Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My Fav is Problematic



I have to say, doing this took me back.  I've cross-referenced 4 series of this show AND watched stupid videos of smug comments from its evil mastermind, dug through tumblrs full of gifs and screencaps (the tumblr part is new; the screencaps a tale as old as time,) I've read fanfiction for the first time in at least a decade (okay maybe that wasn't, strictly speaking, necessary research,) and now I'm RARING TO GO.  Nothing like digging possibly unhealthily deep into speculation over the inner machinations of fictional characters to make you feel like a teenager again.  Why yes, I was fun at parties.  NOW I'M GOING TO YELL ON THE INTERNET ABOUT SOME TEEVEE THAT MADE ME HAVE UPSETTING FEELINGS!! 



You might want to get a cuppa first.  It's long. Although a lot of that is visual aids.
And it should go without saying,










Is it overkill to be writing the post-mortem of an OTP that spent most of its screentime doing just that?  Well that's exactly the problem!!  Steven Moffat, you evil bastard, you love giving us beautiful nice things and then destroying them in slow and agonizing ways.  I'm not talking about the tragedy written in from the onset, oh no.  I'm talking about FUMBLING THE BALL all the way to the end.  

So let's start at the beginning/end.

The Library

Things of importance:
  • First time ever that The Doctor meets River (in his incarnation as the Tenth Doctor and in his timeline overall) and she is surprised he doesn't know her  :'( 
  • We're introduced to the concept of their timelines being back-to-front, but by River's own description of the last time she saw The Doctor in her timeline, this can't be 100% the case. Just the general trend.
  • She has a sonic screwdriver that he gave her in the future, and she knows his real name.



  • Her knowing his real name is enough to get him to trust her completely.
  • He is shocked that she knows, and says there is only one reason he'd give his name to someone, only one time he could, but doesn't say what it is.
  • This happens, so every subsequent time there's handcuff innuendo we're like hahaNOOOOOO!


  • She talks about their last night together as if it were truly only one night... we'll get back to that at the other end.
  • She seems surprised to realize he always knew from the beginning that she would die there.
  • River impresses upon The Doctor that he must not try to change her fate, because he would risk their relationship never happening.  This is gonna come back on the other side, too.  This bit is well done. /cries


  • River dies. :'(
  • The Doctor realizes the reason his future self gave her the screwdriver, and in the nick of time, he "saves" her by uploading her consciousness to the Library computer.  This is the open end to the mostly-closed loop of their relationship.  He meets River on the day she dies, but she has been Saved.  That didn't happen for no reason.  



THESE ARE THE TRUFAX.  This entire wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey romance is DESPERATELY dependent on adhering religiously to its own continuity, as laid out for the first time in these two episodes, both in terms of the physical/space-time constraints of the premise, and, I'd argue more importantly, the emotional reality of the characters at different times in their lives.  Okay?  Okay.  Cause we're gonna see the timeline get off to a good start, and then start to fray more and more and more.

The Crash of the Byzantium
  • River returns in another two-parter, the first time the Eleventh Doctor has met her on screen.  Has he met her off-screen in between The Library and now?  Not explicitly stated, but it's implied that he has once or twice.  
  • We start to get more pieces of what their relationship is like in the future.
  • Most importantly, we learn that she is, to my knowledge, the only non-Timelord [ok that's debatable you get my point] who can pilot the TARDIS - and she's better at it than the Doctor.


  • Amy guesses that River is the Doctor's future wife within like, minutes.  It's obvious.  He's just stubborn and acts like a bit of a dick cause he doesn't like someone knowing his future.  But River knows he's very young and they don't have a real relationship yet.




  • We find out that River is on an excursion from Stormcage prison, where she's gone for being convicted of the murder of the "best man [she's] ever known."  WHO COULD IT BE?

"You, me, handcuffs. Must it always end this way?"
Me: Y U DO THIS TO MY EMOTIONS MOFFAT

  • Shortly after River departs in the above scene, Amy asks The Doctor what he's thinking.  He says, "Time can be rewritten."  Interesting.  I think about this line now and again, and I still don't know exactly what he's supposed to be on about there, cause, you know, he just recently heard this.



The Pandorica and The Big Bang 2
  • We don't learn a whole lot about River & The Doctor here, but there are a couple of lovely moments that make it absolutely clear that the Doctor knows exactly what's going on here but he is just determined not to acknowledge that he does quite yet.

