“A Good Man Goes to War” Review

It’s rather late to be reviewing the “mid-season finale” of this year’s split Doctor Who, broadcast 3 weeks ago, and while this post has been festering my brain has been fermenting some very fairly ripe theories, beyond my initial reactions which I sent in to the Fusion Patrol podcast (which I couldn’t participate in, because of other commitments). You can hear most of those initial reactions as pre-recorded inserts here.



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One of those initial reactions that I didn’t record was in response to Amy’s comment that “The Doctor isn’t famous”. The Doctor isn’t famous in the places in space and time we usually visit. But in The One Doctor he visits the vulgar end of time and the plot hangs on his being widely held in high regard. It makes sense that the further into the future, the more impact he will have had. In fact, there are hints here this army is from the Doctor’s future: he doesn’t know Lorna Bucket, and he isn’t familiar with this army. So they’re closer, in that sense, to the vulgar end of time.


So what’s been fermenting in my brain?

A couple of River-related notions. I’ve becoming more and more convinced that the little girl who regenerates at the end of Day of the Moon is not River Song. Unfortunately, Steven Moffat’s Twitter provides evidence to the contrary. When asked


he replied


Now I’ve had a quick scan of Silence in the Library and I’m not sure what dialogue he’s referring to. I shall have to watch it more carefully, but the only clue I can find is in Forest of the Dead when the Doctor tells River “time can be re-written” she tells him “not those times, not one line, don’t you dare.” Which I suppose might provide a motive for her lying (very well) when she inspects the little girl’s space suit and makes out she has never seen it before. But that’s tenuous.

Incidentally, speaking of The Moff’s Twitter stream, his observation that


seems to reflect a recent urge to retcon the rhythm of the theme, following RTD’s whole “knock four times” groove.

While I’m on my River theories, I don’t buy Eugene’s River theory expounded in the podcast, concerning early Doctor Who (go on, listen to it, it’s pretty crazy). But I am still more than half convinced River Song is the Doctor’s mother. I’ve heard this lots of times now: Eugene and Ben had the same reaction I did and I’ve seen lots of other posts about it; so I’m starting to think it’s not an accident. We don’t actually know what River explained to the Doctor, we just know what she told Rory and Amy. River being Amy’s daughter doesn’t preclude her from being the Doctor’s mother too, and the more I think about it, the more I like the notion. (And if I do have to accept that she is a half-baked Timelord, an augmented human, this would have to be the BEST EVER EXPLANATION for the Doctor’s admission that he’s half human; one that might even satisfy the hard-core critics of the 1996 TV Movie – whilst simultaneously enraging them by re-writing another chunk of the lore.) Alright, I’m actually just slightly less than half convinced. After all, River says that the Doctor in Silence in the Library is the youngest she’s ever seen him, and perhaps it is just a bit too bold. But still.

Meanwhile, I’ve been pondering on another River problem. If baby Melody was kidnapped, then stuck in the life-support space suit, perhaps confused and suffering from amnesia, how does she know so surely how her parents are? When does she learn this, and from who? And why is she known by the name that comes from the language of the people of the Gamma Forests, rather than that of her mother?

I’ve also been thinking about Lorna Bucket, the girl from the Delta Forests who wanted to meet the Doctor again. The Doctor doesn’t remember her; so we have yet to see him run with her. What is the significance of her name? Bucket, Pond, River. I’m not sure, but I think she’s more important than the part she played in “A Good Man Goes to War”. I’ve come to believe that she is the confused little girl who regenerates, and therefore, perhaps River. If River’s name came from the Gamma forests, isn’t it reasonable to suppose she lived there? And doesn’t Lorna’s early obsession with the Doctor, joining this army just to see him again, perfectly reflect River’s complete infatuation? And if she’s the little girl then right now, back on Demon’s Run, she is not dead; but she is about to regenerate. And she may be a lethal weapon.

Moving on to the question of who Madame Kovarian’s boss might be, the mastermind who wanted to destroy the entire Universe in The Big Bang, the best theory I’ve heard is… that it is Omega. This is probably in quite wide circulation, but I think I first heard this from a contributor’s feedback to The Doctor Who Podcast and it’s based on the Omega symbols (which I didn’t notice) of the warrior clerics in Time of the Angels and A Good Man Goes to War. Who would want to destroy everything… and could survive it? Who is unable to enter our reality, and must rely on agents and disciples? Who would have the knowledge and Timelord technology to control the TARDIS and beam a flesh signal through space and time?

You’ve got to admit it’s a rather neat fit.

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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