Mon
Aug 29 2011 3:03pm

Doctor Who S6, Ep 8: “Let’s Kill Hitler”

It’s official. Alex Kingston is my idol, and River Song is one of the most fascinating characters on television. Doctor Who has returned for the second half of its sixth series with “Let’s Kill Hitler,” an episode that manages to be the best, most solid and fun episode of Series Six so far.

Spoiler alert: Hitler remained alive. Oh, well. No episode is perfect.

The episode begins with Amy and Rory create crop circles spelling out the word “Doctor” in Leadworth. When the Doctor responds to their message, they are joined by an old friend of the couple’s named Mels. We get to know Mels through a series of flashbacks that reveal that she’s known Amy since grade school and was obsessed with Amy’s relationship with the Doctor. She even went further than Amy in insisting on the Doctor’s existence, bringing him up in school history lessons and getting in trouble. She continued getting in trouble through adulthood, and when she speeds back into their lives in a “borrowed” sports car it’s clear that she is someone to whom rules don’t matter. When she sees the Doctor, her childhood crush on him seems to have grown right along with her, and she hits on him. Not before encouraging him to take her for a ride in the TARDIS at gunpoint. “I have a gun,” she says. “What the hell? Let’s kill Hitler!”

The idea of going back in time in the name of justice to kill someone who has committed an atrocity is the theme of the entire episode. When Team TARDIS and Mels go to 1930s Berlin to kill Hitler, a group of humans who have miniaturized themselves and live in a person-sized robot that can take any form represent the Department of Justice (it isn’t specified whose department it is) and have tracked down Hitler to punish him for his crimes. (A mistake, as they’re ahead of schedule.) But when the TARDIS crashes into Hitler’s office, they change they’re focus; they must punish Mels for her war crimes. Now, she has been a juvenile delinquent, and doesn’t seem to care much for rules and laws, but war crimes?

Yes, because in the future she will be guilty of killing the Doctor.

Mels is River Song. She has also regenerated from the girl in “The Impossible Astronaut,” meaning that she is the child of not only Amy and Rory, but of the TARDIS, making her part Time Lady, and she was responsible for her parents getting together in the first place all Marty McFly-style. In this episode we learn these things and the answers to many other questions about River Song: Why does she look younger further in her future? To “freak people out” she decided to get slightly younger every year. Can she regenerate? No, because she transferred all of her regeneration power into the Doctor to save his life in this episode. Why did she begin studying archaeology? To keep track of the Doctor. She was raised for the sole purpose of killing the Doctor, but in this episode she reevaluates that mission and becomes the River Song we know; the one who is devoted to saving the Doctor. We also learn more about The Silence, and the fact that they are not a species, but a religious order whose main tenet is to kill the Doctor.

“Let’s Kill Hitler” is a solid, well-written episode that provides answers to fan questions and alludes to future questions all while having a solid theme tied together by both historical events and the story arcs of the characters. Also, we now have a black Time Lady! And in an episode featuring one of the world’s great racists, no less! What really makes the episode, however, is its rampant humor. Every scene was full of quality one-liners and intriguing character moments that make the episode breeze along beautifully. Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have a wonderful scene in the flashbacks where Amy dismisses Rory as a romantic possibility because she’d always assumed he was gay. And then there is the amazing display of one-upmanship between Alex Kingston and Matt Smith as they protect themselves by outsmarting each other. Both of these scenes, as well as the quips skillfully scattered throughout display the acting and writing on Doctor Who at its best.

If you were concerned about where Series 6 of Doctor Who was going, “Let’s Kill Hitler” has the show going in a fresh, funny direction that is ultimately more satisfying than the intensity of the first half. And Rory got to punch Hitler in the face, which is just awesome.

Doctor Who is back on BBC America Saturdays at 9PM ET!


Teresa Jusino wants to be River Song when she grows up. 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.

85 comments
F Shelley
1. FSS
Hi Teresa! Glad to be back for the 2nd half of the season. I start looking forward to your posts as soon as the show ends each week.

I have a dozen questions following the show, but my main question is: does this mean that the Doctor and River's relationship happen off-screen from now on, or will part of their relationship happen in some-what of the same order?
marian moore
2. mariesdaughter
So happy to read a good review. Some of the fan sites hated this with a passion. A lot of people were confused. (I get more and more worried about the ability of an American audience to follow a story line that doesn't lead them by the hand.) I found it interesting that the Justice League usually punish folks at the end of their life. In this case, they catch Melody at one of her beginnings.

There was an interview with Moffet in which he stated that an episode that answers questions should leave the viewer with even more questions. Mission accomplished in this case. I look forward to more resolutions that leave me in a cone of light surrounded by new darkness.
Alex Brown
3. AlexBrown
Well, we all know what the question is: "What do you get when you multiply six by nine?"

In terms of the rest of the ep, I was plesantly surprised. It was basically an info dump that failed utterly to deliver on it's title, but I still enjoyed it. It felt a lot like the first ep of S5 - lots of fluff, waaaay too much exposition, and rather meaningless in the end except in terms of setting up the rest of the season.

And I'm going to be REALLY PISSED OFF if Amy and Rory never deal with the emotional consequences of having to abandon their newborn to a group of abusive asshats in order to prevent a time paradox from exploding all over the place (River has to be raised by The Silence or she never becomes River which means Silence in the Library never happens, everyone dies in that Weeping Angel cave, etc. - side note, now there was literally Silence in the library...). Because in this ep they seemed perfectly fine with the fact that they never get to have their child except in an unsatisfactory way as their heretofore unknown (wibbley wobbley timey wimey) BFF.
nicole rich
4. nrich
I liked everything about this episode except for the fact that we have never met Mels before. I really wish that we could have at least seen her at a party or hanging out with the Ponds before this ep. As it is, she really just seems thrown in there last minute. Which is really weird because Moffat is usually so great about easter eggs.
Del C
5. del
Whatever happened to that speech she gave about the Doctor dropping into her life as a naive girl? She's spent as long as she can remember being taught everything about Time Lords in order to assassinate him!
Billy Smith
6. Master_Moridin
This was an amazing episode. I especially enjoyed the bit where River keeps trying to kill the Doctor and he keeps foiling her.

On a side note, does anyone know if there is a way to catch the show online? Moving at the end of the week, and I won't have BBCA for a while.
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter
I enjoyed this episode quite a lot. Since River has been programmed to kill the Dr. I wonder if her killing of him in the astronaut suit (assuming it is her in the suit as a child) isn't an attempt to break her out of the programming at an earlier age.
If (as has been conjectured) it is the Ganger Doctor who is killed, this seems like a possible motive for his self sacrifice.
Alex Brown
8. AlexBrown
Moffat did an interesting interview that deals with some of the issues/complaints/concerns/questions brought up by this ep and his tenure.

@nrich: I assumed it was timey wimey screwiness. She couldn't go into Amy and Rory's past until she was born in the future...if that makes sense.

@del: She didn't say she met him as a naive girl, she said she met him when she was young: "When I first met the Doctor—a long long time ago—he knew all about me. Think about that. Impressionable young girl and suddenly this man just drops out of the sky. He's clever and mad and wonderful and... and knows every last thing about her. Imagine what that does to a girl." As a Time Lord, 'young' is a relative term. At that point she was only several decades old (after being born in the distant future and dragged back to the 1960s), and compare that to Eleven's 900+ years and that makes her a young girl indeed. And if you want to get technical, the first time the child of Amy and Rory meets The Doctor she's only a month or two old, also making her a very young girl.

@master: There are many ways you can watch the show, legally or otherwise...
Sky Thibedeau
9. SkylarkThibedeau
Spoilers,,,,,,,


Time travel
Killing Hitler Never Works!

http://www.abyssandapex.com/200710-wikihistory.html










Since River gave the Doctor all of her Time Lord regeneration force, does this mean he now has 8 extra lives?
Raskolnikov
10. Raskolnikov
You know, I'm starting to worry about this show. I have to disagree with this review, with a lot of individual points and the larger conclusions. Diversity of viewpoints, and all that. I haven't fully enjoyed an episode since Gaiman's "The Doctor'w Wife", and after a long mid-season break I'm nowhere near as enthused for the rest of season six as I'd expected. Last night's episode wasn't good, it was also a long way from the worst new series Who has produced, but something about it especially grated. Doctor Who has been accused of being a soap opera before, particularly since the relaunch and some of the extended Tyler/Jones family issues. There are strengths to that approach, the illogical yet continuity-high focus, extended character focus, a sense of rich if tangled history. More recently the series seems to have taken that soap opera angles in a less effective direction, the characters becoming more one-note and cartoonish, the storylines less fun, and the series increasingly focused on answering a set of tangled mythological questions, putting everything in relation to River Song, the looming death of the Doctor in Utah, questions of a fixed set of predetermined actions. It's a long-established practice among Whovians to decry every shift in the show's format as a heresy and act of destruction. That custom has to go back at least to the Third Doctor, and arguably to its second episode (is there actual fandom records for schisms that early? I know there were by the Davison era at the latest). Yet I have to say that the current direction seems genuinely problematic--rather than a sense of great scale, uncovering the universe, monsters, adventure, moral certainties, I fear we're entering a level of Lost-level shenanigans, using a non linear approach to cover the fact that there's not much of substance.

Take the actual answers to big mysteries we've got recently, the major plot twists--River is Amy's daughter, River can regenerate (until she can't) because of TARDIS-conception, River will be the one to kill the Doctor. All of that can be and has been anticipated by a lot of fans, and the real surprises are also those that come out of nowhere--like the Justice Robot, and River being Amy and Rory's dear, dear, never before mentioned BFF.