"Hi honey, I'm home." "And what sort of time do you call this?"










and then he says "River, who are you" cause he's an idiot

We also get some important precedents re: Amy and Rory that I'm going to refer back to soon.
  • Rory returns from not just death, but from death followed by being erased from ever existing, because their at-the-time-unknown enemies created a ruse to draw The Doctor in, based on Amy's memories.  And because of her altered mental capacity from her lifetime exposure to "the universe" through the crack in her wall, and the strength of her memories of Rory, they ended up accidentally getting the real Rory's consciousness resurrected into an almost-completely-human plastic body.  Or something.






  • Amy also returns from the dead thanks to the light of the Pandorica and an imprint of her past-self which, even in the context of this show, BARELY makes any sense.  I also feel like if this Pandorica world-restoring light technology existed, even in what would turn out to be an aborted alternate timeline, The Doctor could have, yknow, maybe pursued that.  As something that would be handy to have in the future.
  • Shortly thereafter, The Doctor also returns from being erased from existence, again thanks to Amy remembering him, and, frankly, a whole lot of blatant time paradoxes.





Those are River's parents.  The man who won't stay dead, and the woman who brings people back into existence just by remembering them.  And neither of them are even part-Timelord-ish.

Update because I couldn't find gifs of this until today

I was rewatching my favorite Christmas special last month, and I screamed.





WHY DO YOU WANT TO RIP MY HEART OUT?!

Series 6 - (The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon, A Good Man Goes to War, Let's Kill Hitler, the Wedding of River song)

In the first half of series 6, things get pretty delightful. 


1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who mine: doctor who otp: honey i1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who mine: doctor who otp: honey i
1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who mine: doctor who otp: honey i1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who mine: doctor who otp: honey i
1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who mine: doctor who otp: honey i1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who mine: doctor who otp: honey i




1k ~ doctor who matt smith Eleven Alex Kingston river song 500 dwedit otp: hello sweetie 1k ~ doctor who matt smith Eleven Alex Kingston river song 500 dwedit otp: hello sweetie

1k ~ doctor who matt smith Eleven Alex Kingston river song 500 dwedit otp: hello sweetie 1k ~ doctor who matt smith Eleven Alex Kingston river song 500 dwedit otp: hello sweetie



Sorry, I just... really really love them.  Even later in this series as the writing starts to rapidly fail all the promises that were made, Matt and Alex are 💕🔥💕(u see what I did there) every time they're on screen together and they make it impossible not to be in love with this couple.

Also, this is where it becomes really cumbersome to discuss things in the order they were revealed on the show, so I'm going end-to-end with the spoilers to try to dissect the important points of this very dense chapter as it relates to logic and character development.  I'm not going to try to lay out the whole entire plot cause, you know, it's a mess.




Here's where we, in fits and starts, find out all about River's history and identity - including that she is Amy and Rory's child, conceived on the TARDIS in the time vortex; that a cult kidnapped Amy while she was pregnant and manipulated the unborn River (aka Melody)'s DNA to make her more Timelord-ish, and then stole her after her birth and took her back to the 1960s for some reason, to raise her as a "weapon" to kill the Doctor.  I mean, this all seems like a bit much trouble to go to, but, you know. Okay.




The first time she meets The Doctor in her timeline (meeting him when she was an infant excluded) she is in her incarnation as Mels, (and oh yeah, she can regenerate,) Amy and Rory's best friend since childhood... so at some point, she escaped the Silence cult and found her parents as children in Leadworth and grew up with them without revealing her true identity.  But I guess she was still under the control/brainwashing of the Silence because she does, shortly after regenerating into River as we know her, kill The Doctor with a poison kiss.  For like a minute, anyway.

So by this point, The Doctor has clearly spent enough time with her future self to be pretty smitten.  There's a BIG change in his demeanor towards her in this episode, and it's the first time he's briefly ahead of her chronologically, instead of the other way around. This is getting to the part of their relationship we've heard so much about but have not witnessed at all.  The part where he's not a confused flailing idiot trying to fight his future, or just starting to realize he is super into her- here he has embraced loving her and even tells her so (I mean what else could he be saying.)  Fabulous.  A+.  And River, for all that she was brainwashed from birth to murder him, takes a LOT less convincing than he did.

