TV Review: ‘Doctor Who: Let’s Kill Hitler’

Doctor Who returned last week for the second half of its Series Six run and after the break we’ve got a review of the highly anticipated “Let’s Kill Hitler.”

Doctor Who
Series 6, Episode Eight – Let’s Kill Hitler
Directed by Richard Senior
Written by Steven Moffat
Starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston, Nina Toussaint-White, Caitlin Blackwood, Maya Glace-Green, Ezekiel Wigglesworth, Philip Rham, Richard Dillane, Amy Cudden, Davood Ghadami, Ella Kenion, and Albert Welling
BBC America
Air date: August 27, 2011

“Let’s Kill Hitler” makes my brain hurt.

Mind you, it’s a good hurt, but much of the discussion on this episode will have to fall under our spoilers section due to the massive amount of plot that occurs in this episode. Yet, there’s still plenty of non-spoiler stuff to talk about for those that have yet to watch it.

Steven Moffat is a talented writer and I should be better accustomed to his methods, but I didn’t think the villain severe that was contained in this week’s episode. Moffat’s able to play with our expectations of what will happen based on the title of the episode. I’m glad that things didn’t played out as they were perceived to be from the title. “Let’s Kill Hitler” is certainly more focused on the history and character of River Song. Series Six has much more of an overarching narrative than in Series Five, which had more serialized episodes. Even within this, the show hasn’t deviated much from the usual formula and is clearly building to a defined ending. Even throwaway episodes have had pieces that have made a difference in how the season has played out.

“Let’s Kill Hitler” starts the second half of this series in an interesting and engaging way and I can’t see what is set to come next.

Quick Thoughts:

– Rory is one of the coolest characters in Doctor Who history. Seriously.
– For those wondering, “Hello Benjamin” is a reference to The Graduate, which was referenced by The Doctor earlier this season. This quote was the first thing Mrs. Robinson says to a young Dustin Hoffman before beginning to seduce him into an adulterous relationship.
– I can’t help but feel that this episode was rushed in many ways. The pacing on Moffat episodes are normally on breakneck speed, but I felt this was one of the worst offenders.
– I quite enjoyed seeing Alex Kingston playing a different take on River Song than we’ve normally seen and her outfit looked pretty stellar this week, as per usual.
– Matt Smith has a lot to do in this episode and nails each aspect of it. I continue to love his take on The Doctor.

And now spoilers for “Let’s Kill Hitler.” You’ve been warned.

So, the young Melody Pond has adapted to her powers in quite a nice fashion and did end up being “˜raised’ by her parents after all. Time gets a little crazy here, as I’m still unsure how she ended up in the spacesuit and from New York City to her “˜growing up’ with Amy and Rory (I say growing up cause Mels reveals that she’s able to adjust her age). But it’s nice to get context on how impressionable she was, having just gone through a regeneration, she’s unsure of who she is and who she wants to be, and the Doctor gets to shape that for her.

This emotional core is so important to what makes Doctor Who successful a show and that element hits two-fold in this episode. While I still don’t have much context for the Doctor’s relationships with earlier companions, I do understand how much he can damage people and little Amelia Pond is a prime example for that. Yet, another question is raised here, what is the importance of fish-fingers and custard? Outside of the obvious connection to “The Eleventh Hour,” does anyone see a deeper meaning than that? Or is it something that will be uncovered at a later point along with what exactly the Doctor did in those minutes leading up to his death. On the Mels/Melody/River emotional side of things, it’s very powerful to see her give her life for a good man and it’s even more tragic to see her do this for a second time. It’s this emotional core that drives the show more than anything else, and an essential part of the show I could write a whole thesis on.

However, what are you thoughts on the larger question that gets brought up here? I can’t even begin to think about what the oldest question in the universe could be, (other than one of the oldest questions in the show, the name of the Doctor) but we know have context as to why the Doctor knew he was at his end at the start of “The Impossible Astronaut.” Regardless of what these next episodes hold for Amy, Rory and the Doctor, we know an astronaut is waiting and now the Doctor knows too.

What did you think of the episode and how excited are you for the return of Doctor Who? Sound off in our comments below!

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  1. I loved this episode. Alex Kingston continues to amaze as Melody/River. “Come on boys”. HEH.

    Comment by Anonymous — September 3, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

  2. I thought it was a good episode. But the whole MelMelody was a little too obvious for me. I mean it’s like Moffat couldn’t think of a better naming scheme! 
    One thing I found odd was when the doctor was dying and he goes into the TARDIS and when he comes back he is in a suite, the exact same one he had on in Amy’s wedding. Why did he change ?!!! and why is it the same outfit. 
    And I found the whole “Hitler is in the closet” extremely funny ^^ 

    Comment by Aya Basha — September 3, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

  3. I thought this was the weakest NuWho episode. Put me off to the point that I forgot about today’s episode, and am wondering whether it’s worth catching up. But then, the whole season was a bit of a mess so far.

    Comment by unwesen — September 3, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

  4. This regeneration of the doctor ought to have been Alex Kingston’s character. She’s stole the show from him. Can’t say I mind.

