Rate & Discuss: A Good Man Goes to War

June 4th, 2011
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

In her cell in Stormcage, River Song sadly acknowledges that the time has come at last – today will mark the Battle of Demons Run and the Doctor’s darkest hour. Both sides will make their sacrifices and River Song must finally reveal her most closely guarded secret to the Doctor.

Well, there we have it! The first half of Series 6 has reached its mind-blowing conclusion. There were twists and turns waiting around every corner, but did it live up to the hype?

Tonight’s epic episode has undoubtedly been one of the most highly anticipated of recent years, and, what with the return of several monsters, the culmination of various ongoing plot threads, plus the long awaited reveal of River Song and the fact that it was our last dose of the Doctor until the autumn, you can see why it had so much riding on its back!

Responsible for delivering the goods was Steven Moffat, the man universally acclaimed for his time and space defying brain. He had lots to get through in the mid-series finale, and from start to finish, the story went by at rocket speed, as the Doctor and Rory the Roman raced across galaxies and River acknowledged that her time had come at last…

For poor Amy, it was an emotional rollercoaster at the hands of Madame Kovarian, while all around them the Doctor’s enemies lay a carefully concealed trap as he called in long held debts and solemnly given promises. Both sides made sacrifices, but was it worth it?

We’ve had some exhilarating cliffhangers this series, and this one was no exception, but we’re now left to twiddle our thumbs until the autumn. Among all the shock revelations and surprises that hit us in tonight’s episode, we’ve been given plenty to think about until our heroes return, most notably River Song, whose true identity has at long last hit the airwaves. Was her secret the pay off we’d been promised? Were your theories right?

So, did you love it or loathe it? Were you blown away by the suspense and danger, or was Steven Moffat’s storytelling just too much to take in? The comments are waiting…

Please don’t read the comments if you haven’t yet seen the episode. Spoilers!

Rate this episode
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(89 Votes, Average: 4.69/5)
237 comments on this article
  1. Calli Arcale
    June 15th, 2011 at 3.17am | #1

    @Kiki

    Who is he — or who will he become? The answer may be related to why the Doctor suggested he wear Roman centurion gear while gathering up troops and other support for the war to recover his wife and child — and perhaps also relates to Amy’s little monolog to baby Melody, telling her about her amazing father of mythic proportions — the Lonely Centurion. It may also tie into what’s been leaked about bits of the second half of the season; it looks like we’ll see a Roman-themed British Empire, of sorts. (Also, we’re highly likely to see a lot more Cybermen soon, the real reason for the otherwise quixotic inclusion of Cybermen in this episode — to briefly introduce them to newer viewers, or in Chekov terms, hanging them on the wall in the first act in preparation for firing them in the third….)

  2. Kiki
    June 15th, 2011 at 7.51am | #2

    @Calli Arcale

    I can’t help but wonder how any of these scenerios might jibe with Octavian also saying that the man River killed was a very good man.

  3. Martin Holt
    June 15th, 2011 at 12.27pm | #3

    I am afraid this Dr who has lost me the writers are just writing gibberish nothin makes sense. Get rid of Pond and rory. Dr who has gone from a fantastic show to being nonsensical. Very disappointing.

  4. Calli Arcale
    June 15th, 2011 at 10.10pm | #4

    I think it’s making perfectly good sense, but there’s no arguing with taste; one can like or dislike anything. Some people like the standalone adventure format, others like tightly plotted arcs with lots of little bits referring forwards and backwards to one another. Sort of like comparing Star Trek to Babylon 5; they’re both good shows, but may not both appeal to the same people.

    I’m liking the clever, tightly interwoven episodes, but the big drawback is that it’s harder for a newbie to jump in. I’m not a newbie, so I’m enjoying it hugely, but there are so many spoilers that it becomes impossible to discuss it with someone unless you’ve first established how much they know. My hubby is only as far as “A Christmas Carol”, so I pretty much can’t discuss this season with him.

  5. Paul
    June 17th, 2011 at 4.58pm | #5

    Alex is a goddess!

    But… back to the plot. “A good man goes to war” and “I killed the best man I ever knew.” The best man she ever knew…. has to be the doctor or her father doesn’t it? And I’d hate to see her kill Rory in a future episode. Part of me has to believe she’s the one in that astronaut suit that kills the doctor.

    Second… gangers that get into the Tardis are…. stabilized. So the doctor that was killed could definitely be the doctor’s ganger. Did we see the TARDIS anywhere in the first part of that episode, before the younger doctor showed up? I can’t remember…

    Third… it took gallifreyans millenium to change into time lords… but maybe what really happened over this period was their ships were evolving and bringing their masters with them. River Song was changed more drastically because…. the modern TARDIS changes you must faster and if you’re actually conceived in the vortex…. even more so.

    One last thing… did I mention Alex is a goddess?

  6. Patrick
    June 17th, 2011 at 11.25pm | #6

    But the Doctor knows that River is his wife. We know this by his reaction in A Good Man Goes To War when he makes them slightly funny exclaims between looking at River and Amy and Rory so why would River kill the Doctor?

  7. ema
    June 18th, 2011 at 8.24pm | #7

    Once again… the eye patch lady and clerics. manipulated Melody/River’s DNA since she was conceived. And true that they conceived her in the vortex :) Simple.. How many times do I have to repeat myself. :P

  8. Matthew Pattan
    June 19th, 2011 at 8.23am | #8

    Back in “Day of the Moon” the Silence were pretty much revealed to have Melody imprisoned in the space suit. (at least for a bit) But the eye-patch lady took off with her back to Earth. In “Day of the Moon” the eye-patch lady said through the slider “No I think she’s just dreaming.” Which suggests that they are just as oblivious to the Silence as anyone. BUT the Silence are going to have possession of Melody as a young girl… soon the Silence come back into play. In WW2 the Silence won’t have been executed yet.