I don't think Steven Moffat knows what a psychopath (or a sociopath for that matter) is


(then she finds out she is/will be River Song)





But I have extremely mixed feelings about River's origin story.  On the one hand, it pisses me off that EVERYTHING has to be ALL ABOUT THE DOCTOR ALL THE TIME, and his wife ends up being someone who was specifically created for him (even if it was to kill him and not to love him.)  It's just, it makes me feel like 



River is great because she's the one person who can walk in and out of The Doctor's life as she chooses, the way he always does to his companions.  The only one who is as mad and brilliant and adventurous on her own as with him, who doesn't take any of his crap, and she is fiercely independent at the same time as she is clearly head over heels for him and values their relationship above all else.  They have perfect chemistry and you know, why does it need to be more than that?  

Why can't she be her own person with her own life that doesn't involve being genetically engineered to be more similar to him before she was even born, stolen from her parents and raised by evil brainwashing people, and then serving who knows how many years in prison, for what turns out to be, basically, no reason whatsoever (more rage on that later,) ALL FOR THE DOCTOR???  It's kinda bullshit.  They even show her enrolling in her archaeology doctorate program at the end of Let's Kill Hitler and when the interviewer asks her why she's there she says "I'm looking for a good man." 




SERIOUSLY? SERIOUSLY WITH THIS DIALOG STEVEN MOFFAT?!  Yes, we get it, she uses her archaeological skills to communicate with The Doctor across time and whatever, but she becomes a brilliant doctor in her own right and later a professor, and here she is taking this huge step for herself and deciding the course of her own life after spending her childhood as a brainwashed prisoner and her young adulthood stealing vehicles and being kind of unhinged, and THIS is how you frame it?!  The way he creates fabulous, complex, kick-ass, lovable women, and throws them into blatantly sexist plots that do them an extreme disservice just rage-splodes my brain.

Anyway, what I do like about River's identity-reveal is that The Doctor has a wife who can regenerate and be with him for the rest of his OH WAIT NEVER MIND SHE USED ALL HER REGENERATIONS AT ONCE SAVING HIM AND SHE HAS NONE ANYMORE.  Why then?!  Why bother making her Timelord-lite if she doesn't even get to stick around long enough for it to be a benefit?!?!  Well, even if it was wasted so far, I fully expect the future writers of this show to see how stupid that was and remedy the situation.  Because if you've watched this show, you know all too well that, rules of regeneration be damned, Timelords don't stay dead.  Ever.  Ever ever.  Especially when their consciousness has been conveniently stored on a hard drive for the time being.  They've worked with WAY less than that before.  



Hell, they brought ALL OF GALLIFREY back by retconning The Doctor blowing them up, and then Gallifrey tossed The Doctor a new set of regenerations from another dimension just cause someone asked very nicely.  Take into account as well the extremely long history of dying cop-outs for nearly EVERY companion, and especially River's parents' resilience to death/being unwritten from existence, and it's clear River is down but not out.  If they went to all the trouble of making her a Timelord AND saving her consciousness after her death just to have her disappear almost immediately from the show once the "mystery" was gone, well - I'M GOING TO KEEP BEING VERY ANGRY AND DISAPPOINTED.  But no, some future showrunner is sure to snatch her up when they get bored.  Chibnall, please??

The other thing I do like about her origin is that the Ponds are The Doctor's in-laws now, and I love them all so much, and they obviously all love each other, and they are one weird happy timey wimey family.  I love that he has a family for the first time since he was in black and white. Except... 










MAYBE CAN YOU GUYS INVITE RIVER SOME TIME???? YOU KNOW, YOUR DAUGHTER / BEST FRIEND / WIFE?????? JUST AN IDEA????

And also, shortly after this, the Ponds are gone.

Then we get to this mess.  The Wedding of River Song.  What even is that title?  Who else would she be getting married to?  Anyway, there's the whole thing where the Doctor is supposed to die at Lake Silencio in Utah and it's a fixed point that can't be changed and blah blah - I've ranted about this before.  River has been re-kidnapped and put back in the self-driving suit that's going to deliver the fatal shot (why she needs to be in it, then, I have no idea) but she finds a way to not kill him, and in doing so, causes a time paradox. Eventually they meet in the weird alternate paradox world where all of time is happening simultaneously, and they can only end it by touching, because they are the center of the paradox.  And The Doctor becomes a RAGING ASSHOLE. Cause somehow we go, with The Doctor at the exact same point in his life, from this....





to this




DOCTOR: River! River, this is ridiculous. That would mean nothing to anyone. It's insane. Worse, it's stupid. You embarrass me. 

