My fellow Whovians, this episode was a hot mess. I loved it anyway. I respect that my love is not shared, some of the reviews of this ep (which I usually never read before I write my own recaps, bad Selena) were pretty harsh.
I love this show, and Moffat, when they throw a million things at us at rapid-fire speed. I kind of like the “Screw it, why not?” attitude. Corvettes, debigulator rays, creaky ginger robots, wibbly-wobbly time, TARDIS tutoring, poison lipstick, and Hitler in a cupboard, this episode had it all.
I know some of you are active in fiction and fan-fic communities. I thought this episode felt like one of those ridiculously fun prompt challenges, where the group lists a series of completely ridiculous, unrelated things which the writer has to make into a cohesive story. Picture it! England, 2011, writers’ room…
Moffat: I need some ideas to give River Song a better backstory than Captain Jack. Be creative!
Writer A: Poison lipstick!
Writer B: Robots!
Writer A: Flashy American sports car!
Writer B: She names her first gun Benjamin!
Writer A: She names her LADYBITS Benjamin!
Writer B: Let’s make it ambiguous!
Writer A: Miniaturization rays!
Writer B: Hitler! And Chekov’s cupboard!
Writer A: Don’t you mean Chekov’s gun?
Writer B: No. If you shove Hitler in the cupboard in the first act, you can never speak of him again. Chekov’s cupboard. Maybe it’s Beckett’s cupboard…
Writer A: The line: “You will experience a tingling sensation and then DEATH.”
Moffat: Let’s use them all! I bet you a box of David Tennant action figures I can pull it off.
So Amy and Rory make a crop circle which spells out “Doctor,” bringing our time-traveling Muppet to Leadworth. He is sad to report he’s had no luck in finding baby Melody. They’re interrupted by their childhood chum, Mels, who drives up in a ‘vette, on the run from Johnny Law. We learn, through flashbacks, that Mels is a lifelong troublemaker slash badass, and the reason Rory and Amy fell in love. Aw. In the present, she flirts with the Doctor, then hijacks the whole gang and the TARDIS to escape the police and, while they’re at it, go kill Hitler.
Hitler has his own problems. A shape-shifting robot from the future has also jumped back in time to dish Hitler up a steaming plate of comeuppance. A shape-shifting robot filled with tiny people and killer antibody robot jellyfish. The TARDIS slams into Hitler’s office and knocks the robot out cold before he can hit Hitler with his hell ray.
When the shape-shifting robot comes to, Hitler starts shooting, missing the robot completely. Rory punches Hitler in the face, then shoves him in the aforementioned cupboard. Sadly, Hitler did shoot Mels, and everyone rushes to her side.
Before she dies, she tells the Doctor they should get married. He says they will, as soon as she gets better. She says he’ll have to ask her parents for permission, and they’re standing right there! The delightfully sassy Mels is actually Melody, who was able to bend space and time to grow up alongside her parents, as school chums. Amy named Melody for Mels, because of course she did.
Mels has more surprises, she’s regenerating. The pretty golden magic fades away to reveal the one, the only, River Song. River has no idea of things that haven’t happened yet, which to us is everything, and she’s under the spell of Nanny TighPatch and the Silence, so she gets right to trying to kill the Doctor. There’s a great bit with guns and bananas and flirting. She ends the “I’m going to kill you” dance with a quick kiss, before heading for her usual (but not yet) egress, the window.
As the Doctor is chatting her up, he falls down. River’s hallucinogenic lipstick had a prototype, apparently, and it’s a more permanent problem solver. Meanwhile the robot has decided it should be killing River instead of wasting time on Hitler, whose timeline they had wrong anyway. River escapes, taunts some Nazis, takes some bullets and then robs a fancy party, so she’ll have something to wear.
The Doctor sends Amy and Rory after her, as he tries to figure out what to do. He stumbles into the TARDIS and summons a voice interface. It flashes between an image of the Doctor (“No! Someone I actually like!”) previous companions Rose, Martha and Donna (“No! Too much guilt!”) and finally settles on Wee Amelia Pond, who brings her no-nonsense approach to telling the Doctor he’s going to die in 32 minutes, there’s no cure, and his regeneration has been disabled.
OKAY. Let’s take some stock, for just a moment. River got shot while she was regenerating and it made her bullet-proof. Is this a clue for the future? Why did that same thing kill the Doctor to Dead Dead instead of Mostly Dead, or better yet, bullet-proof like River? The Doctor lies, River lies, we’re left with questions.
Another point, we know how River gets Dead Dead, too, sort of. This doesn’t make sense if she can regenerate, but at least we’re getting an answer to this one in this episode.
Back to the story. The shape-shifting robot poops himself a motorbike to chase after Rory and Amy, and by extension, River. He turns into Amy and then debiggifies the real Amy and Rory and sucks them inside the robot. Rory, as he does, takes it all in stride. He’s probably still feeling a little cocky for punching out Hitler. The robot heads inside to put River in a hell ray for killing the Doctor. The Doctor shows up, points out he’s not dead, and falls over a lot. He yells at Amy to save River from inside the robot. She has the Doctor’s sonic, so she disables the protective bracelets that tell the killer antibody robot jellyfish not to kill the crew. They’re transported away to a deus ex mothership, leaving Amy and Rory on the run.
The Doctor is too sick to help, so he begs River to save her parents. She hops in the TARDIS (River is part TARDIS! HA! Selena is right again. It’s like I punched Hitler) who teaches River how to drive her, on the fly, in Nazi Germany. She lands the TARDIS around Amy and Rory, and they fly back to the Doctor.
