KT isn’t holding back on the big reveals in this episode, so watch out if you haven’t seen it yet.
DOCTOR WHO: 6.07 “A Good Man Goes to War”
SPOILERS. Oh, so many spoilers, sweetie.
And oh my, is there ever a lot going on in this episode. If anything, the whole episode feels like it’s the middle of something. The middle of an action movie, maybe, that started with the season’s two-part opener and will continue when the show comes back in the autumn. (And as for that: !!!!??!)
Like “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon,” the events of this episode depend heavily on the viewer to piece things together. While it’s normal for this show to assemble a new supporting cast for each episode, this one features a larger and more varied group of characters than usual. The setting is a puzzle in itself, and we get most of the way through the episode before we meet anything like an explanation.
That sounds like complaining—and it’s true that I wouldn’t list this as a strength of the episode—but asking the viewer to do that much of the work does make the episode more engaging to watch.
For example, one of my favorite elements in the episode is the Silurian and her human companion. Bold, understated, and unexpected, I’d love to see more of them, either at home in Victorian London or abroad elsewhere in time and space. Total spin-off material right there.
All right, then. Let’s talk about the Pond family, shall we?
Rory gets several chances to be awesome this episode, including a very impressive moment before we cut to the title sequence. He even seems to steal the alpha-male role away from the Doctor once or twice. Puzzlingly, though, Rory spends the episode dressed as the Last Centurion, apparently just so Amy can fake us out for a moment in the teaser.
Amy still doesn’t get a whole lot to do, though that tends to happen when you’re the one who needs rescuing—and especially when you’re toting an infant around. Karen Gillan isn’t entirely convincing as a mother, but she give it her best shot, and Rory’s reunion with his little family is still very sweet. (Meanwhile, the Doctor’s aversion to these emotions and general squeamishness at being forced to contemplate procreation is ridiculously adorable.)
But it’s Melody who’s really at the center of all this—and that’s Melody Pond, future super hero, not Melody Williams, potential social studies teacher. The name is clarified as a joke at Rory’s expense, but it becomes vitally important later. Cleverly written, Mr. Moffat.
The big question is why Melody is worth stealing and what Madame Kovarian is trying to do to her. Speaking of whom, it’s also unclear why Kovarian is so dead-set on destroying the Doctor.
What we do learn, though, is that Melody, either through Kovarian’s tinkering or because she was conceived in the time vortex, is a little bit Time Lord. That seems to settle it: the mysterious child who killed the Doctor in a space suit and then regenerated must be Melody. (Called it.)
Where Melody goes from here, I can’t quite figure. Presumably, Kovarian has taken her back to 1960s Earth, where she’ll grow up in the derelict orphanage that Amy explored with Badger Canton Delaware. But now that the Doctor is after her, will he be able to prevent all that?
Either way, we know where Melody ends up. In a HUGE reveal, River Song asks Amy and Rory to take a closer look at the prayer leaf stitched with Melody’s name by a well-wisher from the Gamma Forest. Only, the people there have no word for “pond,” as “the only water in the forest is the river”—something the human TARDIS told Rory three episodes ago. Melody Pond grows up to be River Song.
Gleeful with the news, the Doctor sends everyone away and races off in the TARDIS to rescue the baby, entrusting the young parents to their adult daughter’s care. The rest of us are left to piece River’s life together. Keeping track of her may become harder than ever. As it is, I’m never quite suer where we are in her personal timeline, and now we’ve got two of her to keep track of. At least Mr. Moffat is clever enough to give us different versions of the name for the child and the adult, just as he did with Amy/Amelia.
Just as River told us in “Flesh and Stone,” she once killed a very great man—as a young girl dressed in a space suit, with her older self watching. (Now I want to go back and take a second look at River’s reaction to the whole thing.) That’s a little distressing because that was the reason she gave for her incarceration in the Storm Cage in the 51st century. Surely she hasn’t been locked up there since she was so little! (Though I grant you, that should be “locked up” in her case, since she seems to come and go pretty much at will.)
I also wonder if part of the reason River told Rory that she couldn’t come to help until the very end was because she didn’t want to be in the same place as her infant self—even though the baby did turn out to be a ganger. Certainly the Doctor was very firm in “Father’s Day” that adult Rose was absolutely not allowed to touch baby Rose.
Overall, I have to say that I think I like this identity for River. It makes her closeness with the Doctor make a little more sense—he’s the most amazing uncle ever. But it’s also terribly sad. Here’s Amy and Rory’s daughter… and short of undoing the ending of “Forest of the Dead,” we already know how she dies.