
Seems like I'm in the minority in thinking this episode was good but not extraordinary.

My biggest complaint is that the buildup was so much bigger than the payoff. We were promised war, and rising higher/falling farther, and "God help us if you make him angry" (paraphrasing there). Then we got an ambush and a trap and a ganger baby, and that's about it. Yes, the reveal on River was well-done. As for the rest of the episode, I think I would have really enjoyed it if Moffat hadn't built up my expectations so high. But he did, and the battle was not All That, and I was disappointed.
12. John R. Ellis
This wasn't the pay-off, this is part one of a two-part story. Come fall, I'm sure we'll better be able to judge if the promises are kept or not.
Ursula L
13. Ursula
Now I'm wanting to have a re-watch discussion, going back through the River episodes and looking at her character with the knowledge that she's related to Amy and Rory.

I'm rather worried that the next half season will wind up a bit like the "missing Mulder" problems of the last season of the X-Files. I don't see Amy and Rory running about and adventuring with baby Melody in a backpack character. I also have my doubts about a half-dozen episodes of intensive searching for the baby. But having them running about adventuring as if nothing is wrong would be horrible.
14. JCHicks
@12: AGMGTW is a story within itself as well as being part of a larger arc. I'm not talking about that overall arc, which I expect will play out over several more episodes, but about this one specific incident at Demons Run. It's great that it worked for other people, but it didn't work for me.
Ursula L
15. Ursula
Also, at the beginning - River's reaction to Rory ask her if they'd met yet was just breathtaking, in retrospect.
16. Makarra
The Rory/River scene was my favorite bit of the show. She is just so breathlessly, girlishly excited to be talking to her father. I loved it.

Edit: why did I write book? long day.
Ursula L
17. Ursula
See, I took the scene with Rory and River as being painful for River. She's talking to her own father, and he doesn't know her. Her father is begging her to come help save her mother, and she has to say "no."

Every time River has talked to Rory and Amy about how hard it is that the Doctor doesn't know her well yet, or how heartbroken she'll be when he doesn't know her at all, she's been very much holding back on how difficult it is that they don't know her yet, either.
Richard Chapling
18. Chappers
Was no one else bothered by the katana being stored the wrong way up? (For those who don't know, katana are stored sharp edge-up for the obvious reason that they can go blunt otherwise.)

Oh, the rest of the episode? Nice to see Rory getting to be a proper hero again at last. And it didn't really seem like the Doctor fell further than ever before, so maybe that's still to come.

And there's still the question of exactly when, how and where Amy was captured, which hopefully they'll address...
19. Aaron Sherman
You make the assumption that the "Good Man" from the title is The Doctor. I think that's probably true... to an extent.

However, I think it also refers to Rory, who dons his centurian uniform (well... sort of "his") for the first time since he was synthetic.

When we first meet River (or is it later when she shows up to fight the Angels?) she explains that she's in jail for killing a man... "a very good man" and a "hero to many." And now a "good man goes to war." I imagine I can stop beating you about the head with that, now.

When River of the future (at the start of AGMGTW) meets Rory she gets very sad and tells him that she can't go with him, and that she can't be there until the end. That means she knew what would happen. The River we see showing up isn't sad to see Rory at all, and she obviously doesn't know how her actions are going to play out.

I don't think it's The Doctor that she kills, so that leaves only one option. The question, then, is why will our young half-breed Time Lord kill Rory? There are, of course, a practically infinite number of reasons she might, but I'm guessing that it would have to involve saving the life of either The Doctor or Amy.
20. Dr. Cox
The character Dorium Maldova reminded me of the character Sydney Greenstreet portrayed in Casablanca.
Yes . . . we know who River is but . . . why the transposing of first name/last name transposition? How did the character go from Melody Pond to River Song?
If she is the girl in the astronaut suit and she did kill the Doctor, is it the Doctor or another ganger? Or will there be a flashback to that scene when the show finally ends, no matter how many regenerations the Doctor has gone through? There was a line in "The Doctor's Wife," that made me think there'd be more than twelve . . . something Idris said about how the TARDIS looked different over thirty regenerations or something??? Can't remember the line . . . .
So many questions for the writers to address . . . whether they really answer them or not, lol . . . next season! :)
Noneo Yourbusiness
21. Longtimefan
I apologize for being confused but I do not get BBC America so I have not seen much of this season. I do have a question though,

How is the daughter of Amy and Rory half time lord? I do not remember Amy or Rory being a time lord. Is there something I have missed in this or other reviews?
Ursula L
22. Ursula
The explanation given was that Melody was concieved in the TARDIS, while it was in flight through the vortex, and that affected her. There was also some suggestion that Amy's captors were experimenting on her to increase the effect, because they wanted a child with Time-Lord like abilities to control.

