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Headscratchers / Doctor Who 2015 CS "The Husbands of River Song"

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    Digging up the ship 
  • River gives the impression of never having gone to Darillium before, nor seen the Singing Towers. This seems odd given that she claims to have "dug up" the star ship Harmony & Redemption, which crash-lands on Darillium right in front of the towers.
    • She later states she got the info from a book, so she might have just been screwing with the guy.
    • Digging up the ship and reading about it are not mutually exclusive: archaeologists do lots of preparatory research before beginning an excavation.
    • It might have crashed on a different planet before the Doctor and River interfered.
    • She actually says she dug up his grave, which may not be on Darillium, since they were pulling bodies out of the wreckage.
    • River also recognized the planet when the ship was approaching it. Possibly she'd been there, but so far in the future that the Singing Towers were no longer standing, eroded away by the wind.

    Night cycle 
  • After the crash of the Harmony & Redemption, the Doctor opens the door to the Tardis and it is night out. He goes forward a few hours in time (the wreck of the ship is still smoking), and it appears to be daylight. That would be perfectly reasonable if night on Darillium were of a conventional length, but we later find out that it lasts for twenty-four years!
    • Its always darkest before the dawn; maybe it was the tail-end of night.
    • The horizon is already blue, so it's probably sunrise. The wreckage may also have kept smoldering a lot longer than any Earthly vehicular crash would: who knows how intense the fire of a demolished spaceship engine might burn, or how long the exotic alien materials it was made of would stay hot?
    • Perhaps it was an artificial night created by the smoke.
    • Night time does not mean total darkness. Just ask anyone on earth who lives near to or north of the Arctic Circle where during some parts of the year it's totally dark out even during the middle of the day, and the sun shines bright at midnight at other parts of the year. That sunrise we see on Darillium might well last for 24 years.

    The name of the Doctor 
  • The Doctor still hasn't told River his real name. How does she know it by the time of Forest of the Dead?
    • He was supposed to tell her during their wedding. He used that opportunity to inform her of the fact that he was piloting the Tesselecta, but presumably he told her for real later.
    • Maybe he tells her at some point during the 24 years they spend together on Darillium.
    • Or maybe they had another wedding on Darillium. River's repeated claims that she'd "married the diamond" gave the Doctor grounds to argue that she'd really married the Teselecta before, so they ought to do it properly this time.

    Discrepancy between this episode and "Silence in the Library" / "Forest of the Dead" 
  • In this episode, after they land on Darillium, River knows that the next time she meets the Doctor (in her own chronology) will be when she "dies". However, when they see each other again in "Silence in the Library" / "Forest of the Dead", River doesn't know this is their (seemingly) final meeting: she only figures it out moments before her "death". So what happened between these two stories that made her forget this rather important fact?
    • Nothing in this episode suggests to River that the next time she meets the Doctor will be her death. All she knows is that there are rumors that Darillium is their last night of being chronologically in sync together. What she finally realizes in "Forest of the Dead" is that his first meeting with her was her death, and so he knew all along how she would die (but never told her).
    • Even if River doesn't know she will die, she's definitely aware that the next time she meets the Doctor will be the last time for her. (That's why she's so happy when the Doctor tells her how long a night on Darillium lasts.) But when she sees him again in "Silence in the Library", she doesn't seem to be aware of this at all, she just regards it as another one of their random, non-chronological meetings. It's only at the end of "Forest of the Dead" that she realizes this is their last time together (from her point of view). So her behaviour in those episodes still doesn't jibe with what happens in this one.
    • Perhaps there was actually another meeting between Darillium and the Library - not a formal "date" or anything, maybe they just ran into each other. Didn't River word it as "their last 'date'"? When no meteors fell out of the sky to kill her after this (admittedly hypothetical) meeting, she began to get optimistic; "How the heck should 'anyone' know when the Doctor and I meet for the last time? It's a complicated relationship, after all. Darn legends, always getting us worked up over nothing." There might have even been a handful of these meetings, which River wouldn't have considered "dates". So when she gets to the Library, she's put the idea - that the next time she and the Doctor meet will be her death - behind her. Only to be surprised later.
    • No, that can't be the explanation. In "Forest of the Dead", River explicitly tells the Doctor that they last met at the Singing Towers of Darillium. She doesn't say anything about a date, she says it was "the last time I saw you". You can watch the scene here.
    • River said it was the last time she saw the real him, as in the one who knew her. There are audios of her meeting the eighth Doctor set after this episode. She just means it is the last time she was with the future Doctor who knew who she was. For all she knows there are dozens of other adventures for her to have, the Doctor just won't get to see her again in his future.
    • For all River knew, their "last meeting" might've been fated to end with the two of them getting into a huge argument and both storming off swearing never to speak to one another again. Certainly she's never seemed to consider herself or the Doctor to be less than indestructible, so a conventional parting-of-the-ways between two such vitriolic people would probably strike her as more credible than either of them dying. When 24 years passed without a nasty blowup, she dared to hope that their mutual history might have changed.
    • Given that River's entire character arc has centred around her knowing and protecting "spoilers", it is not unreasonable to think that she might not have learned of her death at some point, and perhaps even that it occurred soon after she and the Doctor went to Darillium. She just didn't know which Doctor and presumably doesn't know how she dies. One potential piece of evidence in support is her familiarity with the TARDIS - she may have learned through it.

