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Sunday, 5 June 2011

A Good Man Goes To War

When there's a cliffhanger as massive as last week's there really is nothing you can do to solve it apart from jump forward a few weeks and carry on the tale. I'm glad that A Good Man Goes To War did this - there was so much happening in this episode (and yet not much at all at the same time - I'll get to that) that a scene where the Doctor and Rory mop up Ganger-Amy's goo from the TARDIS floor while chatting about what the hell is going on would be... a silly waste of time.

Instead, we jump straight in. Amy's kidnapped. She's given birth to her baby daughter, Melody (I guessed here - or would have done if I hadn't already known), saying her goodbyes as she knows that the (still) mysterious Madame Kovarian will be separating mother and child. Then Rory stands up to the Cybermen who are monitoring the area of space where they think Amy is - Invasion-style "Wheels In Space" are destroyed to send a message - the Doctor's first dark act; you should never piss him off, you know.

And so we begin! A breathless, largely-narrative-free-but-in-a-good-way 20 minute introduction before it gets to a too-easy battle between our heroes and the Clerics and the Headless Monks (both returning mentionees from last series' Weeping Angels two-parter) who are seemingly working with Kovarian to take Amy's child and turn her into a weapon for use against the Doctor. Why? Not sure! This lack of answers disappointed me at first, but then I remembered that the series isn't over! Even though it FEELS like the finale this episode marks only the half-way point!

Allied with Sontaran nurses, lesbian Silurians (and their girlfriends), Judoon and wheeler-dealer Dorium (the fat blue fella from The Pandorica Opens) - as well as more-than-worthy-should-be-future-companion Lorna Bucket, a cleric who had an encounter with the Doctor when she was just a young girl (and the key to this whole River Song mystery) Rory and the Doctor launch their attack on the Church and take Demon's Run, saving Amy and Melody. But too easy is right! Kovarian is smarter than we think. She's taken the real Melody off into space - Melody, who, it turns out, has Time Lord DNA within her thanks to being conceived within the time vortex - and has replaced her with a Flesh avatar. Seeing Amy cradling a child that suddenly melts into flesh just like Amy did is not only shocking but very disturbing!

It was an episode in the vein of The Pandorica Opens, but with a more epic, reaching feel. Some of our new allies are outstanding - the shamed Commander Strax, Sontaran Nurse - steals the show with his blunt and violent "compliments" and laugh out loud allusions to being the best space-nanny there is! Wonderful, too, is Dorium - a sort of Good Jabba - who unfortunately meets a rather grisly end at the hands of the Headless Monks. Returning are Captain Avery and his son from The Curse Of The Black Spot and "Danny Boy" from last year's Dalek mess - flying his Spitfire through space and time in assistance to the man he helped save before - a silly "what?" moment, but a no less punch-the-air-able moment. In fact, this is the sort of "everything but the kitchen sink" creation RTD wishes he could have pulled off. I loved it, even if it was slightly lacking in narrative. It looked good, it did its job, but you could write the "story" of this one on the back of a postage stamp.

But the real point of the episode, if we're honest with ourselves, was The Big Reveal. River Song's identity. She refused to help Rory and the Doctor at the start of the episode, claiming that she could only show her face at the very last moment due to this being the Doctor's darkest hour... Finding yet failing to find Melody Pond - tricked into a false victory which gives the enemy the biggest head-start they've ever had! But she shows up...

Finally. I can talk about it. Thanks to spoiler-hound friends I've known "the Song Identity" for some time now. And I've tried my best to be good about keeping it to myself. Now I don't have to! It's out there. Officially! River Song IS Melody Pond. Amy and Rory are her parents. She's their Daughter! Yes. Who saw that coming? Well, most of us, I think, as soon as we realised that the baby's name was Melody Pond. But it works, you know! It really works! We still don't know who she is in relation to the Doctor - (well, we do) - and we still don't know who the "Good Man" was that she apparently killed, resulting in her being locked up in Stormcage. But at least some of the River puzzle is solved. The next piece needed is the answer to the question "what does this mean?". And where do we go from here?

The Doctor has run off, safe in the knowledge that Melody will be okay - River's here, after all. He's got a plan. He's got a smile on his face. He's left everyone who helped save the Ponds stranded on an asteroid with only River to take them home. And the next episode is called "Let's Kill Hitler"??? More questions than answers, if you ask me! But what better way to ensure our return for the second half of this excellent series?!

I've missed out so much information about the story, but if you're reading this then I'm assuming you watched it yourself. It was amazing. It was funny. It was cheeky (cunnilingus and group sex jokes at 7pm on a Saturday night - what's not to love about that?). It was BIG. And, above all, it was emotional. Doctor Who is the best show on television by light-years! Roll on "Autumn".