Although it's not all long-term gloom and doom, this episode suffered from two particular disadvantages which I seriously hope don't carry over. The first is the decision to set it in 1938 Berlin, and to use the presence of the National Socialists as nothing more than a running gag. That's lazy writing, it's morally bankrupt and far too flippant towards a real historical issue. I expect the show to have the decency to not go into an environment where there's swasticas everywhere if it can't deliver a story of substance to say about that. On the morality, I'll note that Amy was fine with condemning the entire crew of the robot to death as a threat to stop the killing of her psychopathic daughter--she had no way of knowing they'd be able to teleport away. The whole matter points to my discomfort with this storyline--while it is loosely about a universe-wide threat, in practice it's all about the tangled family ties of Doctor and Companions. In the process there's a total disconnect from ordinary people, the story doesn't even attempt to care about how all of this or even the Third Reich has a real impact, a real significance. It's about where Amy's daughter is, when the Doctor will die, and nothing else really makes it on the show's radar.

The second issue is that the story in question has nothing to do with any part of the first part, the Silence or the like--it's all about filling in the timeline of River Song. Which is, like everything else about her, deeply illogical, contrived, annoying and convinced of its inherent awesomeness. Her behavior post-regeneration was one of the more painful things I've seen from this series, and more and more I want us to leave the whole issue behind. Given that Moffat seems to have decided the question of River Song is the most interesting thing for the show, and he's really playing up the Doctor's attraction towards her, the result is not pleasant.

Sorry to be so critical, but I don't really have much favorable to say about the episode. Some of the earlier montage of Amy's earlier years worked and I kind of liked the methodical way the Justice Robot went about its operation (although how did they not figure out earlier they weren't in '45 Berlin?) and the hints of the Silence the Question sound intriguing. But there felt like so much over-speeded up and over-slowed down storytelling, an uneven main plot and far too many self-indulgent moment--the Doctor showing up with a top hat and actually saying "Doctor Who?" chief among them. As with River, I feel the show has to actually be awesome to justify that degree of posing, when it decides to skip straight to self-congratulation I loose a lot of enthusiasm.
Raskolnikov
11. McCaemlyn
Favorite line: The Nazi asks River what she is doing there and she responds, "Well, I was on my way to this gay gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled when I suddenly thought, 'Gosh, the Third Reich's a bit rubbish. I think I'll kill the Fuhrer. Who's with me?'"
Paige Morgan
12. paigecm
Gosh, am I the only person who thought it absolutely made sense that Rory and Amy had never introduced Mels to the Doctor? She may be their best mate, but she's also stalkerish/spazzy enough that they'd find encounters between the two to be embarrassing/otherwise problematic.
Teresa Jusino
13. TeresaJusino
FSS @1 - Well, thank you! :) I hope you continue to stop by and chat! I'm hoping that we see some of The Doctor and River's relationship happen in the right order, but who knows. I DO love that we saw him give her her TARDIS blue diary! :) That was a lovely little moment.

MariesDaughter @2 - I was surprised, though, by just how much was revealed in this episode. I feel like I really know River Song now. She's less of an enigma and more of a person, and I love that.

Milo1313 @3 - Why is that the question? I don't get it.

I think it perfectly delivered on its title, as the title wasn't really about the plot involving them trying to kill Hitler, but "let's kill hitler" being the goal of a lot of people when they time travel. Let's Kill Hitler as a title represented that desire to go back in time and prevent atrocity, and the moral implications of that. I loved the title. Also, I loved that it was put in that way, because Mels says it so breezily! "What the hell? Let's kill Hitler!" And yes, I think that Amy and Rory will always be dealing with the emotional implications of leaving Melody. I mean, the fact that they were making crop circles to call The Doctor back to ask about their daughter's whereabouts months after the events of A Good Man Goes to War, even knowing that she grows up to be River Song and will be safe show us this, I think.

nrich @4 - I don't know. No, there weren't easter eggs, but at the same time, she was introduced really well. She was named Mels which, if anyone stopped to think about it for a second would've led people to Melody pretty quickly from the beginning of the ep, except that the character was black, which I think was to purposely throw us off. Had she been white, it might have been more (too) obvious. I thought she was introduced in a way that was really realistic, and I loved the flashbacks. Also that we got to see Caitlin Blackwood as Young Amelia again. I love her!

Master_Moridin @6 - Both iTunes and Amazon have the eps online for super cheap. Amazon is cheaper and you can rent them to stream online. That's what I do, cause I don't want to have the ep on my computer since I'll get the DVDs later.

Skylark Thibedeau @9 - I WAS THINKING THE SAME THING! I wonder if he now has extra lives. Great way to work around that pesky 13-life limit and keep the show going, if you ask me! :)
Raskolnikov
14. Pendard
Like FSS, I'm really happy to see Teresa back reviewing episodes on Tor -- her reviews are always great and the comment threads are always the best place to discuss the episodes! Teresa seems to get this show better than most people who review it online. Sometimes I feel like reviewers pretend not to understand things they really do, just to make a point of how convoluted the episodes are. I understand why some people don't like that -- Moffat's approach to mixing history with fairy tales with sci-fi borders on dadaism. But I wish those people would just say it doesn't work for them, rather than acting like it's incomprehensible. Clearly, many of us can comprehend it just fine!

@Milo1313 (#3): Melody wasn't really raised by the Silence. For the first few years, she was raised in an orphanage in Florida, but I didn't get the sense that the Silence ever found her again after she busted out of the spacesuit in "The Day of the Moon." It seems like she was basically raised by Amy and Rory, her best friends. When I watched the episode a second time, I couldn't help but feel like the roles they played in her life (lecturing her about getting in trouble, bailing her out of jail, offering very sensible advice in opposition to her rebellion) was all very parental. Mels sought them out because she was programmed to find the Doctor and she knew he would have to make contact with them eventually -- but she ended up being raised by them, well enough that when she actually meets the Doctor and sees how much he cares about them, she's able to fight off the Silence brainwashing and sacrifices most of her lives to save his. I sort of loved that.

@Skylark (#9): I don't think River gave her regenerations to the Doctor, since he didn't have to regenerate to be healed by the poison. I think it's more like she used the energy of her future regenerations to heal her instead. (Could be similar to the way the Master shot lightning bolts from his hands, and the Doctor referred to it as burning up his life energy.)
Teresa Jusino
15. TeresaJusino
Raskolnikov @10 - Of course we want diversity of viewpoints here! :)

I do disagree, though, that the episode had no substance, and that it was only about filling in River Song's timeline. I thought juxtaposing the desire to kill Hitler with the desire to kill Melody Pond worked really well thematically, and addressed the issue of whether or not it's OK to end someone's life on the basis of what they might do - of future wrongdoing. It's the same issue that's addressed in PK Dick's Minority Report and countless other sci-fi and time travel stories. Also, I thought it important that their dealing with the Third Reich not be made an issue. Remember, The Doctor has seen atrocities happen all over the Universe. The atrocities of the Nazis would be a speck in the grand scheme of things. Also, keeping it light allowed for satisfying moments like Rory punching Hitler in the face. Just because one is dealing with Nazis doesn't mean one has to be dour and serious. There's a long history of dealing with the Third Reich comedically, from Looney Tunes, to Captain America, and on and on. Also, just because something is funny doesn't mean it lacks substance. I often think the most poignant way to learn something is through comedy and laughter. Comedy examines the human condition in a way that is really valuable and shouldn't be dismissed.
Alex Brown
16. AlexBrown
@Teresa: You don't get the question? Really? *sigh* I think it's time for someone to read H2G2.
Teresa Jusino
17. TeresaJusino
Milo1313 @16 - Heh. I don't even know what H2G2 is. Sorry. I'm such a geek I'm not even down enough to get what the geeks know.

But seriously, what is it?
David Goldfarb
18. David_Goldfarb
While the Justice people were early, I thought the TARDIS crew was a bit late -- if you're going to kill Hitler, you don't go to 1938, when he's at the height of his power and security, you go to, say, 1920, when he's a nobody. Of course there are all sorts of reasons why they might have ended up in 1938.

(But did it seem a bit odd to anyone else that River shoots up a restaurant and drives everyone out...and then the restaurant stays deserted for a good ten minutes? Where were the police?)

I got a distinct "Star Trek: TOS" vibe from the robot control room, one which was only reinforced when they did an "emergency beamout".
Raskolnikov
19. piapiapiano
@Teresa #17: people are suggesting you read "The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series by Douglas Adams, which has a plot that tries to both answer the Big Question and discover what that question actually is. With hilarious consequences!

Seriously, they're excellent books -- except for "Mostly Harmless", which is really bad.
Raskolnikov
21. Ross Smith
"The Silence ... a religious order whose main tenet is to kill the Doctor."

Now who does that remind us of? If you knew that the entire human race had been programmed to kill you the moment they saw your face, would you perhaps consider solving that problem by ... removing your head?
Raskolnikov
22. Olga B.
Ok, Hon. I'll even go as far as to say you don't have to read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series, but the wikipedia page might be a good idea. :P

I'll agree the episode was self-indulgent, but I still have to love that Rory punches Hitler and sticks him in a cupboard, where it seems he remains for the rest of the episode. That's just fantastic.
Teresa Jusino
23. TeresaJusino
Ah, Hitchhiker's Guide! Yes - didn't make the connection to that, as I don't know it that well. I DO know about the Big Question and I know about 42 and all of that. :) I've never read it, but I've seen the boring movie version.

Ross Smith @21 - not if I were someone whose face changed regularly.
Charles Dunkley
24. cedunkley
Absolutely loved this episode. Especially how it gave us some answers but then threw out there for us that there is some grand question. Also interesting that the judgement-bot didn't know what the question is.

Rory continues to shine as he has this series. And seeing young Amelia again was a great surprise as both herself and the voice interface. And yes, River Song and Alex Kingston are just about as awesome as can be. I know many people don't like River, perhaps because they feel her presence perhaps makes the Doctor less special or unique in their eyes (guessing here). But I absolutely love her character. And the dueling of one-ups was a great moment in the episode.

I especially enjoyed watching the transformation from Mels to Melody to River. I think the Doctor changing into the tux was a great touch. He knew it would throw River off mentally...and I just thought it was cool that Eleven has been brought back twice now in a tux, if you count his re-existing in the universe through Amy's memory of him at her wedding reception.

