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Doctor Who Review: A Good Man Goes to War

Have you picked up your jaw from the floor yet? Or stopped throwing things at the TV?

After several seasons and numerous theories, we finally discovered who the mysterious River Song is. The outcome, personally, left me scratching my head, retracing everything from the current and previous seasons, and going in between moments of “what an amazing plot twist!” to “that’s stupid. I don’t like this.”

I’m talking of course – SPOILER ALERT!!- about the revelation that River Song is in fact Melody Pond, daughter of Rory and Amy. It explains so much and yet opens up all new questions. My immediate reaction to the news was dismay: River Song is too bad ass to be Rory and Amy’s daughter. But to be fair, Rory did prove in this episode that he can be pretty bad ass as a centurion so she must get that quality from him.

But let’s go back to the beginning of the episode, how we ended up with this major twist:

After discovering that Amy in the Tardis was actually a flesh duplicate, the real Amy is being held captive on an Army base called Demon’s Run situated on an asteroid. It’s there we first meet baby Melody Pond, but the evil Madame Kovarian (a.k.a. Eye Patch Lady) who has been popping up all season long, is taking Melody away for some reason. Amy holds on tight to the hope that Rory and the Doctor will come and save her and the baby one day.

That day comes perhaps sooner than she expects! The Doctor rounds up a few old (alien) friends from this season and seasons past to help him gain control of Demon’s Run. Rory aids him, dressed as a centurion again for added dramatics, and tries to recruit River Song. River tells Rory that she can’t go, but promises to show up eventually. She knows what’s about to happen at Demon’s Run.

The creepy villains this episode are not the religiously devout army, but their allies, the Headless Monks. The monks are literally headless and unsettling, though I found their light saber-esque swords to be amusing as was their attack chant.

We hear on multiple occasions how Demon’s Run is the Doctor’s finest hour and he has “never risen higher,” but that he will then “fall dramatically.” His finest hour was of course reuniting the Ponds and occupying Demon’s Run. But that was too easy and short-lived; the Eye Patch Lady gave in far too easily. Turns out it is possible to fool the Doctor twice. The baby Rory supposedly rescued from Eye Patch Lady was actually a flesh avatar. Filled with anger and frustration, the Doctor does fall and have a moment of spectacular weakness. He’s lost his best friends’ baby and witnessed numerous of his friends and innocent people die.

What was so special about baby Melody? As we now know, she is a Time Lord. Watching the Doctor figure out how this came to be was amusing to say the least and gave us what I find to be one of his best lines all season: “You can’t just cook yourself a Time Lord!” Oh, but apparently you can!

River Song does show up after the battle, and the Doctor is furious and demands to know who she is. She gives him the necessary clues to figure it out and when he does, he’s back to his sprightly old happy self – much to the bewilderment of everyone. The Doctor hops back into his Tardis leaving Amy and Rory to confront their daughter.

Doctor Who returns later this summer, and this was a great cliffhanger for a midseason finale. How will Amy and Rory cope knowing they’ve met their daughter several times before and never known it? The regenerating little girl at the end of episode 2 makes much more sense now – was it really River Song a.k.a Melody who killed the Doctor in the early minutes of episode one? Was it under the command of Eye Patch Lady? And why does Eye Patch Lady despise the Doctor so much?

“A Good Man Goes to War” was an enjoyable episode, although confusing at times. My overall impression is that Steven Moffat was trying to make it epic and grander than what the episode actually was. This is Doctor Who we’re talking about, a show that I’ve always enjoyed for its complexity yet also adventurous and contained storylines. Trying to make this Star Wars for television won’t work. But I’ll never turn down a good cliffhanger or two!

Season 6, Episode 7: A Good Man Goes to War (originally aired June 11, 2011)

Doctor Who airs Saturdays at 9/8c on BBC America.

Image courtesy of BBC America.

6 Comments

  1. Demons Run. Demons Run. Demons Run.

    All the good opinions in the world don’t mean anything if you can’t actually write a review with enough info to prove that you watched the episode.

  2. Demons Run. Demons Run. Demons Run.

    All the good opinions in the world don’t mean anything if you can’t actually write a review with enough info to prove that you watched the episode.

  3. It is questionable as to whether River Song is a time lord. When the Doctor and River Song are in the library, River Song does not regenerate as a ‘normal’ time lord would do. Instead, her essence is relegated to the computer of the library.

  4. It is questionable as to whether River Song is a time lord. When the Doctor and River Song are in the library, River Song does not regenerate as a ‘normal’ time lord would do. Instead, her essence is relegated to the computer of the library.

  5. Okay, she’s Amy and Rory’s daughter, which they found out by translating the embroidery. but the Doctor didn’t find out that way. the Doctor found out by reading the cradle. His cradle. So how could the name of Amy’s baby be on the Doctor’s cradle? The answer is a wild idea that I’ve had since last season, that in fact is much kinkier than the Doctor flirting with his friends’ daughter. Who else besides a man’s wife calls him “Sweetie,” who teases him, and orders him around in a way he can’t refuse? Why, his mother, of course.
    Oh, and Eye Patch Lady. Doesn’t she look somewhat like Alex Kingston?

  6. Okay, she’s Amy and Rory’s daughter, which they found out by translating the embroidery. but the Doctor didn’t find out that way. the Doctor found out by reading the cradle. His cradle. So how could the name of Amy’s baby be on the Doctor’s cradle? The answer is a wild idea that I’ve had since last season, that in fact is much kinkier than the Doctor flirting with his friends’ daughter. Who else besides a man’s wife calls him “Sweetie,” who teases him, and orders him around in a way he can’t refuse? Why, his mother, of course.
    Oh, and Eye Patch Lady. Doesn’t she look somewhat like Alex Kingston?

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