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Doctor Who: “The Wedding of River Song” Review (SPOILERS)

Is it possible for something to be at once surprising and yet totally predictable? After watching Doctor Who’s sixth series finale, “The Wedding of River Song,” I was left wondering why we fans spent so long speculating about things.  Essentially, everything was answered in the very way it was telegraphed to be since the riddles were posed in the first place.  It would be very easy to say that Steven Moffat took the easy way out, but after Series 5’s completely flabbergasting ending, complete with set-ups paid off in totally unforeseen ways, the most outlandish thing he could do to mess with all of our heads is to have the resolution be what we all assumed was too obvious.  That they were red herrings was, itself, a red herring.

Is this okay? Not necessarily. In many ways, the episode failed to live up to the promise of the phenomenally awesome opening two-parter, “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon,” but in others it couldn’t have happened any other way.  The entire narrative took place in the split second between when River shoots the Doctor and when the Doctor dies, which is pretty neat in itself.  While it wasn’t perfect, and in my opinion definitely needed a second viewing, the finale closed the book (I hope) on that chapter in the Eleventh Doctor’s reign.

The episode begins at 5:02pm, April 22, 2011.  Time is stuck, meaning everything is happening at once: Steam engines, Roman guards, Pterodactyls, and Emperor Winston Churchill.  Churchill, being a pretty smart chap, realizes that time isn’t moving and so asks his Silurian physician to fetch the soothsayer, i.e. one who says sooths. I just looked up the word and “sooth” means “Truth or Reality.”  So, throughout history, whenever a soothsayer has been called, they’re actually just calling a professional truth teller.  The opposite of that, of course, are politicians. *Wackity-Schmackity-DOOO* Anyway, the soothsayer is, of course, the Doctor, and he enlightens Churchill on why time has stopped. It all starts with a woman.  Say what you will about Steven Moffat, but he certainly knows how to depict strange anomalies of time.

The realization of all time happening at once was quite spectacular.  We see the return of Ian McNeice as Churchill, and it’s nice that he’s been given a chance to play the character again in an episode that isn’t utter bilge. (I know he was in “The Pandorica Opens,” but that was all filmed during “Victory of the Crap”)  We then see what the Doctor did after he left Craig’s flat.  He knows he must die at Lake Silencio, but he does not know why.  He tracks down the Silence and runs across the Teselecta, the shape-shifting robot ship bounty hunter piloted by tiny people.  The captain tells him about the “weak link” in the Silence, which turns out to be Gantok (played by Mark Gatiss under a pseudonym), a player of “Live Chess.”  In exchange for letting him live, Gantok will take the Doctor to where Dorium Maldovar (aka “The Blue Guy”) is laid to rest.  He was beheaded by the Monks in “A Good Man Goes to War,” if you’ll remember, and so his head is now in a box.  Apparently, if the Monks behead you, your head stays alive and the crypt is full of carnivorous skulls, which eventually devour the conniving Gantok.  Dorium’s head tells the Doctor that Silence MUST fall when the question is asked, because the answer to the question must never be spoken.  Blah blah blah.

The Doctor takes Dorium’s head in the box aboard the TARDIS, where he still feels like he has time to do what he wants before he has to die.  After all, he’s in a time machine; he can do whatever he likes. He can help Rose Tyler with her homework or go to all of Jack’s stag parties on the same night.  He’s pretty boss, if you think about it.  He then calls an old buddy to go gallivanting around with, and finds that his dear friend, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, has passed away.  It’s this realization — time waits for no one — which causes the Doctor to finally accept his fate.  I thought this moment was one of the best of the episode. As a classic Who fan, I always adored the Brigadier, and was deeply saddened when Nicholas Courtney passed away, as I think most fans were.  That they chose to not only reference it in a new series finale, but also make it the motivation for the Doctor to stop running, is monumental.  What a nice sendoff to such a beloved character.  Matt Smith played the scene wonderfully.  I don’t know if he ever met Courtney in real life, but you really felt like he’d lost a friend.  Understatement of the Year: Matt Smith is a damn good actor.

Then we find out that, yes, River Song is the one in the astronaut suit, and yes, she does kill the Doctor even though she doesn’t want to. But wait! She decides she can change history, even though it’s a fixed point in time.  This is what causes the alternate timeline full of everything.  There, the Doctor and Churchill find themselves fighting an enemy they can’t remember and eventually see a swarm of Silents hanging from the ceiling.  I still say they are the creepiest villains the new series has produced, slightly edging above the Weeping Angels in my book simply because they look like things I used to dream about and be terrified by as a child.  Just then, a bunch of soldiers burst in led by an eye patch-wearing Pond, Amelia Pond.  Eye patches make people remember the Silents. She can remember the other timeline because remembering things like that is what she does.  She takes the Doctor aboard her steam train office to Area 52, which is in an Egyptian pyramid.  Awesome? Yes.

