When it was announced that the now traditional Doctor Who Christmas special, the second for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, would feature famous/infamous companion River Song, many were wondering how this was possible. As she noted, many times, that she only knew (personally) two Doctors, 10 and 11. BUT, leave it to Stephen Moffat to not only fix our “assumption” but to do it in an all-time classic way.
“The Husbands of River Song” was a perfectly Doctor Who episode if there ever was one, and is easily a highlight of Capaldi’s run. One of the best in my mind. When The Doctor is asked to be a surgeon to help save one of River’s “husbands” all heck soon breaks loose. Not the least of which is because River truly doesn’t know the doctor she hired is The Doctor, which in and of itself was hilarious! Capaldi’s numerous attempts to make River “remember” him was beautiful, to the point where you wondered “if she ever going to realize the truth?”
The hilarity didn’t stop there though, from a talking head (I kid you not), a robot who liked chopping off heads for information, numerous other husbands (and wives) of River being seen or mentioned, and much, MUCH, more, this episode was almost an exact opposite in tone from some of Series 9’s darker themes. But at the center, was Doctor and River. My personal favorite moment of hilarity was when The Doctor himself got to act as if he didn’t know that the Tardis was bigger on the inside, and gave a perfectly 12th Doctor description of how he felt.
But let’s not take anything away from River! She was back in top form, and showed us why she was easily one of the most wily companions ever seen on the show, maybe even more so than we imagined. From her talks of “just marrying the diamond”, to her infinite number of one-liners, it was all top form.
Now true, there was action, and even violence of a somewhat scary sort, this was a heartfelt tale. Not the least of which ended in the final scene between the Doctor and River.
Cause yes, she did realize eventually who he was, and leave to the Doctor to use her most famous line against her to reveal it. And then for him to make up a “cancelled date” in the best way possible, by taking her to the place he always promised they would go. This scene tied numerous loose threads together, as he not only gave her a Sonic Screwdriver, that we know will save her live in “Forest of the Dead”, but as to how they ended their true time together with both knowing each other.
What was most powerful here was that her belief in the Doctor truly made River think that he could change her inevitable fate. After all, it’s what he does. But Capaldi beautifully sold just how wrong that statement was, as he can’t save everyone, and that sometimes, people have to die, even the ones he loves. But…leave to the Doctor to have one 24-year night left with River to send her off in style. Well played Doctor.
It seems like Series 9 was all about sending off certain characters and storylines in style to prepare for a possibly groundbreaking new series next year. Gallifrey is found, Clara is gone, and River had one last hoorah. Where the Doctor goes from here is anyone’s guess, but I think that “The Husbands of River Song” really sent off series 9 in style.
Hello sweetie…see you next year.