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Recap / Doctor Who S32 E7 "A Good Man Goes to War"

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"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

Original air date: June 4, 2011

The One With… a ton of new characters as the plot demands.

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 Bucket (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 Amy's daughter's name in Lorna's native language, as a religious good luck charm for Amy.

The Eleventh Doctor and Rory (dressed magnificently in his Last Centurion gear) prepare to raise an army. On his quest, Rory infiltrates and 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 sadly tells Rory that she can't come with him, not until the end.

The Doctor gathers friends with old debts in his TARDIS: a Silurian woman named Vastra from Victorian London, her human girlfriend, a martial Sontaran nurse whose clone batch met the Doctor once in his previous incarnation, Captain Avery and Toby, the Judoon of the Shadow Proclamation, Churchill's Dalek-modified space Spitfires, 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, but warms a little at the gesture, and at learning they both first met the Doctor as little girls and dreamed of seeing him again.

The Headless Monks, a religious faction, are seemingly allied with the army at Demons Run, 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 William Hartnell. 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 she'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 very much 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 he was restored and 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; somehow, we have a genuine Human-Time Lord hybrid. And now this baby will be raised as a weapon against him.

The Doctor: Why would a Time Lord be a weapon?
Vastra: They've seen you.

Lorna approaches the Doctor's allies to warn them, she overheard the whole thing is a trap. As Amy takes the baby and hides while the Doctor's makeshift army defend them against the headless monks of Demons Run, who hadn't shown up on scans for lifeforms, the Doctor has a conversation with Madam Kovarian over a viewscreen, which she concludes by boasting about fooling him twice the same way. The Doctor rushes to reach Amy and break the news to her first, but Kovarian has already cut the connection between the baby and the ganger baby Amy is cradling, causing her to explode into goo.

Strax and Lorna lie mortally wounded. The Doctor rushes to Lorna's side and tells her to be brave. Of course he remembers her. They ran, years ago. She dies in his arms. He quietly asks Madame Vastra who she was, she does not know either, but says that Lorna was very brave.

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: namely, that Kovarian was one step ahead of everybody, and her real baby is far, far away by now.

And then, after all the action is over and the child lost, 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 for good 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 if she doesn't explain now. 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 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.
  • 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 language for a pond, only for a river. Melody Pond becomes River Song.
  • Armour-Piercing Response:
    • The Doctor gets a few:
      The Doctor: Why would a Time Lord be a weapon?
      Vastra: They've seen you.
    • And:
      The Doctor: [A war] against who?
      Kovarian: Against you, Doctor.
  • Army of The Ages: Let's 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 the Doctor, who is a One-Man Army by himself, all there just to take back Amy's baby! The Doctor really outdid himself there!
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • When Dorium realizes that he's one of the Doctor's draftees.
      Dorium: You don't need me! Why would you need me?! I'm old! I'm fat! I'm blue!
    • 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
    • Rory and River discussing the Doctor's M.O.
      River: Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee...
      Rory: [indicating Centurion outfit] Look ridiculous!
  • The Atoner:
    • It's implied that Madame Vastra was murdering workers on the London Underground to avenge her sisters 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 for dishonouring his clone batch.
  • Avengers Assemble: We only see a handful of the people the Doctor calls in his marker for, and all of them were doing some awesome when the call came in. Strax doing field medicine, Vastra had just come back from killing Jack the Ripper, and Dorium Maldovar was mouthing off to the Big Bad.
  • 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 bowtie, "No, it's cool."
  • 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 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: The "good man" mentioned in the title is not the Doctor, but rather Rory Williams. A legion of Cybermen can't stop him from marching into their control room and interrogating them.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Madame Kovarian gets away with the real baby, having successfully Out-Gambitted 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.
    • This is accompanied by shots of the infiltrator aboard a Cyberman ship, who is seen using the sonic screwdriver — and, yes, it's actually Rory - The Doctor let him borrow it.
