Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Only Water in the Forest is the River

Spoilers for "A Good Man Goes to War."

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Let me start off by saying this was an exceptional episode. And Steven Moffat is either -

1. Really good at leaving hints for die-hard fans to pick up and piece together
2. Worn out his twisty-turny-plot-twist stuff so that now everyone knows how his brain works and everything's painfully obvious and it's stupid that it's so easy to guess what he's up to.

Personally, I'm going with #1 in this case. I only listed the second one because there is going to be some group of fans somewhere pissed off that the "River is Amy and Rory's baby" theory turned out to be true because it was too simple.

Sorry folks. But sometimes Snape loves Lily so much that he'll kill Dumbledore on Dumbledore's orders in order to save Lily Potter's son (as yours truly learned the hard way). Sometimes the simple answer is the right answer.

Last night, I sat down to compose my own theories - as cracked-out as I thought they were. This was a total stream-of-consciousness thing and is not edited at all, but I'm sharing them anyway because I want to (results are in parenthesis):

1. Amy and Rory die in the war, leaving the baby to be raised by River and the Doctor. (Wrong. At least, for this episode).

2. Thanks to an unscrupulous commenter at Mark Watches (the one place I thought I was assured of avoiding spoilers), I have learned that the baby's name is Melody Pond. Let's see - MELODY Pond. River SONG. The Doctor and River have to care for the baby - who is actually River. The Doctor changes Melody's name in order to save her because the villains want to use the baby as some kind of weapon. (Mostly wrong - apart from Baby=River)

3. Because Amy has 1) Traveled in the TARDIS, 2) Been to another universe (in "The Doctor's Wife"), 3) Grew up with a crack in time in her bedroom wall and 4) Brought the Doctor back after he was taken behind the cracks in "The Big Bang" - that has all had an effect on her body and her pregnancy. Even if a woman isn't pregnant, things she does when she's young can have an effect on her children years later (I think. At least, that's what I've been taught in school and stuff). All those things combined to make - maybe not a true Time Lord child, but produce a child that is capable of some early form of regeneration. I think that regeneration isn't so much part of a Time Lord's biology, but more of a technological/medical advance. It was a skill monitored by Time Lords (hence, the rule about 12 regenerations - I maintain that it was a rule and now that the Time Lords are gone, there's no one to police the use of it). So, maybe all of Amy's adventures with the Doctor produced a rudimentary version of regeneration in her child. (Holy crap, I got really close on this one!)

4. Oh - this was supposed to be about River - well, River is Amy and Rory's child. I've gone over that. Also, according to Moffat, something from "the very beginning" has to come into play here. I'm thinking either from "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" or from "Blink." My initial thought was Melody becomes part of the family who started The Library. Why not? (Still no idea. Actually, I don't think this will come into play anymore, so forget it).

So, my theories - some right, some wrong. But I was so floored about the time vortex affecting the pregnancy AND the fact that the Time Lords themselves were changed because of all their time travels and such!  Mostly I was floored by the fact that I even thought of it in the first place.

Enough of theories - time to review the episode!

Remember how I said "The Almost People" didn't work? That's because it was trying to surprise and confuse the audience waaaaay too much. Some surprise is good to keep the audience paying attention - but it's not good to treat them like idiots just out for cheap thrills. For all my screaming obscenities at Steven Moffat over these crazy twists-and-turns, I trust him as a writer to tell a decent story that keeps me interested and holds up under scrutiny. And he did not disappoint here

For instance - people who see the Doctor as a threat and a menace. It is mystifying to me to think there is a place where the word "Doctor" means something negative. Usually we think of the Daleks and Cybermen and other baddies when we think of the Doctor's enemies, but rarely do we think of armies massing like they did at Demon's Run - training to fight the Doctor, learning how to see through psychic paper and things like that. Because they are genuinely afraid of him. And they aren't bad people, per se - hell, we've seen these guys before in "Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone." And now I'm wondering why these cleric/soldier people are against the Doctor where, in the Angels two-parter, they were on the Doctor's side (more questions that need answering, I suppose. Maybe. Actually, I don't care).

