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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Doctor Who Review - 6x07: A Good Man Goes to War

Dialogue Triumphs

Amy: “I wish I could tell you that you’d be loved; that you would be safe, and cared for, and protected. But this isn’t the time for lies. What you are going to be, Melody, is very, very brave, but not as brave as they will have to be, because there’s someone coming. I don’t know where he is, or what he’s doing, but trust me, he’s on his way. There is a man who is never going to let us down, and not even an army can get in the way. He’s the last of his kind. He looks young, but he’s lived for hundreds and hundreds of years. And where ever they take you, Melody, I promise you that you’ll never be alone, because this man is your father. He has a name, but the people of our world know him better as the Last Centurian.”


Rory: “The Doctor is getting some people together. We’re going after her, but he needs you too.”

River: “I can’t. Not yet anyway.”

Rory: “Sorry?”

River: “This is the Battle of Demon’s Run, the Doctor’s darkest hour. He’ll rise higher than ever before and then fall so much further, and I can’t be with him until the very end.”

Rory: “Why not?”

River: “Because this is it – this is the day he finds out who I am.”


Madame Kovarian: “We’ve been waiting a month now. He’s done nothing.”

Dominicus: “Do you really think so? There are people all over this galaxy that owe that man a debt. By now, a few of them have already found a blue box waiting for them on their doorstep, poor devils.”

Colonel Manton: “You think he’s raising an army?”

Dominicus: “You think he isn’t? If that man is finally collecting on his debts, God help you, and God help his debtors.”

Colonel Manton: “Why?”

Dominicus: “Colonel Manton, all those stories you’ve heard about him; they’re not stories, they’re true. Really, you’re not telling me you don’t know what’s coming.”

Colonel Manton: “We’re wasting our time here.”

Madame Kovarian: “Agreed.”

Dominicus: “The asteroid, where you’ve made your base – do you know why they call it ‘Demon’s Run’?”

Colonel Manton: “How do you know the location of our base?”

Dominicus: “You’re with the Headless Monks, they’re very old customers of mine.”

Madame Kovarian: “It’s just some old saying.”

Dominicus: “A very old saying, the oldest: demon’s run, when a good man goes to war.”


Colonel Manton: “He is not the devil. He is not a god. He is not a goblin, a phantom, or a trickster. The Doctor is a living, breathing man, and as I look around this room, I know one thing: we’re sure as hell going to fix that.”


Commander Strax: “Colonel Manton, you will give the order for your men to withdraw.”

The Doctor: “No, Colonel Manton, I want you to tell your men to run away.”

Colonel Manton: “What?”

The Doctor: “Those words, run away, I want you to be famous for those exact words. I want people to call you Colonel Run Away. I want children laughing outside your door because they found the house of Colonel Run Away, and when people come to you and ask if trying to get to me through the people I love is in anyway a good idea… I want you to tell them your name. Look, I’m angry, that’s new… I’m not really sure what’s going to happen right now.”

Madame Kovarian: “The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules.”

The Doctor: “Good men don’t need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.”


Madame Vastra: “Now, I have a question, a simple one: is Melody human?”

The Doctor: “Of course she is – completely human, what are you talking about?”

Dominicus: “They’ve been scanning her since she was born. I think they found what they were looking for.”

The Doctor: “Human DNA.”

Madame Vastra: “Look closer – human plus. Specifically, human plus Time Lord.”


The Doctor: “Why even do it? Even if you could get your hands on a brand new Time Lord, what for?”

Madame Vastra: “A weapon?”

The Doctor: “Why would a Time Lord be a weapon?”

Madame Vastra: “Well… they’ve seen you.”

The Doctor: “Me?”


Commander Strax: “Give her to me, human fools, she needs changing.”

Amy: “I just changed her. I think she might to feed.”

Commander Strax: “A feed? Of course. I’ll take care of everything.”

Rory: “Uh, I really don’t think you will actually.”

Commander Strax: “I have gene spliced myself for all nursing duties. I can produce magnificent quantities of lactic fluid.”

Madame Kovarian: “I see you’ve accessed our files. Do you understand yet? Oh, don’t worry, I’m a long way away, but I like to keep tabs on you. The child then – what do you think?”

