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Recap / Doctor Who S32 E8 "Let's Kill Hitler"

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Let's Kill Hitler
Disclaimer: No Hitlers were killed in the making of this episode. Sadly.
Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Richard Senior
Production code: 2.8
Air date: 27 August 2011

"Look at that. Berlin on the eve of war. A whole world about to tear itself apart. Now that’s my kind of town."
River Song

The one where Hitler gets punched in the face and shoved in a cupboard.

Fun fact: There's also a short bonus scene featuring Amy and Rory on a motorcycle in motion comic format that aired during the episode premiere in America.

The first episode of the second half of series 6. Extremely plot-heavy.

There is a short prequel to this story!

Amy and Rory are driving a twisty route through a corn field, with Amy doing her best to navigate. After a few turns, they spot the TARDIS.

Since they couldn't reach the Doctor by phone, they took the River Song approach to contacting him and created a giant crop doodle that says "Doctor". He went to search for Melody alone, leaving Amy and Rory behind for the summer. They can't rescue Melody, because they have to keep the timeline going, but they still wanted to see where she was. The Doctor asks Rory for permission to hug Amy: once again, he only has bad news, and Melody is still missing. However, the future newspaper clipping of the Crop Circle shows a line going straight through his name, and neither of them made that. Cue a little red Corvette Stingray coming straight at them through the field, hitting the Doctor.

It's Amy's and Rory's loud best friend, Mels. Don't remember her? Don't worry just yet.

Mels grew up with Amy and Rory, and she knows all about the Doctor from Amy. Except that he's hot, which she's quite happy to find out. The car is hers. Sort of. The Doctor wonders why Mels wasn't at the wedding, and she casually claims that she doesn't do weddings. Meanwhile, the police approach, and Mels promptly draws a gun on the Doctor and politely asks for them to leave. Amy and Rory are shocked — Mels has always been a bit kooky and a bit overly interested in all the Doctor stories, but never borderline sociopathic.

Mels: Let's see... You've got a time machine. I've got a gun. What the hell. Let's kill Hitler!

We see a few flashbacks of Mels growing up, always near Amy and always asking about the Doctor. Rory tagged along as their Butt-Monkey. In school, Mels would always get in trouble: saying it's the Doctor's fault that the Titanic sank and the teacher is stupid for not knowing who he is, or that World War II only happened because the Doctor didn't kill Hitler. As she grew older she was arrested with some frequency, stealing vehicles and generally being antisocial. And she was always a bit jealous of Amy, because Amy had "Mr. Perfect" all along. Amy protested that her Mr. Perfect wasn't even real, but Mels didn't mean the Doctor. She meant Rory. Amy explained that she'd love to be with Rory, but they're Just Friends and can't be together because Rory's gay. He'd never looked at girls, after all, not once in all the years that they'd been friends... oh. As Rory quickly walked out and Mels burst into giggles, Amy realised for the first time that Rory had just been Amy-sexual all along.

In 1938, a shape-shifting humanoid robot containing miniaturised humanoids has assumed the form of Wehrmacht officer Erich Zimmerman and attacked Hitler. This is the Teselecta, a special ship staffed by a squadron of Time Police. (Though not the Time Agency.) Then the TARDIS crashes through the window and smacks into the robot. Running out of the TARDIS to escape the smoke from Mels shooting the rotor, the Doctor and his companions inadvertently stop the robot from killing Hitler and are less then enthusiastic about it.

Suddenly the robot picks itself back up, and Hitler fires a revolver to defend himself. Everyone tries to duck out of the way, except Rory, who punches Hitler in the face and then, when Hitler tries to protest, tells him to shut up. Rory then shoves Hitler into a cupboard, not to be seen again for the rest of the episode.

But the bullet didn't hit the robot. It hit Mels. And the violent, odd, borderline-psychopathic girl is now suddenly dying. She beckons the Doctor closer to her, glad that she finally got to meet him. She always loved Amy's stories. She dreamed of marrying him someday. The Doctor does everything he can to keep her alive — tells her that of course he's happy to meet her, and sure, he'll marry her if she'll just fight for her life right now. And that's when Mels smugly tells him that in that case, he should go ahead and ask her parents for her hand right now. Because they're right there in the room. The Doctor has a magnificent Oh, Crap! moment when he realises that Amy named her daughter after her daughter. Mels is Melody Pond, specifically in her second incarnation. Who promptly regenerates into Alex Kingston.

Melody loves her new body. It's so mature ("hello, Benjamin!"), with hair that just doesn't stop, and a whole new colour scheme to work with. She doesn't know why the others are rambling about some girl named River Song, though. With that, she disappears to go weigh herself.

Rory: [completely stunned] Does anybody else find this day just a bit difficult? I'm getting a sort of banging in my head.
Amy: Yeah, I think that's Hitler in the cupboard.

The Teselecta, still operating from inside the robot, are freaking out. They recognize the Time Lord energy, the TARDIS and the person standing before them. One of history's greatest criminals. No, not the Doctor, but his murderer: River Song. While trying to capture the minor criminal Adolf Hitler, they stumbled on Gallifrey's Most Wanted.

