Doctor Who – Let’s Kill Hitler – Episode Review

You’ve got a time machine, I’ve got a gun. What the hell? Let’s kill Hitler!

And with that, Amy and Rory’s new oldest friend Mels hijacks the TARDIS and spins off to Nazi Germany to shoot Hitler. But whaddaya know? Someone else has had that idea!

Let’s Kill Hitler is jam-packed with plot progression, but though it starts out with Fuhrer Fun, the episode quickly becomes all about the time travellers and a certain River Song. In fact, as the closing credits roll, you’ll find yourself thinking “What happened to Hitler? Is he still in the cupboard?”

Let’s begin by talking about the overall story. As we know from the midseason finale, Steven Moffat was coming under fire for writing frenzied episodes that on later reflection, didn’t make an awful lot of sense. I’m pleased to report that Let’s Kill Hitler gels beautifully. The chemistry between the characters now seems locked in place and finally we’re seeing ideas coming through that are plausible (within this universe) and are highly entertaining.

Yes, a friend called Mels suddenly materialises and we see her woven into Amy and Rory’s past. But suddenly it isn’t Mels, it’s an early-incarnation River Song, programmed to kill The Doctor. There’s poetry in telling River’s story this way – Rory and Amy think they’re missing their child’s formative years, then they discover that they’ve spent their formative years with their child! No wonder Rory is heard asking “Does anybody else find this day a bit difficult?” It’s hilarious when even the characters are so baffled they have to sit down and take it all in!

I’ve gotta hand it to Moffat for engineering things in this way. When The Doctor meets the Ponds in the middle of some homemade crop circles, a red car appears and almost knocks him over. It’s a River Song entrance, so we’re baffled when a young black woman jumps out. But when she kidnaps The Doctor and hijacks the TARDIS, it’s a bullet wound from Hitler that forces Mels to regenerate into a more familiar form.

I mean, so furious was the pace of this story that you could completely overlook something so HUGE as being shot by Hitler!

And there are gags galore – from Rory punching Adolf and telling him “Shut up, Hitler!” to Mels explanation for the sinking of the Titanic: “Why didn’t the Titanic sink? Because The Doctor didn’t save it.” Even the incredibly polite killer robots got fantastic dialogue: “Please hold still while your life is extracted.” My point is, this episode – perhaps for the first time, for me – had a wonderful balance of throwaway flippancy and highly emotional moments.

The key thing here is that Let’s Kill Hitler followed on nicely from A Good Man Goes To War. If you’re as interested in this story arc as I am, you won’t have missed Hitler after he got bundled in a cupboard. Infinitely more amazing to watch River Song regenerate – with brief reference to being a toddler in New York – and go through the wonderful post-regeneration sequence, chattering her teeth and discovering her boobs.

And of course, she tries instantly to kill The Doctor, but is outmanouvered by the Time Lord at every turn. It’s a brilliantly comic scene, culminating in River delivering her old poisoned lipstick trick. Cue Doctor slowly dying and another brilliant comical scene where he tries to get the TARDIS to display the avatar of someone he hasn’t messed up yet!

Ultimately, it’s River Song who ends up saving the Time Lord’s life. And she does it via a kiss as well. This time, it’s after realising that the “River” The Doctor is referring to throughout the episode is actually her. And I think she realises that devotion must come from somewhere, even if she doesn’t quite understand if yet. So she saves him by sacrificing every future regeneration she has. This neatly ties up a number of story threads in one go. And unlike the midseason finale, these developments are all believable within the framework of the story.

A thoroughly enjoyable episode of Doctor Who that really focused on the time travellers rather than the genocidal maniac of the title. There’s so much good stuff to explore within the episode that I couldn’t possibly cover it in one review. I mean, did the TARDIS really enter a Tessalator’s body at Inner Space size, rescue Amy and Rory, then restore them to normal size again? Worth a second watch just for the profound things that happened that passed off so casually.

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  1. Polyester

    It was a good episode, had a nice balance b/n the story and the fun/whimsical. 

