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Doctor Who – The Bridegroom of River Song

Another series finished, and many questions were answered. More importantly, one important question was asked.

- Season 6, Episode 13 - "The Wedding of River Song"

Last series we saw what space looks like when it’s disintegrating. This season, we see what time looks like when it’s disintegrating. Turns out it looks like pterodactyls, cars flying by hot air balloon, Roman Emperor Winston Churchill and Charles Dickens writing Christmas Specials for television. Oh, and a Meredith Viera cameo. Ian McNeice‘s third appearance as Churchill was so much fun, especially in this strange alternate reality — even in a world where Churchill delegates with JFK and Cleopatra, he and the Doctor get along swimmingly considering he’s Churchill’s prisoner. The Silence were particularly intimidating in these scenes, with Churchill suddenly holding a loaded gun and the Doctor’s arm suddenly covered in notches.

Like the Pandorica storyline of the last finale (which I loved, by the way), “The Wedding of River Song” completely messes with our most basic concepts of time — I’m going to have to watch this one a few times before I can get it straight in my head. I love episodes like this … the ones that make my head hurts. I’m still trying to figure out how River was able to stop time. Plus, how does Amy and Rory remember their time in the alternate time stream?  And if there are two different versions of the same event, when did the event change and why? Oh, let’s forget all that, live chess to the death is both hilarious and brilliant! Also, were they referencing Peewee’s Playhouse with Dorium’s blue head in a box?

It was fun to see the Doctor desperately try to get Amy to remember him … only to have her know him already, with their adventures sketched all over her walls. But Rory is once again the unknown soldier. At least Amy remembered that she loves him this time, even if she has trouble pointing him out. Can we all just be glad Rory didn’t die again? He’s one of my favorite characters and a real bad ass. Even when time is falling apart, Rory Williams is a bad ass. And Amy came back for him.

While I have enjoyed Amy during this last part of the season, her turn here was particularly strong (did you catch her James Bond moment?). Like her daughter’s face-off with the Daleks last series, Amy is expected to pardon Madame Kovarian because that’s what the Doctor would do. Instead, Amy leaves her daughter’s wet-nurse to the fate of the Silence (similar to the nanny in “Partners in Crime” from series four, actually). Strength of character doesn’t have to come from violence, but considering what Kovarian did to River … it makes sense for Amy to be ruthless here, and I like her better for it. Like daughter, like mother. Speaking of, I was very happy to see Amy and River interact with each other as their own version of mother and child. We really haven’t seen the River we know talk to the Amy who knows who River is. It also cleared up some of the questions we’ve had about what River knows about and when she knows it.

With all the teasing about the Doctor and River’s relationship, I think we all would have been a little disappointed if they didn’t end up married. Was it a surprise to anyone? Well, the episode is called “The Wedding of River Song,” so no. Personally, it feels right that they finally tied the knot … and that knot was tied with his bow tie. Matt Smith and Alex Kingston have so much chemistry, and I’m looking forward to seeing their sexy meet-ups next series. Looking back, I realize that the whole time the Doctor was trying to get River upset with him and start time back up again, he was actually bouncing around in the Teselecta. I do wonder that the Justice Department was so open to helping the Doctor escape his destiny. I’m also not sure how good the Doctor is going to be at staying under the radar. He’s a quirky, talkative alien in a big blue box who is known for being a timeless champion of good in an uncertain universe … blending in is going to be a challenge next series.

Now, there have been many twists and reveals in this show that I didn’t see coming, but I am proud to say that I totally guessed “the question” back during “Let’s Kill Hitler”! It’s the oldest question of all time, the question so obvious it’s staring us right in the face. What’s more obvious than the title of the show. The question is “Doctor who?” and only the Doctor and his wife know the answer.

“The Wedding of River Song” was a damn strong finale, tying the whole season together in really unexpected but clever ways. The season started with the riddle of the Doctor’s death, and while there are plenty of blanks left to be filled in the 11th Doctor’s story, I’m honestly surprised how much was resolved in this one episode. Something to remember is that the overlaying story of Matt Smith’s Doctorhood is his struggle with the Silence.  Dorium hinted at the end of the 11th, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith’s seasons turn into a trilogy. First was closing the crack in the universe, then was surviving his own death and next … well, I believe River would say “Spoilers.” But first we get the traditional Christmas special, this year apparently taking a nod from Narnia.

Thanks, Doctor. See you in a couple months.

