Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S04E08 – Silence in the Library

In the eighth episode of the fourth series of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat ruins yet another every day occurrence forever by giving us all nightmares about shadows. Oh, and this episode is FUCKING BRILLIANT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

I had a few reservations about the concept of “Silence in the Library” during the first ten minutes or so. Because it is apparently impossible for me to talk about Doctor Who without referencing The X-Files, there is an episode in season two of that show, called “Soft Light,” that is essentially the same thing as this one. Shadows that can kill people. Well, one man’s shadow, specifically, and that man is Tony Shalhoub. Oh, and the episode is kind of awful and terrible.

So I would like to start off this review by apologizing. I am sorry, Steven Moffat, for doubting you. I am sorry for thinking that this particular episode could in any way compare with that subpar episode of The X-Files. I shouldn’t have even allowed the thought to enter my brain.

I will now state that I am not even remotely worthy of you, Moffat. What you have managed to create here, in “Silence in the Library” is alternately one of the most complex, emotionally rich scripts I’ve ever seen on television, and a story that is gut-wrenching in its horror. AND IT’S ONLY PART ONE oh my god never prepared

I loved the humor that opens up this episode, mainly because THERE IS NONE OF IT TO FOLLOW. Instead of taking Donna to a beach, we’re treated to a giant (and very empty) library. My first thought was THE BOOKS ARE ALIVE when the Doctor showed Donna how the Library’s computers said there were a million million lifeforms living there. LOL I WAS SO WRONG.

What really makes this all stand out, though, is how many obvious and pervasive tropes there are here in “Silence in the Library,” ones that any science fiction or horror fan could easily point out, but Moffat completely fucks with all of them. Right from the beginning, we’re given the idea that all of this is taking place in someone’s head. In this case, the little girl seems to have created the library as a way to escape the world she’s in. The evidence of her therapist, Dr. Moon, seems to confirm that. Except then the Doctor and Donna show up. In an imaginary world. And…what? That’s not possible, right? They’re not figments of this girl’s imagination. Can things that exist in the real world simultaneously visit something like this? What???

That’s the thing, though. This episode completely messes with this idea. How can this all be in someone’s head if characters we know to be real are inside it?

Further complicating matters is the way in which outside forces act inside the Library. At one point, the young girl, through the security bot, warns the Doctor that “the others are coming,” which made me think of LOST. Those “others” do arrive, in the form of an expedition sent to decipher the meaning of the Library’s final message: 4022 saved, no survivors.

Along with that group comes yet another wrinkle to the story: River Song. I assumed she was a companion because I’d seen so many gifs and macros of her and…ok, she will be a companion. I should correct that. I can’t even pretend to understand River’s story or how she came to know the Doctor. But she’s met him. No. Will meet him. What I don’t understand is how a companion remembers the Doctor, but not vice versa. Why is their relationship happening in opposite narrative lines?

There aren’t many questions answered in “Silence in the Library,” but we start to get a feel for things as the episode moves along. The expedition that arrives only seems to complicate matters for the Doctor as the shadows seem to move independent of light. Naturally, everyone aside from River and Donna seems to disbelieve the Doctor’s every word. How can shadows hurt people? (For the record, as River revealed more and more of what she knew about the Doctor, my face had the exact same expression as Donna’s each and every time.)

When the Doctor does decide to elaborate on the “shadows,” though, is when Moffat decides he will ruin shadows for us forever. They are the Vashta Nerada, a violent and carnivorous creature that is microscopic and sticks to shadows to hunt its prey. I would like to personally thank Moffat for including the line about the specks of dust that float in the light, as I will now never be able to think of them as anything else ever again.

It’s not enough for Moffat to merely make shadows terrifying. Instead, he does so much more than go for pure horror. Miss Evangelista seemed like a caricature of a person at first, I admit it. As soon as they introduced her as the not-so-bright character, I figured she would die first. It’s common in horror movies to pick off the vapid ones first, right? So leave it up to Moffat to not only do this, but introduce the concept of a Data Ghost to hold the other crew members accountable for how they treated Miss Evangelista.

When there’s a foolish or dim character around, it seems very common that it’s just acceptable to make fun of them and pick on them. And the crew that was with River did just that, predictably. I loved that Donna was the only one to pick up on this and she compensated by treating Miss Evangelista with respect. So, when the crew came barreling into the hidden room to find the fleshless remains of her sitting in a chair, I figured it was over. They’d move on, it was a SHIT GOT REAL MOMENT, and the character would be just as disposable as we expected.

Except Moffat isn’t interested in that. We learn the exploration team has communication devices in their collars that are synced with their nervous systems, and despite that Miss Evangelista was devoured in seconds, there’s still an imprint of her consciousness left in the device. There’s a slight air of fear in her voice; she’s unsure what’s going on, but she seeks out the one who was “nice” to her. Donna, with horror, realizes she’s referring to her. What I loved so much about this scene is that by having Miss Evangelista tell Donna that she’s not stupid, it forces the crew to deal with the fact that, quite literally, their last interactions with Miss Evangelista were awful, self-centered, and mean. On top of that, it’s simply horrifying. The green lights slowly go out and then she’s gone. But they all had to hear her die.

Simply chilling. One of the scariest moments in the whole show and even made better by how quiet it is. Even better is the fact that another wholly terrifying moment is just ten minutes later, when the shadows go after Dave. What makes the ongoing scene so unbearably frightening is the hopelessness of it all. The shadows attach to Dave and then, surprisingly, get inside of his suit and EAT HIM RIGHT THEN AND THERE. His Data Ghost is somehow worse because it repeats his voice over and over again. There’s no hope. He’s gone. The Doctor can’t save him and there’s now a very real risk that others will meet the same fate.

As the possessed suit of Dave goes after the exploration team, everything comes to a fever-pitch of awful: the Doctor tries to send Donna to the TARDIS, but something fails. In the worst (and by “worst,” I mean “Steven Moffat is a genius who deserves all the awards) cliffhanger yet, Donna Noble’s face appears on one of the Library’s Nodes, which, given what we were told earlier, means that she is dead. Which…she can’t die, right????? Donna Noble has been saved…let’s hope so.

One last thing before my brain melts and I’m no longer able to type.  There’s a huge trope in this episode that I worried about: how was Moffat going to rectify the idea that the little girl was imagining the Library, yet real people were inside of it? In the most shocking twist in the episode (and a complete inversion of the trope in the first place), Dr. Moon tells the girl that the library in her head is REAL. The world she is living in? IT’S MADE UP.



  • I bet it was irresistible for some of you to not tell me about the constant use of “SPOILERS!!!” in this episode by Donna and River. This episode was clearly written for me, right. Right. Right.
  • “I’m a time traveler. I point and laugh at archaeologists.” Kind of mean, but I laughed. I couldn’t help it.
  • “No, I never land on Sundays. Sundays are boring.” RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT?!?!?!
  • The entire “pretty boy” exchange was LOVELY.
  • “You need a good death. Without death there’d only be comedies. Death gives us size.” Ok, I’m hoping this is just foreshadowing for this episode and not something else in the future. ::sad::
  • Except…the way River looked at Donna when she found out who she was. UGH. WHY. WHY DID YOU DO THAT. Ugh. 🙁

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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568 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S04E08 – Silence in the Library

  1. Wookie_Monster says:

    Welcome to my most-rewatched episodes. FUCK YEAH creepy library! Creepy girl! Donated Faces! Skeletons talking from beyond the grave! Chicken-eating shadows! River Song, Spoiler Queen!

    Love every minute of it. Won't go into details though, because I might get episodes 1&2 mixed up. SPOILERS!

    • nextboy1 says:

      my most re-watched episode as well!

      I can watch this over and over again. It's heartbreaking, it's scary, it has River, and it also has part 2 to come!

      "oh, III'm pretty boy?!"

      Moffat, I think I love you. I know I said Human Nature was my favourite 2 parter but this may at least equal it. But more on that tomorrow, for fear of SPOILERS

    • electric ashera says:

      The donated faces are SO MUCH CREEPIER to me than the Vashta Nerada. Maybe that's just me.

  2. bookling says:

    Hey, who turned out the lights?

  3. Openattheclose says:

    The Vashta Nerada, they're everywhere
    <img src=""&gt;
    That library planet? I want to go to there. When the shadows that eat flesh aren't in residence, obviously.
    <img src=""&gt; "Oh, I'm pretty boy?"
    He wears his brainy specs for the longest time in this episode and I quite enjoy it.

    DONNA! Nooooo! Get her face off that thingy!
    <img src=""&gt;
    "This episode was clearly written for me, right. Right. Right."
    River Song is clearly your mascot Mark.

    "'the others are coming,' which made me think of LOST."
    Me too! The phrase "The Others" will never be the same again.
    This isn't Who-related at all, but for Harry Potter fans that didn't catch the Oscar's last night.

    • __Jen__ says:

      Flawless comment is flawless!

      Steven Moffat truly is the king of time travel and of inverting tropes. It is wonderful.

      River Song is <3

    • bookling says:

      Oh god, I was hoping someone would have a gif of them tearing up the contracts! I love that bit.

      Also, Little Ball of Light was the best thing to come out of the Oscars last night. THE BEST.

    • kaleidoscoptics says:


    • MowerOfLorn says:

      We got an auto-tuned Harry Potter vanvid at the Oscars! I love this world sometimes.

      And yes, River is so obviously Mark's mascot.

    • always amy says:

      The day I find out I have an untreatable terminal illness is the day I head for the library.
      I cannot be the only one who would like to spend my last days exploring those shelves.

  4. Karen says:

    For me this episode is very “meh”. There’s just nothing about it that makes me inclined to rewatch it. I don’t even know where to start with these episodes. Ok. Let’s just get this out of the way It’s no secret that I really dislike Moffat the person. I think he’s a sexist ass and yes, the things that he says in interviews colors my opinion of his work. I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t. But if you make ignorant statements to the press, I’m going to be way more likely to see those same ignorant values in your writing, whether you intended it to be read like that or not. Secondly, I am one of those people who tends to really attach actors to characters, and the actress who plays River, Alex Kingston, played a character on E.R. for many years who I initially liked, but was incredibly frustrated with in later years. So River already had a strike against her due to my residual annoyance with Dr. Cordday. (Yes, I am aware that this is nonsensical.) Anyway, due to this and various other irrational butthurt on my part, this is my first time rewatching these episodes since they first aired, so it was kind of like watching it with new eyes.

    One thing that bothers me is the weakness of the ensemble cast. Why bother if you’re not even going to try to develop them? Contrast this with the wonderful cast from The Satan Pit/The Impossible Planet. Even the fact that there are two Daves seems to be lampshading the fact that they’re interchangeable. They pretty much only serve the story to be cannon fodder.

    <img src=""&gt;
    The concept of the Vashta Narada is kind of annoying. It’s a very similar idea to the weeping angels in that it is something that you see every day and seems normal, but really is ~dangerous (not every shadow/statue but any shadow/statue). I mean yes, they do different things, but it’s the same scare effect. Except instead of “don’t blink” we get “count the shadows”. *rolls eyes* It’s much less effective the second time around. And I get that it’s trying to play on a fear of the dark, but it just doesn’t work for me. And THEN once they basically become skeletons lumbering around like zombies from a 1930s horror movie, they just become more laughable than scary.

    And yeah, I don’t like River. I find her smug and grating. Also, with very very very few exceptions, I loathe pet names, so her “hello sweetie” schtick is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I just really hate the whole “spoilers” thing. It’s like someone taunting me saying “I know something you don’t know and I’m not going to tell yooooou” in an obnoxious sing-song voice. Gah. Anyway, more on River tomorrow.

    So all in all, this is a decent part 1. Nothing to write home about, but not offensively bad.

    • mkjcaylor says:

      I DON'T LIKE RIVER VERY MUCH EITHER. Which I find sad, because I would really like to like her and be interested in the past/future thing she's got going on, but I just don't care at all.

      • Karen says:

        I think it's because Moffat insists on just telling us how awesome she is instead of letting us see and decide for ourselves. I can't stand when writers do that.

