Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Review of Doctor Who's 6x08: "Let's Kill Hitler"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Richard Senior

Mels/River (to Rory): “Oh, shut up, dad. I’m focusing on a dress size.”

Well, it’s certainly a better line than “I always dress for the occasion” or “carrot juice”. So, the pretty volatile, TARDIS hijacking Mels turned out to be River Song. Even without being spoiled, you would’ve easily guessed that revelation within a minute of her introduction.

The antics in the cornfield with Amy, Rory and the Doctor, the Leadworth flashbacks – could Moffat have been any more obvious with who Mels was going to turn out be? Still, for those of us who wanted to see another adult version of River, this was a great way of doing it, I think.

Nina Toussaint-White made for a good version of the child of the TARDIS, even if she was given far less screen time than I actually expected and her regeneration into Alex Kingston is one of my favourite regenerations, right after the Derek Jacobi/John Simm one of the Master. Actually, watching this episode made me think of the Master for some reason too. Oh yeah, I want see him and Eleven face off next series but that’s neither here nor there.

River’s always had a duplicitous side to her manner and this episode exploited it for all it was worth. As Mels, she might have grown up aside Amy and Rory (and that’s a whole other issue to contend with) but being kidnapped and programmed by Madame Kovarian and the Silence meant that she was always going to kill the Doctor and she bloody well became both his executor and saviour all in one go in this episode.

I loved the poison kiss, even if it lived up to every femme fatale cliché in the book and seeing River for the first time made for a daunting experience. It also made for Alex Kingston’s best performance so far in the show. The way she was getting to her body, insulting the Third Reich and stealing clothes. I’m surprised the sets were intact with the amount of scenery that was being chewed in this one.

Joking aside, River’s dangerous side was definitely felt here though. She had no problem using her regenerative energy to knock soldiers out of the way and her ‘murder’ of the Doctor attracted the attention of the Tesselecta, who came pretty close to ending her existence as well, were it not for the Doctor, Amy and Rory.

The interesting thing for me in this episode however was the Doctor’s attempts to survive. Even when he was on the verge of dying, he made damn sure that Amy, Rory and River were all safe and although it took a while, River finally cottoned on to the fact the Doctor was very important to her as well.

River sacrificing her remaining regenerations in order to save the Doctor was one hell of a gesture to make but does it mean that she’s human now or still partially Time Lady? One thing is certain though are the fact that River now has a certain diary in her possession and somewhere in time, she’s taking on Archaeology as a vocation. I wonder what that could possibly all lead to.

However, getting back to a main issue of the episode though – is this it for both River’s story arc and Amy and Rory’s search for her? Is River soon about to stop recurring in the Doctor’s life and are the Ponds ever going to raise their daughter? I mean, it’s interesting that they grew up alongside Melody but is that satisfying enough for an audience to accept. Should we accept it? I’m not sure if I want to, if I’m being honest.

I liked that in the end of the episode, Amy and Rory questioned whether or nor they’d get their own child back and considering that we’re guaranteed five more episodes with them, it’s likely they’re not going to be reunited with Melody just yet.

Of course, River/Melody/Mels wasn’t the only talking point of this episode. After all, this is an episode called “Let’s Kill Hitler” and surely Hitler needed to be an important character too? Actually, no – Hitler was anything but important to this story at all because apart from being punched and locked in a cupboard by Rory, he had nothing to do.

Perhaps that was smart thinking on Moffat’s part too, considering that if Hitler had an expanded role in this one, the show would’ve been forced into some murky territory. Using him more as an idiot and promptly doing away with him after the gang accidently saved him was probably the best approach after all.

The only thing that’s arguably less successful than Hitler in this episode were the Tesselecta. We’ve had enough justice enforcers in the series and this lot didn’t add anything too new, other than disguising ship as the people they miniaturise and give hell too. It also didn’t help that the Doctor treated them more as an inconvenience than an asset to him either.

Also in “Let’s Kill Hitler”

There was a previously on bit containing clips from “The Impossible Astronaut”/”Day Of The Moon”, “The Almost People” and “A Good Man Goes To War”.

The Doctor (re newspaper headline): “Seriously?”
Rory: “Well, you never answer your phone.”
Amy: “Okay, you’ve had all summer. Have you found her? Have you found Melody?”

The scene in the cornfield was actually the last bit of filming for the sixth series and it was only filmed about a month ago.

Mels/River (to Amy, re the Doctor): “You said he was funny, you never said he was hot.”

Rory: “I’m not gay.”
Amy: “Yes, you are.”
Rory: “No, no I’m not.”

And that wasn’t the only gay reference in this episode. Anyone care to go to a gay gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled? River seems to like them.

Hitler: “Thank you, whoever you are. I think you have just saved my life.”
The Doctor: “Believe me, it was an accident.”

Mels/River (to the Doctor/Amy/Rory): “Last time I did this, I ended up a toddler in the middle of New York.”

So that little girl was River? Okay, obvious but what question is so bad that a religious order like the Silence have to program an assassin to stop the Doctor from asking? Assuming that he actually asks/uncovers it.

The Doctor: “I thought we were getting married.”
River: “I told you, I’m not a wedding person.”

River: “It was never gonna be a gun for you, Doctor. The man of peace who understands every kind of warfare, except perhaps the cruellest. Kiss kiss.”

There were brief cameos of Rose, Martha and Donna in this episode, but only as pictures whereas Amelia got to be the voice interface of the TARDIS.

River (to Nazi soldiers): “Tip for you all. Never shoot a girl while she’s regenerating.”

River (to people in a restaurant): “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t have a thing to wear. Take off your clothes.”

The Doctor got himself a nice new green coat in this episode and even dressed up in his coat and tails again.

Amy (to Antibodies/Tesselecta): “We come in peace.”
Rory: “When has that ever worked?”

Ship Captain (re River): “Why would you care? She’s the woman who kills you.”
The Doctor: “I’m not dead.”

The show has been moved back to a 7pm timeslot. I think that’s the first time since at least one episode during Season 4.

River: “Look at you, you still care. It’s impressive, I’ll give you that.”
The Doctor: “River, please.”
River: “Again, who is this River? She’s got to be a woman, am I right?”

The Doctor: “Find her, find River Song and tell her something from me.”
River: “Tell her what? Well, I’m sure she’ll know.”

It was also the TARDIS that taught River how to fly her, if this episode was anything to go by, not the Doctor.

River (to Amy/Rory): “He said no-one else could save him but he must have known I could.”
The Doctor: “Rule one, the Doctor lies.”

The Doctor (to Amy): “Haven’t you figured that out yet?”

Chronology: Both 1938 Berlin and a couple of months after “A Good Man Goes To War” and the Doctor’s still fated to die on April 22nd 2011 at Lake Silencio.

Well, this was certainly an interesting way of picking things up. “Let’s Kill Hitler” continued on it’s timey-wimey madness, delivered a lot of laughs via River and seemed to be wrapping up her overall story. Both Hitler and pre-WW1 Berlin could’ve been put to better use but that’s a minor quibble for such an excellent story.

Rating: 9 out of 10


Guada GN said...

I´m in love with this season.
Im not gonna start throwing theories around cause at this time, I don´t have a clue about what´s the Moff up to. I mean, I could, and I might even be right here and there, but I won´t, I´ll let it wash over me :)

shawnlunn2002 said...

Me too. This episode was such a blast to watch.