Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Peter Hoar
River (to Amy/Rory): “It’s me, I’m Melody. I’m your daughter.”
Every now and then, there will come a time where I will want to kick myself for reading a spoiler but as a spoiler junkie, I only have myself to blame. I knew for weeks about River’s identity and went through a short period of disbelieving it, only for the last while to see how it could make some sense.
So that means when the episode ended with Amy reading the translation of Lorna’s prayer leaf in relation to her daughter’s name, I was just pleased it was finally revealed. That’s right – I was pleased. Not shocked or disappointed or apathetic as some viewers probably were but happy in my own way.
Whoever River was going to turn out to be, it would always disappoint someone. The fact that she’s Amy and Rory’s grown up daughter, formerly known as Melody Pond still doesn’t detract from the fact there’s still so much about her we don’t. We can theorize about the ins and outs of her relationship with the Doctor and the good man she’s set to kill (assuming she hasn’t done it already) but until they’re explicitly shown on screen, we still don’t know for sure.
Dramatically, it’s also rather satisfying as well in its own way. Melody/River was a little girl born to a woman who had the universe pouring through her thanks to the cracks in time and a man who simply will not die, no matter how many times he’s killed. Never mind the fact that she’s also partially Time Lady – River really is impossibility.
It’s also because of this that Madame Kovarian makes more sense as a villain as well. She’s determined to stop the Doctor at any costs and having the perfect weapon in Melody/River is certainly a way to go about it. That being said, I cannot sympathise with her plight and only hope that failure is imminent for her.
A woman who’s seemingly appalled by the destructive status of the Doctor but at the same time kidnaps a young mother and holds her prisoner and then pulls a double bluff on them all with baby Pond. Kovarian might believe she’s doing the right thing but I genuinely don’t believe she is.
Colonel Manton almost seemed like more of a moral character as well as the Clerics than Kovarian does. I doubt for a second if Kovarian can use Melody as a weapon that she would stop with just the Doctor’s demise and with six episodes left to go in this season, it’ll be interesting to see whether I’m right or wrong.
I liked the Doctor and Rory in this episode calling in a lot debts in order to mount a rescue for Amy and Melody but at the same time, I didn’t need Dorium’s sense of foreboding terror to make me realise that it was a little too easy. No way was someone as determined as Kovarian would give up in getting one over on the Doctor.
The scene where she finally played her hand and revealed a flesh version of Melody to a distraught actually bothered me a little. It didn’t offend me but it was definitely and poor Amy and Rory went through the ringer in this episode, with both Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill excelling at every turn.
Amy had been given supervised visits with her baby that the moment she was reunited with Rory and the Doctor, I couldn’t help but cheer. This episode alone has literally made me realise how attached to this TARDIS I actually am that all their scenes got to me, especially the one where the Doctor gave Melody his own cot as well.
Also, I think what really got me was the doubt Amy did show the Doctor for a tiny moment when Melody was taken and the fact that she pointed a gun at River. I’m not entirely sure if River intended to tell Amy and Rory who she was but I definitely loved the way she got the message across to the Doctor without actually saying the words. Now there I have to praise Matt Smith and Alex Kingston.
Of course our main four players aside and Madame Kovarian too, this episode followed a tradition of finales with a plethora of various monsters and guest characters. However this episode might go as using them for the best compared to other seasons and that included the brief Cybermen appearance in this one. Cybermen on screen for about a minute actually worked in their favour.
I can’t really decide what guest characters I liked the most – the gay couple named Fat One and Thin One were like a comedy duo, soldiers Lucas and Dominicus were there to be tied up by awesome Silurian warrior Madame Vastra and her girlfriend/human/Victorian servant, Jenny and even the idea of a nurse Sontaran in Strax, brief Judoon appearances, Avery and his son and the duplicitous Dorium were all delightful.
I think apart from Vastra getting the Doctor to work out what Melody was intended, the best of the guest characters was the tragic Lorna Bucket. A reverse Amy in some ways – waited for the Doctor but he didn’t remember her, I loved her doing her best to comfort Amy and help the gang. Her death was also pretty effective along with Strax’s demise too.
In terms of game changing, I think this is debatable. It certainly changes how we might view the relationships between the Doctor, Amy, Rory and Melody/River but I’m still not entirely sure it’s a game changer for the whole series. Still though, this is one episode that is going to be talked about for many years to come and that’s a guarantee.
Also in “A Good Man Goes To War”
This was the longest episode we’ve had so far this season, clocking in at around 50 minutes.
Rory (to the Cybermen): “I have a message and a question. A message from the Doctor and a question from me – where is my wife?”
The Cyberleader in this one looked similar to the one from “The Next Doctor” and all the Cybermen were lacking the Cybus logo.
Strax: “Tonight, perhaps my penance is over. Captain Harcourt, I hope to meet you in the glory of battle where I shall crush the life out of your worthless human form. Try and get some rest.”
River: “This is the battle of Demon’s Run. The Doctor’s darkest hour. He will rise higher than before and then fall so much further. And I can’t be with him till the very end.”
Rory: “Why not?”
River: “Because this is it. This is the day he finds out who I am.”
River was celebrating her birthday in 1814 with the Doctor and Stevie Wonder, Madame Vastra murdered/ate Jack The Ripper in 1888 and Strax came from the battle of Zaruthstra in 4037 AD.
Amy: “Can I borrow your gun?”
Amy: “Cos I’ve got a feeling you’re gonna keep talking.”
The Doctor (to Colonel Manton): “Look at me, I’m angry. I’m really not sure what’s going to happen now.”
Madame Kovarian: “The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules.”
It was confirmed in this episode that Amy’s been in captivity since the start of the season and she remembers everything her flesh avatar has experienced.
Amy: “Okay, what are you doing?”
The Doctor: “I speak baby.”
Amy: “No, you don’t.”
The Doctor: “I speak everything, don’t I Melody Pond? No, it’s not, it’s cool.”
The Doctor (re Amy’s pregnancy): “”When?”
Madame Vastra: “I am trying to be delicate. I know how you can blush. When did this baby begin?”
I loved the poem that River recited about “Demon’s Run” when the Headless Monks started attacking everyone.
Amy: “No offence to the others but you’ll let them die first, okay?”
Rory: “You’re so Scottish.”
The Doctor: “The child is not a weapon.”
Madame Kovarian: “Oh give us time, she can be. She will be.”
This is the first time in the series history we’ve had a split season but the remaining six episodes of the season are Series 6 though.
The Doctor: “Who are you?”
River: “Oh look, your cot. I haven’t seen that in a very long while.”
The Doctor: “No, you tell me. You tell me who you are.”
River: “I am telling you, can’t you read?”
A date has not been confirmed for the second half apart from Autumn 2011 but is the next episode really going to be called “Let’s Kill Hitler?” Oh and I liked the little preview with the skeletal hand and the sonic screwdriver at the end. Time runs out indeed!
“A Good Man Goes To War” was sublime in so many ways. It furthered many plots, finally gave us a much answered question (though not completely), had some of the most memorable guest characters while the main characters were at their best but it’s gonna be hell waiting for the second half of the series though.
Rating: 10 out of 10