        • mkjcaylor says:

          I hadn't really thought of that, but maybe you're right. Somehow she's cliche to me, which I keep thinking HOW is what she does cliche? But I think it ties in to what you are saying. While her history, etc., is totally cool and new, her personality and the way that she's presented is just BORING to me. And it may well be that it's boring because it's all told to us and not shown, which is how you create excitement and suspense.

          Honestly, if River were closer to Sally Sparrow I think she would be my favorite character ever. And I don't really flavor Moffat stories with Moffat as much as you do, so I don't even think it has to do with that.

        • @RabidLemur says:

          D'you know… yeah! Personally, I like the way she is, up to a point. So I've counted myself as a fan of the character. But you're exactly right. I always find your comments edifying.

    • Married In Pearl says:

      "And yeah, I don’t like River. I find her smug and grating. Also, with very very very few exceptions, I loathe pet names, so her “hello sweetie” schtick is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I just really hate the whole “spoilers” thing. It’s like someone taunting me saying “I know something you don’t know and I’m not going to tell yooooou” in an obnoxious sing-song voice."

      THANK YOU. My fiance doesn't understand how much I despise River–she is just so obnoxious and taunting!

      That said, this is a good two-parter, and I would like it so much more if River wasn't involved. 😛

    • Minish says:

      Moffatt doesn't quite own the ability to write deep and complex secondary characters like Davies does. It's a pity really. All the little things that don't quite click in the episode, for me, are all things Davies could have done brilliantly.

      If only they co-wrote it. IF ONLY.

    • bookling says:

      I disagree with most of what you wrote here, but regarding River: yes, she's smug and kind of obnoxious about it, but that doesn't turn me off of her. For me the way she acts in this episode is kind of like when you have a really great villain, and they're kind of a dick, but you just want to see more of them. Like Snape or Lucius in the HP movies – the actors are so good that even thought you're like "EW GO DIAF" you also kind of want them to stick around for a while. Especially since, in the case of Snape or River, they have some sort of secret that you want to figure out.

      Note that I'm not saying River is a villain or a bad person or anything like that, because we don't have nearly enough information about her at this point to make that kind of judgment. Just that I think Alex Kingston does a great job in this episode and makes River really intriguing to me, so her being smug didn't automatically make her unlikable to me.

    • Robin says:

      Just want to say that I totally get where you're coming from on the getting way too attached to actors front. I seriously cannot bring myself to watch Dexter because some voice in the back of my head is whining "But David wouldn't kill people".

    • Minish says:

      FFS you guys, stop thumbsing her down.

      Giving her downvotes isn't going to make her OPINION wrong.

      • John says:

        Thumbsing. Ha! I am thumbsing down your word creation. 😉

      • agrinningfool says:

        Nope it's not. I may be sitting here all "D: BUT IT'S… RIVER. AND THIS EPISODE.." but thumbs up for a well written post, as always. :3

      • Avit says:

        Well, but it does express disapproval, doesn't it?

        • psycicflower says:

          A lot of people disapprove of thumbing down a comment for differences of opinion because it makes it look like it's a bad post when it's not, especially if it's a post a person has put a lot of thought into. It can come across as if you think the other person's opinion isn't valid. Some people even thumb others up even if they don't agree because it's a well written post.
          Most people prefer to keep thumbs down for comments that are spoilers, extremely rude or sexist/racist/insert-ism-here. If you don't like it than just don't thumb it either way.

    • knut_knut says:

      NYOOOOOOO!! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU DON'T LIKE RIVER!! But you always write amazing comments so you are forgiven

      • Karen says:

        haha. It's ok to have differing opinions. I don't hate her. I just am not a fan. She's alright, but yeah. I have issues with the way her story is written.

        • knut_knut says:

          haha, I actually wasn't a big fan of River at first, but I came around 🙂 I just hope her back story isn't dragged on for too much longer because it is kind of tiresome

  5. prideofportree says:

    Mrs Bennet from Lost in Austen! Not screaming!


    (I can't say anything more, you know, SPOILERS!)

  6. kaybee42 says:

    Okay… Uh- this episode is GOOD. I like it!
    I keep having to delete stuff I type cause this is HARD cause of… well, y'know… 'spoilers!'

  7. arctic_hare says:

    Oh, Mark. 😀 You must have assumed after Blink that you were now prepared for Moffat. I'm glad no one corrected you in any way.

    I absolutely fucking love this two-parter. <3 Remember how I said how my feelings on most of the two-parters ranged from “really like” to “love”? This one is in the OMG I FUCKING LOVE IT category, alongside Empty Child/Doctor Dances and some stuff I can’t mention from series five, not to mention among some of my favorite episodes of the entire show, period. Yes, it's that amazing! BELIEVE IT.

    One of the reasons I love it so: RIVER SONG, BABY. OH YEAH. She is a total BAMF, haters to the left. I know some fans disliked her at first here, but I loved her from the get-go. I loved the way she took charge, snarked on Lux, and utterly flummoxed the Doctor. I was so intrigued by her, WHAT IS HER DEAL. I'm a sucker for a good mystery, and I think she's fantastic. Alex Kingston is magnificent, you can really feel the heartbreak that you see in her face when she realizes that the Doctor doesn't know her, even though we don't really know her either. She really sells it, and I can't imagine anyone else as River. Love. Her. <3 I also love seeing the Doctor so confused and bewildered, it's about time someone did that to him and he found out what it's like! God, River is so amazing. She's smart, snarky, badass, and compassionate, and throws Ten for a loop: what's not to love?

    Also, now you know whose voice I hear whenever I type the word "spoilers". EVERY TIME. And fun fact, Moffat has said in the commentary for this two-parter that she, like Jack, is omnisexual (both 51st century characters, hence the comparison). Which means I'd have a chance if she were real. 😀 😀 😀 But she's not. 🙁 🙁 🙁 Woe.

    Continuity-wise, I love the callback to New Earth and Smith and Jones with the line about the little shop, and the squareness gun. 😀

    The Doctor's little speech about how people still love books and why – ohmydearlord that is the most amazing thing you've ever said and ever will, Ten. What? What? I'm a book geek, SUE ME. I grin like an idiot when he talks about how you need the smell of books, because IT IS TRUE. YOU DO, DAMMIT. There is nothing quite like the smell of a book, old or new and – look, I just stopped typing this so I could grab the closest book and inhale. No lie. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing, and it makes me so irrationally happy to hear him say that. The Library itself just makes me drool too. The thought of an entire planet, filled with every book ever written… oh, I could spend my whole life there and not have enough time to read everything I wanted to read. WHY CAN'T THIS BE REAL AND FREE OF VASHTA NERADA AND WHY CAN'T I GO THERE? 🙁 Life is SO UNFAIR.

    Moffat does an amazing job of setting up the atmosphere here, that gradual build-up of dread. Something about those last messages being delivered in such a calm, emotionless voice makes them even creepier. Reminds me horribly of the scene in Moria in Fellowship of the Ring – "We cannot get out. They are coming." And then the lights going out as Donna and the Doctor run for it… brrrr.

    SPEAKING OF DONNA. I love her impatience with him as he tries to open the door, and the fact that she just KICKS IT OPEN. DONNA NOBLE, BAMF FOREVER. <3 I also appreciated how kind she was to Miss Evangelista, and don't think I didn't notice how she rolled her eyes when the Daves and Anita made fun of Evangelista behind her back. You go, Donna. That's what I love about you: you're genuinely kind to everyone. You are the best, all my love, etc.


    • arctic_hare says:

      The Vashta Nerada. Oh holy crap. They're one of my favorite monsters on the show, SO CREEPY. I love Ten's line "Not everyone comes back out of the dark", and the description of them as "dust in sunbeams". Oh Moffat, you write such lovely dialogue. Seeing Proper Dave's second shadow will never not give me the chills. I was walking outside at dusk recently, and thought I had a second shadow, just about jumped out of my skin. Freaked me the hell out. I think maybe I shouldn't watch this episode late at night anymore the way I usually do, y/y?

      (Completely rhetorical question. I LOVE watching this kind of thing late at night, because I am a FREAK.)

      The scene where Miss Evangelista is "ghosting" is heartbreaking and disturbing all at once. That poor, poor girl. Christ. Seeing her reduced to just a skeleton, her suit ripped to shreds, is so awful. And that'd be bad enough, but her last words – damn. Just… ugh. I'd already liked River, but the way she acts here just sealed it for me completely. Donna's horror is mine, and I wanted to cry when she was trying to comfort Miss Evangelista. I don't know about any of you, but that doesn't sound like a particularly great side effect of technology to me. Fuck that. :/

      Proper Dave getting eaten is chilling, too – you know what's happening inside that suit, and it's horrifying to imagine. Agh. I'm just as creeped out by the swarm animating his suit to chase after them, too; he may not be moving that fast, but skeletons/skulls are REALLY REALLY CREEPY TO ME so I'd be running faster than a Weeping Angel to GTFO. I may love Halloween and spooky stuff, but I cannot ever decorate with that shit. Just can't. Bothers me on some deep level I can't explain. I'M WEIRD, I KNOW.


      • Openattheclose says:

        Speaking of Jack, someone has his squareness gun!

        • nyssaoftraken74 says:

          Nah, it's not Jack's – it doesn't have the special features. No digital rewind. Still cool, though. 🙂

      • scholastika says:

        Word to everything. Exactly what I'm thinking but said far better.

      • __Jen__ says:

        Totally echoing you on the love for River! Also, this was such a great episode for Donna. She is such a genuinely lovely person who isn't afraid to kick down doors, but can also see when people are hurting in the quiet moments. Her compassion is just one of the many reasons I love her.

        I have never been able to kick my fear of the dark indoors (outdoors are fine), and man did these episodes set me back in my attempts to. D: D: D:

      • psycicflower says:

        Basically just THIS to your whole comment.

      • Openattheclose says:

        Talking of callbacks, there was also a callback to "Always wait exactly five hours" from GitF. The Doctor says that if he doesn't get back to the TARDIS within five hours after sending Donna to it, Emergency Program One will activate.

        I know it comes off as heavy-handed the way he did it, but I kind of love that he tried to get Donna out of there. Too bad it didn't work 🙁

      • notemily says:

        The "dust in sunbeams" line always bugs me because dust is… DUST. It's hair and cat litter and dirt and lint and skin and bits of everything ever. I just can't take Scary Dust seriously. Maybe if Moffat did a whole episode about it…

    • bookling says:


      • nyssaoftraken74 says:

        I love this so much! Having made the sonic screwdriver so multi-functional (something I am quite happy with) the writers have to come up with reasons why it doen't work sometimes, so that it doesn't actually solve the plot.

        RTD gave us a high tech barrier – the deadlock seal – and now The Moff gives us a low tech one – it doesn't do wood!

      • Tauriel says:

        Sonic screwdriver not working on wood – there's a comment I want to write so much, but can't… SPOILERS! 😉 😛

    • Stephen_M says:

      I'm firmly of the belief that people disliked River for two main reasons:

      1) She was clearly several pages ahead of the Doctor and didn't treat him as god almighty. For some (and the % seems to increase with Ten oddly) this is a shooting offence.

      2) That 'hello sweetie' line implies a certain romantic angle which gets you hate from a) those who believe the Doctor should be strictly asexual and b) Rose/Ten shippers.

      Frankly most people I've spoken to about River love her to bits. I know she got me hooked on her character in the first five minutes she was on screen.

      • mkjcaylor says:

        I don't like her because she seems very cliche to me, and predictable. Not her past, but her personality. I'm actually totally happy with 1) and enjoy it. I'm a Rose/Ten shipper so I guess I kind of 2)? But I love The Girl in the Fireplace tons, so that doesn't really make sense.

      • arctic_hare says:

        Yeah, those usually tend to be the reasons I see. I can accept people disliking her for legit reasons, but more often than not, the dislike I see stems from double standards and shipper stuff. Sigh. It makes me more wary of River-dislikers than I probably should be.

      • Karen says:

        I am deleting this comment and the one below because they're mildly spoilery.

        Seriously you guys! You have to be careful with this one!

      • Minish says:

        What people don't seem to realize is that she's ALLOWED to jump right in, take charge, be friendly with the Doctor, and be a BAMF because she's already HAD her character development. She's not in constant awe of the Doctor because she's already met the Doctor. We just haven't seen her character development yet.

        You're not MEANT to like her right off the bat because you haven't seen her develop. Not even the Doctor is warm to her charm the moment she walks in because he doesn't know her.

      • Karen says:

        It's not the fact that River knows things that the Doctor doesn't. It's the WAY she knows things that the Doctor doesn't. I have no problem with a person being more competenat than the Doctor. Romana I is my second favorite Classic Who Companion. But River just comes off as so smug to me. The way that she says "spoilers" grates on my nerve like none other. It feels so condescending like when you're kids and someone on the school yard says "I know something you don't know" in a sing song voice. It's just incredibly frustrating. I have other issues with her story, but that is for tomorrow. And not so much about River herself as it is about Moffat.

        • agrinningfool says:

          Yeah, she does say it that way doesn't she?

        • nyssaoftraken74 says:

          That's not it at all for me. The way I see it, the Doctor dosen't know her yet, but she's known him for ages. But that means there must have been/will be times when it's the other way around, when the Doctor knows all about their brilliant, thrilling times together – all the amazing, exciting things she hasn't seen yet. And I bet, in her early days, she nagged the Doctor for details, and I bet he used to drive her *mental* when he just grinned and said Spoilers!".

          Remember – the very first time we hear the word "Spoilers!" is the Doctor saying it to Donna.

          So what we're seeing in this episode is River getting her own back. Yes, she's deliberately winding him up – because he deserves it!

      • sabra_n says:

        Or maybe I dislike being told how awesome a character is to an extent that doesn't jibe with what's being shown. Same reason I got sick of Rose.

        That said, River came off much less smug when I rewatched this episode. But that's only with the benefit of hindsight, you know? I wish she had given a better first impression.

        • electric ashera says:

          On rewatch I too have a greater appreciation for River. Not necessarily like (I feel pretty neutral about her), but appreciation. Alex Kingston does a great job, to be honest, giving her depth beyond her catchphrases here.

    • calimie says:

      Joining in with the River (and Donna) love. They're great and I love them both to bits.

  8. PeterRabid says:

    River will be your spoiler mascot, y/y?

    I haven’t watched this two-parter in a while so I’m not gonna say much in case I inadvertantly spoil you. More thoughts tomorrow!

    But for now:


  9. Linzy says:

    I don't know why, but I don't trust River. Maybe it's the fact that she stole River Tam's name, who is so awesome nobody should be allowed to have the same name ever. Maybe it's how smug she is. But for some reason, she just gets my hackles up every time she's onscreen.

  10. Albion19 says:

    Freaking love this two parter!!

    Did anyone notice that the wooden security camera is basically a really big Snitch?

  11. karate0kat says:

    I want it known right here and now that I am completely and totally in love with River Motherfucking Song, and I will be until the end of time.

    Also, I didn't concur my fear of the dark until well into high school. And then I watched this. THANKS FOR FUCKING NOTHING, MOFFAT!

  12. Jordan says:


  13. Tauriel says:

    A lot of people dislike River because of her smugness, but I absolutely LOVE her for it, the way she keeps the Doctor on his toes. And I like that they meet in the wrong order – it’s a bit like The Time Traveller’s Wife. Also, Alex Kingston is GORGEOUS. 🙂

    • arctic_hare says:

      A lot of people dislike River because of her smugness

      Yeah, it's such a double standard, isn't it? The Doctor is allowed to be smug and know more than anyone else, but HEAVEN FORBID A WOMAN ACT LIKE THAT AND CONFUSE HIM.

      • Linzy says:

        It's not that she's a woman and he's a man. Some people can pull off smugness endearingly, and on some people it just grates. David Tennant can pull of Smug. Catherine Tate can pull off Smug. Mickey in recent episodes can pull off Smug.

        But, for example, first season Mickey and River Song grate on my nerves when they're smug. No way else to explain it.

      • bookling says:

        That's what I love about River, she gives it right back to him. So does Donna, but River knows things even the Doctor doesn't and that's obviously a big deal to him. He doesn't like to be shown up.

      • Tauriel says:

        Amen to that. Funny how no one complains about Romana – and she acted a lot more smug and superior towards the Doctor than River. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t tease the Doctor and act smug if they knew his personal future? I know I would… 😀

      • kaybee42 says:

        But I don't think we are supposed to like River's smugness. We haven't seen her *earn* it. That's not to say she can't, but being like that on (our, personal) first meeting is just annoying and condescending. I don't mind the Doctor being smug because I know he has a right to be.
        (Trying not to be confrontational here, I just didn't like the implication that because River annoyed me I was being sexist. I know you and Tauriel specified ' a lot of people' and not all. I just wanted to defend myself.)

        • Linzy says:

          –We haven't seen her *earn* it.

          — I just didn't like the implication that because River annoyed me I was being sexist.
          Double, triple, quadruple Yes!

        • lolwat says:

          We haven't seen her *earn* it because this is the first time the doctor meets her. The two obviously have a full backstory and her character will obviously come up again, so maybe in the future we will see her *earn* her smugness.

          • kaybee42 says:

            Yeah I know… that's exactly what I'm saying… I said that she hasn't "earnt" (I don't think that's exactly the word I'm looking for… it has weird implications…) it yet, but "that's not to say she can't".
            And like I said, I think Moffat did it on purpose. He's pointing out the weird timey wimey-ness of the situation and making it easier for us (as the audience) to understand how strange it is for the Doctor.

        • Tauriel says:

          We haven't seen her *earn* it.

          Not YET. 😉 Obviously she has a long future with the Doctor (from the Doctor's point of view), so maybe we'll get the chance to see how (and if) she earns it. But I see your point, kaybee (and I'm by no means accusing you of being sexist), from a certain perspective River's behaviour might seem a tad bit condescending, but from her point of view, she's had a long time of adventures with the Doctor, and we don't exactly know the full nature of their relationship – from her point of view it might be just harmless teasing, because she clearly knows the Doctor very well.

        • Baz says:

          We haven't seen her *earn* it. That's not to say she can't, but being like that on (our, personal) first meeting is just annoying and condescending.

          But how could she have earned it? Think about it… to her, she already knows the Doctor and has (presumably) already earned her smugness doing all the things that fill that lovely TARDIS journal of hers. I can understand why it would annoy some people, but I think it would have been inappropriate if she behaved any differently because she doesn't seem like the sort of person who will act a certain way so she doesn't step on any toes. I like that we get to know her through the Doctor. I hope we get to see a lot more of what fills her diary…I think in her early days, she probably was less smug, and I think it would be really awesome to see that and think "Wow, she's so different from when we first met her."

    • __Jen__ says:

      I love it too. She is a challenge and a mystery and it is fantastic!

    • echinodermata says:

      And the meeting in the wrong order bit is probably why she's so smug in the first place.

      I would totally bet that if/when we see River meeting the Doctor for the first time that the Doctor is going to be totally smug and annoying about knowing her future.

      I see her smugness in this episode as the likely effect of the Doctor's likely characterization in the future, since I'm sure he'd often be pretty intolerable about knowing her future.

      So I see it as the tables being turned, only we never saw the initial tables or something.

      • E.L.S.O.S says:

        Oh yes, yes yes. Watch, we're going to hit Doctor 13 and we're going to have a child / preteen River meet the Doctor for the first time and he's going to be all "Spoilers, bitch!" and run off laughing like a crazy person while River shakes her head and goes WTF?

        Oh future Doctor 13. You don't exist yet, but in my mind you are apparently a total douche.

        • bookling says:

          Maybe he'll even have a book!

        • Guesty McGee says:

          I really hope a Doctor Who writer is reading this and that is actually what happens…..

        • MowerOfLorn says:

          I know! I'm so looking forward to that episode! Sweet revenge.

        • ThreeBooks says:

          Anyone know Rot13? Frnfba fvk, ovgpurf!

          (Rot13 is a really simple cypher where you basically move every letter through the alphabet rotation by 13 spaces, so people can't glance at things and read them but if they wanted to read them it's simple to decode. Thank you, Darths and Droids!)

          • Tauriel says:

            Ooooh, that's a very clever way to post spoilers without actually spoiling anyone! 😀

            Oh, and totally agree with that comment! 😉

          • ThreeBooks says:

            oh, and to decode you just put it through another 13 spaces. Yaaaaay!

          • agrinningfool says:

            God damnit. You're going to make me actually think about this aren't you?

            Edit: Oooo.. the website does it for you.

        • electric ashera says:

          Win comment is win!

          I think "douche" is one of the Doctor's persistent character traits. He's the most wonderful douchebag ever.

  14. Pseudonymph says:

    I forgot how wonderful this episode was. Oh, and how fucking chilling.

    And I have to think that the moment when the doctor tells the little girl that her library is real and "real life" is made up – that's what every kid (up to a certain age) dreams of hearing, right? I mean, everything in your imagination is real? Your fantasies are real? And not only that, but it's up to you to save the characters in your fantasy? Every kid dreams of this. That's like little kid catnip, right? Kidnip. I would have eaten that shit up as a child. Hell, I probably still would.

    I hope that made sense. This episode rules.

  15. scholastika says:

    Oh Alex Kingston, how I love you. And your hair. I covet your hair.

    I'm part of the LOVE crowd for this two-parter. Never understodd why people don't like it, it's one of my favourites of Ten's run.

  16. ScarecrowCeno says:

    A wonderful episode. i think a lot of themes feel simiar to Moff's previous stories but he does make them work, and very well so. There's a genuine sense of horror and the Library is a superb setting. You pointed out many of my favourite moments of the episode.

    And Dr Moon's final comments… think about what he's saying. Not just to the girl in the episode but to EVERY CHILD WATCHING. When those kids go to bed after watching this and dream of the Vasha Nerada… oh moffat, you're simply evil!

  17. Jenny_M says:

    This is definitely tied as my favorite two parter with TEC/TDD from Series 1. Everything about it just gives me the shivers.

    Also, bonus cameo in Inception from Miss Evangelista. I squealed when I saw it in the theater because she was there.

  18. Hotaru-hime says:

    Best fucking two-parter.
    Who turned out the lights?

  19. Stephen_M says:

    Oh I LIKE this episode. It's just a great mix of unexpected twists coupled with a deeply scary concept and it's absolutely gorgeous to boot.

    I won't say too much as I've not watched this as two single episodes since it broadcast so can't be 100% sure of avoiding spoilers but in no particular order:

    * The Vashta Nerada are flat out terrifying and you can tell they're a Moffat creation instantly. For years kids have been hiding behind the sofa, safe in the shadows… not

    anymore. "Daleks, aim for the eye stalk. Sontarans, back of the neck. Vashta Nerada… run." The Doctor telling you how you beat some of the biggest nightmares in the universe

    then simply going "run" is the very definition of Oh Crap.

    * Just when you think you understand the monster of the week it gets worse… the echoes of the dead repeating their last words are pure concentrated nightmare fuel and "Hey,

    who turned out the lights" is right up there with "Are you my mummy".

    * The Doctor and Donna always work well together but under Moffat's pen they sparkle. Donna trying to comfort Miss Evangelista is heartbreaking yet we get such classic funny

    stuff as the sonic screwdriver not doing wood and "I try to keep you away from major plot developments. Which, to be honest, I seem to be very bad at.".

    * River. Oh River… finally, FINALLY, someone decides to use the time travel element this way and thank $DEITY it was Moffat. Plus Alex Kingston is clearly having a blast

    (the smirk on her face when she replies "archaeologist" to the Doctor's 'point and laugh' line is perfect). Thank god Kate Winslet wasn't available (yes, they did try to case

    her for River Song) as I can't imagine anyone but Alex doing this role now.

    * Seriously, the cinematography here is gorgeous. Euros Lyn does a hell of a job directing it and I can imagine the production crew having fits with the whole 'stay out of the

    shadows' idea.

