kaitou: (hmph)
[personal profile] kaitou
This post was originally going to be about how awesome River Song was in comparison To Amy Pond. That shows you how long ago I started to plan this, because that was before the show did its best to ruin her.

Part of the reason I sat on this post for so long is that I was trying to figure out just why it is that River is awesome, and not an annoying Mary Sue. She really does check all the Mary Sue boxes.
1. Angsty Tragic Backstory...check.
2. Cool Name...check.
3. Instant intimate connection to the hero...check.
4. Kicks more ass than anyone in the main cast...check.
5. Saves the day in a self sacrificing way...check.
6. Cool hair...check.

It's possible that River doesn't ping my Mary Sue radar because she's an adult character and not a child. But it's more likely that River works because we meet her all out of order. The first time we meet her gives us her self-sacrificing end, and you instantly wish you got a better taste of her. Then when you see her earlier in her own timeline, you get your wish. I'm still not sure.

But at any rate, River is a fun BAMF character. We know that she traveled with the doctor, that he found her worthy of giving her her own sonic screwdriver. We know she became a time traveler herself, and became a professor. And we know she was imprisoned for murder. And we know that she is serving her time willingly (she breaks herself out of prison whenever someone needs her help, and then checks herself back in after) It's hinted that she married the doctor, and that he's the man she killed. River is the only person left in the universe that knows the Doctor's real name.

Which is why it hurt me so bad when they went and ruined her story and character arc. Especially because they used some of the laziest, most prosaic, and somewhat disturbing tropes to do it.

As mentioned earlier in the 6th season Amy was pregnant and her baby kidnapped in the mid-season finale. That baby was River song.

This irks me on so many levels. This sort of thing is the lazy storytelling that bothers me almost as much as Prophecies annoy Twigcollins, and for much of the same reasons.

It reduces anything the character made of themselves to things outside of their control. All of the other companions in Dr. Who are people that the doctor ran into in the course of his travels. There was nothing intrinsically special about Rose, Mickey, Martha, Donna, Amy, Jack... they weren't the chosen people. The doctor met them, took a fancy to them and swept them along for the ride. He recognized elements of their character...kindness, an adventurous spirit, a joy in the absurd, a sense of wonder... and that's why he likes them.

We've already established that River is smart, kind, adventurous and strong. But by making her Amy and Rory's daughter, and the doctor's delight in that, it implies that that's what makes River awesome.

Also, because River was conceived on the TARDIS, she's a sort of proto-Time Lady with regenerative powers. Again, this makes River important because of what she is rather than who she is.

And lastly, the Doctor is delighted that baby River is someone who he has snogged as an adult (srsly, he makes kissy faces). There is no awkwardness. And ok, it's not quite imprinting ala Twilight, but it's still pretty squicky to me.

So that's the mid-season finale. I was pretty disheartened, but a friend told me that they might make everything ok in the second half of the season.

And so came "Let's Kill Hitler."

"Let's Kill Hitler" is simultaneously one of the best and worst episodes. It's so VERY good, and clever, and funny and well done...but mostly in the ways that don't matter.

In the beginning of the episode we are introduced to Amy and Rory's childhood friend Mels. Mels is a total delinquent, always getting into trouble. We don't really see any good side to her at all, but Amy is devoted to her.

In "current" day, Mels ends up hijacking the TARDIS, the Doctor and co and taking them to Nazi Germany to kill Hitler. Oh, and the Doctor too, while she's at it. Because, surprise, surprise, Mels is actually River Song. Mels gets shot, and regenerates into the current River that we know and love...

Well, not quite. Baby River was kidnapped to be turned into a weapon to kill the doctor. So this River is evil and psychopatic.


So we have Amy and Rory that never got to raise their daughter, but instead grew up alongside her. So (back to Amy rant for a moment) Amy had a pregnancy that she had no knowledge or control over, then gave birth in a villain's lair, had her baby taken away and she never gets her back. But it's ok! Because she was also a childhood friend, and look she's all grown up now, so no harm no foul, right? Ugh. And poor Rory, who we know really wanted to be a father, all the way back in "Amy's Choice."

Secondly they've again undercut River's character. As the Doctor says in the episode, she's his own "bespoke psychopath" created specifically to kill him. So not only is she evil, she's evil just because, not from any internal motivation. There's no plan, no motivation, no reason. She just wants to kill him.

I suppose it doesn't really matter if she had no reason to be suddenly evil though. By the end of the episode the TARDIS has convinced her to become good. And she uses up all of her Time Lady powers to save the Doctor from her own murder attempt. Then the team drops her off at school to become asskicking and go off on their regularly scheduled travels together. See ya when you're cool River!

Making River evil was terrible, but they didn't even make her villainy last an entire episode. If you're going to do it. Do it right. Make her like the Master, and give the Doctor a proper foil. Make her have been taught to see the Doctor as a bad guy she has to save the universe from instead of being triggered to just kill him when she sees him with no understanding. That would be SOMETHING. This just took all of River's character development, stuffed it into one episode and left her behind again with a pat on the head.

Honestly, this is the kind of crap you pull when an actor quits, or your show gets canceled and you need to wrap things up in a hurry. But hell, if Alex Kingston didn't want to do any more Who (and I haven't heard anything to that effect) just do all the Evil River stuff with a different actress, and have her regenerate into Alex's afterwards.

The difference between good writing and bad writing is that when it's good you accept it immediately. When it's bad you question the creator.

When Donna had her memory wiped I was ready to cry. Whey the Doctor broke his self imposed rules to save people on Mars and rewrite history I just thought "Oh Doctor, no!" Everything with Amy and River makes me go "Why did you have to go this way! What a terrible waste of a character!"

It's possible that they bring this all back and tie it together in the season finale. But I don't see the writers or actors or anyone else involved act like these things are issues. And if they don't see a problem, they're not going to fix it.
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