    I only wish they would ditch the beaten to death “Let’s put Amy&Rory in some random tunnels routine” for at least the rest of their run on the show. IF not retire it altogether for a dozen seasons. Even Gillan & Darvill look mighty bored filming those. 

  2. sgreco1970

    I honestly didnt like it.

    There were some wonderful moments in it; especially the banana sequence ;p

    But by and large some things really bothered me. I mean, so that’s it then. Amy and Rory pretty much never got to raise their baby and they’re just ok with that? Oh, she was “Mels,” so I guess you could tell Amy, “yeah your baby was stolen right out of the womb but heck, remember that kid you grew up with? that was her. Oh well, anyway now she’s gone again.”

    The shrinking ray robot thingy was beyond silly and didnt have much function in the plot and the entire hitler thing really just fizzled in the first 5 minutes. And whatever river is or was or will be is really just sort of confusing. Where were the Silents? What about the time she spent in the suit? How did she, as a little girl, have a picture of Amy holding her as an infant? huh? I found more questions than answers here.


    Oh, and the episode, at least in America, ended 10 minutes early.


    At any rate, there were definitely some bits I enjoyed within a plot framework that I disliked. Looking forward to more, but I do hope the plots improve and some consideration is given to the effects of losing one’s child for their entire life has on the parents.

    At least we now know why River didnt regenerate in the Library. Still, I feel -and hope… we havent seen the last of the Library yet.

  3. Kingdom

    That was poor. Poorly constructed narrative – for some reason people have become so use to being drip fed this zany, fast, style of storytelling – which isn’t really storytelling at all – just a thinly disguised sequence of formulaic set pieces and visuals, overly wrought emotional content – with plots holes usually explained by ‘timey wimey’ flippancy.

    There’s too many jokes – bad ones. Too much emotional hijacking – how many more times are we expected to sit through a quarter of the episode waiting for the one of the regulars to die. 

    Ok, the performances were good. And i didn’t mind the revelations though i would have rather have had them embedded in a plot rather than blindsiding it. I’m not a fan of Kingston but she did excel in this story. Arthur and Karen and all of the supporting cast were great – but Matt’s Doctor (and i like Matt Smith) is increasingly a ‘caricarture of what people think the Doctor should be like’. The top hat and tails scene springs to mind – (how i yearn for the days when the Doctor could deliver a scene that didn’t involve quibs, jibes and ricochetting thought processes. Who saw the gravitas of a situation without having to resort to a joke). 

    No doubt the hardcore fanboys and fangirls will be in fits of ecstasy that their favorite show is back – without differentiating between a well constructed show and a poorly constructed one. Personally i would have expected more from the Moff. (Still the last two years have been marginally better than the RTD ones).

  4. jefft

    I loved it.

    Shame that Mels was introduced and discarded in the space of an episode (odd: I complain that Torchwood is too slow, and here I am saying this bit was a shade too fast), but OK, that answers a lot of questions.

    How cool would it have been if she had been in ‘The Eleventh Hour’ as a cameo?

    The tesselector knows she killed the Doctor, but not that she killed him here. So she must have to do it again to keep things right.

    Of course the tesselector is a walking paradox machine: If they stop criminals from doing the crime, then no crime has occurred and so they wont be on record as a criminal. (See: Minority Report)

    I don’t care. Guess that makes me a hardcore fanboy. 😉



    1. sgreco1970

      well i dont think they were supposed to stop anyone before the crime was comitted. they even realized they were 2 years too early with hitler when the tardis busted through the wall. they made a comment later on that they take criminals after their lives are supposedly over and THEN torment them in their manmade hell.

      1. jefft

        Rewatched it. You’re right.

        Makes it odd that they go for River since they know the death hasnt occurred in her timeline. And they didnt wait for the actual death.

        Still enjoyed it though.

        1. Glopp

          the death hasnt occurred in her timeline

          hasn’t it?

          they didn’t wait for the actual death

          I think that only the victim hasn’t yet experienced the crime.

    2. Emperor Gregor

      I loved it too.  

