Rory: Okay. Okay. I'm trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I'm really trying not to see this as a metaphor.
Written by Steven Moffat
The first episode of the second half of series 6. Extremely plot-heavy. "Spoilers!"Amy and Rory are driving a twisty route through a corn field, with Amy doing her best to navigate. After a few turns, they spot the TARDIS.Since they couldn't reach the Doctor by phone, they took the River Song approach to contacting him and created a giant crop doodle that says "Doctor". He went to search for Melody alone, leaving Amy and Rory behind for the summer. They can't rescue Melody, because they have to keep the timeline going, but they still wanted to see where she was. The Doctor asks Rory for permission to hug Amy: once again, he only has bad news, and Melody is still missing. However, the future newspaper clipping of the crop circle shows a line going straight through his name, and they didn't do that. Cue a little red Corvette Stingray coming straight at them through the field, hitting the Doctor.It's Amy's and Rory's loud Black Best Friend, Mels. Don't remember her? Don't worry just yet.Mels grew up with Amy and Rory, and she knows all about the Doctor from Amy. Except that he's hot, which she's quite happy to find out. The car is hers. Sort of. The Doctor wonders why Mels wasn't at the wedding, and she casually claims that she doesn't do weddings. Meanwhile, the police arrive, and Mels promptly draws a gun on the Doctor and politely asks for them to leave. Amy and Rory are shocked — Mels has always been a bit kooky and a bit overly interested in all the Doctor stories, but never borderline sociopathic. She shoots the TARDIS for good measure.
Mels: Let's see... You've got a time machine. I've got a gun. What the hell. Let's kill Hitler!
We see a few flashbacks of Mels growing up, always near Amy and always asking about the Doctor. Rory tagged along as their Butt Monkey. In school, Mels would always get in trouble: saying it's the Doctor's fault that the Titanic sank and the teacher is stupid for not knowing who he is, or that World War II only happened because the Doctor didn't kill Hitler. As she grew older she was arrested with some frequency, stealing vehicles and generally being antisocial. And she was always a bit jealous of Amy, because Amy had "Mr. Perfect" all along. Amy protested that her Mr. Perfect wasn't even real. Mels meant Rory. Amy explained that she'd love to be with Rory, but they're Just Friends and can't be together because Rory's gay. He'd never looked at girls, after all. As Rory quickly walked out and Mels burst into giggles, Amy realised for the first time that Rory had just been Amy-sexual all along.In 1938, a shape-shifting humanoid robot containing miniaturised humanoids has assumed the form of a Wehrmacht officer and attacked Hitler. It's the Teselecta, a group of Time Police. (Though not theTime Police.) Running out of the TARDIS to escape the smoke from her gunshot wound, the Doctor and his companions inadvertently stop the robot from killing Hitler.Hitler fires a revolver at the robot to defend himself. Everyone tries to duck out of the way, except Rory, who punches Hitler in the face and then, when Hitler tries to protest, tells him to shut up. Rory shoves Hitler into a cupboard, not to be seen again in this episode.But the bullet didn't hit the robot. It hit Mels. And the violent, odd, psychopathic Mels girl is now suddenly dying. She beckons the Doctor closer to her, glad that she finally got to meet him. She always loved Amy's stories. She dreamed of marrying him someday. The Doctor does everything he can to keep her alive — tells her that of course he's happy to meet her, and sure, he'll marry her if she'll just fight for her life right now. And that's when Mels smugly tells him that in that case, he should go ahead and ask her parents for her hand right now. Because they're right there in the room. The Doctor has a magnificent Oh Crap moment when he realises that Amy named her daughter after her daughter. Mels is Melody Pond. Who promptly regenerates into Alex Kingston.Melody loves her new body. It's so mature ("hello,Benjamin!"), with hair that just doesn't stop, and a whole new colour-scheme to work with. She doesn't know why Rory is rambling about some girl named River, though. With that, she disappears to go weigh herself.
Rory (completely stunned): Does anybody else find this day just a bit difficult? I'm getting a sort of banging in my head. Amy: Yeah, I think that's Hitler in the cupboard.
