“Hello, old friend. And here we are. You and me, on the last page. By
the time you read these words, Rory and I will be long gone. So know
that we lived well and were very happy. And above all else, know that we
will love you always. Sometimes I do worry about you though. I think
once we’re gone you won’t be coming back here for awhile. And you might
be alone. Which you should never be. Don’t be alone, Doctor. And do one
more thing for me. There’s a little girl waiting in a garden. She’s
going to wait a long while, so she’s going to need a lot of hope. Go to
her. Tell her a story. Tell her that if she’s patient, the days are
coming that she’ll never forget. Tell her she’ll go to see and fight
pirates. She’ll fall in love with a man who’ll wait two thousand years
to keep her safe. Tell her she’ll give hope to the greatest painter who
ever lived. And save a whale in outer space. Tell her, this is the story
of Amelia Pond. And this is how it ends.”
“Another profound change came to the Doctor’s life with the arrival of someone completely unique: River Song. She’s an archaeologist, time traveller, TARDIS pilot, detective, and the Doctor’s future wife. Or is it past wife? Marriage is so complicated!” - Alex Kingston, narrating Farewell To Matt Smith [x]
I have made my bitter sweet arrival at the top spot of this list and I suppose, for some people, this might seem like an odd choice to make above all the others, but for me, it represents everything that is the Eleventh Doctor’s era. This is a normal episode of Doctor Who featuring all four core members of the cast playing off of each other as relationships unfold in the middle of a plot that pulled me in like no other.
Coming just after a huge finale to end series 5, this episode brings the characters back together creating what is my favorite consecutive run of episodes to come out of the last seven series. If the series 5 finale has one of the best ever cliff hangers in The Pandorica Opens, this episode has one of the best opening sequences in Day of the Moon as the characters have been torn apart and are seemingy being hunted down like animals to be killed or locked in a cage.
But everything begins much more calmly at home with the Ponds. In series 5, Amy wants nothing more than to run away from her marriage, her real life, and her future. In series 7, Amy has doubts about how much longer she can keep traveling with the Doctor avoiding her real life. But in series 6, we are right in the middle of Amy’s journey as she is both happily living with Rory yet itching to continue adventuring with the Doctor and her husband, combining the two worlds.
Then, arrives a Tardis blue envelope summoning them to America to join the Doctor and River in a sweet picnic that spirals quickly into darkness while the three Ponds witness the Doctor calmly walk to his death. As the Doctor falls to his knees on the side of Lake Silencio, we have a heart wrenching scene that rips at the souls of these two women who love the Doctor so much. Amy pleads with River to tell her he isn’t dead as she is unable to control her emotions while River, so much older and knowledgeable, collects herself despite the pain written over her face and proceeds with the situation maturely. With the silence controlling so much of her memory, it is said that she doesn’t really remember much of that day on the beach the first time she was there, but certainly she knows what is happening and it’s still killing her. The Doctor will get in trouble for making her live through this later, but she needed to be there for so many reasons.
As the Ponds bid farewell to the man they all a loved, an old man arrives with a message and the adventure begins. Canton Everett Delaware III is a great character for more reasons than his name. He is a strong, intelligent man who was kicked out of the FBI for being open about his relationship with another man. As a guest character with who’s relationship has no role in this episode, we are watching a small slice of this man’s life as he does his job and does it well. His love life has no impact on his performance as an FBI agent, yet he has been kicked out of the FBI for it. It’s a very subtle yet poignant story.
But of course, the real story unfolding here is the arc we had long known is coming. Who is River Song? If the series 5 finale was the one to really wow me with the plotting of this era, this is the beginning of me falling in love with it and that was solidified with nearly perfect, yet soul crushing jail cell kiss. I love the character of River Song, her relationship with the Doctor, and the unfolding mystery surrounding her. If I am going to be 100% honest, if it wasn’t for River Song and the arc behind her character, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing about this show right now.
But River alone wasn’t enough to make me fall in love with the era. The man who leads it all, the Eleventh Doctor, is a character who is not as instantly likable as David Tennant’s Doctor. The Tenth Doctor is the man boys and girls across the world would take home to meet the parents, but the Eleventh Doctor would never be quite so passable as a boyfriend. As time passes and his character grows in depth, the less that matters as he forms this incredibly nuanced character who can spin in circles with glee one minute and then threaten to destroy an enemy the next.
This episode is the true beginning of the Eleventh Doctor’s fall into a darkness that consumes him for the rest of his era. The dichotomy between light and dark in this character is what made me fall in love with him. He is a good man, a great man even, but he has done horrible, terrible things and he knows it.
The traits that show just how dark he’s getting are written all over him. He loves his bad girl, he fights the Silence, and he will proudly win, but he will suffer the consequences. It will ultimately take a massive failure and that woman with her own dark side who can see straight into his own to make him see the error of his ways. He listens; he always listens, but it is going to be a long journey that pushes the Doctor in every direction as this character develops into an even more fascinating man.
Matt Smith gave an amazing performance that defied age and one that made casting a 26 year old with the capability of playing an old man a brilliant move. And you know what, he was fantastic.