10 Underrated River Song Moments In 'Doctor Who'
Twelve years of River Song!
It's been twelve years since Alex Kingston burst onto TV screens as Professor River Song in the epic two-part Doctor Who episode 'Silence In The Library/'Forest Of The Dead'. The episodes sparked one of the Sci-fi classic's greatest mysteries, regarding River's identity, and her relationship to The Doctor.
Twelve years isn't one of the 'big' anniversaries, so it seems fitting to celebrate it with some of the character's smaller moments.
1. 'Hello, Sweetie'.. 'Get out'.
When the Tenth Doctor first encounters River Song in The Library, the last Timelord gives her a rather frosty reception. While River greets The Doctor with her customary 'Hello, Sweetie!', The Doctor immediately replies 'Get out'. River is untroubled by this.
Upon re-watching with the knowledge of River's history, viewers would be aware that, at this point, River already knows that her time with The Doctor is close to ending. She should have been more troubled coming face to face with an incarnation of The Doctor whom she hadn't met before, and worse, doesn't immediately acknowledge her. It is a testament to River's strength of character that she manages to keep her cool.
2. 'I'm really, very sorry..'
While The Doctor is angry after losing Donna, River tries to get him to focus on the five other lives he is currently responsible for. The Doctor remains wary of River, so, reluctantly, she forces him to trust her by revealing a secret: That she knows his name.
The most notable, and underrated element of this scene is how genuinely sorry River is to have had to drop this bombshell on The Doctor. She would rather not have done anything to force the connection she so effortlessly shares with his later selves, but lives are at stake, and she truly had no other choice.
3. Comforting Amy
For viewers, River Song is first seen interacting with The Eleventh Doctor in the two-part episode 'The Time Of Angels/'Flesh And Stone'. Throughout these two episodes, The Doctor's new companion, Amy Pond, is put through the ringer, first being almost taken by a Weeping Angel, and as a result of that incident, ending up with an angel stuck in her eye. Throughout Amy's ordeal, River Song steps up to comfort and encourage Amy whenever possible.
At first, River's immediate affection for Amy may seem a little strange, considering that, from Amy's perspective, this is the first time they'd met. However, upon re-watch, these moments become wonderful foreshadowing of the reveal that Amy is River's Mother.
4. Cat Burglary
After receiving a phone call from Winston Churchill about a mysterious Van Gogh painting, River immediately breaks out of her cell in Stormcage Containment Facility, intending to break into the British Royal Gallery and obtain said painting. River goes all out for the escapade, including wearing a catsuit. Unfortunately, she trips an alarm just as she finds the painting, and finds herself confronted with a gun-toting Liz 10. Thankfully, she manages to talk herself out of trouble.
This is an important moment for building River's character. There was really no need for River to break in at all, considering that she was able to immediately pacify Liz 10 by simply name-dropping The Doctor.. But River Song does love a bit of trouble.
5. 'What kind of Doctor are you?'
After Rory witnesses River almost effortlessly dispatch a group of alien Silents, he asks, rather surprised:
"What kind of Doctor are you?"
River quickly replies 'Archaeology', before shooting back at a Silent approaching behind her.
This scene is not underrated for the killing of the Silent, which ranks among her most awesome moments, but the more subtle emotional aspects that can be easily overlooked on a first watch. The most dangerous aspect of The Silence is that as soon as a person looks away, they forget they ever saw them. So, River should have in no way been prepared for The Silent behind her.
Fans speculate that River took that shot because she saw fear on Rory's face, a moment that possibly takes on greater significance once we learn that Rory is River's Father. River shot a monster because her Dad was scared.
6. 'Hello, Rory..'
Early in 'A Good Man Goes To War', The Doctor gathers an army to rescue Amy Pond and her newborn baby, Melody, from Demon's Run. Rory is sent to recruit River Song. River, who was at first quite happy to see Rory, sadly informs him that she cannot be there for The Doctor 'until the very end'. While River's big moment in 'A Good Man Goes To War' is the reveal of her identity in the episode's closing moments, the above scene is, in some ways, more heart-wrenching.
There is a sudden emotional shift in River upon seeing Rory. While this could be simply because she already knows why he is there and that she cannot help, some fans have theorised that the River in this scene has already experienced the events of 'The Angels Take Manhattan'. This could be the first time that River has seen her Father since she saw him taken by an Angel, yet she cannot embrace him as she would like, since this Rory does not yet know who he is to her.
7. 'How many hands do you have?'
Through a series of mishaps in the mini-sodes 'First Night' and 'Last Night', The Doctor ends up with three River Songs in The Tardis at once, and must keep them from running into each other. In the final moments of 'First Night', leading into 'Last Night', the second River, fleeing from Sontarans, rushes into The Tardis and collapses. The Doctor fusses over his unconscious wife, but becomes annoyed when he realises she is holding her breath. River quips:
"You're one to talk about holding.. Just how many hands do you have?"
The scene is a fun example of how cheeky River can be.
8. Letting Amy Go
After Rory is taken by a Weeping Angel in the heartbreaking closing scenes of 'The Angels Take Manhattan', Amy decides to let the Angel take her as well so that she can be with him, even though this means never seeing The Doctor again. While The Doctor breaks down, begging Amy to reconsider and return to the Tardis, River accepts her Mother's decision, even encourages it.
In this moment, River proves, not for the first time, just how unselfish she is. With the way her timeline works, River has no guarantee of ever seeing her parents again after the angel takes them, and even if she does, they may be younger versions who don't yet know who she is to them. Despite this, she still encourages Amy to go, knowing that she would never be truly happy without Rory.
9. Rain Gods
In the mini-sode 'Rain Gods', we catch up with The Eleventh Doctor and River Song in the middle of a date night that has sadly gone awry. While The Doctor had intended to take River out to a nice restaurant, they have somehow ended up on the planet of the Rain Gods instead, and are about to be sacrificed to said Gods by the planet's primitive locals.
Despite the rather high stakes, 'Rain Gods' is mostly a nice piece of funny, domestic fluff for River and The Doctor. With them having had so many adventures off-screen, it was nice to see a snippet of one.
10. Advice from beyond the grave
Moments before The Twelfth Doctor will be forced to carry out the execution of Missy/The Master, a mysterious hooded figure arrives, reading the following passage from the diary of the late River Song:
"Only in darkness are we revealed. Goodness is not goodness that seeks advantage. Good is good in the final hour, in the deepest pit without hope, without witness, without reward. Virtue is only virtue in extremis. This is what he believes, and this is the reason above all, I love him. My husband, my madman in a box, my Doctor."
The figure then reveals himself to be Nardole, who explains that he was sent by River, and has full permission to 'kick The Doctor's arse' if need be. It is heavily implied that River's words help convince The Doctor to spare Missy rather than going through with the execution.
River never liked the idea of The Doctor travelling alone, so in a way, Nardole can be seen as her final gift to him, to ensure he would not be.
Thanks to the wibbly-wobbly nature of River's timeline, death is not necessarily the end. Hopefully we will see more of her in the future.