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Doctor Who: The Best Of The Eleventh Doctor and River Song

10 + years of Timey-wimey Wedded bliss!

By Kristy AndersonPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 8 min read
Credit: BBC

It's hard to believe it has been ten years since the true identity of River Song was revealed in series six of the Doctor Who revival. First introduced in the two part episode 'Silence In The Library'/'Forest of the Dead' in series four, the mystery of River Song's identity, why she meets The Doctor in the wrong order, and what her exact relationship to The Doctor is was spread out over nearly three years, making the storyline rather unique for NuWho, in which most major story arcs are usually wrapped up in the series in which they are introduced.

River's identity as Melody Pond, the lost baby daughter of Amy Pond and Rory Williams, is revealed in the episode 'A Good Man Goes To War', which aired in June 2011, and was followed by her marriage to The Doctor in the series six finale, 'The Wedding of River Song', in October 2011.

To celebrate ten years since the big reveal, and the characters' onscreen marriage, let's look back at some of River and The Eleventh Doctor's best moments.

Follow that Ship!

Early in series five, The Eleventh Doctor encounters River Song for the second time, in the episode ‘The Time of Angels’. After discovering a message addressed to him in an archaeological exhibit, The Doctor and Amy follow a set of coordinates to discover River Song in the midst of a crashing spaceship.

Leaping from the ship into an air corridor created by the Tardis, River flies into space, through the Tardis doors, and lands right on top of The Doctor. The chemistry between Matt Smith and Alex Kingston is immediate, perfectly setting up the relationship to come.

"Are you married, River?"

After being briefly erased from existence in 'The Big Bang', The Doctor must rely on River Song to jog Amy's memory so he can be restored. Later, while meeting River to return her diary, The Doctor asks if she is married. River playfully dances around the question, until The Doctor, equal parts intrigued and exasperated by her, instead asks:

"River.. Who are you?"

And River, quite cryptically, replies:

"You're going to find out very soon now.. and I'm sorry."

There were many theories about River's identity, including that she was a regenerated Romana, or even a Doctor from the future. However, the above scene had many fans convinced that River was The Doctor's wife.

River and The Doctor defeat The Silence

In 'Day of the Moon', the second part of series six's opening two-part story, The Doctor and River Song must work together to rescue Amy from the story's villains, the Silence. In what is still remembered as one of the series' best action sequences, The Doctor and River take on a large group of Silents, with River wielding her blaster, and The Doctor his sonic, both of them flirting all the while.

This is one of the first scenes in which The Doctor flirts back on purpose, and shows he and River's potential as a battle couple.

First kiss/Last kiss

On a high after defeating the Silence, The Doctor rather reluctantly returns River to her prison cell in Stormcage. Amy and Rory are left waiting in the Tardis while the two say their farewells. To The Doctor's great surprise, River plants a rather passionate kiss on his lips, and River is taken aback when he then informs her that, at least from his perspective, they have never kissed before.

"Well, you know what they say.. There's a first time for everything."

"And a last time.."

In the very same episode that The Doctor and River's relationship is confirmed to be a romantic one, we see one of the many layers of tragedy to their romance. How painful must it be to love someone whom you never meet in the right order?

Meet Melody

Upon realising that Madame Kovarian and an army of soldiers serving the Order of The Silence have kidnapped Amy Pond in order to take custody of her newborn daughter Melody and raise her into a weapon, The Doctor raises an army of his own to mount a rescue attempt. He sends Rory to recruit River Song, but River, for reasons she cannot reveal, reluctantly refuses. Only after things have gone horribly wrong, and Kovarian has successfully escaped with baby Melody, does River arrive at Demon's Run.

At first, The Doctor is furious with River for not showing up sooner, until, guiding The Doctor's hand over the cot in which Melody had been sleeping, she finally reveals the truth to him. She is Melody Pond, all grown up, safe and well. The Doctor is almost giddy at the news, providing a sweet moment to temper the earlier heartbreak of Melody's loss.

River gives up her regenerations for The Doctor

The following episode, 'Let's Kill Hitler', continues the run of big plot twists , with the reveal that Amy and Rory's childhood friend Mels, after whom they had named their daughter, was actually a regenerated Melody. Mels is shot and regenerates for a second time, into the form viewers know as River Song. However, at this point, Melody had been trained and conditioned for a single purpose, to kill The Doctor, and it seems as though she might succeed after taking him off-guard with a poison kiss.

