Rest in Peace River Song

RIP River Song

She was magical. She walked into the Doctor’s life like she belonged in it. She wrote in Gallifreyan and she always seemed to know more than the Doctor. She was brilliant, and she was saucy and fun as hell.

Then she was a girl. A confused, lovesick girl. She tried to destroy the universe to prove her love, not bothering to come up with a better plan.

Then she was Professor Song again. She didn’t know anything special though, not anymore. She was just along for the ride.

There were no more stories to tell with River Song. The show moved on without her.

River was fun and clever and delightful. But she was an essentially flawed creation on Moffat’s part. There just wasn’t the storytelling time to give her justice. We didn’t see her fall in love with the Doctor; we saw her just being his wife. We didn’t see him fall in love with her, we just saw him kiss her goodbye.

We didn’t get to spend time properly getting to know River, because she wasn’t allowed to be in any “everyday” episodes. We know Clara and Amy really well because they’re always around, so we understand the nature of their relationships with the Doctor. But with River, the most important developments were always offscreen. Even the moment the Doctor took her to the singing towers happened between episodes. We never got to see him realize that he was never going to see River again. It wasn’t until the end of the season that we were informed that the sorrowful Doctor we saw in “the Snowmen” was, in fact, mourning all three of his Ponds.

In the end, spending tons of time with the Doctor and only rarely seeing River come into his life meant that he never really seemed like her husband, although she always seemed like his wife. It meant her character, which at the beginning was larger than life, was bigger than the Doctor’s life, was slowly reduced over the years until she was just his wife. And now she’s gone.

But I’ll say this: most of the time, it was fun as hell to watch them run.

goodbye sweetie

Other Discussions about Series Seven:

Comparing the Mysteries of Clara and River

Clara Oswald as Bad Wolf

Clara and Rose

The Impossible Girl, Writer of Her Own Story: A Look Back at Clara’s First Year

The Doctor: Destroyer of Lives

Episode Reviews:

The Name of the Doctor

Nightmare in Silver

The Crimson Horror

Journey to the Center of the TARDIS

Hide

Cold War

The Rings of Akhaten

The Bells of St John

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7 thoughts on “Rest in Peace River Song

  1. I just discovered your page, and am enjoying it. Many others have said this is the goodbye to River Song, but I did not get that out of the episode. The fact that she was still connected to Clara, meant yes, Clara was not dead. But the Doctor would have gone looking for Clara anyway in the time vortex. The spoiler comment could just be something that Moffat is leaving us with as a open good bye, but I do not think we have seen the last of River Song. And call me sappy, but I think their story is a true love story, and I loved the piece last night. Their running together has always stood outside the main storyline and will always do so. He has to give her the sonic, and she may very well return. We did not see her tombstone. The one we saw was only a ploy. I did love the episode and look forward to this November.

    • Everyone to their own ship, but I really do think this was the end for River. River didn’t recognize Clara, which means they had never met before River’s death. And River and the Doctor had the lovely bookends of River’s first words being “Hello Sweetie” and her last words being “Goodbye Sweetie.” But you’re right: the doors are open for a return.

      Thanks so much for reading!

  2. Pingback: The Impossible Girl, the Writer of Her Own Story: A Look at Clara Oswald’s First Year | Remember the Ladies
  3. Pingback: “The name I chose is ‘The Doctor.’ The name you choose is like a promise you make”: The Name of the Doctor | Remember the Ladies
  4. I also think that this is the end of River’s story but I have never felt any disappointment in her story after the reveal that she was Melody.

    Because their story was back to front, you mostly end on the ‘young confused River’ faze, but it’s clear that her years in prison are what built her into RIVER SONG.

    I can imagine how that happened. I don’t necessarily need that spelled out.

    It’s also obvious to me that post-prison River is much calmer and more centered, with her own life as a professor. She is River Song, archeologist. That’s why she doesn’t want to travel with him all the time. She has her own life.

    It’s actually quite brilliant how Moffat in one short clearly sketched all three ‘faces’ or life stages of River.

    At 40+, I can really see my own progression from scared girl, through my current battle through life stage, to eventual self-actualization I can see on the horizon.

    And it’s not a shipper thing. I love that now we can assume that The Snowmen was post-Library. I’m not feeling Clara’s personality strongly yet, though I agree that her main characteristic is a clear declaration that she travels on HER terms and not the Doctor’s.

    But I don’t know any of her likes or dislikes or hobbies or personal beliefs yet. I look forward to learning about them in the next season.

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