My thought is that, for biological reasons, the effect comes more from the long-term effect of having both parents traveling on the TARDIS. The effect of the time travel on the development of egg and sperm, and the early growth of an embryo being important, rather than the exact location at the time of the intercourse which led to the conception, which is what the story suggested.
JOhn Johnson
23. smileyman
@19 it also refers to Rory, who dons his centurian uniform (well... sort of "his") for the first time since he was synthetic

This isn't quite true. He has worn his centurion uniform one other time . . .

I loved this episode and don't get the fan reaction to it being anti-climatic. I don't understand people who say that the Doctor didn't fall, when I think he clearly did.

To have a Silurian tell him that anger isn't a good thing and that he's been turned into a horror story that mothers use to frighten children was a dash of reality to him like nothing else has been. He should've learned this lesson in The Pandorica Opens, but he didn't, so he had to learn it again.

He let anger consume him as he planned this operation. He blew up an entire Cyberman legion just to make a point. He was close to losing control of his anger in a way that we've never seen before, and it made him miss critical information. He didn't see the trap that Madame Kovarian sprung on him, and he got Commander Strax, Lorna, and Doriam killed due to his anger.

Basically he's become the opposite of what he set out to be, and his reaction both in the control room after realizing what Madame Vasta had said to him, as well as his approaching Amy in such a tentative way was heartbreaking to view.

That was his lowest hour, seeing himself as the opposite of what he wanted to be, not having his true love (River?) with him, and losing his friends in Amy and Rory.

Also I'm really excited to think that the Doctor might be a father, based on the episode and what Alex Kingston says in the confidential for this episode.
JOhn Johnson
24. smileyman
@ 20 Yes . . . we know who River is but . . . why the transposing of first name/last name transposition? How did the character go from Melody Pond to River Song?

Simple disguise I think. Plus the clue was given in The Doctor's Wife where Idris gave the line "The only water in the forest is a river." The Gamma people have no name for pond so they transposed it to River, and it's a simple thing to transpose Melody to Song. Also in many cultures the surname goes first while the given name goes last.

When River told Rory that it was her birthday that's when I knew that she was their daughter.
Kevin Connolly
25. Cross777
This entire episode made no sense. I don't mind some plot holes in a good story, but this was swiss chesse. I won't even start on the River/Melody stuff...

The Doctor is a Timelord why make Amy wait nine+ months before a rescue? Why dress Rory as a centurian when that didn't happen in the re-booted universe? Why in the world would the Doctor need an army? (and not care when they get killed - he only seemed to care about the soldier girl) And how the heck could Madame Kovarian not only track but send information across time and space?
Ursula L
26. Ursula
I took the Doctor having Rory dress as a centurion as being a psychological help for Rory.

Rory said that he usually tries to keep his memories of his years as a centurion, guarding Amy in the Pandorica, closed, as if by a door in his head. I have my doubts that this is as successful as Rory would like it to be. But still, Rory would much rather remember his years as a nurse than his centuries as a warrior.

But now, the Doctor needs Rory to be a warrior. He has to open that door, and let his training and understanding of military matters out. Amy needs her Centurion to guard and save her again.

Putting on the armor is a tangible reminder to Rory of everything that he normally tries to keep shut away.


There is also the question of what the larger world knows about Rory, the Last Centurion. In the shattered universe of "The Big Bang" he was a legendary icon, known in many cultures as being utterly dedicated to protecting Amy in the Pandorica. In the rebooted universe, he probably shouldn't be known at all.

But Amy's mind and memories were involved in the reboot of the universe. And the story of Rory guarding her and waiting for her meant everything to Amy, as she read it in the Museum in the broken universe. To what extent did her memory of this affect the reboot of the universe? If she could bring back living people who had been forgotten, why not a legend or myth?

