It’s a bit late, but anyway, here’s my spin on the mid-season finale of Dr Who. Look away now if you haven’t seen it the episode.
For a long time the writers have been enjoying an extended word play game with Dr Who and it was at it’s best at Demon’s Run. Melody Pond/River Song and all the references about the forest, throwing back to the Tardis’ comment the only water in the forest is the river and in turn recalls the Forest of the Dead. Then River herself speaking about what the word doctor means to so many worlds and then her revelation to him without words. Magical, clever writing. And perhaps this entire metaphor forest/wood/tree/paper/book things has not run its course yet. Anyways I hope not. Forests are so replete with symbolism and myth (world axis tree, Red Riding Hood, Robin Hood) and magic and I think season has been more fairytale-like than last season, perhaps because it was more subtle.
In mirrored writing everything is there but backwards. In River Song’ s life, all the ‘spoilers’ are there and her time stream relative to the Doctor’s (and the viewers) is back to front. Her life is an amazing adventure, but to us, it’s a grand tragedy. She knows everything about the Doctor, but we know everything about her death. So the writerly part of me is appreciating how difficult this must have been to plot out and I wonder how far in advance River Song’s identity was set. Now I wonder how the gaps between her childhood and adulthood will be filled.
I also want to respond to some comments on fora about hyperbole in this episode. River did some talking up about how far the Doctor would rise and how far he would fall, and seen in the context of who she is and her life – it was his most important failure – as it created her.
Some have noted how Matt Smith’s Doctor may have got angry, but nothing like how David Tennant’s Doctor got angry every second week. But his fall wasn’t about his anger at people attacking him through his friends, (which was entirely justified). It also wasn’t hubris at achieving (so he thinks) his objective. His fall was losing Melody and breaking Amy’s heart and therefore possibly losing her friendship and that of Rory too. Thus, his fall, and his loss is not about how angry or proud he got, but how his relationship with Amy, Rory and Melody may have changed. We could see it in his face, as Amy backs away from him when he goes to comfort her. And *that* he is responsible for.
People have also been quick to jump on Amy and criticise her emotions and actions in this episode, but I think she was spot on. She’s been kidnapped with weird things done to her mind and body so most of the nine months she wasn’t even aware she was pregnant, then she gives birth and then has her child stolen….I WOULD BE WEIRD TOO…if that were me I would be all over the shop emotionally, full of faith and hope in Rory and the Doctor one minute and in despairing anger the next.
Of course I want Amy to be more Action Girl and less Sit and Wait To Be Rescued Girl…actually more like her daughter I suppose, but she is the teller of the story (she narrates the beginning of each episode for a reason) and the action is all ABOUT her. This means it’s a bit hard to be both the centre of the Doctor’s actions and also the Amazing Heroic Action Woman. Having said that the idea of every adventure dividing up companions annoys. Their best adventures are when they face things together that may divide them *emotionally* or when being together drives them apart (like in Bad Wolf and Parting of the Ways or at Canary Wharf). So what this ep did was reunite Amy, Rory and the Doctor but wedge them apart more profoundly than just being kidnapped, dead or plastic.
I’ve probably got heaps more to say but it’ll do for now, next up will be a bit of a thing I’m working on comparing two wise and kind old men I think you’ll recognise.