So, I had a thought here as this episode played out. The Eleventh Doctor is such a goofy clown that he comes across as one of the most harmless Doctors in quite some time. He rarely if ever raises his voice. He goes everywhere with a big goofy grin. He’s phenomenally silly. He still saves the day, but he never seems very threatening even by Doctor standards.
It looks like the running theme for this Doctor though is this: the Doctor is dangerous.
That’s what I got as this episode played out, and not just because the cold open showed Rory of all people giving a badass line to some Cybermen, a group that apparently monitors the universe, to tell him where his wife is while the Doctor delivers his own message by causing all the Cybermen’s ships to explode outside their window.
See, Amy was taken by one Madame Kovarian, the mysterious eyepatched woman she kept seeing everywhere. Kovarian wants Amy’s newborn daughter Melody for…reasons. She ultimately gets the baby by the episode’s end, but Kovarian’s reasons are to build the ultimate weapon for the ultimate enemy, namely the Doctor. Kovarian has her own army, made up of those clerics from earlier and the Headless Monks, sword-welding hooded figures who, it turns out, are not just working off a colorful nickname.
But why the Doctor? Amy is baffled, but as the episode points out, the Doctor can get all kinds of allies by calling in favors and raise an army in what seems like seconds because the TARDIS can go anywhere at any time.
And he does! Lots of people owe the Doctor favors, and he calls his markers. True, this Doctor never loses his goofy, cheerful demeanor, even when he’s caught by the enemy–on purpose–because he set a trap. Between himself and Rory, he managed to recruit Madame Vastra, a Silurian from Victorian-era London who apparently just took out Jack the Ripper; Vastra’s human servant and possible girlfriend Jenny Flint; favor-broker Dorium Maldobar, who had dealings with the Monks and Kovarian just before the Doctor showed up to call a marker; Strax, a Sontaran nurse; and an army that includes a lot of Silurians and Judoon. The only refusal came from River Song.
Heck, we even got a quick appearance from Hugh Bonneville’s now space-faring pirate.
So, yes, the Doctor does seem to take the space fortress of Demon’s Run, and without killing anyone, but it turns out the whole thing was a trap, the baby Amy holds is a Ganger double, and the real Melody is long gone as a symbol of hope to people who fear the Doctor. Again, it seems odd to fear this Doctor. But even River Song says that “the Doctor lies” is a basic tenant of working with the guy, and there is something off about baby Melody because, well, due to the fact she was conceived in the TARDIS on her parents’ wedding night, she has some Time Lord DNA, so she can be a weapon against a force for good that, well, scares people because he managed to put together a plan and an army in what feels like minutes. If it weren’t for Kovarian somewhat anticipating the plan, it probably would have worked.
And it still may. The Headless Monks attack the group after the Judoon have left, take out a lot of Silurians, Dorium, a soldier who defected to the Doctor’s side because she only joined the army to meet him (again), and Strax, a Sontaran and a nurse and I hope he had some clones.
But what about the Doctor? Isn’t he (and Amy and Rory) in a low place then?
Well, that’s where River comes in, because it turns out her name is a mistranslation from a forest planet, a place where there are no ponds, only rivers. See, she is Melody Pond all grown up, and the Doctor realizing this sends him happily off to do…something.
So, is the relationship between these two more like the Doctor is a constant presence in River’s life or what? Like a childhood friend or something? I only bring it up because I somehow doubt anyone was thinking that when she first appeared since, you know, that was for a different Doctor with different companions.
But really, all this because the Doctor may seem goofy and harmless, but some folks apparently stopped to think about all the things he can do and had some…very different ideas on the subject.