When the highly anticipated Doctor Who season 6 return episode, entitled “Let’s Kill Hitler," begins, it's hard to hold back the unenthusiastic shock as an awkwardly presented storyline, wrapped in a ridiculous premise, serves to present the audience with the notion of begrudgingly accepting what’s occurring, all while second-guessing their commitment to the series.
Fortunately (and thankfully), this fallacy of uninspired contrivances lasted but a mere fraction of the episode, as the (hopefully) planned ruse made way for brilliant and original storytelling, rich character development, as well as shocking revelations that one can expect from a series with a proven pedigree.
With Rory and Amy returned to their normal timeline, a beautifully composed tracking shot of the childless couple speeding through a cornfield to an open area containing the TARDIS briefly elicits compelling thoughts of impending plotlines. Unfortunately, as a sports car containing Amy and Rory’s “long-time” friend (who was never previously mentioned), Mel, bursts onto the scene, all notions of a cryptic meaning to the episode title quickly disappeared as a ridiculous flashback, a threat of a gun pointed at the Doctor, and a boisterous command of “Let’s Kill Hitler” from the ever unfamiliar Mel brought on a feeling of dread regarding what the rest of the episode might entail.
A jump back to Berlin in 1938 introduces us to the presumed alien threat for the episode, the Teselecta. With revelations of a transformative body manned by miniature beings, the intent is clear that the ridiculous quest for righting the wrong of Hitler’s history by the nefarious Mel will be circumvented by the robotic aliens driven by their assumed good intentions.
A crash into Hitler’s office, an awkward introduction, and an extraterrestrial showdown involving the master of the Third Reich leads to the most satisfying turnaround of the year: this episode has nothing to do with Hitler. Aside from a episodic title mention and quip from the Doctor telling Rory to “take Hitler and put him in the cupboard,” all of the fan speculation regarding the title of the Doctor Who season 6 return episode appears to have been wasted. Though as the true story begins to unfold, one hardly cares about past expenditures of fanatical hypothesizing.
A shot fired from the Teselecta - aimed at Hitler, but striking Mel – reveals the brilliantly missing bookend to the story of River Song. As Mel lay dying, her arms begin to glow - like that of a Time Lord. An announcement that Mel is actually short for Melody exposes the truth that Amy and Rory’s daughter has been acting as their best friend for the majority of the couple’s life – including helping Amy progress past her notion that Rory is a homosexual. With that, Mel regenerates into her most familiar form – River Song.
Unfortunately, a Back to the Future moment telling the story of an offspring helping to secure the future of their family is not what’s in the cards. Since Melody was raised with the goal of killing the Doctor, her intent stays true – even if Melody has now regenerated into River Song’s appearance. A kiss on the lips with a bit a poison and the Doctor’s life is whittled down to but a mere 31 minutes (He’ll be dead in 32 minutes, says young Amelia Pond).
What follows the death strike by the clueless River Song is nothing short of brilliant storytelling. With so much information competently presented, the ability to completely recite exactly what all was revealed would be complicated at best. To sum it up, everything was revealed. From the biggest questions regarding River Song’s evolution, to the passing wonderings about whether or not plot holes were created with the execution of this story. If there were any doubts regarding Steven Moffat’s ability to continue his largely regarded brilliance as the executive producer, and head writer of Doctor Who, this episode most certainly puts things to rest.
While it can certainly be said that the surprising shift in the actual presented story could be a sign of sloppy storytelling, one could hardly fault Moffat for advertising one select adventure and then, in actuality, delivering something more fantastically wonderful than what was expected.
Since there have been a few episodes of Doctor Who season 6 that have been somewhat below the expectations of the series’ many fans, it may be easier for fans to initially respond negatively to the roller coaster of emotional storytelling. That being said, whatever lingering resentment may have remained following the summer hiatus should absolutely be absolved at the conclusion of tonight’s episode.
Doctor Who airs Saturdays @9pm on BBC America
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