...

RIVER: ...I can't let you die without knowing you are loved by so many, and so much, and by no one more than me. 

DOCTOR: River, you and I, we know what this means. We are ground zero of an explosion that will engulf all reality. Billions on billions will suffer and die. 

RIVER: I'll suffer if I have to kill you. 

DOCTOR: More than every living thing in the universe? 

RIVER: Yes.

DOCTOR: River, River, why do you had have to be this? Melody Pond, [to Amy and Rory] your daughter. I hope you're both proud. 




ASS. HOLE.  What the hell?!  This is the first glimpse of true dysfunction in their relationship that isn't a product of their mixed-up timestreams or brainwashing, and it's so jarring and upsetting and out of place, AND THEN THEY GET MARRIED LIKE 2 SECONDS LATER.  That's.... romantic?  Look, I get the intention here - River has ripped up all of time in order to save him, he doesn't want that on his conscience, he thinks he has to die.  Still could be less of a jerkoff about it.  Except, in fact, at this point, HE ALREADY HAS AN EXIT PLAN.  He KNOWS he doesn't have to die.  He could just tell her his plan instead of yelling at and belittling her.

It's a stupid plan that makes absolutely no sense, but it works because I guess they couldn't come up with anything better, so there really is no reason for him to be taking this out on her.  She's an adult, and at this point in his timeline, is already the person who he respects and trusts above everyone else in the universe (except for himself) as evidenced by his numbered envelopes in The Impossible Astronaut.  He doesn't need to be such a drama queen just to "teach her a lesson" or whatever the hell is supposed to be going on here.  He is just being pointlessly cruel.

In fact, you know what, here, I'm going to rewrite this scene, right now. I'm not much of a fiction/prose/things-with-dialog writer, but I'm taking a stab.  I moved some bits of dialog from elsewhere in the episode into it.  Also, imagine The Doctor speaking in a much more loving and compassionate tone, like he did in Let's Kill Hitler, and not like a mean drunk.


(Open to the sky, where the cap of the pyramid should be.)
DOCTOR: What's this? Oh, it's a timey-wimey distress beacon. Who built this?
RIVER: I'm the child of the Tardis. I understand the physics. 
I've been sending out a message. A distress call. Outside the bubble of our time, the universe is still turning, and I've sent a message everywhere. To the future and the past, the beginning and the end of everything. 'The Doctor is dying. Please, please help.' 
DOCTOR: River, this won't work.
AMY: We barricaded the door. We've got a few minutes. Just tell him. Just tell him, River.
RIVER: Those reports of the sun spots and the solar flares. They're wrong. There aren't any. It's not the sun, it's you. The sky is full of a million, million voices saying 'yes, of course we'll help.' You've touched so many lives, saved so many people. Did you think when your time came, you'd really have to do more than just ask? You've decided that the universe is better off without you, but the universe doesn't agree!
DOCTOR: River, no one else can help me. Time is disintegrating, and we're at the center of it.  Only we can stop it.
RIVER: I can't let you die. Not without knowing you are loved by so many, and so much, and by no one more than me. 
DOCTOR: River, come here.
RIVER: [walking closer] It doesn't have to be this way. There are so many theories about you and I, you know.
DOCTOR: Idle gossip.
RIVER: Archaeology.
DOCTOR: Same thing.
RIVER: I'm the woman who murders you -

DOCTOR: not your fault -
RIVER: - or I'm the woman who marries you.
DOCTOR: [pause] Do you want to?


RIVER: Are you asking?
DOCTOR: Yes.
RIVER: Yes.
DOCTOR: Yes. Good. Right! 




DOCTOR: Amy, uncuff me now. Okay, I need a strip of cloth about a foot long. Anything will do. Never mind. 
[The Doctor takes off his bow tie.]
DOCTOR: River, take one end of this. Wrap it around your hand, and hold it out to me.  


bowtie handfasting, now that actually IS romantic

DOCTOR: Now, we're in the middle of a combat zone, so we'll have to do the quick version. Captain Williams, say I consent and gladly give.
 
RORY: I'm not sure I completely understand.
AMY: We got married and had a kid and that's her.
RORY: Okay. 
DOCTOR: Say it please.
RORY: I consent and gladly give.
DOCTOR: Need you to say it too, mother of the bride.
AMY: I consent and gladly give.
DOCTOR: River -
RIVER: Yes, I do.




