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Recap / Doctor Who S32 E13 "The Wedding of River Song"

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Today, the role of the Doctor will be played by Jesus Christ...

Dorium Maldovar: On the Fields of Trenzalore, on the Fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked. A question that must never ever be answered.
The Doctor: "Silence will fall when the question is asked."
Dorium Maldovar: "Silence must fall" would be a better translation. The Silence are determined that the question will never be answered. That the Doctor will never reach Trenzalore.

Original air date: October 1, 2011

The one where history looks like the mental image of a student cramming for their final exams.

Written by Steven Moffat. Has a prequel video. The series 6 finale.

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 person. They've now infiltrated the Silence this way. They gave him the information he needed.)

While talking, Churchill and the Doctor wander through 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 since she wouldn’t have recognized him. Could have visited all of Captain Jack Harkness' stag parties in one night. He then called up a nursing home, deciding he wanted to finally see the Brigadier. However, 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 incredibly sad. The Doctor couldn't even reply properly to the news and simply hung up. This made him realise 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 stops 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 eyepatch 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, the TARDIS, the 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 eyepatch, who has simply lived his life as a soldier, following orders. Amy just knows him as "Captain Williams" and pays him no attention beyond acknowledging his announcement that they've arrived at their base of operations, the Pyramid of Giza.

As they make their way inside, they come across several Silence submerged in tanks. The Doctor finds out that the eyepatches are actually external data storage, which enable people to remember the Silence 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.

River: 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 eyepatches 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 eyepatch 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, who he ordered to leave, manages to improvise an escape - by returning with More Dakka and owning the Silence, 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 galaxies 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, and none of these people can help. But she just wanted him to see how much so many across the Universe care about him. 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 bowtie 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 River's ear at their wedding wasn't his name. Amy insists it was, because he said it was. 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:

Dorium: It's all still waiting for you. The Fields of Trenzalore. The Fall of the Eleventh. And the question.
The Doctor: Goodbye, Dorium.
Dorium: The first question! The question that must never be answered! Hidden in plain sight! The question you've been running from all your life! Doctor Who. Doctor Who? Doc... tor... WHO!?