There Amy and Captain Williams (yes, it’s Rory) show the Doctor all the Silents they have trapped in water tanks.  He also sees River and a tied-up Madame Kovarian.  River and the Doctor are at the epicenter of the temporal disturbance and if they touch, it’ll short out and time will start ticking again in the right place.  River, being the obstinate tart she is, doesn’t want to fix the problem, even if it means the entire universe will disintegrate, because she loves him and stuff.  Capt. Williams is worried that the Silents all seem to be far more active now that the Doctor is there and Madame Kovarian laughs in her “I’m evil for no reason” way and says that they weren’t trapped at all, but waiting for the Doctor to arrive. The creepy, suit-wearing things break out and the eye patches all begin shorting out and killing folk, including Kovarian herself.  Rory very nearly dies at the hands of the Silents, but Amy shows up with a machine gun and kills them all.  This paid off the whole “Rory always dies” thing for the most part.  Amy then kills Kovarian by not helping her, saying that River didn’t get “it” all from the bad lady.

River then shows the Doctor a temporal beacon thing that she’s used to send a call for help throughout the universe, outside of the time bubble in which they are.  This pisses off the Doctor and embarrasses him, though the universe apparently is entirely willing to help. She just didn’t want the Doctor to die before knowing how loved he is.  This is sort of the antithesis of “The Pandorica Opens.”  Instead of everyone that hates him teaming up, everyone that likes him agrees to help.  It’s unnecessary, however, as the Doctor decides to marry River.  This still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  Why did they have to get married to make out? The answer is, they didn’t. Other than the fact that it’s always been suggested that she’s his wife, there’s no reason why at that moment they had to do a makeshift wedding.  Before that point, he whispers a secret into her ear which he says is his name.  Then they make out. Then time starts going again. Then she kills him and all the rest of the season happens.

Sometime later, River, fresh off the crash of the Byzantium, appears in Amy’s backyard where her mother is waiting for her. They compare notes about when they are and River decides to tell Amy the secret which the Doctor told her.  The Doctor lies, of course, and he didn’t tell her his name.  River also lies, she says, and has had to pretend she doesn’t know stuff she already knows all the time.  Hey, guess what: the Doctor’s alive.  He got on board the Teselecta and made it look like him and then that Doctor died but the real little one inside the ship could get away.  As he puts Dorium’s head back in the crypt, he says that he wants the universe to think that he’s dead, that he’s been too high-profile and is going to go back to skulking around the galaxy on his own, or at least not being so visible, setting the stage for the next series which promises to be more standalone and less arc heavy.  Still, though, Dorium reminds the Doctor, and us, that the “fall of the eleventh” is still ahead and the question that must never be answered is “Doctor WHO?”

Rule one: The Doctor lies.  Rule zero should be: Steven Moffat lies.  My real problem with this episode is the “big reveal,” simply because it’s Moffat fucking lying to us.  I could write off the fact that River in the space suit was the obvious answer, and I could let go that they got married like everyone expected them to, which is another obvious answer, and the info-dump scene itself in the garden was actually kind of nice. I could even let slide the fact that we still do not know why the Silence wanted the Doctor dead, nor who caused the TARDIS to explode in Series 5. I’m fairly confident that we’ll never learn these answers, and I don’t really care at this point.  What I cannot embrace, though, is the entire crux of the season-long storyline, where the Doctor dies, was the biggest cop out since the floating Christ figure ending of Series 3.  After “The Impossible Astronaut” ended, Moffat was quoted as saying that what we saw was indeed the real Doctor and that he was indeed really killed.  Well, no, he fucking was not.

From the introduction of the Gangers in the first part of the series and the Teselecta in the second part, the idea of the Doctor having a double became all-encompassing. In fact, at one time or another, all of the main characters had another version of themselves running around (except Rory, who is above such things) and they were really hammering home that idea.  But all the while I kept thinking, “nah, it’s not gonna be a Ganger or a Teselecta; it’s going to be more complex than that. Moffat said the Doctor died and I’m going to believe that.”

That, surely, was my mistake.  When this episode began, and the “previously on” material started playing, heavily featuring the Teselecta Amy from “Let’s Kill Hitler,” the idea was planted in my head that it would surely play some part in the proceedings, but couldn’t possibly be the answer.  Then, when the Doctor met them again while searching for the Silence, again I thought it was too easy.  And then, the big ending happens, and we see that the Doctor is in a Doctor suit and that IT got killed and not him, I was angry.  Do Teselecta’s regenerate? Do they have regenerative energy? I fucking doubt it!! So how did they fake that? When the astronaut shoots the Doctor in the very first episode of the series, one of the best scenes ever produced, the Doctor very clearly starts to regenerate and then gets shot again before he can, killing him permanently. Then they burn his body.  But, I guess it’s okay because it was just a shape-shifting android suit.

