"Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many."
"This is the Doctor's darkest hour. He'll rise higher than ever before, then fall so much further. This is the day he finds out who I am."
— River Song
Written by Steven Moffat. The finale of the first half of series 6.
Last episode, we found out that the Amy we've been seeing was not, in fact, Amy. It was an avatar, making her constantly believe that she was walking around unharmed, while her real self was held captive in a place called Demons Run. She's given birth there to a baby girl named Melody, guided by Madame Kovarian — the eyepatch lady — and surrounded by an entire military. But she's not scared. Because she knows that the baby's real father will come for them. A man who has travelled across the galaxy. A man who has lived for centuries. A man known as the
... Last Centurion.
The soldiers are quite nice, actually, and simply believe that the Doctor is a fearsome warrior that should be killed. That doesn't mean they can't be his fanboys, too. One of them, Lorna (Christina Chong
) from the Gamma Forest, met him once when she was young and only joined so she could see him again. She's happily embroidering a little piece of cloth with the words "Melody Pond", as a religious good luck charm for Amy.
The Doctor and Rory (dressed magnificently in his Last Centurion gear) prepare to raise an army. On his quest, Rory defeats a Cyberman fleet without even a hint of fear. In her cell in Stormcage, River Song sadly acknowledges that the time has come at last. Today will mark the Battle of Demons Run and the Doctor's darkest hour. Both sides will make their sacrifices and River Song must finally reveal her most closely guarded secret to the Doctor: her identity. She's unusually happy to see Rory, but she can't come with him.
The Doctor gathers friends with old debts in his TARDIS: a Silurian woman named Vastra
from Victorian London, her human girlfriend, a Badass
Sontaran nurse whose clone batch met the Doctor once
, Captain Avery and Toby
, the Judoon of the Shadow Proclamation
, Churchill's spitfire fighters
, and Dorium Maldovar, the owner of the Maldovarium
Lorna sneaks out, finds Amy and hands her the little embroidered cloth. Amy is too traumatised to talk to her much.
The Headless Monks, a religious faction, are seemingly allied with the Demons Run army, but the Doctor interferes and starts manipulating the soldiers effortlessly. As Amy watches, he vows to rescue her. "Amelia Pond, get your coat!"
Rory, still in Centurion gear, reunites Amy and little Melody while crying Manly Tears
. The Doctor follows soon after. He talks to young Melody for a bit ("I speak Baby. I speak everything
.") and the two quickly bond. The Doctor gives Melody a little Gallifreyan cot. Amy asks him where the hell he got that from. Why would he have a cot? Does he have kids? Did
he have kids? He mumbles a bit before revealing that all right, yes, it's his cot. From when he was a baby. And little Melody will be quite safe.
Chaos quickly ensues again, however, and the Doctor is questioned by everyone on whether or not he's responsible for the child. Because it's got Time Lord DNA
. And there are not a whole lot of ways for little babies to become half Time Lord. Simply put, when a girl travelling with a Time Lord has a half-Time Lord baby, people tend to draw conclusions.
The Doctor is genuinely confused, because no, he did not sleep with Amy
. And he can't see any way for the child to be part Time Lord, even when it's pointed out by Vastra that the Time Lords themselves evolved from continuously being close to the Time Vortex. That doesn't apply here, he states, because Time Lords evolved over billions of years, not just nine months. And even if this baby was somehow influenced by Amy being in the TARDIS, it's just not how evolution works. Besides, how could it even have been conceived on the TARDIS? Rory wasn't there, and then he was dead, and then he never existed, and then he was a plastic Roman for two millennia, and then it was their wedding n—
The Doctor realises quite suddenly why Amy was so worried about her baby being messed up by the time stream or having a "time head" or something. Little Melody was conceived on the TARDIS, and the TARDIS added quite a bit of her own creative influence to the baby's DNA. And now this Time Lord baby will be raised as a weapon against him.
The Doctor: Why would a Time Lord be a weapon?
Vastra: They've seen you.
As the Doctor's makeshift army confronts the soldiers of Demons Run, Lorna is shot. The Doctor rushes to her side and tells her to be brave. Of course
he remembers her. They ran together, years ago. She dies in his arms. He quietly has to ask who she was, because he hasn't met her yet and he remembers everyone.