    Comment by tammie true — September 4, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

  5. Let me preface this by saying that there were some very amusing lines in this episode. Rory was great, from start to finish. The Doctor’s reaction to Amy and Rory’s crop circles (“Really?”) and his requesting permission from Rory before hugging his wife were perfectly charming. But allow me to discuss the source of my dissatisfaction with the episode and this season in general: The problem of River Song.

    This is the episode that completed River’s journey, in my opinion, from exciting and mysterious to tired plot point.

    I loved River’s initial debut, her character was mysterious but obviously integral to the Doctor’s future. Was she his wife? His lover? A future incarnation? A relative of some sort? The possibilities were endless. I for one assumed from the get-go that they were to be married some day in the far future, but I was excited about the other possibilities as well.

    I suppose it’s impossible to live up to the amount of hype when you build something up for so long, but for ages I waited for the day when the Doctor met a young River Song and their adventures would really begin. Alas, as details emerged about her convuluted pas- her imprisonment in Storm Cage, her
    posing as Cleopatra- she grew less consistent as a
    character and just became plot-device. By the time we got to her
    somersaulting into the Tardis swimming pool and shooting swarms of
    Silent in this season’s premiere, I was reaching my limits of tolerance.

    Then came the reveal the she was Rory and Amy’s daughter, and that baby Melody/River was also part Time-Lord. That’s when I started to worry. The end of “A Good Man Goes to War” featured the Doctor setting out to find baby Melody and bring her back so her parents could properly raise her.

    Flash-forward several months. The Doctor fails to find the child, and through a bit of heavy-handed exposition we are introduced to Amy and Rory’s never-mentioned best mate, “Mel”. Part of me finds the time paradox at work amusing. “You named your daughter after… your daughter” was a great line.

    But then the regeneration, and another shock reveal- Mel is Melody, Melody is young River Song, and Young River Song is… older River Song. Or at least an older Alex Kingston. … This was the twist the broke the camel’s back. I went from surprise to confusion to disappointment, and what followed only made it worse. The newly regenerated “Evil” River goes on a rampage through Nazi-Germany, overacting to a cringe worthy degree.

    The episode moves at breakneck pace, and by episode’s end River has been redeemed, the Doctor has died and cheated death yet again, and we learn, in perhaps the most offensive twist of all, that Time-Lords can resurrect the dead by using up all their regenerations and blasting the deceased with some-kind of healing wave of residual energy…

    After this Amy and Rory are content with leaving their adult daughter in a hospital at the end of the galaxy, since it’s apparently best to abandon her at this point as they have too much foreknowledge of her future.

    Oh, I forgot to mention- lost in the shuffle of plot-points pointless cameo by Hitler, shrinking rays, and little people in robots who torture famous war criminals. These little people believe that Melody Pond/River Song is somehow a worst offender then Hitler himself on account of her murdering the Doctor (I’m don’t even going to comment on the mind-numbing audacity of that claim. I know the Doctor is wonderful and all, but the murder of one Time-Lord is somehow a greater act of cruelty than the entire Jewish Holocaust? Wow.)

    What a mess.

    Now that I’ve recapped, I’ll ask the question that’s been on my mind since the episode’s premiere: Despite my distaste for half Time-Lord element of River’s origin, how much more effective would this plot thread have been if she had just regenerated into the ACTUAL younger version of herself? That is, Mel is shot, regenerates, and becomes another actress who resembles Alex Kingston? (The lovely Imogen Poots comes to mind, but I am a bit biased. Look her up though if you don’t believe me, she really looks and acts the part.) Where there no talented younger actresses out there who could carry the role forward?

    Most of the dialogue could have been kept unchanged, and in terms of story we would have opened a book into a completely different era. The coda at the end, with the Doctor leaving River the infamous Blue Diary would have been much more fitting, as would have seeing him accidentally teaching her about spoilers and “Rule One”.

    Now we are instead stuck with the idea of the Doctor’s adventures with River and their future life together taking place with a visibly aging actress in the role portraying her own younger self. There was a  throw-away line in this episode about “making herself age backwards to mess with everyone”. This is supposed to account for the fact that the River Song we met years ago in the Library- the one who died to protect the Doctor and the memory of their time together- is visible younger then this incarnation of her.

    Also, didn’t River have a line in The Impossible Astronaut about meeting the Doctor when she was a young girl? I don’t think that matched up at all with what we were given- “Mel” having lived a full life with Amy and Rory, then regenerating into her 48 year old self. And it’s been implied that River’s time with the Doctor lasts beyond this current incarnation, so there are tales and adventures to come with his future selves. How is that going to work exactly? Five years from now when Matt Smith moves on and we welcome the 12th Doctor, how will we tie in this Doc’s adventures with River, who will now be in her mid-fifties?

    Please don’t misunderstand me- I think Kingston has done an amazing job as River, but I feel like the writing really let her character down. This whole season feels like it’s been a giant retcon aimed at keeping her in the role, and in doing so they’ve sacrificed plot cohesion and ruined a lot of what made me love her in the first place.

    In the end, I’m just sad that it seems we’ll never get what we were promised  for several years, a series or two chronicling the Doctor’s Travels’ with his young companion/future wife River Song. It could have been amazing.

    Comment by Griffin Cologne — September 7, 2011 @ 4:56 am

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