    • When Amy asks the Doctor to tell them what's going on in his head regarding 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.note 
    • In Strax's introduction, a human officer is shouting for a nurse, then says they need to evacuate as "those things" could be here any second. Sure enough a Sontaran warrior enters...and announces that he's the nurse.
  • Battle Couple: Vastra and Jenny are a couple, and they fight serial killers together.
  • 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: "Demons run when a good man goes to war." You can expect a lot of dangerous nice people in this episode. 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?! (pause) 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 as the TARDIS zooms past the window]
    Rory: Would you like me to repeat the question?
  • Big Bad: Madame Kovarian.
  • 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 yells one when all hell breaks loose between the clerics and the monks.
  • Birds of a Feather: Lorna, like Amy, met the Doctor when she was a little girl, and it seems like he was just as big of an influence on Lorna as he was on Amy. Case in point, Lorna is the only cleric seen trying to be nice to Amy, though she understandably has no niceties to share with one of her abductors.
  • Body Horror:
    • The Headless Monks are not just "headless", they have little twisted neck stumps!
    • A bit more with Gangers; this time having a baby explode into goo.
  • Brain Bleach: Strax boasting that he can "produce magnificent quantities of lactic fluid".
  • Break the Cutie: Amy has to deal with this while she's alone on Demons Run, mostly involving her baby. At the end, she is thoroughly broken by the revelation that her baby was 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 by kidnapping a Companion. He even uses a very similar analogy — pricking a beast and not having the sense to run away.
  • Bury Your Gays: This episode has two opposing cases. The Fat One lasts just long enough to state he's in a gay marriage with the Thin One, and then walks off to get a little off the top. The other gay couple introduced in this episode, Vastra and Jenny, went on to be beloved recurring characters, it's likely because they were set up to be this that they survived.
  • Call-Back:
    • The hooded men with the electric swords are the Headless Monks. Their future final resting place is the Delirium Archive, where River once left a message for the Doctor.
    • Several characters and groups from previous episodes make a return to help the Doctor.
    • The Doctor suspects that Amy was replaced by a Ganger sometime before they were in America.
    • A blink-and-you'll-miss callback, when Rory and Amy show baby Melody to the Doctor, he points at Melody and laughs nervously. Previously, when meeting the adult River Song for the first time, he quipped, "I'm a time-traveler. I point and laugh at archeologists."
  • Canon Discontinuity: Madame Vastra claims to have eaten Jack the Ripper. In the novel Matrix, Jack the Ripper turned out to be the Valeyard, and in the comic Ripper's Curse, he 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. Whose to say that they all didn't happen?
    • Although considering how many men were accused of being Jack the Ripper, she may have merely eaten one of the many suspects, or even a copycat. Alternately, given the show's incredibly casual attitude to what constitutes canon and the fact the BBC's publicly funded status means they're literally not allowed to overtly acknowledge tie-in fiction in the show, it's possible that all three are true in different continuities.
  • Cardboard Prison: River can just waltz in and out of Stormcage prison whenever she pleases. She even has the gall to use the phone to announce that she's breaking in and also order room service, as if the place were a hotel.
  • 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:
    • Sontarans, sort of; as a cloned race of Proud Warrior Race Guys, they skip past anything we would recognize as childhood, both physically and mentally.
      Strax: It's all right. I've had a good life. I'm nearly twelve.
    • Melody will be trained as an assassin to kill the Doctor.
  • 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.
    • Then there's the other nurse, who also happens to be the Last Centurion...
  • The Cameo: Mark Gatiss reprises his uncredited cameo from "Victory of the Daleks".
  • Comically Missing the Point: Madam Vastra, or perhaps intentionally giving a different answer:
    Madam Vastra: Send a telegram to Inspector Abberline of the yard. Jack the Ripper has claimed his last victim.
    Jenny Flint: How did you find him?