By now, the Doctor has got into a habit of hugging Amy tightly, and rubbing her back, while he's talking to her. With permission from Rory, of course. Because he can only give her one nasty revelation after another: little Melody is not little Melody. She's made of the Flesh, and the real baby is far, far away by now. The little bundle in Amy's arms promptly turns into a jelly baby
And then, just as the Doctor's friends are dying all around him again, River appears. And the Doctor is very
genuinely angry with her. He's beyond Tranquil Fury
and gone off into plain old rage. Why did she wait this long to show up? Why did she do nothing
to prevent all this? Why is she just standing there? This carnage, this drama, this isn't him
. River quietly replies that he's wrong. This is him. Gathering people around him, changing their lives, making them sacrifice themselves for him
. As for the Demons Run army: in the Gamma Forest language, "Doctor" has become the word for "Mighty Warrior". The Doctor's reputation has made him into a demon in the eyes of entire cultures. He's a true Memetic Badass
, and they've become so scared of him, they're going to kill him out of sheer terror.
He orders her to stop lying to him and to finally explain who she is. She takes his hands and leads him towards the cot. He looks down at his old cot, at the Gallifreyan text, at his little kinetic baby toy mobile. He looks up at River. He looks down again. And he starts to happily make incoherent squee
noises while she grins and nods at him.
It's all still a bit confusing to him — they've kissed and everything, and that's just weird
now — but he's too busy being flabbergasted to even care any more. He waves goodbye to the Ponds, promises to find little Melody, gets in the TARDIS and gives River one final squee
before dashing off. River can take the others home.
Amy has a full-on Heroic BSOD
at that. She picks up a gun and prepares to shoot River right then and there. River calms her down with some effort, and tells her to take another look at the Doctor's cot. Because with written text, the TARDIS translation matrix can take a while to kick in. No, not the Gallifreyan text on the cot — the TARDIS doesn't translate ancient Gallifreyan anyway
. River means Lorna's beautifully embroidered cloth, and she shows it to Amy and Rory. The only water in the forest is the river
. In Lorna's Gamma Forest language, the elaborate embroidered text says "Pond" on one side, and "Melody" on the other: "River" and "Song". Mummy and Daddy, meet your daughter.
- Action Prologue: The first four minutes of the episode has Rory infiltrate a Cyberman fleet, and the destruction of said fleet. All before the title runs.
- Adult Fear:
- Your baby daughter is a really a ganger, and she melts away in your arms.
- You've put your wife and daughter in a hiding place and you're fighting to protect them. Suddenly you hear your terrified wife screaming your name and you just know something horrible has happened.
- Amy's baby is taken from her and all she knows is that the kid will be raised as a living weapon. There's also that chilling part at the beginning, when Amy holds her daughter and tells her how she wishes she could promise to protect her. And then the soldier tells her she has two minutes left before they take the baby away.
- In a blink-and-you-miss-it example, having your spouse suddenly murdered, when you'd clearly thought that they'd been out for something innocuous and would be back by dinner, as the Thin Gay Anglican Marine did. While being converted to an order of Headless Monks is a bit of a Space Whale Aesop, you could easily apply the situation to something more mundane, like going out to the store or to a meeting at work.
- Affably Evil: The Sontaran Combat Medic Strax.
Strax: Don't worry, my boy, you'll be up and around in no time. And perhaps one day, you and I will meet on the field of battle, and I shall destroy you for the glory of the Sontaran Empire.
- Almost Dead Guy: Both Strax and Lorna live long enough to express regret and drive a knife right through your heart.
- Anachronism Stew:
- Strax is introduced in the midst of a battle fought by humans in uniforms from the War of 1812, wielding energy pistols, set in 4037 AD.
- "Stevie Wonder sang in 1814?" "Yes, he did. But you must never tell him."
- Arc Words: "The only water in the forest is the river" refers to a cultural translation issue. There is no word in the Gamma Forest for a pond, only for a river. Melody Pond becomes River Song.
- Armor-Piercing Question:
- The Doctor gets a few Armor-Piercing Answers:
The Doctor: Why would a Time Lord be a weapon?
Vastra: They've seen you.
The Doctor: [A war] against who?
Kovarian: Against you, Doctor.
- The Doctor keeps asking River the question, "Who are you?" This time he finally gets an answer.
- Army of the Ages: See Badass Army below.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- When Dorium realizes that he's one of the Doctor's draftees.
You don't need me! Why would you need me?! I'm old! I'm fat! I'm blue!
- Also, when Amy picks up some sort of tool (which looks like an electric toothbrush) in response to a knock on the door of her room
- The Atoner:
- It's implied that Madame Vastra was murdering homeless people to avenge her sister before the Doctor found her and convinced her to become a Serial-Killer Killer.
