Wednesday, March 16, 2016

NuWho Reviews: A Good Man Goes To War, Let's Kill Hitler, Night Terrors, The Girl Who Waited

A Good Man Goes To War

Last time on Doctor Who, we discovered that: 1.) Amy has been a replicant this whole time and 2.) Real Amy has woken up to discover herself in labor, which has got to be a really horrible way to wake up.

Amy, held prisoner in a place called Demon's Run, has given birth to a girl, who she names Melody Pond. For some reason we still have this last minute "WHO IS THE FATHER" nonsense that wasn't needed, and also one of the soldiers working for Eyepatch (actually named Madame Kovarian) is a fangirl, because she met the Doctor once and he was awesome. Also, she is a soldier who can embroider, because she's making a little charm with Melody's name on it.

Meanwhile. Rory has put on his Centurion's uniform, because of course he has. He and the Doctor are gathering up an army to rescue Amy. Rory blows up a Cyberman fleet.

Need I say more?

However, when he goes to fetch River, River says she can't come with him; this is the day the Doctor finds out who she is.

The Doctor gathers up people we've never met before: Vastra, a Silurian who has taken up the path of detective work in Victorian England, her human wife (look we've already had cat-human hybrids; just go with it), and a Sontaran who has been forced to work as a nurse due to a past dishonor. He promises the boy he's healing that one day they will meet in glorious battle. Strax, for the record, is the greatest Sontaran ever, and I will fight everyone over this. Captain Avery comes along, with some Judoon, that fighter pilot from World War II, Dorium Maldovar, this blue guy who I didn't even remember, but was apparently in The Pandorica Opens.

Madame Kovarian's army is ready, some of whom are literally headless monks. Why do they need to be headless? So they can't be fooled? Well too late, because one of the "headless monks" is the Doctor, so they got fooled anyways. Probably could have used those brains in the heads they don't have.


During the fight, Amy and Melody are freed, Rory cries as he holds his little girl, and then it is revealed that the baby does indeed have Time Lord DNA, SO WE GET ANOTHER STUPID "WHO IS THE FATHER" THING THAT WE DIDN'T EVEN NEED, because like two seconds later we realize that she was conceived on the TARDIS and the time vortex was involved, which kind of makes the TARDIS calling Rory the "pretty one" all that stranger, but look at this point we've had cat-human babies and lesbian Silurians, pretty much anything is up for grabs now. The Doctor gives Amy and Rory his old cot, inscribed with Gallifreyan words, for the baby to use.

Anyways, everyone gets cornered outside the TARDIS; Lorna the fangirl soldier changes her mind and tries to help them, only to die. Dorium gets beheaded, and no one cares because we saw him like once. StraX is fatally wounded, but don't worry, he'll get better, with hilarious results.

Madam Kovarian calls to taunt the Doctor about fooling him twice, and he freaks out, but it's too late because Melody is actually a replicant baby too, and she just melted, which isn't traumatizing at all.

Then, River arrives. and reveals that this whole army gathered against him because they think he's really really scary, and apparently only heard the parts about how he was awesome and not about how he saves all the things.

The Doctor demands River explain who she is. She takes him over to the cot. The Doctor starts making very undignified squeaky noises, and then the audience does too. But then he gets confused, because he has kissed River, and he's worried how Rory and Amy are going to react, but then he says he'll find Melody and runs off, leaving River to explain things as Amy points a gun at her. River shows them that embroidered charm with Melody's name in Lorna's language. Turns out, Lorna's home doesn't have anything but rivers, and they write last names first.

So Melody Pond becomes...

Also, this will be the third time Amy has pulled a gun on her own daughter. Just saying.

Let's Kill Hitler

You heard that right. Finally, we will touch on the age old time travel trope of killing a horrible person in history.

But first, Amy and Rory are creating crop drawings in a field to get the Doctor's attention, because he won't answer their phone calls. But when they look at the newspaper clip of the drawing, they see an extra line. Who's doing that?

Why, it's their old buddy Mels, who you never heard of before but who has been their friend since they were all kids, and Amy and Rory have always had to keep an eye out for her. Why yes, Amy did name her daughter after Mels, there is no need to side eye the episode that hard.