The Doctor desperately tries to deal with a Melody who is in no way like his sweet familiar River. She's extremely young, extremely crass, a psychopath, and raised by the Silence to kill him. After regenerating in New York, she ended up as a toddler, and spent years searching for her parents. She eventually found them and spent her childhood with Amy and Rory, growing up together with them, but now she's ready to finally get that assassination over with and live her own life. Unfortunately, it's not so easy to assassinate a centuries-old Time Lord. In a brilliant montage of spur-of-the-moment strategies, foreplanning, and lucky gambles, the Doctor manages to empty her gun while she's not looking, replace her backup weapon with a banana and (barely) dodge her attempts at seducing him. Then she manages a quick "Take That!" Kiss... with poisoned lipstick. As she jumps out of the window, the Doctor starts to die and of course the poison is the regeneration-blocking kind that will kill the Doctor for good because snogging is the one thing the Doctor's never prepared for, at least at this point.

Melody has other things on her mind: steal a motorbike, get new clothes. She's quickly stopped by the Wehrmacht, who are very curious as to why she's jumping out of Hitler's office window. Mels responds with her trademark snark:

Melody: I was on my way to a gay gypsy Bar Mitzvah for the disabled when I suddenly thought, gosh! The Third Reich's a bit rubbish; I think I'll kill the Führer. Who's with me?

They, of course, promptly shoot her. However, these soldiers were never briefed on what do do when dealing with a Time Lord within the first fifteen hours of her regeneration cycle, which earns them death by regeneration energy burst.

Rory and Amy go after her with the sonic screwdriver, but they're stopped by a German soldier. Rory tries to explain, decides not to, and instead punches the soldier out after giving him a fake-out salute and takes his motorcycle. Amy asks him if he can drive a motorcycle, and Rory responds that he expects so; it's been that kind of day. They follow Melody, unaware that the soldier was actually the Teselecta robot.

The Doctor's dying in the TARDIS, and asks for a voice interface. The voice interface hologram shows his own body. He'd prefer to see someone he likes while he's dying. It shows Rose Tyler — which causes him guilt. Then Martha Jones — still guilt. And then Donna Noble — more guilt. There has to be someone in the universe that he hasn't "screwed up", he begs. The voice interface finally settles on an image of Amelia Pond, while she was young and he was a story. He clings to the image and shows Amelia great affection. The interface keeps reminding him that it's not Amelia, and of more dire things; his system has been contaminated by the poison of the Judas Tree, his regeneration is disabled and there's no cure. He will be dead in thirty-two minutes. He'll be fine for thirty-one, and then dead one minute later. The Doctor loses hope and is almost overcome by pain, but then he is inspired by four words that started it all: "fish fingers and custard."

Meanwhile, Melody goes to a fancy party and forces the diners to undress at gunpoint, to provide her with a new set of clothes. Amy and Rory arrive outside as a load of barely dressed people are running out, closely followed by the robot. The Teselecta intercepts them and miniaturises them, taking them on board the robot while it takes on Amy's appearance. However, murderous Darth Vader-sounding antibody patrol droids aside, the Teselecta is a group of Reasonable Authority Figures, and Amy and Rory are quickly given wristbands which allow them to live (the droids target anyone without them), and since they're Melody's family, they get to see her files.

Melody is merrily trying on Nazi outfits when the robot arrives. She's about to be killed, but the TARDIS appears. This time, it's the Doctor who asks "Doctor who?" He's leaning on a cane, dressed in an impeccable tails tuxedo, complete with a top hat.

He's cross.

The Teselecta robot has four hundred and twenty-three life forms inside. The Doctor didn't see that coming. They take evil people, villains and war criminals, at the end of their established timelines and replace them with robots. The robot "dies" in their stead, and they "give them hell" to punish them for their deeds — without causing any kind of Time Paradox. They were a bit too early for Hitler, just by mistake. The Amy-shaped robot also reveals that the Silence isn't just a race. They're an order, and they believe that the universe will change when the last question is asked.

The Doctor tries to convince them not to take Melody, but he's still dying, and he's slipping rapidly while trying to stay upright with the cane. The Teselecta starts to punish Melody, but Amy turns the Teselecta's safeguard wristbands against its own crew using the sonic screwdriver. The crew is forced to shut down the ship and flee while the antibodies attack them, which automatically cancels Melody's punishment. They then teleport to their mother ship, leaving Amy and Rory stranded on-board with a load of killer micro-robots.

This finally gets Melody to do a tentative Heel–Face Turn. She pilots the TARDIS, materializing it on board the Teselecta around Rory and Amy, saving them from the antibodies. She's able to fly it instantly — because the TARDIS herself shows her how. River doesn't know why (yet).