Did I think the Doctor would actually be dead? Of course not. I knew there was some way out of it, because the show’s not getting canceled, but to have the climax of the entire story arc literally just be “Hey, can I borrow your car?” is beyond frustrating. It spits in the face of not only fans, but completely taints the greatness of the opening two-parter, which was some of the best writing Moffat’s ever done.   News flash here, folks! Moffat does not have a plan.  He might have had one at some point, but it went way off the rails along the way.

I still love the series, I still love the era, and I even generally like this episode (though a second viewing was required).  Hell, I still really like Steven Moffat’s work as a whole. He’s incredibly innovative from a storytelling standpoint and continues to make compelling, thought-provoking television.  I’m glad he’s showrunning my favorite show. But, man, did he screw the pooch on this ending.  There’s a Christmas episode coming up in a few months and then we get to wait until October of 2012 for the next series to start.  Hopefully by then Moffat will pull his head out of his ass.

What’ll we do in the intervening months/year? Well, there’s nearly 50 years of content to talk about; I’m sure I can come up with something Doctor Who-related to write about for you lovely people to enjoy.

-Kanderson is sorry for yelling. He’s not mad at you. Please follow him on TWITTER

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  1. walter purvis says:

    oh also i think that this episode would have been more fucking mind blowing if they didnt put “last time on doctor who” in the beginning aka lost. then no one would be having these problems.

  2. scott says:

    i have a feeling that the conclusion to this beautiful show will end up revealing the doctor to be the GOD in the universe(s), for he has the oppoourtunity to be anywhere at any givin time with the ability to change time itself (as long as its not a fixed point….. but that could take a teslaselctor to avoid the problem 🙂 ) People that he`s helped are constantly describing him in a godlike way, striving to find him(up until he destroys the bit of historys info on him) there is more descriptive aspects i could explain but there are so many in every episode it would take forever, but if your a fan you may already see and understand what im talking about. The thought of the doctor being god gives me chills in the nicest way 😀

  3. kyle morgan says:

    I liked the reviw i felt the same way. And i dont think you need a vacation

  4. Alwin says:

    This reminded me so much of Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Steins;Gate (time-travel anime, both ended this year), and yes, Leverage too. I think it’s just a cliché of the genre that a character will need to “die” in the “end” to save everything, and at least one character will need to have a multi-linear memory.

    If it was clearly time for River to take the TARDIS’s helm post-mortem of our favorite native-born Time Lord or the series to end, THEN I might have been pissed at the cliché.

  5. Rev John says:

    I don’t think it was un-inventive at all. What is it that makes the Doctor? From the very beginning of series 5, The Doctor is the unbeatable presence protecting those around him. He never loses and he can turn armies around at the whisper of his name. The end of series 5 has his enemies coming together to imprison him, and he buys time by reminding them that he always wins and they always lose, a single man frightening thousands of aliens simply by reminding them who he is, The Doctor. This has been a constant, The Doctor is known far and wide, he rarely if ever explains himself simply saying, “Hello, I’m The Doctor.” In Impossible Astronaut we see the death of The Doctor, and Moffat said that it was the real Doctor’s death, and in a very real sense it was. The Doctor as played by Matt Smith, as written by Moffat, isn’t a “help from the shadows” guy, he is the Oncoming Storm, a title he almost enjoys when he claims it in front of Craig’s buddies in “The Lodger”.

    And now, he isn’t any of those things. He isn’t the avenging warrior, he isn’t the name upon which the universe turns, he isn’t the guy who stands firm and personally holds back waves of terror. The Doctor died because there is no more “Doctor”, not in the way the universe knows him. In “The Beast Below” The Doctor says that if he killed the Star Whale he would have to choose a new name because he wouldn’t be “The Doctor” anymore. His hiding and trying to live a quieter life with River, this man in the shadows routine, this action so in opposition to his nature thus far in the series essentially kills his title, his reputation in the universe.

    “The Doctor” is dead, even if the man still lives.

  6. Tad says:

    How dare David Copperfield tell me he’s made something disappear when it turned out to be an ILLUSION?!!!

    Whether Steven Moffat “lied” about the Doctor’s death or it’s completely explainable within the time logistics of the show, did you expect Moffat to say, “Don’t worry, he’s not really dead. We haven’t been cancelled after all.” Really?

    Besides, with this sort of self fulfilling prophecy story, it’s about HOW the story is told and the effect of the journey on the characters.

    Great finale.

