Well, folks, here we are with the final Doctor Who review of 2015. I wasn’t able to tear myself away from my books yesterday to write this, so you’re getting it today. Moffat promised us a cheery romp for this year’s Christmas special, and he certainly delivered one. Of course, there were also poignant moments of sadness because this was, after all, written by Steven Moffat, who feasts on the sorrow of Whovians.
In a case of mistaken identity, the Doctor gets swept along into a scheme to remove the head of King Hydroflax, a scheme masterminded by none other than Hydroflax’s wife River Song–the same River Song who is supposed to be married to the Doctor. The Doctor is just as confused as the rest of us, and River doesn’t recognize this incarnation. In a sense this is really River’s adventure, and the Doctor is just along for the ride. He doesn’t particularly mind–he gets to do his own version of the iconic “It’s bigger on the inside!” reactions–but it is difficult for him not to have his wife recognize who he is. In fact, when River remarks to him that the easiest way to manipulate a man is to tell him you love him, you can see the little wheels turning–he’s wondering if River lied to him the entire time.
Of course, we later learn that River was never lying; she has always loved the Doctor–but she doesn’t believe that the Doctor loves her. It’s the curse of their timey-wimey relationship; they’re never on the same page. Once the adventure is over, the Doctor decides to take River someplace where they can talk everything through–how he really feels about her, her concerns that her diary is running out of pages, how many times she’s borrowed the TARDIS without his realizing it…he takes her to the Singing Towers of Darillium.
And then he gives her the sonic screwdriver she uses in “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead”. And suddenly Christmas is a lot more depressing. But it is Christmas, so Moffat doesn’t make it too depressing. When we first met River, she told the Doctor that the last time she saw him, they spent their evening at the Singing Towers…and a single night on Darillium, we learn today, lasts 24 years.
Will this be the last we see of River Song? Who knows. But it was nice to see that before she sacrifices her life for a Doctor who barely knew her, she had a chance to spend 24 years with a Doctor who knew everything about her and loved her dearly for it.