      Re the tesselector: I’ll have to watch it again. I thought that they caught them after the crime and then punished them. Mind, I wasn’t firing on all cylinders this weekend as I went down with a bout of food poisoning and watched it on video on Sunday propped up on the sofa. That’s an interesting point. They know she “will” kill the Doctor. They have a huge dbase that says so. Are they time travellers from a future? They seem to be touring space-time looking for … kicks? unofficial justice? Offical justice?

      Now that thought is interesting. It means Moffat is being consistent with his own created universe. The Doctor keeps saying you shouldn’t rewrite time and that some points are fixed and CAN’T be changed. If the tesselector IDs River as connected with the Tardis they know that River IS a time traveller.  She could have killed him already, in the future, then travelled back. And for whatever reason, they can’t undo what she has done.

      Come to think of it. They identified the TARDIS. They didn’t say “that’s the Doctor”. They said something like “it’s her. The criminal who killed the Doctor.” 

      Which presumably means that after the Doctor dies, RIVER gets the Tardis.

      Now there’s something to think about.

      Complicated stuff, this timey wimey.

      1. pirho

        I was actually thinking that too, I would assume that River would take the TARDIS, but what would happen to it when she goes into the Library?  At some point she is going to meet up with Tennant, then what?  Do the two tardis’ merge into one?


        Also is the plual of TARDIS TARDIS’ or TARDI?

        1. Emperor Gregor

          Plural can’t be TARDIS’. It isn’t a possessive. TARDI means the letter S for Space is missing. TARDISes?

          The Doctor himself pointed out that he’s had eternity to think about what to do about the Library and he came up with River’s screwdriver. He’s also had years to think about other solutions, including rewriting time.

          Maybe in the end the Library never happens/happened.

          Ohhh, shame. Their best ever episode, methinks.

  5. Kingdom

    Hi Jeff


    I agree with you that it would have been nice to have Mels introduced in the 11th hour if this had been Moffat’s plan all along. It would have certainly been a nice little touch. (though i suspect he’s made up who River was as he’s gone along).

  6. pirho

    Not sure if it was just in the US but the whole clip where Amy and Rory were calling the Dr. and him not answering the phone in the Tardis was not shown. 

    1. sgreco1970

      yeah we here in the US didnt see that. i didnt even know it existed.

      All I saw was a reference to it when the doctor asked them why they made the crop circle. “Well you wouldnt answer your phone”

      I dont see why we had to have that scene clipped out, tho. In the US our episode ended 10 minutes early.

        1. pirho

          Yep that was supposed to be shown but never was, at least not in the US.  Not sure about our friends across the Pond. (not amy)

  7. sgreco1970

    Let’s face it, this could have and should have been handed very differently.

    All of River’s story was blurted out in one episode and rushed through. There were several ways to handle this. Going with THIS plotline, they could have just added Mels as a companion for a few episodes, let it come out slowly, gradually. She was created and destroyed all in one episode, hurrying in some backstory that she was always friends with rory and amy. She could have been developed and integrated. BUT, this is not at all how I would prefer the story to be. The idea that Amy and Rory raised her because they spent childhood together unwittingly drives me mad. By all rights, Amy and rory should go back to leadworth now and never talk to the doctor again; he utterly ruined their lives. Amy will need years of therapy before she can even have another baby and when she does she will want to doctor far, far away from it.

    How COULD this story have gone?


    I’d have much preferred to see the Doctor trace Eyepatch Lady back in time, chasing after the baby and he brings Amy and Rory with him. He follows them back 10 years or so to the Gamma Forest. There he meets young Lorna bucket, in some sort of trouble and they run together. There’s some kind of alien menace there, plaguing the people of the forest -and complicating life for Eyepatch. The doctor defeats the menace and, visa vis the plan used to defeat them, also snatches the real baby back from eyepatch -she flees, vowing its not over. Amy and Rory remain on gamma and raise, as the locals say, River Song. 8 years later, the silents arrive and snatch river, on behalf of eyepatch, and take her to 1969 where she is conditioned to kill the doctor.