Having no pre-existing mentions of Mels was slightly jarring but something I quickly got over as her character was fun from the beginning.

I'm still wondering about River killing the Doctor. The episode seemed to indicate that she is indeed the one in the suit who kills the Doctor in Utah (and I never noticed before that the lake was called Lake Silencio, another neat little touch).

But who is in the suit? Mels? The child Melody from Florida? River herself? A River Ganger? And is eye-patch lady a parallel universe River who never went to the Library to die? Is she in the suit?

Lots to think about. Love it when an episode can accomplish that.
Alex Brown
25. AlexBrown
@Teresa: You cannot seriously call yourself a geek and not have read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. At least the first one. Or, hell, even watch the TV show.

Very, very, very basically, if you want to know about life, the universe, and everything and what it all means, the Question is "What do you get when you multiply six by nine?" and the Answer is "42." And yes, that does actually make sense by the end of the series.

I also agree to some extent your comment about the comedy aspect, though I think a lot of it hinges on subjectivity. I mean, if they set this ep around the Wounded Knee Massacre and went around making jokes and doing slapstick in front of the 7th Cavalry instead of actually doing something productive, I'd be frakking furious.

@David: Yes, logically you would go back to when he was a snot-nosed emo artist whinging about mummy never hugging him enough. But it's not exactly arresting television. Besides, he wouldn't be punching Hitler, he'd be punching some asshat artist-wannabe.
Raskolnikov
26. Raskolnikov
Teresa:
The juxtaposition and equation of the kill Hitler or kill Meldoy/River doesn't work for me for a couple reasons. One, it's made quite clear that the Justice Team do not view their role as preventing atrocities but making things gruesome for the perpetrators after the fact. It's not about stopping future wrongdoing, as with Hitler in 1938 or River until after (apparently) she had killed the Doctor. I don't know what you're talking about with the relation to future wrong-doing and PKD issues given the episode only had any action around River after she was trying to kill, and then had already poisoned the Doctor. Also, by 1938 Hitler wasn't exactly an innocent babe! It's not like there hadn't been abuse of power and anti-semitic violence at that point. Second, it's wrong because it explicitly claims that killing the Doctor is a worse offense than anything Hitler did. Which, yes, in-universe where a week's absence for the Doctor can mean a trillion dead, that's justified, but given the real life nature of the Third Reich, I find it odious that the show would make that argument. I'm not by any means against comedy to say things of substance--one of the best single treatments of the Iraq War leadin abomination was the comedy In the Loop, and satire of the Nazis can be effective--but I see no indications of substance in the actual episode. The episode relies on the mere juxtaposition of Hitler and the Nazis to the Dr. Who cast and their usual antics to be hilarious, and I find that downplays any connection with substance. The episode isn't about racism or violence in any real sense, and narratively the anti-bodies are taken a lot more seriously than any of the Nazis. Comedy should not in itself be dismissed as a way of consideration even for serious things, but neither does it cover everything blankedly, and there are a lot of reasons why it was pretty horrible in this instnace.

Plus, it contributed to making the character of River Song make less and less sense. Even if the Nazis were nothing more than what the episode treats them--an invented distinctly lesser tier goofy threat--it would still be an awkward episode. I defy anyone to watch through all River's scenes in their presumed chronological order and say they hold together at all, there are a lot of juxtapositions of tone and outright conflicting statements. Makes it a lot harder to respect Moffat's writing skills--Doctor Who continuity has always been a mess, but when you're going to invest so heavily in a single elaborated backstory, it's more problematic when that has so many holes. I'd say this goes more than anything for River's give-no-care attitude----it made a certain amount of sense for a conscience-minimal time traveler who could skip around a lot and didn't have to stay to deal with the consequences, up to and including imprisonment, given how easily she kept escaping. Apply that attitude, as the episode does, to growing up as an orphan in modern England with Amy as BFF, and the whole thing falls flat. The montage raises far more questions than it answers, in terms of River being able to skate through from everything, and why she's so reckless from the beginning. It's effectively, as you've implicitly compared it, Loony Toons in structure, and I for one expect more from Doctor Who.

It's not like I'm proposing anything radically alien to Doctor Who's usual semi-goofy style, it's my thesis that the show has recently become insular in all kinds of troubling ways. Clumsy as it was, something like Idiot's Lantern was a much more compelling and less offensive way to look at this general era and wed ridiculous SFnal notions to ordinary people and a moral sense. As opposed to treating it as installment 65 of River Song's risible personal timeline. I loved the fifth series, but am finding the drift across this season more and more resembling a very bad joke.
Charles Dunkley
27. cedunkley
I've always had the impression that River's timeline isn't linear at all, similar to the Doctor. While the events in the Library were perhaps only 3 years ago on a linear timeline, in the reality of River and the Doctor we have no idea how much time actually passes for Melody between Let's Kill Hitler and the Library 2 parter. It has to be at a bare minimun decades (considering she becomes a doctor and professor) and it could be even longer. She may have lived over 100 years between regenerating from Mels to River and ending up at the Library.

As for the Justice Team the fact that they time travel to punish those who they deem to have not paid properly for their crimes raises all sorts of ethical and moral issues. It seems to me they are far more intersted in doling out punishment or vengeance then Justice. I would love to know who they actually work for.

And I wonder if that brief moment of torture River endures is part of her motivation to later be incarcerated at Stormcage in an effort to properly pay for her crimes.
Raskolnikov
28. ChrisG
There was a lot I liked about the episode, which I'll get to in a moment, but there were some things I didn't like at all, at least one of which is similar to Raskolnikov @26.

First, I thought it was extremely inappropriate to suggest that Melody's crime was worse than Hiter's crimes. And it was completely unnecessary. They could have mentioned (as they did at some point) that they made a mistake and had come too early but oh...look we have another target here.

Second, Moffat having the Doctor say "and she's a woman" was both highly out of character and offensive enough that he had the Doctor immediately disavow it. Left a bad taste.

Third, River's transformation to good guy was way too quick. Whisper in the ear and a little TARDIS talk and poof. It would have been far more fascinating to save the Doctor some other way and have River leave in villain mode. Then, after that when seeing River we (and the gang) would not be sure whether they have the good River or bad Melody, which would have been really fun.

Fourth, Amy threatening the lives of the entire crew the way she did was ethically dubious, I think.

Fifth, I thought they over-wrote young Melody and would have preferred a more understated approach. Her history class histrionics should, I think, have hinted at her conditioned hatred of the Doctor. They did a bit, but I thought it was ambiguous.

Sixth, River at the end saying she was looking for a "good man". That saddened me as it reduced her whole arc to one centered on the Doctor. Sure it started out that way, but the character would be more dynamic, I think, if she had some independence. Some separate adventures, her own motivations, and so on.

Finally, the Doctor shouldn't have fallen for the kiss trick, but I suppose I can let that one go.

Now the positives:

1. The idea of Melody inserting herself in her parents lives, bringing them together. Love the closed time-like loops.

2. The antibodies. This could have used more explanation, but my take was that the power of that ship demanded that it have some protection beyond the control of the crue to prevent the mission from being subverted or the technology being abused. Very neat idea. Their dialogue was also hilarious.

3. The flirting scene. Terrific.

4. Rory!

5. The crop circles, the flash back scene, and the robot. Good stuff.

Overall, I enjoyed the episode, though I felt that it had a few unfortunate gaps and could have been even stronger.
Raskolnikov
29. Ross Smith
Teresa@23: Er ... what? No idea what you're driving at there. Why do you think their faces change? The whole premise of the first two episodes would fail if they had another way out.
Sherri Nichols
30. snichols
As someone who is female and of an age with Alex Kingston, all I can say is: River! I'll forgive anything else just for the opportunity to watch River Song.
Raskolnikov
31. Smaug's Li'l Brother Puff
My conjecture -- and I don't read the hardcore fan sites so apologies if this is already a thing -- I'm pretty sure now what we're going to see in the finale to explain the premiere is a Teselecta astronaut shooting the Ganger Doctor as part of a con to thwart the Silence and get River pardoned from the Stormcage. Because she wasn't a prisoner any longer when she met #10 in the Library, right?

Also: is it me or are the Captchas on this site suddenly downright ridiculously illegible?
Stephanie Padilla
32. DN10
I thought that what we saw at the beginning of Let's Kill Hitler - Mels' very sudden appearance - was very clearly an alternate timeline. The reason that the Doctor didn't know her is because, in the Season 5 storyline, in that universe, she simply wasn't there. As a Time Lord, he was aware of the change, while Amy and Rory, as humans, were not. Amy and Rory have had different lives because of Melody's presence, and are therefore somewhat different people. Melody's a Time Lady - she rewrote her parents' past. It'll be interesting to see if those changes are at all apparent in their personalities.

I also think that part of the reason that Amy and Rory are alright with not having raised Melody themselves - but only after they realize she is Mels - is because they unknowingly did. I do believe that River, at some point, says, "In a way, you did raise me." And, just to point it out, they were upset before they knew that Mels was their daughter. If you watch the prequel, Amy tells the Doctor very explicitly that, although she knows Melody will become River, she still can't stand the thought of having missed her childhood.

River's decision to save the Doctor also made sense to me. Clearly, she'd been fascinated by him since she was a young girl. Wanting to marry him, being attracted to, impressed, and fascinated by him are her natural reactions to the Doctor. Obviously, she admires him greatly, and, once she meets him, is very attracted to him, as later River is. The sole reason she killed him was because of the posthypnotic suggestion of the Silence. And she didn't fight it off at all. She literally carried out by very literally killing him. Once it was out of her system, as I believe the Doctor explains, she decides to bring him back to life, because it is what she truly wants to do, not what the Silence ordered her to. Why she kills him later - if she actually does - we have yet to learn. But it is not going to be because of the brainwashing the Silence gave her when she was a child. There may be more brainwashing later in her life, though. I doubt whether the Silence - Madame Kovarian especially - are going to let River go quite so easily.
marian moore
33. mariesdaughter
It may be loopy, but I had the idea that we have a closed loop a'coming. Melody gives her future regenerations to the Doctor to save him. 200 years later, the doctor gives them back by insisting that the child Melody shoot him.

