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Wednesday, 30 of September of 2020

Doctor Who – “A Good Man Goes to War”

All those stories you’ve heard about him: they’re not stories, they’re true.

As you may have already guessed, I wasn’t crazy about the episode. There’s stuff I like it, but that’s the stuff I’m assuming, hoping, they’re going to expand on in part two (I do love the episode title for part two). The rest of it remained kind of all over the place, and the big reveal really wasn’t all that big.

Which leaves me kind of unexcited about having to wait until September to see how it all finishes. I mean, I’ll be tuning in, of course, but the thrill of it is gone. The (nearly) all-consuming concerns about this child I think has become something of an weight the on show for me, but this could simply be because I don’t really care now.

And it also didn’t have nearly enough of the Cybermen. So it was already in the hole for me after that.

Like most Doctor Who two-parters, this one is a lot of set-up, and that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. But I feel like much of this season has been set-up for this set of episodes, so to have yet more set-up (I’m going to stop using that word right now) felt redundant and frustrating.

Pile it on top of the fact that very little really neat action occurs (having an entire Silurian army, plus some Judoon, kind of short circuits any potential action, even if it was all a trap), and you have an episode that careens wildly between wanting to be a big action set piece, lay some foundation for some actually very interesting stuff, and also fake out a resolution to the baby plot while still providing some sense of closure on it.

So which to address first?

Yes. River is Melody is Amy’s baby. Please raise your hand if this surprised you. (I’m going to keep my hand down.) The entire thing felt very hidden in plain sight, and was really the only course of action for the story to take to explain River Song and the regenerating little girl from “Day of the Moon.” I suppose this should make me care about the fate of little Melody in the hands of Madame Korvarian,  but I kind of just don’t since, clearly, she’ll be fine. There’s not much at stake, and when a show puts a fair amount of emphasis on a story like this, then the stakes should feel heftier.

But let’s talk about the far more interesting idea, and that’s the Doctor’s very bad public relations. This stuff I really liked. From the mention of the Atraxi from “The Eleventh Hour” (the aliens that the Doctor called back for “a scolding”) to the various other bits of story that circulate around the base, the sequences does a nice job of mapping out why, exactly, various forces (whoever these people are) would want their own Time Lord (as it were) to counterbalance the Doctor.

I wonder, however, if this puts the audience in a bit of a pickle (I don’t think it does, but let’s play devil’s advocate here). As an audience, we clearly view the Doctor as doing good, saving lives (and planets and solar systems and galaxies and universes and all of time), but what’s the impact of that on all of time? What does it mean that one man can cause an army to be so afraid with just his name? Does he intervene too much in the affairs of the universe? Is his influence for really for the better?

The actions of the episode clearly want to toy with that idea, but they never makes the idea totally palatable for the audience. The means by which Korvarian has gone about creating Melody/River, and her generally villainous nature (she has a bun and an eye patch!), doesn’t give the audience reason to pause on these questions (hopefully it gives the Doctor reason to pause though). Instead, despite her relatively sound reasons for doing so, she’s clearly in the wrong so far as the episode is concerned, and that, for me, is fairly disappointing.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Low on quotes since I watch the episode at a friend’s house.
  • “Oh, don’t give me those blank looks.”
  • Aw. Fat and thin married gay Anglicans. The universe is truly a wonderful place.
  • Flesh!Melody. So very lazy. Now anyone could be Flesh. Guess we’ll have to go around sonicing everyone just to be sure.
  • “Good men don’t need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.” (Thank you proving their point, Doctor.)
  • “Why would a Time Lord be a weapon?” “Well, they’ve seen you.” “Me?!”
  • “This was exactly you. All this, all of it. You make them so afraid. When you began, all those years ago, sailing off to see the universe, did you ever think you’d become this? The man who can turn an army around at the mention of his name? Doctor – the word for healer, and wise man, throughout the universe. We get that word from you, you know. But if you carry on the way you are, what might that word come to mean? To the people of the Gamma Forests, the word ‘doctor’ means ‘mighty warrior’. How far you’ve come. And now they’ve taken a child. The child of your best friends. And they’re going to turn her into a weapon, just to bring you down. And all this, my love…in fear of you.”
  • Oh, what’s that? You don’t think there was enough time for some Madame Vastra and Jenny fan works to appear? You clearly don’t live on the Internet. Like here. Or hereOr here. Or, you know, just go through Tumblr.

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