The Doctor is in a bad way, and he asks to talk to River. River goes to him, and demands to know who this River Song character is. Amy makes the empty robot tell her, which it does by turning into River. River goes to the Doctor with regeneration magic coming out of her hands, and heals him. She asks Amy and Rory if the Doctor is worth it, and they enthusiastically tell her he is. I’d think one of them would ask “Worth what?” but whatever.
She wakes up in a hospital, where Amy tells her she used up all her remaining lives to save the Doctor. Then says “You shouldn’t have done that.” Jeez, Amy, you are really embracing the mom thing. No wonder River likes guns, guns don’t send mixed signals.
The Doctor leaves River a shiny new TARDIS journal, and tells the nurse (Question: Was that one of the kitty cat nurses? I love them.) that River won’t be fine, she’ll be amazing. This is the saddest f’ing love story ever. Romeo + Juliet, those humps from Love Story, the unfortunate brother and sister from Flowers in the Attic, none of them have anything on River and Her Doctor.
In the 52nd century, River is applying to archeology school, because she’s looking for “a good man.” I love you River, please don’t stay away too long. *sniff.*
Next week, from the previews, will be one of those hanky episodes wherein the Doctor is very kind to a child who doesn’t know a lot of kindness, and they’ll fight monsters. I’ll be right here next week, and we’ll talk about it between all the blubbering.
Images from BBC online, which you should visit.
3 replies on “Recap: Doctor Who, Episode 6.08, “Let’s Kill Hitler””
There was a lot (a lot!) that bothered me about this episode, but overall I was too excited about the show returning that it made up for it. Mostly, it felt too rushed, like Moffat was trying to cram too many plot points into one episode. Also, I was worried at first that Mels was going to stick around for a while. I could not stand her one bit and was happy when nuRiver showed up.
I’m a fan of River, both old and nu, (loved the “I was on my way to this gay gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled, and then I thought, ‘Gosh, the Third Reich’s a bit rubbish.'” line), and I was disappointed that basically rushed her character forward from trying to kill the Doctor to saving him. I was hoping it would be a more gradual change, with more back and forth.
Did anyone catch her line that was something along the lines of “it was never going to be a gun for you?” after we discover the Doctor’s been poisoned? Foreshadowing for down the road when we find out what happened at the lake in Utah? If my understanding of River’s timey-wimey timeline is correct, she was a little girl in the space suit (or so we’re led to believe/not believe) who shot the Doctor in Utah. This is where my head begins to hurt,sorry if it makes now sense. Timey-wimey does that to you. If River(Melody) did kill the Doctor in Utah (and the shape-shifting robot controlling people confirmed this)then nuRiver would remember that event and be able to make that witty, foreshadowing remark. But then why would she keep trying to kill him if she already has in his future? My brain. it hurts.
When you say that River using up her regenerations now explains her Death-Death in Forrest of the Dead, I don’t think that’s true. Didn’t she take the Doctor’s place because she knew the energy from the system(or whatever it was they were doing) would use all his regenerations and kill him too? If that’s the case, she would have died anyway, even with rengeneration power.
Also, Rory. I fucking love Rory, pardon my French. That is all.
Ahhh I have so many mixed feelings about this episode, made worse by the fact that I watched it with my mother, who hasn’t seen a Doctor Who episode since the ’70’s and was ridiculously confused.
I think the thing about River not getting shot immediately after regenerating has a lot to do with the fact that Time Lords are in a really weird place, directly post-regeneration. She’s still got regeneration magic coursing through her, so she can, apparently, stop bullets.
I also am VERY confused about Mels in general. Did she know the entire time that she was Amy and Rory’s daughter? How old was she when she showed up? Did she have adults who raised her? Does her physical appearance match her age? And mostly, did her “must kill Doctor” thing switch on when she regenerated into River, because it seems like she had ample opportunity to kill him earlier.
Also, and perhaps most of all, Moffat making nuRiver SO superficial – “hold on, I’m concentrating on a dress size” “ooh, I wonder how much I weigh” and whatever it is she went outside to check – yes, every new doctor is curious about their appearance, but the fixation on “ooh, look how conventionally attractive I now am” really pissed me off.
I also think they robbed Amy of her chance to raise River, which is similarly bullshit. After that teaser they had with Amy leaving an ansaphone message, I thought they’d resolve this, but apparently not. I read somewhere, though, that Nina Toussaint-White is apparently appearing again later in the series, so hopefully we’ll get some resolution on this.
It is remarkable the way Moffat seems to be able to generate more questions every time he answers one.
Superficial NuRiver bothered me too. Plus the “and she’s a woman!” comment the Doctor made. Moffat is a sexist old fool. I did like that she was excited to be “mature.” That could have easily put the sexism way over the top. Not to excuse the other stuff, but at least she didn’t cry about 20 years of lost youth. And she snapped out of the superficial mode and into killing and pillaging mode pretty quickly. I really liked her line about turning back her age verrrrrry slowly, just to freak people out.
Is there any way Amy could raise her, though, without warping her timeline? With all the red herrings about whether Amy would choose the Doctor or Rory, I think the real question is would she ever choose River over the Doctor? She’s shown us several times that she probably wouldn’t.
Also, holy crap, explaining River to your mom had to have been an adventure.
The reviewer at Pajiba thought this was the last time we’d see River, but I think the writer is wrong. Her story isn’t done yet, and I don’t think they literally meant their timelines were in reverse, just that they never mesh up.