DOCTOR: Good. Me too.  



DOCTOR: Now River, I'm about to whisper something in your ear, and you have to remember it very, very carefully, and tell no one what I said. 
[He whispers 'look into my eye' and she sees that he is in a Doctor robot and somehow gets that his stupid plan is to not die by being in a Doctor robot suit.]




DOCTOR: Now, there you go, River Song. Melody Pond. You're the woman who married me. And wife, I have a request. This world is dying and it's my fault, and I can't bear it another day. Please, help me. This is the only way.
RIVER: Then you may kiss the bride. 




I really only changed a few lines.  Would it be so terrible for him to 1. be nice to her, 2. actually ask her permission, and 3. act like he even wants to marry her?  Would that be SO TERRIBLE?? Gahd.  I cut the name thing because it turned out to be a pointless red herring anyway.

The other thing at play here is the ruse that he's not even letting Amy and Rory in on - that he's pretending that he's still going to die.  River is going to prison for decades or centuries, who knows, to keep up the illusion that he is dead, because he's decided somehow that it's better or safer or.. whatever, if people think he is dead.  That's what she's tacitly agreeing to here.  Sure, he takes her out just about every night, but this RIDICULOUSLY huge sacrifice she is making for him, this promise she makes to give up most of her life to protect him - should be something he does NOT take lightly.  We've seen that she's in prison for the vast majority of their relationship.  They are both pretty early in their timelines when they get married.  It is so important that he lives up to the incredible sacrifice his wife is making.


sitcom audience: ooooooooooooooooh


Then there's the Night and the Doctor mini-sodes, First Night and Last Night, which show The Doctor and River preparing to go on their honeymoon, [along with a future Eleven and River showing up briefly on their last night together (later changed since, of course, it wasn't Eleven who took her to Darillium.)]




So here we are, right after their honeymoon.  Here's where all the good stuff goes.  The beginning and the end are wrapped up and there's centuries (probably, because Timelords,) of middle left.  Excellent.  Looking forward to it.


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Except... right away, he basically abandons his low profile.  Every time he blatantly goes out showing people he's alive and well, it should be a slap in the face to River.  The only reason she is in jail is to keep people from knowing he's alive, and before you know it he's running around willy-nilly like he always did because, really, what else was the show going to do?  And that's garbage.  It's not acceptable!

The next time River appears, it's in The Angels Take Manhattan.  Starts out promising.





Okay, but, they meet in all kinds of random order, clearly.  They just got married like a minute ago!  That doesn't mean anything.  (There's also a line here about how she was pardoned and released because it turned out the person she murdered never existed because he had been deleting himself from every database in the universe.  Okay but... he's still running around? appearing all over time and space? and introducing himself to people? as The Doctor??)




Then The Doctor says a stupid and childish thing and tells her to basically defy fate and get her arm out of the Angel's grip without breaking her wrist, because he's got a book about this and he doesn't want it coming true.  Obviously, that doesn't work out so well.


