River

Five years, sweetie.

As I reflect on some of the most spirited, or at times emotional discussions I’ve had with Whovians both here on GPR, and among the masses, there always seem to be two topics that at the merest mention, cause my Gallifreyan hearts to shudder, my chest tighten, and leave me scanning the room for an escape pod in case I begin to lose my composure completely. Topic One is, and always will be, the centuries-old symbiosis between Doctor and TARDIS. I…hold on a second. I just need to… *clears throat*

(Apologies. I think I have it under control.)

tumblr_mcel54bIX61rbsjugo1_500Topic Two is the role, and the enigma, that is the River Song story. Disjointed, displaced, and disastrous, yet beautiful and wonderful and sad…a brilliant creation by Moffat and company, and as I’ve expressed on the cast recently, SteeMo’s true legacy with DW to date. The idea of two brilliant minds and spirits adjoined through time, but out of sync with time itself, is complex, wonderful and awful. We cheer at their points of intersect, we shatter at their partings, though we know that no ‘goodbye’ between them ever really means the truest form of the word.

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To us, the fact that their intelligence and grasp of the complexities of non-linear time allow them to weather these challenges is no consolation — they seem to be able to assess and come to terms with the way their relationship narrows and widens, but we don’t have that advantage. River is a madwoman, but with such passion for her work, her causes, and her beloved, that the madness is not only acceptable, it may be necessary. Could a sane person survive the repercussions of such an existence? She is his counterpart, his compliment, and they are at their best when approaching anything from opposing sides of reason or reaction: she can talk him down from his anger over seemingly futile efforts; she will rouse him to action when he would rather wait and strategize.  Her ability to rattle him with knowledge of events beyond his current timeline does not anger him.  Rather, it sparks his childlike curiosity, and gives us those coat-whirling, lever-cranking moments where we know a fantastic leap into the unknown is about to happen.

She has grit, brilliance, savvy, wit, and a joie de vivre that endears her to the fan base. Her strength and independence are admirable traits as a prominent female character, and Kingston has put an energy behind her “strategic recklessness” that I honestly feel would be impossible to match.

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While Jay, Melissa and I have debated whether or not we’ll see her return in Series 8 (listen to the two ‘Name of the Doctor’ episodes for this and other River discussion), the fact remains that for five years, we have been amused, shocked, at times worried, but always wholly entertained by the gun-toting professor with the “space hair”.

Admit it — in the extended sci-fi community, will we ever hear any other voice when reading the word “Spoilers”?

Comments

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4 Thoughts on “River Song Day”

  • I couldn’t agree more. River Song is a character who is far more than I ever could have hoped for. She is complex and deep and so very tragic. Realizing that this is likely to be the last we see of her is very bittersweet. It was a great ending for her and the Doctor, a chance to say goodbye. Sure, the door is never truly closed on River, they can always bring her back. But I think that this was a great send off and if we don’t see her again, I feel her story was fulfilled.

  • She’s amazing and I think the show only scratched the surface in exploring her personality and history.

    The first episode we saw her in, she died. And then we saw earlier versions of River. The program follows the timeline of the Doctor (more or less), not River, so it is entirely possible that we will see her in the future. If it is true that she and the Doctor are moving in opposite directions in their timelines, it makes no sense for their last meeting (in The Name of the Doctor) be the final meeting on both sides.

    The bigger question for me is not whether we will see River again (that is completely up to Steven Moffat, not the storyline) but how Madame Vastra got a message to a person who only exists on a hard drive in a galaxy far, far away, eons into the future. I’d love to hear that explained. ; )

    • Great question about the possible future (or lack thereof) of River into S8, Liz. We’ve been discussing this, and as much as it pains me to say, I have a sinking suspicion that SteeMo won’t look to utilize Professor Song again, as we’ve effectively seen all the “high points” of her asynchronous life. We ran into the issue with Rose of bringing back a character we graciously bid farewell to, and it felt cheap, or anti-climactic. In the case of River, particularly because she would have to acknowledge a “new face” on her Doctor, and all that goes with it, such a scene would feel awkward, or misplaced.

      I could be wholly wrong, however. I sometimes am.

  • River seeing another face on the Doctor will mean nothing to her. It’s canon that she has seen 1 – 11, we’ve seen her love him still with Ten’s face, and right from her second appearance, she says she’s seen older faces on him and teases about when he goes baby face. As Moffat said: River loves the Doctor, not one incarnation. And she’s not just a file on a hard drive; in the evolution of Charlotte’s arc that we see, she throws off her half-life and elevates the Library to the Time Lord Matrix so Moffat could give River a Time Lord afterlife (even more than that since she’s still adventuring in Time and Space, still linked with the Tardis). After all, Charlotte has a lot of Melody I’s traits & events and has the nickname “Sweetie”. So obviously destined to be important to River. Having said that, I don’t think she’s returning either. You can tell that they were starting cutting out of the character starting with “Doctor, Witch, Wardrobe” where the Doctor doesn’t count her as family or a friend. Then the Ponds reject her except for one brief moment, but Moffat had approved the follow up where they were going to cut her out again. In 7b, her character and it’s important moments are undermined and rewritten as trivial & unimportant in order to raise Clara to levels above her. So Moffat’s taken her down for his new favorite toy and while Alex has asked to come back, especially given that she said she “toned down the romance” with Smith’s Doctor to show a growth with someone like Capaldi’s Doctor, Moffat said she adds nothing to DW anymore.

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