The Doctor's dying words to Melody, whispered into her ear, are for her to find River Song and give her a message. Rubbish name, she comments, but she can tell that this River woman means a lot to the Doctor. So she promises to try. Amy, still with family privileges, commands the Teselecta robot to transform into River Song. Melody is stunned to see that this River the Doctor spoke of is actually herself. She suffers a massive and acute Heel Realization. Asking her mother if he's "worth it", to which Amy replies with an emphatic yes, her hands start to glow with regeneration energy and she kneels beside the Doctor and kisses him, whispering her first "Hello, Sweetie." Instead of a violent outburst, the energy swirls around them in a glowing orange dance.

As River recovers in a hospital bed, we learn that she has used up all of her regeneration energy to overcome the poison; her next death will be permanent. As the Doctor and the audience already knows. The Doctor, Amy and Rory leave her in the best hospital in the universe, and the Doctor leaves a brand-new blank little TARDIS-shaped book by her bedside.

Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor consults the information on his death in 2011 from the Teselecta, but hides it from Rory and Amy. In the year 5123, River enrolls as an archaeology student at Luna University on Earth's Moon. After all, archaeology is one hell of a good way to find the Doctor.


  • Accidental Proposal: The Doctor accidentally asks River to marry him. Again.
  • Acting for Two: In-Universe with the Teselecta as Zimmerman, Amy and River.
  • Action Prologue: Fast cars, property damage, police sirens, and a fugitive with a gun.
  • Actor Allusion: This is not the first time Matt Smith has gone to Nazi Germany. In the TV movie Christopher and His Kind, Smith played Christopher Isherwood, a homosexual writer who came to free-wheeling Weimar Republic Berlin, but became disillusioned and left when Nazi Germany was formed.
  • Adolf Hitlarious: The Führer appears as a blustering Butt-Monkey who, almost as soon as we meet him, gets tortured by a robot, punched in the face, stuffed in a cupboard, and forgotten about. So much for being the titular character!
  • Agony Beam: The Teselecta's punishment method is an angry red beam that seems to slowly set people on fire.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Invoked by Amy, when she deactivates the Teselecta's safety wristbands. The antibodies then go after everyone.
  • All There in the Script: According to the script, Mels' last name is Zucker.
  • Anticlimax: When the Teselecta reaches up to Zimmerman's face, you think he's going to kill him. The music even anticipates this. In fact, it just takes his glasses. And then shrinks him down and kills him anyway.
  • Arc Words: "Time can be rewritten."
  • Asshole Victim: Really, everyone the Teselecta goes after counts as this. After all, they only go after the unpunished (for example, the Nazi officer who was guilty of Category 3 hate crimes), and have no interest harming innocents.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The Doctor has a lot of these moments where it becomes clear how much he's come to care about River Song. Melody picks up on it through the way he keeps referencing her, and later, when the Doctor is dying and gives her a message to pass on to River, her response is "I think she knows". It's made all the more poignant a few moments later when Melody discovers that she is — or at least, will become — River.
  • Axe-Crazy: Mels introduces herself by nearly running over the Doctor in a stolen car before pulling a gun on him and demanding he take her to kill Hitler. This is followed by a montage of her wild and crazy childhood.
    Mels: I was late; I took a bus.
    Rory: You stole a bus.
    Amy: Who steals a bus?
    Mels: I returned it.
    Rory: You drove it through the Botanical Garden.
  • Badass Longcoat: The green coat the Eleventh Doctor wears in this episode is longer than his usual tweed one. It looks good on him.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • The Doctor tells Mels that guns don't work inside the TARDIS. Unfortunately, Mels decides to test this, resulting in a broken console.
    • Rory pulls one on a Nazi Mook by doing a Nazi salute while shouting "Heil" and then catching him with a sucker punch when he salutes back. Subverted in that the Nazi is actually the Teselecta, who let them go and followed Melody instead.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When the future guys identify the TARDIS and begin talking about "the greatest war criminal in history", at first we think they mean the Doctor ("soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies" and all that). Then one says "It's her!"...
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Melody Pond, the future River Song, act as The Heavy for the Silence, attempting to murder the Doctor. Captain Carter, commander of the Teselecta, is on a mission to torture anyone he sees as not having been punished sufficiently in their lifetime and clashes with the Doctor when he places River in that category.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Combined with Freeze-Frame Bonus. The name of the lake where the Doctor dies is called Lake Silencio, which is Spanish for "silence".
  • Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: After being poisoned, the Doctor passes off his painful spasms as this. It was just his left leg; nothing to worry about.
  • Blatant Lies: This is the episode where we find out that the "temporal grace" system in the TARDIS (established during the classic series) that is supposed to keep weapons from functioning doesn't exist, or at least not any more. The Doctor admits that it was a "clever lie" all along. After all, Rule #1.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Mels' bullet wound is never shown, although Rory makes a reference to trying to "stop the bleeding".
  • Borrowed Catchphrase:
    Amy: That's Melody...
    Rory: That's River Song...
    Melody: Who's River Song?
    The Doctor: Spoilers?