    Madam Vastra: Stringy...but tasty all the same. I shan't be needing dinner.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Cool Plane: Danny Boy and his space Spitfires make their return after the Doctor explains to Colonel Manton that all he needs to do to keep the rest of the fleet uninvolved is take out the comm array.
    The Doctor: And you've got incoming!
    Danny Boy: [radio static burst] Danny Boy to the Doctor! Danny Boy to the Doctor!
    The Doctor: Give 'em Hell, Danny Boy!
  • Cool Sword:
  • The Cracker: This is why the Doctor recruits Dorium Maldovar. As a Non-Action Guy, his part of the mission is to hack into Madame Kovarian's computers and learn as much as possible about Amy's baby. As such, Dorium is the one who determines that little Melody has both Time Lord and human DNA. It helps that, in a prequel to another episode, Dorium himself gave the Headless Monks some security software, so he likely knows how to break into it.
  • Cruel Mercy: The Doctor's planned fate for Colonel Manton doesn't involve any physical harm of any kind. He will live in perfect health long enough to be humiliated as Colonel Run-Away.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Part of the backstory; Madame Vastra and Commander Strax are two old foes of the Doctor's, turned into allies.
  • The Determinator: Rory is in full Roman mode here. Heaven help whoever is between him and Amy this time. The Cybermen sealed three levels ahead of him and Rory passed through before the order was finished.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu:
    • The Doctor is considered a Memetic Badass demigod in-universe. See Dorium's quote above, and his many Badass Boasts.
      Madame Kovarian: What have you heard?
      Dorium: That you pricked the side of a mighty beast, Madame Kovarian, and entirely failed to run.
    • The Cyber-Legion immediately pull their weapons on Rory, the legendary and mysterious Last Centurion, 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 from the Doctor's actions.
      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 applies to Rory.
  • Dramatic Thunder: At the Stormcage during River's Refused the Call scene. It happens again during her Big Entrance at the end.
  • The Dreaded: The Doctor. Unfortunately the Evil Plan is a Godzilla Threshold response to this apparently unstoppable enemy.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The Doctor sneaks into Demons Run disguised as a Headless Monk.
  • Dual Wielding: Vastra has two swords.
  • Dying as Yourself: Subverted with Strax. As he's dying, Rory tries to rally his spirits, reminding him he's a warrior. Strax can only say with self-contempt, "I'm a nurse."
  • Elite Mooks: Word of God is that the Headless Monks are the Church Militant's special forces. They're possibly Elite Zombies as well, since the detectors don't register them as alive.
  • 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...
    Madame Vastra: [talking about Melody] Which leads me to ask — when did it happen?
    The Doctor: When?
    Madame Vastra: [scoffs] I am trying to be delicate. I know how you can blush.
    [Dorium chuckles]
    Madame Vastra: ... When did this baby... begin?
    The Doctor: [realisation finally dawns] ... Oh, you mean...
    Madame Vastra: Quite.
  • Epiphora: The poem used in the episode and its promotional material:
    Night will fall and drown the sun, when a good man goes to war.
    Friendship dies and true love lies, night will fall and the dark will rise... when a good man goes to war.
  • Eternal English: Averted. Among the people of the Gamma Forest, the word "Doctor" has gone from meaning "Healer" to "Mighty Warrior" thanks to the badassery of the Time Lord himself.
  • Even Evil Has Standards : Give Colonel Manton his due. When it looks like the Headless Monks are about to start carving up his troops, he's clearly horrified.
  • 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. They spend far too much time running around fighting monsters for... that sort of thing. And besides that, it's hard to keep track of it all with so many reality resets and things that never really happened, or un-happened. Technically speaking, the first time they were actually in the TARDIS together was on their w—
    Madame Vastra: On their what?
    The Doctor: ...On their wedding night.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Madame Kovarian, the cunning Big Bad, wears a silver eyepatch. It's not revealed until a later episode why.
