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Doctor Who 6.07: "A Good Man Goes to War"

A column article, Shot For Shot by: The TV Crew
When Amy is kidnapped as bait in a trap, the Doctor declares war on those responsible and assembles an army of allies to recover her. Meanwhile, River realizes that the Doctor's darkest hour has come and she must reveal her greatest secret to the Time Lord.

And, oh yeah... SPOILERS AHOY!

Paul Brian McCoy So, last episode, after a bunch of moralistic dreck that went nowhere, we learned that Amy Pond has been missing since maybe before we even began, replaced by a 'Ganger and "operated" by Amy in a pod somewhere far, far away. And, she's pregnant, which is the cause of the positive/negative pregnancy readings in the Tardis. And she's about to give birth. And the Doctor is coming for her. Hell, Rory's coming for her.

Jason Sacks And wow, what a lot of stuff happened this episode. It actually made my head hurt a bit, the story was so dense and eventful and full of Easter eggs. Headless monks! Centurian Rory! Soontaran wetnurses! Victorian London! Flaming swords, mlitary humiliation, and even a bit of poetry. It was just a whole bunch of stuff.

McCoy It reminded me of Farscape at its best.

Sacks I never saw Farscape but many of my friends rave over it.

McCoy God, I miss Farscape. It had the same kind of throwing a million ideas into a story so you were never quite sure where it was going to end up. Plus, aliens, drama, betrayal, twists and turns galore. This episode captured that same crazy tragic imagination that I miss in TV Sci-Fi.

Sacks This episode was definitely vast and overwhelming in a way that Doctor Who isn't always presented.

McCoy Yeah. Because of one of the sneaky little background bits here, Dr. Girlfriend and I went back and watched a couple of old adventures: "The Three Doctors" and "The Arc of Infinity", and the difference between the classic and the current is striking.

Sacks I love how the new series is like so much of what we love about the old series, cooked into a new stew.

McCoy Cooking is a good metaphor. It's like cooking up some Meth. Concentrated, crazy, and addictive as hell. Stew, meth. You can tell we're on opposite ends of the country!

Sacks Ha, I'm sure there's a big meth problem, in this part of the country.

McCoy You're probably right.

McCoy Moving on...

Sacks Ha!

McCoy Was there anything that jumped out at you as being problematic with this one?

Sacks Really, just that it really is all about messing with the viewers - the density and eventfulness of the story really prevents you from getting too comfortable. It's odd. my complaint is essentially that the Gaiman episode, for instance, was more graceful than this week's episode.

McCoy A lack of gracefulness is a legitimate complaint, I'd say. I really wish they had condensed the last two episodes into one and let this story breathe a little more.

Sacks It kind of lurched and rambled from event to event. Like: where did the Silurians come from? What's the deal with the monks? And why did we see so little of that awesome sword battle at the end?

McCoy Yeah. There was a little too much crammed into the episode and just about everything had to be cut short because of it. However, on the other hand, I thought the rounding up of allies was damn near perfection.

Sacks You're absolutely right, this should have been the two-parter. Everyone had their perfect moment in the story.

McCoy By the time all the team had been gathered, I thought my grin was going to split my face. Rory marching into the headquarters of the Cybermen and playing Bad Cop (with no Good Cop) was about as awesome as Rory could be.

Sacks In his Centurian armor too! That was awesome.

McCoy It made me a little giddy. I love how they've been building up Rory this season. Even if it's pushed Amy into the background a bit.

Sacks He really had some great moments this episode. I liked that. I've been a little lukewarm about Rory, but it's good to see him seem more multidimensional now.

McCoy And the new characters introduced just for this adventure were all just brilliant. Commander Strax, the Sontaran forced to be a medic. Classic. And I want to officially add my name to the list of people demanding a spin-off series for Madame Vastra and her partner, Jenny.

Sacks Oh Strax was awesome, wasn't he? I loved that - and it was great how they built up the Sontarans during the revival series so we totally get that it's such a humiliation for him to have to be a nurse.

McCoy He was damn near perfect. Peppering his medical advice with promises of conquest on the battlefield.

Sacks What did he say, "I've been genetically bred to lactate"

McCoy That was horrifying! And hilarious! Madame Vastra eating Jack the Ripper was maybe a little too clever, but really made me want to see more of her 19th century adventures.

Sacks I know, they're great. I really liked them together. Remind me when we saw them before?

McCoy That's the thing! We hadn't really seen them before.

Sacks Ah, I was wondering because they seemed so fleshed out.

McCoy Although Neve McIntosh, who played Madame Vastra, did play the Silurian sisters in last season's "The Hungry Earth" and "Cold Blood". That's what was so impressive.

Sacks Ah, that was a good episode.

McCoy I felt like I'd missed them being introduced somewhere else, too!

Sacks That's the sign of good writing.

McCoy These characters just dropped into this story with histories and relationships that made them seem like they'd been involved all along. That's one of the things that makes me forgive the compacting of events into one episode.

Sacks Indeed; that's the strength of this season overall so far. The characters are very strong. I'm actually surprised we haven't seen these characters before.

Sacks I thought the revelation of River Song's identity was perfect, and pretty much the only way they could have handled it.

McCoy Yeah. It wasn't really a surprise at this point, but I don't think that was the intent.

Sacks You know, it's one of the places where this episode really fell into place really well. The woman knitting seemed like a throwaway incident towards the beginning of the episode, but became an important plot point toward the end. Make the story feel tight, I guess.

McCoy Exactly.That's what I love about the Moffat Era. There's no more of this, by the seat of my pants plotting. Everything is laid out well in advance and everything builds on what's come before. There's an internal story logic that was missing a lot of the time during the previous reign.