  • All of Time at Once: The Doctor attempts to escape his apparent death at the hands of the Silence. River, whom the Silence had programmed to kill the Doctor, refuses, and they end up in an alternative timeline where all of time is running simultaneously and beginning to disintegrate.
  • All for Nothing: River's act of refusing to kill the Doctor, causing a universe breaking paradox was completely unneeded; the Doctor had already found a way to survive his 'death' that didn't break time before he even arrived on the beach.
  • Amnesiac Lover: A two-way example, with both Rory and Amy having forgotten their past relationship, though Amy has a subconscious feeling about it. They get back together in the end, with very little prompting.
  • Anachronism Stew: An intentional version. All of time is happening at once, and so you have dinosaurs in a 21st century park and classical authors on modern television. The Holy Roman Emperor, Winston Churchill, even mentions music downloads.
  • And I Must Scream: The skulls in the Headless Monks' catacomb are still alive, despite having rotted. 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. Because he's rich, his head gets preserved, while the others are reduced to living skulls. 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.
    • Where as previously it was only a Running Gag, the final line of the episode also turns the show's name into an example of this. What is the First Question: Doctor who?
  • Area 51: Area 52 is kept in the pyramids.
  • Artistic Licence – Physics: Amy's train is going into Area 52 way too quickly to realistically avoid crashing out the other side. It must be spacey-wacey due to the Time Crash.
  • Back for the Finale:
  • Back To The Early Instalment: The episode explores the start of "The Impossible Astronaut" from the point of the Doctor who got shot and the Impossible Astronaut.
  • Badass Army: Amy 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:
    The Doctor: Imagine you were dying. Imagine you were afraid and long way from home and in terrible pain. And just when you thought it couldn't get worse, you look up and see the face of the devil himself.
    The Doctor: Hello, Dalek.
  • Badass Family: The Ponds, naturally, are made of warriors, and it's 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) in his stride.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • It's been known from River's first appearance that the Doctor would eventually tell her his real name. So first-time viewers will certainly have reason to believe that, when he says he whispered his name in River's ear, he actually did — except no, he's actually let her in on his escape plan.
    • The Doctor's speech, "imagine you were dying, in pain, afraid, and alone," sounds like he's talking about himself. Then it turns out he's speaking to a damaged Dalek.
  • Base on Wheels: Amy's office is in a 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 was brought to Area 52 to get a chance to finally kill him in-person.
  • Battle Trophy: The Doctor silences an entire Bad Guy Bar by plonking a Dalek's eyestalk on a table.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: When the Doctor and River start bickering about the current mess, Madame Kovarian bemoans the renewed flirting.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: As Madame Kovarian learns... you should never mess with Amy Pond.
    Amy: River Song didn't get it all from you, sweetie.
  • Big Bad: Madame Kovarian, who has appeared to be this until now, is portrayed as subservient to the Silents, who give her a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, so it appears they are the Big Bad.
  • Big Damn Hero: Rory's about to die again, and the Silent 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: Expected since it's a wedding. The Doctor even invokes this trope by making sure "it's a good one".
  • 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, who hadn't been seen in the new series, is revealed to have died peacefully in his sleep.
  • 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:
  • 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 Cavalry: 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 arrives with a platoon of heavily-armed soldiers and a smoke bomb.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Doctor's bowtie is finally useful. It serves a role in his marriage to River Song.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Teselecta is shown early as part of the Doctor's investigation. It later becomes his way out.
  • Colonel Badass: Rory has become one of Amy's top operatives, with a whole platoon of soldiers under his command.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Cool Train: In the alternate timeline, trains like this move all around London. Amy's train is a Base on Wheels that can go to Egypt very quickly.
  • Court Physician: One sign that the timeline has gone nuts is that Winston Churchill is Holy Roman Emperor and has a Silurian as his personal physician.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The Silence installed a Kill-Switch into the eye patch of their dragon so if their enemy ever found out its purpose and successfully replicated it, they could wipe out said enemy effortlessly.
  • 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.
  • Delayed Ripple Effect: The Time Crash starts off on Earth, and, according to the Doctor, will eventually spread throughout the universe until it all collapses.
  • 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.
    [lots of quiet scuttling noises]
    The Doctor: I hate rats.
    Gantok: There are no rats in the transcept.
    The Doctor: Oh, good.
    Gantok: The skulls eat them.
  • 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 has activated."
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Gantok 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 Gantok actually won the game — the Doctor conceded in exchange for his help.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: The Silence don't want the Doctor dead, they just don't want him to remain alive.
  • 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.
    • Also,
      The Doctor: I had to die. I didn't have to die alone.
    • And Madame Kovarian, in a Karmic Death (also see that trope).
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • The Teselecta crew are very eager to help the Doctor, considering that, the last time they met, his companions sabotaged the ship's intruder defence system, which is strongly implied to have led directly to the death of at least one crewmember. Then again, the Teselecta crew didn't exactly emerge from that episode unblemished, seeing how they nearly screwed up history big-time by attempting to kill both Hitler and River too early in their lives, so they probably want to make amends for that.
    • River Song, who threatens the entire universe by breaking a fixed point in time, essentially ends up getting what she wants — the Doctor living, and married to her.
  • Eldritch Location: The assassination is to take place at Lake Silencio because it's a "still point in time" — some property about it makes it easy to create fixed points.
