Views from the Stalls and Views from the Sofa - My reviews and thoughts on all things theatre and television. Follow me on Twitter @LikeTheMonth_

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Doctor Who - The Wedding of River Song - Series 6 Episode 13 Finale

What’s the Story?

Steven Moffat returns to pen the Series 6 finale. We all know events must return to Lake Silencio, Utah for the Doctor’s death but the big question remains, how will Moffat get out of this one?

What’s the Verdict?
Having woven a complex and thoroughly engrossing tale of the Doctor’s imminent death throughout Series 6, speculation has been rife for six months about just how Steven Moffat would resolve the plot in the finale. One thing that can be said with absolute certainty is that the ‘get out’ in ‘The Wedding of River Song’ will not have pleased everyone, but personally, although it was just a ‘trick’ after all, I found this episode so enjoyable that I am quite willing to accept the resolution.

And so, the Doctor that died by the lake was not the Doctor at all, but the Tesselecta, with the man himself hiding inside. I can’t say that it was a surprise and yet I won’t for one moment pretend that I ‘knew it all along’ (although I am very pleased to see that ‘the question’ did indeed turn out to be ’Doctor Who?’). However like with the River Song reveal in ‘A Good Man Goes To War’, there have been so many theories flying around that surely one of them had to be correct and a Tesselecta Doctor was always a possibility from the moment the machine was introduced. To quote Rory in ‘The God Complex’, we managed to come up with theories more insane than what was actually happening, with things turning out surprisingly simply in the end.

However, this episode was about much more than just the ‘get out clause’ and was packed with wonderful ideas and imagery. The pre-titles sequence; with trains around the gherkin, pterodactyls, Centurions and of course Winston Churchill, was so visually and creatively appealing that it felt almost a shame to return London to its regular comparatively dull skyline! What other show could get away with BBC Breakfast asking Charles Dickens if his Christmas Special would top his last? Or with the idea of a chess game to the death? In one sense it is a shame that some of these ideas could not have been expanded upon into a whole episode, but when the storytelling is this confident it is difficult to complain.

Special mention has to be given to the classy and moving tribute to Nicholas Courtenay mid-episode, when the Doctor was informed of his old friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’s death. Rose Tyler and Captain Jack were also given shout-outs, but our three current companions turned in excellent performances all round, leading to my two standout scenes from the episode.

Amy’s scene with Madame Kovarian was dark and as potentially controversial as it is to show a companion killing in cold blood, I thought this was an excellent moment. This showed once and for all how much Amy loved her daughter, how much she has been thinking about the baby and the time she would never spend with her and her reaction to this was completely in character for Amy as she becomes more of a bad-ass as the weeks go on. The change in Amy since her first episode has been extraordinary and Karen Gillan again did a superb job here.

As she did too in the second standout scene, as Amy and River met for a bottle of wine and catch up in the garden, River fresh from the Byzantium. Here we confirmed that River knew everything all along and I love this idea that they meet up every now and then, at different points in their lives. The dynamic between Amy, Rory and River is very strong now and I really enjoy their scenes together. Plus the fact that no matter what happens Amy and Rory always find each other and this time, it was Amy that went back to save him.  I've said it before but I will say it again, when their time does come, they must have a happy ending!

Of course, no matter how good the companions are, it wouldn’t matter one bit without the leading man and Matt Smith once more turned in a superb performance. With Dorium’s reference to the ‘Fall of the Eleventh’, I am left to hope that this is merely another red herring and Smith’s tenure continues for a long time to come.

The Wedding of River Song’ was by no means perfect, in fact, the wedding itself was the moment that stood out as the most unnecessary, regardless of how well acted it was by Smith and Kingston. However, overall, I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable finale, with excellent moments of humour, action and heart. How much you will have enjoyed it will depend on what you think of the Tesselecta Doctor by the Lake, and I suspect that Moffat simply can’t win. Here was an episode that was told in a relatively linear fashion, with a simple conclusion. If it had been a timey-wimey explanation we would have more of the endless articles about Who getting more complicated and so I for one am glad that the conclusion turned out to be far simpler than we imagined and I felt it was executed so well. This series has certainly taught us that no episode will please everyone but in my opinion it was a confident, satisfying way to bring to a close a very high quality series.

With the Doctor now thought to be dead, I am interested to see the new path that the show will take. We have seen him save the world many times before, but I for one am ready to see the show tell more smaller-scale stories again, and I look forward to the return of Smith, Gillan, Darvill and Kingston again in Series 7. And Canton too, if you could, please Moff? For now, bring on the Christmas Special!

Best Lines

Not a line as such but the Doctor reading ‘Knitting for Girls’ certainly raised a smile!

The Doctor - ‘Hell. In High Heels’

Dorium - ‘On the fields of Trenzalore, at the Fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature could speak falsely or fail t answer, a question will be asked. A question that must never, ever be answered’. ------ Oh no, not the Fall of the Eleventh?!
The Doctor - ‘Liz the First is still waiting in a glade to elope with me. I could help Rose Tyler with her homework. I could go on all Jack’s stag parties in one night!’

Winston - ‘Why would you invite your friends to see your death?
The Doctor - ‘I had to die. I didn’t have to do it alone. Amy and Rory. The Last Centurion and The Girl Who Waited. However dark it got I’d turn round and there they’d be. If it’s time to go, remember what you’re leaving. Remember the best. My friends have always been the best of me’.

River - ‘Why would you do that? Make me watch?’
The Doctor - ‘So you know this is inevitable. And you are forgiven. Always and completely forgiven’.

Winston - ‘A record? Good Lord man, have you never heard of downloads?’
The Doctor - ‘Said Winston Churchill’

Amy - ‘Pond. Amelia Pond.’ --- Cheesy but brilliant!
The Doctor - ‘And you’ve got an office on a train! That’s so cool!’ -- The Doctor’s excitement throughout this scene was just so wonderful.
The Doctor - *to Rory* ‘She said that you were a Mr Hottie…ness. And that she would like to go out with you for... texting and scones’. - How could you turn down anyone that invited you out for texting and scones now?
Madame Kovarian - ‘Oh why couldn’t you just die!’
The Doctor - ‘Did my best dear, I showed up, you just can’t get the psychopaths these days!’

The Silence - ‘Rory Williams, the man who dies and dies again, die one last time and know she will never come back for you’.

Amy - *to Kovarian* - ‘You took my baby from me. And hurt her. And now she’s all grown up and she’s fine, but I’ll never see my baby again.’
Madame Kovarian - ‘But you’ll still save me though. Because he would. And you’d never do anything to disappoint your precious Doctor’.
Amy - ‘The Doctor is very precious to me, you’re right. But do you know what else he is? Not here. *Amy puts eye patch back on* River Song didn’t get it all from you… sweetie.’

Amy - ‘So you and me, we should get a drink sometime’
Rory - ‘Ok’
Amy - ‘And get married.’
Rory - ‘Fine’

Rory - ‘I’m not sure I completely understand’.
Amy - ‘We got married and had a kid and that’s her’.
Rory - ‘Ok.’

River - ‘Of course I’m sure, I’m his wife!’
Amy - ‘YES and I’m his…..mother-in-law’.
River - ‘Father dear, I think Mummy might need another drink’ - Karen Gillan’s face here was just hilarious!
Dorium - And Doctor Song? Imprisoned all her days?
The Doctor - ‘Her days yes, her nights…well that’s between her and me eh?’

Dorium - ‘Doc..tor…WHO?’

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