Time is seriously broken, what with Churchill being Emperor of Rome and everything being stuck at 5:02pm April 22nd 2011. Luckily, Churchill notices and has a chat with his captive Soothsayer, The Doctor with a beard. Since River Song failed to kill him when she should have at Lake Silencio, time has gone a bit screwy. The Silence are still hissing around, so The Doctor needs to find River and sort out a big reset and cop-out before time collapses once and for all (like at the end of Series 5).
The actual story here, being The Doctor sorting this bloody mess out, is thin stuff. As Who fans we know we shouldn’t look too closely at the plot; there’s often enough fun stuff going on to obscure the more glaring plot holes. Last year’s series finale, “The Big Bang”, is a bunch of fast, fun and occasionally quite moving set pieces which disguise the fact that it was just our four main characters running around before hitting the big reset button. “The Wedding Of River Song” is nearly a direct copy. It soft opens with a bunch of quirky shots (pterodactyls in Hyde Park, Dickens on TV, the Roman Empire stuff) before we get our non-surprise as the Soothsayer turns out to be The Doctor. Young Amy finding adult Amy in the Pandorica WAS a cool surprise. A bearded Doctor is not. And the opening titles roll.
Like “The Big Bang”, we’re thrown straight into a flashback as The Doctor explains to Churchill what happened. Carnivorous skulls in the Seventh Transept are neat but, really, none of these scenes have much substance to them; it’s just exposition. We sort of get the reason why the Silence wants The Doctor dead – all about him answering THE question at the Fields of Trenzalore. All very portentous and up itself. So back to the start of Series 6 and the big moment when the Impossible Astronaut kills The Doctor – except, River has managed to override the space-suit programming and not kill The Doctor so, like in Series 5, the act meant to make everything all right causes everything to go very wrong. And here, our story really begins.
What follows (Amy and eyepatched chums rescuing The Doctor from the Silence, the pyramid/ Silence prison actually being a big trap, eyepatches going fizz-pop etc) is not very exciting or interesting. The Doctor doesn’t have to sort anything out or do anything clever, he just has to grab hold of River and reset the whole thing. It’s good to finally see Amy get seriously angry about losing her baby and the Silence referring to Rory as “the man who dies and dies again” – but then we’re reminded, AGAIN, that Amy loves Rory (because, even though they barely know each other in this screwed up timeline, they are still in fucking love).
At the top of the pyramid, The Doctor marries River, supposedly tells her his name and they kiss and everything flips back to normal again. At this point we finally get the clever bit – it’s NOT The Doctor at all who gets shot but the Tesselecta thing with a micro Doctor inside it, thus enabling the fixed point in time to happen and The Doctor to escape while everyone thinks he is dead. That is until River turns up in Amy’s garden and tells her exactly what the Doctor told her not to. The final scene, dropping off Dorium’s head is typical of Series 6 – it sets things up, adds in a big fan-tastic mystery (Who? Doctor, WHO?) but is ultimately a bit pointless. The Doctor wants everyone to think he’s dead, until he decides that he wants to hang out with the Ponds again, and one assumes the Daleks never believed it or they wouldn’t have nabbed him at the start of the very next series.
So endeth Series 6 and “The Wedding of River Song” is a suitable finale. It’s full of the big, mysterious plots that have squatted on top of the whole series; it sort of wraps them up but really just hits a big reset button. Perhaps if it really had been the Ponds’ last episode and the Universe had been left to think The Doctor was gone, then maybe this episode would have some resonance. But, of course, none of this was followed up.
If you’re going to make the show about great big events that shatter everything you’ve ever known, then you should be having great big events that shatter everything you’ve ever known. When normal service is just resumed, it’s all a bit of a let-down. Series 6 – the series that died and died again – and this finale is the epitome of it all. A disappointing 4/10.
Written and edited by Richard Barnes