- Strax is introduced working as a nurse, serving out a punishment that the Doctor imposed for dishonoring his clone batch.
- Avengers Assemble: We only see a handful of the people the Doctor calls in his marker for, but doing everyone would've been an episode all its own.
- Awesome McCoolname: Amy argues the difference between "Melody Williams" and "Melody Pond" is the difference between a geography teacher and a superhero.
- Baby Language: The Doctor can speak it, apparently. What's hilarious is the lines of the one-sided conversation he has with little Melody. Includes, "Really, you should call her Mummy, not big milk thing," "It's my hair, it's real," and in regard to the bow-tie, "No, it's cool."
- Badass Army: Lets see, the Doctor brought alongside with him an army of Silurians including the one in Victorian England with a female human partner, the Judoon who are basically an intergalactic SWAT team, a Sontaran as a Combat Medic, Captain Avery and his son, an intergalactic black market dealer, with the Space Spitfires covering the skies, Rory/"The Lone Centurion" and of course, the Doctor, who is a One-Man Army by himself, all there just to take back Amy's baby! Good Lord! The Doctor really outdid himself there!
- Badass Boast: The Moff delivers as usual.
The Doctor: Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.
- Badass Family: The Ponds, consisting of Amy, who tells her captors to be very, very afraid of what's coming for them, Rory, who gets up in the grill of an entire Cyber Legion, and Melody, who grows up to be a woman who makes Daleks beg for mercy.
- Badass Normal: Make no mistake. The "good man" mentioned in the title is not the Doctor, but rather is Rory Williams. And man, does he live up to this trope in this episode.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Think about it. Whatever nefarious purpose Madame Kovarian wanted to achieve by kidnapping baby River set a chain of events that makes her a terrifying Action Girl whose mere name even causes fear in the heart of a freaking Dalek. River will still kill that good man, who in all likelihood was Kovarian's target to begin with. As it turns out, she was only imprisoned for killing the Doctor, and the Doctor is intact, albeit removing himself from all of the databases. More immediately, Madame Kovarian gets away with the real baby, having successfully Batman Gambited the Doctor.
- Bait and Switch:
- At the beginning it seems as though Amy is talking about the Doctor when she's telling little Melody about the man who's coming to help them. She's actually talking about Rory:
Amy: He's the last of his kind. He looks young, but he's lived for hundreds and hundreds of years. And wherever they take you, Melody, however scared you are, I promise you you will never be alone. Because this man is your father. He has a name, but the people of our world know him better... as the Last Centurion.
- When Amy asks the Doctor to please, please tell them what's going on his head re. Melody, he replies "It's mine" — and then clarifies that he was talking about the cot he found for her in the TARDIS.
- When the Doctor talks about good men and rules, he's not identifying himself as a good man.
- Battle Butler: Jenny to Madame Vastra. Possibly a Swashbuckler Maid. Not so much Les Yay as official couple.
- Battle Couple: Vastra and Jenny.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: A Sontaran who regrets dying in battle? Talk about playing against your planet's hat.
- Beware the Nice Ones: It's what the episode title means, so you can expect a lot of it. Rory kicks much ass and the entire episode is basically showing us this about the Doctor. The "Colonel Run-Away" scene and his What the Hell, Hero? to River are all about showing the Doctor when he's really at the limit of his restraint. As Rory notes in the opening teaser;
Rory: I have a message and a question. A message from the Doctor... and a question from me. Where. Is. My. Wife?! Oh, don't give me those blank looks! The 12th Cyber Legion monitors this entire quadrant. You hear everything. So you tell me what I need to know, you tell me now. And I will be on my way...
Cybermen: What is the Doctor's message?
(the entire fleet explodes)
Rory: Would you like me to repeat the question?
- Big Budget Beef-Up: Series 6 has maintained the revival's reputation for mostly excellent special effects, but they take it up a notch for the mid-series finale with appearances from several old enemies and allies, and CG effects galore.
- Big "NO!": Colonel Manton, when all hell breaks loose between the clerics and the monks.
- Body Horror:
- Dear mother of God, the Monks.
- A bit more with gangers, this time having a baby explode into goo.
- Break the Cutie: Amy Pond has to deal with this while she's alone on Demons Run, mostly involving her baby. Of course, we've seen Amy snap before, so we know this isn't a good idea. At the end, though, she is thoroughly broken by the revelation that her baby was actually taken and the one she thought she'd rescued was a Flesh copy; this is only remedied by River's timely revelation.