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: River was brought up to kill the Doctor. Amy wonders if that stuff is still in her at the end.
  • Brick Joke:
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Rory imitates Amy's accent when he repeats the word "clues".
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Poor tiny, regularly forgotten child Rory.
    • Hitler becomes this, with someone attempting to assassinate him being interrupted by the TARDIS trashing his office, followed by being mocked and ignored by everyone in the room, and concluding with him being punched in the face by Rory and locked in a cupboard for the rest of the episode. Given the lack of Nazis hunting the trio and River afterwards, it can be inferred he was there for quite a while. Other Nazis don't fare much better, with River effortlessly frying a squad of SS men with her post regenerative energy (after declaring she was on her way to a gay gypsy Bar Mitzvah for the disabled) and casually holding a restaurant full of Germans hostage for their clothes.
  • Call-Back:
    • In "The Time of Angels", we learn that River can fly the TARDIS because she "had lessons from the very best", and that the Doctor was busy that day. Who is a better teacher than the TARDIS herself?
    • The reappearance of companions Rose, Martha and Donna as holograms, and the Doctor's response to them being "guilt", "also guilt" and "more guilt!".
  • Call-Forward:
    • When Melody runs off to check out the new parts, she seems really excited about something in particular, to which she screams out "I'm going to wear lots of jodhpurs!"; her outfit of choice in "The Pandorica Opens"/"The Big Bang".
    • River's comment that she "might bring the age down a bit, just gradually, to freak people out" forwards the way that the Doctor gradually meets younger versions of her each visit and vice versa, as a rule.
  • Captain Obvious:
    Rory: I think he just fainted.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Mels has "Penny in the air... penny drops." As is typical of Time Lords, it's not seen after her regeneration, or before her previous one.
    • Within minutes of River Song's appearance, we see the first use and genesis of both "Hello, sweetie" and "Spoilers" respectively. The second, being Timey-Wimey Ball, invokes a Stable Time Loop, even.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The identity bracelets inside the Teselecta are essential to getting rid of its crew and saving River.
  • Classy Cane: The Doctor produces a cane to go with his stylish tuxedo. It's actually a Sonic Cane that works exactly like the Sonic Screwdriver. It also serves the practical purpose of keeping him on his feet as the poison is trying to shut down the functionality of his legs.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The Doctor. Someone just stole a car and almost ran him over, and what's his complaint?
    The Doctor: You never said I was hot?
  • Continuity Nod: So, so many.
  • Cool Bike: The big motorcycles.
  • Cool Car:
    • Rory's classic Mini.
    • Mels' stolen Corvette Stingray. Doesn't get any cooler.
  • Crop Circles: Amy and Rory write the Doctor's name in a field with their car to get his attention.
  • Dating Catwoman: The Doctor is now aware he's dating a psychopathic murderer sent to kill him. "As first dates go, I’d say that was mixed signals."
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Stay still and don't move."
  • Determinator: The Doctor, while dying, ignores both the fact that he has only half an hour to live and the incredible pain he is in to change clothes and then dedicate all his energy to protecting Amy, Rory and River. Even when he is minutes from death and in too much pain to move, he tries to crawl towards the TARDIS to save Amy and Rory.
  • Didn't See That Coming: The Doctor to Teselecta-Amy:
    The Doctor: At least I'm not a time-travelling, shape-shifting robot operated by tiny cross people, which I've got to admit, I didn't see coming.
  • Dissonant Serenity:
  • Distracted by My Own Sexy: Melody, in what appears to be a common side effect of post-regenerative trauma, is enamored of her new body.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Melody's delight after the guards shoot her seems rather like something else entirely... especially given her parting line — "Mmm, that hit the spot."
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Rory: "Sit down"; cocks revolver, "shut up".
  • Dressing to Die: Knowing he's dying and can't regenerate, the Doctor takes the time to change into a tuxedo before confronting his killer.
  • Drugged Lipstick: As per usual, River has some. However, this time it's not hallucinogenic; it's poison.
  • Dynamic Entry: The TARDIS crashes through the window into Hitler's office.
  • Electric Jellyfish: Robotic/cybernetic jellyfish are part of the Tesselecta's defenses. And yes, they are electric.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: This is the first Who episode to air after Torchwood: Miracle Day was broadcast, and it's essentially said that the Ponds have been waiting all summer for the Doctor to come back. You'd think Amy and Rory would mention something about the whole world becoming a fascist hell for about three months when everyone was temporarily immortal. However, it's possible that they arrived back on Earth just too late to get caught up in it.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When the Voice Interface realizes how to help the Doctor: "Fish fingers and custard."
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Mels.
    The Doctor: If you were in a hurry, you could've killed me in the cornfield.
    Melody: We'd only just met! I'm a psychopath — I'm not rude.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Melody is all over the place while in assassin mode. Few things are hammier than breaking into a party with a pair of automatic guns, shooting both, and then demanding that everyone undress. It's toned down after her Heel–Face Turn.
  • Exact Time to Failure:
