Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Doctor Who mid series finale: A Good Man Goes to War (spoilers)

‘Because this is it, this is the day he finds out who I am’

…except most of us had worked it out as far back as Day of the Moon.

As with most series of Doctor Who, some episodes I love, others I find unsatisfactory; too busy, confusing or just full of holes (that may or may not be filled in later). Despite this, the writers generally are still delivering what we all want in a family Sci Fi slot; something to scare the children, amuse the adults and satisfy the Whovian nerds.

The biggest failing for me in this series was that the big twist was hinted at too early. Revealing Amy's  pregnancy as she went into labour would have worked better and given less time for speculation and theories about 'the girl'. Amy never looked visibly pregnant anyway due to physically being on Demon’s Run while leaving her heart, soul and mind on the Tardis with the odd bleeding of reality to fuel intrigue. The doctor’s scanning alone would have subtly implied it, raising questions over why he was scanning her and resulted in so much more imaginative speculation.

It was far too easily seen through for a pregnancy to be announced and a mysterious child to appear from the future too. And a child that can ‘break out’ of a space suit, again points too much at the great escapee River Song.

The most interesting part of this series for me has been the dynamics of The Doctor, Amy and Rory. With hints of intimacy between the Doctor and Amy contrasting to her constant joshing with Rory, her beloved ‘stupid face’ from a girl that seems emotionally stunted at times was the big tease.

Over the half series there has been lots of clever word play where the viewer may not have been sure whether Amy was referring to the Doctor or Rory. This ambiguity was continued with the revelation of human plus Timelord DNA in the baby Melody, especially around the cot scene when Rory pleads;

 ‘Are you sure there’s not something you’re not telling us?’.

This revealed Rory's own uncertainty and questions the relationship of Amy and the Doctor, especially at his startled face at the Doctor declaring,  ‘It’s mine’...meaning the cot of course.

The episode, particularly the opening scenes had an epic feel, very Star Wars in places alongside the assembling of some of the Doctor's friends and foes.

Glimpses of some of the favourite monsters past and present kept viewers attention as music built up the battle cry with a  big sound not unlike that of the Imperial March; quite something to pull off in a mere 50 minutes.

River Song’s birthday in 1814 was another hint at the revelation but more subtle than the obvious ‘Timehead’ of previous. In this scene River takes on the mannerisms of a little girl rather than the ‘flirty’ Doctor Song we have grown used to, again planting ideas of her childhood in your mind as she talks of ice skating at the last frost fair and jokes of Stevie Wonder singing for her.

The identity of Melody is further suggested as Amy walks away from the Tardis saying she doesn’t like the noise, again pointing to River’s insistence that the noise is horrid as the Doctor keeps the breaks on when landing her.

Moffat managed to get in some 'adult' jokes, probably in bad taste to some minds with the Stevie Wonder gag and  implied lesbian relationship between the Silurian and her maid, most notably the very provocative,

I don’t know why you put up with me’, cue to shot of very big tongue…hmmm if the blind and gays are fair game, imagine how many Moffat could squeeze into the next strangely named ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’?

This episode also gave us some of the more touching scenes from the series; the unconditional love of new parents Amy and Rory, the Doctor holding a new born  and placing it in his cot, the death of the turned goody Sontarin, 'the nurse', the tears of joy at seeing the Doctor again  from the lost girl 'Lorna'.

Ultimately affecting was watching the birth of River Song when we have already witnessed her eventual physical death in the library to be saved on a hard drive by her heroic Doctor; an emotional conundrum of time and events out of order. There has been a trend in recent times to bring people back though.

So for next series; this ‘sort of’ finale answered enough but has still left us dangling impatiently and in hope the impressive baddie ‘Eye Patch Woman’ turns up again along with the headless monks and their eerie prayers. (By the way, how did the Doctor get a monk’s robe?).

Questions like where has Melody been taken? Will Amy and Rory get her back? Will that then be the end of their journeys with the Doctor? Are the Doctors actions raising questions about universal fear? Why did Melody/River shoot the doctor on the beach? Was it her in the spacesuit and was it the real Doctor?

There was another teasing line hidden away in earlier dialogue between Rory and River Unless there’s two of them’ meaning doctors and points in time, her reply being ‘ Now, that’s a whole different birthday’.

Enough to keep us waiting in time and space anticipation…great performance from Matt Smith and Karen Gillan and as Rory (Arthur Darvill) demands 'Would you like me to repeat the question?' finally he's a man and not merely a stupid face.

Related Posts: 
The Impossible Astronaut
Day of the Moon
The Doctor's Wife

Related Links:
Watch on iplayer :A Good Man Goes to War 

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