    Anythign could’ve happened from there. A whole season of events, as they find her regenerating in NYC. She, in the spacesuit, kills the ganger doctor, and then her programming is broken. River, from all we saw of her origins during tennnt, spent most of her time in the 51s century. Maybe that’s where Amy and Rory take her and spend their lives, raising River and maybe even having more children. 51st century Leadworth ;p

    Sure, that plot would need a lot of work, but cmon -all unravelled in one frenetic episode with a robot person with liliputions inside pulling levers? Ugh. I mourn for the stories that could have been.

    I still hope we get to see the doctor and river’s torrid love affair. Will we?

    1. Emperor Gregor

      “I still hope we get to see the doctor and River’s torrid love affair. Will we?”

      Oh I do hope so. She’s the best female companion/friend/associate they’ve had. A real Ms Indiana Jones I still remember the wets cast because they had the best screams.

      Am cautiously optimist. Moffat likes River and has fun writing her, and Alex Kingston wants back. Not next season maybe. They’re filming it already, aren’t they? 

      Moffat at the beginning of the season said “yes it definitely is the doctor, and yes, he is dead.”  I’m hoping when Moffat one said “time can be rewritten takes on a whole new meaning” – something like that – means that we will get a real surprise when they broadcast “The Wedding of River Song”. They might undo the tangle right there and then.

      Moff – please don’t spend next season with the Doctor running round the universe trying to prevent his own murder.

  8. sgreco1970

    let me see if I understand this correctly.

    The eyepatch lady wanted to kill the doctor.

    She knew he was stuck back on that station, with the tardis in a forcefield. So…she didnt blow up the station and kill him.


    She elaborately used the flesh to keep a fake amy on the tardis while real amy gestated and birthed a baby whom she also faked out the doctor with using flesh a second time so she could take the baby back to 1969 and have the silents raise it in a spacesuit, conditioning her to be a killer and then, after she escapes and regenerates, plops her into amy’s neighborhood so she could engineer the romance between amy and rory so they’d give birth to her so she could get into the tardis and take it to 1938, kill hitler and then kiss the doctor with poison lipstick.

    Brilliant plan.

    1. pirho

      Very well thought out, reminds me of one of the James Bonds plans, overly elaborated to kill Bond, only to be twarted at the end.

    2. Emperor Gregor

      Engineering the romance with Rory and Amy so she would get born.

      Ooooh, hadn’t thought of that. Well spotted. 

      Though a) how does that tie in with Rory “just falling out of the sky” and

      b) Rory fancied her anyway, and presumably Amy thought he was OK, but gay. Almost the same romantic plot as the Lodger with one in love and the other unaware but equally fond.

      Is this one of the holes in this particular storyline we’re all concerned about, or is there more to come on “Rory falling out of the sky”. Maybe a Time Lord with a cameleon circuit dropped in one day to hide. 

      Or he might just a good nurse. Amy and Rory get a nasty shock a week on Saturday in “The Girl Who Waited”. If Rory IS going to die, it’ll be then, I reckon.

    1. Emperor Gregor

      Ooh. I;ve been reading the summaries in the Radio Times. “The Wedding of River Song” starts 

      “I don’t want to marry you” and “I don’t want to murder you”.

      Moffat then quotes his own brief one sentence summary: “The Doctor goes to his certain death – and it doesn’t work out as well as he expected”.

      If the Doctor has a neat solution to the problem, so he somehow dies and lives, and then Mel turns up to kill bhim for real …. after all, they all time travel don’t they. If they fail first time, they can try again with Mel/River before she’s deprogrammed.


  9. pirho

    Funny thing, has been picking at my brain.  In Lets kill hitler, River says “hello benjamin” after her regeneration. I had been wondering who the hell benjamin was.  So I googled it, and it turns out, it was a line from The Graduate.  Now here is the interesting part.  In the The Impossible Astronaut, he introduces him self as the new undercover operative from Scottland Yard, and his team, The Legs, The Nose, an Mrs Robinson.  Now, this could just be a running gag, but I find it odd that she would use a line from the graduate, before she was called Mrs Robinsone, and the same for the Doctor.  Usually nothing Moff does is a coincidence, so I wonder if there was more to this?