  • 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. As Kovarian found out the hard and painful way.
  • 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.
    • Which explains a failure on Amy's part. If she can remember so much, why doesn't she recognise Captain Williams as Rory? Well, if her sketch of him is anything to go by, she's expecting someone who looks a lot more like their friend Jeff.
  • Faking the Dead: The "Doctor" shot by River was the Teselecta. (The Stetson, too.)
  • Flying Car: These are mixed with Zeppelins from Another World, because the crashed timeline has cars with balloons.
  • Foreshadowing: The dialogue given at the top of the page serves as a portent of Eleven's final hour; this episode reveals Madame Kovarian and the Silence were attempting to kill the Doctor in order to prevent the events of "The Time of the Doctor".
  • 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.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Kovarian's efforts to turn River into a psychopath obsessed with the Doctor nearly end up causing the apocalyptic events she was trying to prevent (or rather, a different set of apocalyptic events), after River refuses to kill the Doctor, thus catastrophically breaking the timeline, and she refuses to put things right until the Doctor reveals that he'd already set a life-saving plan in motion using the Teselecta.
  • "Hell, Yes!" Moment: When River tells Amy and Rory that the Doctor is still alive.
  • 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 Suicide: The Doctor doesn't just accept his death, he works darned hard to bring it about!
  • Heroic Willpower: Rory ignores his own eyepatch electrocuting him so he can buy time for Amy to escape. It fails him just as the Silence 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 in enemy territory.
  • 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.
  • 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. Cue thousand-yard-stare.
    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:
    • Another version of the one from "Night Terrors" plays during the prequel:
      Doctor, brave and good, he turned away from violence
      When he understood the falling of the Silence.
    • The actual episode added this verse:
      Tick tock goes the clock,
      He gave all he could give her.
      Tick tock goes the clock,
      Now prison waits for River.
  • Iron Lady: Amy might only be in her twenties, but she still gives off this vibe for most of the episode.
    The Doctor: Cool office, though. Why d'you have an office? Are you like a special agent boss lady or something?
  • It's All About Me:
    • Madame Kovarian does this when she begs Amy to save her, despite all she's done, because it's what the Doctor would do.
    • River falls into this, claiming that she's going to suffer more than any living thing in the universe. The Doctor isn't having it.
  • Karma Houdini: With most of the episode's events being subject to a Cosmic Retcon when River "kills" the Doctor, Kovarian ends up escaping any actual punishment for the heinous things she did throughout the season, and it's likely that from her perspective, her plan to kill the Doctor went off without a hitch. The Big Finish audios later retconned this by establishing that Kovarian did remember everything that happened in the episode (including the Silence turning on and killing her), and was eventually brought to justice by River.
  • Karmic Death: Kovarian left her soldiers to die on Demon's Run and let Colonel Manton be humiliated. Here, the Silence leave her for dead by electrocuting her eye-drive along with everyone else's. And then Amy reattaches the eye-drive just to make sure. Slow, painful, humiliating and all alone.
  • 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' 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. It's also "hidden in plain sight".
    • At the end of the episode when said question is asked, the Doctor looks right into the camera.
  • Life Will Kill You: The Brigadier, having survived all manner of alien invasions, dies peacefully from old age. This does nothing to lessen the impact it has on the Doctor.
  • 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: When asked point-blank if her suffering at killing the Doctor will outweigh the combined suffering of every other living thing in the Universe when all of time disintegrates, River simply replies, "Yes."
  • Mama Bear: Amy finally takes Madame Kovarian to task for stealing her daughter... and ensures that she dies in as hideously painful a fashion as possible.
    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.
  • Meaningful Echo: All 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. Turns out that it's justified — a still point in time where not much happens makes it easier to create a fixed point, apparently.
  • Mook Horror Show: For the Dalek in the beginning. It sees the Doctor, its culture's equivalent of the Devil, slowly approach it, taunt it, and then take it apart.
  • Moral Myopia: River, as seen by the Doctor's attempt at an Armour-Piercing Question. The Doctor is horrified and proceeds to call her out on it.
  • 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.
  • Newscaster Cameo:
    • American news personality 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." She did a news story on her cameo, too, as part of a larger piece The Today Show was doing about television in other countries.
    • Sian Williams and Bill Turnbull from BBC Breakfast.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: River refuses to kill the Doctor, leading to all of time happening at once and threatening all of reality.
  • Noodle Incident:
  • Nothing but Skulls: The Headless Monk tomb only has skulls in it. Justified, of course; the rest is still out there walking around, they just get rid of the useless part.
  • Obfuscating Disability: The Silence were captured captured. They were waiting for the Doctor.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Winston Churchill and the Doctor fighting the Silence. We never see it because they can't remember it.
    • Amy and her soldiers capturing many of the Silence — even if it was faked, it was probably still pretty cool.
  • 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 precise 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.
    • The revelation about the Silence contained at Area 52: "They're not captured."
    • Madame Kovarian when Amy refuses to show her mercy.
    • 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.
  • Once More, with Clarity: At the beginning of the episode, after the Doctor asks them to pass out the envelopes to his companions, the Teselecta ask him if there was anything else they could do to help, but the Doctor just sadly walks out the door. At the end of the episode, after it looks like the Doctor had been assassinated, it cuts back to that scene to show the Doctor had come back a second later, realizing there was something the Teselecta could do for him; namely, let him borrow one of their shapeshifting Mobile Suit Humans.