1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who series 7 you know mine: doctor who dwedit otp: i can always see you otp: you are always here to me dw: the angels take manhattan i love this scene tbh because it shows they are a couple I mean SHE was protecting him and even that SHE was worried about him wasting regeneration evergy that regeneration SHE give to him 1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who series 7 you know mine: doctor who dwedit otp: i can always see you otp: you are always here to me dw: the angels take manhattan i love this scene tbh because it shows they are a couple I mean SHE was protecting him and even that SHE was worried about him wasting regeneration evergy that regeneration SHE give to him
1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who series 7 you know mine: doctor who dwedit otp: i can always see you otp: you are always here to me dw: the angels take manhattan i love this scene tbh because it shows they are a couple I mean SHE was protecting him and even that SHE was worried about him wasting regeneration evergy that regeneration SHE give to him 1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who series 7 you know mine: doctor who dwedit otp: i can always see you otp: you are always here to me dw: the angels take manhattan i love this scene tbh because it shows they are a couple I mean SHE was protecting him and even that SHE was worried about him wasting regeneration evergy that regeneration SHE give to him
1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who series 7 you know mine: doctor who dwedit otp: i can always see you otp: you are always here to me dw: the angels take manhattan i love this scene tbh because it shows they are a couple I mean SHE was protecting him and even that SHE was worried about him wasting regeneration evergy that regeneration SHE give to him 1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who series 7 you know mine: doctor who dwedit otp: i can always see you otp: you are always here to me dw: the angels take manhattan i love this scene tbh because it shows they are a couple I mean SHE was protecting him and even that SHE was worried about him wasting regeneration evergy that regeneration SHE give to him
1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who series 7 you know mine: doctor who dwedit otp: i can always see you otp: you are always here to me dw: the angels take manhattan i love this scene tbh because it shows they are a couple I mean SHE was protecting him and even that SHE was worried about him wasting regeneration evergy that regeneration SHE give to him 1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who series 7 you know mine: doctor who dwedit otp: i can always see you otp: you are always here to me dw: the angels take manhattan i love this scene tbh because it shows they are a couple I mean SHE was protecting him and even that SHE was worried about him wasting regeneration evergy that regeneration SHE give to him
1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who series 7 you know mine: doctor who dwedit otp: i can always see you otp: you are always here to me dw: the angels take manhattan i love this scene tbh because it shows they are a couple I mean SHE was protecting him and even that SHE was worried about him wasting regeneration evergy that regeneration SHE give to him 1k my gifs doctor who eleventh doctor MY EDIT Eleven river song tv: doctor who series 7 you know mine: doctor who dwedit otp: i can always see you otp: you are always here to me dw: the angels take manhattan i love this scene tbh because it shows they are a couple I mean SHE was protecting him and even that SHE was worried about him wasting regeneration evergy that regeneration SHE give to him


Okay River WHAT THE HELL. HOW CAN YOU DO SWEET LOVEY KISSY DOCTOR LIKE THAT?!  I know she's echoing his awful cruel words at their wedding (which, seriously, should never have been said) but like... the hell is going on in this relationship?  Where did that come from?! When did they get like this?!  What has the future Doctor screwed up in his marriage by the time River's this age that she reacts this way?!  I completely understand that she's pissed at him for asking her to do the impossible (I mean, not that she doesn't do the same regularly), and mad that she always takes it upon herself to hide the damage to protect him.  BUT YOU NEED TO COMMUNICATE INSTEAD OF SLAPPING, GUYS.  Seriously, give us some context for this, please??

And then, through a nonsensical series of events, we lose the Ponds.  And the Doctor throws an absolute fit, while River keeps her eye on the Angel that just stole her parents back in time, not letting herself break down, hiding the damage.  




They can't return to 1930s Manhattan because they've screwed up the timeline too much there and the TARDIS won't be able to land.  At no point does anyone ever mention parking the TARDIS in Weehawken and taking a bus.  I just.  I can't even.

But anyway, The Doctor is a clueless ass and it takes him quite a while stop being self-pitying and say "oh, yeah, sorry, you just lost your parents," and River dismisses it and he doesn't push it.  Not great, guys.  Do you need counseling?  I just wish this had.. come from somewhere.  Instead it's just like whiplash. 

Hello sweetie - who are you? 
I love you - I think I really like you 
I'm gonna kill you - it's okay I love you
I'll save you - You embarrass me! 
I don't want to kill you - okay marry me
You and me, time and space - you watch us run
I learned to hide the damage - I don't mean to hurt you
You embarrass me! - I'm sorry
It doesn't matter.
Who ever said he loved me back?

Eesh.  I didn't actually fully realize how bad it was until I wrote it out in order like that.  I'm all for exploring the problems that will inevitably arise over the course of a marriage, and especially in such crazy circumstances, but nothing gets solved or explained or explored at all.  Just outbursts from left field and then dead silence, leaving the impression that in fact their relationship is pretty crappy at the end.

Because after this... nothing.  No River.  No references to River.  No mentioning he's married when freaking pre-Clara kisses him (grrr)!  Nothing.  He goes up in a cloud to sulk about losing his in-laws, but he doesn't go to see his wife.  And then years down the line we find out, Manhattan was the last time River met Eleven.  She went directly from losing her parents to crashing on Darillium with Twelve.  Holy crap. That is brutal.  And explains why she is so damn miserable about their relationship in the Darillium episode.

But then again, it doesn't make sense.  Because the River we've seen from the beginning, the one who totally trusted and adored The Doctor, who stayed in prison for him, who made it quite obvious that she was his wife and that he was really going to enjoy that once he came around to it, who gave him hints of all the great adventures they had together - that was the older River too, the River who was closer to Manhattan than to their wedding.  That wasn't a River who was fighting with and being neglected by The Doctor when she was offscreen.  How are we supposed to reconcile this?!