     Is River really that stupid? 
  • While watching River comically miss the point was entertaining beyond words, there were instances where it didn't seem realistic; the Doctor was dropping such a ridiculous amount of hints- literally saying he was the Doctor- that the only conclusions I could draw, contradictory to her previously established character, were that she was either (a) really stupid, (b) really bad at reading people, or (c) willfully ignorant. Because honestly, "River! Good to see you again! Oh, it's complicated, we'd need a flow chart..." should have been enough to clue her in. Beyond that, she found the ''TARDIS'', and a guy acting really friendly towards her who said he was a ''physician''. Any other explanation you can think of that save her from looking like a total nincompoop?
    • I think it mostly comes down to the fact that she knows exactly what the Doctor's first 12 faces looked like and none of them are Peter Capaldi. This episode is an opportunity for the Doctor (and the audience) to see how River acts when he's not around to rein her in so to speak. In which case we can get the impression that crazy stuff like this is always happening to her and the Doctor is just another face for her that's a pretty minor blip in her radar that she doesn't have any interest in analyzing all that much. To put it in another perspective, the Doctor would really theorize that a random women he met is actually a River Song regeneration if she mentioned she's a singer or lives by a river a few times (ignoring of course the fact that River Song has no more regenerations left).
    • River might also be aware Eleven was, technically, the Doctor's final incarnation. Assuming she was aware of all past Doctors (not a long stretch, considering her history), Twelve's very existence would indeed be quite a bit of a surprise.
    • Presumably at some point 11 told her he was on his last regeneration. He knew long before the events of Time of the Doctor that it would be his last stand, and that he would die and be buried there. He likely told her this at some point and she accepted it as fact, "knowing" that he'd never regenerate again. She clearly hasn't talked to him since the events of Time of the Doctor and didn't know that the Time Lords intervened and changed the Doctor's future. If she knew for a fact that he would only ever have 12 faces and hadn't been told otherwise, she would work from that assumption. It would be like meeting someone online and later finding out that they're really a person you already knew but had been told they died. Even if they were very similar in personality to your loved one, you likely wouldn't assume it was them if you were convinced they were dead. It's also worth noting that River does a fair bit of time travelling on her own. She likely has a few relationships with people that would require a flowchart to explain, and at this point she probably just assumes he's someone she hasn't met yet but has met her.
    • As for the fact that Twelve openly admitted to being a doctor, that's only a clue for River if you ignore the fact that she'd hired a real physician to play a part in her diamond-theft scam, and was fully expecting Nardole to bring that accomplice to her. She justifiably wasn't expecting Nardole to show up with the wrong guy.

    Trenzalore, River, and the last date 

  • Why did Eleven go to Trenzalore, knowing he was destined to die there, without keeping his date with River — which would have caused a potentially Reality-Breaking Paradox if he had died? Or did he already know he WASN'T going to die? Back in Eleven's tenure, the short "Last Night" suggested he had his final meeting with River on Darillium, but this episode reveals that he managed to get out of that date. But why didn't he at least take care of that before he went to Trenzalore in "The Time of the Doctor"? That episode establishes that once he got there, he was unable to leave — and he didn't have any more regenerations, and knew that it was the place where he was to die. If that were to happen, a Reality-Breaking Paradox would be created as he would never have fulfilled the meeting that River reoounted to Ten. BUT. The Twelfth Doctor helped save Gallifrey, and that could not have happened had the Time Lords not given him another cycle of lives, which could not have happened had Gallifrey not been saved. Indeed, Eleven's entire story arc could never have happened without Twelve's existence, as the whole business with the cracks in time and the Silence turned out to stem from saving Gallifrey. Did Eleven realize he was destined to live again and Trenzalore wasn't going to be his grave after all, and thus in turn realized he didn't have to worry about River Song, and just played dumb in "The Time of the Doctor" so the pieces could fall into place for him to become Twelve?
    • Perhaps he intended to make his date with River a part of his "farewell tour", but before he could get to it, he came up with his robot-duplicate gambit.
    • Possibly he asked Tasha to hire the Teselecta's services after he was dead, and send it out on a farewell date with River in his absence.
    • Part of Matt Smith's Doctor focuses on his reluctance to actually accept his death. It's perfectly within his character to organise the date and then back out of it, hoping that this unfinished business means he will be destined to survive. Time can be rewritten though so it's not a certainty that he can depend on (of course, obviously, the real reason is that they wanted River Song to meet the 12th Doctor and changed their minds about it).
    • Whatever the reason for Eleven skipping their date, it can't be Twelve's presence in Day of the Doctor: Eleven wouldn't have remembered him having played a role in saving Gallifrey, because the Doctor never remembers encounters with his future selves. Clara didn't accompany Eleven to the battle, so never knew about Twelve and couldn't tell his previous self about the attack-eyebrows' cameo. The only other people who knew that Twelve had been there (aside from the viewers) were the War Council members, who'd been locked away into a single moment.
    • Alternately, Eleven didn't consider it at all. Consider: it's not until this episode that the Doctor realizes how badly he's been treating River this whole time, despite River specifically calling him out for never visiting in The Name of the Doctor. He doesn't think how awful it is that she's fully aware they'll drift apart. He has to have the significance of the diary's length pointed out to him, and he's the one who gave it to her. From his perspective, every time they meet it's Hepburn and Tracy, but she's the one left with the fallout of not knowing when they'll meet again.
    • The Doctor never did go to his anticipated death on Trenzalore by choice. He went to Trenzalore well after his predicted death in "The Name of the Doctor", because it's his grave that he went to see: he'd had no reason to expect that going there after his grave was already in place would kill him, only that it would lock down the circumstances of his eventual demise at some point in his own personal future. The other time he went to Trenzalore, in "The Time of the Doctor", he had no clue that's what the planet was called until it was already under siege and he couldn't leave: he'd come to Christmas blind to find the source of a mysterious transmission, same as all the other investigating vessels. Then he didn't get the TARDIS back for so long that he'd started to forget things, most likely including River's reminiscence about their last night.