How we go forward, I still haven't decided....
Melanie S
34. starryharlequin
Pendard@14:

Teresa seems to get this show better than most people who review it online. Sometimes I feel like reviewers pretend not to understand things they really do, just to make a point of how convoluted the episodes are.

I think some of this may also have to do with one's feelings on the show as a whole. Given the endings of the long-term arcs so far, I don't have a lot of faith in Moffat to bring this one to a satisfactory conclusion, so I'm not giving him the benefit of a doubt with the more far-fetched character and plot moments. On the other hand, some people (such as Teresa here) totally disagree and love Moffat, so I think there are things they're willing to reserve judgment on in the complete confidence that it will all gel together eventually. It's not that other reviewers can't come up with explanations that make things work, it's that they don't think these explanations will be borne out by the show. I guess we'll all find out once this series is over, though!
Raskolnikov
35. Raskolnikov
On the issue of having trust in Moffat, I'll also point out the one major extra-Whovian precedent we have for him bringing an arcing storyline to a conclusion--the second half of Jekyll. Now, I love most of Moffat's stories and the early work with Jekyll, but the conclusion of that was shriller and less cohesive than RTD at his worst, a mess of arbitrary non-explanation on about every level. Just saying. There's no particular reason to believe that Moffat has a great talent at finishing out long-term plotting from his work to date. For me, the dispiriting thing isn't that we're being yanked around nearly as much as in Lost S1 and 2 but that we are being given partial answers--that aren't actually that brilliant, and that don't hold up to serious scrutiny.

cedunkley (#27): On the notion of the moment of torture helping rehabilitate River so rapidly, well, that's not in the story, is counter to what we've been said about the Justice Robot's methodology (it's supposed to be an extended end, not cause life-changes) and would be a deeply shallow and offensive message if advanced seriously. Along with the episode suggesting that the Holocaust was less significant than killing the Doctor, we could also provide an expectation that traumatic, sadistically inflicted pain can lead to massive growth in one's conscience. Brilliant!

#33 (Dn10)
The issue with the alternate timeline shift is that it's not mentioned in the script, it's just a way of excusing a glaring plot whole and bad writing. Given that this show has never been reluctant about bursting out exposition or going into coherence, I'd tend to assume that either Moffat decided against claiming this or it just didn't occur to him. The rationalization is very much a fanwank, added by the viewer to the story. Which is fine and can be enormous fun in its own right, especially with Doctor Who, but at that point we're really going out on a limb, aren't we? If we start putting in our own cleverness to fix the story, it must be so to make things be sensible, then every awkward plot points, inconsistent characterization and sloppy technical detail can be explained away. The notion of criticizing the show would become pointless, there'd be nothing remaining except to be praisers and apologists.
Stephanie Padilla
36. DN10
@35 - Um, I don't think I'm projecting my cleverness at all. I think that - while it is not stated explicitly - it is implied that Mels' presence has created - yet another - alternate timeline for the Ponds. Moffat carefully has the Doctor pause to mention how exceedingly strange it is that Amy and Rory should have a best childhood friend he has never even heard of, when he could easily have put in a line or two about how Amy and Rory have spoken to the Doctor about her, off-screen. Instead, Moffat has the Doctor comment on how he danced with everyone at the Ponds' wedding, and doesn't remember Mels, and doesn't remember her ever being mentioned by either Rory or Amy. She says it is because she doesn't like weddings, but clearly doesn't want him to know that it is because she's rewritten time. It would have been a dead giveaway that she was a Time Lady, someone who was capable of altering time.

And the wedding would have been the only time he could have met her anyhow, because she would have been part of the alternate Season 5 timeline, that wasn't affected by the cracks. In the new timeline, we saw Amy's family and friends for approximately 5 minutes, and know next to nothing about them. That the Doctor thinks her presence is strange means we're supposed to as well, since he knows more about Amy and Rory's families, I assume, from off-screen conversations than we do.

Moffat probably just assumed fans were clever enough to figure the alternate timeline out without it being spelled out, and that's not what I'd call a plothole. It's just assuming your fans are intelligent.
Raskolnikov
37. Bryan Rasmussen
I believe there was a short short sci-fi story, might have won a hugo, that was something of the same premise as the miniature justice vehicle.

Time Traveler comes back to take Hitler to the future, Hitler is of course overjoyed thinking he is going to his just reward, Time Traveler says yes of course that is right, the ending is something about Hitler screaming when he actually sees what is waiting for him on the other side.
Teresa Jusino
38. TeresaJusino
Ross Smith @29 - I'm sorry, I thought you were referring to The Doctor, but I must have misunderstood. Who were you talking about?

Raskolnikov & Milo1313 - I'm sorry, but I just don't believe in holding a certain event or point in history as "sacred" as far as how it's treated. Be it the Holocaust, or Wounded Knee, or September 11th, or any other bit of genocide, homocide, or tragedy, I'm not someone who believes that certain topics need to be treated with more care simply because they are Those Topics. I don't think a story about Hitler needs to be treated any differently than any other Doctor Who story simply because it's about Hitler.

Also, I never said, nor do I believe, that the Justice Department saw Melody's crimes as worse than Hitler's, but on the same level, which - in a Universe where The Doctor is The Doctor and does what he does - makes sense. You can't dismiss that. We're not talking about what the Third Reich means in our world. You have to view this time period through the lens of the show and these characters.

Lastly, you're right in that they do come for Hitler too late and Melody too early, and that the Justice Department is more interested in punishment than preventing - so that's another bit of substance for you. Who or what gives any group the right to punish someone on behalf of the world or universe? How is that decided? And is it right/fair? What is the point of punishment if not to act as a deterrent? Just to make everyone feel better? Why is that considered honorable? Is "sending someone to hell" any better than the original atrocity?

At the end of this episode, Amy pretty much takes down the Justice Department, which may be the point. That it shouldn't be up to them to decide who must die for what.
Raskolnikov
39. Brgyan Rasmussen
so anyway, issues:

1. When Mels regenerates she says the last time she did this she ended up a toddler in New York (can't remember if she specified the Great Depression), now we saw the girl from the astronaut suit get regenerate in New York in the Great Depression so it seems likely that she regenerated only twice in her life (unless she has done it before we see her in the Astronaut suit). So how did she, Mels, get from depression era New York to leadworth with Amy and Rory?
Also, who were her parents in Leadworth.

2. The doctor lies. So when the doctor says that River used up all her regenerations saving him I don't believe it.

3. Justice dept. records are evidently incomplete, so if they say she kills the doctor that doesn't much mean anything to me either - although after having gotten some experience with Moffat he doesn't really do big gotchas that often, so it will probably turn out that she did/does kill the doctor - or at least something that looked like the doctor at that exact specific day and time. (Ganger would be a good trick because Doctor got tricked twice with Ganger tech so now he should turn it back on them)

4. How has River been brainwashed? I think the likely thing is that her programming goes into effect at the beginning of a new regeneration. Hello Benjamin, and she tries to kill the doctor if he is available.

If these points are correct the Doctor could still save River from the library, have her die in some way (so good use of astronaut suit there), regenerate, meet her back in Utah, and then trick her and The Silence with a Ganger replica.

5. It seems obvious to me also that Mels changed the time line that has also been changed a lot of times. It is a signature Moffat move, the thing that is starting to wear on me is that while he is quite flamboyant with paradoxes and closed time loops he never provides an overarching theory beyond timey wimey as to how they work. I would like a theory, but it isn't gonna happen I guess.
Raskolnikov
40. Bryan Rasmussen
"Also, I never said, nor do I believe, that the Justice Department saw
Melody's crimes as worse than Hitler's, but on the same level, which -
in a Universe where The Doctor is The Doctor and does what he does -
makes sense.
"

there was an implication that they Justice dept. saw it as worse given that the crewman was all excited because ooooh look who we caught captain, forget all that hitler crap this is a real feather in our cap. (forget the exact words uttered at the time)

which given the universe and such it might also make sense. Hitler is a big crime to us due to proximity, I'm pretty sure given a few thousand more years and yes he will still be a bastard but people(if they should exist) would probably equate him with any number of other bastards and not as someone pre-eminent.

Of course one issue about the Doctor is he is always quite nearer in temporal proximity to a culture than just about anyone else.
Ian Rapley
41. Alfonso Baronso
Really glad to see these articles back again.

For me the big disappointment of the episode was unravelling the doctor-as-universal-bad-guy inversion that arived at the end of the first half of the series. I thought that the idea of the doctor wrestling with the question of whether he really was a good guy or not, whether the things he does were saving people, or rather imposing his own justice on the universe - saving people x because they were pretty and punishing the tentacley people Y - was genius, and was the meat of the episodes to come.

So when the robot starts to say 'scratch Hitler, lookee here' I thought great, then it says 'she' and I think, ooh who is that, Amy Pond, no way, what can that mean, and then it says 'River Song', and I think oh. -_-

In a single stroke the people opposing the Doctor are reduced to some weird religious order - just another set of daleks et al., and the Doctor can forget all that introspection and get back to zapping things. Oh well.
Raskolnikov
42. Bryan Rasmussen
"the doctor-as-universal-bad-guy inversion" did not arrive that fully formed, given that there was also people there who considered him a hero. It is more like continuing the story told from last season that to the doctor's enemies he seems the bad guy who shows up on your world uninvited, cannot be reasoned with, and destroys all your dreams.