A word must be said about the Doctor and anger. I got chills when the Doctor got real, properly angry and I give Matt Smith all the credit in the world for this (oh sweet Gallifrey, can we heap enough praise on this guy? Simple answer - no we cannot). I love his Doctor as the sweet, goofy, childlike Doctor, but get his Doctor angry? Eleven gets angry so rarely - when you have pissed him off, you have truly accomplished something. The soul that tempts Eleven to his limits has no chance and no prayer whatsoever. He's like Five in that regard (the only time I want to see Fivey good and mad is when he's good and mad on my behalf). Beware the Nice Ones, indeed.

Coming in on the heels of the Doctor is the one, the only, the Lone Centurion himself - Rory Williams. The whole beginning of him going to the Cybermen to solicit help - or whatever he was doing - was brilliant (and it turns out those promo images from the BBC of Cybermen weren't spoilery at all! The Cybermen never showed up at Demons Run - did they?) I so loved Rory kicking ass and taking names. And the moment he walked in with the baby to see Amy - keeping in mind Rory spent most of the season with Ganger!Amy in the TARDIS and only recently found out about the switch - was a beautiful moment. Plus, the fact that he was trying to stay cool and keep his emotions in check, but then he fails horribly…

"Dear Santa,
For Christmas, I want a Rory Williams of my very own.
Sincerely, me."

I really loved this episode. Even though I wasn't at the end going OMG OMG HOLY CRAP FREAK OUT SLKHDF I;AHUH AWH AWRH GAA HUWEHFAJKHG *keysmash!* - really, this was a satisfying conclusion to this first half of the season. What we expected to happen did happen. And a few things we didn't quite expect didn't totally take us by surprise. This was clean, tight, concise, and simple storytelling - it works on all kinds of levels. There was enough of a shift in plot that kept the "game changer" promise, but it's not so much of a shift that we're too far away from the original story. There are still plenty of questions (Exploding TARDIS? Person in astronaut suit killing the Doctor?) but I'm okay with those still being left open because what we did get was good enough for now.

I don't often point this out because everyone knows that Murray Gold is the King of Awesome - but I loved, loved, LOVED the music in this episode. I just felt the need to point that out.

A few other things I liked:
- Amelia Pond - get your coat!
- The Silurian. A Silurian "Sherlock-Holmesing" it in Victorian England at all. I'm surprised the BBC managed to keep that secret.
- "I'm breaking in, not out." - River Song (and I hang my head in shame that there ever was a time that I didn't like her).
- And the Sontaran.  A nurse Sontaran. *snicker*
- The Doctor working out how a Time Lord baby was even possible - "They don't hang a balloon out, do they?"
- The Doctor speaks Baby. Of course he does XD
- How "Melody Pond" became "River Song" - the Gamma Forest people don't have a word for Pond! Linguistics FTW! (and will we ever meet the Gamma Forest folk?)
- There are going to be so many people punching the air over the Baby!River reveal - but I love the way in which it was done. For a moment, I thought it would have been the Doctor who found out, but nobody else would - but leaving us hanging to the very end was gorgeous.
- The title of the next episode is allegorical. Calling it now.

Bottom Line: This episode made me feel good.  Sure, the bad guys won in spectacular "Empire Strikes Back" fashion, but I feel good about what's going to happen.  When I discovered this show a year ago, I was ready for something to make me feel good.  I didn't want anything sugar-coated by any means.  "A Good Man Goes to War" is probably a good example of what "Doctor Who" is all about - sure, there are bad things happening, but you've still got hope.  Eye-Patch Lady (and yes, she did get a name, but I didn't catch it on the first viewing - sorry) may have made off with Baby Melody/River - but things will turn out just fine.  I'm confident of that.

I am SO READY for September.

(But until then... what am I going to blog about?)

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