    An aside: a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) missed this when it first aired as they were out of the country. They got back on a late evening flight and decided to

    unwind by watching it around Midnight. They got to the cliffhanger, "Hey, who turned out the lights" is being repeated and… complete power cut! I am reliably informed a

    change of underwear was required.

    Anyway, enough, I shall save the rest for part the second… WHY IS TOMORROW SO FAR AWAY!

    • Jenny_M says:

      Whoa, that is insane about Kate Winslet. I can definitely picture her in the role, but at the same time I am weirded out by it!

    • Stephen_M says:

      Crap, sorry folks, something odd happened when copying in the text and extra line breaks ensued. As there's been a reply I can't edit it either, I'll go hide in shame now. The brightly and evenly lit shame.

    • echinodermata says:

      I'm glad I'm not the only one who wouldn't want Winslet doing this role. Kingston is just perfect for it.

    • NB2000 says:

      "They got to the cliffhanger, "Hey, who turned out the lights" is being repeated and… complete power cut!"

      Oh jesus that would be bloody terrifying.

      • Stephen_M says:

        I have seen only one thing worse and it is from the High Octaine Nightmare Fuel section on a certain site about Tropes in TV that I shall not link to for fear of loosing people to its hypnotic powers: Watching this episode and then going to work in a cinema on the late shift, looking down while in the projection room and finding you had SIX shadows…

    • PeterRabid says:

      "They got to the cliffhanger, "Hey, who turned out the lights" is being repeated and… complete power cut! I am reliably informed a change of underwear was required."

      This reminds me of when I first saw the fourth Harry Potter movie. It was the graveyard scene at the very end. At the precise moment Harry and Voldemort's wands connected, the theater blew a fuse and the screen went black. I swear, the whole theater was quiet for five seconds before someone yelled "WTF DID HARRY JUST DIE?!?!"

      • arctic_hare says:

        LOL, that must've been hilarious. Not losing the power, but someone actually thinking that and shouting it.

    • Minish says:

      "* River. Oh River… finally, FINALLY, someone decides to use the time travel element this way and thank $DEITY it was Moffat. Plus Alex Kingston is clearly having a blast "


      I mean, there was a taste of it in The Shakespeare Code, but apparently that didn't work out too well, and it was mostly just a comedic moment. Glad to see a fully developed character.

    • ArrogantSage says:

      Thanks be to whomever I need to thank that it wasn't Kate Winslet. River Song needed that hair and only Alex Kingston can supply it!

  20. Inseriousity. says:

    I love River Song. I think she read your spoiler policy before she set off on her travels to the Library. 😀

  21. bookling says:

    This is one of my FAVORITE FAVORITE epsiodes!

    I love that when the Doctor and Donna first arrive at the library, you instantly think THE BOOKS ARE ALIVE. But so do they! "Books can't be alive… can they?" And then they both look ominously at the books in front of them for a minute until they're interrupted. Ha!


    I love the scene with Miss Evangelista ghosting, asking for "the nice woman". The lesson here is don't be a dick who thinks they're more clever than everyone else. And I love how Catherine Tate gives Donna such a vulnerability in scenes like these – Donna's so afraid of being important to this woman who just died, because who is she? She's just a temp from Chiswick, after all. But Donna was more important than anyone else Miss Evangelista knew because Donna was kind to her. ILU FOREVER DONNA NOBLE.

    And of course, RIVER SONG. PROFESSOR RIVER MOTHERFUCKING SONG. I love love love the idea that she knows the Doctor from HIS future, but he hasn't met her yet in his timeline. HOW COOL IS THAT. And that she has a little blue book with all his spoilers. It's especially funny to me that the Doctor warned Donna in the beginning about looking at any of the books in the library, because they were all in her future and had spoilers. But now who's tempted by spoilers, hmm? Also River asks him if they've picnicked in Asgard yet – CAN I HAVE A PICNIC IN ASGARD PLZ THAT SOUNDS AWESOME.

    "Oh, I'm pretty boy?" OH DOCTOR. SO MANY LULZ. I love how River calls him sweetie and pretty boy and just kind of drives him up the wall because nobody talks to the Doctor like that. She's so sassy and awesome.

    • pandalilies says:

      She is the QUEEN of sass. <3

    • Stephen_M says:

      "I love that when the Doctor and Donna first arrive at the library, you instantly think THE BOOKS ARE ALIVE. But so do they! "Books can't be alive… can they?" And then they both look ominously at the books in front of them for a minute until they're interrupted. Ha! "

      Is it wrong that I wanted a DVD extra where they're interupted by a simmian Librarian going 'Ook' and nodding….

    • nanceoir says:

      Donna's so afraid of being important to this woman who just died, because who is she? She's just a temp from Chiswick, after all. But Donna was more important than anyone else Miss Evangelista knew because Donna was kind to her.

      Just reading this made me tear up. Kudos to you, and all the hugs to Donna because she is amazing.

    • ldwy says:

      I LOVE THIS EPISODE SO SO MUCH. River Song is awesome. Donna is awesome. Libraries are awesome. And I am petrified.

  22. Albion19 says:

    Also I adore the way this opens, the gorgeous VO, the city and flying girl. The shot where you see below her feet is just amazing.

    I'm a library assistant and dude I wanna work there! Without the whole being eaten by shadows bit.

  23. echinodermata says:

    Okay Mark, I had seen that tumblr post of yours where you said you knew the name River, and we had a mini-freakout on the spoiler board because that is one character that SHOULD NEVER BE SPOILED, OKAY EVERYONE? As I said there, River Song is basically a spoiler warning personified, so her character being spoiled would be all kinds of wrong.

    <img src=""&gt;
    Anyway, I am so utterly in love with River Song. I want to be her, I want to marry her, I want to sleep with her, I would jump off a bridge cliff with her if she asked me to.

    I love her TARDIS diary (so pretty! I covet), I love that she knows the Doctor and his future and completely confuses Ten and makes him nervous. I love that she has an upgraded sonic screwdriver that the Doctor of now can only dream of, and that SHE'S FULL OF SPOILERS OMG. She's an archeologist and a professor and from the 51st century (and how awesome must it be to be a time-travelling archaeologist?). In short, she is a hell of a woman.

    (And it's funny to pretend she's the Stig. "Some say [she] once co-presented a Brazilian show about blimp disasters, and that once, [she] actually punched God." "Some say, that [she] is one of the protons in the Large Hadron Collider, AND that [she] creates miniature black holes every time [she] sneezes.")

    And I love the setup to this episode. I love that Moffat is a fanboy and often writes as a fan. HOW AWESOME IS IT THAT "SPOILERS" IS AN ACTUAL PLOT POINT AND THAT WE ARE TOLD IT IS IMPORTANT TO AVOID SPOILERS? I've been waiting to get to this episode on this blog for some time now, if only to talk about how great the "spoilers" conceit of this ep is.

    I love that River is all mysterious, and that the Doctor has to basically stand back and be confused and let her do what she does. Basically, the tables have turned and now the Doctor gets to experience what everyone who meets him experiences – who is this person and why do they know so much?

    I also love that this episode takes place in a library, and that books are what it's all about. The libary is an entire world <3 <3 and the Doctor geeks out about it.

    And again with the setup, I really like that we're exploring duo worlds with the library and the little girl. She is the security camera? Her TV remote is controlling aspects of the library? Just, confusing and mysterious as hell, and I love it.

    <img src=""&gt;
    Oh, Moffat.
    Also, Uncanny Valley to the extreme with the statues. Seriously, I find them entirely horrifying to look at. And of course, they recite people's last words in deadpan. But of course, they're overshadowed by the Vashta Nerada. WHY YES EVERYONE YOU HAVE REASON TO BE AFRAID OF THE DARK – Moffat and his nightmare fuel. Also, ghosting is ridiculously creepy, though I like that River made her crew wait and listen to Miss Evangelista.

    But Moffat also does great dialogue. "Other Dave" and "Proper Dave," basically all of Donna. And he's very good at getting female characters talking to each other, even if it doesn't always pass the third part of Bechdel. Donna talking to Miss Evangelista, Donna talking to River. I really do love it.

    In conclusion, River Song/Alex Kingston picspam:
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    (headcanon: her curly hair leaves me better able to believe River is actually/also Ms. Frizzle. We already know she's a Professor, so she probably likes to teach. Plus, River is magic, obviously.)

    • karate0kat says:

      I can only hope I look half this amazing when I'm in my mid to late 40s.

    • arctic_hare says:

      So much word to everything. I love River. <3 And those pics do nothing but encourage my own crush…

    • bookling says:

      It would make PERFECT SENSE for River Song to actually be Miss Frizzle. Love her so much.

    • __Jen__ says:

      MS. FRIZZLE!!!

      Can I just say amen to everything you've written here?

    • Stephen_M says:

      And she's 47…. yowzers. Or, okay, uh… 45 when they shot this.

    • NB2000 says:

      ROFL to the Stig comparison (also, I now really want Alex Kingston to show up as the Star In a Reasonably Priced Car, she'd be fun).

      Oh god the picspam…I just…girlcrushing so much right now. That first one with David Tennant is really fun.

      • DBeR says:

        I love that first one with Tennant, too. Doesn't it look like she's saying, "Mine is bigger than yours!"? Tee hee!

    • pica_scribit says:

      Don't know if you're familiar with Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series, but I always pictured her as Claire Fraser. Claire is a time traveling doctor who ends up in the 18th century, and Alex Kingston is well known for playing a doctor (ER) and doing period drama (Moll Flanders), and now she's been on Doctor Who, which takes care of the time travel aspect. It makes my fangirlish heart happy, even though I'm not as much of a fan of Gabaldon than I used to be.

    • ScarecrowCeno says:

      Being a Professor doens't mean you'd teach. in fact, it means you'd be LESS likely to teach.

      • echinodermata says:

        I'm confused?
        Um, I'm pretty sure "professor" implies she teaches, whereas nothing else we learn about her implies such. Professors may not teach as much as non-professor teachers, but "teaching" is still a part of the definitions of "professor" I've seen.

        • ScarecrowCeno says:

          Actually, I wasn't thinking too clearly on this one. May I ask though, are you American by any chance? If not, no worries but I'll explain why I ask anyway: In America AFAIK "professor" seems to be used in general throughout higher education for teachers. msot US shows I see they refer to their teachers as "professor". In the UK this is not done. "Professor" is not a general term but a very rare and very high position. You can be a Doctor in a subject, sure, but to be a Professor you have to be at the very high end of your field. they usually hold important chair positions at Universities or in organisations. And whislt they CAN teach, as I said, as a Professor is *less* likely too, if only they have much more going on! That's my understanding at any rate.

          • echinodermata says:

            USian, yes. But my understanding was still that "Professor" is a title essentially reserved to academic staff, and likely they taught previously even if they don't now.

            My original point was just that that's the one thing we learn about her tells us she has any inclination towards teaching (unless I'm forgetting something).

            Either way, I think we're essentially in agreement. And she's a 51st century gal, so it's entirely possible "Professor" means something else in her era.

    • agrinningfool says:

      I wish my hair would do that. Without me spending a few hours with the curling iron.

    • notemily says:

      omg her HAIR. I WANTS IT. WAAANTS.

      I absolutely adore the bit where he says "the real world is a lie, and your nightmares are real." Like, how many of us sekritly thought that that was true in our childhoods, and the adults were just ALL LYING TO US ALL OF THE TIME? Such a great twist.

  24. Mary Sue says:

    I want to be River Song when I grow up. She is a BAMF.

    (Man, I thought I was ready for anything Moffat would throw at me after all his Doctor Who, so I watched his miniseries Jekyll this weekend on the Netflix Watch Instantly? WAS SO NOT PREPARED. Watched it in the dark. NIGHTMARES.)

  25. pandalilies says:

    I literally can't say anything NONSPOILERY.
    This two-parter is so near and DEAR to my little heart. Everything about it.
    ilu moffat.<3

    Why so pretty?!
    <img src=""&gt;

  26. Fusionman29 says:

    River is in here for 1 purpose. To show how MOFFAT IS A GENIUS!!! GENIUS!!

