Doctor Who: A Good Man Goes To War / Let’s Kill Hitler (2011) Review

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For “A Good Man Goes To War / Let’s Kill Hitler”, the mid-season climax of Doctor Who’s sixth season, Steven Moffat pulls out all the stops, delivering a real whopper of a story. Arguably the entire Matt Smith era so far has been building up to a reckoning like this one for the Eleventh Doctor, where he’s confronted with his biggest personality flaws and held to task for them, so “A Good Man Goes To War” is a very pivotal turning point for his character development, as well as his relationship with the Ponds. In this story, we’re given a lot of insight into how Steven Moffat writes the Doctor: what sort of values he feels the character embodies and what he thinks he should and shouldn’t be. This story is also the one where River Song’s true identity is revealed, a mystery Steven Moffat has been teasing to the viewers since Series 4, so nothing about the Eleventh Doctor’s era will ever be the same again after this adventure.

“A Good Man Goes To War” is a crucial lynchpin story in the Series 6 arc, since we’re finally given some more answers about what’s going on with the Silence and what their ultimate endgame is. So how you feel about this season as a whole is often determined by how you feel about these two, game-changing episodes. Whether you love them or hate them, the River reveal got a lot of people talking back in the day and stirred up a lot of fandom discourse about whether or not it was handled well. Compared to “The Impossible Astronaut” or “The Rebel Flesh“, this is a very loosely structured two-parter, with each episode having a different director, different setting, and different supporting cast. There are three things linking these two episodes together as two halves of the same whole: the search for Melody Pond, River Song’s origin story, and an exploration of how people all around the world view the Doctor. Notably, “A Good Man Goes To War / Let’s Kill Hitler” is not only the last two-part story of Series 6, but the Eleventh Doctor’s era as a whole, since Series 7 is completely devoid of two-parters. And I have to say, I’m really gonna miss them until they make their return in the Peter Capaldi era. Part of the reason why Series 7 feels weaker than Series 5 and 6 to me is because several episodes in that season were not given all the time and space they needed to breathe.

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In “A Good Man Goes To War”, the Eleventh Doctor is enraged, and a lot more vengeful than usual. Hurting the Doctor’s friends to get to him is one of the best ways to piss him off, so he’s letting his claws come out. The Doctor doesn’t actually make an appearance for the first twenty minutes of “A Good Man Goes To War”. He’s mentioned often, but he always stays just offscreen as he gathers up allies, allowing this episode to build up anticipation for when he’ll finally strike. It also allows us to see how the myth of him, as a living legend, has spread across the cosmos over the years.

Throughout the Matt Smith era, one idea Steven Moffat seems interested in exploring is perception: how different people around the world view the Doctor. In “The Pandorica Opens“, we got a glimpse of how his enemies see him when they all rose up against him, believing they were saving the multiverse from him. These two episodes go one step further with that theme, because they’re all about how people view the Doctor and the massive amount of influence he has on history. To his friends (Amy in particular), he’s a hero and someone to look up to. To his enemies, he’s a formidable foe, or a devil, or an outright tyrant. The crew of the Teselecta have a twisted sort of hero worship of him, though he certainly doesn’t think much of them. And notably, the Doctor has very little love for himself, making it clear that he does not consider himself to be a good man: by this point in his exceptionally long life, he’s done way too many things he can’t forgive himself for for that. So, rather fittingly, the climax of “Let’s Kill Hitler” hinges on Melody Pond’s growing and changing perception of the Doctor, and how that influences her to make a life-changing choice.

Ever since ‘The Eleventh Hour“, the Doctor has been using his formidable and hard-earned reputation as the man who can outwit armies and tear down empires to his advantage, striking fear into the hearts of evil-doers everywhere, and it’s steadily gone to his head. His overconfidence set him up for a fall in “The Pandorica Opens”, but he still didn’t learn his lesson from that experience so he has to learn it again here – and this time it sticks, because there are irreversible consequences. He fails Amy and Rory when they need him the most, which kicks off a long string of episodes that will send him into a downward spiral of depression and self-loathing in the latter half of Series 6 (“The Girl Who Waited“, “The God Complex“, “Closing Time“, and “The Wedding Of River Song“).

When River shows up to give him a much-needed scolding and a good reprimand, Steven Moffat makes it clear that the Doctor becoming the Dark Knight or some badass action hero is not a good thing. He’s strayed too far from his noble purpose in life, the goal he aspired to when he chose his title as a healer on Gallifrey a long, long time ago, and now he’s paying the price for it. And not just him, the Ponds as well. Throughout this story, the Doctor is clearly pained by how his friends seem to be affected by their relationship with him. He still has plenty of regrets about how things panned out with Rose, Martha and Donna in the RTD era: Amy and Rory were supposed to be a fresh start, and he’s already souring his relationships with them too. But despite being a really depressing episode, “A Good Man Goes To War” doesn’t end on a downer note. The Doctor, having grown tired of River’s constant stalling, demands to know who she is, and since she can finally tell him, he’s delighted to learn the truth. With a renewed resolve, he’s certain he’ll find Melody Pond and things will turn out okay somehow, because River herself is living proof of that.

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In “Let’s Kill Hitler”, the Doctor encounters Melody Pond / River Song, right at the start of her adult life, when she has no idea of who he really is or what their relationship with each other will be like. So they’ve essentially switched places from where they were at when the Tenth Doctor met River for the first time in “Silence In The Library“, and their usual dynamic of River being the one holding all the foreknowledge is flipped on its head, so the Doctor has to tread carefully here, for fear of spoilers. Steven Moffat, Matt Smith and Alex Kingston all seem to have a lot of fun depicting two equally matched super-geniuses playing deadly chess games with each other, as Melody lays traps within traps for the Doctor that he mostly manages to nimbly side-step.

Throughout “Let’s Kill Hitler”, the Doctor tries his best to keep a handle on things, even as he works increasingly at a disadvantage. He’s determined to make things up to Amy and Rory, and come through for all three of the Ponds when they’re put in a considerable amount of peril. He tries to set a good example for Melody and show her there’s a better way to live her life than the pre-determined path the Silence set out for her as their tool, and as the stakes start to rise, the Doctor fights through the agonizing pain of slowly being poisoned so he can save Amy and Rory. There’s a scene where the TARDIS breaks away from her usual programming so she can talk to the Doctor directly and give him a much-needed pep talk to keep him going, and that whole gesture on her part is a lot more heartwarming to see after what we just learned about the old girl and her relationship with Eleven in “The Doctor’s Wife“. Basically, If “A Good Man Goes To War” showed the Eleventh Doctor at his worst, “Let’s Kill Hitler” shows him at his best: putting everyone else’s needs before his own and living up to the standards he set for himself when he chose his name.

During the second episode, the Doctor feels very protective of River Song and he refuses to let any harm come to her, despite a brainwashed Melody trying to do a considerable amount of harm to him. He’s very affectionate towards her, he clearly thinks the world of her, and he has total faith in her to do the right thing, because he knows who she becomes. He’s kept a healthy amount of distance between himself and River for two seasons now as he’s tried to make sense of her, but now that he knows who she really is at her core, he’s ready to admit to himself (and her) that he’s starting to fall in love with her. She’s the first woman since Rose Tyler to occupy that kind of special place in the Doctor’s heart. Normally, that would be a good thing, but he also knows how River’s story ends and he certainly can’t tell Amy and Rory about it, so that’s just one more thing that will weigh heavily on the Doctor’s heart going forward.

The Doctor learned about his apparent death in Utah from Amy in “The Almost People”, and here he receives official confirmation of it from the Teselecta, so he also has that to consider. If there’s one thing Doctor Who has made clear over the last six seasons, it’s that time is a cruel, strict mistress. In all likelihood, the Doctor won’t be able to avoid this grim fate anymore than he could avoid Wilfred’s four knocks, or his TARDIS exploding last season, and he most certainly knows that. But the Doctor has never been one to accept terrible odds lying down, so he’s still going to try.

