Shipping 101: River and Eleven (A Doctor Who Rant w/Spoilers)

i ship itFirst of all, let’s get this straight. I totally ship River Song and The Eleventh Doctor. If you follow The Collective on Pinterest or on Tumblr you know this to be true.

This is what I do with my Saturday nights.
This is what I do with my Saturday nights.

When I first acknowledged my Wholigan tendencies, it was after two very special episodes of Who. Silence in the Library and The Forest of the Dead. I couldn’t get into the first season, didn’t understand the hype with the second season, so I began jumping around to watch episodes that other Whovians suggested (like a Timelord). I enjoyed the hell out of Blink and Tooth and Claw, everything Donna and in the middle of season four, we meet River. I loved her feisty, comfortable banter with the Doctor and then, all of a sudden, this brave, smart woman sacrifices herself for Ten, who cares, of course, but doesn’t seem to understand; Donna doesn’t understand; viewers don’t understand either. Before, I had watched seasons three and four out of sequence, not focusing on the larger story arc because I didn’t watch season one or two and therefore had no idea about Rose and the Doctor or why he needed Donna and why everyone hated Martha (still don’t get that one). In the Library, I began to care about his story; the tale of the Doctor and the TARDIS. I wanted to know who this River Song was, and lucky for me, I was watching on Netflix and didn’t have to wait two years, like the rest of the world.

11 meets River at the Byzantium and she's looking fly and flirting a lot.
11 meets River at the Byzantium and they flirt mercilessly.

From the Library on, I watched the season in order, more or less, and moved directly on to season five. I was curious now, to see what this whole regeneration thing was about and how this series, with 11 new faces since The Unearthly Child in 1963, continued to captivate audiences and had suddenly captivated me. When River showed up in season five with Amy and the Doctor, I squeed for joy. Spoilers! She’s adorable–so cheeky but still a good companion in that she understands when the Doctor needs her to do what she’s told. River sees the bigger picture. I, along with viewers in 2010 (and new Whovians everyday) watched River’s story unfold, but alas, we already know we are really watching her story end.

The Pond Feels!!
The Pond Feels!!

Still, I was hooked. I gobbled up this complex story line and realized suddenly that I was a Whovian Wholigan. When River’s timeline is slowly revealed after Demon’s Run, I am flabbergasted along with Amy. When Mels regenerates in Hitler’s office, I too hear a bang-y noise in my head, just like papa Rory, as the pieces begin to fall into place. I can only imagine how Whovians, five years after seeing River for the first time, felt. The beloved Doctor, who has regenerated, traveled and been pretty darn depressed for a season or two has finally found his River Song and they are adorable.

My serious OTP.
My serious OTP.

With almost two decades between actors Matt Smith and Alex Kingston, the pair have surprisingly easy chemistry. When they are in a scene together, the River and Eleven ship sails itself! They flirt and fight (in the fanfic, they fuck) like a married couple from day one. The Doctor doesn’t understand it at first, and as we watch the seasons unfold, he begins to understand more and River, less.

Ship it! Come on, just watch and ship it…

I will go out on a shipper’s limb and say that River’s timeline is one of the most complicated in the Who-niverse. They meet in the wrong order, and River is from the Doctor’s future. She has lived through experiences with him that reveal his true nature as a healer and as a warrior. She knows more about the development of the Doctor’s character than he does. I read this really great article by Rebecca Kulik that talked about the Doctor as a god. The writer explores the relationship between River and Eleven, saying ultimately, River sees the Doctor as a god, and that’s why the relationship won’t ever work out. Once the Doctor starts acting like a god, bad things start happening to the people around him. When he tries to be more human (as in his relationship with Rose) is when everything is happy-go-lucky for him. La dee da, he’s a TIMELORD people. Lord’s right there in the name!

Can we just acknowledge ten went a bit mad at the end?
Can we just acknowledge ten went a bit mad at the end?

So, cut to the latest episode of DW, The Name of the Doctor; the relationship between River and Eleven has developed into a complex ship to say the least. Audiences know that at some point between the library and the fields of Trenzalore, the Doctor told River his name. My guess is when he thought he was going to die, but Moffat hasn’t revealed that information and probably never will. (MOFFAT!) The Doctor and River get married–whether you count the wedding at the top of the pyramid to the tesselector real or not, viewer, the Doctor does, because afterwards he sure calls her his wife enough AND in Angels Take Manhattan, the first time we see River after The Wedding of River Song, this shipper seems to think that the pair seem more intimate, as if they finally consummated their union.

Sorry–dirty fanfic tangent…

Speaking of fanfic, The Collective ships many a ship and recs many a slash, NSFW story. In the case of River and Eleven, for some reason, I like the fluff. The sexy stuff is fun, but I find myself reading stories like You Turn Me Into Somebody Loved and Justify My Thoughts of Flight  that get right into the feels and break my hearts because for the first time (since Rose, I’ll admit), the Doctor needs someone. River dies to save the Doctor the first time he meets her and then gives all her regeneration powers to him the first time she meets him. It’s a love story that loops and twists, it is wibbley-wobbley, timey-wimey and the very nature of what I have come to think of as Doctor Who. For this Wholigan, it seems shipping River and Eleven is simultaneous with loving the show but alas, I have caught up in seasons. I have watched the specials, the Classic Who, the American movie, read the fanfic, watched the YouTube tributes and am in the same boat as all the other Whovians. I’m stuck in the present. I can’t travel through time and space, I am stuck on Earth without a TARDIS. I must get over the death of River Song (Goodbye, Sweetie!!), get a mortgage, a job in a shop and watch Doctor Who like everyone else. River is gone. Just like Rose, Martha, Ten, Donna, Wilf, the Master, Amy and Rory. It’s hard, this fandom. All the waiting and not knowing and traveling through time in a straight line. 137 days until the next episode of Doctor Who, and if I am to be a Wholigan for life, as is the plan, I will have to move on along with the show, as Matt Smith exits and we get a new Doctor in the upcoming season eight. I’m going to have to get through the bittersweet feels that Doctor Who brings.


I. Just. I. Can’t.

137 days until new Who.
137 days until new Who.

The Collectiva DIva


  1. zombiebuff

    See, I’m the exact opposite of most people. I strongly dislike Rose (possibly because one of my daughters became obnoxiously obsessed with Billie Piper) and absolutely LOVED Martha. Donna was my least favorite companion. I loved Amy and Rory and love, love(d) River. I’m hoping, because of the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff that we haven’t seen the last of her. I just know Eleven (and possibly Twelve) will go back to see her sometime.

    And, OOH!, fanfic! Bookmarking for later.

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