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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

‘Doctor Who’ blogging: “The Wedding of River Song”

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song Alex Kingston Matt Smith Karen Gillan

(all spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode! this is a love fest only — all complaints and bitching must come from a place of love / previous: “Closing Time”)
Can a thing be overly complicated and too simplistic at the same time? Cuz that’s what “The Wedding of River Song” was. All that to-ing and fro-ing. All that buttoning and unbuttoning. So many moments when I went, “But, hey, wait a minute, that makes no sense!” So many moments when I felt like I was being cheated.

I don’t want a Doctor Who that, every time it paints itself into a corner, gets out of it by having River say, “The Doctor lies.” (Are we not meant to believe anything the Doctor says anymore?) I don’t want a Doctor Who that, every time it gets too timey-wimey, just brings in another time-traveling entity to jump right over the tangled webs. (The Doctor having the Teselecta deliver his TARDIS-blue envelopes for him just felt so wrong.)

These are very convenient tools for retconning your way out of a mess. But they are not very satisfying ones. They are not very fun ones.

If River-in-the-astronaut suit can’t stop what she is doing because the suit is in control, then anyone could have been in the suit. The suit could have been empty. Hell, what was the point of the suit at all? If the Doctor is so deeply hated as Madame Kovarian indicated in earlier episodes, then there should have been people lined up to kill him. Kovarian could have been in the suit, or not in the suit, pulling the trigger. If the purpose of River was to raise her to want to kill him but it didn’t take and she doesn’t want to kill him, why is she still part of the plan? Even if Kovarian’s stated motive of the Doctor having already been such an enormous danger was quickly discarded (which is a shame, because it was at least a new angle on the character and his impact on the universe), the Silence’s only motive for killing him appears to have been nothing more than preventing him from being an even bigger danger in the future. They don’t appear to have wanted to torment him, by crafting a lover for him who would later turn on him. So what the fuck, basically?

If all of history is happening at the same time, then there should be Daleks and Cybermen on this compressed Earth, and Amy shouldn’t have to draw them to remember them. Right?

What was the point of the marriage ceremony? So that River would be the woman who married the Doctor, not the woman who murdered him? But she still had to be the woman who murdered him, too. Clearly, there did not need to be a ceremony for the Doctor to tell her the secret that he is the Teselecta duplicate, so what the heck was it all for?

I cannot help but shake the feeling that Steven Moffat wrote a creative check as the season opened that his brain could not then cash. (I felt that way about last season, too, but not as strongly as this.) It all feels so calculated. Not organic. Not natural. Not real. Tick tock goes the episode.

You know what? I don’t buy this:

I’ll suffer if I have to kill you. –River

More than every living thing in the universe? –the Doctor

Yes. –River

She must be a psychopath if she can say this. But we’re supposed to believe she has overcome the psychopath that was trained into her. Or whatever Kovarian and the Silence did to her.

This is not a woman worthy of the Doctor.

Moffat, if you want to turn Doctor Who into a pantomime, just tell me now, so I can stop expecting to be emotionally involved by each episode.

How can the Doctor be so important that knowing his identity would cause the end of everything? “The first question, the question that must never be answered, hidden in plain sight, the question you’ve been running from all your life: Doctor who?” It does make me laugh to hear it spelled out like that, to see the central essence of the show turned into a Thing. (It was clever, too, I have no problem saying, how Moffat turned the fan debate over who the hell River is — the woman who marries him or the women who kills him — into a flirtatious conversation between the Doctor and River.) I just don’t like how it was done here. How the whole season has played out simply does not feel right. All the elements are there for something totally fascinating and profound, but I hate that I came up with, in my own head, ways to tie them all together that seemed more unaffected and more affecting. (I’d been saying all along that it would be a Flesh Doctor who was killed at Lake Silencio — I wasn’t far off with that. That could have been more affecting: a Flesh Doctor would have had a life of his own to lose, and that could have been played to powerful narrative advantage. But the Teselecta was just a machine. The people inside weren’t impacted at all.)