The Teselecta, still operating from inside the robot, are freaking out. They recognise the Time Lord energy, the TARDIS and the person standing before them. One of history's greatest criminals. No, not the Doctor, but his murderer: River Song. While trying to capture the minor criminal Adolf Hitler, they pretty much stumbled on Gallifrey's Most Wanted.The Doctor desperately tries to deal with a Melody who is in no way like his sweet familiar River. She's extremely young, extremely crass, a complete psychopath, and raised by the Silence to kill him. After regenerating in New York, she ended up as a toddler, and spent years searching for her parents. She eventually found them and spent her childhood with Amy and Rory, growing up together with them, but now she's ready to finally get that assassination over with and live her own life. The Doctor manages to empty her gun while she's not looking, replace her backup weapon with a banana and (barely) dodge her attempts at seducing him. She manages to give him a quick Take That Kiss. With poison lipstick. As she jumps out of the window, the Doctor starts to die.Melody has other things on her mind: steal a motor bike, get new clothes. She's quickly stopped by the Wehrmacht, who are very curious as to why she's jumping out of Hitler's office window.
As they shoot her, within the first fifteen hours of her regeneration cycle, she uses a regeneration energy burst to kill them all.Rory and Amy go after her with the sonic screwdriver, but they're stopped by a German soldier. Rory tries to explain, decides not to, and instead punches the soldier out after saluting. They follow Melody, unaware that the soldier was actually the Teselecta robot.The Doctor's dying in the TARDIS, and asks for a voice interface. The voice interface hologram shows his own body. He'd prefer to see someone he likes while he's dying. Not Rose — guilt. Or Martha — still guilt. Or Donna — more guilt. There has to be someone he hasn't "messed up". The voice interface finally settles on an image of Amelia Pond, while she was young and he was a story. He clings to the image and shows Amelia great affection. The interface keeps reminding him that it's not Amelia. His system has been contaminated by the poison of the Judas Tree, his regeneration is disabled and there's no cure. He will be dead in thirty-two minutes. He'll be fine for thirty-one. The Doctor loses hope. Or he would lose hope, if not for the sweet memory of fish-fingers and custard.Melody goes to a fancy party and forces the diners to undress at gunpoint, to provide her with a new set of clothes. Amy and Rory arrive outside, closely followed by the robot. The Teselecta intercepts them and miniaturises them, taking them on board the robot. The robot takes on Amy's appearance. However, the Teselecta is a group of Reasonable Authority Figures, and Amy and Rory are quickly given wristbands which allow them to live. And since they're Melody's family, they get to see her files.Melody is merrily trying on Nazi outfits when the robot arrives. She's about to be killed, but the TARDIS appears. This time, it's the Doctor who asks "Doctor Who?". He's leaning on a cane, dressed in an impeccable tails tuxedo, complete with a top hat.And he's cross.The Teselecta robot has four hundred and twenty-three life forms inside. The Doctor didn't see that coming. They take evil people, villains and war criminals, at the end of their established time-lines and replace them with robots. The robot "dies" in their stead, and they "give them hell" to punish them for their deeds — without causing any kind of Time Paradox. They were a bit too early for Hitler, just by mistake. The Amy-shaped robot also reveals that the Silence isn't just a race. They're an order. And they believe that the universe will change when the last question is asked.The Doctor tries to convince them not to take Melody, but he's still dying, and he's slipping rapidly while trying to stay upright with the cane. The Teselecta starts to punish Melody, but Amy turns the Teselecta's safeguard wrist watches against its own crew using the sonic screwdriver. The crew is forced to shut down the ship, which automatically cancels Melody's punishment. They then teleport to their mother ship, leaving Amy and Rory stranded on-board.This finally gets Melody to do a tentative Heel-Face Turn. She pilots the TARDIS, materialising it on board the Teselecta around Rory and Amy, saving them from the antibodies. She's able to fly it instantly — because the TARDIS is her second mother. This she did not know, and she's appropriately shocked by the revelation.The Doctor's dying words to Melody, whispered into her ear, are for her to find River Song. Rubbish name, she comments, but she can tell that this River woman means a lot to the Doctor. So she promises to try. Amy, still with family privileges, commands the Teselecta robot to transform into River Song. Melody is stunned to see that this River the Doctor spoke of is herself. She suffers a massive and acute Heel Realization, rushes towards the Only Mostly Dead Doctor and kisses him, using her regeneration energy to save his life. All of her regeneration energy. She'll never be able to regenerate again.The Doctor, Amy and Rory leave her in the best hospital in the universe. The Doctor leaves a blank little TARDIS-shaped book by her bedside.Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor consults the information on his death in 2011 from the Teselecta, but hides it from Rory and Amy. In the year 5123, River enrolls as an archaeology student at Luna University on Earth's Moon. After all, archaeology is one hell of a good way to find the Doctor.