Of course River implied there that if he continued on his present path then perhaps someday he might be the universal bad guy.
Raskolnikov
43. Pendard
Raskolnikov (#26): I think you're overstating the offensiveness of this episode's use of Hitler by comparing it to setting an episode at Wounded Knee. Yes, offensiveness is a matter of opinion, but setting a comedy episode at Wounded Knee would be more like setting a comedy episode at Auschwitz -- very inappropriate. What they did here, on the other hand, is more akin to having the characters meet Osama Bin Laden at some pre-9/11 moment and punch him in the face and shove him into a closet to get him out of the way. I'm a big fan of punching Osama Bin Laden in the face for slapstick value and, even though we'll only ten years out from 9/11 and Bin Laden has only been dead for a few months, I'm pretty sure I would find that pretty funny.

The fact is, we're coming to the point where World War II is passing out of living memory, and its significance is going to change a bit because of it. A few years ago, I think it would have been difficult to do things like "Let's Kill Hitler," or Inglourious Basterds, or the Captain America movie, which fictionalize this part of history. It would have just been too offensive to suggest, for example, that the fictional villain the Red Skull in Captain America was more of a threat than Hitler, because too many people were still alive that had lived throught he war. That's probably why, in 47 years on the air, Doctor Who has never shown the Doctor interacting with Nazis until now (before someone objects, those weren't real Nazis in "The Curse of Fenric"!). Clearly, attitudes are changing and a lot of people don't find that sort of thing tasteless anymore. And I think it's a good thing. Don't forget, people were able to laugh at Hitler while he was alive -- just look at The Great Dictator and To Be or Not to Be, two comedy movies about Hitler that were produced during World War II. It's only in the postwar years that he attained a mythical status as absolute evil incarnate. Well, maybe it's time to take that mythical status away from him and treat him as the sad, pathetic man he was. As Charlie Chaplin knew, there's a lot of power in using him as a punchline as well. If Hitler is a symbol of evil, making a joke out of him, presenting his hate-filled life as something pathetic and laughable, is the same as presenting hate and evil as pathetic and laughable. It's one of the advantages 65 years of distance that we can choose to do that. It's high time.

@ChrisG (#28): I think it's very reasonable for people in the future to consider Melody worse than Hitler. Her murdering the Doctor affects them directly since the Doctor does good on a universal scale through all of space and time, including in their era. On the other hand, from their perspective, Hitler is a dictator who killed millions of people on one planet around three thousand years in the past. It would be like us getting bent out of shape about Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, for the atrocities he commited against the Greeks. What Hitler did is still bad enough to be worth traveling to the past in a robot, it just isn't as bad (to them) as killing the Doctor. Also, just because this is how those people felt about it doesn't mean it's how Moffat wants you to feel about it. The Doctor, Amy and Rory certainly don't agree that Melody is worse than Hitler, and Moffat probably wants us to identify with their beliefs more than the beliefs of the random time travelers in the robot.

And, yes, it's always going to be strange to hear a fictional atrocity compared to a real one. I get that. But in this universe, the genocide perpetrated by the Daleks is actually worse than the one perpetrated by the Nazis. The Silence are trying to destroy the universe -- they actually succeeded briefly, but the Doctor fixed it -- and River killing the Doctor is what will allow them to do it. It would be pretty strange if at least some people didn't consider River and the Silence worse than Hitler.
Steven Halter
44. stevenhalter
DN10@36:I got the feeling that this was a new timeline also. From the Doctor's comments that Amy & Rory had never mentioned Mel's and from the absence of Mel's in any part of the series up to now, it does seem like something new has happened in a timey whimey sense.
Raskolnikov
45. ChrisG
@Pendard(40). That's a good point. I would add though that the Justice Department has full records on the Doctor, so he appears to be a historical figure for them as well. Moreover, if you could travel in time, the atrocities commited by King Cyrus or whoever in the time you were visiting would not be just dusty words but would be real and immediate. Time travellers explicitly concerned with justice should be particularly moved by that.

My feeling is that beyond a coarse classification any ranking of atrocities is generally meaningless and disrespectful to the victims. Deciding whether, say, Hitler or the Daleks is worse is a slippery business. Is it just body count? Suffering? Motivation? I don't think we can reduce it to a formula, and as you point out, we are biased by immediacy and other factors. Instead, we need to acknowledge what happened and that what happened was deeply wrong and morally repugnant, and then remember it (in the active sense) with the hope of preventing such a thing from happening again.

You're right that the Justice Department characters might believe that Melody's crime is worse than Hitler's crimes, but it didn't come across that way to me in the one throwaway line. Nor did we get a sense from the characters of why that would be (such as the argument you raised). To me, it came across as Moffat using the comparison as a device to heighten the dramatic stakes in his story, and that felt off.

But again, you make a very good point. I hadn't thought about it that way, and your argument has somewhat moderated my initial reaction to the line.
Raskolnikov
46. ChrisG
P.S. I meant @Pendard(43), but @Brian Rasmusen(40)'s points are similar and also relevant.
Raskolnikov
47. Bryan Rasmussen
"if you could travel in time, the atrocities commited by King Cyrus or
whoever in the time you were visiting would not be just dusty words but
would be real and immediate.
"

The Justice Dept. were not travelling in time and thereby got affected by atrocities, rather they come from a culture that invented time travel and decided lets go back in time to all those people in their dusty history books and set them to rights.
Thus the realness and immediacy would be one that applied in that same context.
Raskolnikov
48. ChrisG
@47 Bryan, I'm not saying they got affected by the atrocities but that they did/could witness the atrocities. If one traveled back to witness atrocity X, whatever it is, I suspect it would seem to you a real and immediate injustice even if you were not explicitly at risk.
Raskolnikov
49. Pendard
@Bryan Rasmussen (#39):

1. River's first regeneration didn't happen during the Great Depression -- the titles specified "Six Months Later" after "Day of the Moon," so about January 1970. I would guess River just lived normally until she found Amy and Rory. She would be 26 years old when she meets young Amy in 1996, which suggests her body ages very slowly, like a Time Lord. (Or perhaps she can control her age, like the says.)

2. There's no reason to doubt it when the Doctor says she has used her regenerations. In any case, we know she doesn't regenerate again since she still looks the same when she's killed in "Forest of the Dead."

4. I don't think "Hello, Benjamin" was a hypnotic trigger. I think she was referencing The Graduate, comparing the Doctor to Dustin Hoffman's character the same way the Doctor compared/will compare her to Mrs. Robinson in "The Impossible Astronaut."

5. I like your idea that Mels rewrote time to insert herself in Amy and Rory's life, giving them new memories like Kazran in "A Christmas Carol." But River's timey-wimeyness is usually a bit more of the predestination sort. And since Moffat invented an excuse for her not to be at the wedding, it seems more likely that Amy and Rory just never mentioned her (sort of the opposite of Rose Tyler's "best mate" Cherise who she always talks about but who we never see). The Doctor's only chance to meet her would be the wedding and she had a very good reason to avoid it -- the Doctor was likely to attend, she was programmed to kill him on sight, and if she had done it at the wedding she would have negated her own conception later that night in the TARDIS.

#40: I completely agree with you that the Justice Department sees Melody as a bigger war criminal than Hitler. Interesting that the Doctor, her only victim, doesn't seem to agree...
Raskolnikov
50. a-j
Not wild about this episode, had a fan fiction feel to it for me, all that filling in details for River Song and felt there was an excellent story swamped by continuity material. Part of the problem is that I'm not overly fussed by continuity issues, especially with a series like Dr Who which has grown organically over the years rather than being mapped out in advance like Babylon 5.

Part of the charm and delight of Dr Who has been the variety of stories that can be told and I'm agnostic about the emphasis shifting to the series regulars but I appreciate that I'm in a minority here.

The episode did leave a slight sour taste for me. Not the comedic treatment of the nazis, as Pendard says mocking them was part of the arsenal of fighting them, but the suggestion that a fictional character who killed another fictional character is worse just felt inappropriate, however accurate such a statement may be within that fictional world.
Raskolnikov
51. Raskolnikov
Teresa [38] I'm sorry, but I just don't believe in holding a certain event or point in history as "sacred" as far as how it's treated. Be it the Holocaust, or Wounded Knee, or September 11th, or any other bit of genocide, homocide, or tragedy, I'm not someone who believes that certain topics need to be treated with more care simply because they are Those Topics. I don't think a story about Hitler needs to be treated any differently than any other Doctor Who story simply because it's about Hitler.
I have to say I find that attitude incredibly callous. It would seem that to be consistent you would have no problem with a slapstick approach to, say, the Norway shootings, that they could just be put in and put aside, kept in background, dealt with an ineffectual punch and having the protaginsts sail off fine that the person they just left was going to commit murder that they could have prevented (remember, from Waters of Mars the Doctor *can* change fixed points in time). I doubt you'd make such an argument, though, and I doubt in our lifetimes we'd see this kind of show featuring even as comparatively minor a tragedy like 9/11 (compared to the Holocaust, that is). The difference is that people often already don't take the Third Reich seriously, and treat it more as an over the top cultural villainy than a real phenomenon.
I do not and have never said that real-world tragedies should not be treated, or cannot be done in a comedic way. But to presume that actual genocide can be treated as in the same manner as one of Davros' schemes is exceedingly distasteful. We are left with a setup where Hitler is not taken seriously, and the force of a historical incident is relatively debased. Yes, this sort of thing gets done a lot, but I expected more from Doctor Who.

The episode doesn't mobilize the comedy in service of anything beyond the show boasting. The argument that it's an effective tool assumes the tool is being used for anything--and if you think that the episode does anything to advance critique of fascism, anti-Semitism or racism, that it uses 1938 Berlin as a way to advance awareness of how National Socialism is wrong--then please show me that part of the episode. I don't see it at all.

Also, I never said, nor do I believe, that the Justice Department saw Melody's crimes as worse than Hitler's, but on the same level, which - in a Universe where The Doctor is The Doctor and does what he does - makes sense.
They do explicitly say 'forget Hitler, here's a much more significant criminal', to paraphrase slightly. They do indicate that in the show Hitler is regarded as second tier, in terms of episode importance and collateral impact.

