Amy and Rory call the Doctor by creating a crop circle, and, of course, he arrives. Moments later, their friend Mels who hasn’t existed until this episode shows up in a stolen car and basically kidnaps them all. She wants to go kill Hitler. And she knows everything Amy has been saying her whole life about the Doctor, except that he’s hot. Somehow, she winds up shooting the console, which makes them crash land in Hitler’s office, which effectively saves him from the B Plot, which is about time-traveling vengance cops who punish war criminals. There’s a scuffle, Hitler gets locked in the closet, and Mels regenerates into a totally nut-bar River Song. She poisons the doctor, and off they go on a chase. But the vengance cops are on the job, because she’s also a criminal, and Amy and Rory wind up inside the robot-imersonator, who has changed to look like Amy. River gets captured, and then it’s up to mini-Amy and mini-Rory to convince them to let her go and to get her to save the Doctor. Which she does, when he tells her something secret that moves her enough that she uses up her remaing regenerations on saving him. They leave her with the Sisters of the Untempered Schism and her blue book of spoilers, and she eventually goes to school for archaeology.
On first watch, it was pretty fun, but when you think about it, it’s sort of…off. It’s not really a second part of the cliffhanger, and the action is all at the front of the episode. The last two-thirds are pretty slow and low-key. Matt Smith does wonders as a sick and dying Doctor, but the episode as a whole seemed like this should have been the two parter, not the second half of a previous one: it would have done better with more time with Mels, more time in the past seeing Amy and Rory before they re-met the Doctor, more time with nut-bar-River before she sacrificed herself (needlessly, as it turns out, since we already know how she’s going to die and regenerations were unneccessary and impossible there anyway).
This is one of those sad times where it seems like we’ve seen all the Moff’s tricks. It was clever, but the whole thing with the gun was a lot like the thing with the architect in Curse of Fatal Death. The plot showed us all the high points, but it skipped things like the shooting of the Tardis and then fixed that with an offhand comment, which feels like a letdown, since it was set up like something important and then wasn’t. And there was this huge, awkward chunk of exposition when they were accessing the files on the Silence.
This is not to say it wasn’t a good episode, only that it seemed like it should have been tighter. Still, the show is back, and that’s a glorious thing, and we can’t wait until next week.
– Mels. There really should have been more of her. Maybe there will be, now that she’s been retconned into the backstory?
– The return of young!Amy!
– That whole part where Amy thinks Rory’s gay because she totally missed the point… even if it does mean that Melody / River wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for her own intervention.
– The little moment when the Doctor wants an interface and the Tardish shows him Rose and Martha and Donna’s publicity shots and he says “There has to be someone in the galaxy I haven’t screwed up yet”. And then after that when young!Amy-avatar says “Fishfingers and custard” in what could only have been the Tardis talking through her so he could keep going. That was lovely.
– They left Hitler in the closet!
– Not enough Mels.
– Not enough crazy River before she was ‘rehabilitated’. Here’s to hoping she’s still nuts for a long time, even after she didn’t kill the Doctor.
– The mini-avengers coming out of nowhere and being written off with a “I did not see that coming”. Cheap.
– Retconning a whole third party to the already complex dynamic. Unless this is like Buffy’s little sister, where she’s there for a reason that we just don’t know yet…
– Hitler wasn’t even the point of this episode.
– How did Mels / River already have her poison lipstick?
Doctor Who, Saturday nights at 9 on BBCAm