So if the legend of the Lone Centurion is known, then Rory putting on that costume would affect their allies and enemies, as they'd see a heroic figure that was important in their culture and history, rather than ordinary-looking Rory.

And face it, Rory in khakis and a polo shirt would not have worked at all to intimidate a Cyber-Legion.
29. Becadroit
Previous blog commentators were asking about why The Doctor stopped the Flesh connection when he did. My thoughts were - because 1) it's a good idea to be conscious while giving birth and 2) someone is about to steal that baby your giving birth to. And as much as Kovarian was monitoring the Flesh Amy, he was monitoring her.
As for the Doctor to take as long as he did...he had to meet the child, then he lost the Tardis then he had to figure out how Flesh worked. He therefore KNEW he had nine months . Also he didn't want to take an army into a possible war and endanger both the pregnant woman and the child. He hates people messing around with minds as they are delicate, how much more delicate when there are two lives at stake? He knew while Amy was pregnant she was safe. Easier to do the rescue thing at the very last minute (like he always does).
As for the transposed name, it was a double sided leaf. On one side is Song /Melody on the other is Pond/River, there was no indication about which name was first - also can't assume the Forest people's names work like that. And finally it's a cipher - it stands for who River is - her life backwards to the Doctor's (and therefore in part Rory and Amy). Melody Pond one way, River Song from a different perspective.
Awesome revelation. River breaks my heart but now it's also about what Amy and Rory gain and lose. Yes they have their daughter and she is cool, but they lose her childhood....maybe.
Did anyone else think it was a very interesting view of religion...headless monks that believe with their hearts but don't register as alive...a papal mainframe (Awesome!)....very much a battle about feeling and intellect but not the obvious 'fight'.
The Doctor battles his anger, the soldiers must face their fears. The Sontaran Nurse battles & comes to terms with his identity. Rory and Amy fight for their child and to be together. ..and their child battles every instinct she has to tell them who she is so she waits until the time is right.
What next...child Melody/River needs to meet the Doctor and he either needs to rewrite her life or they get to the point where (a) Future Doctor is killed by the person in the Space Suit....or not. You know Timey Whimey Stuff.
30. helbel
The Doctor is not a good man, that's why he has his rules of engagment. Rory is the good man who went to war.
31. Soloce
@17 & 19 -- I took River's refusal to attend as the knowledge that she could not cross her own time line at first. But then the baby is Flesh, so is it really her timeline? And 19 brings up a great point that the River who shows up is at a different time period than the earlier River. I think it's an interesting point, but can't think of a good plot reason for such a tricky thing (not clearly indicated in the script). Happy to be corrected though.
Ursula L
32. Ursula
I took the Doctor having Rory dress as a centurion as being a psychological help for Rory.
Rory said that he usually tries to keep his memories of his years as a centurion, guarding Amy in the Pandorica, closed, as if by a door in his head. I have my doubts that this is as successful as Rory would like it to be. But still, Rory would much rather remember his years as a nurse than his centuries as a warrior.
But now, the Doctor needs Rory to be a warrior. He has to open that door, and let his training and understanding of military matters out. Amy needs her Centurion to guard and save her again.
Putting on the armor is a tangible reminder to Rory of everything that he normally tries to keep shut away.
There is also the question of what the larger world knows about Rory, the Last Centurion. In the shattered universe of "The Big Bang" he was a legendary icon, known in many cultures as being utterly dedicated to protecting Amy in the Pandorica. In the rebooted universe, he probably shouldn't be known at all.
But Amy's mind and memories were involved in the reboot of the universe. And the story of Rory guarding her and waiting for her meant everything to Amy, as she read it in the Museum in the broken universe. To what extent did her memory of this affect the reboot of the universe? If she could bring back living people who had been forgotten, why not a legend or myth?
So if the legend of the Lone Centurion is known, then Rory putting on that costume would affect their allies and enemies, as they'd see a heroic figure that was important in their culture and history, rather than ordinary-looking Rory.
And face it, Rory in khakis and a polo shirt would not have worked at all to intimidate a Cyber-Legion.
Joseph Kingsmill
33. JFKingsmill16
I was sort of disappointed by this episode. It is really bugging me that most of the people he recruited to help we have never seen or heard of before. It just feels like lazy writing.
Michael Poteet
34. MikePoteet
@33 -- Of course, it could just as easily be argued that it would be "lazy writing" to only bring back characters we've seen before. The Doctor has been gallavanting through space and time for, what, seven centuries? Of course he'd have debts and favors to call in from folks we've never met.