Adorkable: Rory is always this trope when he's not being Badass, but his teenage self in the scene where Amy realizes why he's never shown any interest in (other) girls must set some sort of Adorkableness record.
Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The Doctor has a lot of these moments where it becomes clear how much he's come to care about River Song. Melody picks up on it through the way he keeps referencing her, and later, when the Doctor is dying and gives her a message to pass on to River, her response is "I think she knows". Made all the more poignant a few moments later when Melody discovers that she is — or at least, will become — River.
Ax-Crazy: Mels. She introduces herself by almost running over the Doctor in a stolen car before pulling a gun on him and demanding he take her to kill Hitler. This is followed by a montage of her wild and crazy childhood.
Badass Longcoat: The coat the Doctor wears in this episode is longer than his usual tweed one. It looks good on him. Perhaps he should try an even longer one. It worked great for Ten...
Batman Gambit: Rory pulls one on a Nazi Mook by doing a Nazi salute while shouting "Heil" and then catching him with a sucker punch when he salutes back. Subverted in that the Nazi is actually the Teselecta, who let them go and followed Melody instead.
An earlier one (which backfires) happens off-screen. The Doctor tells Mels that guns don't work inside the TARDIS. Unfortunately, Mels, being insane, decides to test this, resulting in a broken console.
Bait and Switch: When the future guys identify the TARDIS and begin talking about "the greatest war criminal in history", at first we think they mean the Doctor ("soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies" and all that). But then one says "It's her!"... Just goes to show that while the Doctor has uncountable enemies, there are more still who look up to him.
Black Best Friend: Mels. More painful due to the complete retconned nature of her existence. And subverted all to hell when we find out she's actually Melody.
Bloodless Carnage: Mels's bullet wound is never shown, although Rory makes a reference to trying to "stop the bleeding". Even more extreme later when she is riddled by rifle fire with no visual wounds.
Two of the TARDIS's previous designations — "TT capsule" and "Type 40" — show up when the Justice Department scans the TARDIS, and another one is given — it's a Mark 3.
In "The Time of Angels", we learn that River can fly the TARDIS because she "had lessons from the very best", and that the Doctor was busy that day. Who is a better teacher than the TARDIS itself?
The re-appearances of companions Rose, Martha and Donna as holograms, and the Doctor's response to them being "guilt" or "more guilt!".
When the Doctor is dying he says "Find River Song and tell her something for me". She replies "Well, I'm sure she knows". This closely resembles the exchange from The Satan Pit where The Doctor says "If you talk to Rose, tell her... Oh, she knows".
When Melody runs off to check out the new parts, she seems really excited about something in particular, to which she screams out "I'm going to wear lots of jodhpurs!"; her outfit of choice in The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang.
Drugged Lipstick: As per usual, River has some. Just, this time, it's not hallucinogenic but poisoned.
Dynamic Entry: The TARDIS crashes through the window into Hitler's office.
Elephant in the Living Room: This is the first Who episode to air after Torchwood: Miracle Day was broadcast, and it's essentially said that the Ponds have been waiting all summer for the Doctor to come back. You'd think Amy and Rory would mention something about the whole world becoming a fascist hell for about three months. Although it's possible that they arrived back on Earth just too late to get caught up in it.
