It’s time, everyone, for the Battle of Demon’s Run. The mysterious Madame Kovarian has stolen Amy Pond and taken her baby away. And The Doctor is off gathering a rag-tag army of people who owe him favours. He’ll rise further than he’s risen before and fall further. And he’ll also discover River Song’s true identity.
That’s a lot of plot advancement to get through in one episode, but somehow Steven Moffat crams it all in.
If I’m being honest, the whole rescue of Amy from the army of Clerics was a bit messy. Lots of bombastic action pieces, a fun rag-tag bunch of Doctor Who characters and hangers-on fighting on his side. Rory back in his Centurion costume. And ripoff Jedi-esque creations, the Headless Monks, complete with lightsabers. This is the part of Doctor Who that seems to be written predominantly for kids these days – fast-moving sequences that seem to move so quickly to prevent logic catching up with them.
Maybe that’s because Moffat knew that the star attraction tonight was the culmination of the Amy Pond kidnap storyline and the long-awaited “big reveal” of River Song’s true identity.
And on this front, the episode delivered beautifully. Everything finally came together, as prophecied by our fan group member sgreco1970. Allow me to explain:
So, who the hell is River Song?
River Song – spoilers ahoy! – is the daughter of Amy Pond and Rory Williams. *expect stunned silence* She is also the child seen regenerating at the end of Day Of The Moon. And she’s also the astronaut child.
Let’s tie it all together. First up: how did Amy and Rory conceive a Time Lord baby? According to The Doctor, the baby may well have been conceived on their wedding night, as [[TARDIS (Doctor Who)|the TARDIS]] traveled to their honeymoon destination. Although it took the Time Lords millions of years to evolve their abilities, the embryo’s exposure to the space/time continuum has infused her with their abilities.
We discover some of this via flashbacks to the astronaut child – who was human, but incredibly strong if you remember. This is mind bending stuff though: it means Amy shot at her own daughter, and that the child River may have been the astronaut who shot the daughter. Which means that River shot at herself at the lake side. Possibly. My head is reeling from all of this, and once I’ve thought it through, I’ll do a separate post about River Song.
But in a nefarious twist, Madame Kovarian swapped Amy’s baby for a Flesh decoy. Which means that Amy was reunited with her baby and in a cruel twist, Melody was taken away again. And even though Amy’s furious with The Doctor, he’s run off grinning like a loon in the TARDIS, and her child is still missing.
Seriously boggling. The Doctor is happy because he knows River is the baby. Ergo (I love that word), if River is alive and well in the future, she must survive.
However, the child astronaut has been wandering around America in the 1960’s. River Song’s story is far from over – we don’t know when Amy will find her, what age she’ll be, whether she’ll have a normal relationship with her mother and father. And she’s got Time Lord capabilities. But we’ll come to that in another post.
Bottom line, in giving us our big reveal, Steven Moffat has raised a ton of other questions. Enormously successful.
Rory and parallels…
Just wanted to point out that Rory was paralleled twice in this episode. First by Amy, who seemed to be describing The Doctor: last of his kind, lived for hundreds of years, etc. But of course it was Rory as the Centurion who waited for 2,000 years outside the Pandorica.
And later on when the Sontaran died and explained to Rory that he wasn’t a warrior, he was a nurse (Rory at that precise moment was a Roman soldier. And he’s a nurse.) Just saying.
This is the Battle of Demon’s Run. The Doctor’s darkest hour. He’ll rise higher than ever before and then fall so much further.
Those are River Song’s words to Rory. While I love the drama of the statement, I don’t think the episode reflected the highs and lows adequately. When The Doctor ‘rose high’, he was actually being duped by Kovarian. And when he ‘fell’, he simply walked into a room full of injured and massacred comrades. Once he met River again, he flew off with a grin on his face. Not exactly his lowest ebb, was it?
Still, I’m nitpicking. I’ll end this by saying that the reveal with River Song and Amy was by far the best part of the episode. And even if the battle part of the episode was a tad underwhelming, the reveal and subsequent cliffhanger more than made up for it.
Oh yes – how many of you saw the little scene at the end of the credits – a skeleton’s hand clutching a sonic screwdriver as the green light dims? Was it The Doctor?
And the next episode – when Doctor Who returns – will be titled [[Let’s Kill Hitler (Doctor Who episode)|Let’s Kill Hitler]].