Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song

Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song October 1, 2011

The Wedding of River Song” was absolutely fantastic as an episode offering all that we hope for from Doctor Who, as well as providing a satisfying season finale and pointing ahead to what lies ahead on the Fields of Tranzelor. Spoilers lie ahead, because this episode is just too full of good stuff not to comment on it. So if you are trying to avoid spoilers, please turn back now. Everyone else, on we go!

The way the episode begins is the sort of humorous scenario we might expect on Doctor Who – a reality in which cars float over London tied to hot air balloons and children regret approaching pterodactyls with food. As many suspected, the universe finds itself with a problem: time is unraveling, and it isn’t long until we find out why, as Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill calls the Soothsayer from the Tower, and it turns out that the Soothsayer is none other than the Doctor.

Churchill has sensed that something is wrong with time – since it is always the same time and day – and the Doctor’s answer to the question “What happened to time?” is “A woman.” And your guess when you hear that answer turns out to be right – Melody Pond loves the Doctor and refuses to kill him there on the beach, and so time becomes simultaneous and begins to unravel.

The Doctor tells the story of what has transpired to get to this predicament. He talks to the blue boxed head of his old friend Dorium Maldavar, who at the end of the episode finally tells us what the first question is, and before then indicates that the question will be asked and answered on the Fields of Tranzelor when the Eleventh falls (is that Eleventh Legion or Eleventh Doctor?), and so the Silence are trying to prevent the answer being given, the secret being revealed. And as we learn at the end of the episode, the question is in fact what many thought it might be: “Doctor Who?” So the mystery of the time lord’s identity has ramifications for the whole universe. In making this a center of attention, we are returned to the very beginning of the show. It has been hidden in plain sight, in the opening credits, from the first episode, and asked in the first part of that first episode. Who is he? Doctor Who?

But making this a question the answer to which reveals a mystery that some would kill to protect, even as the identity of the intended victim is the mystery, creates suspense that it will be hard for any future revelation to live up to.

There are a great many entertaining and touching moments. When he calls the Brigadier and is informed that he has passed away. When River reveals that the Doctor is alive and says she is sure because she is his wife, and Amy realizes that she is his mother in law. When we discover that what the Doctor whispered to River when he married her was not his name, but instead him telling her to look into his eye, to see that it was in fact the tesselector, the Doctor in a Doctor suit, who would then manage to be where he had to be in order for time to be put back on track, and yet allow him to survive – and keep a somewhat lower profile than he had been for the immediate future.

I was rather disappointed with myself that the tesselector solution didn’t occur to me until the captain of the tesselector asked the Doctor if there is anything else they can do for him, in this episode. I’m sure that some thought of this solution earlier.

What did you think of the Wedding of River Song? Were you satisfied? I thought it did a far better job of providing a convincing ending than many other episodes that I nonetheless enjoyed even so. What was your favorite moment? Mine was when River tells the Doctor that he is so sure the universe would be better off without him, but the universe disagreed, and having sent out a call for help for the Doctor who was going to die, millions of millions responded eager to be there for him in his time of need. The Doctor has seen that he puts people at risk, but in recent episodes, his companions have been reminding him that they are not free from risk without him, and are better off with him. What questions (besides or including “Doctor Who?”) remain to be answered? One that comes to mind is one that presumably confronts time travelers all the time: If you get married in a timeline that gets rewritten, are you still married?

What did others think of this season finale?

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