  • 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.note 
  • False Dichotomy: Melody Williams is a geography teacher. Melody Pond is a superhero.
  • Fantastic Racism: From the Doctor of all people; he's being very Tranquil Fury at that moment and his levity is hiding the fact that he is very unhappy.
    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.
    The Doctor: No, Colonel Manton, I want you to tell your men to run away.
    Manton: You what?
    The Doctor: Those words. Run away. I want you to be famous for those exact words. I want people to call you Colonel Run-Away. I want children laughing outside your door, 'cos they've found the house of Colonel Run-Away. And when people come to you and ask you if trying to get to me through THE PEOPLE I LOVE is in any way a good idea... I want you to tell them your name.
    • Note that the Doctor doesn't take a breath until he's finished shouting. It makes him all the more scary.
  • The Fettered:
    • Rory has been suppressing the Centurion's memories for his sanity. Amy is missing and they come to the fore.
    • The Doctor, as usual.
      The Doctor: Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Right before River shows the Doctor who she is, she mentions "Oh look, your cot! Haven't seen that for quite a long while." The last time she saw it was of course the day she was born.
  • Foil: Rory was a nurse who became a warrior, and Strax was a warrior who became a nurse.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Meta-example. From the BBC website:
      River Song: Demons run when a good man goes to war. Night will fall and drown the sun, when a good man goes to war. Friendship dies and true love lies, night will fall and the dark will rise... when a good man goes to war.
    • The poem has two more lines in the episode.
      Demons run but count the cost. The battle's won but the child is lost.
    • When Rory asks River for help, she explains to him that it's her birthday. Considering that Melody has just been born, could this be setting up the reveal of who River is?
    • "The only water in the forest is the river." The TARDIS said this as her body was dying.
    • "'Melody Williams' is a geography teacher, 'Melody Pond' is a superhero." Yes, actually, she is.
    • The heroes celebrate a bloodless victory partway through the episode, but overlook that the gay soldiers have both died. The heroes are wrong about their victory, too.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
  • Friend in the Black Market: Dorium operates a market for fresh Time Agent vortex manipulators (so fresh they're still on the arm), and in this episode he's had dealings with the Headless Monks.
  • Genre Savvy: Dorium knows that if the Doctor is calling in his debts then he is preparing for something big, since the Doctor never looks back or seeks reward for his heroism.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid:
    • The Doctor raises an army to help him.
      Dorium: There are people all over this galaxy that owe that man a debt. By now, a few of them will have found a blue box on their doorstep.
    • After he says that, Dorium walks into the back room and, of course, finds the Doctor on his doorstep.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • The Fat Gay Marine being asked for a "donation" of his head, jump cuts to his husband sliding down an inspection hatch like a guillotine.
    • Dorium gets a Sound Only Beheading.
  • Have We Met Yet?:
    • Rory, given that he works with a time travelling alien, has the foresight to ask this of River in the beginning.
    • Also played with: the Doctor consoles the dying Lorna Bucket by reminding her of the fun they had on their adventures together, but after she dies, he has to ask who she is. Its left deliberately ambiguous if he hasn't actually met her yet, or if he has and simply forgot.
  • He's Back!: Rory the Roman, all pimped out in battle gear and seriously ticked off.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • When Madame Vastra tells the Doctor that the child can be a weapon because it's modelled after him.
    • 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.
  • Hitler Cam: Several, given the prevalence of balconies and grand speeches. One for Colonel Manton and, oddly, one for Madame Vastra.