For what it's worth, I thought Madame Vastra was the surviving Silurian sister from last year's "Cold Blood" -- is she not? Why else make a reference to the Doctor having to stop her from avenging her sister (Ayla, right?) in the London Underground? (Now, how that Silurian would've gotten to Victorian England, I don't know -- I just assumed "thereby hangs a tale...")

And even though we saw the Blue Guy in last year's "Pandorica Opens," we don't know what his debt to the Doctor was (do we?). So that counts as kind of new.

Anyway, I think having new characters being in the Doctor's debt only adds to the richness of his universe and mythos. Like those "unknown adventures" in Sherlock Holmes stories. No one complains about Watson alluding to the Giant Rat of Sumatra when there is no such story in the Conan Doyle canon. (Well, I guess some die-hard Sherlockians complain....but!)
35. mutantalbinocrocodile
I thought there were both interesting and underdeveloped aspects of the episode's view of Christianity (and it was Christianity, not "religion" in general). On the one hand, the headless monks were an effective comment on the bad habit of evangelicals, even smart ones, to prize "heart knowledge" over "head knowledge". In the rest of the series, though, I'd like to know more about the mainstream Church. How did Anglicans become militarized? What are their actual religious beliefs? (All we're really told is that gay marriage has been normalized.) And why do they oppose the Doctor? The clerics weren't set up as totally unreasonable villains. I wonder if there will be a decent reason given eventually.
Joseph Kingsmill
36. JFKingsmill16
@34 - I agree that it can be argued either way. It just felt wrong to me. I guess I would have liked it better with a little more background to these characters. When a few of the characters died I felt nothing for them because I had nothing invested in them.

I don't mind not knowing things as long as I know that they will be explained at some point in the future. They have to be careful on how many times or how often they use the "timey whimey" crutch when they need a short cut.
37. Dr. Thanatos
Loved the episode.

Does anyone question whether the Jenny who has the undoubtably soon to be viewable on the internet relationship with the silurian is likely to be the same Jenny who sends the Doctor a card on Father's Day?
38. cranscape
I thought it might be Jenny Two from the promo stuff (her own character shot and the repeated name...sigh) but she doesn't seem to even recognise the Tardis. On the other hand, for a Victorian girl she had no problem with time travel or headless monks and stuff. At least not on film. They need to stop repeating names. Simple solution.
39. cranscape

There were similar clerics in the angel episodes last season. So, just like anyone else, they can do good or bad and much of that is on perspective. The last episode clearly showed they viewed the Doctor as a threat and not a force of good in the universe. In the past there were other Time Lords to keep things in check. Now they are making one to do just that it seems.
40. Dr. Thanatos
I think it's interesting that I am not the only one who thought of Rory as the Good Man who Goes to War; much as Amy's bedtime story showed that many of the things that can be said of the Doctor can also be said of Rory.

Having said that, does anyone want to discuss the fact that River keeps telling us she was in jail for killing the best man she ever knew? And how creepy would it be if that referred to her father?

BTW If this is Daughter Jenny, could it be early in her timeline where she hadn't seen a TARDIS yet?

BBTW I'm still obsessed with tying things up in nice little knots and planning the Who Thanksgiving Dinner with Doctor and River Who hosting The and Jenny Master and their daughter Susan not to mention Amy and Rory who are now revealed to be the Doctor's in-laws that?]
41. mutantalbinocrocodile

None of the episodes which featured the clerics have done a lot of worldbuilding. I still think they're in need of fleshing out.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
42. tnh
How to justify transposing Melody Pond/River Song's names? Easy -- a lot of cultures put the surname first and the personal name second.

