So that wraps up Season 6. How did I like it? Not very much. More below.
I’ll talk about “The Wedding of River Song” in a moment. Let’s go back to the beginning of this second half.
The first half ended with the Doctor suddenly concerned about the fate of a child in danger because it was the child of someone he knows. There were Flesh-duplicates, lesbian Silurians, lots of boom and pow, and the ever-so-cool River Song. We were promised that the Doctor would return in “Let’s Kill Hitler”, which sounded promising.
“Let’s Kill Hitler” was, in my opinion, one of the absolute worst episodes of the new series, and I’ve seen “The Doctor’s Daughter”. It starts off with two reveals: first, the Doctor has not yet found Melody Pond but that’s not a problem because he knows she’s okay because she’s River Song and future River Song is fine! The actual Doctor Who — I assume he’s not a Flesh copy or some other imposter — genuinely gives that as an explanation, even though it not only is counter to previous statements on the show, it’s counter to the entire premise of the show itself. So we’re off to a fine, fine start.
Secondly, we meet Mels, who is the rockingest, rollingest, hippest, coolest, awesomest, mischievousest, daringest, — okay fine, she turns out to be River Song, of course. Apparently River Song is so adored that we need to shoehorn her into the continuity as Amy and Rory’s supreme BFF who they’d never mentioned up until now. Mels suggests they go kill Hitler and they end up in WW2 Berlin. Rory punches Hitler and locks him in a cabinet and then Mels regenerates into the River Song we know and absolutely swoon over. Mels can regenerate because apparently when two Earth people who love each other very much do a special hug in the TARDIS they get a baby who is also sort of a Time Lord.
BUT WAIT THERE IS MORE STUPID! Then a shapechanging robot who is piloted by tiny people comes out of nowhere, also intending to kill Hitler. Or at least torture him. They realize that they’re too early and can’t mess with Hitler but they get excited when they see River Song because she’s the biggest criminal ever and they can torture her instead! Yes, the only reason Hitler was even in this episode was to prove just how eeeeeeevil River Song is!
So anyway, River tries to kill The Doctor with poison lipstick and he can’t regenerate from this because who the hell even knows why so he’ll be really most sincerely dead but then River Song gives him her remaining regenerations to save him and this is the point where I just about gave up completely.
I’m not kidding or exaggerating here; I was this close to simply quitting the show. This was not a show I wanted to watch. River Song had out-Poochied Poochie — in one episode she was the coolest person ever, worse than Hitler, the only person able to kill the Doctor, and the only person able to save the Doctor. I was tuning in to watch “Doctor Who” and it was pretty clear that that character was, at most, the third-most vital character to Steven Moffat’s plans.
But I hung in there, and I’m glad I did, because the next four episodes were what I actually watch this show to see. “Night Terrors”, “The Girl Who Waited”, “The God Complex”, and “Closing Time” were very close to standard stories and, in the case of “The God Complex”, one of the best stories to come out of the new series. What did they all have in common? They actually told stories about the main character. And not only that, they told quiet, low-key stories. At no point was Earth, the Universe, or Time Itself under any assault that only a lot of yelling and explosions could solve. These were the Amy (and Rory) stories I wish I’d been getting all along.
In fact, these were such a different tone from most of the rest of the season, that “Let’s Kill Hitler” (and the rest of that nonsense) receded from my mind. Until, of course, the coda at the end of “Closing Time”, which was like having a tasty meal and then finding out that dessert is a kick to the head.
And at last we arrive at “The Wedding of River Song”, which took all the nonsense of “Let’s Kill Hitler” and “A Good Man Goes to War” and ramped it up way past 11. It’s a roller coaster ride of crazy bullshit coming at you so fast you hardly have time to realize that almost none of it makes any lick of sense. They tie all the loose ends together by just mentioning most of them, but none of it serves as any actual plot or explanation and, just for the hell of it, they dangle a couple more threads that maybe they’ll pull on in the future (or, maybe, like the exploding TARDIS, they’ll just shrug and move on from.)
After I had stopped watching The X-Files I was visiting my friends who still watched it. An episode came on and, while I didn’t pay much attention to it, I was in the room while it was on. It was one of the “mytharc” episodes, so they were talking about a bunch of that foolishness that had happened after I stopped following. It was a weird experience, seeing Very Exciting Things happening to characters I sort of recognized, but for reasons I didn’t fathom and with consequences I didn’t care about.
Watching “The Wedding of River Song” gave me that same feeling. It felt like these characters were only barely related to the ones I’d been watching during the previous four episodes. I had no connection to them, no idea why they were doing what they were doing, and what relationship it had, if any, to what else I’d seen. After it was done, Becky asked me what I thought and honestly, all that came to mind was, “Man, I am glad that’s over.”
That’s really not how I want to feel about this show.
I hope River Song is lying down for a long nap. I hope we’re going to give it a rest with season-long story arcs. I hope those four good episodes are an indication of how Season Seven is going to go. I am ready to actually watch some Doctor Who for a change.