After seven weeks – okay, eight if you live in America – this abbreviated season of Doctor Who wrapped up with “A Good Man Goes To War,” an episode that answered a bunch of questions, and raised a bunch more. So who was it? Well, I’ll tell you… After this recap. (SPOILER ALERT!)
Just to get you up to speed, we finally found out what’s going on with Amy Pond’s pregnancy, and the weird woman who kept opening up a portal and telling her to breathe last episode: Amy was replaced by a ganger – a flesh robot that channels your mind and soul, while you’re hooked up to a machine in the real world. Turns out, Amy has in fact been captured by an intergalactic army as a way of luring the Doctor into a trap since pretty much the first episode. Not only that, but the army wants to use l’il baby Pond as a weapon against the Doctor.
But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves: first, Amy tells her daughter – Melody Pond, which is quite obviously nothing like anyone else’s name on the show right off the bat – the story of the man who will come to rescue her. He’s a legend, thousands of years old, and will stop at nothing to come for them. He is, of course… The Last Centurion, Rory Pond. And Rory, after destroying a legion of Cybermen with the Doctor’s unseen help, goes about calling in favors to put an Oceans’ 11 style team together.
He grabs a Victorian era Silurian, sword-wielding proto-Sherlock Holmes, and her possibly lover/assistant*; and a bunch of other people I’m being too lazy to look up, but they boil down to shifty fat blue guy, warrior nurse, and as a surprise, space pirates. However, Rory is unable to recruit River Song, because, as she says, “This is the day the Doctor finds out who I am.”
Meanwhile, over at Demon’s Run, the home-base of the future army led by Eyepatch Lady (seriously, I pay really good attention to these shows, I’m just terrible with names), we find out that they’ve allied themselves with the Headless Monks. The Monks – who in a departure from regular Doctor Who villains, are all the same, and don’t talk/repeat the same phrase over and over – actually don’t have heads, but do have the ability to turn religion into dragonballs, so that’s nice.
Anyway, while there, we meet a young female soldier who once met the Doctor. She actually joined the army as a way of meeting him again, and as comfort to Amy, gives her a piece of fabric with Melody Pond written in her own language, which definitely doesn’t translate wrong into something that sounds like Melody Pond, but isn’t.
So The Doctor finally shows his face, tricks the Monks and army into attacking each other, before taking over Demon’s Run, and bloodlessly getting everyone off the base. While we take a slight pause, the Doctor discovers that Amy’s baby is half Timelord, but only because Rory and Amy spent their wedding night on the TARDIS. Note: Doctor Who is a show for children.
Also? The Doctor winning was planned by Eyepatch Lady, who attacks his band of ragamuffins with the Headless Monks (they’re not alive, see, so they don’t show up on life-scanners), and reveals that she’s tricked the Doctor the same way twice: Amy hasn’t rescued her baby after all: the baby has also been a ganger the whole time. TWIST TIMES ONE THOUSAND.
…And then River shows up. And everyone freaks out at her, because she waited until it was too late. So River first chides the Doctor, revealing that the reason people on Earth use the word Doctor to mean what it does is that he created it; but the rest of the Universe has learned to fear him, so Doctor means something entirely different. They mean to use Melody Pond as a weapon against him, because his reputation is that he is evil. That’s pretty much it.
Oh, also? River reveals who she is to The Doctor, he giddily runs off in the TARDIS, and then River reveals who she is to Amy and Rory, but showing them the cloth with Melody’s name on it. Seems, despite what I said earlier, Melody Pond doesn’t translate right… It reads on the cloth as… Wait for it… River Song.
End of season, followed by the best teaser of all time: “Doctor Who will return This Fall in, ‘Let’s Kill Hitler.’”
So how did this wrap up? As an episode, this was pretty good… The getting the band together was very reminiscent of the end of last season, and the episode was extremely flabby in the middle, as we waited for Eyepatch Lady’s trap to be sprung. But on a whole, well acted – the small moments with Rory, Amy, and The Doctor were great. And seriously, Matt Smith is giving a good run towards Best Doctor of All Time. The River Song reveal was telegraphed from the beginning of the episode – my wife and I, when she was named Melody Pond, turned to each other simultaneously, and said, “River Song.” But the last scene with Alex Kingston was still emotionally effective, so bully for that.
Also, bully for good new enemies for The Doctor! Sure he’s going to win in the end, but seeing Eyepatch Lady get one over on him in such a simple, head-slappingly obvious yet we had no idea it was coming way was vintage Steven Moffat. I’m excited to see more about this army, and where the plotline is going.
Double also, this episode felt BIG. If we have to suffer through a “foggy, tiny pirate ship” episode once a season, so they can blow the budget on time and space spanning fare like this, I’m all for it.
That said… This is only half the story, if that. As an episode, it had its moments. As part of a whole, we won’t know how it turns out until later this year. Fingers crossed, our minds get blown. Not literally, though.
*Who, from doing a simple survey of the Internet and my brain, seem to be direly in need of a spin-off show.