  7. walter purvis says:

    ok guys you are all saying you dont know why they had to get married. well they said it in the episode. doctor” i dont want to marry you” river “i dont want to murder you”. basically they told each other what they wanted. and they followed through on that. basically the doctor wanted to make river happy and to end it all so he gave her what she wanted, a wedding. and by the way its a tv show so they gave a happy ending. oops. Also there is now a reason for the bow tie (bow ties are cool). much like the glasses (glasses are cool, “hello handsome”). also that could have been the robot all along which is why when they touched time continued.
    by the way they also said what the next episode is going to be (dickens on tv) will be about the the past the present and the future.

    one little thing though i am probably wrong but meh ill though it out there. River sends out a signal to all of time and to every where could this be BAD WOLF? like i said im doubt im right but meh.

    also another little thought what if river song was the tessalecta in silence in the library. doubt it but why not. also remember the part when he said i just told u my name but really it was him waving though his eye. well that also happened in silence in the library. so why not.

    also i consent and gladly give.

  8. jonasjrr says:

    Kyle–calling the ending a “deus ex machina” is at best giving the phrase a very liberal interpretation. You wanted an ending where a problem was solved in such a way as the audience could never figure it out? Just because the Doctor takes advantage of an existing solution in his own universe that has been presented to the viewer in a previous episode doesn’t mean that it was a “deus ex machina.” Watch a RTD ran episode if you want a good example. The fact that you can state “it was as un-inventive and deus ex machina as anything they’ve done” given RTD era Who really undermines your credibility as a reviewer in my eyes.

  9. Dave H. says:

    Enjoyed the episode.

    Does this mean the Doctor can now knit an Amigurumi Adric & swap it out to save him from the cybership crash?

  10. jonasjrr says:

    This episode, plot devices and all, was the shiznit. I’m slightly confused as to why the episode is so divisive. Everything made sense within the logic of the show. There were no cheap cop outs (the tesselecta was not a cop out; it was a perfectly predictable and realistic solution to the Doctor’s problem that wasn’t sprung on us the viewer in the last 15 minutes of the episode–i’m looking at you RTD!). Big emotional payoffs for one and all. And it was arguably devoid of the camp and stupidity that marred many a RTD episode. Yet people (including the reviewer) are inexplicably acting like it was borderline shit. Seriously?

  11. Kris says:

    There were moments in this episode that were absolutely outstanding (the phone call to the Brigadier, Rory enduring pure agony just to give the others a chance to escape, Knitting for Girls…) but overall, it felt very meh. I was really pulling for something more complicated than just the replica Doctor – I even hoped Moffat would have the balls to actually kill the Doctor at age 1103, and then fill the next however many seasons of television with the 200-year gap between when he leaves the Ponds at Demon’s Run and then.

    I wish there had been a whole episode devoted to the Doctor’s quest to find out intel on the Silence (maybe instead of last week’s completely charming but rather pointless episode). The way it stands, it just sort of feels like the Doctor decided to investigate the Silence on a whim, spent an afternoon poking about, and then came up with a solution to trick the universe and time itself in a snap. It should have been more of a struggle.

    The whole wedding thing? Boo. I hate that they actually “got married”. I keep telling myself that at that point in his timeline, the Doctor had already had all of his adventures with River, so to him it was like no harm, no foul. She gets to be married to him, but he’s already done with everything she’s still going to experience so why not? I just really hope we’re done with River now. Everything that made her interesting is over.

    Last thing: being from Utah, the exchange between the Doctor and Maldovar takes on a whole new HILARIOUS meaning that I don’t think Moffat even intended. “Why Utah?” “It’s a still point in time.” So true. So very, very true for so many reasons.

  12. Kyle Anderson says:

    Maybe it didn’t “spit in the face” but it was as un-inventive and deus ex machina as anything they’ve done.

  13. RJA says:

    The fall of the eleventh is obviously be followed by the Rise of the twelfth plus isn’t he suppose to meet that chick who died in dead man’s run plus I love how smith has more of the eccelson darkness & the tennant slapstick

  14. I wasn’t thoroughly happy with the episode, but I think saying that it “spit in the eyes” of Doctor Who fans is a bit of an exaggeration. It was a far better ending than the Series 3 “Floating Jesus” finale. Did anyone really expect him to die? I think not. The whole point was to see him work his way out of it.

    As a whole, I think they could have spread out the River Song story a bit more. Yes, I would expect that maybe it was too costly to have Alex Kingston on the payroll for all 13 Episodes, but maybe they could have had the “Mels” character around for a couple of episodes first? What happens in-between “A Good Man Goes to War” and “Kill Hitler”? How much did he actually search for baby Melody? Is this where the 200 years go? Kinda feels like a season of Lost, always more questions than answers.

