Recap: Doctor Who S32 E13 "The Wedding of River Song"
Written by Steven Moffat
Has a prequel
The series 6 finale. "Spoilers!"
The city of London, 22 April 2011. Soaring buildings, glittering and mighty under a perfect blue sky, and life tumbling onto pavements below. Horse-drawn Roman chariots driving through the streets. A Victorian steam train on a monorail
. Hot air balloons carrying beetle cars. Pterodactyls in the park. And Charles Dickens appearing on BBC One's Breakfast. In short, Reality Is Out to Lunch
At the Buckingham Senate, at 5:02pm, Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill complains to Silurian Doctor Malohkeh
that time has got quite confusing. It's always 22 April 2011. And it's always 5:02pm. Churchill calls for his Soothsayer to be fetched from the Tower. Greying, unkempt, bearded, older, tired but unmistakable — it's the Doctor. Churchill asks him what's happening to time, and the Doctor tries to explain, starting from the beginning. What happened to time is a woman. "Hell in high heels."
(After two centuries of avoiding his death
the 1103-year-old Doctor had started his final preparations. Torturing a Dalek for information gave him the name of a Silence agent. The Silence agent, though, was already dead. His place was taken by the Doctor's old acquaintances: the Teselecta robot crew. The Teselecta usually replace criminals with robots before they die and torture the persons
. They'd now infiltrated the Silence this way. They gave him the information he needed.)
While talking, Churchill and the Doctor wander across the palace hallways. The Doctor notices a mark on his arm and Churchill can't remember why he's holding a gun. Which means they've encountered the Silence.
After meeting with the Teselecta, the Doctor gathered more information and eventually visited the Headless Monks'
head depository. Catacombs filled with living skulls. Some of the disembodied victims, the very rich, were able to afford a box. And one of them was Dorium Maldovar, the owner of the Maldovarium.
The Doctor's arm has more marks now. More Silence. Churchill is getting frightened. The Doctor explains to Churchill that in another reality, in the real
reality, he and Churchill are close friends
. More marks have appeared.
(Dorium joked around for a bit, until the Doctor simply picked up the box and questioned Dorium's head further in the TARDIS. He could still do so much before dying. He was going to visit more friends. Could go and enjoy his marriage to Queen Bess
. Could have helped Rose Tyler with her homework in disguise. Could have visited all of Jack Harkness' stag parties in one night. A phone call from UNIT interrupted that train of thought, and he learned that Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart had peacefully passed away
, after having waited for a nice visit from the Doctor for years. This means nothing at all to people only knowledgeable about the newer episodes, but trust us, it's sad. The Doctor couldn't even reply to that and simply hung up. He knew that death was inevitable. He visited the Teselecta again and asked them to deliver his blue envelopes to Amy, Rory, River and himself, and went down to Lake Silencio in Utah to die.)
The Doctor realises he's holding a spear. His other arm is covered entirely in marks. He and Churchill look up to see dozens of Silence above them. Just in time, a group of soldiers save them — led by "Pond. Amelia Pond.
" Churchill was about to shoot, but the Doctor stop him. However, the latter becomes worried when he sees the "eyepatch" on Amy's face before getting shot by her.
The Doctor wakes up in an office on a train. Inside is Amy, wearing the same eye patch as Madame Kovarian. The Doctor begs her to remember him. After all, Amy has her Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory
in every timeline, thanks to sleeping next to a crack in the universe all her life. And Amy does remember bits of it. She has drawings of her other lives all over the train office wall. Monsters, TARDIS, Doctor, Rory. Although the drawing of Rory looks a little bit more like Jeff
. She hasn't found her Rory yet, but she knows that she's supposed to love him very much, and she'll find him someday. Right now, she's too busy infiltrating the Silence. The Doctor gets some clothes, a shave and an extremely suave new hairstyle. The two are interrupted by Captain Rory Williams, also with eye patch, who has simply lived his life as a soldier, following orders. Amy just knows him as "Captain" and pays him no attention.
Further along, they come across several Silence, submerged in tanks. The Doctor finds out that the eye patches are actually external data storage, which enable people to remember the Silent after seeing them. While Amy walks on, the Doctor tries to convince Captain Rory Williams to ask her out on a date.
The Doctor: She said you were a Mr Hottie... ness. And that she would like to go out with you for texting and... scones.
Rory: You really haven't done this before, have you?
The Doctor: No, I haven't.
Amy and Captain Rory lead the Doctor to Madame Kovarian, who has been captured and tied up. River is there, eyepatch and all, and she defiantly faces the Doctor. The Doctor tells her that she needs to kill him, right now
. Because the Doctor being killed is a fixed point in time. And there's no avoiding it. When he found her on that beach, wearing that space suit, the suit controlled her arm and she had no choice. He made her look at her future self on that beach and realise that it was
going to happen, it needed
to happen. But River still refused. With great effort she took control of the space suit's arm and drained its weapons. And now the universe has been ripped apart. Because she loves him. She was brought up to be obsessed solely with him, to spend every moment of her life thinking about him, just because Madame Kovarian made her that way. So how could they expect her not
to fall in love with him?
Brilliant, the Doctor replies sarcastically. So she's in love with him. Fine. Let's kiss. He tries to grab her arm, but she knows that touching him would cause the universe to revert back to normal. Which would mean that he would have to die. If touching him means killing him, she will always Take a Third Option
, even if it would destroy the universe as they know it. And it would: the reality-warping force is an explosion that's already spreading across the galaxy now.
There are so many theories
about you and I, you know. The Doctor:
Idle gossip. River:
Archaeology. The Doctor:
Same thing. River:
Am I the woman who marries you, or the woman who murders you? The Doctor:
Oh, I don't want to marry you. River:
I don't want to murder you. The Doctor:
Well, this is no fun at all.
The Silence in their tanks are starting to crack. They weren't captured — they were waiting. Waiting to activate all those eye patches and electrocute the people wearing them. River and Amy manage to rip off theirs. Rory yells at them to escape while he holds back the Silence. He keeps his eye patch on so he can see them. As Amy realises that this might kill him, she figures out who he is, and tells him to run before his patch activates. He tells her that it already has
. Almost mad with the pain and with clenched fists, he stands his ground. But Amy manages to improvise an escape, and on their way out they confront Madame Kovarian, who is extremely
confused as to why the Silence haven't skipped her own eye patch and why her eye has been burned out.
For taking her baby, for ruining her life, for trying to kill the Doctor, Amy kills Madame Kovarian in cold blood. They walk out, and Amy curtly informs Rory that they should get drinks. And married.
Up on the roof, River shows the Doctor her plan to Take a Third Option
. A distress signal for the entire universe. She's been broadcasting into all of time and space that the Doctor is dying. And people across the galaxy have noticed: they're all gathered, up there, in the sky. The Doctor once again tries to explain that it's not necessary
. All they have to do is stand on a beach, where she shoots him, and he dies. He just needs her to understand that it can't be helped and that he's fine with it. But she won't — she loves him and wants to be his Love Martyr
. River genuinely believes that even if the universe were to collapse, her suffering would still be stronger than anyone else's if she were forced to kill her Sweetie. This earns her a grand What the Hell, Hero?
from the Doctor.
Well, fine. Fine.
He'll marry her, right there and then, if it gets her to do the right thing. They'll need her parents as witnesses — Amy fills in a very
confused Rory on the details — and a foot-long piece of cloth for their handfasting. With his bow tie wrapped around both their hands, the Doctor hurriedly makes Amy and Rory say their bits of the ritual, then whispers his secret into River's ear. It's his name, he says, and it'll save them all, and now that that's over with, can they finally
get back to killing him? River is shocked for a moment at what he's whispered to her, then smiles and consents to his plan. As they kiss, the universe dissolves.
Back on that beach in Utah, River shoots the Doctor. He falls down, she shoots him again, and his body is given a Viking Funeral
, exactly as it was supposed to go.
A while later. Amy and Rory get a visit from River in their new home. Amy is feeling wracked with guilt over having killed Madame Kovarian. Because despite everything, despite it not even taking place in the normal timeline, she was still a person and it was still murder. She and River compare diaries. River has just come from the crash of the Byzantium
, where of course she had to pretend not to know who Amy really was. Just like she pretended not to know what was happening on that beach in Utah, when she waited for her younger self to emerge from the water. Just like she pretended not recognise her space suit in Florida. And just like the Doctor had pretended to die.