  9. Matthew Pattan
    June 19th, 2011 at 8.30am | #9

    @Paul
    I don’t think just any ganger would be stabilized. The ones hooked up during the solar storm in “The Rebel Flesh” were seperated from their original hosts on a fluke. Amy was in the Tardis the whole time as a ganger but there was only ever one of her to go around.

  10. Matthew Pattan
    June 19th, 2011 at 8.40am | #10

    Haha! Okay, when the Doctor met Amy as a little girl and they were destroying her kitchen I don’t think the Doctor would have ever guessed… “Hello, future-mother-in-law.”

  11. Calli Arcale
    June 19th, 2011 at 9.44pm | #11

    That’s a very interesting observation, that Eyepatch Lady doesn’t know about the Silence — and could therefore be just as much their tool as anybody else’s. “You will bring the silence,” they told Amy. And Eyepatch Lady says her daughter is being turned into a weapon.

    As far as the Doctor from the opening of “The Impossible Astronaut”, I don’t think it works for him to be Flesh, unless the Flesh can simulate death (well enough to convince a scanner) while remaining stable. That’s not totally implausible, though.

    I love the thought that in “The Eleventh Hour”, the Doctor was making a mess of his future mother-in-law’s kitchen. :-D That’s a hilarious thought.

  12. Bad Wolf
    June 20th, 2011 at 10.59am | #12

    @Matthew Pattan

    When the eye-patch lady (a.k.a. Madame Kovarian) says “No I think she’s just dreaming.”, obviously she’s talking to someone, and if it’s not a Silent/Silence, who is she talking to ? Maybe just to some doctor or nurse… The way her lines were written in A Good Man Goes To War makes me think Madame Kovarian knows a lot of things about the war against the Doctor: she said it was “endless” and “bitter”.

    @Paul

    Where do I sign up to join the “Alex is a goddess” club, please ? I’ve just watched Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead again and I think Alex shines even more now that we know her secret. Did you know they wanted Kate Winslet for the River Song character ? (wikipedia). No offence to Ms. Winslet but… Alex Kingston is a goddess !

  13. Calli Arcale
    June 20th, 2011 at 3.53pm | #13

    Hmm — I like Kate Winslet, but I just can’t see her having the same ‘tude. Ya gotta have ‘tude to play River. Besides, Kate Winslet’s my age — she’s too young. ;-) (We need more sexy, dashing, awesome action roles for middle-aged ladies!)

  14. Bad Wolf
    June 20th, 2011 at 5.41pm | #14

    @Calli Arcale

    I couldn’t have said it better. Go, Alex, go !

  15. TE
    June 28th, 2011 at 2.45pm | #15

    I’ve just realised something: the Metacrisis Doctor from Journey’s End could probably regenerate seeing as River can and River presumably still has one heart and about the same amount of Time Lord DNA as River does.

  16. Vanessa
    June 28th, 2011 at 4.04pm | #16

    @TE

    They said the metacrisis doctor would get old and not regenerate on the TV program.

  17. jadey babey
    June 30th, 2011 at 6.21pm | #17

    i love doctor who … and matt smith and karen gillian and it will not be the same with out them, i do not no if i will keep watching when the doctor regenerates … he is by far the best ever and so i karen … and im not to sure ifi like the fact that river is amys daughter, do you think she will be travellling with them in the tardis now … i hope not i like the chemsty them three have together … but what is going to happen to river song now that the thruth is revealed??? i wonder i womder

  18. Corah
    July 1st, 2011 at 12.28am | #18

    I really liked this episode. I liked how they made the melody Pond and River Song thing work. :) However, I was expecting a much more epic battle. :/
    I did a youtube video vlog on Doctor Who recently. :) Check it out if ya want: http://www.youtube.com/user/tyrannosaurusness

  19. BadWolf
    July 1st, 2011 at 11.22am | #19

    @jadey babey

    I was exactly in the same state of mind when Catherine Tate left the show, followed by David Tennant. But I watched The Eleventh Hour and I’m now biting my nails, waiting to know what will happen in the back half of Series 6. While I’ve still got fond memories of the Tennant/Tate era, I don’t really miss it anymore. Like Ood Sigma said in The End Of Time, this song must come to an end, but the story never ends. I think the best thing to do is giving a try when Matt and Karen’s time on the show is up. I don’t know about Doctors 1 to 8, but since the show came back in 2005, the team always got it right when they replaced central characters (the exception being Freema Agyeman/Martha Jones : talented actress but weak character).

    While I’m almost sure River is bound to become a permanent companion for the Doctor one day, I don’t think it will happen anytime soon. At least, not until this whole Silence/War against the Doctor/Weapon Melody thing is resolved.
    Now we have yet to see how she will be saved, who she is going to kill, how her love story with the Doctor will develop and how her relationship with Amy and Rory will evolve. I hope they’ll show us her final encounter with the Doctor, when he gave her his screwdriver knowing she was headed to the Library !

  20. Vanessa
    July 1st, 2011 at 4.58pm | #20

    @BadWolf
    Something else unresolved is that after flying the Pandorica into the exploding Tardis and being brought back at Amy and Rory’s wedding the Doctor said there was still the why the Tadis exploded to sort out. We never have had an answer to that.

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