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Review of Doctor Who ‘A Good Man Goes To War’

Neela Debnath

SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 7, series 6/32 of Doctor Who7 DW River 2 300x214 Review of Doctor Who ‘A Good Man Goes To War’

The truth has now been revealed: River Song is Melody Pond (Amy’s daughter). There was always speculation as to the identity of River but now everyone knows who she is. Can it now be safe to assume that a child version of River killed the Doctor in episode one? It would make sense given that River has been taken by Kovarian, the metal eye patch woman, and trained to be a weapon against the Doctor.

Saying this, we still don’t know how the Doctor dies or whether he really has died at all. Through some timey wimey, wibbly wobbly lines which involve a conception aboard the TARDIS, a semi-Time Lord creature has been born.

As time has gone on River is looking younger and younger. This week she looked particularly youthful and given that she can re-generate, is this one of the last times we will see the wonderful Alex Kingston playing River? So many questions and yet there is no diary with spoilers to be found anywhere.

Another question that sprung to mind was that of the Doctor suddenly becoming so all-knowing when he reads the words on the baby cot and realises who River is. How can he possibly know his future? How does he know that they will kiss and be together? Throughout River has always been saying “spoilers” but it is something that has been mentioned less and less as their timelines have crossed further. The time will soon come when River will not know who he is and he will know everything about her.

If there has been criticism that Doctor Who has become too complex and leaves its audiences behind, this episode must have had a massive backlash, given that it drops viewers right into the middle of the action without any explanation as to how the characters have got there. All is based on conjecture where the viewer is left to fill in the gaps themselves.

Showrunner Steven Moffat is leaving behind the days of spoon feeding the audience and is pushing them to watch closely and think for themselves. For most of the time, ‘A Good Man Goes To War’ will have the viewer scratching their head and they may even re-watch the episode to better understand what is happening. In a subtle way this confusion draws people more into the show and gets them thinking about it. Conundrums like why is Rory a Roman centurion again? And why did a Silurian eat Jack the Ripper?

Moffat also wanted to bring back the element of suspense through the use of cliffhangers and this one kept viewers on the edge of their seats. Prior to the Doctor Who renaissance of the noughties, the show would have stories spanning over several episodes that were linked together though a series of cliffhangers. However, during the Russell T. Davies era these were taken out in favour of one-off, self-contained stories that would be wrapped up neatly in 45 minutes. Although they were fantastic stories it meant viewers were non-committal to the show. By bringing back the use of cliffhangers people are enticed to come back the following week in order to find out how the story ends.

Audiences will now have to wait until the autumn for the second half of the series which will begin with ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’, could this be a Doctor Who version of ‘Valkyrie’? The title alone sounds quite adult given that the concept of murder is out of sync with the Doctor’s policy of no killing and no guns. Then there is the name Hitler which can only refer to the Nazi dictator. Nevertheless the Doctor has yet to reach his darkest hour and fall further than he has before.

Picture: BBC

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  • WotIFink

    It comes down to who you think the show if for. If you think like me that it is a kids TV show (I would not bother having it on but for the enjoyment of watching it with mine) then you might agree with me that the inclusion of such false, contrived parts of storyline is to the detriment of family viewing and only serves to an agenda that I don’t understand.

  • atkinsonatkinson

    I’m starting to care about Doctor Who about as much as I care about a crossword puzzle. Fun to figure out the tricky bits but after that you can just throw it away. The best parts of Doctor Who were getting to know and care about the characters, and for those characters to face real obstacles, not confected armies who last for a few minutes. As a writer Moffat should know the difference between telling his audience what to think and showing an audience a story for them to relate to.


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