We're not talking about what the Third Reich means in our world. You have to view this time period through the lens of the show and these characters.
No, I don't. The show and setting have not remotely earned that. The setting does not take itself seriously enough to advance the argument that this actually is of greater importance than Nazi Germany. My initial post in this thread indicated why I found that such a problematic stand.

Lastly, you're right in that they do come for Hitler too late and Melody too early, and that the Justice Department is more interested in punishment than preventing - so that's another bit of substance for you. Who or what gives any group the right to punish someone on behalf of the world or universe? How is that decided? And is it right/fair? What is the point of punishment if not to act as a deterrent? Just to make everyone feel better? Why is that considered honorable? Is "sending someone to hell" any better than the original atrocity?
At the end of this episode, Amy pretty much takes down the Justice Department, which may be the point. That it shouldn't be up to them to decide who must die for what.
These are all potentially weighty issues in the show, but they are not made significant, morally complex or involved within the actual episdoe that aired. I'd suggest the fact that you at first cited this as an example of Minorty Report issues means that the analysis of sadistic reprisal as a grander scheme didn't make much of an impression on you. Not surprising, since they give the broader elements about ten second of dialog, and no one has any statement regarding the broader issue. In the episode the Justice Robot team is wrong and must be killed* not because torture of historical villains is wrong, but because they're torturing the daughter/romantic partner of the main characters. Deeply shallow.

*Again, as far as Amy knew when she took down all the bands. Another case of moral shallowness--extreme single-minded ruthless dedication for family, but it doesn't end up leaving a building of vaporized crew. How convenient.
Ursula L
53. Ursula
I'm not saying they got affected by the atrocities but that they did/could witness the atrocities. If one traveled back to witness atrocity X, whatever it is, I suspect it would seem to you a real and immediate injustice even if you were not explicitly at risk.


But they didn't go back and witness atrocities. They went back in time to just before the death of the perpetrators of atrocities, and tortured the perpetrators.

As seen in this episode, what they saw of Hitler's crimes wasn't the crimes themselves. They went nowhere near a battlefield or concentration camp. They were looking to catch Hitler in his bunker just before his suicide, and got to him a few years early, finding him in his Berlin office.

They had a list of people, and both Hitler and Melody were high on the list. Catching Melody right there, and with her victim, surprised them.

And they only tortured Melody/River after they saw her kill the Doctor. From their point of view, Hitler's crimes were out of sight, but they were shocked to see a murder-in-progress and went to torture Melody then and there, despite it not being near her end.
Raskolnikov
54. Raskolnikov
Pendard [43]:
Point of clarification, up to now I haven't mentioned Wounded Kneee, that was another poster. I believe the argument made there stands, but credit where credit is due.

The fact is, we're coming to the point where World War II is passing out of living memory, and its significance is going to change a bit because of it. A few years ago, I think it would have been difficult to do things like "Let's Kill Hitler," or Inglourious Basterds, or the Captain America movie, which fictionalize this part of history. It would have just been too offensive to suggest, for example, that the fictional villain the Red Skull in Captain America was more of a threat than Hitler, because too many people were still alive that had lived throught he war. That's probably why, in 47 years on the air, Doctor Who has never shown the Doctor interacting with Nazis until now (before someone objects, those weren't real Nazis in "The Curse of Fenric"!). Clearly, attitudes are changing and a lot of people don't find that sort of thing tasteless anymore. And I think it's a good thing.


No, I can't let this comment go, not even in a 'well, disagree but we both like Doctor Who for the most part so let's be friendly'. The fact that we're loosing a degree of connection to the reality of Nazi Germany (although I don't think substantial trivilization is as recent as you think) is in any way desirable. It was kind of a big deal, you know? A rather substantial moment in history, even. Worth taking seriously for an extended period of time, even to the extent of lifetimes and lifetimes. The political activist in me would opinion that this is even more significant now, with the rise of the far right globally, increasingly open racism particularly in American rhetoric, etc, it's a bad idea to play down the idea that Nazi ideology and structure matters more than the Cybermen. Even if that weren't our current politics, though, I'd still find your statement rather risible. And in a world where far, far more people will likely see Doctor Who than will read things like Mazower's excellent Hitler's Empire or even more popular WWII histories, it is deeply problematic to have the representation of the Nazis be so flimsy.

Don't forget, people were able to laugh at Hitler while he was alive -- just look at The Great Dictator and To Be or Not to Be, two comedy movies about Hitler that were produced during World War II. It's only in the postwar years that he attained a mythical status as absolute evil incarnate. Well, maybe it's time to take that mythical status away from him and treat him as the sad, pathetic man he was. As Charlie Chaplin knew, there's a lot of power in using him as a punchline as well. If Hitler is a symbol of evil, making a joke out of him, presenting his hate-filled life as something pathetic and laughable, is the same as presenting hate and evil as pathetic and laughable. It's one of the advantages 65 years of distance that we can choose to do that. It's high time.
You're taking a rather absolutist claim here, either one must reject all comedy on Serious Matters or one accepts Chaplin hand in hands with "Let's Kill Hitler". That's absurd, comedy does not cover everything or automatically make any humor a viable tool. The big difference, rather glaringly obvious but apparently it still needs to be stated, is that Chaplin's film is about the Nazi party centrally. Thhe latest episode isn't. It uses the Third Reich as a relatively trivial part of the storyline, to the level of Hitler being in the closest as only a repeated gag, and in consequence it treats the Nazis as a trivial thing. They weren't. Evil is banal and often pathetic, but that doesn't mean it can be brought center stage and simply ignored to focus on soap opera cheaningans without being in absolutely terrible taste.

And, yes, it's always going to be strange to hear a fictional atrocity compared to a real one. I get that. But in this universe, the genocide perpetrated by the Daleks is actually worse than the one perpetrated by the Nazis.


As I said, the show has not earned that. I'll add that the in-universe justification doesn't work because it's not applied in a consistently serious matter. The Daleks are generally taken as figures of intense menace, yes, but that doesn't stop the show from treating thier snarkiness in "Doomsday" as an element of general fun, it doesn't stop the Doctor from offering personal escape to Davros, and of heavily leaning on the Daleks' camp factor in most of their appearances, particularly post-Dalek. Given that, it's quite stupid for the show to think it can get away with a calculus of evil that makes their ridiculous pepper-pot aliens be a real concern well the Nazis even when on-screen aren't really a *major* moral concern.
Ursula L
55. Ursula
Part of the point of Hitler, I think, was the way it worked to demonstrate what the Doctor meant to Mels.

First we see her as a schoolchild, and she blames the Doctor for not stopping Hitler.

Her background is a combination of the training she was given to make her kill the Doctor, which would include teaching her that the Doctor was bad and had to be stopped, and Amy's childhood stories of the Doctor - a wonderful, mysterious man who nevertheless will abandon and disappoint you.

The combination leads to Mels being fascinated and obsessed with the Doctor.

Next she meets the Doctor, and the first thing she does is to test him - she challenges him to help her kill Hitler.

They get to prewar Berlin, and next thing you know, the Doctor has (inadvertently) saved Hitler.

This seems to confirm what Mels was taught, that the Doctor was an indifferent monster who could prevent horrible things but doesn't.

Mels, is shot, by Hitler, and regenerates into her River-form. Having her worst fears about what the Doctor is confirmed, she throws herself into her assigned task of killing him, while still retaining her obsession and fascination with him.

Mels is then surprised that the Doctor, even while dying, still cares. As he lies dying from her poisoned kiss, he calls out to Amy to protect Mels/River. This amazes Mels, who thought the Doctor a monster.

AShe also gets hints that she might have a future with the Doctor, a wonderful and adventerous future.

Tellingly, she asks Amy, her mother and her best friend, if the Doctor is "worth it."

And Amy says "yes." Amy's lost a lot through her relationship with the Doctor. Most importantly, she lost her relationship with the infant Melody. And Mels knows this.

So when Amy says the Doctor is "worth it", Mels believes her, and bets everything on the Doctor, using her remaining regenerative power to save him and their future together.

And that's who River is - a person who has bet everything she has and is, on the hope that the Doctor will be worth it.
Raskolnikov
56. ChrisG
@Ursula(53) You're right, in the episode they did not witness any of the atrocities, and that does provide support for the claim that the crimes they are punishing are less immediate -- and thus seemingly less important -- to them. That's a very good point.

I was arguing in general that as time travelers the events they witness make the crimes they are punishing less abstract and more real to them. In the episode, they imply that the crew has been doing this for a while, and it seems unlikely that the crimes they punish always end long after the context of the crime (e.g., Melody in the episode). That suggests that they do see atrocities in the course of their career. If you witness the slaughter in Rawanda and then go to Berlin 1938 (no picnic but not the low point either) knowing what will happen, does the crime not seem more real to you? I think so, and I think that a career of seeing such things, even if sometimes indirectly, would more so. But I certainly appreciate your argument to the contrary. I also concede that if the Justice Department folks do not ever actually witness Nazi atrocities, then perhaps it remains academic to them. It does seem odd to go to all that trouble to punish crimes that you see as quaint historical abstractions, but history has seen weirder things.

Regarding the immediacy thesis, I do wonder a bit at the psychology of it. How many people in the U.S. would rank 9/11 as being worse than the Holocaust? The full range of answers to that question seem plausible, but it would be interesting to see the data. (And again I would note that I don't believe such rankings to be meaningful.) Perhaps the Justice Department folks have become jaded over time and are only going through the motions. Perhaps as Bryan and Pendard suggests, they are so far removed in time that these events seem academic (but not real enough that they punish the criminals with a vengeance). Perhaps they are legalistic puritons who are offended by any violation of rules or norms or ethics. But if so, those are important feature of their society that does not come through in the episode as written.

As to Melody, my recollection is that the comparison to Hitler came before they knew she had poisoned him. When the one crew member said, "She's the one who killed the Doctor", the other said "She's doing it now." Perhaps I'm misremembering. But in that case, shock at a crime in progress would not be the reason for the comparison that they made.