- Buffy Speak: What baby sounds like, apparently.
The Doctor: You really should start calling her "Mummy", not "big milk thing".
- Bullying a Dragon: What Dorium tells Kovarian that she's doing. He even uses a very similar analogy — pricking a beast and not having the sense to run away.
- Bury Your Gays: Fat One lasts just long enough to state he's gay, and then walks off to get a little off the top. The other gay couple introduced in this episode went on to be beloved recurring characters.
- Call Back:
- Canon Discontinuity: Madame Vastra claims to have eaten Jack the Ripper. In the comic Ripper's Curse, Jack the Ripper was an alien from the Re'nar race and died in the spatial void. Of course, this is a show about time travel and rewriting history.
- Cardboard Prison: Really... River can just waltz in and out, use the phone to announce she's breaking in and order room service and can gallivant off whenever she pleases. A Cardboard Prison would actually be more secure than what she's in right now.
- Chaste Hero: The Doctor is completely oblivious to the notion that Melody might have been conceived in the TARDIS until pushed by Madame Vastra. He works through the fifth series and comes to the realisation that the first time they were together on the TARDIS after the reboot was... their wedding night.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The baby carrier. It's actually a Ganger control harness.
- The prayer leaf, which reveals Melody Pond's true identity.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Lorna. When she first appears, she just seems like a young soldier being nice to Amy. Then Lorna gives Amy the leaf, which shows up at the end for the final revelation.
- Cherry Tapping: The Doctor wants Colonel Manton to order his men not to fall back, but to "run away". For the rest of his life, he would be known as Colonel Run-Away — to show what happens when you mess with the people the Doctor cares about.
- Child Soldiers:
- Christianity Is Catholic: Averted. Even though the sect called the Headless Monks follow decisions made by a "Papal mainframe", their Anglican allies are portrayed as a different sect where, if one of their number needs to join the former, they must first convert (in the most literal sense of the word).
- Church Militant: Similar to "The Time of Angels" — though Colonel Manton has a military rank rather than a clerical one.
- Combat Medic:
- A Sontaran nurse. It started out as a punishment for something his clone-batch did, as taking care of the sick and weak is a Sontaran's idea of the perfect humiliation. In spite of that, he seems to have grown to like it.
Boy: Will I be okay?
Strax: (cheerfully earnest) Of course you will, my boy, you'll be up and around in no time. And perhaps one day, you and I shall meet on the field of battle, and I will destroy you for the glory of the Sontaran Empire!
Boy: Thanks, nursie.
Strax: Captain Harcourt, I hope someday to meet you in the glory of battle, where I shall crush the life from your worthless human form. (beat) Try and get some rest.
- And let's not forget the other nurse who also happens to be the Last Centurion...
- Continuity Nod:
- Cool Plane: Danny Boy and his space spitfires make their return after the Doctor explains to Colonel Run-Away that all he needs to do to keep the rest of the fleet uninvolved is take out the comm array.
- Cool Sword:
- Cruel Mercy:
- The Doctor's planned fate for Colonel Manton follows along these lines. See Fate Worse Than Death below.
- Also Commander Strax's penance as a nurse.
- Defeat Equals Friendship: Part of the back-story; Madame Vastra and Commander Strax are two old foes of the Doctor's, turned into allies.
- The Determinator: Rory, of course. Heaven help whoever is between him and Amy this time.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu:
- Remember, the Doctor is considered a Memetic Badass demigod in-universe. See Dorium's quote above, and his many Badass Boasts.
Lady Kovarian: What have you heard?
Dorium: That you pricked the side of a mighty beast, Madam Kovarian, and entirely failed to run.
- The Cyber-Legion immediately pull their weapons on Rory, who offers them the chance to answer a simple question and he will be on his way. They fail to answer. Cue the entire fleet exploding.
Rory: Would you like me to repeat the question?
- Double Meaning Title: With the "good men don't need rules" business from the Doctor, the title of the episode may very well apply to Rory.
- Elite Mooks: Word of God is that the Headless Monks are the Church Militant's special forces. Possibly Elite Zombies as well, since the detectors don't register them as alive.
- Enemy Mine: This looks to be the situation for the army the Doctor raises.
- Entendre Failure: When Vastra and Dorium notice the weird DNA in Melody's scan, they attempt to be tactful and ask in various vague ways if the Doctor and Amy ever... you know. However, the Doctor fails to grasp at what they're on about. Once they find out it wasn't his...
