Monday, August 29, 2011

Let's Kill Hitler, a Review (with Spoilers)

Doctor Who season 6 (or 32 if you prefer) resumed this weekend with an episode that was at once amazing and a bit of a letdown.

If you took this episode all by itself, as an independent bit of story-telling you would be forced to conclude it was a series of neat ideas that are never explored. You can imagine the story meetings:

“Let’s kill Hitler!”

“On second thought, let’s accidentally come across Hitler and then forget about him altogether.”

“OK, let’s tell a story about a time traveling law enforcement agency that travels in a ship that disguises as people driven by little miniaturized agents!”

“Actually, let’s make that the unexplored threat in the background.”

“Wait, we are going to be in 1938 Germany and Nazis are NOT going to be a threat?”

On the other hand, for fans of the show following at least this season—or better yet the past three seasons since the character River Song came along, Moffat does his patented reveal-a-handful-of-answers-while-raising-two-more-handfuls-of-questions magic and it is fun to play along.

Among others:

We finally see River meet the Doctor.

We get more information on what the Silence really is. (The apparent answer given in the first two-parter this year didn’t quite add up to the anticipation created last year, so the fact that we don’t yet know everything is a relief.)

And, we get to further explore the idea that Moffat has been playing with for a while now: the idea that the Doctor has become a threat to the universe. This is something we can look forward to as we build up to the ultimate answers this season:

How is the Doctor going to escape the deathly fate that we have already seen occur? And, what is that ultimate question that the Silence requires to be asked?

This whole River/Doctor storyline that has played out in ten episodes over the past four years is not complete yet. But it looks like it is going to be a great story of redemption and trust. This episode alone is interesting in the way that the Doctor is willing to do what it takes to save River in the very moments she is killing him. In a way, he sacrifices himself to do what it takes to redeem her and make her the person that he knows she will become. Interesting ideas that will be explored further when the story has run its course. We have now seen the beginning and the end; we just need the pivotal middle.

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