We've been marching ominously toward the Doctor's fate at Lake Silencio in the second half of season six. The finale "The Wedding of River Song" does answer a lot of our questions, but in Doctor Who style, new threads and mysteries are added to the timey-wimey jumble.
The episode begins in an earth where everything is askew; time stopped ticking and remains set on April 22, 2011 at 5:02 p.m., the Doctor's death date. All of time and history are happening at once because the fixed point of the Doctor's death was rewritten. River Song, the impossible astronaut of the Utah lake refuses to kill the Doctor. The Doctor, with the aid of Amy, Rory (again as a soldier), and River herself must kill the Doctor to save the universe from the Silence.
Check out my most memorable moments from the finale.
- A world gone awry — Though the episode has the heavy task of addressing the Doctor's death, plenty of visually fun and creative elements are included to show how time is affected when the Doctor doesn't die. Since history happens all at once, we see a dramatically different world. Winston Churchill is the Holy Roman Emperor since the Roman Empire never fell, pterodactyls are like obnoxious pigeons, cars are transported via hot air balloons, Charles Dickens is a media celebrity, and Area 52 is housed within a pyramid accessible by high-speed train. Perfect sci-fi fun.
- The Doctor meets Indiana Jones — Three cheers for the Doctor channeling Indiana Jones. Outfitted in his Stetson hat while searching cavernous depths for Dorium Maldovar, the Doctor is spooked by roaming critters and announces, "I hate rats," which any Indiana Jones fan will recognize as an ode to the ultimate hat-wearing history explorer. Maybe an ode to his future archaeologist wife as well?
- A mother's love — Many fans have complained this season that the Ponds didn't seem too affected by missing out on their daughter's early life. This episode should dispel that idea, as we see Amy have her final revenge on the Silence and Madame Kovarian. Amy's slow motion action sequence and line "River Song didn't get it all from you, sweetie" proves Amy does love her daughter, but just came to terms with the reality quickly, and doesn't just wait around for others to save her.
- The wedding — The timeline of the Doctor and River's relationship has always been a tad difficult to grasp. She was bred to kill him, yet they're moving in opposite time streams; the more they meet the less he remembers about her. The Doctor and River's wedding was ultimately a drastic move by the Doctor to get River to agree to kill him. She loves him so tremendously that she claims she'll be destroyed if she kills him and is willing to sacrifice the entire universe to avoid a lonesome fate. Maybe this is romantic, but we've never seen River act so selfish, which the Doctor even bitterly calls her out on, which you can't help to cringe a bit when River continues on her love speech to the Doctor in front of her parents. Is the audience to believe the Doctor loves River just as deeply?
- The Doctor outsmarts the universe, again — Finally seeing Amy and River interact as mother and daughter was also a much-needed wrap-up to discovering that they are, well, mother and daughter. River's reveal that the Doctor didn't die comes as no surprise; the Doctor always has something up his bow tie. By calling in the help of time-traveling bounty hunters the Teselecta, the Doctor creates a double to be killed by River's astronaut at Lake Silencio. Somehow, the universe and the Silence are fooled, though you would think these details wouldn't get past such fearsome villains. Dorium Maldovar points out at the end of the episode that inhabitants of the universe will continue to seek the answer to the oldest question; one seasonal theme we can expect to see again in the future.
Ultimately it was the Doctor's staggering reputation and heroics that caused his death sentence. The villains he consistently defeats got wise to his tricks, largely in part to the Doctor's own boasting, and called for his death to avoid their own. In the next season (which won't air for one very long year), expect the Doctor to fly under the radar and chew on some generous servings of humble pie. Did you feel satisfied with the resolution to so many of the season's themes?