It's that time again! Time for Doctor Who, and much happiness in my fangirl heart. Admittedly the premiere of the second half of season 6 (mouthful!) was all of four days ago, but I'm still in the throes of awesome overload, and thus it's the perfect time for me to write up a review of the episode. If you haven't yet seen it, you may want to come back and read my ramblings later once you have. Spoilers!
Warning: this "review" is disjointed and uses lots of sentences full of commas. I'm writing under the impression that if you're reading this you've seen the episode, so it's not so much a summary as a series of reactions to things that happened. You've been warned.
Considering the title of the episode is "Let's Kill Hitler" (which I took every opportunity to say and then giggle about in the week before the episode aired), the Führer shows up for only a brief stint, and then presumably stays locked in a cupboard for the rest of it. This is a bit of a relief, since I was trying to imagine a tasteful way for an episode of Doctor Who to be about killing Hitler, but all in all the whole Hitler bit was quick and funny and more about the Ponds being badass than anything else. Which, admittedly, is always awesome. I love them Ponds! ♥
So really, for a mid-season premiere, I enjoyed this episode immensely and it lived up to all expectations. Last we saw the Doctor he was setting out to find Melody Pond, and the parental Ponds were still in relative shock after discovering that their daughter was in fact River Song. "Hitler" begins some months later, presumably, with the Ponds using cutting-edge crop circle technology to summon the Doctor. There we get to meet Mels, the Ponds' lifelong best friend and matchmaker. (The flashback bit with the three of them is ridiculously adorable -- poor Rory!) It's really great to get a look at how Amy and Rory actually got together, and even though suddenly being asked to accept this new Mels character as their lifelong friend is jarring, it works for me.
I think, from the beginning, I had an inkling that Mels was Melody. Firstly, her name is Mels for godsake. Of course it's short for Melody. And then she's got River-esque hair for one thing, and that attitude for another. I suppose I was meant to be really shocked when she starts to regenerate, but I knew from the moment she was shot -- oh god she's going to regenerate into Alex Kingston! Ta-da, she did.
Loved the regeneration scene, though. It's always great watching the Doctor discover his new body, and this time we get a lady Time Lord! A sexy one at that. I loved it, and I love Alex Kingston, and I love River. So all of it was hilarious and wonderful. When she gets all up on the Doctor against Hitler's desk, and the Doctor is clearly so flustered -- brilliant moment. Their chemistry is so perfect, as always, and the more we get to see their relationship in the show, the more I love it. But then again I'm a sucker for semi-tragic time travel love stories, so.
I feel like this episode was mostly a "this is how River's story truly begins" sort of episode, and it didn't really need all of that justice robot nonsense. It was important for Mels at the end to see that she was, indeed, River Song, but I'm sure they could have just said "Oh by the way, you are River Song," instead of having the tessalector take on her appearance, but I guess it was a lot more poignant that way.
I've heard a complaint or two that there wasn't enough development between the moment when River poisons the Doctor, and when she decides to save his life by making an enormous personal sacrifice. Since this change is at the crux of the episode, I think it's important to discuss further. River was, after all, trained and conditioned to be nothing but a Doctor-killing machine. It does seem like a big change to have undergone, considering the reason for her existence up until then was to get to the Doctor and then kill him (and, I suppose, make sure her parents ultimately got together), but I think the important thing to remember is this: That River is all at once shown a life she could have, essentially has had (a pretty awesome life at that), and she's given the choice between fulfilling the one and only goal in her current life, or opening herself up to the incredible possibility of a new life as River Song.
I think there were a couple factors that really influenced River's change of heart. The fact that the TARDIS taught her how to fly her, and that River was able to fly her, was a life-changing moment for her. And then to be privy to the Doctor's dying words, words meant for River Song, affected her greatly. Of course upon realizing that those words were actually meant for her, River realized that she was so much more than just an assassin. She was important to these people; they loved her. The TARDIS knew her and trusted her, the Doctor gave his dying words to her, and the Ponds obviously loved her as their own daughter but also knew her as this amazing woman River Song. I think in that moment she realized there were all of these possibilities ahead of her, this man she was meant to fall in love with, and here he was dying at her feet. How could she let all of that slip away? I'm not surprised she gave up so much to save the Doctor. It wasn't just about him, it was about a path laid out in front of her, and all of these people who loved her and knew her as the women she had yet to become. In her place, wouldn't you have done the same? I would. But I am a giant pile of woobie romantic, so... perhaps some of you wouldn't.
I'm really curious to hear what everyone else thought of this episode. I've only watched it twice so far, but I mean to watch all of the River Song episodes again to get a better feel for her story. There are still some timey-wimey bits that confuse me, but I'm sure I'll sort them out once I re-watch it all.
Oh and also, how adorable is the Doctor in that tux? Sonic cane! Gaahh too much awesome.