Review: “Doctor Who” Series 6, Ep 8: “Let’s Kill Hitler”

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There's a first time for everything. The Doctor being kissed by his "bespoke psychopath."

Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ 1/2

Leadworth crop circles! Rose, Martha, and Donna! (Sorta). A sonic cane! Hitler in a cupboard!

After an excruciating three-month absence from the airwaves, “Doctor Who” – and the mad, mad brain of head writer Steven Moffat – is back.

“Let’s Kill Hitler” brings the Doctor to 1938 Berlin and face to face with the biggest war criminal in the universe. And no, I don’t mean the Fuhrer himself (who gets relegated rather whimsically to a cupboard for much of the episode); I’m talking River Song, the half-Time Lady who will one day kill or has already killed (it’s all so timey-wimey) the Doctor on April 22, 2011, 5:02 p.m. at Lake Silencio in Utah.

It’s a cleverly constructed episode that had its own revelations to match the big one of “A Good Man Goes to War” that came before it. I was delightfully surprised by Mels’s concealed identity as Melody Pond. How funny that the Doctor had been searching for baby Melody when she’d actually been hiding in plain sight all along as Amy’s and Rory’s childhood friend (how many people can say they grew up alongside their parents?). And that regeneration! Kudos to the Moff for confirming the idea that regenerations can transcend race. Here, we witness Melody Pond’s second and final regeneration (her first was as a child in New York; and she sacrificed her remaining regenerations to save a prematurely dying Doctor).

So much for "temporal grace!" It was all just a lie, you idiot!

I’m actually rather surprised by this limitation Moffat has imposed upon himself. I had thought the introduction of the idea that River is in fact a Time Lady a clever one that could provide an out for the Moff should Alex Kingston (god forbid the day) ever bow out of the role; that is, her departure could be explained away via a regeneration. Allowing River only two regenerations (both already used up) makes things much more tenuous, but the upside is that River Song will forever be tied with Alex Kingston. Bottom line is that I long for the episodes in which River Song appears. I believe her next appearance will be in 9, followed by 13.

Moffat’s trademark humor is evident throughout the episode. I love the bonkers Bat signal-like opening, the flashes back to Amy, Rory, and Mels as children, Amy mistaking Rory for gay, how the Doctor and Melody try to outwit each other (I love the banana bit). I also liked Moffat’s “monster of the week,” the Tesselecta, a Justice Department robot that can tessellate into anyone and anything for the purpose of hunting down criminals via time travel. Oh, and did I mention it has a miniaturization ray?

One minor nitpick: Moffat seems to be engaging more and more in recyclage. Amy being seemingly passive for much of the episode and then saving the day at the snap of a finger (via some impossibly clever deduction), like in “The Beast Below,” is getting to be rather formulaic. Also, Moffat seems to cleave heavily to the chicken-and-egg paradox to explain things away, i.e. Mels (the daughter) brokering the beginning of Amy’s and Rory’s (her parents’) relationship; “You named your daughter after your daughter.” But like I said, nitpicks.

What We’ve Learned:

  • This is the first time Melody Pond (at least as an adult) meets the Doctor. This is the episode in which she takes on the name “River Song” and receives her TARDIS diary from the Doctor. We learn that she becomes an archaeologist to be able to track down the Doctor.
  • The Silence is in fact a religious sect with a vendetta against the Doctor. They believe “Silence will fall” once a question – the first question, hidden in plain sight – is asked (presumably, “Doctor who?”). There is also mention of an “Academy of the Question.”

Questions:

  • Does River’s imparting her own regenerations resolve the 13-regeneration limit for the Doctor?
  • I still can’t get my head around the chronology (which is not surprising, given this is “Doctor Who”):  How did Melody get from New York in the ’60s to Leadworth in the ’90s?
  • When exactly did River (or Melody) kill the Doctor? As a child? Why the spacesuit in “The Impossible Astronaut?”
  • What did the Doctor whisper into River’s ear? Does it tie in to what River whispered into the Doctor’s ear in “Forest of the Dead?”
  • Apart from religion, is there a connection between The Church, the Headless Monks, and the Silence?

Quotables:

  • “I don’t do weddings.” -Mels (interesting for her/River to say, given that episode 13 is entitled “The Wedding of River Song”)
  • “A significant factor in Hitler’s rise to power is that the Doctor didn’t stop him” -Mels
  • “I’d love to, he’s gorgeous, he’s my favorite guy, but he’s, you know, gay.” -teenage Amy, talking about the impossibility of being with Rory
  • “Oh, hello. Sorry, is this your office? Had a sort of collision with my vehicle. Faults on both sides. Let’s say no more about…it.” -The Doctor to Adolf
  • “Oh shut up, Dad! I’m focusing on a dress size!” -Mels, shushing Rory as she’s about to regenerate
  • “Goodness, is killing you gonna take all day?” / “Why? You busy?” / “Oh, I’m not complaining.” / “If you were in a hurry, you could have killed me in the cornfield.” / “We’d only just met. I’m a psychopath. I’m not rude.” -Melody / The Doctor
  • “Come on, there must be someone left in the universe I haven’t screwed up yet!” -The Doctor, trying to find the right companion for the TARDIS voice interface
  • “Ladies and gentlemen: I don’t have a thing to wear. Take off your clothes!” -Melody
  • “I’m trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I’m really trying not to see this as a metaphor.” -Rory
  • “You’re dying. And you stopped to change?” / “Oh, you should always waste time when you don’t have any! Time is not the boss of you. Rule 408.” -Melody / The Doctor
  • “Kidneys are always the first to quit!” -The Doctor (a nice reference back to “The Doctor’s Wife”)
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