TV Review: ‘Doctor Who: A Good Man Goes to War’

Doctor Who
Series 6, Episode 7: A Good Man Goes to War
Directed by Peter Hoar
Written by Steven Moffat
Starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston, Frances Barber, Charles Baker, Dan Johnston, Christian Chong, Joshua Hayes, Damian Kell, Neve McIntosh, Catrin Stewart, Richard Trinder, Annabel Cleare, Henry Wood, Dan Starkey, Simon Fisher, Danny Sapani, Hugh Bonneville, Oscar Lloyd, and Nicholas Briggs
BBC America
Air date: June 7, 2010

Doctor Who is certainly a show that often raises more questions than it answers and “A Good Man Goes to War” is a perfect example of this. Yet, when the series provides answers, it’s done in such a satisfying way that the various unanswered questions don’t matter. While “A Good Man Goes to War” poses many of these unanswered questions, there’s also a surprising amount of clarity. Before we dive into some of these queries, let’s take a look at the bulk of the episode.

We’ve seen various sides of the Doctor and we’ve often seen how the Doctor’s legacy is perceived by others, but this took that perception to another level. The fear this man is able to instill across the galaxy as he goes and collects his debts is a classic gathering of the team moment, but takes on a darker context when faced with the idea of war against a trained command force that’s been training to know every trick in the book.

I’ll touch on Matt Smith‘s performance in just a second, but if there’s anyone that deserves an a specific mention, it’s Arthur Darvill, who kills it in this episode. We’ve seen angry Rory before, but not quite like this. Using the legend of the lone centurion, Rory becomes a man to be feared alongside the Doctor and it’s chilling to see that performance from Darvill.

Speaking of the Doctor, Matt Smith gives another flawless performance here, tapping into an unprecedented amount of rage. The Doctor spends a fair amount of the episode seeking revenge on those that took Amy from him. In these moments, the Doctor is more human than we’ve ever seen him before. It’s great to see that this powerful and all-mighty Time Lord cares for those around him and is willing to do what’s necessary to reclaim the ones he loves. I think that factor is more dangerous than the Doctor could even begin to imagine.

After a much-anticipated wait, we finally get our answer about the mysterious past of River Song. The hints had been there through the season, so the revelation doesn’t come as a total surprise, but it does make me wonder how it will impact the future of Amy, Rory, and the Doctor. I’ll be interested to see how Amy and Rory handle River Song’s revelation and what they do next.

It’s clear that “A Good Man Goes to War” is a mid-season finale, but everything comes at such a frenzied pace that it almost feels like a season finale. While there’s still questions to be answered, I’m glad we’ve got an entirely new dynamic to drive the second half of the season.

This is Doctor Who at its finest and when it’s this good, few shows that can match it.

Quick Thoughts:

-You may notice that I didn’t have a review for “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People.” After watching both episodes, I didn’t really I feel like I had much to say about either part (outside of the ending of “The Almost People”). I felt it was another sub-pair two-parter, much like Series Five’s “The Hungry Earth” and “Cold Blood.” I found it interesting that both episodes preach similar concepts and have similar shock endings. (Although, I have to say that I enjoyed these episodes more than “Hungry Earth” and “Cold Blood,” both of which I felt lasted forever.)

-We’re in for a long wait for new episodes and with a title like “Let’s Kill Hitler,” that wait won’t be any easier, that it was for these first seven episodes of Series Six.

-It’s clear that Amy Pond is incredibly more important than we first even imagined. She rebooted the universe and now is semi-responsible for rebooting part of the Time Lord’s bloodline. I certainly didn’t think that this girl with the cracks in her wall would go on to become such a major fact in the future and legacy of the Doctor.

-I hope I’m not alone in thinking that the younger solider that gives Amy the cloth is a young River Song.

-“Good men don’t need rules. Today isn’t the day to find out why I have so many.”

– As much as I’ve ranted and raved about Arthur Darvill and Matt Smith, Karen Gillan has more than enough to handle here and continues to bring her best.

So that’s all we’ve got until this Fall. There’s a lot in “A Good Man Goes to War” to discuss, so what did you think of this finale? Sound off in our comments below!

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  1. “I hope I’m not alone in thinking that the younger solider that gives Amy the cloth is a young River Song”
    I’m going to have to disagree with that only because that girl died.

    Comment by David De Ryckere — June 21, 2011 @ 3:36 am

  2. “I hope I’m not alone in thinking that the younger solider that gives Amy the cloth is a young River Song”Not a young River Song, but LIKE a young River Song. Perhaps we’ll get to see her first encounter with the Doctor, as her situation has parallels to River’s.

    Comment by Emagination24 — June 21, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

  3. I think we’re taking Amy, Rory, and Doctor River Song far enough in our current incarnation. I think at this point they should move a little towards either

    A.a two part episode where we see the regeneration of doctor river song into our current. (imagine if you will, the doctor starts out the episode with an antagonistic river song that is trying to kill him, gains her trust, then joins up against a greater evil, only to die and regenerate into our current river song, thus establishing her as a later antagonist :D)

    B.Crafting up episodes to slowly move on from Amy and Rory. I’m scratching my head thinking “Okay, they’ve teased a baby since Amy’s Choice, but beyond more Scottish rage from Amy, what can they still bring to these characters?

    And the Doctor still has River’s brain downloaded to a computer. So how this all will tie up is very confusing to me.

    Comment by Matthew Sychantha — June 22, 2011 @ 9:32 am

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