(talking about Melody
) Which leads me to ask — when did it happen? The Doctor: When
? Madame Vastra:
) I am trying to be delicate. I know how you can blush.
) Madame Vastra:
...When did this baby... begin? The Doctor:
(realisation finally dawns
) ...Oh, you mean... Madame Vastra:
- Eternal English: Subverted. Among the people of the Gamma Forest the word "Doctor" has gone from meaning "Healer" to come to mean "Mighty Warrior" thanks to the badassery of the Time Lord himself.
- Evil Knockoff: This is why Kovarian wants Amy's child: so she can make her into an Evil Knockoff of the Doctor.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Headless Monks, monks who don't have heads.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: The Doctor insists that the baby can't have been conceived on the TARDIS. I mean, they spend far too much time running around fighting monsters for... that sort of thing, and anyway, in this version of reality they were never on the TARDIS together until their w—
Madame Vastra: Their what?
The Doctor: Their wedding night.
- Eyepatch of Power: Madame Kovarian packs a cyborg version of one of these.
- Face-Heel Turn: Last time we saw the Clerics, they were working with Father Octavian to help the Doctor and River against the Weeping Angels. This time around... they're not nearly as friendly. Given that those events took place after River was locked up, it's possible that they are in the future of this episodes, meaning they got more friendly.
- False Dichotomy: Melody Williams is a geography teacher. Melody Pond is a superhero.
- Fantastic Racism: From the Doctor of all people. Let it be said, he's being very Tranquil Fury at that moment, his levity is clearly hiding the fact we see later that he is very pissed off.
The Doctor: Please, point a gun at me if it helps you relax! You're only human.
- Fat and Skinny: The "thin/fat gay married Anglican marines."
- Fate Worse Than Death: The Doctor thoroughly trashes Colonel Manton into humiliation, in one of his biggest Tranquil Fury moments yet. And apparently enjoys every second of it.
- A Father to His Men: Give Colonel Manton his due. When it looks like the Headless Monks are about to start carving up his troops, he's clearly horrified.
- The Fettered:
- Foil: Rory to Commander Strax, of all people. Rory was a nurse who became a warrior, Strax was a warrior who became a nurse.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- Friend in the Black Market: Dorium
- Genre Savvy / Only Sane Man:
- Dorium seems to be a rare antagonist version, in that he is the only one that realizes that antagonising the Doctor is a really bad idea. He retains this after we find out he's working for the good guys, pointing out how they cleared out the fortress far too easily. Dorium's savviness seems to degrade some when he walks up to the menacing Headless Monks, thinking that because they know him, they'll let him go. He does this after observing that they're chanting their war hymn.
- When it looks like the Doctor is trying to start a shoot-out between his men and the monks, Manton is the first person to discharge his gun's battery as a sign of good faith. "We are not fools." He just had no way of knowing about the Doctor's real plan.
- Keep in mind that Madame Kovarian's entire reason for kidnapping Amy's child is so she can be raised as a weapon against the Doctor. That they are so terrified of him they are willing to harm his True Companions to do it. When The Doctor invades Demons Run, Madame Kovarian is quaking in fear from being in the Doctor's presence. She doesn't even start her Evil Gloating until she is far, far away from him.
- Lorna met the Doctor when she was a kid. He's going to meet her again and have to know she's going to die in a few years.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: It's a Moffat episode, so there are several.
- Not the least of which is Vastra's Power Perversion Potential.
Madame Vastra: Oh, all mammals look the same.
Jenny: (sarcastic, annoyed) Thanks.
Madame Vastra: Oh, I'm sorry dear, did I say something insensitive again? I don't know why you put up with me.
(cue a six-foot long tongue whiplash to subdue a prisoner — which makes Jenny smile)
- The exchange between River Song and Rory in the Stormcage Prison.
Rory: I've come from the Doctor too.
River: Yes, but at a different point in time.
Rory: Unless there's two of them.
River: Now... that's a whole different birthday.
- Or before that, when she sees Rory in the shadows and can only make out his Roman soldier outfit. She is delighted and comments that her jailers usually don't read her request memos.
- Gondor Calls for Aid:
- Have We Met Yet?:
- Rory is Genre Savvy enough to ask this of River in the beginning.
- Also played with later: the Doctor consoles the dying Lorna Bucket by reminding her of the fun they had on their adventures together, but after she dies, he admits that he hadn't actually met her yet.
- He's Back: Rory the Roman, all pimped out in battle gear and seriously ticked off.
- Heroic BSOD:
- A minor one when Madame Vastra tells the Doctor that the child can be a weapon because it's modelled after him.
