Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S06E13 – The Wedding of River Song

In the thirteenth and final episode of the sixth series of Doctor Who, the Doctor finally faces his death at Lake Silencio. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

If you told me that you enjoyed “The Wedding of River Song,” that you found it fantastical, thrilling, and entertaining, that you were satisfied by the series arc, and that you love what series six has done with Eleven, I would agree with you. We could sit down over tea and discuss how much we love how series six turned against the Doctor, forced him to analyze his faults, and saw him confront how he truly treats companions.

If you told me that “The Wedding of River Song” was so pseudo-complex that it stopped making sense and became irritating, that it was a gigantic letdown of anticlimactic absurdity, and that there are so many questions left unanswered, I would agree with you. We could sit down over tea and talk about how Moffat’s series-long arc is nonsensical and that it felt rushed and simplistic, especially given how complicated it was supposed to be.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so conflicted about an episode of Doctor Who. I don’t normally read reviews of anything I am watching before I write my own. I like to keep my thoughts as separate as possible and not be influenced by what others think. This time was an exception, and I found myself reading thoughts and reviews on Tumblr, and nodding my head at nearly everything I read. The strange part? I was agreeing with CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS from VARIOUS PEOPLE. I agree that “The Wedding of River Song” is a hot mess of plot that makes little sense once you give it a closer look. I agree that “The Wedding of River Song” was immensely entertaining. I agree with TOO MANY THINGS and I don’t know what Doctor Who has done to my head.

What I’ve liked about series six is the fact that the Doctor has had to face the entirety of his existence, to examine whether or not he is a force of good or a force of destruction in the universe. We’ve seen that more and more in the second half of series six, though the idea was thrust before us in “A Good Man Goes To War.” Is the Doctor a good person if his involvement in the lives of others leads to kidnapping, goo babies, lost children, and death? Does one cancel out the other? I think that “The Wedding of River Song” answered that question definitively for the Doctor, who learns from River that millions of souls want to fight to keep him alive. Yes, he has made some awful, arrogant mistakes, but on the whole, he is a force of good, and I love that it’s River who makes him see this.

This episode gives me a lot to like, and I mean that genuinely. History happens all at once, and what brief moments we get to see of that are hilariously weird and strange. Charles Dickens is on television! Pterodactyls are considered vermin! The War of the Roses! This is pulled off extremely well, especially in the sense that we see how cluttered the world is when everything happens at once. We also get yet another example of how talented Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan are when we see the aborted timeline’s version of those two. Rory in particular is like nothing we’ve ever seen. That moment when he tells Amy that the eyepatch has already started hurting him….oh my god my heart swelled.

The show also continue’s Eleven’s ability to be obtuse beyond belief; in this case, he gives Amy a brilliant monologue about the time they spent together and doesn’t even realize he’s holding a replica of the TARDIS. He is so dim sometimes I LOVE IT. And let’s not ignore that series six gave us AMY AND RORY, one of the best couples on television, and I was immensely satisfied with what we saw here in “The Wedding of River Song.”

But honestly, y’all. I just have a whole lot of questions.

(Which is kind of ridiculous because didn’t Moffat say he’d answer all of them but one? that is a lie)

  • If the Doctor told River Song to look into his eye, so she could see his actual self inside the Teselecta, then what on earth did River whisper to him in “Silence in the Library”? Did the Doctor double lie and really tell her his name?
  • Why marry River Song? Okay, I do actually believe that he loves her (and holdfasting HHHNNNNGGGGG), but was that all just to get her to kiss him? Which is both an amazing and romantic thing and one of the silliest plot resolutions ever. At the same time. I mean…isn’t marriage a bit of a stretch just to get someone to touch you? Right?
  • Okay, if the Silence needed the Doctor’s death to repair time, and the Teselecta took his place, how exactly does that “trick” work? The touch seemed instantaneous, but how exact must it be? Wouldn’t it be easy to figure out that it wasn’t physically the Doctor?
  • What was the point of the weird lines to the Ganger Doctor at the end of that two-parter? Just a feint on Moffat’s part so that we might think the Ganger Doctor was the one to actually die?
  • WHY DID MADAME KOVARIAN HATE THE DOCTOR SO MUCH? I understand that The Silence as an organization wanted the Doctor’s end, but she had literally not a second of character development beyond I AM EVIL. And that would have been nice?
  • Okay, so…what’s the point of “creating” River Song? As I understand it, Madame Kovarian stole her from Amy and Rory in order to brainwash her to kill the Doctor. Now, that didn’t work out as planned, as we saw in “Let’s Kill Hitler.” There are problems with that story, too, but let’s just accept the idea that River was able to break that programming and she gave up her remaining regenerations in order to save the Doctor. I can roll with that. But then we see in “The Wedding of River Song” that all her brainwashing has absolutely no effect on anything. Madame Kovarian simply had her kidnapped and drugged, put in a suit that could control itself, and used that to kill the Doctor. Now, let me just put this idea out there and see if it works: COULDN’T YOU HAVE SKIPPED THE BRAINWASHING THING AND JUST KIDNAPPED ANYONE TO KILL THE DOCTOR. I mean IT MAKES NO SENSE TO ME. Am I missing something integral here? I genuinely think I might be. Was this just Madame Kovarian’s back-up plan in case the “Let’s Kill Hitler” River failed?
  • Could I never see a group of The Silence hanging from the ceiling ever again? I think I’d be entirely okay with this.
  • So why did the TARDIS explode? That makes two questions you’re not answering, Moffat.
  • Okay, doesn’t this whole episode sort of invalidate the Doctor’s journey towards finding out whether he is truly a good moral force? I’ll admit that it is entirely possible that this may be addressed in the future. I think the Doctor really is going to go into hiding and we’ll probably see more of that in the Christmas special and maybe in the Easter special next year. Maybe that’s what this is all about: the Doctor needs to take time away from everyone and stop intervening as much as he is. Still, the end of this episode gave me a funny feeling. Why take the Doctor on this journey of guilt and then just have him cleverly avoid death anyway?
  • Is that really the question? Part of me thought ARE YOU SERIOUS and then part of me finds it genius and I don’t know which side to get into, so, my dear community, please CHOOSE FOR ME. Or something! God, is that going to be the next series’ story arc? It is, isn’t it? WHAT IS THE DOCTOR’S NAME? How can that be a pleasing answer?

I genuinely still don’t know how I feel about all of this, even after this whole review. I feel like the stories of Amy, Rory, and River have been completely wrapped up. I don’t see the show bringing any of them back as companions, except maybe in brief stories here and there. So I’m left feeling pleased because of the smaller moments in “The Wedding of River Song,” but all the big plot points confuse me.

As a whole, I do like series six, even including the River storylines. It’s no secret at this point that I adore the character of River Song, either. Yet this was one of the weirdest series arcs I’ve ever watched on television, especially when I consider the one-off episodes to be stronger than the mytharc ones. To be fair, I still find “The Impossible Astronaut” to be a fantastic opener for the season. I just wish that I felt that elated about how this all ended.

I think that the one thing that could have saved this all is time. Ironically so. I enjoy a complex plot line as much as anyone, but nearly every mythology episode aside from “The Impossible Astronaut” felt like it needed to be an hour longer. If series six had been twenty-six episodes long, I think the execution of this story could have worked a lot better. These stories would have had room to develop in a capacity that didn’t feel so rushed. Out of everything that series six gave us, and especially this final chapter of the story, I just wish we had more…time.

That is a weird thing to say about Doctor Who.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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