    TARDIS Voice Interface: There is no cure. You will be dead in thirty-two minutes.
    The Doctor: Why do you keep saying that?
    TARDIS Voice Interface: Because you will be dead in thirty-two minutes.
    The Doctor: You see, there you go again. Basically skipping thirty-one whole minutes when I'm absolutely fine. Scottish, that's all I'm saying.
    TARDIS Voice Interface: You will be fine for thirty-one minutes. You will be dead in thirty-two minutes.
  • Exposition Fairy: The TARDIS' interface informs the Doctor and the audience that he will be dead in 32 minutes and regeneration is disabled.
  • Expospeak Gag:
    Amy: How can we be in here? How do we fit?
    Rory: Miniaturization ray.
    Amy: How would you know that?
    Rory: Well, there was a ray, and then we were miniaturized...
  • Falling into the Cockpit: River pilots the TARDIS to bring the dying Doctor to her parents, being taught how to do so apparently instantaneously. Between this and the skills she must have been taught/implanted with by Kovarian's people, she's something of an Instant Expert.
  • Foregone Conclusion: A Teselecta crewmember points out that the Doctor's death at Lake Silencio is a fixed point in time, so the poisoning could not kill him. Another one reminds the first one that time can be rewritten.
  • Freud Was Right: In-universe example from Rory:
    Rory: Okay, I'm trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife... [lowers voice to a whisper] I'm really trying not to see this as a metaphor.
  • A God Am I: Traveling through time for the sole purpose of "giving hell" to war criminals? "I'd ask you who you think you are, but I think the answer is pretty obvious. So who do you think I am?"
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Melody gets shot after regenerating. For the first fifteen hours, it doesn't matter.
  • Guns Akimbo: River dual-wielding submachine guns.
  • Have a Nice Death: The Antibodies would like you to remain calm while your life is extracted. You will experience a slight tingling sensation and then death.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Melody does this after poisoning the Doctor, with her spending her remaining regenerations to save his life.
  • Henpecked Husband: Rory, once again, is trying not to imagine being trapped inside a robotic version of his wife as a metaphor. From what we can see, it's been like this for a long time.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A variant, with Melody sacrificing all of her remaining regenerations to save the Doctor after he's on death's door from the Judas Tree poison.
  • Hero with an F in Good: The Teselecta tries to follow the Doctor as an example...but they're just a little bit crazy about the whole thing. Their whole "Give 'em hell" schtick revolves around kidnapping a Karma Houdini while replacing them in history with a copy, then painfully torturing them for a while before killing them off. Then there's the fact that they're not even very good with this, as they got the temporal coordinates wrong - they were supposed to snatch Hitler right before his suicide, but instead ended up while he was at the height of his power.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Zigzagged and invoked. The crew of the Teselecta is aware of this rule. They target war criminals throughout history, particularly those who were outright Karma Houdinis or committed suicide (like Hitler) before they could be brought to justice. They replace the original with a duplicate near the end of their timeline, and "give [the originals] hell". In Hitler's case, they mistakenly entered his life too early, and would've left him alone (for the time being) had the TARDIS not appeared when it did.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Amy saves River from the Teselecta by shorting out all the devices that make the Antibodies leave them alone, forcing them to teleport away when they can't shut the Antibodies down quickly enough.
  • Hypocritical Humour: When young Amelia asks why Mels is always in trouble.
    Amelia: Why are you always in trouble? You're the most in trouble in the whole school, except for boys.
    Young Mels: And you.
    Amelia: I count as a boy!
  • I Know You Know I Know: Between the Doctor and Melody as the latter attempts to kill the former. He knows what she's going to try so he sabotaged her, but she knew about the sabotage so she had a back up, but the Doctor knew that she knew so he sabotaged the back up, etc. The Doctor even says the trope's name.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Hitler is a lousy shot. An allusion to his exaggeration of his war record?
  • In Love with the Mark: Mels seems pretty smitten with the Doctor even before she meets him, which carries over into River.
    Amy: I don't understand. One moment she’s going to marry you and then she's going to kill you.
    The Doctor: She's been brainwashed, so it all makes sense. Plus she's a woman... Shut up, I'm dying!
  • Improperly Placed Firearms:
    • The MP38/40 sub-machine guns featured in the episode were not in service until 1939 at the earliest.
    • Hitler's use of a non-standard Smith & Wesson revolver is correct.
  • Indy Ploy: The Doctor's dying, but it's fine, he's got a plan... Not dying.
  • Insistent Terminology: The voice of the TARDIS is very, very specific about things.
    The Doctor: River needs me. I can't die now.
    TARDIS Voice Interface: You will not die now. You will die in 32 minutes.
  • Irony: Early in the episode, Mels blames Hitler's rise to power on the Doctor not being there to stop him. The Doctor actually saves Hitler's life by crashing the TARDIS into his office, interrupting an assassination. Even more ironic, Mels is the cause of the crash in the first place.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: The Doctor anticipates being shot by Melody by unloading all the guns in Hitler's office, or swapping them with bananas.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The crew of the Teselecta aims to prevent this, by traveling to the end of said person's timeline, replacing them before their historical death... and killing them painfully.