    Sorry. Trivia time.

    A. Evangelista’s last words have occasionally been misinterpreted as “I scream.” On the official BBC subtitling, her final words are, “I… Ice cream. Ice cream.” Which is in keeping with her childlike demeanour.

    B. Talulah Riley is the second major cast member of the 2005 film Pride & Prejudice to be featured in a Steven Moffat story, the first being Carey Mulligan in Blink.

    C. Steve Pemberton is the second of the League of Gentlemen to appear in Doctor Who, the other being Mark Gatiss who appeared in The Lazarus Experiment as Richard Lazarus.

    D. Excluding the Children in Need specials, this is the 50th episode of Doctor Who since the series returned in 2005.

    E. RTD finds this episode scarier than Blink. Yes really.

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      Regarding E, I don't disagree with that. I think because it's a 2 parter the pacing isn't as full on as Blink, which maybe takes an edge off, but I think the scary parts are indeed scarier.

      At least with the Weeping Angels you have some kind of defence. Steven could have extended the dialogue slightly to say: Daleks – aim for the eye stalk, Sontarans – back of the neck, Weeping Angels – don't blink, but Vashda Nerada – run. Just run.

  27. Spugsy says:

    The ending is amazing, the combination of
    "Donna Noble has left the library." in that creepy monotone and the "Who turned out the lights?"

  28. Anon says:

    I love the idea of a world full of books, that alone gives this episode top marks from me. I did really enjoy this two parter, although i'm a bit ambivalent about River Song, i kind of like her but the way she says Spoilers just really grates on me.

  29. pandalilies says:

    Also: <img src=""&gt;
    (only inserted the picture because the comments on the page were spoilery)

    This was up for ONE DAY @ teefury. Had to snatch it up.

  30. feminerdist says:

    Once I started working at a library, all I could think about was this episode.

  31. araineparrot says:

    As far as monsters go, the Vashta Nerada scare me more than the weeping angels do.

    Also, this is one of my favorite two-parters of the series. The intro to River is great, I LOVE the idea of an entire planet that is a library (I would spend YEARS there, omg) and it strikes a great balance of creepy and terrifying, but also fun. I’ve been so excited for Mark to get to this one, and I’m REALLY excited for him to see the second part as well.

  32. ThreeBooks says:

    Oh gosh, River Song. First off, that is an AWESOME name, I don't care if it's a Sue name she totally lives up to it by being a bamf forever. (I also feel like a hypocrite because I'm the same girl who hates when people spell names like Mackynzi or names their kids Glorious Sunrise… But hey, it's the 51th century, haters to the left.)

    Second, asdfghjkl; Doctor Moon scared the CRAP out of me. No idea why, he just DID. Just… something about his voice… and the way he kind of moves… It took a whole lot of Fridge Logic to stop being scared of him and merely be neutral, more on that later.


    • arctic_hare says:


    • Starsea28 says:


    • elusivebreath says:

      lol, I said the exact same thing re: the number of people in the library. Maybe it was a Sunday?

    • virtual_monster says:

      I found Dr Moon considerably more scary than the Vashta Nerada. TERRIFYING in fact.

      Paradoxically, I think it's because he isn't.

      By which I mean he isn't exuding the scary at all. He is in fact very calm and quiet and reassuring. Even when he's saying that the little girl's 'imaginary' world is real and that her 'real' world is therefore imaginary. There's just something about someone being that calm and pleasant and reassuring that moves it beyond good bedside manner and well into the Uncanny Valley.

      I think, for me at least, it sets up a disconnect where I suspect that there's something amiss wth him but I don't know what. Colin Salmon plays the part absolutely beautifully though.

  33. Stephen_M says:

    Umm… you realise those images ARE THEMSELVES SPOILERS right? As in they are not from this episode?

  34. psycicflower says:

    Trust Steven Moffat to not only legitimise people's fear of the dark but also try to make dust scary too.

    I love the Library. A whole planet that's just a library is automatically love but the set itself is gorgeous. I love how eternally practical Donna is. Can't open the door with fancy tech, well then she'll just have to kick it open. So much love. I also love that she knows the gift shop is the way out.

    I think the Library Nodes are great in the way that they say things that were probably recorded in fear and shouting like ‘Run. For godsake run. No where is safe. The Libray has sealed itself. We can’t, oh, they’re here.' but do it in such a pleasant, trying to be helpful way. The Vashta Nerada are wonderfully creepy as well exactly because they blend in so well to the everday. They could be in the shadows or the dust particles you see floating in a sun beam.

    ‘Hello Sweetie.’ I love River Song. I want to say more but I think I'll wait until the second part so that I can talk about her as a whole but I will say now that I love her. I have to say though that I do love the reversal at the end of the episode when it's River who says 'Run!' and grabs the Doctor's hand.
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    ‘Donna Noble has left the Library. Donna Noble has been saved.’ You are not prepared.

    • E.L.S.O.S says:

      In this adventure, the role of the companion shall be played by the Doctor and the role of the BAMF forever shall be played by River Song…. Squee as needed. We finally got our female Doctor!

  35. arctic_hare says:

    Yeah, I'm sure Kindles, Nooks, etc. are handy for people, but for me personally they'll never replace physical books. I need that smell and the feel and the weight. I get giddy about trips to the library.

  36. kaleidoscoptics says:

    So, greatest planet ever, or greatest planet ever?

    (Before the Vashta Nerada, of course.)

  37. jackiep says:

    The data ghosts – truly horrifying. A person's last thoughts endlessly repeating until they fade away into nonsense, never quite realising what was going on. Argh! Seriously Argh! Never mind getting those last words right, imagine the last thoughts ending up with a confused rant about ice cream! Nice that the other were seriously called out by it though, shifting their feet and looking ashamed.

    Worse horror – a World with an entire continent of Jeffrey Archer! No! Please! Spare us that! (Cripes, imagine the Mills and Boon region. No don't, just don't).

    And River. Clearly expecting the Doctor to know who she was and upset to find that he didn't recognise her at all. Meanwhile the Doctor rather taken aback that this woman seems to be so free with him. Stroking his cheek like that, when he just looks midly shocked. He is intrigued, but equally interested in the next mystery which crops up getting through to the girl. The heartbroken look on River's face when she realises that she is exactly as interesting as every other puzzle around the place is very well done. Nice thought, her flipping through her diary (the cover remind you of anything?) trying to identify where she is on HIS timeline. "From your face, early days. Crash of the Byzantium? Picnic at Aseguard? Have we done Aseguard yet?" Whilst he's there utterly baffled.

    There's a DVD commentary to one part of this two parter and an online commentary to the other by RTD, the Moff and DT, which were recorded at the time that the official announcement was made about RTD's successor. Not only is it the geekiest set of commentaries ever (never mind "who was your favourite Doctor", what about favourite Borusa? Plus a not-so subtle contest as to who could name the most obscure monsters or dredge up the strangest fact) between three open fanboys, but there were jokes about the succession (RTD claiming to have come into work the following day to find his desk in the car park on fire, DT claiming to have sent in his CV apparently clearing up a mystery for the Moff as to who that could possibly have been) but a also really funny set of riffs on what fandom speculation might be about River's identity (ranging from the obvious to "Mum"). Well worth a listen. Well, once you've seen the episodes obvivously. Wouldn't want spoilers, would we?

  38. Fuchsia says:

    Ah, River Song, such a mystery.

    Also, aside from the presence of the Vashta Nerada, doesn't the Library sound like the best place ever? An entire planet of books! Oh, bestill my little nerdy heart.

    Silence in the Library is one of my favourite episodes and you are not prepared for the second part!

  39. Wookie_Monster says:

    Are you sure about that last GIF? Kind of does what is says, you know?

  40. nyssaoftraken74 says:

    There's very little I can say about this episode for fear of…well…spoilers. Just a truly genius piece of writing. A complex, interweaving plot, wonderful, emotional story and brilliant characters who are instantly, recognisably different. Poor Miss Evangelista – the poor girl who doesn't even get a first name, she's that unimportant.

    The Data Ghost concept is heartbreaking the first time, and terrifying the next. Skeleton in a spacesuit is one of those great image clashes that Doctor Who does so well.

    River Song…well, let's leave well alone on her for now, except to say a welcome return to the squareness gun!

    Steven Moffat had been wanting to write The Library since the success of his Series 1 scripts, The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, but had always been too busy to contribute a 2 parter.

    The girl is played so well by Eve Newton, her performance treading the line between creepy and normal. I loved her reaction to finding the `secret buttons` on the remote comtrol – I had a VCR remote like that once and used to wonder why those particular buttons should be hidden. Of course! They make things fly around the room! And that record button – any big red button (or even a *small* red button) has to do something *really* special, obviously.

    Oh, and how does Alex Kingston manage to look so damn sexy in a spacesuit?!

    Another winner from the mighty pen of The Moff.

  41. thisyearsgirl says:

    This episode is really not scary at all to me so initially I was a bit disappointed with it,I love being scared and I expected Moffat to deliver that, which sort of blinded me to the story's high points on first watch. But when watching it again I did enjoy this episode a lot and I really like River <3

  42. My favorite Moffat ep…no wait second favorite but that one's forthcoming so I can't say which it is. I just adore it. First off, how much do you guys want that library to be real? Or am I the only bookworm that wants that? Probably. I just loved the whole idea of it. Then of course the shadows and now I have another fear to add to the list (THANKS Moffat) and then the awesome River Song. She's sort of why I don't get why people say Moffat doesn't write strong female characters because she seemed plenty strong to me. But whatever. For fear of spoiling I'll just leave off with my favorite exchange:
    Donna: Isn't traveling with you, one big spoiler?
    Doctor: I try to keep you away from major plot developments. Which, to be honest, I seem to be really bad at.

  43. FlameRaven says:

    River Song wins everything forever. I love her. She's kind of a controversial figure– at least I've heard a section of fandom doesn't like her, but I just don't get why. 100% awesome. 😀

    I love how meta this episode is ("SPOILERS!") and I love the concept of a library the size of a planet. And yeah, Vashta Narada. I was studying abroad when this episode aired, and right after I ended up in the university's library looking for things to read, and of course the section with all the English books was in a very dim corner in the back. It was definitely creepy.

    However, I do have to berate the Doctor for not figuring things out, because I called the solution to the whole setup about 15 minutes in, right after the distress message. *shrug* Still an awesome setup.

  44. nanceoir says:


    Because, yes, River Song's diary is a cool diary. Seeing that picture, I thought, 'Man, I really want one of those.' And then I thought, 'Hey, self, your mom's a bookbinder. I bet, once she gets her home studio set up, you could ask her real nice to make you a book like that.' Except maybe with a less-worn spine. (Seriously, River, take better care of your books. Gawd.)

    • rabbitape says:

      Oh, like you wouldn't wear out the spine of your diary by rereading it constantly, were it filled with tales of your adventures with the Doctor? 😉

      • nanceoir says:

        I'm the type who doesn't like to crease the spine of her paperbacks and will totally hold books all funny in order to prevent it. Though, were I to have a book like that, it'd probably have a few unavoidable spine creases. 😉

        Besides, River's book is a hardcover, and that spine repair looks fairly straightforward. There's no reason whatsoever she couldn't pop over to her local antiquarian bookseller to get it fixed.

        • calimie says:

          Hahaaha, me too. I'm reading Anna Karenina in a paperback now and having a terrible time with it. (What was I thinking when I bought it?!)

          • psycicflower says:

            I don't mind the spine so much but I hate when people dog ear pages. Such a pet hate of mine ever since my brother did it with some of my books in the past.

          • nanceoir says:

            Yeah, my copy of Les Miserables didn't make it uncreased. It was sad.

            Also, I was carrying it to and from work for a summer, so it was that much worse for wear.

  45. jackiep says:

    May I also pause for a round of applause to all of those parents who, after this episode had finished took their offspring upstairs, drew the curtains, tucked them into bed and then TURNED OUT THE LIGHTS! Double bonus points for every Dad who paused outside the bedroom door after that and suddently shouted "HEY, Who turned out the lights?"