What he whispered into her ear at their wedding wasn't his name. Rule one: the Doctor lies. It was, simply, "look into my eye". Inside his pupil she'd seen a miniaturised Doctor happily waving his Stetson at her. Because when you happen to suddenly befriend a time-travelling, shape-changing robot, powered by miniaturised people, who specialise in replacing people just before they die without creating a Time Paradox
... you have options. The Doctor had realised it a bit late (after asking the Teselecta to deliver the envelopes, actually) but not too late.
Amy and Rory are overjoyed to hear that the Doctor survived. Amy is slightly less overjoyed when she realises that she's become her Raggedy Doctor's mother-in-law.
The Doctor returns Dorium's head to the Headless Monks' vault. He confirms that River is now in Stormcage, where she spends her days repenting for what she did. Her nights, however, they can spend together. Dorium reminds him that nothing is over yet:
- Always Save the Doctor: River rather takes this trope to extremes, seeing as she is willing to sacrifice time itself to save her love.
- Amnesiac Lover: A two-way example, with both Rory and Amy having forgotten their past relationship. They get back together in the end, with very little prompting.
- Anachronism Stew: An intentional version. All of time is happening at once. And it's pretty awesome.
- And I Must Scream: The skulls in the Headless Monks' catacomb. Dorium at least had the good sense (and enough money) to fit his head with a media chip, and the tomb has great Wi-Fi. And because he's rich, his head gets preserved, while the others are reduced to living skulls. On the whole, he's taking the whole thing very well. Subverted, in fact, by how well he takes the whole affair. He even plays this trope for a personal laugh when the Doctor first opens his box.
- Apocalypse How: River's refusal to kill the Doctor essentially breaks time and causes it to fall apart.
- Arc Words: "Silence will fall when the question is asked." Dorium not only tells the Doctor what the question is, but the circumstances in which it will be asked. Cue the Wild Mass Guessing by the fans.
- Area 52: Kept in the pyramids.
- Artistic License - Physics: Amy's train is going into Area 52 way too fast to realistically avoid crashing out the other side, but somehow does escape this fate.
- As Themselves: American news personality Meredith Vieira. Also, Sian Williams and Bill Turnbull from BBC Breakfast.
- Back for the Finale
- Badass Army: Amy, of all people, is in charge of one. They even managed to capture Madame Kovarian and the members of the Silence. Or so they thought...
- Badass Boast: The Doctor gives one to the dying Dalek:
Imagine you were dying and a long way from home and in terrible pain. And just when you think it couldn't get any worse, you look up and see the face of the devil himself.
) The Doctor:
- Badass Family: The Ponds, naturally. Made even more badass by the addition of the Doctor. Rory in particular proves he is badass no matter what happens to reality. He even takes Amy telling him that, in another reality, they got married and had a child (who is the woman in front of them that's quite a bit older than them) without any trouble.
- Base on Wheels: Amy's train.
- Batman Gambit: The Silence were never really trapped in their water containers; they could have escaped at any time, and were just buying time until the Doctor is brought to Area 52 to get a chance to finally kill him.
- Battle Trophy: The Doctor shows his Badass credentials by plonking a Dalek eyestalk down on the counter.
- Beware the Nice Ones: As Madame Kovarian learns... you should never mess with Amy Pond.
River Song didn't get it all from you
- Big Damn Heroes
- How could the Doctor and Churchill possibly defend themselves from dozens of Silence right over their heads? By getting out of the way when Amy and Rory arrive with a platoon of heavily-armed soldiers and a smoke bomb.
- Rory's about to die again, and the Silence promise to make it final this time, taunting him that Amy will never come back for him. Cue Amy Pond with an assault rifle.
- Big Damn Kiss: Naturally.
- Blade on a Stick: Nice spear, Doctor.
- Book Ends
- The season begins and ends with the Astronaut at Lake Silencio. Bizarrely enough, the "end" takes place entirely during the "beginning".
- The season première featured a temporarily-bearded Doctor who was brought to Area 51. The finale featured a temporarily-bearded Doctor who was brought to Area 52.
- Brick Joke
- "It's okay, so long as you keep the box the right way up."
- In "The Impossible Astronaut", the Doctor threatened that instead of taking them to 1969 he could easily be learning how to knit. While he's waiting for Gideon Vandeleur, he's shown reading a book on knitting.
- Bus Crash: The Brigadier.
- Butterfly of Doom: Prevent a fixed point in time (in this case, River shooting the Doctor) and the whole universe will merge together and crumble apart.