Rory: Okay, I'm trapped inside a robot version of my wife... I'm really trying not to see this as a metaphor.
Genre Savvy: Rory knowing that he will be able to ride the motorcycle.
Amy: Can you even ride a motorcycle?
Rory: Probably? It's that sort of day...
Getting Crap Past the Radar: After Melody regenerates and invades the Doctor's personal space, he puts his hands over his crotch. Then Rory pats him awkwardly on the shoulder. Knowing Steven Moffat, there's no way this was not intentional.
River's ecstatic about her new body —- especially one particular feature. "I'm going to wear lots of jodhpurs!"
A God Am I: "I'd ask you who you think you are, but I think the answer is pretty obvious. So who do you think I am?"
The crew of the Teselecta is aware of this rule. They target war criminals throughout history, particularly those who were outright Karma Houdinis or committed suicide (like Hitler) before they could be brought to justice. They replace the original with a duplicate near the end of their time-line, and "give [the originals] hell". In Hitler's case, they mistakenly entered his life too early, and would've left him alone (for the time being) had the TARDIS not appeared when it did.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Amy saves River from the Teselecta by shorting out all the devices that make the Antibodies leave them alone, forcing them to teleport away when they can't shut the Antibodies down quickly enough.
I Know You Know I Know: Between the Doctor and Melody as the latter attempts to kill the former. The Doctor even says the trope's name.
Amy: I don’t understand. One moment she’s going to marry you and then she’s going to kill you.
The Doctor: She’s been brainwashed, so it all makes sense. Plus she’s a woman....Shut up, I'm dying!
Improperly Placed Firearms: The MP38/40 sub-machine guns featured in the episode were not in service until 1939 at the earliest. Strangely, they got Hitler's use of a non-standard Smith & Wesson revolver right despite the above.
Indy Ploy: The Doctor's dying, but it's fine, he's got a plan. ... Not dying.
It Works Better with Bullets: The Doctor anticipates being shot by Melody by disarming all the guns in Hitler's office. Or swapping them with bananas.
Karma Houdini: The crew of the Teselecta aims to prevent this, by travelling to the end of said person's time-line... and killing them painfully.
And they effectively become Karma Houdinis themselves, in that they are forced to teleport away before the Doctor has time to do to them what he usually does to people who try to justify torture
Lampshade Hanging: When Melody regenerates, she mentions she might adjust the age later on, this being an explanation for why Alex Kingston was at her youngest in the episode set chronologically last in her personal time-line, "Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead".
The Last Dance: The Doctor's been poisoned by Melody, and has only half an hour to live, so what does he do? He takes the time to put on a nice tux, fabricate a Sonic Cane and move the TARDIS to confront the Justice Department out to punish Melody for his murder.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Melody says she wants to take her ageing down gradually, to freak people out, which explains why she might appear younger in episodes where her character should be older.
Meaningful Name: The Teselecta is derived from the word tesselation, which in computer graphics is the subdivision of a 3D model into small polygons — which is exactly the way the Teselecta changes its appearance.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: An unusual instance. On the one hand, the Doctor's crashing of the TARDIS prevents history from being altered on a massive scale. On the other hand, he does so by saving Hitler's life.
The Nth Doctor: Mels, Amy and Rory's ex-con friend, actually regenerates into Alex Kingston. Averted in the Doctor's case. Melody gives her remaining regenerations to save him.
Non-Indicative Name: The episode's title implies the plot revolves around an attempt to kill Hitler. It doesn't, it was just something Mels suggested on a whim and got derailed by The Reveal 15 minutes in.
Psychopathic Womanchild: Melody gives off this impression even before name-dropping the trope, squealing over her new appearance like an overexcited teenager right before pulling out the guns. To her, it's all fun and games.
Melody: [after taking down five Nazi police] Thanks, boys! Call me! Amy: What are you doing?! Melody: New body, new rules... I'm going shopping!