But, either way, River has no reason to be dead in The Doctor's timeline.  He should still be meeting tons of her from all over her life, from Berlin to Manhattan.  But instead, the show literally went straight from their wedding to the last time she sees him.  And there's no reason for it to be this way!!  If The Doctor is going to be a shitlord and neglect his wife, I wanna know WHY, dammit!  And "they see each other offscreen" is not good enough, Moffat.  You promise us River is the love of his life and show us how they know each other inside and out and how he's shared every secret with her that he would never tell any of his companions no matter how much he loved them and how long he spent with them, you pelted us over the head with the implications of their countless adventures throughout their long marriage, and then... 1 episode.  1 episode between their wedding and Darillium.

Excepting, of course, for the episode when River's "ghost" meets Eleven.  I cried.  Lots.  And I was really mad.  I've ranted about this before, but - DAMMIT DOCTOR. YOU PUT HER IN THE COMPUTER, ASSHOLE.  Once you knew your wife, once you looked back on all the insane sacrifices she made for you, spending all those years in jail, and you really knew her and what she would want, you still thought it was okay to have her locked up in a digital cell, raising some fake children?  And you COULD have been visiting her?? Not only that- she could have been projected out on adventures with you whenever you wanted and for some reason you can touch her projection?! CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT EXACTLY THE PROBLEM IS HERE?!


just take her back to the TARDIS! Sexy won't tell.


But he says goodbye and sends her away.  Cause reasons.  Goddammit.

And then, literally centuries pass.  Maybe even a thousand years?  I'm not quite clear on the timeline on Trenzalore and whether or not we count the crazy torture time loop episode.  And Twelve comes along.  And he actually talks about River, occasionally.  But it's always in the past tense.  He doesn't seem too upset about it.

And then he does meet her.




Not that I don't love that Mr. Grumpyface breaks into a huge goofy grin at the sight of his wife, but like, is that the reaction of someone who saw her last as a ghost, 1000 years ago? I kinda think not???  I guess if he got too emotional they wouldn't have been able to have her not figure out who he was for the whole episode.  But.. eh.












It's a cute episode. They're good together too (though not as good as Matt. He freaking loves her.)










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Sorry, Matt.

But yeah, one of the two standout scenes of the episode is, of course, this:






I'll admit, it wasn't until this painstaking analysis that I could even see where the heck this all came from and why, at the very end of her timeline, after all those years with The Doctor, she would have so little faith in how he felt for her.  But in a way, she's giving voice to my hurt and rage over the way they dropped her the minute there weren't any more mysteries to solve.  They deserved better.  SHE DESERVED BETTER, ON SCREEN. NOT IN STEVEN MOFFAT'S IMAGINATION.

When they slide right back into their high-speed banter, though, it's pretty magical.





And then, of course, they can't avoid crash-landing on Darillium.  And so The Doctor prepares for their "last" night. They cram all of the things River mentioned about that night in the Library into a couple of minutes in a very hamfisted way that doesn't quite make sense.  He didn't show up on her doorstep with a haircut and a new suit... they mention the haircut and the suit, but she's never seen him before, how would she know?  And there's definitely no doorstep.  He gives her the sonic screwdriver she has in the Library. 



Edited to add a belated revelation: I thought it was really kind of awkward when she laughs exaggeratedly and he shines the screwdriver on her face and then I realized OMG HE IS SYNCING IT WITH HER BRAIN.  If you can do that, knowing everything, without an ounce of guilt, Twelve, I know there's more to your long game plan.  Has to be.




He "cries." 



Ticking all the boxes, but once we find out that a night on Darillium is a lot more than one Earth night, the fact that all the details she recalls come from the first 5 minutes becomes a bit unbelievable.  As is the fact that she was surprised he knew she was going to her death.

But they have a big chunk of time to spend together consecutively.  That's a good thing. 













Yeah, I got misty-eyed. I ALSO GOT QUESTIONS.

1. Do you expect me to believe these two are going to stay put on one planet for 24 years? HA.
2. Assuming they're going to be traveling on the TARDIS cause I mean, what's stopping them, can't they stretch that 24 years out pretty much indefinitely? Clara's milking that 2 seconds or whatever she has for all it's worth... and that JUST happened.
3. What the hell is going to make them leave when their time's up, anyway?  It would have to end in some dramatic space-monster world-exploding type event forcing them to make separate exits.  Yeah they have to maintain their timelines but... idk, man. I don't see it.