- Call Back
- When listing all the things he can do with a time machine, the Doctor says:
- An echo from last season's wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey finale.
The Doctor: Hi honey, I'm home!
River: And what sort of time do you call this?
- Also one to "Forest of the Dead":
River: Time can be rewritten.
The Doctor: Don't you dare.
- In the scene in the Ponds' garden, Amy is wearing the jacket worn by Rory in "Let's Kill Hitler".
- The scene where the villain believes that the companion will show sympathy because that's what the Doctor would want, followed by said companion telling them to go screw themselves. Apparently River does take after her mother.
- Amy being a Big Damn Hero and coming back for Rory is a nice counterpart to all the times he made good on his promise to protect her.
- A sign reading "Do Not Approach the Prisoner."
- A classic series example: in "Battlefield", at one point when it seems like the Brigadier has been killed by the Monster of the Week, the Seventh Doctor despairs that he was "supposed to die in bed". In this episode, the Eleventh Doctor learns the Brigadier has done just that.
- This isn't the first time someone in-show has decided that the show title is actually a question that has an answer. It's just that now we're bound to have something resembling one. Maybe.
- The Doctor tells Churchill, "I had to die. I didn't have to die alone" How did he die last time? He died alone.
- "Rory Williams, the man who dies and dies again."
- The first time we see River, she's in a space suit. But it's a futuristic one.
- Cannot Tell a Lie: Dorium explains that the reason the Silence want to kill the Doctor is that the question will be asked "on the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature may speak falsely or fail to give answer."
- The Character Died with Him: The Brigadier.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Doctor's bow tie is finally useful.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The Teselecta.
- Colonel Badass: Rory has become one of Amy's top operatives, with a whole platoon of soldiers under his command.
- Cool Train: In the alternate timeline, trains of this style◊ move all around London. Amy's train is a Base on Wheels that can go to Egypt very fast.
- Crazy-Prepared: The Silence really get to show off just how insanely adept they are at being this.
- Decoy Getaway: How the Doctor gets out of his death. Surprisingly foreshadowed by Amy in "The Impossible Astronaut":
Amy: Maybe he's a clone or a duplicate or something.
- Dem Bones: The heads of Headless Monks are kept in a tomb. Unless the one being beheaded is rich, in which case they are kept "fresh", they are left to decay. Regardless, the heads remain alive, and hungry.
- Determinator: Rory (as usual). He keeps his eye-drive on so he can see the Silence coming so he is able to defend Amy, the Doctor and River, despite the fact it can kill or at least cause the wearer crippling pain. When he's reminded it could activate at any time, he says, fairly calmly, "It already has."
- Disproportionate Retribution: The chess-playing Silence agent tries to kill the Doctor for beating him at a game of chess. It's evidently Serious Business on his world, but still... Made all the more disproportionate when you remember that the Silence agent actually won the game — the Doctor conceded in exchange for his help.
- Dying Alone
- The Silence taunt Rory with this, saying that he'll die for the last time knowing Amy never came back for him. She proves them wrong. With a machine gun.
- Defied by the Doctor himself. He knows he's going to die, so he brings some friends. Or as he put it:
The Doctor: If it's time to go, remember what you're leaving. Remember the best. My friends have always been the best of me.
The Doctor: I had to die. I didn't have to die alone.
- Eldritch Location: The assassination is to take place at Lake Silencio because it's a "still point" — some property about it makes it easy to create fixed time-points.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Pterodactyls are flying around London. They're treated as vermin.
- Eyepatch of Power: Kovarian's is revealed to be an "eye-drive" that allows her to interact with the Silence without losing memories. The design is co-opted by Amy and Rory's team. Too bad the Silence thought ahead.
- Eye Scream: Most people freak out if their own eyelash gets in their eye. The eye-drives use electricity.
- Failed a Spot Check: The Doctor reminds Amy of her Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory and begs her to try to remember her previous relationship with the Doctor and everything they've done together... and then realises he's waving her own model TARDIS at her and blundering past her sketches of those very adventures.
- Faking the Dead: The "Doctor" who gets shot by River was a Teselecta. (The Stetson, too.)
- Flying Car: Kind of mixed with Zeppelins from Another World.
- Genre Savvy
- Amy, thanks to her Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory. "Time's gone wrong — some people have noticed. We've got a whole team working on it."