Remember the New Guy: At first, it may seem odd that Amy and Rory suddenly have an old childhood best friend who has never been mentioned before. But since she's a time traveller this is completely justified.
Retcon: Mels's entire existence and back story with Amy/Rory is established in a lengthy... well, "Retconathon".
Rule of Cool: Why can the Teselecta imitate any piece of clothing, and even an entire motorbike, but has to take the glasses from the first Nazi officer it imitates? So we can have the dramatic moment mentioned above under Anticlimax.
Rule of Funny: Surprising for an episode that not only is an integral part of the season arc, but also prominently features Nazis. Yet the episode runs on it pretty well (locking Hitler in the cupboard, River jumping out of windows and hijacking motorcycles, miniaturisation ray, the TARDIS voice activated command system). Moffat said that he did part of it on purpose, saying that turning Hitler into a punchline was a way of showing his failure. Think of it like a real-life Riddikulus Spell.
Another in a long line of shout-outs to the short story "Continuity Errors", Steven Moffat's first piece of official Doctor Who fiction. This time it's River's archaeology professor at Luna University, who is named in the end credits as "Professor Candy". "Continuity Errors" opens at Luna University, where a Professor Candy is scheduled to give a lecture. (It's interesting to note, given the themes of this season, that the subject of the lecture was to have been that mysterious and dangerous legendary figure known only as the Doctor.)
Professor Candy is a known, if involuntary, time traveller; the Afterword of Decalog 2 reveals that the Doctor dumped him in 1996 to stop him giving his lecture.
Shown Their Work: Alex Kingston pronounces "Führer" correctly, making her something of a rarity in TV land.note Kingston's mother is a German immigrant, so she probably knows how it should be pronounced.
Shrink Ray: Lampshaded with Rory's explanation to Amy.
Melody/River, in her guise of Mels, hooks up Amy and Rory, thereby ensuring that they will eventually marry and conceive Melody... who they then (unwittingly) name after herself.
The Doctor: Mels. Short for... Mels: Melody. Amy: Yeah, I named my daughter after her. The Doctor: You named your daughter... after your daughter.
Melody found out from Amy that she was River Song —- and starts using that name as a result.
The Doctor says "spoilers" to Melody, as a kind of Ironic Echo from the many times River has said it. "Night and the Doctor" later confirms that River got the Catch Phrase from the Doctor.
The Doctor placing the (brand-new) TARDIS-cover notebook by River's bedside, which she uses as a diary to avoid "spoilers".
The Ponds make the crop circle to get the Doctor's attention. This technique of leaving dramatic messages in history is probably inspired by their previous interactions with River Song. But since Mels is River, this incident is probably what taught River that this technique can be used to contact the Doctor.
Stealth Pun: The Teselecta's "faint". When Rory points out "I think he just fainted," the Doctor looks visibly suspicious, and says, "Yes, that was a faint." Faint? Or feint?
Survival Mantra: "Fish fingers and custard", the words the TARDIS Emergency Visual Interface in the shape of Amelia Pond says to the Doctor, which he repeats over and over again to help him ignore the increasing pain caused by his poisoning.
Take That Kiss: Melody gives the Doctor one, but of course it turns out to be her poisoning him with her lipstick.
Thanatos Gambit: Melody uses her post-regeneration power rush so effectively that it is quite possibly part of her plan. It wouldn't have been hard to deliberately move so Hitler's shots would hit her, or even shoot herself during the confusion.
Time Police: The "Department of Justice" organisation behind the Teselecta appears to be a variation of this. They also seem to be rather inept, considering they went to all the trouble of breaking into Hitler's office, and only realised they were years too early in just enough time.
What Measure Is a Mook?: Amy is very quick to set the antibodies on the the Teselecta crew. We're not given details on what the antibodies do exactly, but it's implied they electrocute people. After all, when they put you through your officially sanctioned termination, they warn you that you will experience a tingling sensation and then death.
Xanatos Speed Chess: The Doctor's and River's duel as she keeps trying to kill him and he, anticipating her, disarming her, mostly in advance.