A Good Man Goes To War

Note: This episode reveals the identity of River Song and deals heavily with Amy’s apparent pregnancy. If you haven’t seen it or been spoiled about these things already, you might not want to read this yet.

I’m feeling overwhelmed about how to approach this one, so I’m going to try breaking it up into 5-minute segments.

0:00 – 5:00
Loved the reveal of Rory, and Amy’s ambiguous speech leading up to it. As he points out later, it makes no sense for him to be dressed as he is, but it’s still pretty sweet. I like that the Cybermen only have a cameo here; I’m not fond of their new-series incarnation and had feared they’d play a larger role.

5:01 – 10:00
Not really sure what to make of the “Thin Fat Gay Married Anglican Marines” joke, or whether it even is a joke. There’s some clumsy exposition here about the Headless Monks, who are by far my least favorite thing about this episode: they’re stupid on just about every level and almost entirely pointless. I’m assuming we’ll probably see them again, and their induction ritual will seem like less of a red herring, but I hope not. Also, Lorna Bucket is totally adorable and sexy. I love a woman in uniform.

And then we get the Silurian cameo, and even though I feel like she makes almost as little sense as the Monks, I love her anyway. Part of it is that, as we’ve discussed, I love Silurians, but there’s something about the idea of a bisexual Silurian samurai who has just eaten Jack the Ripper for dinner that slips right past all my filters. Also, Jenny is totally adorable and sexy. I love a woman who can handle a sword.

On my first viewing I was kinda cheesed off about the Sontaran, another monster I’ve always loved who’s been increasingly ill-used since its inception (which reminds me, I need to buy The Time Warrior). But on my second I liked the idea more, and found a lot to admire and enjoy in his character. The 4000s sequence alone is more exciting and suggestive of awesomeness than the entire Sontaran two-parter from the Tennant era. It kind of makes me wish Moffat were writing this sort of thing as part of a standalone episode, instead of just a moment of backstory inside an arc chapter.

10:01 – 15:00
So which two Doctors spent River’s birthday with her? Presumably they have to be future Doctors. Somehow I can picture Six being the past Doctor who’d be most game for a threesome with himself. Don’t ask me why.

I like the big blue guy. This show could use more characters like him.

15:01 – 20:00
You can see the bow tie on the Doctor’s shadow, but it REALLY doesn’t look like him at all. It looks like a twelve-year-old boy in a bow tie. Or a baby dyke. Wouldn’t that be a trip if River’s Doctor turned out to be a woman!

More Lorna. She’s so cute, I don’t even care how contrived her role in this story is.

Ew. Tied-off-balloon neck. Just gross. And then we have the “ta-da!” moment, which is moronic. I guess if your point is just “this Doctor is prone to ill-considered grandstanding,” it fits…

20:01 – 25:00
…and I guess it’s part of some plan to create paranoia between the Marines and the Monks, but it really seems like they could have sorted this out pretty quickly. Everyone knows what’s under the hood now; they just have to throw them back and it’s clear the Doctor isn’t among them. Also, we see a couple of Marines die in this sequence (unless they’re just stunned, but Colonel Runaway seems awfully upset over just a stun), so I wouldn’t say they win with no blood spilled.

Oh god, the WWII space fighters. And yep, Captain Avery is back. Mercifully it’s just a shout-out in both cases.

25:01 – 30:00
“Angry” is new? Since when?

“Speaking baby” is cute. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Matt Smith can sell just about everything, really. I wonder why he’s smelling the baby and Amy?

30:01 – 35:00
Thanks to Lungbarrow, one of the last of the New Adventures books, there’s a semi-canonical idea floating around that Time Lords aren’t born but “loomed,” and that their home life is kind of a weak ripoff of Gormenghast. I like the implication here that, loomed or not, Time Lords do still start out as babies (then again, I guess we had this confirmed by one of the Master flashbacks as well).

We get more backstory about Time Lords here, and it’s a little interesting that the Doctor explained so much about his people to the Silurian. I think I’m okay with the idea that exposure to the Time Vortex influenced Time Lord evolution over billions of years (which is a long time even in evolutionary terms, though). I’m not sure about the idea that just gestating in the TARDIS over nine months can produce the same effect, though, even if your midwife is a clever eyepatch lady. But whatever.