And I had a year to ponder this, and then this year's special aired, and it was cute, and at least it mentioned River, which, with this show, is never a guarantee - but the fact that we don't see a single MINUTE of those 24 (minimum) years PISSES ME RIGHT THE HELL OFF.  It's just like the rest of their relationship.  "Yeah don't worry, they're super happy. They're together all the time! Just take my word for it." SHOW, NOT TELL, STEVEN. IT'S CALLED TELEVISION!!!

I bet you think this insane rant is over.




No, because I got one more conspiracy theory to address, and I already made a post about this right after the episode aired, but I am NOT LETTING THIS GO.

Tasha Effing Lem

Yeah, remember her?  I'd excuse you for forgetting, because that episode was terrible, but she got this big name and this big implied history of knowing The Doctor even though we never saw her, before or since, and are told basically nothing about her.  Let's recap.



  • She's Mother Superious of the Papal Mainframe.
  • The Papal Mainframe is, of course, a giant computer church in space.
boy you sure did. and you better have come up with something better than a computer prison.


  • People are required to attend her church in the buff.



  • She knows The Doctor of old, apparently, from previous regenerations, and compliments him on his current one.


  • She actually ends up being the one who dedicates her church to the cause of Silence, aka making sure The Doctor's name Must Not Be Spoken, or else people can get into his tomb and wreck shit up with his timeline and destroy the universe, etc.
  • (While we're on the topic, we never did find out what it means that The Doctor tells River his name.  She just said she made him tell her.  OKAY COOL WAY TO MAKE THAT YEARS-LONG MYSTERY PAY OFF.)
  • But Kovarian and the Silence they encountered prior were a crazy splinter group who decided to accomplish this by killing The Doctor, which she did not advocate.


  • They discuss River, briefly.


  • They flirt, A LOT.




  • Then it turns out, she's been killed and taken over by a dalek.  Yeah, that's something they've been doing these days.



  • Then, The Doctor says this stuff to her.


  • And she.... does? She overcomes being killed and possessed by a dalek???? Should not be possible, because, you know, DEAD.  Unless, of course, she's not quite in a physical body, and can't quite die...


  • OK, we have NO backstory on this woman.  She's been fighting the psychopath inside her all her life...? I mean... that sure does sound like the (inapt, if you ask me) self-description of someone we know very well, but it ain't Tasha.
  • HE KISSES HER.  Eleven doesn't go around initiating kisses with ladies.  People kiss him and he flails and tries to escape, but he only kisses one woman. Ever.



  • SHE CAN FLY THE GODDAMN TARDIS.  No one but Timelords and River can fly the TARDIS.  And River instinctually knows how better than anyone, because she is the TARDIS's "child."



  • You can't just drop bombs like this with a one-off character and expect us to go "oh, sure okay."


  • I will concede that there's now one other possible contender for Tasha Lem's identity.


  • But it doesn't quite fit. One, because when "killed" by the Dalek, Tasha somehow recovers, but doesn't regenerate.  
  • And two... The Doctor knows.  He wouldn't have behaved exactly like he does toward River unless he knew it was River.  And it seems to me that Tasha does not know.  This is the most perplexing thing.  I'm not saying I know how this makes sense, but, honestly, how has anything on this show ever made sense??  And people sure have had timelines and memories scrambled up before.
  • If all of this was just lazy writing and not wanting to come up with new character traits or relationships, well, 


That would just be the worst.


One way or another, this may be the last we see of Alex, which is tragic for sure, but mark my words: it's definitely not the last of River Song.











Yeah.  This ain't over.

(And for perhaps, sadly, the strongest argument against bringing River back: that, once resurrected, once given regenerations, once linear with The Doctor- unlike The Master, there will be no reason for her to ever leave the show?  I DARE YOU, future showrunner(s.)  I dare you to write Doctor Who with two stable permanent main characters instead of one.  I dare you to change the dynamics.  I dare you to find interesting stories you can tell without casting The Doctor as eternally alone in the universe.  I dare you to do something different and commit to it.  Obviously Steven Moffat couldn't make that commitment, as we've been painfully subject to repeatedly with his writing.  You be the one to do it, future showrunner.  You make it happen.  Show us how good you are.)





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