It’s time for adventure once again, as the Doctor runs into a very familiar figure. It’s his time-traveling better half, River Song (Alex Kingston, getting her name in the credits). She’s apparently married to a megalomaniac galactic conqueror named Hydroflax, played by Greg Davies. Well, his head anyways…
So apparently River has not recognized the Doctor, although she has sent for a surgeon. More than a few hints are dropped by the last Timelord (even going as far as saying he’s the Doctor) to the point that I thought surely River has figured out it’s him and is just having a laugh. The motive is much more poignant. As the two run away with Hydroflax’s head which contains a diamond that is the only reason River was hanging around anyways, they run into yet another of River’s husbands’, Ramon. Who doesn’t remember them getting married yet. River casually reveals she wiped Ramon’s memory one day he was being annoying.
Seems River is actually looking for the Doctor in any of his 12 known faces (yes, William Hurt counts as the War Doctor but let’s keep Tennant as 10 and Matt as 11 so my head doesn’t explode). However the literal photoset she has ends with Matt Smith’s likeness. In a very meta way, the Doctor points out that he could’ve adopted another face, to which River replies even he has his limits.
The time traveling couple end up at a fancy space cruise (no, not space cruiser – an actual cruise ship in space) where River’s attempt to sell the diamond still inside Hydroflax’s head goes belly up the moment that the buyers reveal themselves to be fanatical followers of… Hydroflax.
Meanwhile, the headless robot armor has followed them and made a deal with Flemming, the maitre d’. Flemming knows about River’s diary (which she has already mentioned is filling up) and offers it to Hydroflax as a way to gain the Doctor’s own head.
It’s at this point the Doctor learns what River Song believes to be true: that she loves the Doctor but that love is not returned, and that the Doctor would never come to her rescue. It’s a cruel truth, but she’s had good motives. Of course, it’s then that finally it becomes evident to the Doctor that River really loves him and he’s never returned the feeling properly. At the same time, River finally recognizes the Doctor.
Saved by a meteor shower, River and the Doctor end up in the TARDIS as they crash land in Darillium. With the whole Hydroflax business over and done with, it’s time to manipulate time and space once more and finally take out River on one amazing date night. She’s resigned but hesitant. It’s their last night together that is supposed to last 24 years.
It was a decent episode that hit all the right spots and feels to give River Song a well deserved send off. Cementing Peter Capaldi as the 12th (13th if you want to give John Hurt a number) incarnation, it also gave us one more adventure with River that completes the full circle of her story with the Doctor.
- The Doctor has always known that his last night with River would be at the Singing Towers of Darillium ever since River mentions it before her death in Forest of Death back on Season 4 (David Tennant).
- In case you were wondering, John Hurt does appear in the photoset that Ramon got from River. He’s right before David Tennant. Matt Smith is the last picture, which means River only meets Peter Capaldi’s incarnation of The Doctor once. Of course, we can always have an episode where people’s memories are getting wiped. Again.
- I had to rewatch Forest of Death to see River saying goodbye, it’s the second part of Silence in the Library. Which I recommend you watch first, since it’s the first time the Doctor (and the audience) meet River Song.
- I kinda wished some allusion to the Ponds was done in this episode, but at the same time this is River’s goodbye episode so it’s fair she was the center of attention.
- Comedian Greg Davies did a good job playing Hydroflax. It wasn’t a scary enemy, and the head collection thing did gave it an over-the-top feel while still making him a threat. The fellows that could rip their head open were scarier. Then again, this episode needed just a decent enemy, not an overly scary one.
- River Song preparing the Doctor for the TARDIS. The Doctor completely overacting his surprise.
- It’s not the first time that River Song takes the TARDIS for a spin. After all, she returns it to the same time where the Doctor leaves it. Mind blown.
- As usual, River knows something we never knew about the TARDIS. Like a minibar hidden behind a secret panel. I’m already missing her.
That will do for now.