I’m still clinging to my notion that everything that’s happened during Eleven’s regeneration has been happening in a parallel universe. There is room for a reboot that will fix it without having to be completely a cheaty reset button. (Like how Amy remembered killing Kovarian. That was a powerful moment, and it will continue to affect Amy even though it never actually happened, because she remembers it.)

How can the question of the Doctor’s identity be “the oldest question in the universe”? What is the “terrible, dangerous secret that must never be told”? How about this: We still don’t know why the TARDIS exploded. What if that explosion resulted in the creation of a bubble universe? That would make the Doctor the God of this universe, its creator. He is the literal and figurative center and cause of this universe. Perhaps he has forgotten that (I’m inventing a selective amnesia for him). Perhaps if he remembers, he can unexplode the TARDIS and uninvent this universe.

Surely, “the fall of the Eleventh” refers to the end of the Eleventh Doctor’s life, no? At “the Fields of Tenzalore.” (Which I cannot help but read as “Ten’s allure.”) Unexplode the TARDIS, uninvent the bubble universe, rewind to the regeneration of Ten into Eleven… and suddenly there’s a new Eleventh Doctor, but with the memories of the bubble Eleven.

We can retcon it. We can make it better.

At the very least, can we at least take “I got too big, too noisy” to mean that the Doctor will, next season, go back to being an intergalactic do-gooding space bum, not the center of every mythology in the universe?

Random thoughts on “The Wedding of River Song”:

• We all knew who the Soothsayer was gonna be, right?

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song Matt Smith

I bet this sort of thing happens to the Doctor more often than he’d like to admit.

• The universe is ruined and it’s all a woman’s fault? Not “an accident.” Not “a mistake.” Not “an act of love.” But “a woman.” Really? *sigh* I guess sexism is cool now.

Oh, and what the hell was that “wedding ceremony”? River’s parents have to say “I consent and gladly give,” but what about the Doctor? Who consents and gladly gives for the Doctor? Or is Gallifrey is as sexist as Earth, and women are treated as property to be passed about?

• Amy finally shows some anger over losing her chance to raise her baby, and how her baby was hurt. Hoorah.

• Very Firefly:

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song

I’d like to see, in future episodes, more of the seedy side of the universe, please.

Slapping the Dalek eyestalk down on the bar?

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song

I like this Doctor…

• Time Lord walks into a bar carrying a Dalek eyestalk and… a copy of Knitting for Girls?

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song Matt Smith Knitting for Girl

Bwahahahahaha! I do like this Doctor!

• Very Indiana Jones:

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song

No rats, but: There were skulls, Doctor. Bitey ones.

“Throw me the head, I throw you the whip!”

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song

(BTW, the IMDB says it’s Mark Gatiss under all that makeup.)

• It’s rare — perhaps so rare as to be unprecedented — to see the Doctor this horrified:

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song Matt Smith

Grossed-out, even.

• Nice little tribute to the Brigadier… But, hey, wait a minute! If the Doctor can still help Rose Tyler with her homework, he can go back to a point before Lethbridge-Stewart died and hang out with him then. Can’t he?

• The Doctor really does look older, as Amy noted, doesn’t he:

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song Matt Smith

Good makeup job? Or is Matt Smith just exhausted? Don’t you think he looks tired?

(I must say that the eyepatch is very rakish. Even though it’s not an eyepatch.)

• The “all of history at once” stuff was quite cleverly depicted:

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song

It had a sort of whimsy that we haven’t seen much of lately in the show.

• Charles Dickens on breakfast television talking about his upcoming Christmas story? Brilliant!

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song Charles Dickens Simon Callow

That’s exactly right: he’d be telling stories people eagerly anticipated and wanted to hear about in advance. Because he did do that. Dickens was the Victorian equivalent of must-see TV.