The timiest-wimiest quotes:
“All of history is happening at once, but what does that mean? What happened? Explain to me in terms that I can understand. What happened to time?” — Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill
“… A woman.” — The Doctor

“Been knocking about. Bit of a farewell tour. Things to do, people to see. There’s always more! I could invent an new color, save the dodos, join the Beatles! Hello, it’s me. Get in! Tell her we’re going out and it’s all on me except for the money and the driving! I’ve got a time machine, Dorium. It’s all still going on. For me it never stops. Liz I is still waiting in a glade to elope with me, I can help Rose Tyler with her homework, I can go to all of Jack‘s stag parties in one night!” — The Doctor
“Time catches up with us all, Doctor.” — Dorium
“Well, it has never laid a glove on me!” — The Doctor

“It’s going to be 5:02 in the afternoon for all eternity. A needle stuck on a record.” — The Doctor
“A record? Good lord, man, have you never heard of downloads?” — Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill
“Said Winston Churchill.” — The Doctor

“Why didn’t you just die?” — Madame Kovarian
“Did my best, dear. I showed up. You just can’t get good psychopaths these days.” — Doctor

“It was such a basic mistake, wasn’t it, Doctor Kovarian? Take a child, raise her into a perfect psychopath, introduce her to the Doctor … who else was I going to fall in love with?” — River

“So, you and me, we should get a drink sometime.” — Amy
“OK.” — Rory
“And married.” — Amy
“Fine.” — Rory

“And Doctor Song? In prison all her days?” — Dorium
“Her days, yes. Her nights? Well … that’s between her and me, eh?” — The Doctor

Photo Credit: BBC

3 Responses to “Doctor Who – The Bridegroom of River Song”

October 2, 2011 at 3:35 AM

River Song and the Doctor do NOT have “chemistry”. She looks like his haggish mother! A more unattractive woman does not work on TV. The real chemistry is or rather WAS with the Doctor and Amy. Pity it was squandered for a horsefaced actress and a sadsack actor (Rory). I’m done with this series.

October 2, 2011 at 10:11 AM

@charli I believe that River and The Doctor have great chemistry. You just have to be aware of their specific future and past. River has the most love for the Doctor and the most heartbreak at the end of her life. It’s when we see all of her chemistry all of her affection and the Doctor is just awkwardly playing off it because he barely knows her. Then Up till the finale these positions were slowly reversed. Then we get the marriage. They have very strong chemistry and I’m sorry that Alex isn’t a Model, but she is very attractive and plays this sultry seductress who always seems to have one up on the Doctor extremely well. Amy is just Amy, and Rory has been a far better companion and character this season compared to “let’s Rush them” Amy who has been far worse this season. Rory has actually challenged the Doctor and made him think about what he does to the people he travels with and the risks and the loss involved. In a way, Rory was the companion this season and Amy was the Tag-along. Unfortunately, the companion held no weight in the overarching story resolution.

Anyway, the finale was good. It wasn’t great, it’s no The Big Bang. There were a lot of great concepts here like time falling apart when a fixed point is allowed to not happen. It was great to see that. The other history is the highlight of the episode. You get more love concept stuff between Amy and Rory, but we’ve been here before and it has been done better. Luckily it was small and short. What it really did was cement what this seasons’ prime story was River Song and the Doctor’s Death. We had a lot of exploration with River Song, but the Doctor’s Death was much more in the background and never actively covered until this episode. The wedding itself seems a bit forced and odd. But maybe that’s because Finally the Doctor knows who she is to him but River has known him so little by this point in her life. Which makes her struggle to kill him out of love seem a little weak.

The real problems is that this season is written to be the first half of a 2 season epic. The doctors fight with the Silence. Where as previous seasons are written within the single season bubble with some minor crosslines, this season has major plots introduced that aren’t resolved. It makes this season feel less like a finale and more like a midpoint. Sure a lot has been answered, but the villain, the silence has not been dealt with. They have just had their plots foiled. There is no “Downfall of the Silence” there is no exposed flaw. The Doctor just tricks them and gets away with it. The Silence is the prime antagonist and they haven’t been really fought. We get it in the Season opener with their introduction, but for being the group that is moving everything in the background and is such a huge threat, they haven’t been really fought. Which I assume series 7 will be more about. Which makes them a major story line that really didn’t get resolved, which makes the season feel just a little weak.

October 2, 2011 at 5:44 PM

I loved the finale. It was fun and it answered most of the 6 series questions. Can’t wait for the xmas episodes and series 7, whenever that might be.

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