You, Bryan, and Pendarast have helped me appreciate the comparison in the episode as a reflection of the crew's society and their moral position relative to the history they are policing. As I said before, your arguments have reduced the intensity of my negative reaction to that moment. However, I'm still not convinced that that argument would be the explanation the writers had in mind; I still think it was just an effective device to tie the Melody-River-Doctor story into the larger mythos. And given the ambiguity in the script, the comment still seems to me inadvisable and unfortunate.
Raskolnikov
57. ChrisG
@Ursula(55). That's a nice way to tie the threads together; very convincing.
Raskolnikov
58. ChrisG
P.S. By "threads", I mean threads of the episode and story arc, not threads of this discussion.
Raskolnikov
59. Raskolnikov
Of course assessment of the justice robot team's perspective and historical focus on ethics should also notice that they are absolutely terrible historians, arguably the worst since Willis' All Clear. The mechanics of time insertion are often slippery, but it shouldn't be possible for anyone who knows anything about World War Two to wander through Berlin for twenty minutes and not realize that this isn't '45 instead of 1938 is frankly unblievable. It's not like the context was particularly subtle there.
Raskolnikov
60. Bryan Rasmussen
"Of course assessment of the justice robot team's perspective and
historical focus on ethics should also notice that they are absolutely
terrible historians"

Good point, but if they are bad historians they might very well be unable to properly assess the relative status of historical crimes.
Ursula L
61. Ursula
The workers on the judgment-robot are another comment on the banality of evil.

These are people who are just doing their job. Following orders, if you will.

And their job is to find certain people and torture them. They're not torturing to get information, or trying to stop the atrocities, or anything else.

It's torture for the sake of torture, and it's just their job. If they can torture Melody, they think they'll get a bonus vacation. So they'll divert from their previous target of Hitler, since it is convenient.
Raskolnikov
62. Pendard
@Raskolnikov (#59): You have just put your finger on one thing in this episode that really DID bother me (a little) -- the robot crew gets to Berlin, infiltrates Hitler's office and only when they've already begun abducting him do they realize they're in 1938 instead of 1945? Seems kind of unlikely! And this mistake that they've made is the only justification for having the robot in the story at all. And robot that doesn't really play any role in the actual plot, it doesn't actually need to be there except to create some jeopardy for Amy and Rory, give the Doctor the opportunity to defend River to someone, and to make the whole situation a little wackier. I felt like Moffat got a little bit lazy at that one moment. But I don't really care that much. He could have expanded this into two episodes and justified everything, but too much justification is just a waste of time, and too much logic is tiresome and untrue to life.

@Ursula (#61): I know the Doctor considers the robot crew evil, but I'm not sure I do. Don't get me wrong, I loved his put down to them: "I'd ask you who you think you are, but it's pretty obvious." On the other hand, I sort of like the idea that there's punishment waiting for people who got away with it. If it weren't for the fact that the robot crew seems completely inept (they accidentally attack both Hitler and Melody before their fixed-point-in-time crimes instead of after) part of me would support what they're doing. Maybe not the best part of me. But definitely part of me.
Raskolnikov
63. SKM
Don't forget, people were able to laugh at Hitler while he was alive -- just look at The Great Dictator and To Be or Not to Be, two comedy movies about Hitler that were produced during World War II. It's only in the postwar years that he attained a mythical status as absolute evil incarnate.

Raskolnikov already addressed this, but I feel it should also be pointed out that during World War II, most Americans and Brits were unaware (blissfully or willfully) of the extent of the Holocaust, whereas after the war, that was no longer true. It is disingenuous to argue that the treatment of Hitler in this episode was fine because Chaplin and his ilk made light of Hitler at the time -- to them, he was simply an enemy/foreign leader with some crazy ideas, because the extent of the destruction he caused with those ideas was not yet common knowledge. Once the truth came out, he immediately was accorded the "mythical status" you describe, by comedians as well as everyone else.
marian moore
64. mariesdaughter
@Pendard: That was another line that sent a chill down my back.

The Doctor starts (as you mentioned) "I'd ask you who you think you are, but it's pretty obvious."
Then he follows it "In which case, I wonder who you think I am."

Ever since the Colin Baker days, there have been intimations that the Doctor is more than he seems. They do manage to keep the sense of wonder going.
Raskolnikov
65. Raskolnikov
#61 Ursula-
As with my earlier comment, you really think this is a thoughtful commentary offered on the nature of evil? I think there's significant evidence that you're given this presentation a lot more thought than Moffat did.

#62 Pendard-
With my larger perspective on this episode, I think it's precisely because there's this level of continual sloppiness in writing that the show isn't equipped to handle the epic family drama. And certainly not something on the level of the place of the Third Reich in history. This show has always had tons of awkward logic-problems. I feel that suits a lot better when it's erratic SFnal one-episode adventures. Apply the same writing pattern to wider scale and it gets problematic, particularly when it seems to get further away from regular people.

A bit more generally:
Another issue I have in criticism of this episode, and really the whole sixth season, is with the characterization of Amy. It seems that the rather interesting S5 personality has been increasingly retooled now to exist primarily for the sake of others, whether focusing on trying to save the Doctor, or more recently as the mother. Plus, in the process she's become almost ludicriously trigger-happy, sometimes literally. Anyone else share this view? It just seems that things are becoming more hollowed out of late.
marian moore
66. mariesdaughter
By the way, if you look at the BBC site, some of the references are explained.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0146h0q

yes, the "hello, benjamin" is a direct reference to the Graduate.
Ursula L
67. Ursula
As with my earlier comment, you really think this is a thoughtful commentary offered on the nature of evil?

Yes, I do think they're commenting on the nature of evil, or rather, on the way that evil can look normal on the surface.

The face of Nazism presented was very much its polite facade. Hitler, alone and polite. Well-mannered officers in a nice restaurant. Uniformed office workers in a file room. If you didn't know they were Nazis, if you saw only the visuals without knowing the history, you'd think these were perfectly normal, nice, humane people.

Then you have the operators of the Justice-robot. Nice uniforms, professional pride in their work, thinking about vacations and promotions and ordinary things. And then you realize that they're institutionalized torture. Of all the wonderful and interesting things they could do with time travel, they choose to go and torture people, with no interest in reforming them, or learning from their mistakes, or anything else positive.

And this contrasts with the maddness and chaos swirling around the Doctor and River/Mels/Melody. Sometimes they're right, sometimes they're wrong. They can be gloriously wonderful or terrifyingly ruthless. But they're always wholely involved in what they're doing, passionate about life and justice.

The contrast is delightful, and quite certainly deliberate. The portrayal of both Nazis and Tessalecta crew was consistant. Every point where they could have made them more colorful, more intense, was avoided. Every person was completely ordinary, despite being involved in great evil.
Raskolnikov
68. Raskolnikov
You seem to be assuming that banality and surface-level of narrative means a subtle commentary on the nature of evil. I don't think it does, it simply means a banal and superficial approach to complex subjects. Where is the guarantee you find that the writer* is being that analytical? Or that a scene dependent on that high a level of fan supplement actually is engaged in extravagent moral complexity.

*Who, let's not forget, went with a 'Look, bigger breasts!' joke as part of River's regeneration scene. Let's call a spade a spade. Nothing else about the episode is really very complex, I don't think the above is either.
Charles Dunkley
69. cedunkley
@Raskolnikov: I guess it all boils down to our individual perspectives and predetermined ideologies in what we bring to the table when viewing this episode. Ursula made quite an interesting point about how both Nazi Germany and the Justice League were, on the surface, quite polite and civil. And yet both are in fact ruthless in their goals.

I thought it quite interesting how the Justice League was looking for Hitler and Mels was looking for the Doctor. Both seem intent on revenge, on punishment. To Mels, having been raised initially by the Silence sees the Doctor in much the same way we would see Hitler.

I think seeing the Doctor in person, in action, seeing his passion and motivation and love for his friends, and even her, juxtaposed against the Justice League having no interest in Melody as a person, only as a criminal, was an interesting vehicle for Melody to begin to take her first steps down the road to becoming River Song.

You seem to be more dismissive of Moffat's intentions or his abilities or his sensibilities than perhaps I am? To each his own I suppose. From my perspective, enjoying Rory punching Hitler in the face and telling him to shut up doesn't in any way dimish the monster Hitler was. It's simply comedy to me and I can laugh at that without it chipping away at my view that Hitler was an abomination.

As for a younger audience watching I would hope that adults watching with them would make sure the reality of Hitler gets discussed if their youth aren't aware of just who Hitler was.

I'm enjoying Moffat's long story this season. Until and only if he falls flat on his face at the end and ruins it for me will I begin to question where he might be going with the story. Right now I'm along for the ride.
Raskolnikov
70. Ron Smith
Here's something to think about that might help explain how River changed her mind about killing the Doctor.
Look at the sequence of events when the antibodies are about to kill Amy and Rory. The Doctor is dieing on the floor and asks River, who still thinks of herself as Mels, to save them. She goes to the Tardis. The Tardis dematterialises from the room.
The Tardis matterialises around Amy and Rory. Mels explains that the Tardis has taught her how to fly it.

Remember that the Tardis is a time machine. Mels, who still did not know who River is, could have been flying through time and space for YEARS before mastering the Tardis controls well enough to return to 1938 Berlin and make the precision landing to rescue Amy and Rory. She could have had many (mis)adventures in the process. She could even have encountered the Doctor, Amy, and Rory several times at different points in their time lines.
With this kind of experience it is not surprising her opinions of the Doctor would have changed.
I doubt this is what Moffet had in mind, but it does open the possibility of Mels that looks like River, but doesn't know who River is, showing up in a future episode. With her own Tardis, which is the same Tardis, just at a different point in the Tardis' own time line.

