the geek life

Doctor Who Commentary: Thoughts on River Song

So, I mentioned briefly in the comment section of my post about Rory that I think River Song might be a paradox and that is why Rory keeps “dying.” Or, rather, that he only is alive because he must be alive for River to exist. This will undoubtedly cause problems in the next several episodes if that is true. But follow with me for a moment.

Some things about River:

  • She has known the Doctor since she was a little girl.
  • She elicits fear in the clerics who escort her in “The Time of Angels.” They ask if the Doctor “knows what she is” and she doesn’t want him to know yet.
  • She thinks (at least at one point) that she’s living her life back to front in comparison to the Doctor.
  • River has been a professor, a doctor and is an archaeologist.
  • She is definitely an adventurer and knows how to use her laser gun thing.
  • She has hallucinogenic lipstick which works somewhat like the Doctor’s psychic paper.
  • She reveals in the finale of Series (season) 6 part 1 that she is Amy and Rory Pond’s daughter, Melody: Melody Pond = River Song. (Oh, and yes he’s Rory Williams but really they are Mr. and Mrs. Pond. That’s just how it works with Amy.)
  • Because her parents honeymooned on the TARDIS, River has traces of Timelord DNA.
  • ┬áRiver is in jail for killing “the best man (she’s) ever known.”

So let’s move a little forward with this.

I think the general idea about the Doctor not knowing “what” River is (notice the “what” and not “who” used here) is that the Doctor doesn’t know she possesses Timelord DNA. I have to wonder, though, if the “what” she is happens to be a paradox. Her father is Rory Williams, who has died multiple times (as I discussed previously). We’ve been told there is a payoff for this and that he’s “really” died once. If Rory dies before he and Amy get married and have their daughter, then clearly he cannot actually marry Amy and have a daughter. It stands to reason that if Rory dies and stays dead before the wedding, that River will never exist. If Rory keeps dying because the universe is trying to correct a mistake… what mistake is that, exactly? Is the problem that he is alive or is the problem that he’s alive and there’s a daughter running around. If her dad died before he fathered her, River should not exist herself. A paradox can cause all sorts of problems in the universe (including tearing the universe apart). Another time when the Doctor tried to change a piece of history (by saving someone who was supposed to die to inspire her descendents to greatness) the “universe” acted to correct itself and the character died anyway, so the idea has precedence.

This has some interesting implications. If (as I suggested) Rory only exists because Amy believes he does, then River should not have ever existed. Strange things happen to River, including being pulled into the TARDIS which starts to explode for some unknown reason (in “The Pandorica Opens“). This makes sense– if you put a paradox and nothing else into a time machine, then what will happen? I think it could be very likely that the time machine would explode and put cracks in the universe that seem to “undo” things all around it. When the cracks appear, anyone or anything pulled into them has never existed, including Rory. This could be an extension of the universe (or the TARDIS) trying to erase River, but it’s caught in an endless loop of the same moments because Amy is believing Rory into existence and therefore holding River in existence as well.

The cracks in the universe disappear only after River is out of the TARDIS and the Doctor goes inside… and follows Amy all the way back until her childhood. It tries to undo everything that happened to Amy… but Amy remembers the universe back into existence including Rory (whom the Doctor has reminded her of in her sleep as a child) and therefore Rory must exist in this version of the universe. This also means that River will therefore exist.

Now that you’re thoroughly confused, what about this idea of killing the best man she’s ever known? There are definitely options for this. One theory is that she killed the Doctor (if she is the little girl in the astronaut suit at the start of Series 6, etc), which we see on camera. It’s also possible that this is the extremely put-upon, self-sacrificing twin (ganger) of the Doctor and because he was willing to give his life it made him a “better man” in her eyes. It’s also entirely possible that she kills Rory, her own father, who is quickly becoming a hero of some legend in the universe. It could be that she kills him in a conventional sense and is therefore locked away in the Stormcage, but what if he dies because she is a paradox and because she continues to live it makes people afraid… and so she is imprisoned. It’s an interesting thought. She might not have purposely killed anyone. Or maybe she did, but only when asked by that person (the Doctor? Rory?) in order to save the universe as a whole.

I’m sorry if these thoughts are disjointed, I’m just writing them as I think of them. River’s very interesting to me and I enjoy her interaction with the Doctor, especially because it’s one of the rare instances where he doesn’t know more than everybody else in the room and I think it’s good and healthy for him to have a dose of his own medicine.

Six days until new Who episodes. I’m so excited.