Doctor Who Series 6.13 – The Wedding of River Song

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Jeremy Webb

Silence must fall.  And as The Doctor draws closer to his inevitable death he wants answers.  Why must he die?

Turns out, this was just an elaborate COSplayer and not a real Roman because, really, what sense would it make for Romans to still be using chariots when 21st century technology exists.

 “But if River is not unreliable, there is something gratifying to this classic series fan in hearing River chew-out The Doctor over his reputation, his legend.  I can’t help but wonder if Moffat is moving toward dealing with this problem.”

Is it cheating to use a quote from myself?  Granted, there are no particular rules to this beyond those I make up as I go along.  Regardless, by all accounts I think Steven Moffat did what I hoped.  Well, as best he could.  How does one deal with the reputation of The Doctor?  How does a writer come on to a show with nearly fifty years of continuity and the realization that The Doctor has achieved mythic, god-like status and then resolve to tell interesting or compelling stories without completely resetting continuity (or at least the last five years of it)?  Based upon all evidence given in this episode, this is what Steven Moffat was attempting.  Series five and six, while seeming to be about River Song, were in actuality an attempt to reset the show to The Doctor, on the run, with a TARDIS.  Here’s the thing, you don’t fake your own death, then go gallivanting about the universe bragging about it.  If The Doctor is going to keep The Silence off his tail, he has to stay in the shadows.  The has to be what he once was, a renegade Time Lord trying to keep a low profile.  He may have to be another Hartnell, but I doubt Moffat will take the show in that direction.  And while I believe that this particular Silence/Question arc will one day return (possibly in conjunction with The Doctor’s next regeneration), I am greatly interested in seeing how The Doctor attempts to keep a low profile.

But there is an interesting premise at the core of the question.  If Dorian’s rantings at the end of the episode are at all accurate, the question in plain sight is “Doctor who”?  And Silence legends say that the end will come when this question is answered.  This is the reason Jonathan Nathan Turner made Marc Platt re-write Ghost Light, moving the focus away from The Doctor’s past and to Ace’s instead.  “Doctor who” was the question that existed in the Hartnell era.  Who is The Doctor?  We have been given many answers as to his race and planet, but the exact circumstances to his rejection of Gallifrey have never been answered in the show (sure, much has been written in The New Adventures, but I doubt Moffat is going with those answers).  So, symbolically, if all questions about The Doctor are answered, the show ends.  In theory, at any rate. I personally believe The Doctor stopped being mysterious somewhere around the Pertwee era and didn’t become mysterious again until the McCoy era.  We knew who The Doctor was in those interim years, not because of his background, but because of his actions.  We judged him by what he did.  So, to a degree, the question may be irrelevant.

Okay, enough of that.  As to the episode itself, I went in hoping I wouldn’t dislike it as much as Let’s Kill Hitler, and I didn’t.  My wife certainly didn’t like it, but I enjoyed it for what it was.  As a resolution to the River Song arc, it was good enough.  It fits, and for a story that was being made up as it went along, it fits quite well.  And the episode had some great moments, from The Doctor playing cowboy while searching for information on The Silence to The Silence completely fooling Amy Pond’s military organization.  Madam Kovarian has become an interestingly portrayed character, but I still want to know more about her because her motivation seems quite lacking.  And I feel there are quite a few major conceptual holes in the portrayal of “time gone wrong”, not least of which is the concept of time as a mystical force rather than a unit of measurement.  But I really don’t feel like going in to that right now.  I’m contenting myself with the fact that the story of River Song holds together.  It may not have been the most interesting way to tell the story, nor was it the most compelling story that could have been told (Because when you really look at it, it is merely a love story told out of order.  The story didn’t demand an out of sequence narrative.  The entire River Song story could have been told in sequence just as effectively, if not more so.)  But it holds together well enough.  It works.  And I’m happy that the show seems ready to move on to something else.

Okay, I'm a bit irritated that I didn't see that part coming.
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5 thoughts on “Doctor Who Series 6.13 – The Wedding of River Song

  1. My primary issue with the entire River Song arc is that she never really became a companion, which creates problems. I’d have to check back with “Silence in the Library”, but she certainly gave the impression that she was a huge part of the Doctor’s life for a good long while. “Someone you trust completely” I think she said. The problem is, particularly if River’s role is over for the most part, that they never spent any kind of time together to justify that trust. Silence in the Library and its second part couldn’t have been more than a couple of hours in continuity. The same is true for the Weeping Angels two parter in Series 5. Tack on The Big Bang, and her Series 6 appearences and he’s barely spent a day and a half with her.

    Also, and this might not be relevant on an entry about this episode, but it really bothers me that in Series 5 River specifically states that The Doctor teaches her to fly the Tardis. Then only half a season later they ignore this and retcon it to “the Tardis taught her telepathically.” when they realized they were never going to keep her around long enough at once for her to get Tardis lessons.

    • I think the implication is that for the two hundred or so years The Doctor travels on his own (presumably after dropping off Amy and Rory), he spent more time with River. No, it isn’t very satisfying to be told that most of their relationship occurs “off camera”, but given the availability of Alex Kingston and the proliferation of novels and audios, I’m sure Moffat feels he has given us more than enough. I won’t be surprised if we see some Doctor/River novels and comics at some point.

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