The police arrive, because Mels' car isn't actually Mels' car, and Mels pulls a gun on the Doctor. What does she want to do? Oh, let's kill Hitler, and use the title of the episode while we're at it.

We get some flashbacks, in which Mels is generally crazy, and also is instrumental in getting Amy and Rory together. She's also very obsessed with the Doctor.

Meanwhile, in the 30's a shapeshifting robot containing tiny time police has insinuated itself as a German officer and tries to kill Hitler, but the arrival of the TARDIS accidentally stops it. Chaos ensues, Hitler starts firing a gun, and Rory punches Hitler in the face, tells him to shut up, and puts him in a cupboard, fulfilling everyone's wildest fantasies for them.

Mels has been shot. Mels is regenerating. Literally no one except the characters are surprised when Mels pops back up with the most glorious hair ever.

She flirts with the Doctor and declares she will wear lots of jodhpurs.

Amy and Rory are a bit disturbed, to say the least.

Hitler just wants out of the cupboard.

The Teselecta are freaking out, because the Doctor's murderer is in the room with them. That's right, River. That's why she's in prison.

We get River's back story: she's been raised by Madame Kovarian and the Silence as an assassin to kill the Doctor. She regenerated in New York and spent years looking for her parents, then, essentially, was raised by them.

The Doctor replaces River's gun with a banana, but she manages to kiss him with poisoned lipstick. She jumps out of Hitler's office window and tries to explain herself to the guards.

She kills the guards with some leftover regeneration energy, and Amy and Rory pursue (after Rory punches the Teselecta guard).

The Doctor finds inspiration to fight on despite being poisoned by thinking of fish fingers and custard.

River steals clothes at a fancy restaurant, and Amy and Rory are turned into tiny people and taken aboard the Teselecta. The Teselecta plan on killing River for her crime. Which she hasn't committed yet. So basically, Minority Report. However, before they can, the Doctor arrives in the TARDIS. He's dressed in a tux and top hat, and he's a bit miffed. Apparently, the Teselecta take people who commit heinous crimes out of their timeline, torturekill them, and replace them with robots so they still "die" in their regular time period.

Apparently, also, the Silence are an order that believes that the universe will change when "the last question is asked". Everyone already knows the question, because it is the title of the entire show, but the Silence don't know this. I blame Silent Steve.

The Teselecta don't listen to the Doctor, who you would think would have a bigger say in all this since he's the one dying, but when they start their torturekilling thing, Amy turns their safety wristwatches off with the sonic screwdriver. The antibodies start killing people, and River pilots the TARDIS around Amy and Rory to save them. It is there we learn that the TARDIS really was rather involved in her conception, and we can think about that as little as we think about the human-cat hybrids.

River is still calling herself Melody at this point. The Doctor asks her to "find River", and Amy has the robot transform into River. Realizing what this means, River lays a non-poisonous kiss on the Doctor, using up the rest of her regeneration energy to save him.

Talk about your mixed signals, amirite?

They drop her off at the cat-run hospital, and the Doctor leaves the blue diary for her, blank and ready to be filled. River decides to pursue archaeology, in order to find the Doctor again. And, presumably, to deface monuments.

I liked this one, a whole lot. River's backstory started coming together, and the Teselecta were a good foil to the Doctor. They, like the Doctor, try to keep the historical timeline in order. Unlike the Doctor, however, they do it simply to punish wrongdoers, in the worst way possible. The Doctor's actions are benevolent and positive-he is dedicated to saving lives and righting wrongs. The Teselecta are out for revenge, and use their abilities for cruelty, to the point that they refuse to listen to both the wronged party and the parents of the person they are punishing. This myopia shows that they do not want justice; they are as cruel as the people they punish. It's an interesting philosophical point in what started out as a rather lighthearted episode.

Night Terrors

The Doctor receives a distress message on his psychic paper from a scared little boy. Poor little George is constantly terrified. His mom told him to put all the things that scares him into the cupboard, but now he's terrified of the cupboard. For the record, Hitler is not in his cupboard, although that would have been hilarious. His parents declare his need for a Doctor, we are. The Doctor faffs about pretending to be official.