Cranscape, Mutantalbinocrocodile -- So far, I think it's more fun that the clerics aren't explained. It leaves room to imagine all kinds of strange things about them.
43. cranscape
Considering the crusades and ups and downs of any religion I am not surprised by the clerics in Doctor Who. I don't really want a history lesson on how they came to be. You'd have to know how they were 500 years before and then 500 years before that and so on and that would be a bore. It's not like any other new group they run into must explain its existence. Given enough time anything can happen. I'm sure someone from the 1500s might look at mega-churches and wonder what they hell was going on. A big shift over an even greater period of time isn't something unbelievable to me that needs an explanation. A militarized religion least of all.

Besides, there is a point where things in the 51st century and beyond just exist. Scifi does it all the time. Kind of like how Firefly 'verse is influenced by China although there is not a single Asian actor on it. Where did all the Chinese go? Why is everyone using their curse words and act like they are at least %50 of the population when not one appears? Who knows.

An interesting thing: The museum where Amy and the Doctor go before the angel episodes was "the final resting place of the headless monks" as well as the museum. So that asteroid where the starligner box was was the same place where this fight happened only in the far far off future. Second thing: The headless monks and the clerics were just working together this time around. They aren't the same religion.
Ursula L
44. Ursula
As far as the clerics go, they seem, to me, to be more of an exploration of the nature of an established church than an exploration of Christianity.

Aside from the shape of the institution, there doesn't seem to be much that is specifically Christian about them. There is certainly no attempt to tie their military service to Christ's teachings, and they never mention specifically Christian theology.

As the Doctor said when the clerics were first introduced "the Church has moved on." An established church is an arm of the government, and institutions tend to take on new roles as their old ones become obsolete. (E.g., the March of Dimes started out fighting polio, now their focus is on birth defects.)

In a way, it parallels the trasformation of the Doctor's reputation into that of a warrior - the church, an institution that is supposed to be about peace, has also transformed into a thing of war.
45. Sibling
Here's something I just realized recently: Moffat is essentially saying River Song is more Time Lord-ish even than MetacrisisTen, since he couldn't regenerate. Although there's no evidence River has any other major Time Lord abilities (telepathy, two hearts, recognizing/being recognized instantly by other Time Lords, seeing how timelines are supposed to flow, and recognizing anomalies like Jack Harkness).

What I want to know is, when do the Silence show up again? I can't believe they're all done after Day of the Moon -- and after all, there was a Silent at the Doctor's "death" in Utah in 2011. Side note: are we to assume Amy never saw the TV footage of the moon landing before, since she didn't attack the Silent when she saw it?
46. Lil Shepherd
I loved this episode. Indeed, I am not sure whether I think that this or The Doctor's Wife is my favourite of this mini-season.

It does make sense. This whole season has been about identity - and I suspect the final episodes will be too. Also, something I loved about this episode is the way the Doctor is called to account for the type of action that had become so familiar in the RTD/Tennant era. The Doctor is not a god (and how interesting that someone should tell him so in an episode full of religious references) and this is all part, I believe, of Moffat's re-imagining of the Doctor. The changes are coming gradually, but they are profound.

And Matt Smith was stunning in this episode, as was Alex Kingston.

Moffat is on record as saying that you have to explain, but you must never explain everything. This is precisely what he is doing here. There are satisfying explanations, but there are now more mysteries. That is what serial writing is all about.
Michael Poteet
47. MikePoteet
Maybe I've missed it, but has anyone discussed the fact that, when River "dies" in "Forest of the Dead," we don't see her even start to regenerate? I confess I didn't think about this until reminded on another website. But might this argue against her being the child at the end of "Day of the Moon"? (If such is the case, I don't know who the child would be; and certainly the combined human-Time Lord DNA would argue that Melody = the child = River.) Thoughts?
48. Dr. Cox
@mutantalbinocrocodile, Yeah people who value "heart knowledge" over "head knowledge" drive this Christian nuts wherever
they're found . . . and I'm thinking, based on Jesus' words in
Matthew 13:15--" . . . and understand with their heart . . ."--and how in the original Greek the heart, kardia, is the seat of intellect, that maybe there shouldn't be a head/heart dichotomy??? Can we understand with our heart things that we get emotional about as in "No, I do understand that my car won't roll backwards because I've got my foot on the brake even tho' I'm stuck in traffic on a hill but because I'm stuck in traffic on a hill I still feel panicky"?
@smileyman and @becadroit and @tnh, yes, I see what y'all mean about the name transposition.
It would be cool if they brought back Jenny. And I wonder how Eleven would interact with Wilf and vice versa?
As per the episode . . . why'd we see the pirate and son (can't remember their names!) only once???
Josh Smith
49. Master_Moridin
@47 The only real solution I think of is that if they are the same and she has regeneration allotments like normal Time Lords, then perhaps her childhood was so traumatic she was forced to go through all of them before assuming the current version of River we see now.
Charles Dunkley
50. cedunkley
So, what's to stop the Doctor (or Amy or Rory for that matter) getting a hold of a Ganger version of River and downloading her consciousness back out of the library matrix?

