The Husbands of River Song is the title for this years Doctor Who Christmas special and I had been looking forward to this ever since I first heard the title. The Christmas specials have always been a mixed bag but I have to say that I thought this one was very good and it was nice to see the return of Alex Kingston in her 11th appearance on Doctor Who as River Song. This post may contain a few spoilers so you might want to watch it first.
The interesting thing about River Song is her character and how her timeline interacts with the Doctor’s so you never really know at which point they are in each other lives, although this one gives some very strong clues but it is not until the end that you will understand the true significance of this part of the story. However I am jumping ahead a bit but for now I just say how much I enjoyed seeing River Song (Alex Kingston) again and I think she worked really well alongside the Doctor (Peter Capaldi).
The episode begins on an unknown planet in the 5353 and the Doctor is summoned to a crashed spaceship by an alien called Will Nardole (Matt Lucas) who introduces the woman he Knows as River Song. River and the Doctor have an interesting first encounter on the footsteps of the crashed planet before being taken inside to help her husband King Hydroflax (Greg Davies), part man but mostly machine who has a precious diamond buried in his head. Initially I thought it was going to be about helping the king, that was until we found out how terrible he supposedly had been and we were let in on the fact that Rivers marriage to him was more about the diamond than anything else but to be fair she is an archaeologist.
Predictably King Hydroflax learns of the plot to take his head and the diamond contained within and the whole sequence that followed where they got his head and tried to escape was a lot of fun and showed just how well River and the Doctor work together as a pair. Greg Davies also did a great job in these scenes with some very good interactions between him and the Doctor/River who had captured his head. Phillip Rhys played another of River Song’s husbands known as Ramone although he didn’t have a whole lot to do in this episode after he did his job and teleported the Doctor and River out of a dangerous situation.
Over the years the Doctor has had a number of companions from Rose to Martha to Clara and it is understandable that each and every one has been shocked and surprised at the size and scale of the Tardis, something that the Doctor seems to be more and more annoyed by. However in this episode Peter Capaldi got the chance to be on the other side of that reveal and oh boy he was brilliant at it, he did it i his typical sarcastic fashion and I thought it was just brilliant to watch. They didn’t end up spending that much time in the Tardis which is a shame but I did like the chemistry between them and it was an interesting case of role reversal and a highlight of the episode.
Having his robot body peruse them through time and space was an interesting development and added a bit more substance to some of the other character who were also doing a great job in this christmas special. The Doctor and River dematerialise inside a spaceship cruising though the andromada galaxy with all the bad guys in the universe and what started out as a retrieval of a precious diamond for the Halassi, turned into a an attempt to sell it. A double cross such as this is not that surprising but I though that they handled it in a nice way with and the usual light sense of humour. Spaceships are interesting places and there were several cool looking aliens on this one and while some were there to look interesting, there were some who added to the overall enjoyment of the episode while also helping to advance the plot.
As usual River has an ace up her sleeve and pulls over her very own version of the volcano day scam that some whovians may remember as one of Jack Harness’s plans before he met the Doctor back in 2005 with an episode called The Empty Child. Jumping forward a decade we have Rivers plan which sees the trouble go down just before a meteor storm hits the spaceship but the best bit about this sequence was River’s impassioned statement about the Doctor and how she loved him but how she believed he didn’t love her back. It was truly incredible to watch and the look on her face as she realises that the man she has been running about with in this episode was in fact the Doctor was just priceless and one of the best moments in the episode.
However the highlight of this episode was the sequence at the end that took place on a planet that featured the Singing Towers of Darillium. The Doctor clearly doesn’t want to go there and anyone that has been watching Doctor who for any length of time will know exactly why that is. The Singing Towers of Darillium is the last place that the Doctor takes River too before she goes to the Library where he will meet her for the first time and she will meet her end, a fact that we have known for quite a long time. Even though this means that River’s time with the Doctor is almost at an end this moment was handled very well and I am so glad that got all of the little details right including his suit, his hair and the sonic screwdriver that he gives her at the end.
The Husbands of River Song was a decent christmas special that served to show of the lighter side of Doctor Who with a nice story, a good supporting cast and the return of Alex Kingston as the lovely and incredibly talented River Song. This past series of Doctor Who has been a bit darker than usual so it was nice to have a christmas special that is light hearted with a very poignant ending between the River and the Doctor.