    • The crew of the Teselecta become Karma Houdinis themselves, in that they are forced to teleport away before the Doctor has time to do to them what he usually does to people who try to justify torture.
  • Kiss of Death: How Melody poisons the Doctor, very nearly killing him. Given her track record, he really should have known better...
  • Kiss of Life: Melody, not long after her Kiss of Death, transmits her remaining regeneration energy into him to save him.
  • Lampshade Hanging: When Melody regenerates, she mentions she might adjust the age later on, this being an explanation for why Alex Kingston was at her youngest in the story set chronologically last in her personal timeline, "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead".
  • Large Ham:
    • Melody is a very loud presence here. She's a Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb, probably undergoing some post-regenerative trauma, and even calls herself a psychopath.
    • The Antibodies also count as they loudly announce that they are about to kill you.
  • The Last Dance: The Doctor's been poisoned by Melody, and has only half an hour to live, so what does he do? He takes the time to put on a nice tux, fabricate a Sonic Cane and move the TARDIS to confront the Justice Department out to punish Melody for his murder. Time is not the boss of him, so he can waste as much as he wants.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Amy says the Doctor's "had all summer" to find her daughter, lampshading that it's the Fall premiere.
    • Melody says she wants to take her aging down gradually, to freak people out, which explains why she might appear younger in episodes where her character should be older.
  • Match Cut: In the flashback, Mels throws away Amy's model TARDIS, and it segues to the real one twirling in flight in the present.
  • Meaningful Background Event: As Melody is looking out the window at "Berlin, on the eve of war," you can see the Doctor in the background, starting to shake his right hand, as the poison is starting to take effect.
  • Meaningful Name: The Teselecta is derived from the word "tesselation," which in computer graphics is the subdivision of a 3D model into small polygons — which is exactly the way the Teselecta changes its appearance.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Immediately after regenerating, Melody Pond is Immune to Bullets for a limited time.
  • Misaimed Fandom: In-Universe. It's strongly suggested that it was the Doctor who inspired the Department of Justice to travel through time punishing villains.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Amy originally thought Rory was gay before they hooked up. Her reasoning was that he's shown no interest for any girl in his life... except her, as she finally realizes.
  • Mobile-Suit Human: The Teselecta is a human-sized robot driven by over 400 mini humans.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Melody uses her post-regeneration power rush so effectively that it’s quite possibly part of her plan. It wouldn't have been hard to deliberately move so Hitler's shots would hit her, or even shoot herself during the confusion.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The TARDIS team are understandably upset over the fact that they saved Hitler's life.
  • "Near and Dear" Baby Naming: It's revealed that Melody Pond, Amy Pond's daughter, is named after her best friend, Melody Zucker. Later on in the episode, Melody Zucker is revealed to actually be Melody Pond, being a future version of her.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: On the one hand, the Doctor's crashing of the TARDIS prevents history from being altered on a massive scale. On the other hand, he does so by saving Hitler's life.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: "Well, I was on my way to this gay gypsy Bar Mitzvah for the disabled..."
  • The Nth Doctor: Mels, Amy and Rory's ex-con friend, regenerates into Alex Kingston.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The episode's title implies the plot revolves around an attempt to kill Hitler. It doesn't, it was just something Mels suggested on a whim and got derailed by The Reveal 15 minutes in. In fact, Hitler spends most of the episode locked in a cupboard.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • "Time can be rewritten; remember Kennedy?"
    • Whatever led to the Teselecta being Rasputin (with green skin).
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The antibodies aren't seen on-screen for a while.
  • Oblivious to Love: Teenage Amy is completely blind to the fact that Rory is in love with her until Mel points it out.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Doctor's expression when Hitler stands up and reveals himself. It's even the same expression he gets when he runs into the Daleks or the Master.
    • When Rory and Amy encounter robot Amy, they're really shocked.
  • Omniscient Morality License: The crew of the Teselecta think they have this, using Time Travel to go back in time and kill any remaining Karma Houdini. The Doctor thinks they're playing God.
  • One-Man Army: The Doctor, as referenced by Melody. "The man of war, who understands every kind of war...except, perhaps, the cruelest."
  • One-Steve Limit: This isn't the first time the Doctor has traveled with someone named Mel.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: The Doctor explains "she's been brainwashed, plus, she's a woman!" when claiming that River Song is trying to kill him right after trying to marry him, and then pleads to be given some leeway for his comments because he's just been poisoned. It's a line right out of the Troughton era which makes no sense in context, since the Doctor wasn't raised in and has never been culturally assimilated into a sexist society, so he wouldn't fall back on stereotypes even in a moment of extreme stress.
  • Perfect Poison: The Poison of the Judas Tree disables Time Lord regeneration, as well as killing the target in 32 minutes exactly. It has no cure.