    In the UK, we just know this happened in so many households…

    • Will says:

      I know it happened in mine…

    • scholastika says:

      Even now my Dad will occasionally stand outside my bedroom door and say that. He also does the Family of Blood nostril flaring thing and "Are you my mummy?" in a creepily accurate voice.

      Ironically he is also my 'sofa' that I hide behind while watching DW.

    • Hypatia_ says:

      If I ever have children, I know I will end up doing this to them. Either they'll love me for being the geeky cool mom, or they'll wind up needing years of therapy.

  46. echinodermata says:

    I love how many people like River Song, but let's please avoid downvoting simply when others don't and disagree with you.

    Please, please, can we limit downvoting to spoilers and actual bigoted comments? Not liking River Song is not an actual offense.

  47. Starsea28 says:

    RIVER SONG IS IN THE LIBRARY. She's the HBIC and don't you forget it.

    And now you know why we were all commenting 'spoilers' and making funny faces. I'll wait until tomorrow to post my tl;dr review of these two episodes but isn't she amazing? I never get tired of Ten getting a dose of his own medicine and HATING it.

  48. arctic_hare says:

    IKR?! WTF???

  49. who_cares86 says:

    I love this episode just because you haven't got a fucking clue what the hell is going on. Most two-parters are very straightforward and you know what's going to happen in part two by the end of part one but with this there's a library with tons of deadly living shadows, a little girl in some other dimension a woman allegedly from the Doctor's future and a companion who ends up on one of them statue things and you simply don't have a clue how it all fits together.

  50. totiebinds says:

    This two part episode is my FAVORITE among the FAVORITES. So much that when I saw you tweeting about Stephen Moffat, Mark, I HAD to rewatch it.

    The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances creeped me out and teared me up. Blink scared the shit out of me. But Silence In the Library had me bawling. Psychoanalysis+imagined worlds+moving dead things+repetition are combined as my favorite thing ever. This episode, THIS ONE, is Stephen Moffat's masterpiece.

    And, albeit terrifying and I'm sure the name has a meaning in a language that I am unaware of, Vashta Nerada is the coolest name for a villain ever.

  51. Starsea28 says:

    Also, I should just say that Colin Salmon is MY Kingsley Shacklebolt. You just know he's a total badass.

    • kaybee42 says:

      is it weird that mine is paterson joseph who played a total prat in bad wolf? then again he was also my personal favourite for the 11th doctor so maybe I just love him too much…

      • Starsea28 says:

        Paterson Joseph is brilliant, but Colin has that smooth, calm voice that I associate with Kingsley. 🙂

    • calimie says:

      Oh, yes, yes, yes.
      I never liked the man who plays him in the movies, nothing against him, he just doesn't fit my idea of Kingsley. But Colin Salmon does, yes, omg, yes.

  52. rabbitape says:

    I'm conflicted…I want to love your comment, but I hate the spoiler at the end (last gif). Argh!

  53. Karen says:

    Gah. Stop with the spoilery gifs!

    • fakehepburn says:

      Sorry! I thought that last one would be okay because
      A) Mark mentioned that he knew River Song showed up at some point in other episodes (I mean, she would have to, seeing as this one is a two-parter).
      and B) I was sure I remembered him saying that .gifs from future episodes were okay as long as they were fairly oblique and they didn't reveal anything about the plot/characters/etc.
      Plus I've seen it posted on here before without being deleted, and even back in the Mark Read HP comments. Still, sorry if I inadvertently spoiled anything.

  54. Anseflans says:

    As an archaeologist to-be, I am offended.

    As a Whovian, I say: RUN!!!!!!!!

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      Yeah, but if you had a time machine so you could actually *visit* history instead of just studying it, tell me you wouldn''t point and laugh at your colleagues. It's not big and it's not clever, but damn it's fun!

      • Anseflans says:

        I have thought about this many times., Woe me, I want to be a Time Lord. Time Lady?

      • pica_scribit says:

        One day, shortly after I became a Who fan, I was on an excavation when my crew chief said, "See the blue box?" I nearly got whiplash. I was all ready to throw down my shovel and run away with the Doctor. Unfortunately my crew chief was just referring to an icon on his GPS screen. Bastard.

    • pica_scribit says:

      As an archaeologist of five years experience, I am deeply amused.

  55. calimie says:

    Maybe his Bofur (I think it was Bofur) will help you? I hope it helps me.
    (I don''t know if you likfe LoTR)

    • nanceoir says:

      Hopefully it will help. Or he'll be not quite as recognizable or something. (Still, though, yay for him being in The Hobbit!)

      I still need to finish watching it, but I spent the first episode of "The Deep" telling myself that there was nothing creepy about him or his character, but I never entirely convinced myself. (Maybe that's why I haven't finished?)

      • calimie says:

        I haven't seen that one, but I did like him in Bloody Sunday (not scary there). In Five Minutes of Heaven he wasn't scary for the most part, just terribly nervous.
        We need to work on this, hahaha.

  56. who_cares86 says:

    Alex Kingston is perfectly cast as River Song and she's sexy as hell.

    <img src=>

  57. lolwat says:

    As someone who's terrified of the dark as is, this episode did NOT help dispell my fears. MOFFAT, Y YOU FEED ON MY FEAR.

  58. t09yavorski says:

    So, it took me a week but I finally caught up. I don't recommend watching 4 seasons in 1 week, it led to me thinking in and wanting to speak with a British accent, mainly Micky's cockney.

    Anyway I dont really have anything to say about this episode except to thank Doctor Who for justifying my childhood fears. I could never sleep with any closet doors open and i always imagined the darkness creeping out.

    About the series as a whole: Rose is probably my favorite companion cause she is reckless and childish (in a good way). Also I might feel some kinship with her because every time I see her my brain gets confused cause I expect her to speak with a Jersey accent. Jackie too. Seriously Mark, if you want to meet some real life Jackie's come to Jersey.

    PS: Since I have not watched ahead is it a spoiler to point out things that I dont know if you've noticed that might be significant for future events?

    • Karen says:

      Omg. I salute you. I watched the first two series (because that was all that was available back when I first watched Doctor Who in 2007) over the course of a week and that was mind melting enough.

      (P.S. Rose is my favorite too. I think she's just a wonderful character who has a brilliant character arc. Also a lot of people dislike her, so I tend to like her all the more in defensiveness. lol.)

    • calimie says:

      is it a spoiler to point out things that I dont know if you've noticed that might be significant for future events
      Yes, because it draws Mark's attention to them.

      In case of doubt, don't post it. You could ask at the spoiler blog here:
      (sorry for the endlesss edits, I fail at English and html today).

      • nyssaoftraken74 says:

        But you probably don't want to do that if you've not seen any further than this episode, because we'd end up spoiling you.

        I understand what you mean – you're talking about speculating, but the problem is your speculation might turn out to be correct, in which case it becomes a spoiler. And if your speculation is NOT correct, and we confirm that, then we're saying `this definitely doesn't happen` which is still a spoiler.

        In short, this is not the place for speculation. Best keep it to yourself for now and then tell us all how clever your were after all has been revealed.

      • t09yavorski says:

        I assume this counts for if it comes up again in future episodes as well?

    • swimmingtrunks says:

      <img src=""&gt;

      Lol I made my first run-through of who in similarly absurd time, and I, too, was thinking in a British accent. GOOD TO KNOW I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE.

      • arctic_hare says:

        Me too! And I've picked up some Britishisms as well, I've caught myself calling things by the British slang out loud. (And tapping out the Master's drumbeat without intending to, but that's another subject entirely.)

      • __Jen__ says:

        I do this as well whenever I've been watching a lot of British TV. I pick up Britishisms and more than anything my tonal phrasing changes. I don't know if that makes any sense, but that's the first part of an accent I pick up.

    • notemily says:

      When I was a kid, I always had to sleep with the door open and the hallway light on. As long as the hallway light was on, I was safe. Also, there was this landing on the stairs that was the darkest spot in the house ALWAYS, and it would instill in me a feeling of PURE TERROR whenever I had to climb the stairs at night. I would creep past it and then RACE up the rest of the stairs and into my room, where I would be safe.

      Now I know there were Vashta Nerada in there AND MY FEARS WERE TOTALLY JUSTIFIED.

  59. Karen says:

    This song has spoilers for the next episode, so I'm deleting.

    • Mitch says:

      Ack, sorry; I realised that after I commented, but the thing where I can't access the page after commenting kept me out until now. /o

  60. Pingback: Dang Micosoft Word always complicating things!? | Wedding Planners Zone

  61. Karen says:

    I think I'm up to… 7 spoilery comments that I've deleted so far tonight.


  62. LittleCaity says:

    Oh Mark, you are SO NOT PREPARED.

    I can't wait for your reaction to the second half of this story, because it will BLOW YOUR MIND.

    Steven Moffat, you are a god among writers and I can never go back into my local church because WEEPING ANGELS WEEPING ANGELS AUGHAUGHAUGH.

  63. karate0kat says:

    That's why I kept my comment so short. I knew if I opened my mouth too far, spoilers would fall out.

    • FlameRaven says:

      It's definitely difficult. I keep thinking "ILU River Song because — oh wait that's a spoiler, dammit." ):

  64. gsj says:

    i am turning into a creature made of anger, but i do love watching people who have a hate on for river song rag on her for doing the same exact things the doctor does all the time.

  65. megs says:

    Mark. Mark. After this series, you should listen to the Chameleon Circuit album (but not before or some of the songs will be spoilery). There is one about this two-parter, which should be enjoyed by the masses if only to compensate for the pain of having to listen to the chords being smashed out on an out of tune piano while it was being written. It was worth it.

  66. Kaci says:

    Steven Moffat for ALL THE MOTHERFUCKING WINS. I am beyond even debating it at this point. He wins everything, haters to the left, etc etc. I bow down before his awesomeness and that's just all there is to it. Scares the shit out of me and makes me like it.

    And that is literally all I can say without–you guessed it–SPOILERS! so I will keep my mouth firmly shut and squeal giddily.

  67. who_cares86 says:

    Well actually part of the reason they're splitting it in two is because waiting a year for the next series is an awfully long time for a child. Now they never have to wait more than 4 months for new Doctor Who.

  68. Michelle says:

    Sorry, rather than a legitimate comment, can I just fan myself over how adorable and hot David Tennant is in the scene where she's going over her diary?

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">


  69. who_cares86 says:

    Well at least now you ARE prepared. Oh who am I kidding we're never gonna be prepared for this.

  70. Karen says:

    Oh dear. lol. This gif actually comes from tomorrow's episode. I mean, it's not horribly spoiler, but I'm deleting it anyway to err on the side of caution.

    • CuriousApe says:

      It does? Ugh. 🙁 But… wasn't that at the beginning of today's episode? I think I know what scene from tomorrow you're referring to, though, so I'll just be quiet now and refrain from further accidental spoilery. 🙂

  71. Caraaaa says:


  72. I bet it was irresistible for some of you to not tell me about the constant use of “SPOILERS!!!” in this episode by Donna and River. This episode was clearly written for me, right. Right. Right.
    Hee! And the promo for the next episode is also one of my favorites, as it basically ends with multiple people saying, "Spoilers!" and then someone saying, "No, you mustn't tell!" Oh, BBC promos, I do enjoy you.

    Too bad you missed out on getting this Vashta Nerada shirt. Scare your friends!

  73. pica_scribit says:

    I don't think I have the words to express how much I love this two-parter. Yay for Steven Moffat's terrifying brain! Yay for a library PLANET! Yay for archaeologist jokes (am one)! Yay for Alex Kingston! There is no bad here.

