She’ll happily graffiti the oldest cliff face in the universe. To this lady it’s the equivalent of leaving a note on the fridge for your husband. She’s on close personal terms with the Last of the Time Lords. She can make a killer Dalek plead for mercy.
She’s [[River Song]], and she’s as much of a mystery to [[The Doctor (Doctor Who)|The Doctor]] as she is to the viewers. River Song burst into [[Doctor Who (TV Series)|Doctor Who]] in the Steven Moffat penned two-parter Silence In The Library/Forest Of The Dead. Unlike most people who encounter the Time Lord in an episode, she already knew him. Intimitely. How intimitely can you know a Time Lord? Well, she knows his real name.
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The irony of The Doctor’s first meeting with River Song is that it’s her last meeting with him. She sacrifices herself in order to save the inhabitants of the library, but a future version of The Doctor has given her a modified sonic screwdriver with a consciousness loop inside to save her essence to the large hard drive. Song lives on in a virtual world with her own companions for company.
River maintains a diary of her encounters with The Doctor, which she claims contain spoilers (a nice nod to the insatiable fan appetite for information about new plots). She herself is a source of cryptic clues as to what’s in the future for the time traveller and his friends. But River always seems to be one step ahead of the story, with us never being completely sure if she’s a pure companion, or if there’s something evil about her that we’ve yet to discover.
What do we know about River Song?
She’s morally ambiguous. She’ll steal artefacts, trick shady alien dealers into giving her Vortex Manipulators (that are still attached to their owners’ arms), and use her mysterious allure to snog her way out of prison.
Daleks are afraid of her. As we saw in The Big Bang, a Dalek made the mistake of thinking a companion of The Doctor wouldn’t use violence against it. However, whenever Song told him to look her up in its databanks, it begged for mercy. Clearly she’s known to be a ruthless enemy in alien circles.
She knows a lot about The Doctor and Gallifrey. She can read and write old Gallifreyan, she has a small encyclopedia of her adventures with The Doctor, and she can fly the [[TARDIS (Doctor Who)|TARDIS]] better than him!
She’s a killer. In [[Flesh And Stone (Doctor Who episode)|Flesh And Stone]], River admits that she killed a man, the best man she has ever known. That’s why she’s imprisoned in a Stormcage. And if she can be believed, that Dalek didn’t get shown any mercy either.
She doesn’t seem to be a TARDIS regular. Despite her impressive knowledge of The Doctor, she doesn’t seem to travel with him regularly. She hails him via notes left on historical artefacts or via his psychic paper. On the other hand, she’s also able to pilot the TARDIS…so she must have spent some time aboard it.
There’s something dangerous about her. In Flesh And Stone, Father Octavian gives The Doctor an ominous warning that all is not seems with River Song: “You think you know [River], but you don’t. You don’t understand who or what she is.”
Is she The Doctor’s wife? Yes, they have a very ‘married couple’ dynamic. But is it possible that – despite The Doctor’s inadvertent proposal at the end of [[The Big Bang (Doctor Who episode)|The Big Bang]] – the marriage thing is a very convenient thing for us to latch on to? My personal feeling is that it’s a bluff.
She loves The Doctor. In The Big Bang we see Song trapped in the TARDIS in a constant loop, saying “Goodbye, my love.” Unless she was talking to the TARDIS itself.
And we know how her story ends. No matter what else comes to pass, River met with the Tenth Doctor in [[Silence In The Library (Doctor Who episode)|Silence In The Library]] and was forever ‘saved’ to a virtual world. Even in that final moment, she seemed impressed by The Doctor’s resourcefulness and fond of him. There was no hint of malice, or a desire to harm him.
But what lies ahead?
The Doctor: “River, who are you?”
River: “You’re going to find out very soon now. And I’m sorry, but that’s when everything changes.”
River disappears in the flash of a vortex manipulator before any more questions can be asked. But is she jerking The Doctor around? Is she a villain biding her time until she can manoeuvre The Doctor into a perilous situation? Is she a Time Lord in disguise – who else could have that much mastery over time and space?
I’ve read much speculation on these pages that River will turn out to be classic Who villain and rogue Time Lady, The Rani. But I’ll let Rob shoot that one down for you.
The implication of River’s words is that things in their relationship are going to change. I could be wrong. The person behind the silence may wreak devastation on The Doctor and his companions and that’s the change she’s referring to. But Steven Moffat has also promised that we’ll find out who River Song is in [[Doctor Who Series 6|Series 6]]. Right at the end of the very last episode, no doubt.
As always…please feel free to speculate on this one. And like everything Who…no answer is too silly. Unless you suggest she’s The Rani.