I know that I’m a little late in getting my review up for the new episode of Doctor Who, but in my defense, when it aired, I was in London seeing David Tennant and Catherine Tate in “Much Ado About Nothing.” I did catch some spoilers on Twitter (shame on you), but as I was seeing the 10th Doctor and Donna Noble in the flesh, well… I guess I win out on spoiler people, right?
So the episode starts out with a childhood friend of Amy and Rory’s that we’ve never seen before named Mel suddenly bursting onto the scene, being chased by authority figures of some type. They all run for the TARDIS, as Mel has heard about the Doctor growing up from Amy, and the episode title is revealed as Mel says “Let’s Kill Hitler.”
However, the episode title is not all that accurate because Hitler is really not the subject of this episode, or even WWII.
The episode is about who this mysterious friend really is. We find out when she gets shot and starts regenerating. As you might have guessed from her previous attitude, Mel, is in fact, River Song. And when she regenerates, it’s into the version of River Song that we’re familiar with. Except this River Song is still pretty young and new. And she’s spent a lot of her young life being trained to kill the Doctor.
My first complaint is that Mel suddenly appears out of the blue as Amy and Rory’s best friend and yet we’ve heard nothing about her previously. It almost seems that she was made up and thrown into the plot at the last minute. That may not be the case, but it felt that way in watching the episode. However, once she regenerates and becomes Alex Kingston’s River Song, we forgive that.
It is Alex Kingston as the young River Song that makes this episode so enjoyable. The energy she puts into the role makes her one of the most interesting Doctor Who villains to date. I am reminded of the relationship the Doctor always had with the Master – that of friend and foe. This is the same sort of relationship and is palpable when Matt Smith as the Doctor and Alex Kingston as River Song are in the same room. You don’t know whether to love her or hate her, but you find yourself constantly watching her.
I was on the fence about River Song being Amy and Rory’s daughter and I still feel it’s reaching to say that she’s a time lady just because she was conceived in the TARDIS. However, I like the character so much, especially seeing her as a much newer version of herself, that I’m willing to forgive that.
Matt Smith looks even older, in this episode, perhaps because of the events of the previous half of the season. He still excels at making such a young looking man seem so old, a talent I’ve admired him for since he first took on the role of the Doctor.
However, this episode is about River Song, and although I have been hating the episodes that don’t focus on the Doctor, this one still gets a star in my book as her character just keeps getting more and more interesting. And we know that she’s going to kill the Doctor for certain now and that this is probably why she spends her later life in prison. But the path leading up to that is still a mystery and I, personally, cannot wait to see it finally happen. Or not happen, as this is a show about time travel and sometimes these things are in flux.