However, over the course of the episode, Melody sees the dying Doctor's desperation to save Amy and Rory when they end up in danger, and comes to realise that he is not the monster she was raised to believe. Going against The Doctor's wishes, she saves his life with a second kiss, transferring all her remaining regeneration energy to him. This is the moment River Song was born.

The Wedding of River Song

Early in the series six finale, time is broken, frozen in a single moment with all of history happening at once, due to River's failure to kill The Doctor on the shore of Lake Silencio, a moment that was supposed to be a fixed point in time. The only way to get time moving again is for The Doctor and River to touch, which River at first refuses to do. However, she ultimately changes her mind after The Doctor marries her, whispering something in her ear.

Though we are at first led to believe he whispered his name, it is later revealed that he told her to look in his eye, letting her know that The Doctor was hiding safely inside the Tesselecta. The newlyweds kiss, and the proper flow of time is restored. Some argue that the wedding doesn't count since it occured in an aborted timeline, but as The Doctor acknowledges that the wedding occurred, there is really no dispute. River Song is The Doctor's wife.

First Night/Last Night

A few lesser known, but brilliant moments came from the two-part mini-sode First Night/Last Night. On what is supposed to be his first night out with River after their marriage, timey-wimey shenanigans lead to three River Songs on the Tardis. The one he picked up for their date, a future River who runs into the Tardis for help, and a River from even further in the future who wanders in after mistaking the Tardis for a future Doctor’s.

The minisodes are fun, but bittersweet. The last River reveals that her Doctor is about to take her to Darillium, for what the present Doctor believes to be their final night together. We later learn that The Doctor did not go through with this trip, and in fact put it off several times before River eventually crash lands on Darillium with The Twelfth Doctor.

The Doctor comes to River’s rescue.

‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ is known as one of Doctor Who’s most heartbreaking episodes, however, there are still a few fun moments. River finds herself in a spot of bother after an Angel collector, Grayle, captures she and Rory, and a Weeping Angel catches hold of her wrist. However, River sees the word 'Yowza' on one of Grayle's vases, and knows help is on the way.

"Just you wait until my Husband gets home."

Sure enough, The Doctor soon comes to the rescue. Though things go downhill soon after, the reunion scene is quite cute.

The Doctor heals River's wrist

Panicking after reading ahead in the Melody Malone book and uncovering a future he would rather not come to pass, The Doctor angrily demands that River escape the Angel's grip without breaking her wrist. She lets The Doctor and Amy think she had succeeded, but when The Doctor grabs her hand to run shortly afterwards, they discover the wrist is in fact broken. Guilty for yelling at her earlier, The Doctor uses a small amount of regeneration energy to heal River's wrist. Horrified that he would be so careless with something as precious as regeneration energy, River slaps him.

At the time, some fans thought River was being unfair. However, the scene takes on greater meaning a few years later, in 'The Husbands of River Song'. River was fully aware that The Doctor's Eleventh face was, at the time, supposed to be his last. The energy he used on her wrist may well have been all he had left.

River takes care of The Doctor

In the tragic final scenes of 'The Angels Take Manhattan, The Doctor is left heartbroken when Amy Pond allows a Weeping Angel to take her so she can go back in time and be with Rory. After Amy is taken, The Doctor breaks down, taking his attention away from the Angel.

River, however, never does. She must be as heartbroken over losing Amy and Rory as The Doctor is, they were, after all, her parents. But someone had to watch the Angel. River was strong for The Doctor when he couldn't be.

"You are always here to me"

The next time The Eleventh Doctor sees River, and sadly, the final time, is in the series seven finale, 'The Name of The Doctor'. The episode is set after River's death in 'Silence In The Library'. She appears as a data ghost mentally linked to Clara Oswald, and believes that only Clara can see her. After Clara leaps into The Doctor's time stream, and The Doctor plans to follow and save her, River scolds The Doctor, and nearly slaps him. To River's surprise, he grabs her hand.

"You are always here to me, and I always listen, and I can always see you."

The pair share a passionate kiss, saying a bittersweet goodbye before The Doctor departs to rescue Clara. Though the Twelfth Doctor sees River again, it is the last time The Eleventh sees her, and is still the latest point in River's known timeline. The scene is both heartwarming and beautifully tragic.

Here's to ten years of this time-twisting marriage!


About the Creator

Kristy Anderson

Passionate About all things Entertainment!

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