  • Precrime Arrest: This episode features the obvious Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act, from Melody Pond and from the crew of Justice Department Vehicle #6018. The Justice vehicle is sent to painfully kill time's greatest criminals just before their death. They realize they've arrived too soon in Hitler's personal timeline, however, they find a bigger fish: the woman who killed the Doctor. Except that she hadn't done that yet, either. Or has she?
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Melody gives off this impression even before name-dropping the trope, squealing over her new appearance like an overexcited teenager right before pulling out the guns. To her, it's all fun and games.
    Melody: [after taking down five Nazi police] Thanks, boys! Call me!
    Amy: What are you doing?!
    Melody: New body, new rules... I'm going shopping!
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Fish! Fingers! And! Custaaaaard!
  • Putting on the Reich: When Melody is trying on different outfits, she goes for a Nazi officer's coat and hat.
  • Race Lift: Mels gets one when she regenerates into River Song, an older woman.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Melody Pond's line when confronted by German soldiers might be an attempt at something so outrageous they shrug and leave.
    Melody: Well, I was on my way to this gay gypsy Bar Mitzvah for the disabled when I suddenly thought, "Gosh! The Third Reich's a bit rubbish; I think I'll kill the Führer." Who's with me?
  • Religion of Evil: The Silence (or "The movement known as the Silence, an academy of the Question") turns out to be a religion.
    The Teselecta: The Silence is not a species. It is a religious order, or movement. Their core belief is that silence will fall when the question is asked.
    The Doctor: What question?
    The Teselecta: The first question. The oldest question in the universe. Hidden in plain sight.
    The Doctor: Yes, but what is the question?
    The Teselecta: ...Unknown.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: The Doctor is poisoned with a toxin derived from the Judas Tree. Which is actually a real tree.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Amy and Rory's never-before-mentioned best friend shows up for the first part. The Doctor is as confused as the audience, asking why he's never heard of her and where she was at their wedding. Then "Mels" is killed and turns out to be a prior regeneration of River Song.
  • Retcon: Mels's entire existence and backstory with Amy and Rory is established in a lengthy "Retconathon" that also counts as an example in-universe. Since she's Amy and Rory's daughter, she obviously wasn't there originally but became part of their timeline by finding them latter. Timey-wimey!
  • Reveling in the New Form: Melody is rather taken with her new form as River Song after regenerating, appreciating her new mature body and voluminous hair. Subverted since it's hard to tell how much was genuine and how much was her lulling the Doctor into a false sense of security so she could poison him.
  • Rule of Cool: Why can the Teselecta imitate any piece of clothing, and even an entire motorbike, but has to take the glasses from the first Nazi officer it imitates? So we can have the dramatic moment mentioned above under Anticlimax.
  • Rule of Funny: Surprising for an episode that not only is an integral part of the season arc, but also prominently features Nazis. Yet the episode runs on it pretty well (locking Hitler in the cupboard, River jumping out of windows and hijacking motorcycles, miniaturisation ray, the TARDIS voice-activated command system). Moffat said that he did part of it on purpose, saying that turning Hitler into a punchline was a way of showing his failure. Think of it like a real-life Riddikulus Spell. As well as proving Mel Brooks was right, that the only way to truly fight Hitler's ideology is to make him and it look like complete buffoons.
  • Running Gag:
    • River jumping out of windows.
    • River's lipstick.
    • River's nickname being "Mrs. Robinson".
    • People needing to contact the Doctor in more creative ways because he never answers his phone.
    • The Doctor asking for permission to hug Amy.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: The Doctor gets his top hat and tailcoat.
  • Shooting Superman: The Nazis attempting to shoot River just after her regeneration.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: Alex Kingston pronounces "Führer" correctly, making her something of a rarity in TV land. (Kingston's mother is a German immigrant, so she knows how it should be pronounced.) Also, Hitler's office looks exactly like surviving photographs of Hitler's real office.
  • Shrink Ray: Lampshaded with Rory's explanation to Amy. It's a ray and it shrinks.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Rory gets A Shut Up Hitler moment. Then puts him in a cupboard.
  • Significant Name Overlap: The fact that Mels is introduced one episode after Melody Pond is a big clue the two characters are connected. (See quote under Stable Time Loop, below.)
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Rory has only ever had eyes for Amy. Because she was Oblivious to Love, she thought he was gay.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    River: You're dying! And you stopped to change?
    The Doctor: Oh, you should always waste time when you don't have any. Time is not the boss of you.
  • Stable Time Loop:
    • Melody/River, in her guise of Mels, hooks up Amy and Rory, thereby ensuring that they will eventually marry and conceive Melody... who they then (unwittingly) name after herself.
      The Doctor: Mels. Short for...
      Mels: Melody.
      Amy: Yeah, I named my daughter after her.
      The Doctor: You named your daughter... after your daughter.
    • Melody found out from Amy that she was River Song — and starts using that name as a result.
    • The Doctor says "spoilers" to Melody, as an Ironic Echo from the many times River has said it. "Night and the Doctor" later confirms that River got the Catchphrase from the Doctor.