- A much bigger one after a scathing What the Hell, Hero? from River: the Doctor realises that the rest of the universe sees him as a dangerous and potentially insane warrior because of his actions. We haven't yet seen the full extent of this one, however.
- Hitler Cam: Several, given the prevalence of balconies and grand speeches. One for Colonel Manton◊ and, oddly, one for Madame Vastra◊.
- Hypocritical Humour: Vastra. She frequently shows disdain for mammals and implies she devours ones who annoy her, though she is also involved in a lesbian relationship with a human woman. She does seem to try to catch herself when she's being rude at least, commenting "how do you put up with me?"
- Idiot Ball: Dorium running towards the Headless Monks. Prior to that he'd been pretty Genre Savvy.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Vastra
- In Love with the Mark: River.
- Interspecies Romance: Madame Vastra the Silurian and Jenny the human◊. They Fight Crime in Victorian Britain. Need more be said?
- Jack the Ripper: Gets eaten by a Silurian off-screen.
- Kid from the Future: River is Rory and Amy's.
- Knowledge Broker: Dorium
- Laser-Guided Tykebomb: What Madame Kovarian wants River/Melody to become.
- Laser Sword: The Headless Monks' lightning blades. Not only gives a Clean Cut, but also ties a knot in the neck of a decapitated enemy. And it keeps the head alive as well.
- Leitmotif: The music that plays when River reveals she is Melody Pond is the same heard when the Doctor was given a Viking funeral in "The Impossible Astronaut" and the girl regenerated at the end of "Day of the Moon".
- Let's Get Dangerous:
- The baddies — not to mention the audience — get a vicious reminder that between being a nurse and being a companion, Rory was the Lone Centurion. Begins the episode by scaring the crap out of a legion of Cybermen to determine Amy's location, and only gets better from there. Remember, Cybermen are engineered to not feel emotions. Including fear.
- As for the Doctor himself, this is not one of those episodes where he scares off his enemies by saying "You're in a library, look me up." No, this is one of the times when he shows exactly why everyone's so scared of him.
- Let's You and Him Fight: How the Doctor takes care of the Headless Monks and the army they've raised against him.
- Lovely Angels: Vastra and Jenny, though with no subtext, it's right upfront.
- Luke, You Are My Father: River reveals she's Amy and Rory's daughter.
- Manly Tears: Rory, upon returning Melody to Amy. Even more heart-warming is that he does it while saying he was trying to be "cool" and not cry.
- Meaningful Name:
- The asteroid Madame Kovarian has set up shop on is called Demons Run. As in "Demons run when a good man goes to war."
- Melody Pond — Melody = Song and River is the closest translation by the Forest People because "The only water in the forest is the river."
- According to Steven Moffat, Lorna Bucket: "Lorna the warner, the bucket that carried the pond to the river."
- Memetic Badass: An In-Universe Deconstruction. The villains have become so terrified of the Doctor that they're willing to kidnap a newborn baby of his loved ones no less, and raise and turn the child against him; River even explicitly points out that the word "Doctor" means, well, "doctor" all through the universe, but in some places it means "warrior" instead.
- Mood Whiplash:
- Mook Horror Show:
- One gets the impression the Doctor is the monster in this particular episode.
- Even Rory gets this treatment in the Cold Open, particularly with this bit of dialogue:
- Moral Dissonance: Due to the Doctor's influence, Vastra no longer preys upon humans as she once did. On the other hand, she has no qualms about killing and eating Jack the Ripper.
- My God, What Have I Done?: The Doctor has this combined with a Heroic BSOD when he realizes just how much he's made people fear and hate him over the years, and what that's cost him and his loved ones.
- Mythology Gag:
- When Rory asks if there could be more than one Doctor, River says "that's another sort of birthday", referencing the multi-Doctor anniversary specials to come.
- Also possibly a reference to the events of "First Night / Last Night" where the Doctor has to deal with trying to keep three River Songs from bumping into each other, each mistaking his TARDIS as the one that was meant to pick them up in their respective present.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: We can imply that the whole reason River Song was taken from Amy and Rory and became who she is today is because the Doctor has a love for theatrics and likes to make his enemies afraid of him. During the What the Hell, Hero? speech given to him near the end by River he seems to be having a My God, What Have I Done? moment when he realizes that he's partly culpable for the creation of a Child Soldier Tyke Bomb. Yeah, great going there Doctor.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Crime-fighting serial-killer-hunting katana-wielding Victorian interspecies lesbians.