  • Hope Spot: As Madame Kovarian is slipping off Demon's Run, she states that the Doctor has been Lured into a Trap, only for Rory to capture her. But it turns out the trap is still in place; her getting captured was just a small inconvenience.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Vastra 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 tries 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 after they start chanting their war hymn, and after Rory points out they know he betrayed them, was an unusual slip for him.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: The series has a longstanding policy that the Doctor never is shown uttering the words "I love you" to anyone on screen. Although it remains the case here, there is a one-of-its-kind zigzagging as the Doctor for the first (and, as of 2016, only) time invokes the L-word when discussing his companions note :
    The Doctor: When people come to you, and ask if trying to get to me through the people I love... is in any way a good idea, I want you to tell them your name. Oh, look, I'm angry. That's new.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Vastra is introduced informing Jenny that she's just killed and eaten Jack the Ripper.
  • Interspecies Romance: Madame Vastra the Silurian and Jenny the human. They fight crime in Victorian Britain. Need any more be said?
  • In the Hood: Vastra, before her Dramatic Unmask, and the Headless Monks, leading to the inevitable Dramatic Unmask of the Doctor.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: At one point, Lorna asks why the Doctor is called that if he's not a warrior. This makes a lot more sense when River reveals that, because of him, "Doctor" means "Mighty Warrior" in some cultures.
  • Kid from the Future: River is Rory and Amy's daughter all grown up.
  • Knowledge Broker: Both sides request information from Dorium. That's why he knows so much.
  • Lampshading: Lorna Bucket is asked what being with the Doctor is like.
    Bucket: He said, "Run". He said it a lot.
  • Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb: Madame Kovarian wants Melody to become a Doctor-slaying assassin when she grows up.
  • 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. He begins the episode by scaring a legion of Cybermen to determine Amy's location, and only gets better from there.
    • This is not one of those episodes where the Doctor 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: The Doctor takes care of the Headless Monks and the army they've raised against him by making them fight each other, until Colonel Manton convinces them all to disarm. At which point, the Doctor's forces arrive to overpower them while thier metaphorical pants are down.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Lorna met the Doctor as a child, and has spent her whole life hoping to meet him again. She joined the Clerics in order to meet him and finally does on the Demon's Run asteroid, but the Doctor has no idea who she is and she's been mortally wounded. The Doctor pretends to remember her for her last moments, rather than let her die disappointed.
  • Lovely Angels: Vastra and Jenny, though there is no subtext, it's right upfront.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: River reveals that she's Amy and Rory's daughter.
  • Manly Tears: Rory tears up when he returns Melody to Amy. It's even more heartwarming because he does it while saying he was trying to be "cool" and not cry. Amy reassures him, "A crying Roman Centurion, carrying a baby! Definitely cool."
  • 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 Gamma 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: invoked After nine hundred years of defeating evil throughout time and space, the Doctor has become a legend. The villains have become so terrified of him that they're willing to kidnap a newborn baby off his loved ones no less, and raise and turn the child against him; River explicitly points out that the word "Doctor" means "doctor" all through the universe, but in some places it means "warrior" instead.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • River and the Doctor trade What the Hell Heros and the audience is quite caught up in it. Then the Doctor looks at the crib and he's giddy as a schoolboy. He bounces out of the room and...
      River: It's me. I'm Melody. I'm your daughter.
      [smash to black]
    • After all this: a brief clip of a skeletal hand clutching a sonic screwdriver...
    • American viewers managed to get both moods at once when, during the scene where the Doctor is running to warn Amy about her Flesh daughter, BBC America decided to speed up everything to a near comedic pace.
  • Mook Horror Show:
    • One gets the impression the Doctor is the monster in this particular episode. The Clerics regard him with both respect and awe, and the Doctor's long fight against evil is regarded from the other side as a Forever War against an implacable and unstoppable opponent.
    • Rory gets this treatment in the Cold Open, particularly with this bit of dialogue:
      Cyberman: Intruder Level 11! Seal off Levels 12, 13 and 14! Intruder Level 15!
  • 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. It could also reference 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 infer that the whole reason River 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's 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.
  • Ninja Maid: Jenny is a maid for Madame Vastra, and keeps house while her mistress is out killing bad guys. She can also assist in the combat itself.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Crime-fighting serial-killer-hunting katana-wielding Victorian interspecies lesbians.