    ETA: Oh, and the reason I love Alex Kingston is for the wonderful BBC version of Moll Flanders (1996). Here she is with Daniel Craig in the role of her dashing highwayman:

    <img src=""&gt;

    • Openattheclose says:

      OMG AK looks great, but Daniel Craig?
      <img src=>
      (I am sure he is dashing in the role, but this picture is not his best)

  74. Hypatia_ says:

    I may be the only person in existence who isn't frightened by the Vashta Nerada. I find them kind of creepy, but they don't honestly scare me. I think it's because they were introduced in a library. To me, libraries are the ultimate safe space. I cannot be afraid of a library. Plus, I spend my working life in a library that looks rather a lot like that one, in terms of endless dark stacks. It looks normal to me, and safe and comfortable.

    And I'm far too busy drooling over the concept of a library the size of a planet to think about anything else. Library. The size. OF A PLANET. Of course, the professional part of my brain is horrified at the organization nightmare that must be, but I tell it to shut up and let me enjoy my fantasy.
    <img src=>

    Honestly, I can't say what I'd like to about River without spoilers, so I'll just express my undying love for her and leave it at that.

    • Ali says:

      Same here! My mum is a librarian, and libraries have always been really calming to me…a big dimly lit library with no-one else there seems wonderful, not terrifying.

      I mean, the Vashta Nerada were a scary IDEA but I guess because I couldn't see them it didn't have much impact.

    • __Jen__ says:

      While I have spent a lot of time in libraries (Thank you, lonely childhood and giant thesis projects), dimly lit or not, I still have a fear of the dark and a strong ability to scare the crap out of myself. So the concept of shadow monsters is about as scary a fictional concept as I've ever seen. But a library planet is basically the best thing ever in all realities, so I'll let Marshall show my excitement at that idea.

      <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

      • Fuchsia says:

        So many HIMYM gifs! I love it!

        <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

        I too spent a lot of time in libraries. My mom's a librarian now, but she didn't get that job until I was 16. But we went to the library at least once a week, sometimes more, and everyone used to joke that I solely funded the library with my late fees (btw? best thing about working/relative working for the library is that you can get those erased). I'd take out stacks of books every week. I mean, I won the reading contest in seventh grade by reading 74 books in the school year. NERD.

        So yes… The Library is pretty much the best place ever (sans Vashta Nerada) and I very much want it to be real.

    • electric ashera says:

      I too have no fear of the Vashta Nerada. Then again, I have also frequently been accused of being a vampire due to my night-owl tendencies and have never been afraid of the dark. So of course they aren't going to bother me.

  75. arctic_hare says:




    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">


  76. Ali says:

    I laughed at the walking skeleton in the suit thing. 😀
    I love this episode but that image was just a bit too silly for me. I've never really found skeletons frightening anyway. ZOMBIES are frightening, but somehow a skeleton is just…some bones.

    Still I probably shouldn't have found it funny. I'm an awful person. 😛

    • Selthia says:

      The skeletons might have been a bit more frightening if they didn''t look like a too-wide rubber stage mask. 🙁

      • pica_scribit says:

        I figured they were just slightly distorted by the curve of the glass visor.

        • Selthia says:

          I'm not sure I buy the glass distortion myself as an explanation for the skulls looking so messed up and to that degree. I don't remember the humans looking so distorted through the visor at all (I'm thinking of scenes where River first meets the Doctor here, her face looked fine, I think?) and I'm not sure why they'd waste more money for different helmets when they can just cheaply reuse the same one for the "possessed" actor. So why would the skulls be so distorted just to the visor if they probably used the same visors?

          The mask looks like it would have to wrap over a human head, which imo, would explain why the skull appear bigger (strangely wide) and anatomically incorrect for each body, because they'd have to be made to fit over a normal human skull). Too big, too wide.

          Frontal view:
          Another set of angles showing the same problem:

          Also your lower jaw just doesn't go out that far either or at that angle. The mouth area and lower jaw form more of a cylinder from the front. The ones in the episode are more of a strange square. That's not really slightly distorted.

          But it probably would look more like that if you had to fake a skull on top of a real actor.

          (for a normal human skull:

          Because I suck at explaining myself, here's a crappy chart:

          <img src=""&gt;

          • pica_scribit says:

            Heh. Archaeologist. I fondle human skulls professionally. All I meant is that, when the Vashta Narada consume their victim, the skull tends to fall forward against the glass, rather than be held upright and back a bit by the neck. This might cause a slight distortion.

    • pica_scribit says:

      Skellies are awesome! I'm an archaeologist, and I have been known to talk to dead people at work on occasion. Yes, I am creepy and morbid. Why do you ask?

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      Same here. I can't imagine why…
      <img src=""&gt;

      It probably doesn't help that the only even slightly scary skeleton I was exposed to as a child was Spinal from the Killer Instinct video game, who's does this:
      I think it might be called the "Bone Daddy" dance.

  77. Selthia says:

    I think it was implied that the Vashta Nerada don't hide in the shadows, they ARE some of the shadows (meaning there's so many of them in one spot that the area looks dark). I'm looking at when they said "the shadow isn't gone, it moved", "that's not a shadow, that's Vashta Nerada"

    Glad you are liking this so far! This is one of my favorite episodes ever. I love how creepy the opening is. River Song is fun and frankly, that bit about their timelines being off is pretty damn interesting. Also brixs=shat during that statue turning around and then DONNA'S FACE. The CG is pretty well done and the library actually feels pretty expansive, so loving that. I saw this one after Blink for some reason, in the dark and with the sound up, and well, that wasn't the best idea. Scarred for life right there.

    I can't wait for you to get to the next one. How do you resist caving and popping in the next episode? Not just on this two parter but the other ones.

    • arctic_hare says:

      I kind of marvel at Mark's willpower, because when I say that I marathonned the show in its entirety last year, I'm not exaggerating: I'd watch like six episodes in a row. Don't know how he does it.

      • echinodermata says:


        I never take my time watching shows that have already been airing for a while/already ended.

  78. Ali says:

    Um…you mentioned that you're new to this, but just as a warning, this comment is pretty damn spoilery. Seriously, as a general rule, DON'T TALK ABOUT STUFF THAT HASN'T HAPPENED YET. Especially when it's several seasons ahead!

    Because you just kinda spoiled not only Mark, but people who are currently watching Doctor Who but avoiding spoilers for the next season which hasn't yet aired. A lot of people deliberately avoid news/rumours so that they go into new episodes completely blind, and you just gave away the entire main arc for the next season.

    So please…don't? I'm pretty sure your comment will be deleted soon anyway.

    • ThreeBooks says:

      >: \

      You just spoiled AGAIN.

    • Karen says:

      I get that you're new, but just think before you post. Just pause before you post and ask yourself "is it really necessary that I reference this upcoming episode"? That answer is pretty much always no. Practice some self control. Some people don't like any kind of spoilers at all. (I'm not one of them myself. lol. I seek out spoilers like it's my job.) But you need to respect other people who want to remain completely unspoiled.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        Just to clarify, my spoiler policy is strict, yes, but it's quite simple:

        Has it happened yet? No? Don't talk about it.

        Yes, it's annoying. I am acutely aware of this and have actually found a pocket of the Internet that TRULY HATES THIS. But half the fun for me is experiencing these things with an open mind and you are taking away fun when you do this.

        • echinodermata says:

          fyi you often comment at the end of a thread, and assuming people are getting email notifications, it's often the case that the people who actually need clarification will be more likely to see your response if you respond directly to their comment.

          • xpanasonicyouthx says:

            Well, I've already emailed them, so that was more an issue of stating it publicly. 🙂

            But yes! You are right.

  79. arctic_hare says:

    It was very spoilery in multiple ways, and I'm kind of boggled that you worked in a reference to the spoiler policy in the midst of all that spoiling. In future, just plain do NOT talk about anything Mark hasn't seen yet, in ANY WAY. You say you're new here, but if you've read the spoiler policy, you should already know better.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Naming episodes is a spoiler too, as is that gif. Please, just stop.

    • echinodermata says:

      Okay, seriously, maybe you should lurk more and a feel for what people consider spoilers before posting.

      Basically, don't even bring up future episodes, especially by name. Avoid gifs from upcoming episodes. Maybe try out the spoiler board so people can give you actual examples of what not to do/say.

    • Karen says:

      Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. GO READ THE SPOILER POLICY. Commit it to memory. Mark wants this to be a fun blogging and commenting experience for everyone. He's not trying to rule with an iron fist. All he asks is that you be respectful of other people and not post spoilers

      Here is a handy/dandy link to the spoiler policy:

      READ IT.

  80. sabra_n says:

    Not my favorite Moffat story – that's still an ongoing battle between "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" and "Blink" – but not terrible, either. This is…just very Moffat. He writes pre-existing companions badly while emphasizing his own OCs and their many virtues, he's got that low-level "men are from Mars, women are from Venus"-type sexism…and he also has a wicked imagination, a penchant for the storytelling possibilities of time travel, and some pretty great humor. I just feel like his flaws are more prominent here than they were in my aforementioned favorites, which prevents me from rabidly adoring this two-parter.

    The not-so-greatness was there from the start – I found the Doctor's scan for life forms laughably stupid. Yes, of course there can be billions of non-humanoid life forms on the planet if "only" the Doctor and Donna are present. We call these bacteria. And they're on Donna's body, at the very least. So as the great mystery of the library was supposed to be building, I was rolling my eyes, and then nothing that was supposed to be creepy actually scared me. (I don't say this in a macho way – I'm a massive coward.) It just felt like Moffat reaching for his old standbys – a scary slogan, an atmospheric setting – and coming up with something kind of "meh".

    He throws up one idea after another – the "facial aspects", counting shadows, the girl connected to the security camera, then ooh! others are coming! space suits! ("Almost every species has an irrational fear of the dark." No they don't, Doctor. Oy.) Who turned out the lights?! Donna Noble has been saved! And it's just…too many pieces, not really adding up to a whole.

    But at least River Song isn't nearly as awful and smug as I remember her being in this episode. I actually found her quite good when I rewatched just now, which doesn't quite make up for the wildly OOC bit with Donna wanting to shop in the middle of running for her life, but does mean the episode isn't an actual disaster. I mean, none of the pieces are horrible or anything. But apart from River, it feels more like Moffat going through his horror trope motions rather than the kind of organic, lively storytelling he's capable of at his best.

    • Karen says:

      it feels more like Moffat going through his horror trope motions

      IA. I'm not a Moffat fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't loathe everything he touches. But this episode? Really not that great. Too many ideas. None of them fully explored, and the secondary characters are completely half assed.

  81. oldnewborrowedblue says:

    Ok, sorry for being new, sorry for making a mistake, sorry for the gif, sorry for the episode title, but this is difficult. For the record I feel very unwelcome. Can an admin just delete my previous posts please as they're causing such a fuss. In future I will check my comments against the spoiler policy before posting.

    Anyway, how about that River Song eh?

    • arctic_hare says:

      Just keep from spoiling in the future (as has been said above, don't reference future events, episode titles, arcs, basically just read the spoiler policy over a couple times) and this:

      <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

      – will not happen and all will be well.

      • oldnewborrowedblue says:

        Very appreciative of the "- will not happen and all will be well." The last thing I need right now is a nun in my face 🙂

        • xpanasonicyouthx says:

          You'll be fine! I know my spoiler policy is ridiculous, but, as you will soon discover, half the joy comes from my very special pain and suffering of not knowing the future.

          As Cleolinda Jones once told me, YOUR INNOCENCE IS PRECIOUS.

          • arctic_hare says:

            Haha, yes. We basically want to maintain your innocence so you can suffer as we did. 😀 But also so you can experience the same joys that we did, unspoiled. It works both ways!

          • Hypatia_ says:

            What arctic_hare means is, we want you to suffer as we did. Keeping you unspoiled is an integral part of this plan.

          • oldnewborrowedblue says:

            I feel really bad for taking up so much space with my posts that prompted so many replies, and yet, am more than happy to accompany every other with a gif. For future reference, is the general markwatches community accepting of occasional gif use?

            • arctic_hare says:

              As long as they don't spoil whatever show/book/movie is the topic of review (aside from the Rereads Harry Potter project, obviously), gifs are very cool and accepted here.

              • xpanasonicyouthx says:

                Occasional GIF use? I LIVE OFF GIFS. Every comment can be a GIF and I will LOVE YOU FOREVER.