- Noodle Incident: It's never stated just when or how Amy was kidnapped and replaced with a Flesh avatar.
- Not So Different:
- Rory and the Doctor. When the chips are down, Rory will destroy anything in his path to get back the people who were taken from him. Despite being the person who usually tries to save everyone, you do NOT want to piss off Rory and underestimate the fury of the Last Centurion. Sound familiar? "A Good Man Goes To War", the title proves equally true of both Rory and the Doctor.
- Rory and Strax. Both are Warriors who also act as Nurses.
- Amy and Lorna Bucket are both girls who waited for the Doctor.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
- Implied. If "Doctor" means "mighty warrior" in the language of the Gamma Forest, the Doctor must do/have done something pretty spectacular even by his standards during his visit there, especially if it's from only one visit.
- Rory's entire fight with the Headless Monks. Particularly given how they fight with a Laser Sword while he's dual wielding a gun and sword.
- Off with His Head!: The Headless Monks.
- Oh, Crap:
- The Doctor when he finds out River is Melody and that he has a special relationship with Rory and Amy's daughter. That face just screams "They're going to kill me!".
- Dorium, when he realizes the Doctor's recruiting him too.
- The Doctor has one earlier, when he realizes that baby Melody that Amy is protecting is actually a Flesh avatar, and that Madame Kovarian has successfully kidnapped the real child.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: The Thin One and the Fat One. Lampshaded.
The Fat One: We're the thin/fat, gay, married Anglican Marines. Why would we need names as well?
- Papa Wolf: Rory
- Power Perversion Potential:
Madame Vastra: Was I being insensitive again, dear? I don't know why you put up with me. (knocks out a mook from across the room with her prehensile tongue; smiiirk)
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
- Pyrrhic Victory:
- Queer People Are Funny: The Thin-fat-gay-married Anglican Marines come off as this.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Given to the Doctor by River Song no less. It basically consists of "you're so successful at what you do that it's starting to scare people, so that whole non-violent schtick of yours is starting to seem kind of flimsy from where everyone else is standing".
- The 'Run away' speech the Doctor gives to Colonel Manton comes across as a sort of "The Reason You Will Suck Speech".
- Red Baron: Rory, the Lone/Last Centurion. Post Big Bang 2, his standing guard over the Pandorica has become part of the Earth's official mythology, and will never be forgotten.
- Red Herring:
- A magnificent one that had been building up for a year: whether or not the Doctor and Amy were doing it. Everyone around them assumed that they were, and it would have very neatly explained the baby. While everyone was busy fretting and Star Boarding over that, the real secret of the baby is something completely different.
- Since the cot is the Doctor's, and River seems to point at its engraved Gallifreyan text when the Doctor asks her who she is, there are also hints that River could be a future incarnation of him. This was already hinted at in "The Doctor's Wife" when it was revealed that Time Lords can change sex when regenerating. It was David Tennant's personal pet theory while filming River's first appearance, and when he revealed that to Steven Moffat during the audio commentary, Moffat was amused enough to tease the fans with it a little in this episode.
- The giant "door lock override" button. The guard dramatically inches his way toward it, almost making you think he'll succeed... and then Vastra tongue-whips him unconscious as if it's nothing.
- Redshirt Army: Subverted. The human Mooks out to kill the Doctor don't look as if they'll stand a chance against the hordes the Time Lord can call up, but the Doctor takes the base without a drop of blood being spilled. Initially. (Just don't count the RedShirt and the Headless Monk killed when the Doctor briefly turned the two enemies against each other.)
- The Reveal: River Song's identity. She's Amy and Rory's daughter.
- Rousing Speech: By the Colonel to the Red Shirt Army.
- Rule of Seven: This episode was the 7th in the 2011 series, and was also the 777th in the show's famously long run. Three days after it aired, on June 7, the BBC officially announced Series 7.
- Running Gag:
- Scary Black Man: Colonel Manton.
- Serial-Killer Killer: Madame Vastra killed and ate Jack the Ripper.
- Ship Sinking: In one fell swoop, Moffat sinks Amy×Doctor forever. And makes anyone who ever enjoyed River×Ponds fanfiction feel icky.
- Ship Tease: Amy's Last Words to her baby that sound at first like she's talking about the Doctor being the father.
- Smug Snake: Madame Kovarian positively oozes this trope near the end.
Kovarian: Fooling you once was a joy. Fooling you twice, with the same trick? It's a privilege.