On a rewatch of the first two episodes of this Series 6 I noticed that Amy, upon awakening in the captivity of the Silence, attached to that contraption River discovered earlier, believes she has only been unconscious for a few minutes, the same as Miranda's Ganger just after the lightening storm that animated them independently. Pretty cool to catch that the second time around. Makes me wonder what else is being forshadowed even now that we won't realized until later on.
51. mutantalbinocrocodile
Dr. Cox,

More to the point, in Hebrew there's no linguistic head/heart dichotomy at all.
52. Elayne
@47 From what I remember from Forest of the Dead, you see her plug into the comptuer, then it switches the perspective to the doctor who is squinting and shielding his face from this incredibly bright light. She might have started to regenerate and he might not have been able to see it. Whatever it was that killed her also left no trace of her body.

Though she told him in Forest of the dead when he came up with the idea of hooking himself up to the computer " It'll kill you stone dead!" and "It'll stop both of your hearts and don't think you'll regenerate!"

Later on just before she died something like , "You wouldn't have a chance and neither do I" right after he said he would at least have a chance to live if he plugged himself in and she wouldn't. In retrospect, she could be saying neither of us would have a chance to regenerate.
Ursula L
53. Ursula
As per the episode . . . why'd we see the pirate and son (can't remember their names!) only once???

Rory and the Doctor needed someone to capture the ship. So they tracked down the pirates, and the pirates did their pirate-thing and captured the ship for them. There really wasn't any reason to see more of them than that, unless they wanted to get into the bloody business of how pirates actually captured ships.
Teresa Jusino
54. TeresaJusino
MikePoteet @47, Elayne @52 - at the end of "Forest of the Dead" River says to The Doctor "you wouldn't have a chance and neither do I!" before she sacrifices herself.

So, apparently, regeneration isn't possible once you're in that computer? In any case, for some reason, being a Time Lord wouldn't save you if you are in that machine.
Ursula L
55. Ursula
My understanding of River saying "you wouldn't have a chance and neither do I" was that the shock of rebooting the computer was too deadly. She told the Doctor it would burn out both his hearts, not giving him a chance to regenerate.

Being in the machine came later, for her, when the Doctor realized he'd rigged his screwdriver to capture a copy of her mind, and he then uploaded it to the library computer.

The scene of River, in the library computer, reading a bedtime story to the three children is odd. She doesn't strike me as someone who would be happy in such a quiet and domestic situation.

Yet it is very Moffat, to give River that type of heaven. He had the Doctor reboot the universe to give Amy parents and help her become comfortable with domesticity in a way that parentless Amy wasn't, and he gave us Rory, the Last Centurion Action Hero who is utterly cool while crying as he holds his baby and kisses his wife.
56. Pendard
My take on the speech River gives condemning the Doctor for his approach is that he is going to have to do better because for the next little while he's going to be fighting HER. She told him in "The Big Bang" that the moment he found out who she was would be the moment "everything changes," and she tells him here that his enemies "are going to turn her into a weapon" -- not "are going to TRY," but "are going to." I thought she was telling him that her past self was going to become the ultimate weapon to use against the Doctor, and that rather than just defeating her, in the process frightening her so that she would return and try to defeat him again, he would have to do much better -- convince her he was right and make her fall in love with him. Heal her. It's a difficult thing to do for your worst enemy.

