Doctor Who: A Good Man Goes to War – A Recap

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Courtesy BBC 2011

*** Warning this post contains spoilers about A Good Man Goes To War and may refer to previous episodes of Doctor Who. If you haven’t watched the episode or don’t want to be surprised do not read further.  ****

Half the season is over… wow what a ride! I’ve been on vacation this past week so this recap is a little late, but have no fear, your Doctor Who recap is here! This mid-season finale is the first half of a two part episode written by Stephen Moffat. I think it is safe to say that Stephen Moffat likes to explore the darker aspect of the Doctor and his enemies. At the end of the last episode we found out that this whole season so far Amy has been a duplicate, she is Flesh, and the real Amy is giving birth to a child.

This episode starts with Amy being forced to hand over her newborn baby, Melody Pond, to the eyepatch lady that we have been seeing throughout the season. Although the eye patch lady has seemed like a phantom up to this point, she is a very real woman named Madame Kovarian. Madame Kovarian is holding Amy at Devil’s Run with the help of the Clerics as well as their unlikely allies the Headless Monks.

Meanwhile, 200,000 lightyears away, Rory, the lone Centurian, brings a message from the Doctor to a full battalion of Cybermen. He asks where his wife is and when the Cybermen do not answer, you can see an entire legion of Cyber ships explode over Rory’s shoulder, demonstrating the Doctor’s power.

Throughout the beginning of the episode, we see the Doctor and Rory building an army. It seems that the Doctor is calling in all of his old debts. This includes a Silurian, Madame Vastra — responsible for stopping Jack the Ripper (by eating him) — and her human companion, Jenny; Commander Strax, a Sontaran Nurse, not by choice; Dorium Maldovar, the blue man working on the black market, and others. When River is asked to join the Doctor, she refuses, and says that she can’t be there till the end, as this is the day that the Doctor figures out who she really is.

Lorna Bucket is a member of the Cleric force that has taken Amy and her baby. While many of the Clerics joined the army as a religious quest or to become a warrior, Lorna joined to find the Doctor again. She met him when she was very little, running through her home in the Gamma forests. She has made and given Amy a small prayer leaf embroidered with “Melody” on one side and “Pond” on the other. In the Gamma forest, a prayer leaf is given to assure that someone will always come home. While Amy is hesitant to trust Lorna, since she is a cleric, she gladly accepts the gift and it is a very touching scene which is very important to the plot.

There is a rally going on to introduce the Clerics to their new allies the Headless Monks. As an act of faith, the Headless Monks reveal the contents of their hoods where it becomes apparent that the monks are indeed headless, rather then metaphorically headless by following their hearts. They accept conversions into the order of the Headless Monks from each species that they ally with. This conversion is literally the removal of the head. Anyways while the Monks remove their hoods one by one, the Doctor reveals himself under one of the hoods, and the clerics are utterly surprised and raise their guns towards all of the Headless Monks. The Doctor tells Amy to grab her coat that he was here for her. He valiantly tells the Clerics to leave Demons Run, and convinces Madame Kovarian to ask the clerics to leave. There has been little bloodshed, and the Doctor has won. Or so it seems.

While the Doctor distracts the clerics, Rory sneaks to the room that Amy is being held in, and knocks on the door. Amy yells through the door that they took their baby, and in comes Rory through the door holding their baby. There is a beautiful scene where Amy introduces Melody to Rory for the first time. The Doctor arrives shortly after having been able to escape the tension downstairs between the Clerics and the Headless Monks. If it is possible, the Doctor’s introduction to Melody is even more heartwarming and memorable. We find out that the Doctor can speak baby, and is incredibly cute around babies. He even gives Melody his own baby cradle, straight from the TARDIS. The Doctor has reached the highest of highs.

Lorna overhears Madame Kovarian leaving Demons Run mentioning that Demons Run was just a trap. She goes to the Doctor’s companions to warn them of the trap. It seems unlikely because all of the scans of Demon’s Run show that the only life signs are those from the Doctor and his companions. It is a terrifying discovery when out walk the Headless Monks, they don’t show up on the scans of life forms. So much bloodshed is about to occur at the hands of the Headless Monks. Dorium Maldavor hears the battle song of the Headless Monks and tries to negotiate with them only to be beheaded, and converted to their ranks.

Away from the impending battle the Doctor begins to wonder why Madame Kovarian would have so much interest in stealing Melody Pond. She is only human since she is the daughter of Amy and Rory. However, scans are found that show that a small part of Time Lord DNA is active in Melody, it seems that being conceived in the time vortex is enough to create a Time Lord. Madame Kovarian has plans to grow Melody’s Time Lord abilities and turn them into a weapon against the Doctor. The Doctor comes to the realization that his rash behaviors and his reputation have caused all of his enemies to become desperate to eliminate him. He realizes Melody’s capture is his own fault. He calls up Madame Kovarian and she confirms the Doctor’s worst fears. She also reveals that she has fooled the Doctor for a second time… in the same way as before. A look of realization floods across the Doctor’s face and he runs to join all of the others. Melody is the Flesh, and suddenly dissolves in Amy’s arms. It is a horrifyingly shocking moment in the story.

During the battle numerous Silurians were killed, but Madame Vastra and Jenny both survive. The death of the Sontaran is heartbreaking, because although Sontaran’s are expected to die in battle, this Sontaran is a nurse, so he knows that his injuries are deadly, and he doesn’t find honor in his own death. The Doctor arrives far too late to help, but is brought to Lorna’s side to be with her as she dies. He tells her that he remembers everyone he meets, the anguish on his face tells you its true.

Just when the Doctor has reached the lowest of lows, River arrives. The Doctor is spitting in anger at River’s absence throughout the massacre. However, River has a very good reason for not being in the battle. River scolds the Doctor for acting the way he has. She makes him think about the repercussions from his actions, and tells him that “Doctor” means different things in different cultures because of “his” actions. In Lorna’s culture the word Doctor means warrior and fighter, on Earth the word doctor means healer. I don’t think I have ever seen the Doctor look so incredibly defeated as he did just in that moment. The Doctor asks River once again who she is… River shows the Doctor something about the cradle that immediately changes his disposition from grave to giddy. He is so happy he is nearly incomprehensible, he dashes off into the TARDIS telling everyone that he knows how to save Melody and that it will all be alright. He leaves a distraught and confused Amy and Rory in River’s capable care. River finally reveals her identity to Amy(as well as to the rest of us). The answer is written on the prayer leaf that Lorna created. Lorna’s home language doesn’t have a word for “Pond”, so she used the closest body of water, “River”. On the side of the prayer leaf that “Melody” was written, the word that Lorna actually wrote translates to “Song”. River Song is Melody Pond! River is Amy and Rory’s daughter, and the Doctor’s lover.

I don’t know how I am going to manage the wait till September 3rd for the rest of this episode. I love Doctor Who for the fact that it tackles the tough topics in each and every episode.

Please join me in a few weeks for the US premiere of Torchwood on July 8th on the Starz Network at 10pm. I cannot wait!

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