- At the end, when River shows up, Amy says, "I heard there was a freak meteor shower a few miles away. I got us a bottle."
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Blink and you'll miss it, but after the Doctor finishes changing into his usual clothes, he tells Amy that she can look again. Only judging from her position she never seems to have stopped. Again.
- At the beginning, Churchill's talking about how Cleopatra is a terrible woman, but an excellent dancer. Doctor Malohkeh says he noticed, judging by Churchill's blood pressure.
- There's also this gem:
Dorium: And River Song? In prison all her days?
The Doctor: Her days, yes. Her nights... well, that's between her and me, eh?
- And this:
- Gondor Calls for Aid: The distress beacon Amy and River rig up to call for aid outside the Time Crash. It leads to a You Are Not Alone Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
- The Good Captain: Hello, Rory.
- Guile Hero: Eleven is at his guiley-est in this one.
- "Hell Yes" Moment: Both for the audience and for Amy and Rory at the end.
- Her Boyfriend's Jacket: Amy, disconsolate after the death of the Doctor, is shown consoling herself by drinking wine on her patio, wearing the letterman jacket Rory was sporting in "Let's Kill Hitler".
- Heroic Willpower: Rory ignores his own eye-patch electrocuting him so he can buy time for Amy to escape. It fails him just as the Silence actually burst through the door, so Amy ends up saving him.
- Hope Spot: Played straight and immediately subverted. The Doctor and Winston Churchill are saved from the Silence by the timely arrival of soldiers led by Amy Pond! Who is, unfortunately, sporting the Silence's villainous Eyepatch of Power -— and immediately shoots the Doctor. Turns out it was just a stun gun so they could avoid a lot of talking.
- Hot Chick In A Badass Suit: While it's very weird to see Amy Pond in trousers, she looks good.
- Human Notepad: The Doctor, while he and Winston are under attack from the Silence. Doubles as an Oh Crap moment, since this is the first indication we get of their presence.
- I Am Not a Gun: River
- Ignored Epiphany: After the Doctor learns of the Brigadier's death and realizes that he is, in fact, not above fate, he decides to accept his own mortality, only to reject it again when he finds a way out.
- Impairment Shot: The Doctor awakens on a train to Cairo after being rescued (and knocked out) by Amy.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Amy, upon realising that she's the Doctor's mother-in-law.
River: Father dear, I think Mummy might need another drink,.
- In-Series Nickname: Dropped by the Doctor when recapping with Churchill. The Last Centurion and The Girl Who Waited.
- Ironic Nursery Tune
- Iron Lady: Amy might only be in her twenties, but she still gives off this vibe for most of the episode.
- It's All About Me: River, as seen by the Doctor's attempt at an Armor-Piercing Question. The Doctor is horrified and proceeds to call her out on it. Madame Kovarian also does this when she begs Amy to save her because it's what the Doctor would do.
- Karmic Death: Kovarian left her soldiers to die on Demon's Run and let Colonel Manton be humiliated. Here, the alien-Silence leave her for dead by electrocuting her Eye-Drive along with everyone else's. She's probably not been Killed Off for Real due to it being an alternate timeline, mind.
- Kiss of Death: If River and the Doctor touch then the Doctor dies, but the Doctor knows it must happen, so still seals their marriage with a kiss.
- Lampshade Hanging: "This is absurd: living skulls, other worlds..."
- Last Name Basis: The Doctor pointedly asks Amy if she knows Captain Williams's first name. She answers "Captain".
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall
- River tells the Doctor about the multitudes of theories concerning the two of them.
- Also, why is the question "Doctor who?" the "first question"? Because when the show first went on the air in 1963, "DOCTOR WHO" are the first words you see.
- Not to mention being "hidden in plain sight".
- At the end of the episode when said question is asked, the Doctor looks right into the camera.
- Like Mother, Like Daughter
- Looks Like Jesus: The Doctor.◊ Bonus points for being rough-housed by centurions and being brought to a reasonable Roman authority (or Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill, in this instance).
- Love Makes You Crazy: River. Crosses over with Love Makes You Evil; when asked point-blank if her suffering at killing the Doctor will outweigh the combined suffering of every other living thing in the universe at Time's disintegration, she simply replies, "Yes."
- Mama Bear: When Amy finally takes Madame Kovarian to task for stealing her daughter, well... see Pay Evil unto Evil below.