    Neil Gaiman: I think Madame Vastra should act as well as solve crimes. Then she'd be a Victorian Silurian Lesbian Thespian.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • It's never stated just when (though it's speculated it was before "The Impossible Astronaut") or how Amy was kidnapped and replaced with a Flesh avatar.
    • The Doctor did something so amazingly warrior-like in the Gamma Forest that the people there equate "Doctor" with "Warrior".
    • The circumstances that lead to Dorium and Strax being among the Doctor's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits.
  • 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 fight with the Headless Monks and particularly given how they fight with electric swords while he's dual wielding a gun and sword.
  • Off with His Head!: The Headless Monks ask for a donation upon conversion. The Fat One Got Volunteered. Dorium later tries to negotiate a peace with the Monks. It doesn't end well for him, either.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When the Doctor is unmasked in their presence, he invites them to point guns if it makes them feel better. The entire army does a Dramatic Gun Cock and the Headless Monks draw swords.
    • The Doctor has one 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.
    • 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 freaks out when he realizes the Doctor's recruiting him too.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Thin One and the Fat One Lampshade their lack of need for real names.
    The Fat One: We're the thin/fat, gay, married Anglican Marines. Why would we need names as well?
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Seeing how the the Doctor acts around baby Melody, Amy asks if he has children of his own. He says no. She asks if he's ever had children, and he immediately changes the subject.
  • Papa Wolf: Rory is a scary Roman Warrior when his child is in danger.
  • The Plan: The Doctor's plan to take Demons Run. Disguise himself as a Headless Monk and start an Enemy Civil War among 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.
  • 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]
  • Pun: Rory says to roomful of Cybermen, "Don't give me those blank looks."
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • When Rory is questioning the Cybermen at the beginning.
      Rory: Where. Is. My. WIFE?
    • "When, in the future, people come to you and ask you whether coming after me through the PEOPLE! I! LOVE! is in any way a good idea, I want you to tell them your name."
    • When Rory and Amy are reunited with their daughter, the Doctor awkwardly tries to bow out to let the family have some private time. Rory insists that the Doctor come in to meet Melody, saying, "Oy! You. Get in here. Now!"
  • Punctuation Changes the Meaning: There is an asteroid base that is initially assumed to be named "Demon's Run". As it turns out, it's actually "Demons Run". As in "Demons run when a good man goes to war."
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • This is definitely one for the Doctor. He raised an army, took control of the enemy army and even got back the real Amy without a a single drop of blood spilled up to that point. However, part of the mission was to save Amy and Rory's newborn daughter with them, which they failed and some of the lives of the Doctor's army were lost in the battle. However, after finding out who River Song really is, the Doctor is reinvigorated to rescue her infant self. The battle may have been lost (or won, as the case may be), but the war is far from over.
    • Summed up nicely by River's introductory quote, which is a reference to John Graham, who won a battle at the cost of his own life and reputedly asked the given question:
      River: Well then, soldier. How goes the day?
  • Queer People Are Funny: The Thin-Fat-gay-married Anglican Marines are initially a source of humor — until the Fat One is unlucky enough to be chosen as an initiate to the Headless Monks, that is.
  • Reaction Shot:
    • When Manton reveals that the Headless Monks are literally headless, the Thin One is shown glancing over at another monk in horror, presumably his husband.
    • After the "It's mine" Bait-and-Switch, Rory can be seen in the background breathing a sigh of relief.
  • "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 is a "The Reason You Will Suck Speech".
  • Red Baron: Rory, the Lone 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.
  • Remonstrating with a Gun: At the end of her tether, Amy picks up a pistol and does a Dramatic Gun Cock in River's face. Rory is more alarmed than River is.
  • Red Herring:
    • 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 were 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 "door lock override" Big Red 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: 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, and the Doctor takes the base without a drop of blood being spilled.
  • The Reveal: River Song's identity; she's Amy and Rory's daughter.
