After what has seemed like an unending three month stretch for fans, ‘Doctor Who’ returns tomorrow with the second half of Series Six. As we all prepare for the mid-series premiere, ‘Let’s Kill Hitler,’ let’s take a look back at what has happened this season, attempt to bring in some new fans, and speculate about what we can expect in the coming months.
First, for the uninitiated, here is a brief rundown of the characters and storylines one would need to know to jump in midstream. Let’s start with the main characters.
The Doctor (Matt Smith): Yes, that is his name. He is simply, the Doctor. Though he does have a proper name, we have never been told what it is. Sometimes, he’ll go by the alias “John Smith,” but he is primarily just the Doctor. So, who is the Doctor? He is a Time Lord. He is over nine hundred years old. He travels through space and time, fixing as many problems as he inadvertently causes. He is revered as a god by some societies, and feared as a demon in others. He tends to primarily make his way back to Earth, but it is not his only port of call. His home planet is called Gallifrey, but it and all of his people were destroyed in the last great Time War. He is the only surviving Time Lord still in existence (well, mostly anyway), and he spends his existence gallivanting across the cosmos in his ship, which is called the TARDIS (short for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space). It is a large ship that is disguised as a 1930’s-era British police call box. While just looking like an ordinary blue box on the outside, on the inside, it is a labyrinth of corridors and rooms that are all part of the ship. He never (well, mostly never) uses guns, and chooses instead to rely on his sonic screwdriver to get him out of scrapes. Over the years, his sonic screwdriver has pretty much become his magic wand. It can do just about anything he wants it to. While he is primarily a lone wanderer, he does tend to pick up traveling companions to share in his adventures. The most unique trait of the Doctor is his ability to regenerate: to change his appearance when he dies and therefore able to live on as a different person. As of now, he has regenerated a total of ten times, making this incarnation his eleventh.
Amy Pond (Karen Gillan): Amy is the Doctor’s current traveling companion. Meeting the Doctor as a little girl shortly after his most recent regeneration, Amy grew up believing that a fantastic, magical man would one day come and whisk her away to the wide universe. Due to a malfunction in the TARDIS, the Doctor failed to return to her when she was a child as he had promised, but instead met up with her again as an adult. Amy is not afraid of any danger, and always does her best to stand by the Doctor’s side no matter what comes up. There is the complication, however, of Amy’s engagement to a local nurse named Rory. Eventually, Rory joins the team, and the two of them get married. They are the first married couple to travel with the Doctor.
Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill): Now Amy’s husband, Rory is the third part of the most recent incarnation of what fans call “Team TARDIS.” While unable to really adjust to the idea of traveling the universe and fighting creatures beyond imagination at first, Rory quickly has assimilated into the lifestyle of being a time traveler. The poor man has been killed and brought back several times, erased from the universe, resurrected as a living plastic automaton, and finally restored to his former self after the Doctor reboots the universe. After spending a stint in Ancient Rome, and subsequently living through a thousand years as a Roman soldier, he now goes by the title of The Last Centurion. I’m condensing a lot of his story here, but let’s just say Rory’s been through some stuff and comes out the other end as nothing short of a superhero.
River Song (Alex Kingston): River is easily one of the most fascinating companions in the history of ‘Doctor Who.’ First introduced to audiences three years ago in the episode ‘Silence in the Library,’ River has been an unending source of speculation. Why is River so unique? Because when the Doctor first met her, she already had a lifetime of memories with him. She had her own sonic screwdriver, and she knew how to fly the TARDIS. It was also rather heavily implied that she and the Doctor had been married. As they have encountered each other later on, it has become clear that they are meeting only at intersecting moments in two distinctly different timelines. His first meeting with River was her last meeting with him, and as they meet more and more, their timelines continue to converge. But the mystery of River Song goes even deeper than that. She and the Doctor share a very unique connection that even the Doctor can’t fully decipher. Most of her existence seems to be as one of a fugitive, and her crime is one of unprecedented severity. It has been heavily implied that her crime was killing the Doctor himself. River has been a source of ceaseless speculation among fans. Aside from being a phenomenal warrior woman, she is also an enigma that needs to be figured out. The most recent mid-series finale gave us a big reveal as to who and what River actually is. But, as with any good story, even a reveal as momentous as this doesn’t answer all the questions.
So what has been happening with the Doctor and his companions? Well, for the sake of brevity, we’ll focus on the events of the past half series.
A newly married Amy and Rory, after having some fun adventures with the Doctor, are now back home and trying to live their lives. But there is that urge to find the Doctor again and join him in more adventures yet again. When the Doctor suddenly invites Amy, Rory and River to a secluded area in America, they are horrified to see the Doctor murdered before their very eyes. A mysterious astronaut emerges from a lake and shoots the Doctor. Before he can regenerate, he is shot again, ceasing his regeneration and killing him completely. To make matters even stranger, after they have a funeral for him, he suddenly shows up again. This Doctor has no memory of inviting them, but was rather invited himself. They are then swept into a new mystery. President Nixon is being harassed by a strange young girl who continues to call him. In trying to piece together what or who this girl is, they discover something even more sinister: a race of alien beings known as the Silence. These creatures have the ability to make you forget everything you’ve seen and done once you look away from them, effectively erasing any memory of their existence from everybody they meet. Using special recorders, the team is able to send messages to themselves after having their minds wiped to jog their memories.