The Doctor: “What is she?”

Madame Kovarian: “Hope – hope in this endless, bitter war.”

The Doctor: “What war? Against who?”

Madame Kovarian: “Against you, Doctor.”


The Doctor: “A child is not a weapon!”

Madame Kovarian: “Give us time. She can be. She will be.”

The Doctor: “Except you’ve already lost her, and I swear, I will never let you near her ever again.”

Madame Kovarian: “Oh Doctor, fooling you once was a joy, but fooling you twice, the same way - it’s a privilege.”


Commander Strax: “It’s strange… I’ve often dreamed of dying in combat… I’m not enjoying it as much as I’d hoped.”


River: “Well then, soldier, how goes the day?”

The Doctor: “Where the hell have you been? Every time you’ve asked, I’ve been there. Where the hell were you today?”

River: “I couldn’t have prevented this.”

The Doctor: “You could have tried!”

River: “And so, my love, could you.” (To Amy) “I know you’re not alright, but hold tight, Amy, you’re going to be.”

The Doctor: “You think I wanted this? I didn’t do this! This wasn’t me!”

River: “This was exactly you – all of 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 became this? The man who could turn an army around at the mention of his name. Doctor, the word for healer, and wise man, throughout the universe. We got 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 are going to turn her into a weapon just to bring you down, and all this, my love, in fear of you.”

The Doctor: “Who are you?”

River: “Oh, look, you’re caught, haven’t seen that in a very long while!”

The Doctor: “No, no, you tell me, tell me who you are.”

River: “I am telling you. Can’t you read?”


River: “It’s your daughter’s name, in the language of the Forests.”

Amy: “I know my daughter’s name.”

River: “Except they don’t have a word for ‘pond’, because the only water they have in the Forest is a river. The Doctor will find your daughter, and he will care for her, whatever it takes, and I know that. It’s me. I’m Melody – I’m your daughter.”

Dialogue Disasters


Double Entendre

The Doctor: “But she’s human! She’s Amy and Rory’s daughter!”

Madame Vastra: “You’ve told me about your people. They became what they did through prolonged exposure to the Time Vortex – the untempered schism.”

The Doctor: “Over billions of years, it didn’t just happen.”

Madame Vastra: “So how close is she? Can she even regenerate?”

The Doctor: “No, no, I don’t think so…”

Madame Vastra: “You don’t sound so sure.”

The Doctor: “Because I don’t understand how this happened!”

Madame Vastra: “Which leads me to ask: when did it happen?”

The Doctor: “When?”

Madame Vastra: “I am trying to be delicate; I know how you can blush. When did this baby… begin?”

The Doctor: “Well, how would I know, it’s all humany, private stuff, they don’t put up a balloon or anything!”

Madame Vastra: “Could the child have begun in flight on the TARDIS in the vortex?”

The Doctor: “No, no, impossible! It’s all… running about! Sexy, fish vampires, and blowing up stuff, and Rory wasn’t even there at the beginning, then he was dead, then he didn’t exist, then he was plastic, and I had to reboot the whole universe, long story, so technically, the first time they were in the TARDIS together in this version of reality was on their wuuuuh…”

Madame Vastra: “Their what?”

The Doctor: “…on their wedding night.”

The Review

In the mid-season finale, Amy Pond, and her newborn baby Melody, are imprisoned in a top secret military base called Demons Run where, as it turns out, Amy has actually been this entire season, while her Flesh doppelganger was travelling with the Doctor and Rory. The base is run by the mysterious “hatch lady”, actually named Madame Kovarian, and Colonel Manton, who is preparing his troops for the Doctor’s eventual reprisal for kidnapping Amy. Sure enough, the Doctor arrives to take down Demons Run, with a personal army of his own consisting of an eclectic group of people that owe him debts, including a Victorian Age, katana wielding, Sherlock Holmes-like Silurian named Madame Vastra; a disgraced Sontaran named Commander Strax, who is serving penance for past deeds as a nurse, by order of the Doctor; and a cunning, fat, blue merchant name Dominicus. A few more folks show up for the party, but I’ll keep them a surprise. After a quick melee, the Doctor manages to very quickly win the battle, but will he be able to win the war? I guess we won’t find out until Fall, in the next episode, rather hilariously titled “Let’s Kill Hitler”.