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In “A Good Man Goes To War”, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) is more than a bit shell-shocked. She’s just become a mother under horrific circumstances, and unlike Rory, she’s never been shown to be super eager about the idea of having kids. But despite any concerns she might have, she still embraces Melody as a member of her family and wants to protect her from the harshness of the world, the monsters who would prey upon her, as her maternal instincts start to set in. Amy is resilient and she’s always been a survivor, so she’s hanging in there and coping with the predicament she’s in while she’s waiting for back-up to arrive. She knows her lover intimately well, and she never has any doubt that Rory is coming for her.

During the last act, Amy and Rory have the rug pulled out from under them when they discover that the Silence have switched out their baby with a ganger and have already escaped into time with her – and Amy realizes this when her baby melts in her arms. Out of all the horrible, traumatic things that have happened to Amy this season, this one is by far the cruelest and a real knife to her gut. In a rather painful scene afterwards, she actually flinches away from the Doctor’s attempt to hug her. This episode is the start of Amy slowly growing disillusioned with the Doctor, as she learns the hard way that her Raggedy Man is not infallible. From there, Amy pulls a gun on River, and for the second time this season, she nearly shoots her daughter. Amy has officially been pushed past her breaking point: many, many terrible things have been happening to her and her loved ones this year and she’s felt powerless to stop them, and she is absolutely fed up with it, so she’s taking back control any sort of way that she can. And then River drops a real bombshell in her lap, when she reveals who she really is.

Steven Moffat jumps ahead a few months in “Let’s Kill Hitler”: Amy and Rory have spent all summer worrying about Melody, staying on the sidelines like the Doctor asked them to, so they decide to flag him down. After all, they learned from River last season that the best way to call the Doctor and get his attention is to do something big, and when they least expect it, Melody winds up coming to them. Following up on her character development from “A Good Man Goes To War”, Amy is 100% done with lacking any agency over the way the Silence have been tampering with her life. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to make sure every member of her family is safe and protected, which she demonstrates during the climax, when she saves River from the crew of the Teselecta by turning their own security drones against them (I like to think she picked up that trick from watching the Doctor turn the Silence’s slaves against them in “Day Of The Moon”).

The revelation that Melody has been close by them this whole time, as an old friend they’ve known since they were kids, changes things quite a bit for Amy and Rory and gives them a whole new quandary to process. Not only is Melody their daughter and their friend River, she’s also someone they’ve known for much of their lives. Which means they’ve completely missed out on the chance of getting to raise her normally, and they’ll never have a regular relationship with her – which is a hard, bitter pill for anyone to swallow – but they still want to help her. By the episode’s end, Amy and Rory still accept River as a member of their family, their little girl all grown up. They couldn’t change her past, but they could give her a better future, giving her the freedom to forge her own path. The Ponds can finally breathe again, though there are still a few loose ends left hanging by this story’s end, that will give them reason to worry about River and the Doctor in the future.

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“A Good Man Goes To War” has a pretty nice title as a bit of misdirection. You would automatically assume it’s referring to the Doctor, but it’s actually talking about Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), who is also on the warpath in the first episode. As the Doctor amasses his makeshift army to infiltrate Demons’ Run, Rory taps into his memories as the Last Centurion – the ones he prefers not to dwell on for too long, for the sake of his sanity – so he can unlock his old battle experience, take up a sword again and fight. Amy’s in danger, so for this pacifistic medic, the gloves are officially coming off.

Throughout the first episode, Rory possesses a steely resolve and is more serious than we’ve ever seen him be before, as he basically becomes the Doctor’s right-hand man. It’s almost hard to believe this is the same Rory who used to shy away from danger at the start of Series 5. But once he’s reunited with Amy, we’re given reassurance that this is indeed the same old dorky Rory, when he’s moved to tears by the sight of Melody. He’s delighted to become a father, and sees his daughter as the one good to come out of this whole experience. As brand new parents, Amy and Rory shower Melody with love for the short time that they have her, and it’s clear that they would do anything for her. Despite his best efforts to protect his family from harm, the Silence manage to escape with Melody, and both of the Ponds are crushed. River steps in to offer them some comfort in the aftermath and finally comes clean about the fact that she is Melody Pond as an adult woman. This revelation absolutely floors them and changes everything about the way they see River: especially for Rory, who’s only just started to get to know River better from spending some bonding time with her this season.