Madame Kovarian: Amy... help me...
Amy: You took my baby from me and hurt her. And now she's all grown up and she's fine. But I'll never see my baby again.
Madame Kovarian: But you'll still save me, though. Because he would. And you'd never do anything to disappoint your precious Doctor.
Rory: Ma'am, we have to go. Now.
Amy: The Doctor is very precious to me, you're right. But do you know what else he is, Madame Kovarian? Not here. (reattaches Kovarian's eye-drive) River Song didn't get it all from you... sweetie.
- The Masochism Tango: River and the Doctor dance it well.
- Meaningful Echo: Alllll the way back to "Forest of the Dead", in the same situation, but reversed:
River: Time can be rewritten.
The Doctor: Don't you dare.
- Middle-of-Nowhere Street: "Why Utah?" Compared to the times and places the Doctor has been, you can excuse him thinking that.
- Mood Dissonance: See Wacky Marriage Proposal below.
- Mook Horror Show: For the Dalek in the beginning.
- Mr. Exposition
- Winston Churchill at the beginning, discussing the episode's set-up with Malokeh and getting all that messy explaining done so the rest of the episode can be devoted to plot.
- Defied by Amy. "The stun guns aren't fun. I'm sorry. I wanted to avoid a long conversation."
- My God, What Have I Done?: Amy has a mild case after killing Madame Kovarian, even though River tries to reassure her that it never technically happened now that time has restored itself.
- The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Moffat just couldn't resist, given the similarity of Amy's last name.
- Nice Hat: The Stetson.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: River refuses to kill the Doctor, leading to all of time happening at once and threatening all of reality.
- No, Except Yes: The Silence don't want the doctor dead, they just don't want him to remain alive.
- Noodle Incident: Every time Cleopatra is mentioned. And Liz I.
- Nothing but Skulls: The Headless Monk tomb. Justified, of course; the rest is still out there walking around, they just get rid of the useless part.
- Obfuscating Disability: The Silence are not captured. They're pretending to be.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Winston Churchill and the Doctor fighting the Silence. We never see it because they can't remember it.
- Oh Crap
- The Dalek in the opening — "dying and a long way from home", who then looks up "into the face of the Devil himself" — The Doctor. The Dalek's screams of "EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY!" are this trope.
- The Doctor and Churchill when they realize that there are dozens of Silence roosting right over their heads.
- Seconds later, the Doctor again when he sees Amy's eye-drive and takes it to mean she's done a Face-Heel Turn.
- Madame Kovarian when Amy refuses to show her mercy.
- The revelation about the Silence contained at Area 52: "They're not captured."
- Played for laughs when Amy realizes she's the Doctor's mother-in-law.
- Ominous Crack: When it turns out that the Silence are not safely contained these start appearing in the glass of their tanks.
- Oracular Head: Any Headless Monk with enough money becomes one of these. Dorium is among them.
- Out-Gambitted: The Doctor really outdoes himself by faking his assassination by the Silence. On a fixed time point. And the best part: They'll probably never know.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Amy refuses to save Madame Kovarian when she pleads for help, and even sticks her electrocuting eyepatch back on. As she says, the Doctor isn't there and River got a few things from her mother.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: River Song didn't get it all from you, sweetie.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Despite nearly destroying the universe and knowingly putting her suffering before that of others, River gets called out on her actions once, married to the Doctor, and sent to a Cardboard Prison for a completely different crime (one that she's innocent of).
- Punny Name: Live Chess. Because there's current running through the chess pieces. Also, you can die. And people are watching you play, gladiator-style. The ultimate in metatextuality.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The reason for the Brigadier's off-screen death.
- Real Person Cameo
- American news presenter Meredith Vieira says the line "Crowds lined The Mall today as Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill returned to the Buckingham Senate on his personal mammoth."
- Meredith did a news story on her cameo, too, as part of a larger piece The Today Show was doing about television in other countries.
- Reality Bleed: On a massive scale.
- Reconstruction: After a season of deconstructing the Doctor's modus operandi, River tells the Doctor to stop feeling so sorry for himself, and to realise that the entire universe wanted to do everything they could to help him, because he's always been such a force for good.
- Red Herring: Lots of people theorised that the Doctor at the beach was the flesh Doctor from "The Almost People" — even Amy, in-story. Far rarer was the theory that it might have been the other entity from this series that could mimic form that perfectly — the Teselecta.
- Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Played for laughs when Amy first shows up. Played for tears as she remembers killing Madame Kovarian.
- Rock Bottom: Discussed by the Doctor.
The Doctor: Imagine you were dying, imagine you were afraid and a long way from home in terrible pain. Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, you looked up and saw the face of the devil himself. Hello, Dalek.
- Rule of Three: Dorium says "Doctor who?" three times at the end of the episode.
- Running Gag
- One of the oldest gags in the show has now been elevated to a plot point. Which one? Doctor Who. It is the first question, which must never be answered.
- "The Doctor lies", indeed.
- As it turns out, bow-ties aren't just cool.
- Sequel Hook: Dorium leaves us with various phrases that will likely come into play later on, including "The Question", which will apparently be asked at the Fields of Trenzalore, and most foreboding, "The Fall of the Eleventh".
- Shipper on Deck: The Doctor, as always, in his rather ridiculous attempts to get Amy and Rory to notice each other in the alternative time-line.
Doctor: She wants to meet you for texting and scones.
- "Pond. Amelia Pond."
- The scene of the room with the heads of the Headless Monks is a long Indiana Jones pastiche, complete with the hat, "I hate rats", a treacherous assistant and said assistant's comeuppance.
- Aliens being held at Area 51, er, Area 52 in water? Sounds like Independence Day!
- It's very difficult to hear everyone going on about a very important "Question" that must never be answered without thinking of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
- Amy is a beautiful red-haired woman in a sharp black suit who deals with the supernatural, like Agent Scully in The X-Files.
- Sidetracked by the Analogy:
Time is dying. It's going to be 5:02 in the afternoon for all of eternity. A needle stuck on a record... Churchill Caesar:
A record? Good Lord man, have you never heard of downloads? Doctor: Said Winston Churchill
- Slouch of Villainy: Amy leans against the door of her train carriage while the Doctor babbles on, then grins and straightens up for The Glomp when he belatedly realises she's still on his side.
- Smart People Play Chess: The Doctor plays an agent of the Silence at "Live Chess", which is normal chess except the pieces have a current running through them that builds up if a piece is moved too many times in a row. The charge eventually becomes fatal. It's also played "live" in front of a crowd, gladiator-style.
- Smug Snake: Madame Kovarian is just as smug as ever... until her You Have Outlived Your Usefulness moment, and befitting end.
- Spoiler Opening: the Teselecta, unlike the other minor returning characters, appears in the Previously On segment, hinting at its relevance. Moffat manages to trick the audience though, since the Teselecta appears early on in the episode, allowing the viewer to think that that was the reason it appears in the Previously On segment.
- Stopped Clock: Somehow, every clock in every time zone stopped at 5:02pm on April 22, 2011.
- Take a Third Option: River, as the Astronaut, tries to do this by discharging her weapons packs so she can't kill the Doctor. While the Doctor is protesting that his death is a fixed point, time promptly breaks. And then we find out that he took a third option himself by getting the Teselecta ship to take his shape, so the him that was "killed" was actually a robot with him in it.
- Tempting Fate
- When the Doctor and Churchill suspect the presence of Silence, the Doctor explains their ability while assuring him that "in small numbers, they're not too difficult". Cue a massive number of tally marks on the Doctor's arm and a view of a whole nest of them doing a Ceiling Cling just over their heads.
- You really shouldn't have bragged that Amy won't come for Rory, Mr. Silence. The Silence seem to tempt fate quite a bit. Remember the Silent who said "You should kill us all on sight"?
- These Hands Have Killed: Amy feels guilty about killing Madame Kovarian in cold blood, to which River reassures her it was technically in another time-line so she didn't really kill her. Amy dismisses that rationale.
- Time Crash: So this is why the Doctor doesn't (usually) try to change fixed points in time. A different sort of Time Crash from last year's, but the same general idea. Interestingly, while Series Five's finale had space collapsing due to an exploding TARDIS, Series Six ended with time going to hell because a certain Doctor just won't... die.
- Time Stands Still: Time has frozen at 5.02pm on 22 April 2011, the exact time of the Doctor's apparent death.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: Time has collapsed into the exact time of the Doctor's apparent death, and every time River and the Doctor touch the events of his death start repeating themselves. Except all the messages responding to River's distress beacon inside the collapsed time-line are coming from outside of it, where time is apparently still working normally. Good luck figuring the mechanics of that out...