35:01 – 40:00
More Monks. Yawn. And they kill off Blue Guy, who asks for it in a display of stupidity that is entirely at odds with his apparent profession as a crafty fence / arms dealer. Maybe he thought he was just buying everyone else time.

Would you believe that it wasn’t until the Sontaran was dying that I realized that Rory being a nurse is a joke about him being second fiddle to the Doctor? The Doctor and the Nurse. Sheesh.

It’s probably a good idea for the Doctor to set the sonic for “dissolve Flesh clones” every time he meets someone new from now on.

40:01 – 45:00
Poor Lorna. Gosh, she’s cute.

I’d heard that this would be the “take the Doctor down a peg” episode, and it’s about time. I don’t like the idea that everyone in the universe is scared of the Doctor. Considering the next episode is called “Let’s Kill Hitler,” it’s not entirely clear that he’s come down any pegs at all, though.

45:01 – 48:00
I don’t see why River’s name should be on the crib at all. If it’s really the Doctor’s, it would be his, right? And if it’s hers, wouldn’t he already know?

In any case, my friend (also one of maybe two people who reads this) was right about who River turns out to be, or at least who she’s connected with. It’s weird, in a “Jacob falls in love with Bella’s baby” way (that’s right, I just implied that Doctor Who is cribbing from Twilight), but it’s fine, I’m down with it. I’m just relieved to have some of the mystery dealt with.

So: did we see the murder she’s been doing time for in “The Impossible Astronaut”? Or is this going to be a Doctor/Rory switcheroo again and she’ll have killed her own father instead, in some episode we haven’t seen yet? I’m going to have to go back and watch “The Impossible Astronaut” again to see how she reacts to seeing what is presumably her own past. Heck, I’m gonna have to go back and watch the Angel two-parter from last season now to see how she reacts to Amy. Something tells me she kept a total poker face throughout all those episodes where she saw her mother and father.

Of course, now we know how they’re going to do Young River Song. She’s going to have regenerated, and they can cast whoever they want. Is she the Doctor’s companion next season? Do they already have someone in mind?

All in all, I really enjoyed this one, probably more than any of the other episodes so far this season. I can think of reasons I shouldn’t have — all the bombastic action and derring-do that feels so out of place on this show, the rushed “magic trick” elements of the Doctor’s plan which make the details mostly irrelevant, the way the whole thing is largely a contrivance to set up the final revelation and the supposed character development which I’m not sure we’ve seen (has he already fallen? is it still to come?) — but I did anyway. I wouldn’t even call the ending a cliffhanger; I’m looking forward to the second half of the season, but I’m not on pins and needles, and that’s just how I like it.


  1. Jeffrey Lampert · June 5, 2011

    Usual rambling thought:

    I think the linkage was pretty obvious from the Eleventh Hour onward, from the handcuffs, to the “fairytale” name, etc. I just wasn’t sure what the exact relation was going to be. But the opening two-parter kind of solified that for me (although I hedged my bets, wondering if Moffat was throwing us a red herring).

    Still, well-done. As for River’s reactions from prior episodes, yes, I’d say she had a good poker face (though Alex Kingston had been told the whole thing from the outset by Moffat). If reports are to be believed, there is an upcoming scene, set from River’s POV after Flesh and Stone (hm…not ‘The Flesh and Stone?’), where she talks to Amy about how hard it was not to say anything that would give it away.

    I like the Doctor and Nurse analogy (plus Last of the Time Lords + Last Centurion). The Sontaran was kind of an anti-Rory (Solider turned Nurse).

    Amy says to the Doctor in the opening two-parter about worrying what affect the TARDIS would have on the baby, which just seems like something Moffat made her say in order to prime the audience, but I don’t think that’d be something she’d think of. (Then again, perhaps it was The Flesh talking. After all, she tells the Doctor, ‘No, actually I’m not pregnant’, so clearly the Flesh as a whole has some influence. As a whole, I can accept the idea that travelling in time has some effect on the travellers (e.g. Doomsday), but I don’t picture Amy suddenly worrying about that out of the blue on her own – someone (Moffat, or the Slients [they did give her some post-hypnotic suggestions]?) made her say that.