In “Let’s Kill Hitler”, we dive back into Amy and Rory’s upbringing and get a glimpse of how they grew up together in their sleepy little village. Rory held a torch for Amy ever since they were young and he used to follow her around eagerly, but he never worked up the nerve to actually come clean about his feelings for her until Mels gave them a push. Amy spent a good amount of time keeping her eyes open for the right guy, fantasizing about an escape from her dull, dull life, and it never occurred to her that Rory, her best friend, might be the guy for her, until Mels opened her eyes to that possibility that they both tentatively pursued – and from there, it was the start of a beautiful romance.

In the present day, Rory has roughly the same mindset Amy has: he’s tired of waiting around, he’s tired of being passive, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to make his daughter safe again. By this point, Rory has accepted that his life is completely and totally insane, and to his credit, he takes it all in stride. With each wild new development, he tends to deal with it with dry wit and sarcasm, and as a result, he’s grown a lot more snarky with the Doctor and Amy. While he’s ditched his Roman soldier uniform in “Let’s Kill Hitler”, Rory still shows off how adaptable, reliable and assertive he is in the second episode, since he’s basically become the muscle of the TARDIS team. At one point, he gets to punch out Hitler like Captain America, and then he punches another Nazi soldier (really the Teselecta in disguise), and both times are equally hilarious. Like Amy, Rory has to deal with the bewildering discovery that Melody is both someone who’s just entered their lives and someone they’ve known for years at the same time. And while he’s filled with regret that they can’t do more for her, he still shows her plenty of love and accepts her as family all the same.

Doctor Who A Good Man Goes To War River Returns

“A Good Man Goes To War / Let’s Kill Hitler” is centered around the birth of Melody Pond / River Song: her physical birth occurs in the first episode, while the second episode features the symbolic birth of the identity she chose for herself. In “A Good Man Goes To War”, the Silence have kidnapped Amy and her newborn child, Melody – because Melody was conceived in the time vortex, granting her the unique abilities of a time lord – so the Doctor and Rory are amassing a small army of allies to storm Demons’ Run and get them back. Now, the Doctor and his friends have already encountered an older version of Melody in the Silence’s clutches in 1969, so it’s a foregone conclusion that their efforts to rescue her in this two-parter are doomed to fail and her fate cannot be changed – something the adult River is well aware of. She can’t interfere with her own past, so she has to let history play out, despite how much it will hurt every member of her family, and she’s certainly not happy about it. When Rory comes to her for aid, she regretfully gives him a bit of forewarning when she has to turn away her father’s pleas for help.

During the episode’s coda, River shows up again later to give the Doctor some tough love and a much-needed reality check about the consequences of all his careless showboating catching up to him (ironically, it was River herself who gave the Doctor the idea to start falling back on his reputation as a crutch in “Forest Of The Dead”, indirectly setting him on his path), before turning her attention to Amy and Rory. She’s finally reached the point where she can share the truth with them about who she really is, without risking damaging the timeline, and it’s clearly a huge relief for her to do so.

It was pretty obvious from “Day Of The Moon” that the regenerating girl was Amy’s daughter, but I never guessed at the time that she was also River, mainly because River has been a part of this show for longer than Amy and Rory. But Moffat has been planning this twist ever since he became the series’ showrunner: that’s why he gave both Amy and River water-based names, to create a connection between them. He let Alex Kingston know about his game plan for her character long before any of the other actors, so that knowledge could affect her performances around Karen and Arthur in Series 5. So the River reveal is the pay-off for a long game that Moffat has been playing for a season and a half, and it’s a pretty satisfying one.

While he had a pretty good idea of where he wanted this storyline to go, Moffat didn’t plan it all out in advance, and it shows. “Let’s Kill Hitler” starts with a pretty huge retcon: with a character named Mels suddenly appearing, claiming to be an old schoolmate of Amy and Rory’s – and if she had been mentioned even once last season, this rather huge and rapid retconning of Amy and Rory’s backstory would probably be easier to swallow. When we last saw Melody, she was regenerating in New York City. After that, she tracked down her parents in the 1990’s and grew up alongside them, because she figured that would be the best way to find the Doctor. Naturally, she forms an attachment to them and gives them a bit of a push to hook up when they’re all in their teens (so even she ships them), to ensure her own existence. In her establishing character moment, Mels shows up in some hot, stolen wheels to have a good time, crashes Amy and Rory’s meeting with the Doctor, and eventually hijacks the TARDIS. From there, this episode gets so much more fun once Nina Toussaint-White regenerates into Alex Kingston.

