Doctor Who Review, Series 6, Episode 13: “The Wedding of River Song”
Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Jeremy Webb
Airs Saturdays at 9pm (ET) on BBC America
This week, on Doctor Who: Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey, the Silence are back, we get a few answers, one particular question, and series six comes to a close.
Series six has been an uneven one for NuWho, with a few great episodes and several forgettable ones. It has struggled to balance its series-long arc with its standalones, often asking the audience to forget crucially important developments from only a week earlier. While the two-part series premiere is ambitious and bold, Moffat’s decision to embrace long-form storytelling has left fans uneasy, concerned that the eventual payoff won’t live up to the hype. Most assumed that “The Wedding of River Song” would be the part 3 of 3 to the story started in “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon”, so when word leaked from early spoiler-free reviews that fans should manage their expectations and prepare for more questions than answers, many were understandably concerned.
Not everything here works. Many may not like the meta comments we get, particularly regarding River and the Doctor. Others may not like the structure of the episode, with a good portion told via flashback. Perhaps the biggest fault of the episode is the titular wedding itself- upon reflection, there doesn’t seem to be any need for it and though River expresses her love for the Doctor, we get no such pronouncements from him, either in word or action. Yes, he clearly likes her, but if we are supposed to think he loves her, that he truly wants to be with her forever, or that this wedding means much more to him than his previous shenanigans, something clearly failed at the script and/or performance level.
Each of the main characters gets at least one memorable character moment. River’s comes first, with her decision to stop time rather than lose the Doctor, and her cocky, youthful glee at doing so. Rory is up next, demonstrating even in this bizarro universe his grit, determination, and loyalty, withstanding torture wordlessly to hold the line as long as possible. Amy’s is perhaps the boldest and is definitely the darkest, showing us just how much River is like her mum (in a strong callback to River’s great “Mercy!” moment in “The Big Bang”). The Doctor’s comes at the end, as he strides off yet again into the unknown, more cautious and certainly humbled, but without the gloom, dread, and angst that has been clouding him throughout the second half of the season. Another moment worthy of note is the beautiful nod given to the Brigadier. It’s incredibly touching that the Brig is one of the people the Doctor most wanted to see in his final days.
While many may be annoyed by the new teases, and the lingering unanswered questions from series 5, the questions raised this season are resolved, and that’s enough for now. Moffat seems to be making an old-school 8- or 10-parter and stretching it out over the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure, peppering standalones and smaller arcs in between, and now that an end date is in sight (the “fall of the eleventh”, which one would assume refers to the next regeneration and which just might coincide with 2013’s 50th anniversary), it’s time to sit back with renewed faith in Moffat and his plan and enjoy the ride.
What did you think? Were you glad to see Dorian and Churchill back? What do you think of the Question? Post your thoughts and theories below!