All good things must come to an end, and after a season full of surprises and emotional confrontations, we've finally come to the end of season six of Doctor Who with the long-awaited The Wedding of River Song. But they've definitely saved the best for last, as the Silence will finally fall for the Doctor and his friends in their darkest adventure yet. Its here we learn how everything that's come up before will intersect, including the fate of the Doctor's life, his universe, and everything else.
Time has frozen on April 22, 2011 at 5:02pm; cars fly on balloons, trains chug along on rails in the sky, roman soldiers ride horses on London streets, and signs warn kids not to feed the pterodactyls (they’re vermin) and Charles Dickens (Simon Callow) is a guest on morning TV. All time is happening at once, and it’s here we learn that Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice) has a strange man labeled a soothsayer locked away in a tower, who turns out to be none other than a scruffy bearded Doctor (Matt Smith).
Yup, something is definitely wrong, and we're treated to a grand story that the Doctor explains to Churchill as to what's going on. From the very beginning of the season we knew there were plans to have River kill him, but since her love for the Doctor was so strong, she changes events so that this never happens. Little did she know that his death was a ‘fixed point’ in time, causing time itself to become unstable and slowly die. After the Doctor is rescued by Amy and Rory (the man who dies and dies again) from Churchill, it's up to all of them to stop the silence and set time right. But can do they do it with the Doctor's life still intact?
Without question, this is one the greatest episodes of the series. I loved how the episode started off with the Doctor explaining his plan of avoiding death while also showing flashbacks of what he did. The bald, chubby blue-skinned Dorium Maldovar (Simon Fisher-Becker), now just a decapitated head in a box (but a media chip implanted and good WiFi) tells the Doctor that Silence ‘must’ fall when the oldest question in the universe is answered, the one hidden in plain sight. From retrieving information from a dying Dalek's brain, to playing a game of ‘live’ chess using electrified pieces with a member of the silence, to visiting the micro-sized humans in the Teselecta from "Let's Kill Hitler" as part of his plan, it was fun following the Doctor on these mini-adventures to save himself. It was also nice seeing the series take a very dark turn and feel in this episode, especially with Amy finally getting her revenge on Madame Kovarian (aka the eyepatch lady), who took her baby away and hurt her ("But now she's all grown up and fine.")
For those who’ve been following the series since it was regenerated back in 2005, and especially since it was taken over by Stephen Moffat and Matt Smith last year, there are plenty of fun cameos and Easter eggs sprinkled throughout to keep you smiling. From the return of Winston Churchill. Charles Dickens, there’s even a bittersweet nod to one of the Doctor’s most famous friends, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, played by the late Nicholas Courtney (who passed away in February). The sketches in Amy's train office reference just about every major character in the series so far, but the biggest 'cameo' is probably by someone who never appears personally, but is referenced enough to keep you thinking.
Douglas Adams, creator of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and onetime writer for Doctor Who, definitely has a clear presence here. Shades of Adams exist in “the oldest question in the universe”, the one that's hidden in plain sight. But Don’t Panic, because there's plenty of wacky intergalactic humor alongside the existential danger to keep you laughing and thinking throughout.
The Wedding of River Song is a fitting conclusion to one of the best series in Doctor Who's long history, and by the time its done, you'll be asking yourself how they're going to top it with the next season. And it's a question you'll be asking yourself for a good long while, as there's no telling when the next set of adventures will begin. But at least we're getting a Christmas Special this year, which sees the Doctor in war-torn England embarking on a magical and mysterious adventure with a young widow and her two children. As with any episode, I can't wait to see how it turns out, and for the next season to begin all over again. Geronimo!