  15. Nicolas says:

    Hello there from France. I am new on the Nerdist website so please be gentle 🙂

    I was too a little bit disappointed by this season finale. Of course I didn’t expect the Doctor to actually die but I thought the explanation would be less obvious. No big deal though, let’s move on.

    So right now I’m thinking of the surprises we could get for the 50th Doctor Who birthday.

    Tell me if I’m wrong, but at the end of season 4, when Rose Tyler came back to her alternate universe, she went with the 10th Doctor’s “clone”. A half-human half-Time Lord version that has part of the Doctor’s knowledge and that cannot regenerate.
    It would be a perfect way to bring back David Tennant and Billie Piper and have an episode with them helping the 11th Doctor, Amy, Rory and River!

    What do you think ?

  16. Liam says:

    River married a robot.

  17. Matthew says:

    I agree with some other commentators here that the Tesselecta Doctor was always the one that was shot. The Silence made the events on the beach a fixed point in time, and believed that they had succeeded in killing the Doctor. In fact, the Doctor had figured out a way to outsmart the Silence by faking his death.
    Others have argued with this point saying that, if this was so, then why didn’t he simply tell River? The Doctor, however, used this event to make EVERYONE believe he was dead, so that he could bring an end to the damaging effect his presence had, and which he had become aware of in A Good Man Goes To War, The Girl Who Waited and The God Complex. Most of all, he wanted to convince River Song, whose life he had already destroyed. What we see in the last moments of the alternate world is the Doctor realising River will never accept killing him. Therefore, he decides to tell her the truth and to marry her so that he can entrust his future to her and accept her love. River keeps this secret untill, seeing her mother’s anguish, she decides to tell Rory and Amy.
    Ultimately, the Doctor has succeeded. He has outsmarted the Silence rather than finding a button that blows them up. There plan failed, but best of all they don’t even realise it. The Doctor can go on, in the shadows, to continue fighting against evil while avoiding the damage his larger-than-life legacy had and perhaps even having an advantage over his duped enemies.
    This my friends is what I call both a fist in the air, satisfactory conclusion to the plot of this season as well as the culmination of the themes which have helped elevate this series despite some rocky episodes.

  18. f3rgette says:

    Thanks for stating the very thing I’ve been thinking all season. I kept hoping that there really was a plan, but my sneaking suspicion all season was that Moffat was flying by the seat of his pants. Off the rails indeed. Just because a show is family-friendly doesn’t mean that you can get away with half-assed storytelling. Maybe he’s over-extended, I have no idea. But hopefully the gaping chasm of time between Christmas and next October will give him space to get his act together and pull out some of the brilliance we know he’s capable of.

  19. HK says:

    I agree – this episode felt a little flat and predictable, but I still enjoyed it. I don’t think I’ll ever get the image of the hot balloon cars out of my head – they were gorgeous. I was hoping for a better way around the Doctor’s death, but alas, we got what we got.

    Much of what I’m thinking has been said, but I would like to bring up Amy and Rory. What role will they have next series? I imagine it will be much less than the previous two, even though I know they are coming back. I’m not quite ready to see them go, yet I’m not exactly sure what’s in store for everyone including River.

    We’ve got a chunk of time to wait, but I’ve really enjoyed reading the reviews and being able to be part of the Nerdist & Who community!

    Oh, and by the way, the Pyramid base? Come on, most of them are solid! (The tombs are commonly underground to deter robbers.) That’s my Ancient Art History class talking.

  20. Jeff Whaley says:

    the episode clearly says that the Silence want the doctor dead to stop him from destroying them at a future fixed point in time.

  21. uncanny expat says:

    The Doctor didn’t die in Impossible Astronaut. It was always the Tesselacta. The fixed point was the act of River shooting the Tesselacta-as-Doctor, which went down in history as the Doctor’s death. River likely served out her sentence in the Stormcage (with nights off) to back up that story.
    To be fair, that doesn’t really answer why River and the robot could set time moving again by touching though, unless the robot itself was considered one side of the paradox.

  22. fredo says:

    the doctor was not supposed to die the silents were trying to make a fixed point in time they failed

  23. Stephen says:

    I agree with Moni. I really liked it. I’ve been reading a lot of hate for this episode, but I loved every minute of it. People have been complaining that it was too short and should have been a two part story. But you have to look at it as a thirteen part story. That’s what I have been loving about Moffat’s work.

    As for Moffat not having a plan? Guilty as charged according to him. He says if he knows where he’s going, he’ll be bored with the story by the time he gets there.