    • The Doctor placing the (brand-new) TARDIS-cover notebook by River's bedside, which she uses as a diary to avoid "spoilers".
    • The Ponds make the Crop Circle to get the Doctor's attention. This technique of leaving dramatic messages in history is inspired by their previous interactions with River Song. Since Mels is River, this incident is what taught River that this technique can be used to contact the Doctor.
  • Stealth Insult:
    Hitler: Thank you, whoever you are. I believe you have just saved my life.
    The Doctor: Believe me, it was an accident.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • The Teselecta's "faint". When Rory points out "I think he just fainted," the Doctor looks visibly suspicious, and says, "Yes, that was a faint." Faint? Or feint?
    • Also the phrase "Whose murder?" by Amy, which could also have been "Who's murder" — as the camera moves slightly to center on the (out-of-focus in this scene) screen in the background that we know from a minute prior contains the Teselecta's record of the date and place of the Doctor's death.
  • Stunned Silence: In the middle of the episode, Amy and Rory are reduced to a baffled (albeit brief) silence upon realizing that their infant daughter had grown up to be one of their childhood friends, and had just regenerated into River Song.
  • Survival Mantra: "Fish fingers and custard", the words the TARDIS Emergency Visual Interface in the shape of Amelia Pond says to the Doctor, which he repeats over and over again to help him ignore the increasing pain caused by his poisoning.
  • Take That!: When you think about it, Hitler spends most of the episode in the closet.
    • Nazi Germany is also shown as ridiculously incompetent and inefficient in this episode, with River, Rory, and the Teselecta easily taking out Nazis in between them being incessantly mocked.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: Melody gives the Doctor one, but of course it turns out to be her poisoning him with her lipstick.
  • Think Nothing of It: Combined with Stealth Insult when the Doctor finds he's inadvertently saved Hitler's life. "Believe me, it was an accident."
  • Time Police: The "Department of Justice" organization behind the Teselecta's travel through time to catch war criminals that weren't punished in their lifetime.
  • Time Skip: For Amy and Rory, it's been three months since the events of the last episode — which is also how much time passed between the airings of the episodes.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: There's so much timey-wimey here that Rory feels a banging in the head.
    • Melody Pond herself makes sure her Oblivious to Love parents hook up. She had to point out her father's Single-Target Sexuality for her mother because her mother thought he was gay!
    • Spoilers; it turns out that River says it because the Doctor said it to her first.
    • Melody Pond decides to become "River Song" because the Doctor keeps calling her that, but he only does that because she introduced herself to his previous incarnation as "Professor River Song".
    • Amy named her daughter after her best mate Mels, who is her daughter, and Melody finding out who River Song is from Amy, who only knows who River is because she met her before.
  • Title Drop:
    • Mels' quote:
      Mels: Let's see... You've got a time machine. I've got a gun. What the hell. Let's kill Hitler!
    • The old "Doctor Who?" gag pops up again, this time done by the Doctor himself...
      The Doctor: You said she killed the Doctor... Doctor who?
  • Token Black Friend: Played With. Mels is Amy's best friend since childhood, who had not been introduced before this. Then we find out that she's actually Melody, who regenerated into a black girl before becoming River Song.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Comes up between Rory and Amy:
    Rory: I'm not gay.
    Amy: Name one girl in ten years that you've shown any interest in.
    Rory: [doesn't answer; leaves looking terrified]
    • It takes a minute or two after Rory's exit for Amy to realize that he's had a crush on her for the past ten years.
  • Voodoo Shark: The episode tries to explain away River's not regenerating in "Forest of the Dead" as her having given up her regeneration cycle to save the Doctor's life here. However, it was mentioned in that episode that the Heroic Sacrifice that River committed would also have permanently killed the Doctor had he been in her place, so this episode ends up "fixing" something that wasn't really a problem to begin with.
  • Wham Line: Mels' secret.
    The Doctor: As soon as you're well, I'll get [your parents] on the phone.
    Mels: Might as well do it now... Since they're both right here...
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Hitler gets locked in a cupboard and promptly disappears entirely from the narrative.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Amy is very quick to set the antibodies on the the Teselecta crew to save Melody. We're not given details on what the antibodies do exactly, but it's implied they electrocute people. After all, when they put you through your officially sanctioned termination, they warn you that you will experience a tingling sensation and then death.
  • Who Shot JFK?: One of the Noodle Incidents referenced above hints at some timey-wimey meddling in the Kennedy assassination.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: The Doctor and River's duel as she keeps trying to kill him and he, anticipating her, disarming her, mostly in advance.

Professor Candy: So then, tell me. Why do you want to study archaeology?
River: Well, to be perfectly honest, Professor, I'm looking for a good man.


Video Example(s):



Amy and Rory get the Doctor's attention by writing his name in a field. When questioned, Rory explains the reason for it was cause the Doctor never answers the phone.

How well does it match the trope?

4.5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / CropCircles

Media sources: