Episode Title: "Let's Kill Hitler"
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Richard Senior
Previously on "Doctor Who":
The enemies of the Doctor (Matt Smith) struck at him through Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), the Doctor's best friend and the wife of his other companion, Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill). Amy was replaced by a doppelganger as Amy's real body gave birth to her daughter, Melody Pond. Because Melody was conceived on the TARDIS, Madame Kovarian (Frances Barber) and her fellow fanatics intended to use her as a weapon against the Doctor. But the Doctor assembled a small army of his closest allies and they stormed the base at Demon's Run to free Amy and her baby.
However, Kovarian fooled the Doctor again by replacing Melody with a flesh doppelganger and she escaped with Amy's daughter once more. With the battle lost, River Song (Alex Kingston) appeared and finally told the Doctor her real identity. Overjoyed, he left Amy and Rory to her care as he promised to recover their daughter. Furious, Amy demanded to know what River told the Doctor. And in response, River admitted that she was Melody Pond, Amy's daughter from the future.
Months later in our present, Amy and Rory use their car to carve out a giant crop circle with the Doctor's name. He arrives somewhat incredulously over their latest attempt to reach him, but he sadly reports that he still hasn't found Melody. He tries to assure Amy that they know she will eventually be fine and grow up to be River, but Amy laments losing all of those years. Suddenly, a stolen car barrels through the cornfield and out pops Mels (Nina Toussaint-White); a close friend of Amy's and Rory's who knows all about the Doctor from their stories. With the police bearing down on her, Mels takes the Doctor hostage and half-jokingly says that they should go kill Adolf Hitler.
In flashback, we see that Mels was a believer of Amy's Doctor stories even when they were both small children. Mels also forced Amy and Rory to realize that they had romantic feelings for each other. In Germany near the late '30s, a Nazi official is confronted by a Teselecta; a human sized spaceship manned by a miniature crew that takes on the official's appearance before attempting to assassinate Hitler (Albert Welling). Moments later, the TARDIS crashes into Hitler's private office and knocks over the Teselecta. Apparently, Mels shot the TARDIS console and caused it to crash.
Realizing that they have inadvertently saved Hitler's life, the Doctor and his friends are surprised when the Teselecta attempts to kill him again. Hitler wildly fires a pistol until Rory punches him out, but one of the bullets fatally wounds Mels. As she lies dying, Mels says that she always planned to marry the Doctor when she was a child and he attempts to comfort her with that thought until she says he should ask her parents for permission… since Amy and Rory are right there. To their astonishment, the Doctor and his friends realize that Mels was Melody all along as she regenerates into River Song.
Except Melody isn't quite River Song yet and she seems to br ruled by her programming to kill the Doctor. Her first few attempts to shoot him are foiled by his foresight. But she plants a kiss on him with poisoned lipstick that threatens to kill him in 32 minutes. Melody flees and warns her parents not to follow. Elsewhere, the crew of the Teselecta realize that River Song is their new priority target since she will be responsible for the Doctor's death at the hands of the Impossible Astronaut (likely River herself). Amy and Rory go in pursuit of River, but the Teselecta catches up to them and shrinks them down in size before transporting them inside the Teselecta's new form, Amy.
In the TARDIS, the Doctor realizes that there is no cure for his poison and that not even regenerating will save him. He sets up a special interface with the TARDIS and rejects the avatars of his most recent female companions before settling upon young Amelia Pond (Caitlin Blackwood). He eventually gathers the strength to resist the pain and even changes into a top hat and suit before finding the Teselecta about to torture Melody for her crimes. Inside the ship, Amy and Rory are brought to the bridge and Melody's crimes are revealed to them even as they plea for her life.
Amy eventually sabotages the ship to release Melody, but the crew abandons her and Rory to certain death at the hands of the ship's robotic antibodies. Melody is moved by the weakened Doctor's begging and she uses the TARDIS to save Amy and Rory. And before the Doctor finally dies, he whispers a last message for River Song. Melody finally asks Amy who River Song is and Amy responds by making the Teselecta look just like Melody. Now stunned herself, Melody glows with the energies of regeneration and revives the Doctor's body and pours her own life into it.
Some time later, Melody awakens in a futuristic hospital as her parents and the Doctor watch over her. They tell her that she used all of her remaining regenerations to resurrect the Doctor. Grateful for her sacrifice, the Doctor gives her a new diary that resembles the older book that River Song carries with her. With that, they leave Melody in the future to recover and it leads her to adopt the River Song name as she decides to become an archaeologist to track down the Doctor again. Back in the TARDIS, we see that the Doctor has learned about his own impending death, a secret he keeps from Amy and Rory.
I've never been a huge River Song fan, but this episode did a lot to change that.
And although Alex Kingston gave one of her better performances, it was Nina Toussaint-White who really stole the show as Mels. Toussaint-White gave Mels the vibe of a lovable rogue even if her knowledge about the Doctor seemed a little forced at first. But Mels was so much fun that I was initially hoping she would stick around for a few episodes as the third companion.
On the first viewing, it didn't make much sense as to why so much time was spent developing Mels in flashbacks through her fascination with the Doctor and her retroactive friendship with Amy and Rory. But once it was clear that Mels was Melody, the sequence made sense. It was also a clever way for Amy and Rory to effectively raise their daughter without realizing it.
I probably should have guessed that Mels would turn out to be River, but it seemed a little too obvious. Even so, the reveal still managed to catch me off guard. And Alex Kingston as essentially an Evil River Song was more dynamic than she's ever been before on this series. She was wild and unpredictable… which made the Doctor's infatuation with her seem more believable. She's definitely the kind of woman he's looking for.
Before we move on to the rest of the episode, I have to add that it was good to see Caitlin Blackwood again as the young Amy Pond. Ezekiel Wigglesworth, the young actor who played Rory as a child was also a terrific casting choice. Wigglesworth's Arthur Darvill impression was spot on and he even seemed to resemble Darvill! And it was young Rory's brief moments in the past that made the flashback sequences entertaining.
Matt Smith also gave us a more vulnerable look at the Doctor than we're used to. It was a fantastic callback to show us once again that the Doctor remembers his most recent companions and still feels immense guilt about what happened in their lives. Also noteworthy is the fact that the Doctor's preferred version of Amy Pond is the little girl Amelia he met years ago. And it's not a fatherly fixation, it's more like she's the person whose life he hasn't ruined (yet) and he wants to maintain her innocence as much as possible.
I've heard some griping about the design of the Teselecta antibodies, but they worked for me thanks to antibodies' overly polite attempts to eradicate Amy and Rory. The antibodies actually had some of the funnier lines of the night, but the more that they were onscreen the less impressive they seemed.
For an episode that was called "Let's Kill Hitler," there wasn't much in the way of Hitler himself. Fortunately, Rory punching out the future genocidal manic and locking Hitler up in a closet was pretty hilarious.
But if there was one thing that the episode excelled at, it was making me care about the Doctor and River as a future couple. Ideally, it should have taken Melody more time to begin developing into the more traditional River Song. But it really was great to see her acting so outside of her established character. Even River's loss of her regenerations was a nice touch and a partial explanation about why she didn't regenerate when she died the first time we saw her in the fourth season. But if I recall correctly, River said that even the Doctor wouldn't have been able to regenerate from that death either.
Steven Moffat's scripts tend to be among the best "Doctor Who" episodes and "Let's Kill Hitler" was no exception. There's an underlying humanity in the Doctor and River that was immensely appealing. Hopefully the rest of the non-Moffat episodes can deliver even half of that poignancy.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.