- Title Drop: The last words of the series, which also turns out to be none other than the Question.
- Took a Level in Badass
- Amy. She has soldiers including Rory working for her, saves him from almost dying again by taking an assault rifle to the Silence, kills Madame Kovarian in cold blood when the latter begs her for mercy and proposes to Rory in a delightfully offhand way.
- Rory may not be wearing his Centurion armour, but he has officially become a Colonel Badass.
- Trailers Always Lie: The trailer for this episode heavily implied that River and Kovarian are the same person.
- True Companions
- The Doctor tells Winston Churchill that the Lone Centurion and The Girl Who Waited will always be around for him, no matter how dark things get.
- There's also the Brigadier, whom he calls only to find out he died peacefully. This is what makes him decide to face his death with dignity.
- Tricked Out Time: How the Doctor gets out of his death.
- Undying Loyalty
- The Doctor notes this about Rory; no matter what has happened to reality, no matter what timeline he's in, even if he doesn't even remember it... he is always going to protect Amy.
- River towards the Doctor, with a bit more of a creepy connotation.
- Villains Want Mercy: The Silence decide that their agent Madame Kovarian has outlived her usefulness and trigger a device in her Eyepatch of Power that begins electrocuting her. She knocks it loose and then has the gall to beg Amy for help, but after all she's done to Amy and her family, Amy refuses to help her and actually puts the eye-patch back on her, leaving her to die.
- Wacky Marriage Proposal: More like an offhand one. (While Madame Kovarian screams in dying agony in the background.)
Amy: We should get drinks sometime.
Amy: And married.
- Wedding Day: Well, duh, look at the title! Technically a hand-fasting day.
- Wham Line
- On learning the Brigadier peacefully passed away in his sleep, the Doctor is rendered temporarily speechless.
- And of course:
Dorium: Doctor who?
- With Friends Like These... / Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The Doctor and the Brigadier.
Doctor: Get him and tell him its all on me! Apart from the money and the driving.
- Which then segues into a genuine tearjerker when he finds the Brigadier's passed away, but that he always spoke fondly of the Doctor and made sure they poured an extra brandy in case he came around... But he never did. Similarly, the actor was never involved with the Doctor Who revival, something that nearly all involved regret now.
- What the Hell, Hero?: The Doctor unleashes one on River for attempting to change history and potentially sacrifice all of time itself for his sake.
- Woman in Black: Amy and River.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: The Doctor made his way out of a nasty predicament, avoiding either dying or having all of reality frozen by asking the Teselecta to pose as him as he's offed by River, with nobody, not the Silence, or even history itself, recognizing the difference. Probably because the Teselecta being there was the fixed point. Well, he was on the beach, and he did get shot by River and burned on the boat — he was just very, very tiny at the time.
- You Are Not Alone: A brief but touching moment where River tells the Doctor that she and Amy rigged a distress beacon to broadcast a signal outside the sphere of the Time Crash's influence, and planets all over the universe sent a response saying "Of course we'll help!" in gratitude for everything he's done for them over his long lifetime.
River: You've touched so many lives, saved so many people, did you think that when your time came, you'd really have to do more than ask?
- Bonus points for this essentially being the opposite of the previous series finale, "The Pandorica Opens", in which all the Doctor's enemies came.
- You Can't Fight Fate: River's attempt to Screw Destiny plunges Earth into a massive Anachronism Stew and threatens to tear time itself apart.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once the Silence have the Doctor in their clutches and have no further need for Madame Kovarian. Much to Madame Kovarian's surprise. And dismay.
- You Have to Believe Me: Subverted; upon waking up in an office on a train after being shock-stunned by Amy Pond, the Doctor begins to desperately attempt to persuade her that although she doesn't remember and probably won't believe him, they're actually best friends in another version of time and that she needs to remember… only for Amy to patiently wait him out and then silently indicate to him all the copious amounts of evidence that he somehow hasn't noticed scattered around her office that indicate that she already remembers everything, including drawings and a model of the TARDIS, which the Doctor is actually shaking at her frantically while he's trying to get her to believe.
- You Shall Not Pass: Rory attempts this, but his eye-drive nearly electrocutes him right as the Silence break in, leaving Amy to take them out with an assault rifle.
River: Then you may kiss the bride.