It’s a reunion Doctor Who fans had been waiting for, but she doesn’t even recognize him for most of it. Alex Kingston returns as River Song as she tries to get a rare diamond out of the head of a husband she doesn’t really want. It’s a bit of a farce that ends with a very tender scene.
She hasn’t been on the show since “The Name of the Doctor” two years ago, but people have wondered if River Song would meet the 12th Doctor, since she supposedly knows all his faces. The episode not only makes that happen, but it also shows how she feels about being in love with, and married to, a Time Lord. It looks like it’s not very easy for her, especially when she thinks he’ll do what he wants, but not try to do something silly, like save her from certain death. The story itself is set after The Angels Take Manhattan, which was the last episode for Amy and Rory. That’s why River doesn’t know about his 12th face.
The story begins in 5343 in a distant planet, where a guy named Nardole (Matt Lucas) is looking for a surgeon, and finds the Doctor, instead. They reach a crashed spaceship, and River comes out, apparently unaware the Doctor is there. She tells him to save her husband, a very evil king named Hydroflax (Greg Davies). He’s just a head, but he’s got a robot that would make a great Hulkbuster. It turns out she really “married the diamond”, the Halassi Androvar, because it’s very valuable. It’s also inside the king’s head. She wants to kill him and take the diamond. The Doctor is stunned by this, but she has no guilt. She does admit the Doctor reminds her of her second wife. Hydroflax finds out about her plan, but winds up in a sack just as she and the Doctor are transported off. The Doctor finds the whole thing absurd, giving him a much-needed laugh. He also discovers River married another guy named Ramone (Philip Rhys), but she deleted that fact from his brain because maybe it’s cleaner than a divorce.
River also seems to be a bit too sure of herself. First off, her code name for the Doctor is “Damsel,” as if he needs saving by her. She also thinks she can take the TARDIS, transport the diamond, then bring it back before he even notices. All the while, she never guesses the Doctor is next to her. That also gives him a chuckle, and a chance to act like a Companion since River thinks she’s practically a Time Lord. She can’t escape because Hydroflax is inside the TARDIS but his robot body is outside. That’s solved when the robot gets in with Ramone’s head on it.
They all head to a cruiser filled with very nasty people. As River puts it, it’s where “genocide kicks back and relax.” The Doctor sees she has a diary he gave her, and wonders if it makes her sad. She says she’s sad because it’s almost full. She even claims the Doctor isn’t special to her, but he is useful. Fans know that isn’t true at all.
She hopes to sell the diamond to a guy named Scratch (Robert Curtis), who unfortunately is a fan of Hydroflax. He’s not happy to see the diamond is inside the king. The robot body shows up, and decides to burn Hydroflax’s head since the diamond will kill it anyway. Instead, he wants the Doctor’s head, and thinks River’s diary will locate him.
She says it’s a waste of time. While she says she loves the Doctor, it’s really like loving the stars or expecting a sunset to admire her back. If there’s one thing she really believes, and spends too much energy saying so, is that the Doctor wouldn’t be dumb enough to save her, and there is no way he’s even next to her.
Then, she looks at him, and sees she’s very mistaken. All he says is, “Hello, sweetie”.
Or maybe she was kidding. She reveals she was actually waiting for a meteor shower to disable the ship and give her a chance to escape. Actually, she didn’t know the Doctor was there, because she does ask how he got some extra regenerations. He’s able to short-circuit the robot body, while he and River fight over who should stay behind and crash the ship to the planet Darillium (where she claims they were supposed to have a dinner date near the Singing Towers). They both wind up in the TARDIS, and survive the crash.
While she’s knocked out, the Doctor is busy. He actually makes the construction of the restaurant they were supposed meet at possible thanks to the diamond, and Ramone is saved by being merged with the robot body. Nardole is also the robot body’s voice.
All that’s left is the dinner date at the Towers. River is happy to see him again, and gets a new sonic screwdriver. She’s worried that the diary suggests when the night is over, she’ll never see him again. She’s hoping maybe he can get around that. He says some things you can’t avoid. Why? Spoilers, he says. Things have to end, that’s all. There’s no such thing as “happy ever after.” She won’t fear of it, because she says that phrase just means time, but he wouldn’t understand that. Still, they have this night, which should last 24 years. That’s a lot of “happy ever after.”
That’s a very tender and beautiful moment between the Doctor and River Song, and this just can’t be the last one.
Maybe there will be a way.
For now, the next concern for Doctor Who fans is who in the world will follow Clara Oswald, and maybe whether next season will be the last for Peter Capaldi.
This episode, by the way, will be shown in 3-D at theaters across the country next Monday and Tuesday. More information is available through Fathom Events.