- Some Kind of Force Field: A forcefield surrounds the TARDIS to cut off any escape just before the Headless Monks attack. Vastra does the honor of touching it to show it's there, and stating the obvious.
- Space Is Noisy: A couple of times, each involving Dalek Spitfires.
- Squick: Strax boasting that he can "produce great quantities of lactic fluid".
- Stuff Blowing Up: The Doctor is more than happy to use explosions to make a point.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Kovarian really, really comes off like the Rani sometimes.
- Sword and Gun:
- Rory dual-wields his gladius and a pulse pistol as they prepare for the Headless Monks to attack, taking up a Badass pose to boot.
- Madame Vastra seems to have both her katana and a pulse rifle taken from the army, but she wouldn't be able to use them both at the same time.
- Tempting Fate:
- They Fight Crime: Madam Vastra's a Silurian detective with a katana who eats people. Jenny's a Battle Butler / Ninja Maid. They Fight Crime in Victorian London!
- This Is My Name on Foreign: In the language of the forest people, which lacks a word for a still body of water and clearly ain't that complex about music either, "Melody Pond" becomes "River Song". Translator Microbes + averting Eternal English = Wham Episode. Who knew?
- Those Two Guys: More specifically, Those Two "thin/fat gay married Anglican Marines" Guys, who don't need names.
- Title Drop: Twice, both fitted in nicely. River's voice-over gives it context, but Dorium's one does it best:
Dorium: Do you know why it's called Demons Run? [...] Demons run when a good man goes to war.
- Took a Level in Badass: Rory, formerly the Adorkable Woobie, is now threatening an entire Cyberman fleet...and apparently blows it up anyways.
- Trailers Always Lie: The preview for the episode sure made it seem like Amy's kid was the Doctor's.
- Tranquil Fury: Rory facing the Cyber legions.
- Troperiffic: Gee, you think?
- Trying Not to Cry: Rory was gonna be cool...
Amy: Crying Roman with a baby? Definitely cool.
- The Undead: The Headless Monks. They're specifically stated to not show up on a life-detecting scanner.
- Undying Loyalty: Rory to Amy. And vice versa. When Amy tells Melody there's a man who will stop at nothing to come and save them, she's talking about Rory.
- Villainous Valor: We all knew how outclassed Colonel Manton's forces would be, still remarkable they got as far as they did.
- Waistcoat of Style: Jenny's outfit is very stylish indeed.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The bad guys of this episode seem to be this — they genuinely think that the Doctor is a threat to everyone, and are willing to turn Melody into a Child Soldier to stop him. Madame Kovarian at least thinks she is. Probably.
- Wham Episode:
- What the Hell, Hero?: River and the Doctor actually exchange these speeches with one another at the end. In fact, it could well be said that the entire, desperate attempt by the Clerics to create a weapon usable against the Doctor served as an enormous one of these.
Where the hell
were you today?!
- Wrong Genre Savvy:
- Xanatos Speed Chess: The Doctor's plan to take Demons Run. Disguise himself as a Headless Monk and start an Enemy Civil War amongst the enemy factions. Colonel Manton gets around this by ordering his forces to lay down their arms to get the Monks to back off... leading the Doctor to call in the Judoon and Silurian forces to capture them in one fell swoop. Manton tries to counter this by using the base's automatic distress signal... at which point the Doctor orders in the air force of Spitfires armed with Dalek weaponry to blow their communications array sky high. How much of this he planned and how much he improvised along the way is anyone's guess.
- You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Near the beginning, Dorium attempts to educate the villains about the reality of their situation.
Dorium: Colonel Manton, all those "stories" you've heard about him? They're not "stories", they're true! Really, you're not telling me you don't know what's coming?
- You Look Familiar: The Doctor's old acquaintences Strax and Vastra, even though we've never seen them before — but we have seen that actor playing a Sontaran and that actor playing a Silurian. In Strax's case the two characters were clones so naturally they look alike. And Vastra's actress played two different related Silurians in the last episode we saw her, so it seems that Silurians don't have much genetic variation.
- Younger Than They Look: You wouldn't guess by looking at him, but Strax is less than twelve years old.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Or in this case, your daughter is in another body.
- Zero-Approval Gambit: River's What the Hell, Hero? speech paints the Doctor's adventures as a very gradual version of this trope. Yes, the Doctor has saved worlds and more, but his methods in doing so and the occasional genocide have slowly changed his reputation from a healer and wise man to a dangerous, unpredictable and possibly insane warrior that some feel must be destroyed.