     The paradox of Trenzalore and Darillium 
  • Related to the above Headscratcher, but dealing with a slightly different issue. In "The Name of the Doctor", a post-Library data-ghost River shows up in Trenzalore, in the future timeline where Eleven died on Trenzalore. Now, based on this episode, the entire plot of "Name" becomes inherently paradoxical. How? Its simple. River only exists as a data-ghost because Twelve gave her his sonic. But the Trenzalore that River's data-ghost shows up in is one that precludes the existence of Twelve since its in the future of a timeline where Eleven died without receiving any new regenerations. Now there are possible explanations for this - maybe the "Name" future-Trenzalore was only a bit of a 'diversion' from the natural timeline and and Eleven was always destined to become Twelve and give River his sonic. Or maybe River as a data-ghost can straddle multiple timelines, including ones where her existence as the data-ghost is impossible. In any case, it is somewhat jarring if one really thinks about River's appearance here in the larger context of Moffat's run.
    • "...maybe the "Name" future-Trenzalore was only a bit of a 'diversion' from the natural timeline..." This is how I've always interpreted it. The key here is that when they go to Trenzalore the first time, Clara jumps into the Doctor's time stream. Ergo, the Trenzalore they visited was part of a time line where Clara had not yet jumped into the timeline, and therefore had not yet convinced the Time Lords to give the Doctor a new set of regenerations, etc. Essentially, a possible future, averted by their actions within it. It helps that Doctor Who Time Travel has very few set rules.
    • Or maybe the graveyard is a part of the Doctor's future, just a much, much, much more distant future than was implied in "Name". No reason to assume the Curator, when he runs out of regenerations or simply doesn't feel any need or desire to use them anymore, won't pilot a dying TARDIS to the site of his long-ago sojourn on Trenzalore, park the old girl in the cemetery where Christmas once stood, fondly etch River's name into one of the tombstones, then shuffle back into his blue box and quietly pass away, secure in the knowledge that he's protected the universe from paradox one last time.

     Why didn't River notice the TARDIS had changed? 
  • River Song enters the Doctor's TARDIS as if she owns the place and even finds a cubbyhole with alcohol the Doctor himself is unaware of. Yet she makes no remarks about the interior being changed even though the Eleventh Doctor changed the interior of the TARDIS after his last on-screen meeting with the (living) River, and the Twelfth Doctor went on to change it even further - including a new lighting scheme - after he regenerated and again prior to Series 9. Even taking into account the possibility that Eleven and River met after "The Snowmen", she's not supposed to know anything about Twelve at this point.
    • Dialogue of River's in this episode suggests that she has taken the TARDIS multiple times, so it's not unreasonable to assume that she took it from previous Doctors, who would have had different set ups. She also knows that he does sometimes redecorate just because.
    • For all we know, River could have stolen Twelve's TARDIS as well previously, without knowing who's it was. Apparently, she had some way of tracking the Doctor through time (presumably by means of TARDIS sightings) but didn't know which incarnation it would be - always assuming it would be one of the first twelve (or rather, One-Eleven plus War). So she could have stolen Twelve's TARDIS before and gotten used to this new interior, only she assumed it was the TARDIS of some other Doctor among the first twelve). Hell, she might have even stolen the TARDIS of Thirteen or Fourteen or any other potential future Doctor.


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