    1. sgreco1970

      the legs, the nose ..and mrs robinson.

       -i hate you.

      no you don’t!

      —I could NOT stop laughing when he called her Mrs Robinson. The joke, for those who haven’t seen the film, is that the movie is about an older woman seducing a young man. When he called her that I spit my drink lol.

      That’s why, when she said hello benjamin, she propped her leg up. This was homage to the famous scene where we see the young man from under mrs’ robinson’s propped leg -probably the most famous shot from the movie.

      I dont think its necessarily code or foreshadowing of much of anything. I think it was just a callback to what turned out to be one of Doctor Who’s funniest lines ever.

      1. Emperor Gregor

        I think it could b e an in-joke among the actors: Matt Smith is in his twenties and Alex Kingston’s in her forties. For all we know that’s what they call each other on set! And it stops us thinking of their relationship as that of an older man (907 and counting) in love with a much younger woman. Why is that worse, somehow?

    2. dobby_wants_socks

      If you continue to watch the episode you see that there is a flashback, the camera shot is on another angle and it shows River picking up a gun whilst saying “Hello Benjamin”.

      It was meant to have a double meaning.

      First as reference to Mrs Robinson. Funny because he’s mentioned it before as a joke in her past (not sure if there is a hidden meaning due to the fact that he called her Mrs Robinson before she said the line) and the fact that her leg was balanced on the chair.

      The second was a reference to the gun itself as there are many modals of guns known as Benjamin (Benjamin air rifle, Benjamin pellet gun ect.) so it was just meant to show how much the Doctor notices with his surroundings because of the fact that he picked up on River’s gun reference.

      Hope this helps!

      P.S. PLEEEEEEEEEEEEASE read this because I saw this question and just had to respond to it so I had to make an account especially so pleeeeeeeeese respond!


      1. Emperor Gregor

        The Doctor appears in several classic movies. I wonder if he got a bit part in The Graduate. Passes in the street and says “Hello Mrs Robinson.” We’ll never see it, of course, because of copyright issues.

  10. Emperor Gregor

    It’s taken me till now to find this page – am not good with navigating websites – or anything else at the moment. Working 8 to 10 hours a day on my dissertation. Due in 15 days and I still have 8000 words to go – and that’s just the first draft.

    Humour a dim old lady. I’m not sure how this structure works. Do you just get replies to things you contribute to. Just wondering why I’ve not had any emails about the episode. 

      1. Emperor Gregor

        Does that mean I should have been getting emails this week? I haven’t heard a peep. I thought maybe everyone had migrated to Torchwood. Which I tried, very hard, to watch. Could see it to the end.

          1. Emperor Gregor

            No, not my junk. I’ve got my mail set up to display all mail. Junk gets displayed in brown – but does get displayed. Anything I want I re-label “not junk” and anything I don’t want I bin.

            Have now received two emails v early today from Dobby and a couple of pirho yesterday. And this. During the last half season I used to get all the posts. It’s like I fell off the edge of the world after the end of A Good Man Goes To War.


  11. Emperor Gregor

    “You’ve got a time machine, I’ve got a gun. What the hell? Let’s kill Hitler!”

    Either Mels doesn’t yet know certain times can’t be rewritten, or she had a reason for wanting to go there. I don’t like co-incidences. The TARDIS flew off and … ended up with Hitler, just before WW2. The Spirit of the Tardis off duty just then? Shot? In Shock? 

    Now I’m better I’ll watch again, and see what I think.

  12. Emperor Gregor

    Hey! while I think on. I was right about the Diary – or at least the book it’s written in – that the Doctor gave it to her. I still say it’s an appointments book. A “this is where you’ll find me, and when”.

    A friend reckons River ends up in the Library because the Doctor fixes it for her to meet him in the Library because he knows she’s going to die there and this way she gets to have a life of sorts. And one well away from the people who might hunt for her to use her again.

    She’s also seen clips of a pyramid labelled Area 51 with a US flag on it, and Roman chariots in the London of Emperor Churchill. So I guess if the Doctor does rewrite time, it’s going to go very wrong indeed.

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