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At this point in her life, Melody is a reckless and rebellious delinquent who enjoys raising a good amount of hell. Throughout Series 5 and 6, River has always been portrayed as one of the more mature members of the Doctor’s gang and a stabilizing force in the TARDIS from all the experience she has. It’s only at this point that you realize you’ve started to take River’s wisdom for granted, when you’re introduced to a much younger version of her with no morals or inhibitions running wild, causing chaos for the sake of chaos. And Alex Kingston seems to be having a blast, playing a more wicked and amoral version of her character than usual.

Melody grew up hearing stories about the Doctor from Amy and Rory, and she was brainwashed to loathe him by the Silence, so she’s heard some conflicting accounts about the man. She’s a bit fascinated by him, but also not really impressed with him. Unlike Madam Kovarian, she harbors very little personal resentment towards him, and she mainly views him as a challenge: her mark. She’s been trained all her life to do one job by some very abusive handlers, so she would like to get that job over with so she can move on with her life and do other things. During the middle act of “Let’s Kill Hitler”, we get to see just how insanely clever the Doctor and River both are, and how quick with their hands they are, when they’re pit against each other on equal footing. Now that River’s origin story has come to light, another parallel between River and the Doctor that Steven Moffat decided to include becomes apparent. The Doctor’s sense of morality left a lot to be desired at the start of his life as well. The First Doctor kidnapped his first sidekicks, Barbara and Ian, and threatened to kick them out of the TARDIS into the vacuum of space at one point. He grew into the anti-hero that we all know him as today as he matured.

As “Let’s Kill Hitler” progresses, Melody finds the Doctor is not at all like what the Silence made out him to be as he fights through a slow and painful death to save Amy and Rory, and tries his best to help her, his designated executioner. He’s a deeply compassionate and principled man, and she steadily starts to gain respect for him. It’s a pretty common thing in Doctor Who for someone to have an encounter with the Doctor that inspires them, and makes them want to be a better person than they currently are – we’ve already seen it happen several times this season. And as Melody starts to piece together hints about her future, she realizes that someday she’ll be someone the Doctor holds in close confidence and cares for very much –  she sees a completely different path her life could take in front of her.

Melody has been lied to all her life and used as a tool by the Silence, and in the climax of the second episode, she decides to start thinking for herself and make her own decisions. She takes a chance and uses her time lady powers to revive the Doctor, and from that point on, River Song as we know her is born: a free spirit and a force of nature who can’t be tamed by anyone. She starts to gain independence by taking back control over her life, and she starts to become her own woman. In the aftermath, River decides to start digging through the past and dust off some historical records. After she’s been fed plenty of lies and propaganda by the Silence, she wants to know what the world is really like and what the Doctor is really like, so she can make her own informed opinions. “A Good Man Goes To War / Let’s Kill Hitler” was a two-parter centered entirely around people’s perception of the Doctor, and River’s perception of him is certainly growing and evolving by the end of it. This eventful encounter is the very humble start of the Doctor and River’s relationship on her end of things.

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In “A Good Man Goes To War”, we’re given a lot more insight into the Silence’s motivation, and why they’ve been working against the Doctor from behind the scenes since the start of Series 5. They’re a religious cult of fanatics, comprised of people from many, many different walks of life (including the creatures we encountered in “The Impossible Astronaut”), and they’re all united under one cause: bringing down the Doctor. In their own futuristic time period (the same one from “The Time Of Angels“), they’ve been waging war against him for centuries and they haven’t made any progress with beating him, so they’ve resorted to going back in time to try to change history. They tried to kill him by blowing up his TARDIS last season, which backfired horribly, and now they’re trying again this season by kidnapping Melody Pond, brainwashing her and raising her to be their assassin, since they figure their best shot at killing a time lord is with another time lord. They want to stop the Doctor from doing something big in his future, and we’ll eventually discover what that is in “The Time Of The Doctor“, at the end of Series 7.