I don’t know what will hurt the most: waiting to see how this season ends, or waiting to see what an episode called “Let’s Kill Hitler” will possibly consist of. In the season premiere, I seem to remember briefly seeing the Doctor encountering Nazis, during his solo travels without Amy and Rory, before his fateful, lakeside demise at the hands of the mysterious astronaut, so I’m assuming that was a clip from the upcoming episode. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there.

“A Good Man Goes to War”, which was written by showrunner Stephen Moffat, definitely delivers very compelling entertainment, from beginning to end. I didn’t find the episode to be a show stopping, jaw dropping, mind bending, “game changer”, like Moffat hyped it up to be, but then again, he’s privy to how the rest of the season is going to go, so it’s possible we won’t fully realize the important of this episode until the actual season finale. I sure didn’t pick up on the significance of the Gangers until the last five minutes of “The Almost People”, and even the space pirates in “The Curse of the Black Spot” turned out to have a small, but satisfying, purpose in the overall season. So, maybe I need to just shut up and trust in Moffat. In fact, to those of you that have been reading this blog, how about one of you get some t-shirts printed up that say: “In Moffat, we trust”. Even though I was somewhat disappointed by the previous season, and felt the finale to be a bit of a mess, I have a feeling Moffat will eventually tie up all the loose ends so effectively, it’ll make all my reservations about his run thus far seem nitpicky and silly (which, I admit, they probably are).

I absolutely loved the gang of characters the Doctor rounds up for this battle, especially Madame Vastra, who was a particularly inspired creation. Her interactions with The Doctor are excellent, and I, for one, would love to see her more in future episodes as a recurring companion. I also really liked Commander Strax, as the idea of a Sontaran having to undergo the humiliation of being a nurse, which in their culture is a disgrace, was brilliant. I love when Doctor Who takes the time to point out that, although some alien races like the Daleks and the Cybermen are evil incarnate, the other alien races he sometimes clashes with aren’t all evil. This concept wasn’t explored until way back, during the Third Doctor’s era, when many of the stories involved misunderstanding the alien-monster-of-the-week’s intentions to be malicious when, in fact, it is actually very benign. I was even somewhat interested in the character of Lorna Bucket, a private in the army rallying against the Doctor, who joined up with the secret hopes of meeting the Doctor again after an encounter she had with him as a child. It almost seemed as if her character was being set up to be a possible future companion – she even had a memorable name: Lorna Bucket. I could already hear the Doctor saying her full name as a mild reprimand for doubting his ability to pilot the TARDIS. However, she ends up getting killed by the end of the episode, which I felt was kind of waste. Wouldn’t it be great if the Doctor picked up her up before she joins the army, and takes her traveling, knowing the grim future ahead of her? I think so.

The performances were great as always, particularly Matt Smith, as we get to see an angrier, darker side of his usually happy-go-lucky Doctor. Oh, the 11th Doctor has lost his temper here and there, but never seemed more menacing then in the scene where he tells Colonel Manton to order his army to run away. Alex Kingston is, as always, a very charismatic presence whenever she’s onscreen, and shines in this episode as, finally, an important revelation is revealed about her character. Arthur Darvill was fun to watch, but I have a minor complaint about his character: enough with the goofy Centurian outfit. We get it. Rory used to be a Roman. However, as I recall, wasn’t that in a different version of reality? After The Doctor rebooted the universe, and Amy “wished” everyone back into existence (blegh), shouldn’t Rory have come back sans the Centurian uniform? When he showed up in the outfit at the beginning of “The Christmas Carol”, it was already kind of a lame gag. Now it’s just getting ridiculous. I feel like Rory’s confrontation with the Cybermen at the beginning of this episode would have been much more intense if he were just in his normal clothing or, at the very least, in more practical battle gear that doesn’t make him look like he works at Caesar’s Palace. He explains the outfit to River as part of The Doctor’s strategy, which is look ridiculous to throw the enemy off. This is often why the Doctor dresses so flamboyantly – so this his enemies underestimate him, but also, he just has no fashion sense. The whole “Last Centurian” thing was great during “The Pandorica Opens” and the “The Big Bang”, but it’s over. Let’s have Rory Williams, nurse extraordinaire, back please.