• Great quotes:

“You’ve got an office on a train. That is so cool.” –the Doctor to Amy

“I love him very much, don’t I?” –Amy, about Rory
“Apparently.” –the Doctor

Doctor Who Wedding of River Song

“You just can’t get the psychopaths these days.” –the Doctor

“Why do you always have handcuffs?” –the Doctor to River

“There are so many theories about you and I, you know.” –River
“Idle gossip.” –the Doctor
“Archaeology.” –River
“Same thing.” –the Doctor
“Am I the woman who marries you, or the woman who murders you?” –River
“Oh, I don’t want to marry you.” –the Doctor
“I don’t want to murder you.” –River
“Well, this is no fun at all.” –the Doctor
“It isn’t, is it?” –River

“River Song didn’t get it all from you, sweetie.” –Amy to Madame Kovarian, as she kills her

“So, you and me, we should get a drink sometime.” –special agent bosslady Amy
“Okay.” –Captain Williams
“And married.” –Amy
“Fine.” –Captain Williams

“Who’s carrying me? I demand to know. I’m a head — I have rights.” –Dorium

(next: “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”)

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  • Sassy3012

    aargh!!! Did some moron in the comments actually babble that BS that they are married because they remember? What kind of brain-dead half-wit says crap like that? And why should the dr be saddled with this gross ugly sadistic sociopathic puke from hell?!!!! And she doesn’t “get better”!  What kind of moron thinks the Dr can cure her with Love?! Why would he love this sick pig? she is not a time lord. For the billionth time people! GALLIFREYAN IS THE RACE AND TIME LORD IS THE TITLE that only a few of the Gallifreyans ever obtained!
    Sheesh! She is nothing special she is ugly as hell. she is an obnoxious puke. She makes all the decent fans want to vomit. She looks like a drag queen when she’s all dolled up and her voice sounds like a man trying to sound like a woman.
    Oh and getting back to that insane and laughable BS about them being married because (goo goo ga ga) they remember being married well then following that inane and moronic logic then if Amy and Rory remember not being married then would they cease to be married? Of course not. That would be………insane?! LOL!! Seriously, the level of stupidity in some people. so-called adults babbling like 6 yr olds.
    The reviewer is spot on. This episode was a total farce! And Moffat is a massive chauvinistic pig. His woman are all nasty condescending a-holes who need to be b-slapped a few thousand times. (and I am a woman btw lol) The doctor deserves a thousand times better then this grotesque pile of manure that looks and acts like something that fell out of Moffat’s rear-end.
    Next Season will be the shows undoing unless someone can convince the incompetent half-wits at the BBC to fire him and hire someone a whole lot more talented and imaginative then he is.

  • Sassy3012

    BTW Not one word that flowed out of that vile woman’s mouth in that episode had ANYTHING to do with REAL LOVE!! Anyone who thinks it’s okay to hold the universe hostage and then use it as leverage to BLACKMAIL someone into marrying them is displaying love is one sick half-witted fool who needs some serious psychiatric help. NO!! You Are Sick!! You are not playing with a full-deck. She is not a normal person. and for all the pin-heads when normal people talk about opposites attract, they are talking about PERSONALITIES!!! DUHHH!  like one person is quiet and the other is outgoing. One person likes the country life while the other prefers the city life!  THATS WHAT THEY MEAN!! not morally. so River being the doctors moral opposite means she is an extremely bad choice for him. What the heck is Steven Moffat smoking that would delude him into thinking this gross sociopathic pig from hell is somehow the Doctor’s “ideal” wife is mind-boggling. He must really hate the Doctor big time. The first Doctor on his worst day could do a thousand times better then that worthless piece of crap.
    River stinks up every scene she is in. Alex was the worst choice for this role. But since this role is SO BADLY WRITTEN even Miss Universe would look ugly and disgusting in it. not kidding. I would still call her a sociopathic pig. and the only ones calling this pig a hero or the dr ideal wife are mentally unbalanced male chauvinist pigs. male or female.
    No point in watching.  a friend of mine has gotten so sick of Moffats BS that she has decided to write her own version of series 7 & 8. I would actually like to see a lot of the imaginative and talented fans do this. So we can chose from a number of stories to call series7. I doubt any fan could do any worse then moffat.

