River Song — the story so far

Some thoughts on the Doctor Who stories (and plot details of those broadcast stories!) that have told the story of River Song, before today’s broadcast…River

Those five two-parters from the Doctor’s (and the audience’s) perspective (and the episode titles are also links to this blog’s reviews of them)…

Silence in the Library / Forest of the DeadRiver

What we learn of River:

– She left the message-signal for the Doctor.

– She’s met the Doctor (also known as “sweetie” to her) before, even though he’s never met her before.

– River’s diary contain the stories of her adventures with the Doctor.

– She has an advanced Sonic Screwdriver which used to be the Doctor’s.

– She whispers in the Doctor’s ear SOMETHING which means she gains the Doctor’s trust – it seems as she knows these words she does have some form of intimate relationship with the Doctor.

– The last time she met the Doctor he took her for a romantic meal. (We know in June 2011 that this was a much older Doctor than the one onscreen now, which was hinted at by this story anyway. This – presumably – was the Doctor saying “Goodbye” even though she didn’t quite realise this.)

– She sacrifices herself so the Doctor doesn’t do the same thing and passes away – into an electronic afterlife, an afterlife provided by the Doctor.

The Time of Angels / Flesh and StoneSong

What we learn of River:

– She confident with the idea of leaving the Doctor messages across time, messages that will save her.

– She’s a Doctor though not yet a Professor.

– The Doctor says “Her past, my…future. Time travel. We keep meeting in the wrong order” which sums up his dilemma, and this dialogue illuminates more…

RIVER:
Oh, it’s so strange when you go all baby-face. How early is this for you? [she’s holding her diary]

DOCTOR:
Very early.

RIVER:
So you don’t know who I am yet?

DOCTOR:
How do you know who I am? I don’t always look the same.

RIVER:
I’ve got pictures of all your faces. You never show up in the right order though. I need the spotter’s guide.

– So as that dialogue indicates she doesn’t know which picture-of-the-Doctor equates to what number-of-incarnation-of-the-Doctor.

– It’s revealed that River is returning to prison, imprisoned for killing “a good man” – and their next (for the Doctor) adventure together will involve “The Pandorica”…

RIVER:
The prison ship’s in orbit. They’ll beam me up any second. I might have done enough to earn a pardon this time. We’ll see.

DOCTOR:
Octavian said you killed a man.

RIVER:
Yes. I did. A good man. A very good man. The best man I’ve ever known.

DOCTOR:
Who?

RIVER:
It’s a long story, Doctor, can’t be told. It has to be lived. No sneak previews. Well, except for this one: you’ll see me again quite soon, when the Pandorica opens.

DOCTOR:
The Pandorica, ha! [whispers to her ear] That’s a fairy tale.

RIVER:
[laughs] Oh, Doctor, aren’t we all? I’ll see you there.

DOCTOR:
I look forward to it.

RIVER:
I remember it well.

(This two-parter gives the impression the “good man” that River kills could quite possibly be the Doctor.)

The Pandorica Opens / The Big BangRiver

What we learn of River:

– That the possibility of River and the Doctor being married is even stronger…

RIVER:
Did you dance? Well, you always dance at weddings, don’t you?

DOCTOR:
You tell me.

RIVER:
Spoilers.

DOCTOR:
[hands her diary back] The writing’s all back, but I didn’t peek.

RIVER:
Thank you.

DOCTOR:
[hands River the vortex manipulator] Are you married, River?

RIVER:
[puts vortex manipulator on] Are you asking?

DOCTOR:
Yes.

RIVER:
Yes.

DOCTOR:
No, hang on. Did you think I was asking you to marry me, or asking if you were married?

RIVER:
Yes.

DOCTOR:
No, but was that “yes”, or “yes”?

RIVER:
Yes.

DOCTOR:
River…who are you?

RIVER:
You’re going to find out very soon now. And I’m sorry, but that’s when everything changes. [disappears via vortex manipulator]

DOCTOR:
Nah.

The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon
Song

What we learn of River:

– That she seems shocked at the – 1,103-year-old – Doctor being killed by person-unknown (even though we the audience are thinking the “good man” she has killed might be the Doctor).

A Good Man Goes to War / “…” is the two-part story which begins today.

(Wait, what? “A Good Man”…)

And from River’s perspective, after A Good Man Goes to War

The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon
Song

What River learns:

– That the Doctor dies when he’s eleven-hundred-and-three. (Or did she know that already?)

– That the Doctor catches her when she falls – or perhaps that he continues to do so.

– That this seems to be the last time she kisses the Doctor.

The Pandorica Opens / The Big BangRiver

What River learns:

– That the Doctor is becoming more and more intrigued.

The Time of Angels / Flesh and StoneSong

What River learns:

– That the Doctor will still catch her when she falls – from the airlock of the Byzantium.

Silence in the Library / Forest of the DeadRiver

What River learns:

– Sometimes the Doctor isn’t there to catch her when she falls – but he has a good go at providing some sort of happy ending for her…

Today – A Good Man Goes to War, 6.40pm, BBC One.

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