Overall, I enjoyed “A Good Man Goes to War” very much, but I didn’t feel it was as awesome as it was touted to be. Let’s just face facts: this episode was only important because we find out who River actually is. Everything else is rather superficial. I mean, who is this group that kidnapped Amy in the first place? How could they have the resources, and technology, to kidnap her from under the nose of The Doctor? I assume Moffat will address all of this, and more, by the season’s end, but who knows? I’m only on Moffat’s case, though, because I think highly of his ability to write extremely compelling drama. I pretty much had Russell T. Davies’ strengths and weaknesses mapped out so well, that by the end of his run as Doctor Who showrunner, I was never much surprised by his episodes, which usually followed the formula: High Stakes + Inescapably Futile Scenario = Big Red Button Solution. What I’ve always liked about Moffat, is that he seems to write, like a good mystery writer, a perfectly logical, and clever, solution first, and then works outwards from there. He also seems to have a Master Plan for what he wants to do with the show, and the story he wants to tell. I think the only reason I have doubts is because I’m used to a Moffat story being encapsulated within just one or two episodes per season, not his story taking place over the span of not only one, but perhaps several seasons, before it reaches its conclusion. My point is, if they had aired “Blink” in ten minute increments, once per week, then I would probably watch it with the same mix of enjoyment and apprehension that the story will somehow lead to a deeply disappointing climax. Clearly, this season has been infinitely more thrilling, and interesting, than last season, but it’s going to take patience, and a certain amount of faith, that all of the subplots will be addressed, and that it will be an amazing experience to watch them unfold.

I’ll end this review by briefly listing the unresolved plot points from last season and this season that I hope will be resolved in the fall:

· Who, or what, was responsible for the TARDIS exploding last season, causing the cracks in time and space?

· Who are the Silence, what were they doing on Earth, and how are they involved with, presumably, turning young River Song into a weapon?

· Who was the astronaut that murdered the Doctor by the lake? Why did it kill the Doctor? And is the Doctor, or at least this incarnation, really dead, or was it all a trick? My theory: I think The Doctor used his ganger, from “The Almost People”, as a decoy to fool his enemies into thinking he was dead, so that he can get out from underneath his own legendary reputation.

· Who is Madame Kovarian, and what is her personal stake in taking down The Doctor? In fact, when, and how, was this coalition to destroy the Doctor put together?

Until next season, folks!

BTW – I will be reviewing Torchwood: Miracle Day on this blog when it airs, so stay tuned for that!


  1. This was definitely a good episode...for the beginning and middle, at least. It's been my friend's and my opinion that Moffat built the story up so BEAUTIFULLY during the middle, with fantastic baddie returns (as goodies, which was refreshing) and gasp-worthy moments. We both adored Madame Vastra and Jenny, and the moment when the Strax said to Rory, "I'm a nurse."-Rory's silence said it all. I really like how Rory has developed, he used to be so awkward and confused with all of the spacey-wacey stuff, but now he feels like he's just one more spaceman on the job.
    What we don't like, however, was River's identity. The nomenclature of 'Melody Pond' seemed FAR too forced, and the idea was very common within the fanbase. Moffat and the cast promised a 'shocker', but what we received was a story arc wrapped up in far too perfect a bow (or a bow tie, as it were). All in all, River's identity might have appeased an easily-confused, casual viewer, but not a fan prepared for a ferocious Moffat twist.

  2. Absolutely - I saw the twist with River coming a mile away. A friend of mine, who hasn't watched the episode yet, guessed it as well. I really do hope, though, that Moffat realizes the potential of Vastra and Jenny as recurring characters. I'd hate to see such an interesting pair go to waste (or, worse, die off like Strax).

  3. (One quick thing though; the quote with River and the Doctor... it's "your cot" not "you're caught". They sound the same but she's talking about his cradle, as we see in the following lines.)