Having slept on it and mulled the question over, I think I’ve decided on the main reason why I actually enjoyed last night’s Doctor Who episode. Yes it was fun, and I found the ending to be a nice swerve, but what I found I enjoyed most about ‘The Wedding of River Song’ was in the fact that the Doctor didn’t need help. While everyone scrambled to find a way to save him from his fate, the Doctor proved that he didn’t need it. He had already found his loophole. River Song, driven by a powerful, passionate love, was left her blind to the faith she needed to put in the Doctor.
The episode is a nice parallel to the mid-season episode, ‘A Good Man goes to War’, where the Doctor intentionally sent a message to the fleet, and specifically Colonel Manton, by naming him Colonel Run-a-Way. This was to act as a warning to all his enemies about using his friends against him, but unfortunately, he was tricked again, and Melody Pond was stolen. Whereas previously he had brought an army, The Doctor didn’t even need one this time. One good friend with a shape-shifting android was all he needed (I’m sure we all wish we had a friend like that.) For once, in almost the entirety of Steven Moffat’s run as head writer, I felt as though The Doctor was actually ahead of the curve. Everyone was a step behind, even River Song, for once. Where the Doctor failed at Demon’s Run, he succeeded at Lake Silencio.
I’m sure however, someone, somewhere across the internet had already guessed that the use of the Teselecta would be employed to save the Doctor’s life. Honestly though, I found this to be a neat trick, because almost everyone was guessing that someone was a doppelganger, born of The Flesh. There were various debates on many forums about how they would get over the issue of the doppelgangers splashing upon death, but I found it clever that Moffat swerved and brought in the Teselecta. I only query about that really is whether the Teselecta, an android imitating The Doctor would really be able to emulate the regeneration effect, and if so, to what extent? Could the Teselecta actually regenerate? That seems unlikely. Still, I think few people probably guessed that the Teselecta would be used during the lead up to the episode.
This was Moffat’s second season finale as the head writer for the series, and another trend seems to be forming. That is a love of alternate realities. In ‘The Big Bang’ reality and time basically disintegrate due to the explosion of the TARDIS, and a new reality is created where the Doctor and the TARDIS don’t exist. This is because the Pandorica contained the DNA of everything in the universe and so acted as a blueprint to reconstruct it all, with the exception of the Doctor and the TARDIS which were at ground zero. Following so far? Good. So how did the Doctor return? This is because Amy remembered him, through the wedding rhyme of ‘something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue’, causing the TARDIS to be recreated, with the Doctor inside. Of course, this didn’t bring back everything from the past season. Though Rory and Amy remember the events of ‘The Pandorica Opens’ and ‘The Big Bang’, they never actually happened.
The alternate reality in ‘The Wedding of River Song’ on the other hand looked like something from a Jules Verne novel. A world of no time where all of history existed at once was a nice touch since it added a new dimension of interest to the story. On the one hand, we already knew the ending and what exactly happened at Lake Silencio because it had already been shown in the first episode of the season, so this alternate world allowed Moffat to bring in a lot of old characters or explore existing characters in new ways, such as Winston Churchill as the Holy Roman Emperor or Amy Pond as a General. Unfortunately, on the other hand, the consequences of this world are exactly the same as that from ‘The Big Bang’. They never really happened and exist only as memories. This is directly shown when Amy worries over having killed Kovarian in cold blood, and her daughter, River Song simply replies, “In an aborted timeline, in a world that never was.”
I feel this is something that Moffat needs to get over. Things are always being erased from time, but people are still being haunted by memories of these non-existent things. Rory still acts like the Last Centurion who stood guard for 2,000 years and now they’re dealing with the concept of Amy becoming more violent and dangerous. Essentially, Moffat is continuing the concept that was introduced with the Aged Amy in ‘The Girl Who Waited’. Now I’m all for character development, that’s not what I’m concerned with here. It’s that the events themselves are always being washed away. Characters in Moffat’s series rarely seem to develop out of normal events which happen and from then dealing with the consequences. They’re always dealing with the consequences of things that never were. Sure, this is a science fiction show about time travel, so some time manipulation is to be expected, but I’d hate to look back on Moffat’s run as head writer and only thing of aborted time lines and time lines that never were.
Aside from the possible over use of alternate realities, I really did enjoy the final episode. Possibly more than I expected to, partly because I was worried about River Song’s involvement, but I actually found her quite tolerable last night. Again, this might be due to the fact that The Doctor actually sorted this one out himself this time, and River Song’s selfishness and love were just a hindrance. The wedding scene too was very well done; it had a lot of potential to be over the top or draw a lot much attention away from the crisis at hand. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. The only truly awkward scene was towards the end, where Amy and River sat down to a glass of wine, and she kept calling them Mummy and Father. Yeah, ok, they are actually her biological parents but it seemed really weird and just…wrong.
Overall, it was a great finale to what has been, at the very least, an interesting season. Possibly not as great as some had hoped, and probably struggling under the weight of the hype created for the Silence in last season, but I feel it all came to a pretty excellent ending in ‘The Wedding of River Song’. I expect next season to be a little more reserved, less like an epic war across space and time and more like a grand recon mission. As the Doctor said at the end, it’s time for him to step back into the shadows for a while. I don’t know if this was just a sly reference to the fact the show will take a break until Christmas, or if it will actually affect the next season. The next season might benefit from a change in pace though.
Only one question remains (and I find it a little ironic that I entitled my last Doctor Who blog, ‘Who’), but realistically it is a question the can never be answered, or perhaps as they suggested in the episode, shouldn’t be answered. The Doctor has always been the Doctor. His true name must remain hidden, at least from the viewers. I feel that it would take something away from the character if this was revealed, and after 32 seasons in total, there really is no name that could adequately fit the character. It was the first question, and when the show inevitably breathes its final breath some day (hopefully, many years from now) it should be the last question, left unanswered for all of time.