Which brings me to the next part of the theory: I think Madame Kovarian will turn out to be a regeneration of River from somewhere between the little girl and the Alex Kingston version. Because, clearly, she's the one in charge here. She was manipulating the Clerics and the Headless Monks, and she's the one who took the baby and gave it to the Silence to raise in the first place. Out of the entire lot, she's the only one clever enough to transmit the control signal to the Flesh Amy wherever the TARDIS was in time and space -- even when it was outside the Universe in "The Doctor's Wife." There's also the little matter of her "interminable war" with the Doctor: he isn't even aware of it, which suggests that Madame Kovarian, like River, has her timeline front-to-back with the Doctor. This means that she's crossing her timeline in a big way in this episode but I don't think it violates the rules of the Who universe in this case, since she's basically fulfilling the time loop that results in her own creation. (River, on the other hand, can't cross her timeline to participate in the rescue mission without disrupting that time loop, and THAT'S when you rip a hole in the universe.)

So basically, I think what River is warning the Doctor is that he's going to have to do a lot more than defeat Madame Kovarian. He'll have to be clever enough to turn this intractable enemy into a woman who loves him enough to give her life for him, and whom he trusts enough to tell the secret of his name, which he's never revealed to anyone. That's a step beyond anything the Doctor has done before!
57. Marian
Spurious question: who runs away from home and takes their cradle with them?
Ursula L
58. Ursula
Spurious question: who runs away from home and takes their cradle with them?

Someone running away with their young granddaughter? Who knows what age Susan was when the Doctor disappeared with her...
59. Pendard
I'm joining the discussion late and people have written a bunch of interesting things I want to reply to!

@Tatterbots (#6): Demon's Run is written with an apostophe on screen at the beginning of the episode, in the subtitle that introduces the location. And I love the fact that the Doctor's victory at Demon's Run is so legendary that the whole asteroid is named after it before it even happens.

@Helen (#9): I also loved that Steven Moffat wasn't above teasing us with the idea that the Doctor was the father of Amy's baby. I never believed anything so soap opera-ish could happen, but a lot of people did, and Moffat rubbed their noses in it, both with the opening speech and the bit about the cradle ("it's mine"). :-)

@cranscape (#10): I don't think the Doctor can rewrite River's timeline so that she grows up with her parents. When he told Vastra that the baby was taken to Earth and it was too late for him to stop it, I think what he meant is that since he has already been a part of those events he can't cross his own timeline and change them. He can only rescue the child from a point in her timeline after "Day of the Moon." And whatever ends up happening will result in the River that we know from later in her timeline.

@Aaron (#19): I like your theory that Rory will be the person who will end up being killed by River. It would be a great twist... But we've actually seen the Doctor killed by someone he knows in a space suit that was designed for and warn by young River Song. Signs are pointing very strongly towards the Doctor being the person she kills. Plus, Rory has been killed so many times now that I rather doubt that this is heading for another death. But it WOULD be a great twist... Hmmm....
@Dr. Thanatos (#40): I don't think it's strange to call your father the best man you've ever known.

@MikePoteet (#34): Vastra (the Silurian) was definitely a new character. It was the same actress who played Alaya and Restac in "The Hungry Earth" and "Cold Blood," but both of those characters died in "Cold Blood."

@mutantalbinocrocodile (#35): I also wonder about how the Church of the 52nd century -- River's (adopted) time -- got to be the way it is, but I didn't mind that they don't explain it. This is the Church from 3,000 years in the future. More has happened from this moment to that moment than has happened to our church in the almost 2,000 years since the death of Christ. It makes sense that it would be a bit unrecognizable. Also, our church has certainly gone through some eras of being militarized -- why not again in the future. As for why the Church was fighting the Doctor, they explain that right in the episode -- they were paid to! (Which goes to show that some things will never change in organized religion.) I tend to think they were paid by Madame Kovarian, and that the Headless Monks were hired hands too.

@TeresaJusino (#54), MikePoteet (#47) & Elayne (#52): When River is killed in "Forest of the Dead," not only does she tell the Doctor, "You wouldn't have a chance and neither would I," she specifically says earlier, "It would kill you stone dead and don't think you'll regenerate!" Which leads me to believe that Moffat already knew he might give River the abilty to regenerate. His writing for her over the last four years really holds together, considering he's telling such a protracted story backwards!
Michael Poteet
60. MikePoteet
Oh! See, I'd forgotten they both died. Well, then. Thanks for clearing that up!
Michael Poteet
61. MikePoteet
Ursula @ 58 -- Ooh! I like the way you think! I watched "An Unearthly Child" for the first time recently; and while I'm not convinced Moffat would do it, I would love for the rumored "big 50th anniversary plans" to somehow form a bookend with the First Doctor and Susan. Someone needs to get you on the Cardiff writing staff, stat!
62. Dr. Thanatos

It wasn't so much that it would be creepy that River called her father the best man she'd ever known; it was more that it would be creepy that she killed her father...

