Written By: Steven Moffat
Directed By: Peter Hoar
A TCC RATING OF
All will be revealed at last!
But seriously, we get a major reveal at the end of the episode as well as at least a hundred more questions as to what the heck is going on. What did you think of the episode? Were you thrilled by the turn of events or turned off by them? Was Rory a badass or what? As always, our thoughts about the episode are immediately following the synopsis. And feel free to chime in with your own thoughts as there's quite a lot to mull over.
Synopsis and thoughts after the jump!
A Good Man Goes To War begins with The Doctor recruiting several old allies: Sontaran Commander Strax, Silurian Madame Vastra and her human companion Jenny, and the black market trader Dorium Maldovar, who was last seen in Pandorica Opens. Meanwhile, Rory collects intel on Amy's whereabouts from a Cybermen fleet and then tries to get River Song to come along to help with the assault. She refuses and explains to Rory that this is where The Doctor will find out her true identity and that she can't come along just yet.
While this is happening, Madame Kovarian (Creepy Eye Patch Lady) prepares her troops stationed at Demon's Run to fight the Doctor. Assisting her with this endeavor are the Order of the Headless Monks, who take to their name quite literally. Among the soldiers is a young woman named Lorna Bucket, who claims to have met the Doctor at a young age while in the Gamma Forests. When she tries to befriend Amy by giving her a cloth token with Melody's name on it, she gets the cold shoulder and a stern warning about the Doctor's fury.
The troops gather around their leader Colonel Manton as he explains who the Headless Monks are and how they're unable to be phased by reason. He uncloaks each one down the line, revealing stubs where their heads used to be. When he reaches the last one, it's revealed to be the Doctor. He gives a chipper hello and cues his allies to do their thing. The lights go dark and he disappears.
One of the soldiers freaks out and shoots a Headless Monk by accident, and the Monks retaliate. Colonel Manton attempts to restore order by forcing everyone to take out the power packs to their guns. As they do that, the Silurians, Sontarans and Judoon forces appear with weapons raised. At the same time, Rory reaches Madame Kovarian before she can escape and retrieves his daughter Melody. Henry & Toby Avery make a brief appearance here to help Rory out.
The Doctor, considering this his greatest achievement, celebrates with Vastra and Dorium. It's short-lived, however, when Dorium discovers that Madame Kovarian has been scanning Melody this whole time and that there are traces of Time Lord DNA in her. The Doctor guesses that Melody was more than likely conceived during Amy and Rory's honeymoon aboard the TARDIS and that the time vortex had something to do with the altering of the DNA.
As everyone else regroups, Amy and Rory tend to their daughter using the Doctor's ancient wooden cradle. Madame Kovarian, well away from Demon's Run, contacts the Doctor to explain Melody's purpose in this world and that she will be developed into a weapon for the war against him. She also delightfully explains that he's fallen into yet another trap and that fooling him twice is a privilege.
Instantly, the TARDIS is blocked by a force field, and the Headless Monks attack. They manage to kill Dorium, Strax and Bucket before being fully defeated. At the same time, Kovarian appears to Melody via the method she used for Amy and tells her to wake up. The baby bursts into goo, signifying that she was also made from "the flesh." Amy goes into hysterics just as the Doctor arrives. He tries to calm her, but she's inconsolable.
River appears at this time, via teleportation. The Doctor accosts her for not helping when she was needed most. She explains that she was not able to help and that all of these events were brought on by him; or rather, these events were brought on by a genuine fear of the Doctor. Angry and over-emotional, The Doctor demands to know who she is.
River shows the Doctor the cradle, directing his attention to the Gallifreyan symbols on the side. He recognizes River's identity immediately and runs off to the TARDIS to rescue Melody. He asks River to take everyone back to their proper time stream and then vanishes.
Still a bit hysterical, Amy brandishes a gun and demands that River explain what the Doctor learned. River does as before and points out the cradle, which leads Amy to believe the clue is in the Gallifreyan symbols. Instead the clue is in the cloth token made by Bucket. The name "Melody Pond" has no direct translation in Bucket's language, so she approximated and instead etched "River Song" into the cloth. River confirms that she is in fact Melody.
And now, our thoughts on the mid-season cliffhanger!
I wanted more.
I wanted more than River being Amy and Rory's kid. It was so obvious that I hoped it would be a red herring. All that build up for something I gathered when I saw the casting info.
I wanted more than a big battle that didn't happen.
I wanted more than a retread of a retread and yet another young girl that met and then became obsessed with The Doctor.
I wanted more than another "enhanced" companion.
I wanted one of the species that The Doctor loves so much to actually be his equal. Having her be part Time Lord just cheapens her. Having her be Amy & Rory's kid just cheapens them all.
I just wanted something to make it feel like it was worth looking forward to.
I'm not disappointed with the actors, the effects crew or even the boom mic guy. They were fantastic.
I guess I wanted too much. Won't make that mistake when it returns in the fall.
The episode was a bit clumsy in terms of pacing and continuity, and the big reveal that River is Melody just wasn't that big of a surprise. That speculation has been bouncing around in my noggin since at least the first episode of the season. I do like the direction they're going in with River's character, but I'm not sure I quite get or like where they're going with the whole "half Time Lord" thing.
The brightest point in this episode is when River finally calls the Doctor out for being the big bully of time and space. She knocks him down a peg or two and it was quite a nice moment. I like the idea that the Doctor isn't the all-perfect savior of the universe and when that aspect comes into play, the story is stronger for it. I'm reminded faintly of Waters of Mars in which the Doctor declares himself the "Time Lord Victorious." And while this isn't nearly as well-written as that, the thought is there and it's appreciated.
They seriously need to stop trying to trick us into thinking Amy is talking about the Doctor when she talks about "her man." It's about as worn as Rory dying, and frankly kind of irritating. And what was with the Cybermen, anyway? I understand Rory needed the info on where Demon's Run was, but did it have to be the second most irritating villains in the history of Doctor Who?
And this is where Doctor Who takes a hiatus until some time in September. TCC will have a brief retrospective to bring you up to speed just before the second half of the season, so stick with us!