Sacks Man, I was thinking about that horrible Master storyline that I think of as the "Peter Pan" episode.

McCoy Where the Doctor turns into a weird little elf-thing?

Sacks Exactly.

McCoy And if we all clap our hands and believe, the Doctor will win!

Sacks I think we can safely say that baby Melody won't be saved by the audience just believing in her.

McCoy Yup. She's got years in the care of that creepy-assed orphanage to look forward to.

Sacks Which totally creeped me out. No wonder she's so weird and messed-up.

McCoy I'm so in love with River Song it's not funny.

Sacks Don't make Dr Girlfriend jealous!

McCoy On another note, I've heard complaints about this episode not living up to the hype. The hype being the whole "Never raised so high and never fell so far" thing. What was your impression?

Sacks I loved the beauty of the humiliation of the alien general. But I totally don't get the fell so far thing. Melody was never real, so how is her disappearance a humiliation?

McCoy It seems to me, looking back over it, that Moffat was going for something specific here. The fall was in losing Melody/River thanks to his own hubris. We've already seen that he's not getting her back anytime soon. In fact, this whole season has pretty much been setting up just how badly he screwed the pooch on that one. Rescuing Amy's baby was a complete failure.

Sacks But we already know how things will work out because we know they reconcile in the end. The indocrination from the pirate woman won't hurt her too terribly, in the end.

McCoy So far as we know. But we don't know how this plays out with Amy and Rory. That's their baby that's been stolen and they may never see her again (so far as they know).

Sacks Hmm, yeah, but they've been through a hell of a lot already (as the Doctor said)

McCoy I need to do research to really understand the timeline of River's and the Doctor's relationship. We'll have to see how that plays out. This was just the beginning. Especially given that it was the Doctor's arrogance that allowed Melody to be stolen away. That damages trust.

Sacks Hmm good point. This really was a multifaceted episode.

McCoy The next time Amy and Rory meet their baby, she's an adult and maybe The Doctor's lover!!!

Sacks Which is really creepy.

McCoy Really.

Sacks Like sleeping with your parents' best friend. Uncle Doctor.

McCoy Worse.

Sacks Which is freaking awesome because who would expect that from Doctor Who?

McCoy And we haven't even addressed the whole "I killed a great man" thing that has River locked up itn the future. I'm beginning to think it might be Rory she's talking about there. But I have no basis for that other than paranoia.

Sacks Yeah it just makes sense. He's already established as a great man, for one thing.

McCoy So, do you think we're going to actually see a Big Bad this season? There have been lots of clues over the past season and a half

Sacks Cybermen maybe? I loved the latest redesign BTW.

McCoy Yeah, the Cybermen look amazing. I have a theory that I heard somewhere online and after looking into it, I think there may be some value to it. Wanna hear? tee hee

Sacks sure

McCoy I'm gonna lay my cards on the table and say I think Omega is behind everything.

Sacks whoa, you're going way back. Of course we did see Rassilon, so it's not unprecedented.

McCoy Over the course of Moffat's tenure, there have been a number of echoes of Omega's previous appearances. That's why we went back and watched the adventures we did. He's tried to build his own Tardis. He's taken over The Doctor's.

Sacks Wow, it totally makes sense. Huh.

McCoy He's been willing to sacrifice all of reality to satisfy his own ends ("The Big Bang"). The soldiers in "A Good Man Goes To War" are all wearing Omega symbols. The Headless Priests are a visual callback to when Omega first removes his helmet in "The Three Doctors" and discovers that his time in the Anti-Matter Universe has eaten away his physical form so he's pure will.

Sacks Oh wow. Huh, it all falls together.

McCoy He duplicated the Doctor in "The Arc of Infinity", taking his form in an attempt to return to our universe. He needs a Time Lords bio-data to escape the Anti-Matter universe. I think that may be why they've taken River/Melody. Of course, Moffat knows all this and is probably just using it all as Red Herrings to make nerds like me think we've got it figured out.

Sacks Even if it's not true, it qualifies as "so good it should be true."

McCoy But part of what makes me think it may be where we're heading is that Moffat does lay out the clues and follows through on them River's identity is proof of that.

Sacks He's earned our trust.

McCoy Whether or not Omega is where we're heading, I can't wait to see what happens! I don't care if I'm wrong! Which I probably am.

Sacks Yeah, that part of the season has been great. Perfect place to wind this up. What do you rate this one?

McCoy I give it Solid.

Sacks I agree,

McCoy But could have been great if it had been bigger.

Sacks We'll see how "Lets Kill Hitler" does with all this setup. It's a great title for a Doctor Who, anyway.

McCoy Oh. My. God. That was so freaking great.

Sacks I had a feeling you'd like that!

McCoy I love that kind of crazy shit!

Sacks It has you written all over it.

McCoy I only hope Madame Vastra is in it. And Jenny.

Sacks I think you have a crush on lizard face.

McCoy She doesn't swing my way, unfortunately.

Sacks Sigh, too bad.

McCoy We didn't even mention the whole Gay-Friendly tone of this adventure! Or that naughty look between Vastra and Jenny when she flicked her tongue and asked why Jenny keeps her around... Gold.

Sacks That tongue had me daydreaming...

McCoy Man, there's just so much in this episode to talk about. Hopefully readers will come to the boards to keep the discussion going.

Sacks Please comment, readers! There's no way we could cover it all.

McCoy Nope. And it's gonna be a long summer.

Sacks Maybe we can scope out some news at San Diego.

McCoy That would be cool.

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