Oedipus, anyone? And no, I don't want to see groundbreaking television where River marries Amy!
63. Pendard
@Dr. Thanatos (#62): Hopefully she won't also try to sleep with her mother. Although some in the fanfic community might enjoy that... :-)
Michael Poteet
64. MikePoteet
If River is moving "backward" to our "forward," might she kill Rory (if indeed she does) without knowing who he is?

It's fun for me to see this theory gaining some traction. My wife first mentioned it to me after viewing "The Impossible Astronaut." Not sure what made her think of it then, but she said River's description of "the best man she'd never known, a hero to many" sounds like the way lots of people -- if they're fortunate -- talk about their dads. She doesn't troll the Internet, so she thought of it all on her own, and I thought it was pretty awesome (still do!)
Chris Meadows
65. Robotech_Master
Old gal River
That old gal River
She must know something
But she don't say nothing
She just says, "Spoilers!"
While Moffat strings us along…
66. Dr. Thanatos
She don't eat taters,
She don't wear cotton,
And Dad the Roman
Was once forgotten,
But old gal River
She just keeps stringing us along
Ursula L
67. Ursula
She has a gun,
She ain't scared to use it,
And never misses,
When 'er she shoots it,
That old gal River,
She loves to string us along
Dave Bell
68. DaveBell
The Doctor and the TARDIS go off without Amy and Rory, and he tells River Song to get everyone back home.

I think there's scope for at least a couple of episodes which can have been shot in parallel, one Doctor-light, one missing the other characters.

I wonder if the Doctor will visit the planet Tersurus before the natives discover fire?
69. ron smith
I liked this episode a lot except for one thing. I don't think River's monolog at the end was necessary, and there didn't even seem to be a compeling reason for it. Why is she doing this big reveal now, and not earlier, or later. It felt, to me, as if we were being force fed plot points that Moffat wanted to reveal rather than seeing them unfold naturaly as part of the story.
I would have changed the episode thusly:
In the early sceen were Rory seeks River's help I would have had her say something like "I have not seen you for so long, I am so, so, glad to see you again." then give him an affectionate hug when Rory asked if they had met before.
Then, when Rory asked her to come with them, "I can't come, because I am already there. It would be too dangerous for me to interact with my own timeline. This is the day that I first met the Doctor, and the day you all find out who I am."
I would not have River appear to explain things at the end. Instead, the characters discuss what to do next, and how to rescue the baby. Amy is holding the 'Leaf' Lorna made and the Doctor asks what it is. Amy shows it to him and explains that Lorna made it for the baby. The Doctor looks at it, seems quite confused, then looks at the crib and has a realization, says something like "I know who she is! I know where she is!", then quickly leaves in the Tardis. He leave the 'Leaf' behind. A frustrated and confused Rory (or perhaps Amy)picks up the 'Leaf' and sees the word River on it. He then repeats what Idris said "The only water in the forest is the River", looks at the other side and sees Song.
"Melody Pond is River Song!!"
THEN River appears and there is a (mostly) happy family reunion scene, hugs all around, and River takes everyone back to there own timelines. Amy will of course still be upset about the baby, but having River there will alieviate that at least somewhat.

Anyway, to me, something along those lines would have seemed a much more natural and consistent sequence of events.
70. rogerothornhill
I'm not convinced that Moffat had this *all* planned out when he wrote Silence in the Library, but I do think much of what we're seeing now has been in his mind since Eleventh Hour at least. The big speeches at the ends of that episode and Pandorica Opens were meant to be echoes of Waters of Mars-era Tennant, and we are watching a scaling down. I'm not sure we're back to running around the universe with his granndaughter, but how lovely it would be for him to travel during his 2012-2013 series with a young Melody/River and have quiet, non-epic adventures.
71. nin_shark
"Oncoming storm" doesn't necessarily equal "good man". What if the "good man" is Rory?

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