  • 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, and on a fixed point in time. The best part: They'll 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.
  • Plot-Based Voice Cancellation: The Doctor whispers in River's ear to convince her to go back to the normal timeline and kill him, preserving the fixed point. He says he told her his name, but it's revealed later that he told her to look into his eye, showing her that he's the shape-shifting robot and she can "kill" him without actually killing him.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Amy delivers a rather spectacular one.
    Amy: River Song didn't get it all from you, sweetie.
  • Protagonist-Centred Morality: River benefits from this. Her actions threaten the safety of the universe, and she claims that she'll suffer more than everyone else combined if she has to kill the Doctor. Normally, this act would be shown as one of horrendous selfishness, especially given that a.) her parents are included in the whole "everyone dies in agony" thing and b.) this also includes every single companion the Doctor has ever had (along with, again, every single person in existence). Aside from a quick What the Hell, Hero?, River gets what she wants — and what she's done is never brought up again.
  • 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.
  • Reality Bleed: All of history is occurring simultaneously, but time isn't moving.
  • Red Herring: Lots of people theorised that the Doctor at the beach was the Ganger 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: It's played for laughs when Amy first shows up and the Doctor fails to notice all the signs of this while babbling. It's 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, bowties aren't just cool.
  • Sequel Hook: Dorium leaves us with various phrases that will 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".
  • She Will Come for Me: The Silence taunt Rory that Amy will never remember who he is, and won't come back for him — and then she does, with an assault rifle.
  • Shipper on Deck: The Doctor, as always, in his rather lame attempts to get Amy and Rory to notice each other in the alternative timeline.
    The Doctor: She wants to meet you for texting and scones.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy:
    The Doctor: Time is dying. It's going to be 5:02 in the afternoon for all of eternity. A needle stuck on a record...
    Churchill: A record? Good Lord man, have you never heard of downloads?
    The 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 Gantok 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 her fitting 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: Due to the Time Crash, every clock in every time zone stopped at 5:02 pm Mountain Daylight Time 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. 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. Silent. She came back, alright, and with a machine gun.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Amy feels guilty about killing Madame Kovarian in cold blood, to which River reassures her it was technically in another timeline so she didn't really kill her. Amy dismisses that rationale.
  • Time Crash: This is why the Doctor doesn't (usually) try to change fixed points in time. It's 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 5:02 pm MDT on 22 April 2011, the exact time of the Doctor's apparent death, but no one is frozen. It's weird.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Time has collapsed into the exact time of the Doctor's apparent death, which means time has stopped but also not stopped at the same time. 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 timeline are coming from outside of it, where time is apparently still working normally. Good luck figuring out the mechanics of that...
  • 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 were the same person.
  • Tricked Out Time: 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. 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.
  • True Companions:
    • The Doctor tells Winston Churchill that the Last Centurion and the Girl Who Waited will always be around for him, no matter how dark things get.
    • There's the Brigadier, whom he calls only to find out he died peacefully and who had a habit of an extra wine glass. This is what makes him decide to face his death with dignity.
  • 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 will fight a fixed point in time for the Doctor.
  • 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 puts the eyepatch back on her, leaving Kovarian 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.
    Rory: Okay.
    Amy: And married.
    Rory: Fine.
  • Wedding Episode: "The Wedding of River Song". Technically a hand-fasting day, but it still has a parent's give-away-the-bride thing and a kiss.
  • Wham Line:
    • On learning the Brigadier peacefully passed away in his sleep, the Doctor is rendered temporarily speechless.
    • The final line of the episode. Here's why:
      Dorium: It's all still waiting for you. The fields of Trenzalor, the fall of the eleventh, and the question.
      Doctor: Goodbye, Dorium. (walks away)
      Dorium: The first question. The question that must never be answered. Hidden in plain sight! The question you've been running from all your life?! Doctor who? Doctor who?! Doctor WHO?!
  • What Have I Become?: After time is fixed, and the Doctor is seemingly dead, Amy still can’t seem to live with herself for how she ended Madame Kovarian's life; even though it technically didn’t happen, she still remembers it.
  • 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.
  • With Friends Like These...:
    • The Doctor and the Brigadier.
      The Doctor: Get him and tell him it's 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 didnote . Similarly, while Nicholas Courtney appeared on The Sarah Jane Adventures, he never appeared in the Doctor Who revival.
  • You Are Not Alone: A brief moment where River tells the Doctor that she and Amy rigged a distress beacon to broadcast a signal saying "The Doctor is dying, please help" 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. Bonus points for this essentially being the opposite of the previous series finale, "The Pandorica Opens", in which all the Doctor's enemies came.
    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 just ask? You’ve decided that the universe is better off without you. But the universe doesn’t agree."
  • 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, they activate her eyepatch as well, much to her 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 versus the Silence. The device that lets him remember them is booby trapped and causing him agonizing pain, but he keeps it on so he can remember them and cover the escape of Amy, the Doctor and River once the Silence break in. Unfortunately, it gets too bad for even him once the juice gets cranked up. The Silence still don't get to pass, because Amy, who was told to run, comes back with a machine gun.

River: Then you may kiss the bride.
The Doctor: I'll make it a good one.
River: You'd better.