                • arctic_hare says:

                  Noted! 😀

                • oldnewborrowedblue says:

                  Is it sad that I’m already planning my comment for your next review? Just so I have time to find the appropriate gifs of course. Anyone know of any good sources other than the obligatory “doctor who gif” tumblr search?

                  P.S. I’m sure you’ve been warned countless times already Mark, but steer well clear of tumblr. I tend to find a who gif attached to every other post, often very recent ones too.

                  Aha, look at me warning you when just hours ago I was spoiling left right and centre. It’s probably stated really obviously somewhere but are you watching in England, America, or elsewhere? And will you be caught up in time for series 6 when/if it airs where you are?

                  • xpanasonicyouthx says:

                    Oh god, stear clear of Tumblr???? YOU CAN'T TELL ME THAT. TUMBLR IS MY LIFEBLOOD.

                    I just scroll REALLY REALLY FAST if I see anything Doctor Who on there.

                    I am watching these episodes via Netflix (and soon-to-be purchased through iTunes for all the series 5 stuff). I should be caught up in a few weeks. When does series 6 start?

                    • thiamalonee says:

                      According to IMDB, April 23rd.

                    • arctic_hare says:

                      Which is my birthday. :3 It'll be one of the best presents ever~

                    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

                      That's what I assumed it would be. Easter weekend is the usual start date, and since it's a split season this year, the late Easter won't result in the series going on into the summer months.

                    • FlameRaven says:

                      Sweet! I checked wikipedia but couldn't find the date. Any news on when we get Torchwood Season 4?

                    • oldnewborrowedblue says:

                      (hopes this isn’t too spoily) You guys know about this series being split in half right? Seven episodes in the spring, six in the autumn. It’s different but helps break it up a bit so you’re not deprived of who for too long, so I’m game. I’ve got to keep my eyes peeled for any upcoming promo events here in the uk, I think last year they previewed the first episode in several locations towards the end of march…

            • echinodermata says:

              We love gifs, we just don't like spoilery ones. However, people's interpretations of spoilery varies, so you may see DW gifs from upcoming episodes popping up and no one being called out on it. But since you're asking about policy, try to avoid them even if you see others doing it.

      • Minish says:

        arctic, you have ALL THE BEST GIFS.

    • echinodermata says:

      Sorry that you feel unwelcome, but this entire post has had a lot of spoilers so people are getting fed up today, plus this episode tells us spoilers are bad so it's kind of a double offense. It's only that spoilers are a BIG DEAL around here because the reason we like Mark is because through him we relive our first time with these stories.

      Truly, assuming you've learned and it won't happen again, welcome. Just, you know, have constant vigilance when it comes to spoilers.

  82. Karen says:

    Oh dear. Why was that gif necessary? There are plenty of other gifs from earlier episodes or other shows that you could have used. WHY USE ONE THAT IS FROM AN UPCOMING EPISODE?

    • oldnewborrowedblue says:

      Sorry, I couldn't recall any Tennant thumbs-up 🙁 Someone please thumb up my apology down there somewhere and delete these mishaps of mine from existence.

  83. ShayzGirl says:

    I've been waiting for you to get to this episode. I love River Song and jumped up and down when I realized that you were a weekend away from it. I found on Entertainment Earth River Song's Future Sonic Screwdriver and I totally want to buy it. Actually thinking of buying it and then being her for Halloween this year (I love Halloween, so I start planning early!!!) I am also one of many who can no longer hear or read or type the word "spoilers" without thinking of River Song or hearing her voice saying it. Always makes me smile. I want her Tardis book. Thinking I might have to make one, if I can't find one. Can't wait for tomorrow's review!

    • Avit says:

      Oh, I love the way she says it. If there were gifs that played sound but were only activated when moused over, I would want a gif of her saying it.

  84. Ashley says:

    love these episodes, Moffat is amazing. And I think River is his favorite character, seriously.

  85. agrinningfool says:

    Yeeeeeah… we've just been WAITING for you to get to this episode so you understood the meaning of "Spoilers!"

    River Song is totally the mascot of the Mark Spoils! blog.! OF COURSE, MARK YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED THERE. WE LOVE YOU, BUT NO.

  86. John Small Berries says:

    What I don’t understand is how a companion remembers the Doctor, but not vice versa. Why is their relationship happening in opposite narrative lines?

    Because he’s a time traveler, of course; his path through history is far from linear. Clearly, his first encounter with her occurs later in her personal timeline than her first encounter with him, and vice-versa.

    (This, by the way, is what I find so maddening about his moping about being The Last Of His Kind, since the Time Lords clearly existed – and in some cases, interacted with Earth – as late as the 1980s. Lonely for some other Time Lords? Just jump back to before the Time War started, for crying out loud.)

    • jennywildcat says:

      I have a theory (that has sort of, kind of, a little bit been confirmed in canon) as to why the Doctor can't go back to visit other Time Lords… but it's very spoilery. I'll post it when it's not a spoiler anymore (if I remember to)

  87. Openattheclose says:

    <img src=>
    <img src=>

  88. Imogen1984 says:

    RIVER SONG IS THE MOST AWESOME EVER. Oh, and so is Donna. Oh. I couldn't WAIT for you to meet River, I really couldn't. And this episode… OMG the data ghost made me cry. YOU ARE NOT PREPARED.

  89. exbestfriend says:

    I want to hate this episode, although I cannot, because Moffat tries to make my most favorite place in the world (libraries) a scary place.
    Also, River!!! Wooooooo!!! I’m so glad we finally get to talk about “Spoilers” without it being a spoiler!!!

  90. thiamalonee says:

    Now, on a completely unrelated note, it's nice to see some familiar faces in the fight for women's health.

    <img src="; width="375" height="500" alt="enhanced-buzz-8061-1298825622-2" />

    • doesntsparkle says:

      I love creative protesters. They are much more effective than "God Hates" whatever they happen to hate protesters.

      • Minish says:

        I saw a church that had a mock graveyard and a sign that said "ABORTION KILLS BABIES. GOD HATES ABORTION."

        Which I think it just a dandy idea. How about we instill a shitload of guilt in people who've already made an incredibly difficult and uncomfortable decision!

      • thiamalonee says:

        I found this on a site full of the most creative posters. I think that making a protest poster funny is important, because it draws attention and doesn't just become white noise. That said, I posted the picture because of the Doctor, and then I worried that this might have led to some kind of debate over abortion, which was not my intent (though I'm fully capable of going a few rounds in defense of Planned Parenthood).

  91. mkjcaylor says:

    Is Mark gonna do a liveblog with a future episode that I am not naming? Because it is another that is perfect for liveblogging. It's coming up VERY SOON.

    • Openattheclose says:

      To be honest, I hope not. If it's the episode I am thinking of (and thank you for not naming it), I would like for him to be completely blindsided by it. Telling him it's worth liveblogging ruins that IMO. He should be completely unprepared for it, even more so than usual.

      • mkjcaylor says:

        I am sure it is the same episode.

        I just really enjoyed the liveblog of Blink, and I would like another. Mark claimed to be able to completely pay attention AND liveblog Blink at the same time, and he did seem to keyboard smash plenty despite watching.

        If it's not with the one that I'm not naming, it could very well be with any other, but I would enjoy another DW liveblog. I actually have more fun with it when I have seen the episode (IE, not as much fun to liveblog Fringe) because I know what's coming up and so therefore can read the replies. Not to mention we all have seen it before, so we ALL can geek out at appropriate moments and not pay attention.

        • Openattheclose says:

          Oh, I have no problem with liveblogs at all! I like them a lot, and I have no doubt Mark is able to liveblog and watch perfectly well. What I am saying is, telling Mark that THIS episode must be liveblogged sets up a certain expectation that the episode is worth liveblogging, thereby ruining the possible surprise. It's like someone telling you before your surprise birthday party that you might want to dress up and bring your camera. It lets you know something is up.

          Maybe it is best if we continue this in the spoiler blog?

          EDIT: I believe he is planning a possible liveblog for the DW Movie on a weekend sometime, but yeah I would take a liveblog for any Doctor Who episode.

          • Matt says:

            Let's not be coy about this. Mark should liveblog EVERY episode from now until the end of the series. It's the only way to be sure.

          • MowerOfLorn says:

            I agree, that if you're talking about the episode I'm thinking of, I would way prefer him to be blindsided by. If any, I would love the last episode of this season to be liveblogged- because even if you haven't watched it, you should predict that shit gets real (not saying how, spoilers!) and because I would live to watch a minute by minute reaction.

            • thiamalonee says:

              Plus, he'll be up to the last episode of the series by Friday, and if he doesn't liveblog, he'll have to wait til monday to finish the series.

  92. electric ashera says:

    I love the little categories you can see on the drop painting out the window. Xeno Biology, underneath that, Art. Heee. I wonder how they shelve things….


  93. lezah says:

    Mark, how COULD you doubt the Moff?!

    I love that the data ghost adds more honesty in the episode and at the same time is just absolutely chilling.

    And this episode + the next one are my FAVOURITE DOCTOR WHO EPISODES OF ALL TIME.
    (that i've seen, as i've still not had the chance to watch classic Who yet)

  94. hassibah says:

    I'm really sad I'm so late to this but I just want to say this ep has one of my favourite funny lines.

    When River's done her tragic monologue about how it shouldn't kill me when he looks through me but it does.

    Donna: What the hell does that mean: DO YOU KNOW HIM OR DON'T YOU.

    Donna for president.

    Okay now I'm off to step into the comments minefield.

  95. fannyw says:

    Somehow all my favourite episodes were written by the Moff:

    s1 – The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (the finale is a close second though)
    s2 – The Girl in the Fireplace (series 2 is kinda meh idk)
    s3 – Blink TIED with Human Nature/Family of Blood
    s4 – this two-parter. Honestly, it's just SO GOOD. The setting may be my favourite ever. It's a LIBRARY PLANET!

  96. RJM says:

    It took me a little time to warm up to River, mostly because she felt a little like Benny Lite at first (Benny is a companion from the Seventh Doctor novels who is also a diary-keeping archaeologist from the future) but I really kind of love her now. Especially after a certain feat of badassery and SPOILAR.

    I kind of see her character as a litmus test of the fandom double standard. Because she really is a female Captain Jack in a lot of ways, but certain elements of the fandom basically villainizes her for the things they love in Jack.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Yeah, it continues a sad trend I've seen in all fandoms: male characters are allowed to be cool, competent, and even a bit smug, but if a female character has those traits? Horrors! She's a MARY SUE and cannot be allowed to live! People are harder on female characters in general, and this is one of the most annoying ways.

    • mkjcaylor says:

      I never saw her as a female Captain Jack until just now. And I never knew she was supposed to be omnisexual until these posts, either.

    • LittleCaity says:

      I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thought this! *happydance*

      I miss Benny. *mope*

  97. lastyearswishes says:

    I LOVE this two-parter, it's probably my favorite on in the entire series. The two episodes after these are spectacular as well, just so you know~ Moffat seriously is a genius, his episodes are always my favorites. <3

  98. FlameRaven says:

    I'm just going to hope that Torchwood Season 4 airs sometime in-between the two halves of the season, since I haven't found an air date for it yet. And I hope that there's more Torchwood/Doctor Who crossover, because you can never really go wrong having Captain Jack along for a story.

    Pretty sure the universe might implode with awesome if we ever get Captain Jack+River Song+The Doctor all together in one episode. :DD

  99. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    A little observation I noticed recently. On Mark Watches, y'all post less individual comment threads (thus giving less pages of comments), but the comment threads themselves are REALLY LONG. Whereas on Mark Reads, there are way more individual threads and more pages, and (generally) shorter comment threads. Only sometimes.


    • arctic_hare says:

      Yes, I've noticed that too! I have no idea why it is that way.

    • echinodermata says:

      You should see the spoiler board sometime. Maximum indentation: we once had to start a new thread and direct people over simply cause the width was getting ridiculously small.

  100. calimie says:

    S-scribbling notes? I– I'm sorry, I must go get my fainting salts.

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