11 Episodes of the Eleventh Doctor: Let’s Kill Hitler

#5 Let’s Kill Hitler written by Steven Moffat aka the Dalek Emperor

As I mentioned last week in the fourth installment of “11 Episodes of the Eleventh Doctor,” it is a tie between The Wedding of River Song and Let’s Kill Hitler for my all-time favorite Eleven story. This week Moffat is the writer, and perhaps I am a predictable and obvious fan because of course River is a main character and I totally ship River and Eleven as canon. While haters gon’ hate, I consider the River/Eleven storyline to be the most ambitious plot point Moffat has undertaken in his tenure as showrunner; it is a doozy and worth the twists and turns. This episode starts out with Amy and Rory summoning the Doctor after Demon’s Run and River Song’s reveal that she is Amy’s baby all grown up, the little Melody Pond. No, I didn’t rec that episode (A Good Man Goes to War), but I’m assuming if you’re reading this you are a fan of DW and don’t need too much explaining the oddness that is a Doctor Who/Steven Moffat plot line. If you do need a refresher, click the links in the text for a trip in the TARDIS to the DW wiki. So, this episode is broadcast after the show’s summer hiatus as the opener of the second part of season 6 and it begins with Amy and Rory in Leadworth contacting the Doctor by creating a crop circle. That, in itself, is kinda perfect. It is always a treat to visit the Ponds/Williams’ in their sleepy hometown, because audiences get to see the “normal” and enjoy watching the Doctor try to fit into everyday English life. In this episode, we meet a friend of the Ponds, Mels, a petty thief and crazy childhood companion of Amy and Rory.

The birth of River Song.

Now, we know that character River Song has been on the show since her debut/death scene back with Ten and Donna in Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. This is the first time the Doctor meets River, but not the first time River meets the Doctor. That is in Hitler’s Berlin, 1938. Spoilers! After hijacking the TARDIS and landing in Nazi Germany with a plan to kill Hitler, and a shootout gone bad, Mels, reveals herself to be the baby stolen at Demon’s Run. She also explains that she is a psychopath and has regenerated once before. River Song/Melody Pond/Mels are all the same personThe Doctor and audiences finally figures out that the River Song from the future (and the past) was under his nose (and chin) the entire time. Timey-Wimey, Moffaty goodness!

Keep up, they're all the same person, different face.
Keep up, they’re all the same person, different face.

So, this is the episode where River meets the Doctor and then poisons him. We find out from the justice seeking Teselecta (shape shifting robot) crew that River Song/Melody Pond/Mels is categorized in their databases as “the woman who kills the Doctor,” but the event doesn’t happen in 1938 Berlin but at Lake Silencio, Utah in 2011, a fixed point in time. So, why is the Doctor dying? Matt Smith is superb in the face of the Doctor’s eminent death. Smith can play a room, and he is not afraid of physical humor. The Doctor flails around, confronting the Teselecta for attempting to prosecute River Song/Melody Pond/Mels for his death when he obviously isn’t dead…yet and using only his wit to defuse the situation.

He might be dying, but looks good doing it.
He might be dying, but looks good doing it.

What I most enjoy is watching the Doctor take care of River, even as he’s in pain from the Judas poison. He argues with the Teselecta crew about the “responsibilities” of time travel, all the while telling River not to be scared, not to run away and to be brave so she can help her parents, who have since been beamed into the Teselecta ship. My heart breaks every time I watch the Doctor crying to River, who doesn’t even know her name or that she is River Song, begging her to do something.  If you know River, you know she is brave and smart and I always cheer a bit when suddenly she’s inside the TARDIS rescuing Amy and Rory. She makes a choice to do right by the Doctor and to go against all she’s been brainwashed to think and do in regards to him. Moffat takes his time tying together the plot points for River Song’s story, but they are well worth the wait. Moffat has previously established that River has a future relationship with the Doctor but the River we meet in Let’s Kill Hitler doesn’t even know him yet. This regeneration is new and the Doctor, who has seen River’s death in the Library and knows the extent to which she will and must mean to him, is willing to die so that she can become a better person. Luckily, River does what she always does when the Doctor needs her, she gives everything. As Eleven takes his last breath, River shares her remaining regenerations with him and he heals.

Hello, Sweetie.
Hello, Sweetie.

What I appreciate so much about River is that from her regeneration in Hitler’s office to the her death in the Library, she is always willing to give her life over to the Doctor. While we know that regeneration changes the physical anatomy of a Timelord, we also know that personalities shift, and it seems that when Melody Pond/Mels regenerated into the River Song spoiler hair, she also learned a few things from the Doctor. For him, the River/Eleven train is in the middle of the tracks, headed down a path that will take her to the Library and him to Trenzalore. Eleven is obligated to see things through to the story’s end, and so it seems the Doctor decides he might as well allow himself to feel something for the girl, because he cannot stop the movement of time toward that chair of doom in the Library. For River, Let’s Kill Hitler is the beginning of a relationship that develops into something so intense, the last of the Timelords will, at some point in their time together, whisper his greatest secret into her space hair. It is a lovely story and I am sad to see it end at Trenzalore and The Name of the Doctor!




The Collectiva Diva