The Silence are ran by Madam Kovarian, a spiteful, vicious, heartless woman. She isn’t worried about the Doctor coming after her, because she’s counting on that to happen, and she’s already laid her trap. As far as Doctor Who villains go, Madam Kovarian makes thing very, very personal. After years at war from her perspective, she absolutely hates the Doctor, and she doesn’t just want him dead, she wants to hurt him and his friends in the most painful way that she can first, which is why she’s glad she can use Melody to do so and break Amy’s heart. This awful woman manages to escape scot free by the end of this story, but she won’t be so lucky the next time she encounters Amy, not so lucky at all.

During the first episode, we’re introduced to Madam Vastra, a Silurian warrior, Jenny Flint, her lover and second-in-command, and Commander Strax, a Sontaran nurse – three old acquaintances of the Doctor that he recruits for help. They were initially intended to be one-off characters, but they were later bumped up into being recurring characters in Series 7. Traditionally, Silurians and Sontarans have always been given antagonistic roles in this series, so it’s a nice change of pace that we get to see a few of them be allies of the Doctor for a change, while still keeping the respective quirks and eccentricities of their species.

The idea of a Sontaran nurse is a bit of a paradox: Sontarans are typically portrayed as bloodthirsty, violent-minded brutes who spend all their time trying to think of new ways to wage war and conquer planets. With Strax, the Doctor has assigned him this thoughtful and nurturing role to rehabilitate him, and naturally he resents it, but he still throws himself into it wholeheartedly, because for the sake of his pride, Strax does not do anything halfway. Dan Starkey’s matter-of-fact delivery of all the messed-up things that come out of Strax’s mouth is so brazen and straightforward that you can’t help but laugh at it. Madam Vastra (Neve McIntosh) has her own brand of wisdom as a fighter who’s been around the block a few times, and like a lot of Silurians, she doesn’t seem to think much of humans. But she makes an effort to reign in her speciesism, since she’s also in love with one – and their relationship is pretty wholesome in-between scenes of them kicking ass together. It’s actually a bit surreal to see Vastra, Jenny and Strax interacting with the Ponds: they made most of their appearances on the show during Clara’s tenure as a companion, and as such, I’ve mostly come to associate them with her.

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Lorna Bucket is another notable figure in the first episode: a woman who met the Doctor when she was just a little girl and was inspired by him, like Amy was, so she decided to join the Silence’s ranks so she could meet him again. Unlike most of her comrades on the base, Lorna has a conscience and she doesn’t approve of what they’ve done to Amy and Melody, so she eventually defects and joins the Doctor’s side – which gets her killed, like so many of the people the Doctor seems to come in contact with. Her tragic death scene – where the Doctor pretends to remember her, despite having no idea who she is, so she can die happy – is rather touching, and adds a lot of weight to the depressing way the first episode wraps up.

Adolf Hitler makes a cameo in the second episode, before he’s summarily dismissed once he’s served his purpose, because of course, “Let’s Kill Hitler” is not really about him. He’s targeted by the Teselecta, a crew of miniaturized time travelers from the future, manning a life-sized, shape-shifting robot. These people take it upon themselves to go back in time and torture war criminals who escaped justice in their own time periods, and during their latest hunt, their attention is drawn to Melody. Their whole M.O. is pretty twisted, and naturally the Doctor doesn’t approve of it, though ironically, they admire him. They’re very thematically appropriate antagonists for this story, since their whole operation mirrors the Silence’s ongoing scheme of going back in time and targeting individuals before they can do damage to the world, because they feel like they’re justified in doing so. And of course, they’re more than just one-off antagonists. With the Teselecta, Steven Moffat plants a Chekov’s Gun in “Let’s Kill Hitler” that he will later use to explain how the Doctor will get out of his fake death in Utah.