  • Anonymous

    You know, if you don’t like it, don’t watch it. I haven’t read ALL of your reviews, but I have read several, and even in the so-called “positive” ones you find plenty to bitch about. If you find it that bad just stop watching it and by extension stop whining to the world about it.

  • bronxbee

     so… afraid to let anyone know who you are, grouchy, fanatic?  or you just don’t believe in discourse about something.  is everything you love perfect?  great.  and if you don’t like the site, don’t read it.  sheesh.

  • Peter Svochak

     River and the Doctor are NOT married. They never GET married, but River believes it to be. They did not have a real ceremony, it was an excuse for them to touch and start time again. It was always the Teselecta on the beach. And when the Doctor eventually takes her to the Singing Towers and gives her his sonic, he will also tell her his true name; because he knows that she’s about to die and the secret dies with her. It’s brilliant! The Moff had this all planned out since Ten’s era, with “Silents in the Library” (Intentional misspelling)

  • And that’s why you’re “writing” and whining about how many loopholes Moffat’s storylines have and why SM is the controlling force behind the greatest Sci-fi show in the history of the planet. Keep doing what you’re doing and let Moff keep doing what he’s doing. Ratings have never been better internationally.

  • BTW. You need to write your columns with a bit more of an open mind. Your cynicism is oozing out of each sentence. It creates an bias approach to the series straight away. How is that fair to a viewer that hasn’t watched the series yet? As I agreed with you on some cases, that Series 31 is the strongest Series of the modern era. It most certainly is better than any crap that Davies has throw into a blender and set on frappe. No matter how horrible you think Moff’s writing is, all you have to do is going back 1 or 2 seasons and compare it to the garage that was written not even 24 months before. “Last of the Time Lords” Now THERE’S something to put in a blender and set on “Beat”.

  • Jekring

    I’m sad about this River bashing, I love her! Just my opinion though. I think she is an interesting foil to the Doctor, and because she is who she is, their love affair doesn’t want to make you vomit as much as the Rose love affair did. Although I am not completely convinced she is over her psychopath thing yet (but the River we will be seeing will keep getting younger so I think we will see how she became who we know her to be now). 
    Also I’m guessing a lot of your problems with this will be resolved next season. We don’t even really know who the silence is, or who might be behind it! Maybe another time lord? How many Daleks have we seen who survived the time war, but only the master survived as far as time lords go? Certainly any time lord who survived would have a bone to pick with the doctor. Anyways about this : “How can the Doctor be so important that knowing his identity would cause the end of everything? “Forgive me if I am saying something already said, I didn’t read all the comments. But my boyfriend and I have this running theory between us that his name (which seems to be what must never be said…but you never know with dr who) is some sort of key to unlock the time war or at least has something to do with it. Anyways its something epic, that much is clear. 

  • Jekring

    Also on the point of River being old… the doctor is  almost 1,000 years old…. I somehow don’t think River is too old for him, or that he would see it that way either

  • Tonio Kruger

    So apparently it was a Jewish wedding ceremony.

  • Niala Wesley

    She was in her forties but to me she looked like she was in her fifties. When I think of a woman in her forties I think of Julie & Kirsten from The OC, Rachel Weisz, Stacey Dash, Alyssa Milano, Regina King, Catherine Zeta Jones, Lucy Liu, Courtney Cox, Ellen Pompeo, Taraji P. Henson, Lauren Graham, etc.

  • Niala Wesley

    I was agreeing until you said she was teenaged. She was a kid, regenerated, and then lived from the 40s to the 21st century and then was sent to the future where she had time to get a bachelor’s degree and PhD. So by the time she was taken to the lake she was already at least in her 80s.

  • Niala Wesley

    How was he even her guy at that point? The River in the spacesuit never traveled with The Doctor. She was Mels that was taken to the future and got her PhD in archeology in hopes of meeting The Doctor again, the person she had briefly met and murdered.

  • Reginald Anselm Leppik

    None of it makes even less sense if you consider that the only reason anything like this happened was BECAUSE time changed. As if time can now predict being changed.

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