jason stives returns with the premiere episode of Doctor Who‘s second part of the sixth series …
“There must be someone left in the universe I haven’t screwed up yet.”
Less than three months of breathing room, and we return with our weekly review of Doctor Who. Since the beginning of June, when the show’s mid-season finale ended, viewers have been given time to digest the revelations of the previous seven episodes, mainly, the revelation that River Song is in fact the full-grown Melody Pond, Rory and Amy’s newborn daughter. However, much is left to answer and the mystery behind the Doctor’s apparent death in the future must be sitting at the back of every fan boys mind. With six episodes left, the show has returned with “Let’s Kill Hitler,” a story that is blinded by fans based on its title but quite possibly one of the most enjoyable stories the show has produced since its relaunch, thanks in part to great acting, a well-crafted story, and some mind-boggling plot points that not even I saw coming and I have been watching this show since I was 9.
It’s important to save on a recap of the actual story because there is much going on in “Let’s Kill Hitler.” Steven Moffat has crafted quite the continuity machine here, and when you think he has answered some questions, he has added more. What this episode has done is act as good as any season premiere and also moves the continuing story arc out of certain domains and into darker realms. For those who have complained that the show has become too dark don’t realize that Doctor Who has always been about scaring the kids and while this episode surely wasn’t a frightening episode, the underlying themes of the Doctor’s death and the potential danger of River Song is taking the show into some dark corners.
The most unique part here is the evolution of River Song, here initially as Rory and Amy’s childhood friends Mel’s and then revealed as Melody after she is clumsily shot by Hitler and then regenerates into the familiar face of Alex Kingston we know. However, the shocking turn that she has been conditioned to kill the Doctor on site makes Melody/River a deadly individual and you don’t know what to think at first. Props goes to Kingston for balancing that dynamic and showing a gradual transition from a cold blooded harlot to an aware product of the Doctor’s importance to both her family and the universe.
Matt Smith, as if he hadn’t already shown it, continues to evolve as the Doctor. With the Doctor now aware of his untimely death, his way of handling events and how he is perceived around Amy and Rory is going to be unique and he already displayed a bizarre mix of dark humor and worry, which continues to display the alien quality that the Doctor should be known for and the Eleventh Doctor has encompassed. After spending the first half of the season feeling less like a married couple, Amy and Rory have hit an understanding stride where they both work as a team more than being brave Amy and bumbling Rory. Rory has some solid action moments in this episode and really places himself away from being a companion and being a commanding character that doesn’t always need the Doctor.
What really gives this episode a real zinger-like quality is the misleading effect of its title and an initial plot setup. For all the worrying the Who universe had after the episode’s title was announced, Hitler and the plot to kill said dictator is no more than a clever Magoffin to an even bigger scope. In fairness, I think I would’ve had many reservations if the episode revolved around some half-brain attempt to change the mind of feur, and making it background noise just worked perfectly.
To add to that background noise, you have our pint-sized team of give-’em-hell time police whose sole purpose is to man handle the greatest war criminals in the universe, of which the Doctor turns out to be one. It’s a great idea, even if I had flashbacks of a horrible Eddie Murphy movie when I noticed the Teseleca for the first time. The visual effects for this unique shape shifting creation was stellar and the overall settings which was balanced between the alien spaceship and 1938 Berlin was wonderfully executed.
“Let’s Kill Hitler” goes far and above what I expected and was an insanely misconstrued by wonderful ride of an episode to kick back into the fall block of episodes. However, after letting it sink, I can’t help but wonder how these storylines will work out and I’m a bit iffy of some of the ploys to keep continuity logical at the most illogical levels. The notion that Amy and Rory unknowingly raised Melody as a best friend and then named their child after their daughter is a strange occurrence, even more strangely that Mel’s is the one that makes Amy realize that Rory likes her. History creating unto itself is a bizarre plot device and here it works in its flashback format but entices too many questions.
Thankfully, for every new question Steven Moffat introduced here, he leveled it with answers. We have several questions answered. We know River is supposed to kill the Doctor, which is something most fans probably figured out over the past few months. We also have a thin idea of who The Silence is, and that is a religious order who will answer the oldest question in the universe … whatever that is. We also have experienced the Doctor’s first encounter with River and the reason why she has her blue diary. From here on out I expect one hell of ride for five more episodes before being clobbered over the head with answers in the finale. “Let’s Kill Hiter” was utterly scatterbrained, but it was one of the most exciting hours Doctor Who has produced and one of the most memorable episodes Steven Moffat has written in recent memory.
All Photos Credit: BBC America