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Because River Song, Because the Doctor, Post #87 - Laura Wise

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December 26th, 2015


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10:35 am - Because River Song, Because the Doctor, Post #87
I had a pleasant, quiet, sugar-indulgent Christmas Day (thanks to the neighbor who came over with a plate of goodies in the morning), in which I waited (im)patiently for what was for me the main event -- the Doctor Who Christmas Special, "The Husbands of River Song."

It was EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED. And I must thank S Moffat for that script, because for me it's always about River and the Doctor. River herself means so much to me.


River Song is sometimes -- often -- derided as a Steven Moffat fantasy girl: sharp, powerful, resourceful, witty, bit of a Mary Sue maybe, focused on the Doctor too much. For me, though, her power is exactly the point. She's a female hero with a fair dash of anti-hero mixed in, and she's a woman of a certain age doing all the things heroes (and anti-heroes) do. Because it's Doctor Who we've seen her almost exclusively with him, but there have been plenty of allusions to the adventures she has on her own.

At the same time she's a glamorous woman who is equally comfortable in boots and leather jacket or drop-dead-gorgeous gowns and Louboutins. She is not defined by traditional markers of femininity but enjoys and/or deploys them. (Poison lipstick, anyone?) And, again, she's a woman of a certain age. Kingston is stone cold gorgeous, but she doesn't appear to have any work done; she looks like a super fit woman in her late 40s.

It's just... middle-aged women don't see many of those kinds of characters, okay? (Note: I say this as a white cishet woman, and I acknowledge that women of color and queer women have even fewer examples of representation.) I mean, there's Marion Ravenwood in the last Indiana Jones movie, and River. I adore them both, but... that's about it.

The romance between Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor and River Song was quietly subversive, too, in that despite the Doctor being hundreds of years old, he looked like a floppy-haired twenty-something hipster: it was the visual representation of a younger-man/older-woman relationship, shown matter-of-factly and without meta-commentary. We don't see many of those, either.

The only knock on the Eleven/River relationship might be that although she was referred to as his wife, we got romance in very small bits and bobs; part of that was timeline shenanigans, of course, as they were living their love story in opposite directions. Timey-wimey, handwave handwave....but this Vanity Fair article offers a widespread reaction to this: more frustratingly, River never truly got her romantic due as the Doctor’s wife.

I don't completely agree with that estimation of the MSmith era stories, but it's true that we didn't ever get a full-on hour dedicated to just the Doctor and River. Especially after the regeneration into Twelve I was resigned-ish to never getting it, despite Russell T Davies opining in various fora that Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston together would be "a sex-storm." I hadn't reckoned on S Moffat's love for the character, however. I hadn't reckoned on him writing himself and us such a gift.

(Moffat: I didn't know how Peter was going to play it, but in any incarnation the Doctor "loves his River." Moffat: Kingston brings vulnerability, "camp, and glamour" to the heroine I write. Me: [heart-eyes] [heart-eyes])

We had sparkling screwball comedy, played expertly by Capaldi and Kingston -- who are indeed a duo for the ages. But we also had Moffat's script explicitly addressing the criticism that the Doctor doesn't love River the way she loves him, and in the last third of the episode we had moments of such great depth and tenderness that I cannot even express my reaction. Tears, people! Tears from them and from me!

Also, best "Hello, sweetie" EVAH.

Y'all, that was "the essence of true romance" [h/t Steely Dan]. And I CANNOT WAIT to see it on the big screen next week.


Lastly, applause to Peter Capaldi, who plays romance with women his own age (ie. River, and Anna Chancellor's Lix in the second season of The Hour) like a damn Golden Age of Hollywood Leading Man. Four for you, P Cap. All the applause in the world.

In conclusion, have a spoilery gifset. Because River Song. Because the Doctor.

May your Boxing Day be filled with delights!

(8 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:anne_d
Date:December 26th, 2015 05:34 pm (UTC)
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I teared up when River said that the Doctor didn't love her back. Capaldi was wonderful in that scene; you could see it sinking in that River really didn't know how he felt about her. And when he said "Hello, sweetie", I nearly lost it altogether. Didn't you just want to write their names with hearts all around them?

Yes, it is lovely to see powerful, attractive older women. It's a rare thing.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:December 26th, 2015 10:52 pm (UTC)
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I loved that moment so much. The way he SAID "Hello, sweetie," and the soft look on his face, and the slow blink he did... gracious sakes, that was something.

I am all heart-eyes all the time about those two. :)

Hugs!
[User Picture]
From:gwynnega
Date:December 26th, 2015 06:45 pm (UTC)
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I loved it!!
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From:laurawise
Date:December 26th, 2015 10:52 pm (UTC)
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It was so so perfect!!!
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From:ljrags
Date:December 26th, 2015 07:53 pm (UTC)
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This was near perfect I thought. I loved their interaction and the whole madcap adventure. Capaldi and Kingston definitely need to work together again. It was fantastic.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:December 26th, 2015 10:53 pm (UTC)
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Such a thorough delight in all ways. Moffat's making noises that next series will be his last as showrunner, so it'd be cool if he could bring her back one more time -- but even if this is her swan song, it's EVERYTHING. :)

Hugs!
[User Picture]
From:janus_74
Date:December 29th, 2015 12:44 am (UTC)
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Merry Christmas! I'm glad the Christmas special was everything you ever wanted :)
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:December 31st, 2015 01:38 pm (UTC)
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Happy New Year's Eve, T, and a great year ahead for you!

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