  24. Ben Z says:

    @Jackie Spade
    You’ve obviously never been in love. When you’re truly in love, you would rip the universe apart to be with that person. If you were told that you were the one to kill the person you loved, you would rather destroy time than to be the killer.
    As for Amelia, she wasn’t a strong, independent child. She was a little girl that was so afraid of the crack in her wall, she helped a crazy looking man that she lovingly called The Raggedy Doctor, just because she thought her prayers were answered. Let’s throw in a couple of other things. First, she was praying for help and the TARDIS appeared. To a little girl, that had to be like God arriving. Second, he promised to show her the universe. Third, he saved the world in front of her eyes by being confident. Confidence was not something that pre-Doctor Rory had. It turned her on. I guarantee if God came down from Heaven, saved your life, turned you on, and said, “Come with me and I will show you the universe,” you would follow.
    Finally, Rory’s relationship with Amy has only grown stronger. He’s grown into a man over the last two series. I would say that you don’t need to pity Rory. If anything, he’s the one who gained the most from The Doctor.

  25. Dillon says:

    A fan on Twitter asked Steven Moffat the same thing about how the Teselecta can regenerate… here’s his response:

    @steven_moffat It can turn its legs into a motorbike and snog Alex Kingston … and you’re asking about a lightshow??

    And saying that the resolution in this episode “spits in the face of fans” is a bit of an overreaction. When endings like this happen, I laugh and say “He tricked me”, and then I go on enjoying the show I’ve been watching. I don’t flip out and write silly things like “spitting in the face of fans”. You’re really gonna be one of those? You’re better than that, Kyle.

    And to say that Moffat clearly doesn’t have a plan? After watching this episode, I felt like it was even more cemented that Moffat clearly DOES have a plan… and I don’t understand how you could possibly see differently.

    I feel like maybe you’re doing that dangerous thing that fans sometimes do, and I’ve been guilty of this too, where you decide how the show should go in your head, and then when it doesn’t go the way you decided, that means you hate it. That’s not the headspace a TV reviewer should be in.

  26. Martin J says:

    I have really enjoyed this series and cant see where all the hate has came from.

    As for the story climaxing in one of the many telegraphed ways, i just keep reminding myself that Dr Who is a children’s show and as a 37 year old i should be able to see such things coming. But i also love that a children’s show can be so dark at times and deal with themes so much better than supposed adult drama’s.

  27. my_leisure says:

    Was anyone else happy that the question was “Doctor Who?” I’ve only seen a handful of the older series but I really think they’re more to the Doctor than being just a Time Lord.

  28. Moni says:

    I liked it. Sorry. I mean if you wanna be mad, be mad, but I liked it. Every. Bit.

    So I must be a moron. Or, I just like to be entertained.

    People take this stuff too seriously sometimes. I mean I LOVE Doc tor Who, but not enough to tear it up in pieces until I’m mad at the head writer.

  29. elbueno says:

    If you didn’t fully enjoy this story, then you are thinking too hard. As everyone always says, its a story for kids.

    Just turn your brain off, and enjoy the wonderful trip.

  30. Jackie Spade says:

    I agree with everything you’ve said. My biggest problem, which didn’t get mentioned, was Moffat seems to have a problem with women. Take River as my best example. When she first bounces onto the scene, she is a very strong, very arrogant, very bad ass character. Towards the end, she just became this dependent, sniveling, whiny bitch who ‘0mgZ I luv u lyk whoa!’. Now, some argue that it was her early days and so on. True. But look at when she first regenerated into River Song. Also realizing that we don’t really know precisely how old she is. I think Moffat making River Amy and Rory’s daughter was just the easy way out. Moffat says it’s supposed to be easy enough for an 8 year old to figure out. Well, problem is, most 8 year olds DON’T get it. So why make the rest of the episodes ridiculously confusing, but make the one that everyone is most excited about be such an obvious downer? It’s like he purposely LOVES letting his fans down.

    Then there is Amy. When she started off as Amelia, she was obviously a very strong, very brave little girl. The Doctor disappears and Amy becomes this obsessed stalker creeper woman for 14 years. Knowing she’s about to be married–which the Doctor doesn’t know–she slips away with him. She was also strong and independent, but suddenly is reduced to putty around the Doctor. “You took me away in my nightie the night before my wedding. 0mgz i can haz snog!!!1!?”

    Poor Rory. Nuff said.

    All in all, there are answers we never got. We will probably never get them. Moffat has a complex, a God one. And the show has gotten so far away from classic Who it should really be called something else.

    Just sayin’.

  31. J. says:

    I didn’t have nearly the same issues with the episode as you did Kyle, if I may so bold as to refer to you by your first name. Maybe I had different expectations going into it. I mean we all new that the Doctor couldn’t really die (as you mention in your post about the show not being canceled) but I think we we’re all hoping for a super complex way for Moffat to pull the Doctor out of the mess. Instead we got a “Leverage” type answer where we “missed” an important scene of the Doctor asking for the Tesselecta Crew’s help. But I don’t think that the resolution taints the story at all. For me it was about the high level of emotions running through the episode, the warm humor, the frightening Silents. All that added up to a good episode to me. And I’ll admit I didn’t figure out the oldest question just like I didn’t figure out about Ganger Amy/Melody. This might sound like a cop out to you but the episode worked for me on an emotionally satisfying level, but not a completely mechanical one where the plot made sense in every detail.