“A Good Man Goes To War / Let’s Kill Hitler” is directed by Peter Hoar and Richard Senior, both of whom bring their A-game when it comes to injecting life and vigor into their respective episodes. One cool detail that I want to point out is that “A Good Man Goes To War” contains several visual callbacks to shots from previous episodes that long-time viewers might spot – and all of them have thematic significance. When the Doctor goes to collect Dorium Maldovar from his club, drafting the terrified man into his army, that heroic shot from “The Fires Of Pompeii” is flipped – the one where the Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS, bathed in light, telling Calcelius to take his hand if he wanted his family to live. In that episode, the Doctor was rescuing people from a fiery death, but in this one, he’s taking someone to a place that will most likely be their doom for his own ends, which really underscores how far the Doctor has strayed from his usual path.

In a similar vein, when the Doctor flies off in the TARDIS before Amy and Rory can stop him at the end of the episode, the shot of them watching his TARDIS depart is extremely similar to the shot from “The Eleventh Hour”. Amy Pond has once again been left behind against her wishes, with her life in shambles, but this time, she’s tired of waiting – at which point, she decides to pull a gun on River. Murray Gold’s score is top-notch as usual, as he expands on all four of the main characters’ themes for such an important, milestone adventure in their lives. He writes new, darker variations of “I Am The Doctor” and “The Mad Man With A Box” in “Pop“, “Tell Me Who You Are“, “A Very Unusual Melody” and “Pay Attention, Grown-Ups“. River’s theme, “Melody Pond” features some stunning vocal work from Mae McKenna (that was previously used in “The Impossible Astronaut” two-parter at the start of this season), while “The Enigma Of River Song” builds to a gorgeous emotional climax with equally beautiful violins.

As an origin story for River Song and a time of reckoning for the Eleventh Doctor, “A Good Man Goes To War / Let’s Kill Hitler” certainly delivers on all the spectacle and game-changing revelations that it promises. More importantly, the Eleventh Doctor and River Song are both given a hefty amount of character development in this two-parter, making them both richer characters by the time that it’s over, and making this one of the standout stories of Series 6.

Rating: 10/10.

Side-Notes:

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* Here’s a friendly bit of advice for you: mess with a Pond at your own risk. If there’s one personality trait Amy, Rory and River all share, it’s that they will do anything to protect the people they love – and if that means some of their enemies have to die to ensure that outcome, then so be it. The Doctor blowing up an entire Cyber legion to find Amy was pretty ruthless, but I didn’t see Rory having any objections to that plan either. Amy turns the Teselecta’s murderous security drones against the crew to save River: there’s no indication that any of them died, but there’s no indication that they all made it out there alive either. And as for River, just ask that Dalek she bumped off in “The Big Bang”.

* “We’re being paid to fight him, not praise him. Praising costs way more”.

* “Don’t you have names?” “We’re the thin, fat, gay, married Anglican marines. Why would we need names as well?”

* “Of course you’ll be fine, my boy. You’ll be up and around in no time. And perhaps one day, you and I shall meet on the field of battle, and I will destroy you for the glory of the Sontaran Empire” “…Thanks, nurse”.

* “You think he’s raising an army?” “You think he isn’t? If that man is finally collecting on his debts, then God help you, and God help his debtors”.

* “Can I borrow your gun?” “Why?” “Because I’ve got a feeling you’re going to keep talking”.

* So, what’s up with the Star Wars influence in this episode? The Headless Monks are straight-up brandishing lightsabers.

* Captain Avery and Toby have a quick cameo, where they’ve apparently been helping Rory tie people up offscreen. That’s actually a pretty funny mental image, and it confirms what you might have already suspected from the way “The Curse Of The Black Spot” wrapped up: in the company of pirates, Toby is already going native.

* “No. Colonel Manton, I want you to tell your men to run away. Those words. I want you to be famous for those exact words. I want people to call you Colonel Runaway. I want children laughing outside your door, because they’ve found the house of Colonel Runaway. And, when people come to you, and ask if trying to get to me through the people I love is in any way a good idea, I want you to tell them your name”.

* “The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules” “Good men don’t need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many” Edgy, Doctor.

* “She’s our baby. She’s beautiful. Oh God, I was going to be cool. I wanted to be cool” “You’re okay. A crying Roman with a baby: definitely cool”.