    I like the idea of Doctor = Warrior. So Doctor Song means Warrior (yes, I know; she said Dr of Archaeology)

    Someone joked “fallen” == “fallen for River.” I don’t buy it. Overall, the show’s settled into making some rather sweeping statements. The Dr’s worst day? Really? Worse than Adric’s death? Worse than sealing off Gallifrey? A literal fall? (How high was the Pharos Observatory Dish?)

    We don’t really know what the Dr read on the crib, though it’s implied. Otherwise, from a plot POV, why not have it translate to Amy (and us)? Just to let the Dr fully react and run off before we get to Amy’s reaction? Though I’m sure it conveyed River’s identity as *part* of what it said.

    And how exactly do the translation circuits take time to translate to Amy and Rory *after* the TARDIS has already gone?

    The show’s been very good lately at dropping little one-liners that people forget about but I think are kind of crucial, e.g.

    – Rory saying that he remembers his time as the Last Centurion only sometimes, as if a door in his head opens up briefly. Hm, living plastic vs living flesh…Genesis of the Autons? (oh, and BTW, the Sontarans reproduce by cloning…)

    – As mentioned, Amy’s concern about time travel effects on babies

    – The flesh-Doctor, trying to stablilize, suddenly has a non-sequitur about Cybermats. (Supposedly the Cybermen [note the lack of Cybus logos] are back later in the series)

    I do think, though, that I’m getting sick of the kitchen sink list of alien guest stars. The Silurian presence, in particular, makes *NO* sense.

  2. encyclops · June 5, 2011

    Agreed about the grandiose statements — I didn’t see why this was “never risen so high” either.

    Not sure where Rory’s door would really take us. He can’t be Flesh or he would have dissolved in the TARDIS. I guess it would have to relate to some quantum uncertainty about the universal reboot? It seems a little obscure, especially compared to “clues” like “The only water in the forest is the river.” Still, I’m never really sorry to see the Autons back in play.

    I always liked Cybermats, mainly because I was way more scared of deadly little things that can hide anywhere than huge hulking adversaries that had no hope of sneaking up on you or being under the porch steps when you went to take out the garbage at night. Hopefully it’ll be a more interesting Cyberman ep than we’ve typically seen.

    I’m with you on the kitchen sink list, especially when it’s obvious they’re just reusing costumes because hey, we’ve got them lying around (e.g. the random Judoon). And yes, the Silurian army was incredibly hard to swallow (where did they transmat in from and where are they going after that? back to hibernation somewhere? really?), but I decided to grin and bear it because I really like looking at them.

  3. Jeffrey Lampert · June 5, 2011

    Re: Rory’s door. While I don’t really think they’re setting us up for an Auton story, I just meant that it was a foreshadowing to Amy’s ganger, since, like Amy, he had a door in his mind that seemed to open up. (Though judging from the end of this episode, Kovarian’s door is physically there)

    I’ve been reading some of the reviews for this episode, and I have to say, some of them are complete idiots. For one thing, they can’t grasp the fact that the little girl (or anyone, for that matter) may not be in the suit when the Doctor is shot. And a few were completely surprised by the ending – surely, at least by the time they heard the name of the baby, they should have figured it out immediately.

    *sigh* I feel like this was when I was having conversations with people before the last Harry Potter book came out, and a couple people couldn’t conceive where Snape’s true loyalties lay. *blink* *blink* Really, honestly? *blink* *blink* (oops, don’t blink or you’re dead…)

  4. encyclops · June 5, 2011

    I think you’re probably smarter and more observant than most people, Jeff, so it doesn’t surprise me that you’re considering things that most reviewers aren’t. I haven’t been spending much time thinking about whether the little girl is River, or about whether she’s in the suit when it shoots the Doctor, but I’d agree those are far from settled facts. I don’t know whether I would have figured out the ending in advance if I hadn’t talked about the Pond/River connection with you — I’d like to think so, but I wouldn’t bet on it (I was surprised by The Crying Game and The Sixth Sense, after all).

    Snape, on the other hand…now that was obvious! 😉