Meanwhile, Amy and Rory are in a large, creepy house, and Rory figures they died again. He knows how Moffat's mind works. Also, the house is inhabited by creepy dolls, because Mark Gatiss is also evil. As other residents at George's apartment complex appear, they are turned into dolls.

The Doctor realizes something horrible is in fact in the cupboard, based on the sonic screwdriver readings, but Alex isn't having any of it and tries to shoo him out, with nary a Jammie Dodger to be found. The Doctor finally decides to open the cupboard...and finds a lot of ordinary things. Then he remembers that there were no pictures of Claire actually being pregnant, and Alex remembers that Claire isn't able to have children. George suddenly panics, and the Doctor and Alex are forced into the cupboard.

The house is the dollhouse. There are creepy dolls freaking everywhere, and then Amy gets turned into a doll.

The Doctor asks George to join them, but when he gets there the dolls surround him-he is still terrified.

George is a Tenza. The Tenza place their children in other homes, like cuckoos. They are empathic to the point that they instinctively fit themselves to the adoptive parents' perception of children, and completely conceal that they are not the parents' biological child. George's reality warping ability also means that his fears really do exist in the cupboard.

Alex fights through the dolls to embrace George, explaining that he is still his son.

His Space Son.

This, apparently, was the source of George's fear: he was not conforming, and he would be rejected. With this acceptance, everyone is back in the apartment complex, with George's fears gone. The Doctor promises to come back when George hits puberty; apparently it can get...interesting.

As our trio leave, the TARDIS display screen shows the date and time of the Doctor's death. And then we hear a creepy nursery rhyme about it too, because we needed more creepy for this episode.

It was an okay one. I found the concept of the Tenza to be interesting, and the dolls were creepy. But it didn't pack a punch. Not like the next one...

The Girl Who Waited

Tired of all this creepiness and nonsense, the Doctor decides to take Amy and Rory to the vacation planet of Apalapucia. Unfortunately, it has been hit by a plague. The Doctor and Rory are trapped in a "waiting room", while Amy is stuck in an accelerated time stream, intended for victims of the plague so they can live out their lives while communicating with their loved ones. All three must avoid Handbots, that want to administer cures that are intended for alien physiology.

Amy discovers a way to hide from the Handbots using the time engines that run the time stream. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Rory get back to the TARDIS and pop over into the other time stream. Since the plague only affects beings with two hearts, the Doctor must stay behind, and sends Rory out to find Amy, which he does when she saves him from a Handbot dressed in makeshift armor and wielding a sword.

She's also been there for 36 years.

She learned how to use a katana, survive off berries, and keep her hair looking fabulous without a stylist.

What follows next is a lot of running around while Rory has to make a choice: find a way to go back in time and save the younger Amy, or save the older one right then and there. Older Amy is embittered from being left alone for so long, and angry that he would even think of leaving her there. Rory uses the communication mirror from the waiting room to find the younger Amy from earlier in the time stream. She eventually convinces older Amy to help out, but older Amy insists the Doctor rescue them both.

As they reach the TARDIS, the younger Amy is sedated by a Handbot, and when Rory carries her inside, the Doctor shuts the door on older Amy. It turns out the TARDIS can't handle the paradox of having them both in there. The Doctor refuses to make the choice, and Rory can't, so older Amy finally decides to stay behind.

I feel like there's a huge plothole in this, since the Doctor has been on board with one of his previous incarnations (and later on, with an older version of his 11th incarnation), and this wasn't brought up, except for the Time Lords pursing their lips. They also barely missed the plothole of how River could be on board with her pregnant mother by having Amy be a replicant.

That said, I thought this was a really gut-wrenching episode. This Doctor is known for his goofiness, but in actuality he has a very dark side, which is in keeping with how characterization has played out. The odder and sillier the Doctor is, the more likely he is to be morally ambiguous. Think Four, Six, Seven, Ten, and Eleven. He is used to making impossible choices that have no good answer, but your average person isn't put in that kind of situation, and they will struggle to choose. We saw this with Amy and the space whale, and here with Rory. We'll see it later with Clara. In a way, it made the Doctor more sympathetic, because you realize the kind of burden he is under as literally the only person out there stuck with these choices. The plot is sparse but the character development is magnificent.

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