Monday, October 17, 2011
Review: The Wedding of River Song
It's here! The season finale is here! I'm going to dive right into this review before I lose my mind from excitement and lack of words!
Last night was the finale for this season, "The Wedding of River Song". And it was brilliant. Well, mostly. I think I mostly loved it but at the same time it was rather disappointing. Last season had the most epic of endings and it was such a big story arc that it needed two episodes to complete. This was just one episode and it was much more laid back in a way. Plus it was fairly straightforward in its plotline. Which is weird because I think as an audience we've gotten used to a good mind fucking from Moffat. Basically, the whole premise of the episode is that River Song, stubborn badass that she is, decided she was going to stick one to the Silence and not kill the Doctor, despite the fact that the Doctor's death is meant to be a fixed point in time. That means that it can never change and must always happen; River must always kill the Doctor at Silencio Lake in Utah, America on April 22, 2011 at 5:02pm.
The cool part was that we learned what happens when someone tries to alter a fixed point in time. Especially since the Doctor has visited other fixed points like World War II, and even Pompeii and fought with the fact that while he would love to change the things that happen at these times he can't because it would rip apart the universe. I love that it didn't cause a collapse of time the way one might imagine. Instead all time was happening at once. There were pterosaurs flying over a park like pigeons, flying cars being held aloft by balloons, trains that traveled across the country and people who should be dead all existing at the same point. And it was always April the 22, 2011 at 5:02pm. Or 17:02 as in military time. The Doctor then became a 'soothsayer' held by Ceasar Winston Churchill. The episode was mostly told through flashback as the Doctor tried to explain to Churchill why everything is so wrong with the universe that they are familiar with. One of the things that I thought clever was the way the Silence was used in the 'alternate' universe. The first hint we get of their existence is that Churchill has out his revolver, the Doctor isn't in chains and notes that they've been running, and the most obvious sign: a single tic mark in marker on the Doctor's arm. From there things get even more interesting. Amy Pond appears, complete with an eye patch (or eye drive as we learn they are called) and a gun. Which she has no trouble pointing at the Doctor and shooting him with.
From there things pick up with the appearance of Captain Williams, and some great flirting between the Doctor and River while Madame Kovarian moans about having to watch the two. And of course the most obvious thing that had to happen in this episode and yet I didn't think actually would: the wedding of River Song and the Doctor.
I think overall I was very pleased with the episode despite the rather straightforward plotline it had. I loved that River was, naturally, the first person in the Doctor Who universe to attempt to rewrite a fixed point in time. What I wasn't impressed with was how obvious the 'earliest question' was. The question hidden in plain sight. Doctor Who? I mean, on one hand, I think it's extremely corny. Who really gives it much thought? He's just the Doctor, that's all he's ever been. And yet, on the other hand I like the idea that we might finally get an answer to the question because it's been made clear that his name is this super big secret that no one must know, but River at some point learns.
I've seen the episode twice already, and I still can't decide whether I liked it or was disappointed. I'm afraid I'm just trying to convince myself I wasn't disappointed just because its the end of the season. But in some ways I was. But I also think that's just because I was expecting some epic story like the finale of season 5. which is my favorite episodes of any of the seasons. And probably always will be.
The one thing I am glad of? Rory lived. And Rory, as always, absolutely shone in this episode. Even with no memory of Amy he was as loyal and dependable as ever, putting up with the torture of the eye drive to make a last stand to save Amy and the others. However, my absolute favorite part of the episode was when Amy shows up, machine gun and all and absolutely slaughtered the attacking Silence. All to save Rory. Brilliant.
The more I think about the episode the more I'm pleased with it. I know a lot of people found the whole Teselecta Doctor a bit of a cop out, and in some ways I agree but I also think it was pretty clever. After all, what is history, really? Just a written report of an event that may or may not be completely accurate. Which is why I can believe that the Doctor's 'death' really was just the way it was reported by Amy, Rory, River and how it spread through the galaxy. And as long as he keeps his head down then there's no one to say that he didn't actually die that day. Yes, it's twisted but what else do you expect from dear ol' Moffat?
If you're one of those who didn't like the episode then I have a suggestion for you. Put aside your complaints for a moment, watch the episode again and really think about it. Because while we've all gotten used to having our brains shoved through a grinder with Moffat's stories, sometimes, just sometimes, the things we think are going to happen actually do have to happen. And sometimes things have to make a small amount of sense.
Anyway, if you're also still confused about River's timeline (the way I was) here's a helpful video to get your brain sorted.