Hello, Whovians! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday complete with snuggling up with a mug of cocoa and watching this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special! This year’s episode, The Husbands of River Song, brings us the return of a character I love: River Song! We’re diving into a full review after the break so be careful, Sweetie, SPOILERS!
Christmas specials are usually some sort of silly one-off, and while I really would have loved to see the Doctor’s grief progress from the previous few episodes, that would definitely not be in the Christmas Special spirit. The Husbands of River Song struck a nice balance of silly and serious. It wrestled with serious moral questions, but we still got to see the Doctor wear Christmas antlers. And so, overall I enjoyed this episode and I always love when River makes a little more sense than she did before.
The Doctor’s Wife
There have been differences in opinion amongst fans about River as a romantic interest for the Doctor. I don’t have a problem with River and the Doctor as a couple, and while I do grow tired of her constant flirting, it is clear that they both care deeply for each other. Plus, you’ve got to love a woman who properly utilizes her bra as a purse.
Regardless of one’s opinion of River as a character, you cannot deny that it was fun to see Capaldi’s Doctor banter with her. It really has been too long since the Doctor has laughed and been silly, and since he’s lost Clara, River is basically one of his only remaining friends. Because he was so happy to see her, I thought it was very sad when she didn’t recognize him.
For a brief moment with all the confusion of who River was married to, I had a crazy fleeting idea that either the 11th or 10th Doctor would show up. This, of course, was completely ridiculous and obviously didn’t happen, but I really enjoyed my wild moment of reckless speculation. That moment was fueled along by a few lines of dialogue from River, namely that “her husband” was dying. After the whole confessional dial debacle this season I was convinced that another regeneration of the Doctor (one of the seemingly many Husbands of River Song) would be lying on the slab instead of King Hydroflax.
As I mentioned earlier, I love when I get to put another piece of the puzzle that is River Song into place. I was wondering where in her timeline we were, and so I love that they specified that she had just come from Manhattan, and the death of her parents. I also love how it didn’t really matter: River is so timey-wimey that it gets confusing to try to string everything together. This episode also provided some much-needed filler in her timeline betweeen Manhattan and her eventual trip to The Library.
I also really appreciated how the Doctor and River both know what the end of River’s journal means. How terrifying must that be to know that the end of your diary most likely means the end of your life?
Sonic Trowel > Sonic Glasses
One of the things I like about River is that she always is at least one step ahead of everyone, often including the Doctor. While I was a bit concerned that she’d been brainwashed in the beginning of the episode, I was also curious to see what con she would end up pulling off.
River and the Doctor are both so smart, which is one reason why I think they work together. During Matt Smith’s run as the Doctor, I think that part of the reason River’s episodes were often so confusing was because both actors are very good at talking very quickly; often there was a LOT of back and forth that I usually didn’t completely follow. However Capaldi’s Doctor works just as well, if not better, with River, and it was really fun to see them try to weasle their way out of trouble.
Also, let’s not ever forget that the best excuse to leave the room two of the smartest minds in the universe could come up with was “we need to check the thing.”
A Whole Lotta Gross
Who else though Scratch looked like Voldemort? Just me? Well, he totally did. I was very excited about it right up until he ripped open his head and dug a ball out of his brains.
Between the machine swapping out its heads like no-one’s business, and all the talk of digging a diamond out of someone’s skull, there were a lot of gross head-related things going on in this episode. Perhaps it is continuing a theme of gross heads this season; after all the snake man from the first episode had a pretty creepy cranium, too.
The last scene with the Doctor and River was very sweet. After River’s revealing outburst that she doesn’t believe the Doctor actually loves her and that she doesn’t expect him to, I’m glad that he finally showed her that she does in fact deserve his love.
My question going forwards is that if this is the last night (well, 24 years) they spend together, then can River ever come back? I suppose we have technically seen River post-libary, so I guess with her, as always, the rules don’t technically apply.
One Last Note
Sometimes the silliest jokes are the best. I thought that the Doctor pretending that King Hydroflax’s mutterings were his indigestion was riduculously funny.