I'm getting a headache.
Raskolnikov
71. AlBrown
When the Vette came roaring in through the wheat, I thought to myself, "Here comes River Song with one of her dramatic entrances." But then I saw that it wasn't River, and thought, "Oh, they didn't take the obvious route, instead they are introducing a new character." But then, hours later, I realized that it had been River in the Vette after all, and they had taken the obvious route, but in a way that was anything but obvious, and I thought, "Woah!"
And it was that type of brain teaser that makes me love Doctor Who, and made me enjoy this episode.
Plus, I like the humourous side of the Doctor, which we don't always get to see. Which is why I liked the last show of the last season, because, just as the show got all serious and life and death on us, it suddenly mutated into a zany slapstick dash through an empty museum.
Woah!
Raskolnikov
72. Raskolnikov
#69 cedunkley :
Well, enjoy your eventual Galactica "Daybreak"/ Lost "The End" -esque moment of cumulative anger and rejection. :) To echo my earlier point, I see that as less likely to conclude effectively because we have been given a lot of things that do answer earlier questions. We now have at least provisional answers for River's origin, her main lifestory, the identity of the Doctor's assassin and the nature of the Silence. And those answers have been fairly weak, either predictable or out of left field, and the manner they've been delivered in has been pretty awkward. I also don't see a distinction between the elaborate reading-between-the-lines justifications that you and others are offering and fanfiction on the Doctor Who episode. It can be impressive, interesting and sensible addition, but ultimately it's not canon and people are putting it in because the story itself wasn't all that good. My neutral response to that is that Moffat is having some issues carrying forward his larger storytelling. My cynical response would be that he's letting random, lazily written stuff fly by in the expectation of invested fans plastering over the plot holes, and will drag out a succession of more and more over the top mysteries in order to build viewer interest.
Raskolnikov
73. Dr. Thanatos
1) I also assumed that the crazed driver of the sports car was River; I was disappointed until the reveal---nice job Moffitt!!!

2) Loved punching out Hitler and stuffing him in a closet and out of the episode; likewise the gay bar mitzvah line...

3) The only true Hitchhiker's Guide is the radio show. Harumph

4) Banning jokes about Hitler? I've heard this in my synagogue from a minority of humorless people. Guess what? Holocaust survivors laugh like crazy. Their take is that if you can't laugh at Hitler, he wins. Whether it's The Producers, Life is Beautiful, or The Great Dictator, there is a long tradition of mocking bad guys. Anyone who says "this is sacred untouchable history" is misappropriating history. Harumph again...
Raskolnikov
74. Raskolnikov
Dr. Thanatos:
Criticism of an episode is not always a call for censorship, you know. I'm also not willing to accept your anecdotal evidence as trumping all counter-arguments. You're also either ignorant of or ignoring a lot of comments above in the thread that argue a number of significant differences between Chaplin and this episode, not sure why you seem to feel this is a trump card. You are also the first poster in this thread to use the phrase "sacred untouchable history", and are ignoring a lot of direct statements that this can be done, cvan be done satircally, and be effective, but the very partial treatment used in this episode adds nothing.

You're not offering a very good argument here.
Raskolnikov
75. Dr. Thanatos
Raskolnikov,

You are under a misimpression. I am neither engaging in debate nor trying to convince anyone of anything; I am merely participating in the discussion; so whether someone accepts my argument, or finds it weak, is of no interest to me. I would hesitate to call anyone ignorant on this or any other list; I did read the above posts, including the ones who took offense at making satire of the Holocaust, 9/11, or other areas of what I have referred to as "sacred untouchable history" [a phrase I coined and never claimed that was used before]. I have been involved in other discussions with people who find any WWII related humor unacceptable; that is why I referenced a long history reaching from the time of the events themselves to modern times of finding a way to laugh at the Nazis and therefore diminishing their power over us. Having reviewed my post I find no reference to censorship; only to the fact that the only people with any moral standing to pass judgement over what is or is not appropriate to say about that horrible time, i.e. those who actually live through it, have no issue with such satire.

As I said, I offer no argument, make no claim that Chaplin is a trump card of any sort, and am not interested in "winning" any kind of debate. I'm here to have interesting discussions about people's take on a topic we enjoy, not to get bogged down in debate about whether I am winning a debate...
Raskolnikov
76. Raskolnikov
"Banning jokes" doesn't seem a claim of dislike for the episode being censorship?
It seems a bit disingenious to enter the thread echoing past claims and dismissing people that took issue with the episode, and then claim
Call it an interesting discussion as opposed to an argument or whatever semantics you want to employ. You're not talking to the critique of the episode, the way it's somewhat different from Chaplin etc particularly in the explicit equation of the Nazis as less important than Whovian characters.

In particular with your claim the episode as a case "of finding a way to laugh at the Nazis and therefore diminishing their power over us" seems to make a rather dubious assumption, that is the main problem for current popular culture and National Socialism is that it is held in too much fear and power. Instead, I would interestingly discuss (can't argue!), the more central problem involves people treating the Nazis as a silly, unreal, not really that threatening or destructive group. An issue that this episode pushes for rather centrally, wouldn't you say?

And no, I can't see your anacedotal reference to survivors appreciating unnamed satire in a different context as a valid defense for this particular episode, which given the third Reich only marginally more focus and screentime than River pulling a bannana instead of a gun or admiring her breast growth. Opposing this episode does not mean I am fervent against all forms of comedy. People liking a use of comedy does not automatically mean they'd be thrilled with this episode. You're playing at stark binaries here.
Raskolnikov
77. Bryan Rasmussen
I never would have imagined in a million years that I would end up loving a show callled "Springtime for Hitler"!!
Raskolnikov
78. Bryan Rasmussen
I would like to second Ursula's posts that the crew of the Tesseract were meant to be the banality of evil. Hence the Doctor's disgusted reaction as to who they think they are. I don't necessarily agree that there were meant to be direct correlations between them and the banality of Nazi evil.

I'd also think that if you had time travel, and there were a time travelling punishment squad going around that might be a problem you would find yourself more called on to stop than a lot of things. In other words the Doctor might be dealing a bit more with these people in the future.
Raskolnikov
79. Raskolnikov
I don't read the Doctor's comment as genuine disgust as much as flippant puncturing of their bubble. For all the time focused on them in this episode (was it necessary to see every detail of them assuming a better disguise?) there really wasn't consideration given to their whole purpose, or their (completely unjustifiable) practice. If the episode wanted to have a real critique of them, it shot itself in the foot by having the only action against them being from the blinders of 'must save River'. Not 'torture just for the sake of doing it to bad people is morally wrong'.The strongest the Doctor really offers is a stance of 'people who describe themselves as sendng the evil to hell are obviously playing God'. Obvious indeed.
Raskolnikov
80. Bryan Rasmussen
River's first regeneration didn't happen during the Great Depression --
the titles specified "Six Months Later" after "Day of the Moon," so
about January 1970.

hmm yeah right, not sure where I developed the impression it was the Depression, maybe just thinking some timey-wimey ideas and then got it established in my head that it would work that way.
Teresa Jusino
81. TeresaJusino
AlBrown @71 - YES! I thought the very same thing re: the Vette, Mels, and River. I love how consistent the character of River Song/Melody Pond/Mels is.
Michael Ikeda
82. mikeda
Bryan Rasmussen@42

It occurs to me that River's warning to the Doctor from the previous episode is considerably amplified by the events of this episode. She's warning the guy she saved at the cost of multiple regenerations that he may be heading down a seriously misguided path.
Chuck Varesko
83. cgv123
I gotta agree with Raskolnikov on all points. And I am concerned that the reviewer wrote, "...they change they’re focus..." Come on! That's using a contraction of "they are" when you meant to use "their."
Loved the Justice vehicle. Not a total robot, it was being controlled by the operators inside. Liked some of the banter and sight gags, especially the young Amy and Rory stuff. And, can you imagine that Hitler would really be sitting alone in an office where a single soldier could walk in on him unannounced? No guards at his beck and call? Or that after a large blue box crashes into his office no one would come to investigate? Shoddy writing. Just plain shoddy.
Charles Dunkley
84. cedunkley
@cgv123:

The Justice League robot put a sound dampener of some sort around Hitler's office so no one outside the office would be aware anything was going on inside.

And while that doesn't necessarily handle theTardis smashing through the wall for anyone outside the building it probably would have made no noise to anyone inside.
Chuck Varesko
85. cgv123
Ah ha! A sound dampener. Okay, I'll buy it. But it still seems strange that there weren't people who had to be in there on and off. Unless Schicklegrubber knew he needed to be alone so Rory could punch him and he told his entire staff he didn't want to be disturbed. Or, what if Eva Braun dropped by to show him a new hat? How would the old dampener handle that one?
Raskolnikov
86. Ron J
I liked her comment when confronted with her crimes... "Honestly all that is something of a blur" (or some such.) So it's possible that she killed the doctor long ago in the future, as a child, and just doesn't remember it. Hence why she tried to shoot herself in the future.
Raskolnikov
87. CromulentCroc
@Raskolnikov - You're simply not getting the scale of this. Carl Sagan's 'Pale Blue Dot' monologue puts all this in perspective nicely.

For all that the Holocaust and the Second World War and the Cold War mean to us, to the universe it's all just a speck.

Even on our own planet, there have been equally gruesome genocides that probably aren't even in your field of view. How about the Bengali Genocide of 1971, or the Armenian Genocide in the early twenties? Bangladeshis and Indians and Armenians remember them as moments of great pain, but most people in the West haven't a clue. Conversely, South Asians are indifferent to the World Wars because honestly, it didn't touch them as directly.

Events, like objects, look larger the closer they are. Asimov has a story where future humans describe the Second World War vaguely as a conflict between "Anglo-Saxon and Teutonic tribes". In the long view, it probably will be seen like that.

There was a time when the Napoleon was the worst (one part of) humanity could imagine and was Serious with a capital S. What's the last time you felt enraged at Napoleon? Or Alexander, for burning down Persepolis? Or Genghis, for killing fifteen million Central Asians?

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