The Doctor discovers that the Silence have been manipulating humanity for thousands of years with subliminal suggestions. The Doctor uses this trick against them, and embeds a message of the Silence ordering humanity to kill them into the live broadcast of the 1969 moon landing. Now all of the Earth’s population are killing off the Silence without any memory of having done so.
But the bigger mystery is that of the little girl who had been calling the president. Tracking her down to an abandoned orphanage, they discover that this girl has been held by the Silence inside a specially made astronaut suit. They discover also that the girl has pictures of her as a baby with Amy, seemingly as her mother. Amy has only just discovered that she is pregnant. Is this girl her daughter? And is she the one who killed the Doctor? To add another element of strangeness to it, the last time we see the little girl, she regenerates like a Time Lord does. These are the questions and speculations that will stay with us through the course of the series.
After their adventures in America, the team joins a pirate crew to help them fight a mysterious siren, but that’s not all that interesting. What is more intriguing is the fact that Amy is beginning to see strange visions of a sinister looking woman with an eyepatch. She appears by sliding open a panel, and then offers Amy chilling words of encouragement. To make matters stranger, the Doctor continually scans Amy and finds her readings to phase between being pregnant and not being pregnant. There is something strange going on with Amy.
We then have a small detour out of the universe entirely and into a small junk planet that exists outside of space and time, and is a graveyard for dead Time Lords and their TARDISes. The heart of the Doctor’s own TARDIS is downloaded into a woman, and for the first time, the Doctor and his beloved ship are able to verbally interact with each other. This episode, entitled “The Doctor’s Wife,” is written by sci-fi master Neil Gaiman, and it worth seeing on its own just for the amazing interactions between the Doctor and his TARDIS.
Returning to our universe, the team next encounters an acid mining operation that uses a special technology simply called Flesh. The Flesh creates exact duplicates of people that can be used to do dangerous work and be disposed of. These duplicate people, known as ‘gangers (short for doppelgangers), are becoming more and more self aware and demanding of their own rights as sentient beings. The Flesh even manages to duplicate the Doctor, whose Time Lord physiology is far more complicated than a human’s.
Amy’s visions of the strange woman, now known as Madame Kovarian, are becoming more pronounced. By the end of this episode, the Doctor has finally worked out what is going on with Amy. They have been traveling with a Flesh duplicate of her, while the real (and quite pregnant) Amy has been held captive by Kovarian for the purpose of taking her baby.
The mid-series finale, “A Good Man Goes to War,” is the Doctor and Rory’s assault on Kovarian’s stronghold, an asteroid base known as Demon’s Run. Recruiting people throughout time, the Doctor and Rory lead an attack to rescue Amy and her newborn daughter, Melody. Rory attempts to recruit River to the cause, but she tells him that this is one battle she can’t be a part of. Demon’s Run, in her timeline, is a very significant battle that changes everything for the Doctor and reveals to him who she really is.
The Doctor tries to talk to Kovarian and determine why she has gone to all this trouble for Amy’s baby. Kovarian tells the Doctor that her baby will be raised to be a weapon that will end a war that has been raging for decades…against the Doctor. Melody is a unique creature, as she was conceived in the TARDIS (Amy and Rory did spend their wedding night there) and possesses the traits of a Time Lord.
In the ensuing battle to try to get out of Demon’s Run, the Doctor discovers only too late that the Melody that they thought they had rescued was actually just a Flesh duplicate, and Kovarian still has the real Melody. As Kovarian escapes with Melody, River finally appears on Demon’s Run for her big reveal: She is Melody. This entire time, Amy and Rory have been traveling and fighting with their own daughter. After this reveal, the Doctor takes off on his own to find Melody and entrusts River to get Amy and Rory home safely. Something tells me that promises to be a very awkward trip.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us with months of speculating what we can find. The speculations have only been fueled by some very enticing trailers and a suspicious prequel that you can view below. One of the shots that has set most fans abuzz is one quick shot of River decked out all like Madame Kovarian, eyepatch and all. This has led many people to wonder if River is Kovarian. Did she orchestrate her own kidnapping? What does this mean for how River was raised? And if young Melody is in fact the same girl who was in the astronaut suit, and who killed the Doctor at the very start of this series, does that mean that River is the one who kills the Doctor? More importantly, if she did kill the Doctor, did she do so willingly, or was she forced? If she is the sinister woman who kidnaps her and turns her into a weapon, is that distinction even relevant? Am I even making sense anymore?
Whovians have co-opted a phrase that the Doctor used back in Series Three, in the classic episode “Blink,” to describe how confusing time travel can get: wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey. It may not be a technical term, but many a fan have found themselves uttering this phrase in frustration as they try to suss out what everything we’ve seen thus far means, and how it all ties together.
What can we expect from tomorrow’s premiere? Well, it’s called “Let’s Kill Hitler,” so there’s that. If what we’ve seen in the first half of this series is anything to go by, we’re in for one wild ride in the TARDIS with the second half.
UPDATE: As of right now, BBC America is running a marathon of these episode so you can catch up! Go check it out!