  32. Greg says:

    First off thanks for another insightful review and I was looking forward to reading it since the episode went off the air.

    I have to say I also enjoyed the episode, even though the death of the Doctor in ‘Astronaut’ was gonna paint Moffat in a corner no matter what he did.

    Although the spins in the story had me dizzy this season, at the end I have grown to like Matt Smith so much more this season than last. It’s always tough to get on board with and get used to a new Doctor, Smith really turned it on this season and has been absolutely brilliant.

    I think the season ender here does let the writers go, and I too could go for some here and there stories that are away from a grand story arc and perhaps even some new companions.

    Lastly, I totally agree that the phone call for the Brig nearly broke my heart, and as a classic Whovian it was one of the season’s finest moments.


  33. Ben Z says:

    Wow, I usually enjoy your writing, but this one reads like you need to take a serious vacation. I don’t know if you’re trying to be funny while being incredibly grumpy, if you’ve poetry’s ability to enjoy things, or what, but you need some time off. One of the things that makes being a nerd great is that we enjoy things. We don’t usually nitpick everything to the point we come off sounding like a douche. We love our shows, books, music, video games, technology and everything. We find the fun and the good in so much stuff. There’s a reason that nerd culture isn’t main stream, it’s because the average person would rather rip stuff apart just for a reason to hate it, instead of taking the stuff that works and finding a reason to love it. Based on your last articles, I was afraid you were heading in the direction this article took. I’m starting to think you’ve lost your nerdiness. Yes, that is possible. Until you relearn to suspend your disbelief, I think you need to take a break from writing for Nerdist.

    Since he was in the robot on the beach, the robot was the one at the heart of the time explosion, so that’s why touching the robot works.

    Did anyone else feel like when the weapon power was drained, we got a Quantum Leap type special effect? I liked it, but was surprised by it.

  34. JJ says:

    I’m with those who say he did actually die in the impossible astronaut. River essentially did a re-boot, and that’s when the switch to the doctor ‘suit’ happened.

  35. ceser says:

    What has been bothering me is if all the Doctor said to River when they got married was “look in my eye” then what does she tell him when they meet in the library that gets him to believe she actually knows him? He tells her “River you know my name. You whispered my name in my ear. There’s only one way I would ever tell anyone my name. There’s only one time I could.” but he didn’t actually tell her it. I guess there is the possibility that this is referencing a different event…

  36. JohnR says:

    I’ll rewatch it for details, but in “Wedding”, in the end, do we see the regeneration light? I remember the green flash of the weapon, but not the regen light.

    My interpretation (and again, second viewing will be needed to confirmm or deny this) is that The Doctor cheated time. And by that, I mean that in one stream, the one we saw in “Astronaut”, the real doctor really died. And in “Wedding”, the real doctor was going to face his fate, because he knew that if he wasn’t on the beach getting killed, time would be screwed up. Then, he had an idea (as he was going out the door after talking to the Tessalector) that he could make time believe he was killed and yet not be. While the moment of his “death” was a fixed point, he figured out a way to meet just the bare minimum of criteria to get past that point (what is the threshold for that moment to be the same? Exact? A butterfly in Japan has to be flapping in the exact way in that exact moment? Or is there some wiggle room?)

    I enjoyed it, because it has my mind working to figure it out (and figure out how it was constructed from the Moffatt POV), and those are the ones I like best. More time and more viewing may change this, but that’s where I’m going with my rationale.

  37. Joshy B says:

    After all this chatter on the internet, I seem to be one of the few people who actually liked the episode. I, like many others above me, took the Doctor’s death in the first episode as the real death, and the rest of the season is him trying to figure out a way where he doesn’t have to die. Predictable? Sure I guess. But since the only way to be unpredictable was to have the Doctor actually die, can we really complain that much? Spitting in the face of fans, though? Really?

  38. Sarah says:

    The one thing I didnt get about this episode was touched upon but the real question is still out there. If the problem with time is that the Doctor was alive, then why would killing a tesalecta replica of him put time right? It’s not like the universe was like, “close enough”.

  39. Jeremy W says:

    The way I see it, we did see the real Doctor die in the Impossible Astronaut. He started to regenerate and was killed. In this episode we see River not kill the Doctor creating a second Universe. Amy says she remembers both events. So the Doctor knows that he needs to be at the lake at that time and get shot by River so he takes the robot man with little people in it and takes it down to the lake to get shot because the Doctor gets shot. Correct me if I’m wrong but we don’t see the regeneration happen when the robot Doctor gets shot correct?

    Anyways what is the purpose of the time traveling robot with little people inside? They take people out of their timeline right before they die and give them hell. They are doing the same for the Doctor minus the give him hell part, effectively “killing” him, taking him out of his timeline to start in this new timeline. I thought the episode was very predictable, brilliant, but predictable.

  40. Thom from Calgary says:

    You know, the second I saw the Tes, I already went, “wait, seriously?!”
    I mean, it was a nice episode, but Kanderson, you said, it felt like a cheap jab to finish off this story arc .
    BUT, I rather did like this epsiode. It was quite nice actually.
    Oh well, thanks for your always informative/funny review!

  41. Heather says:

    I’d argue that he has to marry River there to get her to cooperate. She is a psychopath who has JUST said that she’ll let everything die so that she didn’t have to be the one to kill him. So by marrying her he thanks her for her psycho devotion to him and she can move forward.

  42. Viktor Walters says:

    Actually what we saw in that episode WAS the Doctor really dying. And in fact, dead. Then River changed it by shutting off her systems, branching off into a new paradoxical continuity that auto-cancelled into forevertime, and then we got a re-do of the whole scene, this time with the Teselecta. This is actually fairly midlevel time shenanigans in terms of Doctor Who. Par for the course.

    Presumably the first time the Doctor didn’t get the Teselecta- probably because of aforementioned time shenanigans involving how the Teselecta works. Very possible, since there are swaths of time the Doctor messes with that are not fixed- chaos theory gets into things and we get counterintuitive endings like this.

    As to the regeneration- why not? They’re time traveling robots, surely they can let off glowy stuff when they’d like. I’m sure they’ve had to impersonate Timelords or something at some point. But then maybe I just am happy to enjoy stuff and can easily imagine explanations that satisfy my simple mind~

    Personally I feel like Moffat was setting up a whole hell of a lot in this episode. Why is “Doctor Who?” such a big deal? How do the Teselectas feature into the whole “guardian of time” dealie that the Doctor tries to keep up with? How will the Doctor go about keeping a low profile? I mean, seriously. Can you imagine the Doctor doing that?

    I actually feel like the Silence are pretty much explained at this point, unfortunately- one carpenter in a desert can start a world-dominant religion, makes sense that an omnipresent omniscient omnipotent timebandit who has affected everyone in the whole damn universe started a massive conspiracy to end his dicking about. Hopefully future Doctor Who can keep that interesting and develop it into a larger storyline (tapestry, not arc) from this point on- I’d rather they not just become the new Daleks.

  43. Jet says:

    I kind of agree with Higgs. He had to find out he was going to die to do the suit thing, so the first time it was the real doctor and the second time it was the suit?

    I didn’t see the point of River telling Amy the Doctor was alive. He probably wants her to think he’s dead so she’ll move on. Until next season.

    Yeah, and as soon as he sat down with those little suit guys and they said they wanted to help the rest of the episode was easy. They could have at least put some suspense behind it, with the world crumbling or Silence approaching as River and the Doctor got married.

  44. Mike says:

    I was torn between Ganger and Teselecta for the ending body double, but I was still betting on Ganger.

    As for the Regen Glow… I just assumed that if the Robosuit can make a working motorcycle it can handle having a bit of a diffuse lightshow with a… fine nano-mesh of glowing panels, or something.

  45. Megan R says:

    Actually, I was similarly bothered by, if they have to touch to restart time, then how is river touching a robot doctor suit the same thing? Why would her touching it restart time? What bothers me most is how after waiting SO LONG for River answers, it ruins it to have them just dumped on us in big chunks. I guess they can’t put Alex in every episode, but then again, why not?

  46. Don’t you mean “Tessalector”? The Latin word for ’tile’ being tessera.

  47. Corey says:

    Couldn’t agree more with 99% of this article. Small nitpick, the time should be 5:02 PM, not 5:22. Otherwise, dead on!

  48. Higgs says:

    Perhaps from Moffat’s point of view, the Doctor who died at the beginning of the series *was* the real Doctor, and the younger Doctor we followed through the series found a Chrono Trigger-esque way to /slightly/ adjust the fixed point in a way that everything works out dandy.

    Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey? Yes, absolutely.

    I was hoping for something more profound, but still found this to be a satisfying conclusion.

  49. Patrick Rose says:

    I’d said Ganger, but I still say I called it.

  50. @Dangalff says:

    I hate self-fulfilling prophecies storylines, they’re always such a let down by the end. Buffy and Angel had some good ones, but I feel with the doctor, they’re too flat