* Vastra claims that the Doctor and his friends conquered Demons’ Run without a drop of blood being spilled, ignoring the part where the Doctor tricked their enemies into shooting each other. Does that really count as them keeping their own hands clean, because of a technicality?

* “Why would a Time Lord be a weapon?” “Well, they’ve seen you” “Me? …Me“.

* “Oh, dear God. That’s the attack prayer!” I’m not gonna lie, the very idea that the Monks have an attack prayer is pretty hilarious.

* “Rory, no offense to the others, but you let them all die first, okay?”

* “Mister Maldovar, get back here!” “Arm yourself, fool!”

* “Demons run when a good man goes to war. Night will fall and drown the sun, when a good man goes to war. Friendship dies and true love lies, night will fall and the dark will rise, when a good man goes to war. Demons run but count the cost. The battle’s won, but the child is lost“.

* “The Doctor will find your daughter, and he will care for her whatever it takes. And I know that because… it’s me. I’m Melody. I’m your daughter” Iconic.

* “You said he was funny, you never said he was hot”.

* “Sorry, Doctor not following this. Doctor very lost. You never said I was hot?” That is disgraceful.

* “I need out of here, now” “Anywhere in particular?” “Well, let’s see. You’ve got a time machine, I’ve got a gun. What the hell. Let’s kill Hitler!”

* “Why are you always in trouble? You’re the most in trouble in the whole school, except for boys” “And you” “I count as a boyr/NotLikeOtherGirls.

* “You said guns didn’t work in this place! You said we’re in a state of temporal grace!” “That was a clever lie, you idiot! Anyone could tell that was a clever lie!”

* “Harriet, have you updated your privileges?” “Yes, of course I have” Girl, you’ve got to check those privileges.

* “Mels, don’t go in there! Bad smoke! Don’t breathe the bad, bad, smoke! Bad, deadly smoke because somebody shot my TARDIS!!!

* Over the course of Series 6, the Doctor has encountered several infamous men in human history: Richard Nixon, Henry Avery, and worst of all, Adolf Hitler. Once you’ve had the Doctor meet Hitler, it’s pretty hard to top that, unless you also have him cross paths with Stalin.

* “But he was going to kill me!” “Shut up, Hitler!”

* “Right, the cupboard, get in!” “But I am the Fuher!” “In you go!” “Who are you?!

* Mels apparently shot the TARDIS, and only a few minutes after the TARDIS takes her to Berlin, she gets shot by Hitler. Instant karma.

* “That’s her all right: Melody Pond, the woman who kills the Doctor”.

* “Oh, look at that. Berlin on the eve of war. A whole world about to tear itself apart. Now that’s my kind of town”.

* “I don’t understand, okay? One minute she’s going to marry you and then she’s going to kill you!” “Ah, well, she’s been brainwashed. It all makes sense to her. Plus, she’s a woman… Oh, shut up. I’m dying“.

* “What are you doing here?” “Well, I was on my way to this gay gypsy bar-mitzvah for the disabled, when I thought gosh, the Third Reich’s a bit rubbish. I think I’ll kill the Fuhrer. Who’s with me?”

* “Tip for you all: never shoot a girl while she’s regenerating”.

* “No, no give me someone I like! Oh, great, give me guilt! Also guilt! More guilt!” Oof.

* “Okay, all of Berlin. How do we find her?” “I don’t know. Look for clues” “Clues? What kind of clues?” Rory grows snarkier and snarkier with each passing episode.

* “Okay. Okay, I am trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I’m really trying not to see this as a metaphor”.

* “I might take the age down a little, just gradually, to freak people out” Man, I love River.

* “You killed the Doctor” “Oh yes, I know, dear. I hope you’re not going to keep on about it”.

* “Amelia Pond, judgment death machine: why I am not surprised?”

* “Find her. Find River Song and tell her something from me” “Tell her what? Oh… Well, I’m sure she knows” Aww.

* “River, no… no… what are you doing?” “Hello sweetie”.

* “She just needs to rest. She’ll be absolutely fine” “No, she won’t. She will be amazing” Aww.

Further Reading:

Doctor Who A Good Man Goes To War Berlin 6

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