  • Rousing Speech: By Colonel Manton to the Red Shirt Army about how the Doctor is just a living, breathing man, not a god or a demon.
  • 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:
    • Strax's inability to tell humans' gender.
    • As always, Stormcage is a Cardboard Prison.
    • Bowties are what?
      Melody Pond: [gurgle]
      The Doctor: No it's not. [adjusts bowtie] It's cool.
  • Say My Name: After Flesh!Melody dissolves in Amy's arms, a shaken and heartbroken Amy screams for Rory.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: Madame Vastra killed and ate Jack the Ripper.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!
    • Dorium is introduced packing, until Madame Kovarian and Colonel Manton interrupt. After they leave, the Doctor turns up.
    • Madame Kovarian makes a discreet exit the moment the Doctor arrives. Rory intercepts her with Captain Avery.
  • Ship Sinking: In one fell swoop, Moffat sinks Amy×Doctor forever and makes anyone who ever enjoyed River×Ponds fanfiction feel icky.
  • Ship Tease: Subverted; Amy's Last Words to her baby sound at first like she's talking about the Doctor being the father. It's actually her husband.
  • Shock and Awe: The Headless Monks' swords have red lightning on the blade when activated.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Smug Snake: Madame Kovarian positively oozes confidence 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: There are explosive noises in space a couple of times, and each one involves Dalek Spitfires.
  • Stable Time Loop: The reason River can't come with Rory is she has to let these events proceed as they always have, to ensure she gets the childhood of her first incarnation. When she shows up in the beginning of the episode, it is after these events have already happened for her, further compounding the fixed point in time.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The Doctor is more than happy to use explosions to make a point.
  • 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:
    • Disarming and shouting "We are not fools!" Cue an entire army of Silurians and a bunch of Judoon teleporting in.
    • "There are twenty men aboard my ship. How could you possibly take control?" Cue the pirate captain.
    • Dorium pointing out that there are people all over the galaxy who owe the Doctor a favor, and now he's calling them in. Seems he owes one as well.
    • From the Fat One's conversion, just before he loses his head.
      The Fat One: Do you lot have Lent? Because I'm not good at giving things up.
  • 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.
  • Sci Fi LGBT: Vastra & Jenny, and those two Marine guys.
  • Title Drop: Twice, both fitted in nicely. River's voiceover gives it context, but Dorium's does it best:
    Dorium: Do you know why it's called Demons Run? [...] Demons run when a good man goes to war.
  • To the Pain: Of the Lighter and Softer variety, the Doctor being a Martial Pacifist.
    Doctor: Colonel Manton, I want you to tell your men to run away.
    Colonel Manton: You what?
    Doctor: Those words: "Run away." I want you to be famous for those exact words. I want people to call you "Colonel Runaway". I want children laughing outside your door 'cause they've found the house of Colonel Runaway, and when people come to you and ask if trying to get to me through the people I in any way a good idea...I want you to tell them your name.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Rory, formerly the dork, is now threatening an entire Cyberman fleet... and blows it up to prove a point.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The preview for the episode sure made it seem like Amy's kid was the Doctor's.
  • The Triple: As he removes the hoods on the Headless Monks, Colonel Manton states that they can never be persuaded, afraid or...
    The Doctor: Surprised!
  • 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, not the Doctor.
  • Villainous Valour: We all knew how outclassed Colonel Manton's forces would be, but it's 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 believe themselves 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.
  • Wham Episode:
  • What the Hell, Hero?: River and the Doctor exchange these speeches with one another at the end.
    The Doctor: Where the hell were you today?!
  • Who Are You?: The Doctor demands an answer from River Song.
    River: (placing his hand on the cot) I am telling you.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
  • Wunza Plot: Madam Vastra's a Silurian detective with a katana who eats people. Jenny's a Ninja Maid. They fight crime in Victorian London!
  • 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?
  • 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.