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A Good Man Goes to War

Warning: contains a lot of negativity

So, the Doctor gets a sword wielding Silurian and her maid/girlfriend, a Sontaran nurse, a bunch of other Silurians (who are they? where do they come from?), Jodoon, a 17th century pirate, his kid and a blue man to help rescue Amy and her daughter. The plan also involves Rory being tough at Cybermen for no discernible reason while CGI explosions go off behind him dramatically. He is also dressed as the Lone Centurion, although he only existed in the universe with no stars and should not be known in our universe. Shh, he looks good in costume and he gets a sword too.

Amy was kidnapped by a group of villains comprised of a military church, a bunch of headless monks and Travis Lady. They plan to use the baby as a weapon against the Doctor in a way that is never explained. Why the want to do this is never explained either, other than the fact they don't like the Doctor very much. Off course this will probably be explained in the second part of the series, only this viewer has stopped caring. These villains make the Doctor think he's won for a bit, before we all find out they did steal the baby after all. This does not seem to serve any purpose, other than making the Doctor feel really bad.

The episode mostly consists of various people saying Ominous, Symbolic, Meaningful things, whether they actually serve a purpose or not. There is no reason why River, for instance, cannot join the Doctor sooner, but both her scene with Rory and her appearing at the end are designed for dramatic effect, not narrative logic. People also keep going on about how the Doctor is dangerous or a warrior or whatever, but this is not in any way new and (as none of these people tie their statements to any particular incident) is not terribly interesting. What did the Doctor do to piss off these people in particular? Who cares, he's The Doctor.

We're all meant to be going "gosh wow!" at the shock revelation about River Song, but I doubt I'd be particularly moved even if this wasn't the leading "theory" on the internet. To be fair, I have never cared for River because Moffat rarely managed to convince me she's the awesome character that he tells us she is (he's rarely managed to convince me she's a character rather than a plot device at all; those would be the rare times she says anything that isn't either cryptic foreshadowing or innuendo), but even if I did like River I can't see how the fact she's Amy and Rory's daughter makes her more interesting. A character is (by definition) about what they do , not who they are. Yeah, the story isn't finished, she's going to be groomed to be a weapon, whatever. Like I said, I have now stopped hoping the story will make sense when All Is Revealed. Moffat has run out of credit with me regarding River's character, and I'm no longer interested in where he's going with her. When finished, River Song's timeline will be the exact four dimensional shape of a duck pond.

There were many instances of Idiot Plot, like the blue man who has up to that point been very reasonable (what was that he said about the instincts of a coward?) walking right at the headless monks claiming they wouldn't hurt him because they're old business partners. I'd come up with more examples, but going over the episode in detail is too painful. The Doctor has his own cot for some reason, which River remembers from being put into it for two minutes when she was a baby. Or rather her ganger being put into it. Oh and apparently you can make a start on a Time Lord baby by shagging in the vortex.

At strategic points we are distracted from the awfulness by the time honoured tactic of "look, a baby! Isn't it adorable!", which works in a desperate sort of way. The performances are also very good, but that only barely registered with me through the mind and soul numbing effect of the plot. To the extent that the episode had a plot.


I didn't enjoy the episode.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
Pretty much all I can say in response is: YES. This episode was just so frustratingly lacking!! For someone who loves timey-wimey stuff, SM is seemingly throwing actual continuity out of a window. That or he's secretly a mad genius who'll fool us all, but I doubt that more and more.

I say to make it up to us he gets Neil Gaiman to write a few more episodes.
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:55 pm (UTC)
but I doubt that more and more

Me too. Even if he does manage to deliver it doesn't change the fact I'm not enjoying the process.
Jun. 18th, 2011 01:43 am (UTC)
Here's the thing-we *know* he can write great episodes. "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances", "Girl in the Fireplace", "Blink", "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead." All some of the best episodes of the new series. So what happened? Is Sherlock taking up too much of his time? Does he need someone to watch over him to keep his wilder concepts in check? Perhaps, as Alan Moore once opined, a burly man with a large mallet needs to stand behind him to smack him in the head when he starts to wander off the farm?
Jun. 18th, 2011 02:04 am (UTC)
Perhaps, as Alan Moore once opined, a burly man with a large mallet needs to stand behind him to smack him in the head when he starts to wander off the farm?

Perhaps he does. I think any writer needs that sometimes.
Jun. 7th, 2011 05:27 pm (UTC)
You've said it far better than I could!
Jun. 18th, 2011 01:08 am (UTC)
I agree with you on most of your points. I do think this is a two-parter stuffed into one episode, leaving out any sort of character development. Even so, Madame Vastra and Jenny stand out; so does Commander Strax. Enough that you wish you knew more about them. Blueboy? Not so much.

I'm glad someone else feels like Moffat's managed to make a total mess of things. While there have been some great scenes and characters this season, as for actually great episodes? It took Neil Gaiman to write it, and Suranne Jones and Matt Smith's acting to make it happen. Arthur Darvil has done a workmanlike job being treated as the series' "Kenny" (I'm waiting for him to start wearing an orange anorak). Special Amy is still special, a cipher at times and useless at others. And Alex Kingston gives River song some depth at times.

But right now, when the BBC is sharpening the knives, Moffat needs to up his game. Because if he doesn't the next season may be the last.
Jun. 18th, 2011 01:17 am (UTC)
I did enjoy the incidental characters, but I wish they were in a better episode. I would also like to know more about them and why the Doctor decided to call on them in particular. Only the blue man has a reason for being there that we know of (because he had dealings with the monks and Travis lady before).
Jun. 18th, 2011 01:32 am (UTC)
That's the thing-you know there's a backstory here, but the episode rushes by so fast it's left behind in the shrubbery. And I was very amused by the "Travis lady" reference (Blake's 7 rules!).
Jun. 18th, 2011 01:33 am (UTC)
I'm sure I'm not the first to make the connection. And it does.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )