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[personal profile] tala_hiding
So. We're talking about the wedding of River Song.

Okay, first of all, I don't like River Song as a character. I like Alex Kingston, and I have nothing against the actress, and I like the way she portrays River to a certain degree, but I do not like the way River Song is written. I think she got the raw end of the deal when it came to dealing with the Doctor, and I think that it's unfair for her to be manipulated both as a child and as an adult. And I think that it's a major character flaw that we never actually feel what she feels for the Doctor - and this "love" that she has is her main motivation for accompanying the Doctor as a (potential) companion.

I know that in New!Who, there's much more emphasis placed on romantic and sexual relations in Doctor Who then there was pre-Eccleston (or pre-McGann, if you want to be nitpicky about it) and I think this is simply a reflection of the times and mores in our present day and age. And so to present River as a romantic companion, no, as THE romantic companion, the One True Love of the Doctor, is to cast aside the others that came before her as nothing more than shadows in the dark. And the thing is, I'm perfectly willing to accept that premise if it was executed in such a way that was belivable and understandable.

Look, Rose Tyler spent two years - three, if we count the year that she missed between "The Unquiet Dead" and "Aliens of London" - and it was very clear, even from the first few episodes with the Ninth Doctor, that there was already something between them that wasn't quite as platonic as we thought there could be. For goodness' sake, even a Dalek was able to see the love the Doctor had for Rose! So when, in "The Parting of the Ways", she was so desperate to get back to Satellite 5 even if it meant her own death millions of years in the future, even if it meant tearing the Doctor's beloved TARDIS apart so she could look into the vortex, you, the viewer, understood why she was doing that, and why she was so desperate to get back that she became the Bad Wolf. 

And when she and the Doctor were separated by the Void, behind the walls of parallel universes, it was absolutely heartbreaking in a way that very few TV shows have ever been able to achieve. Because you knew the Doctor loved Rose, even though he never said it; he burned up a sun to say goodbye. Contrast this with the Eleventh Doctor's treatment of River, and how he manipulated her into a Gallifreyan bonding just so that he could restore the timelines. I mean, he said it himself: "I don't want to marry you." He manipulated River's feelings for him - feelings that, in my opinion, aren't even grounded in a particularly strong motivation for the character - just so that he could save all of history, so that he could fulfill that fixed point in time. 

And look - Martha Jones spend a year with the Doctor, staying by his side despite his less-than-stellar treatment of her, braving The Year That Never Was to save the world from the Tofoclane and the Master's machinations, and then realizing that no matter how much she loved the Doctor, he was never going to love her back in exactly the same way. And she chose, good strong woman that she was, she chose to leave the TARDIS because she knew that it was already becoming unhealthy for her to spend so much time in close quarters with a man she was having a one-sided love affair with. And here's River Song, knowing full well what the Doctor's presence meant in a world where timelines are collapsing and history is bleeding into each other like wet ink on fragile pages, and what does she say? 

The Doctor: River, you and I, we know what this means. We are ground zero of an explosion that will engulf all reality. Billions and billions will suffer and die.
River: I'll suffer if I have to kill you.
The Doctor: More than everything living thing in the universe?!
River: Yes.

She was thinking about herself, about how the Doctor's death would affect her. Rose Tyler came back to the room in Torchwood, knowing full well she could die but was still able to push that all away just to help the Doctor. Martha Jones walked through hell on Earth, knowing how Jack and the Doctor and her family were being tortured by the Master on the Valiant but she soldiered on because she knew it was the right thing to do. Donna Noble gave up her life so that the timelines in "Turn Left" would return back to a world where the Doctor survived his encounter with the Racnoss.

One can argue that these pre-Moffatt companions were different - they gave up themselves for the Doctor. But isn't that what makes a companion a companion? That willingness to sacrifice what they hold dear because it's the right thing to do? I mean, Rose said it herself: the Doctor teaches us how to make better choices for the good of other people, not for our own selfish wants. 

I'm not saying that one should commit murder in order to restore to integrity of a time line - on the beach, I think River made the right choice at trying to stop herself (or rather, the astronaut suit) from killing the Doctor. I think that even in the most dire of circumstances, our choices are what defines us. And yet, she also chose not to let go of the Doctor - her refusal to touch him in the pyramids of Area 52 - says that she didn't save him because it was the right thing to do. She saved him, or rather, she chose not to kill him, because she wanted him for herself, because she needed him to know that "[She] can't let [him] without knowing [he is] loved. By so many and so much. And by no one more than [her]." 

And I think this is my main problem with how River Song is written - we're meant to empathize with her without actually knowing what we're empathizing with. When we first meet her, in "The Silence in the Library", we're allowed to catch glimpses of what she is to the Doctor, and I think that what the audience filled in was greater and more epic than what she was made out to be. She was given no agency whatsoever in how she grows up and how she becomes a character in her own right - kidnapped as a child, raised to be a psychopath, goes back in time to stalk her mother and father in an effort to find the Doctor and kill him... I mean, what happened to Melody's choice? Even her "love" for the Doctor feels forced, as though it's only there to fulfill the requirements of Time. It does not feel as though the Doctor deserves her love; it does not feel as though he loves her. Certainly, he's cheeky about it, and he cares about her, but I mean - in the Moffat-era, the epic love story is reserved for Amy and Rory, not the Doctor and River. In fact, in most of the River-centric stories post "A Good Man Goes to War" simply glosses over her emotions and choices and, most importantly, her motivations as a character in this overarching narrative of the Doctor in the TARDIS, traveling through time and space. 

True, I agree, she's a badass in the proper sense of the term. She fights, she carries a gun, she's the muscle to the Time Lord's might. But these are all superficial things, in my opinion. She's imprisoned for a crime she was programmed to commit, and yet she swings in and out of Stormcage like it's her own personal dance hall. This, to me, does not seem like a woman bereft of choice, but she does seem like a woman who has been pretending for far too long to be all sorts of things that she no longer seems true and real. She is an amalgamation of what the writer wants her to be, a puppet controlled by invisible strings, and I don't feel what she is as strongly as I feel for other companions, including Amy and Rory. 

And I think this is my main problem with River Song: she's all surface and very little depth. And if this is how Moffat is going to treat her in the subsequent episodes, and if/when River becomes the main companion of the Doctor, I don't think I'll be too interested in watching Doctor Who anymore. Because it's not going to be Doctor Who anymore - it's going to be "River who?"

Date: 2011-10-02 07:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farsh-nuke.livejournal.com
River is the Doctor's opposite, his mirror and duality. He would die for the universe, she would sacrifice the universe for him. Yes she does it out of selfishness but love is always selfish, what is marriage if not the ultimate declaration of selfishness 'I want you to be with me forever and nobody else' you might not see the depth because you think River should be a companion/pawn or live a life entirely independent of the Doctor that occasionally entwines with his but River is him in reverse. He had a life then accidentally became a hero out of necessity. She was created to be a killer, to stalk one man, and consciously decided to become a hero instead without changing her main motivation in life, to stalk that man.

And 'River Who'? isn't that just the perfect reason why River is the Doctor's perfect partner, she can steal the show from him

Date: 2011-10-03 03:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tala-hiding.livejournal.com
And 'River Who'? isn't that just the perfect reason why River is the Doctor's perfect partner, she can steal the show from him

However, I've been under the impression I was watching a show called Doctor Who, with a character called the Doctor, and not a show called River Who? which makes it an entirely different banana altogether.

Yes she does it out of selfishness but love is always selfish, what is marriage if not the ultimate declaration of selfishness 'I want you to be with me forever and nobody else'

I don't think love is selfish, and if that's the case, then we're all screwed. Furthermore, at least in DW, with previous companions, it's always shown that their love is for the good of other people, not for themselves. Jack died, the last man standing on Satellite 5, for love of the Doctor and to give him time to save the human race. We can argue that yes, Rose did a selfish thing in trying to get back to Satellite 5 as well because she wanted the Doctor safe - and by safe, she means blowing the entire Dalek fleet out of the water. Martha's selfish as well, yes, in that she loved a man who couldn't love her back - but that love enabled her to walk through hell on Earth for a year, a preacher-like figure that reminded the human race to believe in something. And Donna - Donna gave up her life for a man she's never met simply because she believed there was something better for everyone else, even though she wouldn't exist in that timeline.

And even when you look at Amy and Rory - Rory waited for 2,000 years for Amy in the Pandorica, even though the Doctor told him she would be safe, he still waited for her and stood guard by her. I don't think that's selfish at all. And when Older!Amy sacrificed her place on the TARDIS for Young!Amy to survive, I don't think that's selfish either.

She was created to be a killer, to stalk one man, and consciously decided to become a hero instead without changing her main motivation in life, to stalk that man.

First, I don't think she consciously decided to become a hero. In "Let's Kill Hitler", she was moved by his heroics, and his care for his companions despite his imminent death, and I think that simply resonated in her, that here is this man whom everyone up until that point in time is telling her is a killer and a murderer and will destroy the universe, and yet in front of her is simply a man who wants to do what's best for everyone, who cares too much.

(TBH, I don't think the Doctor also started to wanting to be a hero. He wanted to escape Gallifrey, and he wanted to see the universe, and he had a very good sense of what was right and what was wrong, and he couldn't stand to see children cry. I think that the last two is simply basic decency, not heroics.)

Furthermore, stalking is a rather unhealthy occupation, and I don't think anyone in their proper frame of mind would equate stalking with love.

Date: 2011-10-03 02:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farsh-nuke.livejournal.com
See what you're doing here is looking at a poem and obsessing over the punctuation.

'However, I've been under the impression I was watching a show called Doctor Who, with a character called the Doctor, and not a show called River Who? which makes it an entirely different banana altogether.'

And yet I've seen so many people (on the Doctor Who Livejournal Community) complain that River's life is entirely about the Doctor and lacks agency so which is it? Is River's life devoted to the Doctor enough that a programme about her would really be a programme about him or should these people calling moffat a sexist stop speaking like imbeciles?

Again in your 'Well this is what Rose/Jack/Martha/Donna did' thing your missing entirely the point. They were companions, pupils, pawns, even Rose, people the Doctor used in his battles but didn't really love as equals because he felt the need to protect them. The Doctor and River are equals precisely because their relationship is so often unequal and the Doctor out of his depth.


'First, I don't think she consciously decided to become a hero. In "Let's Kill Hitler", she was moved by his heroics, and his care for his companions despite his imminent death, and I think that simply resonated in her, that here is this man whom everyone up until that point in time is telling her is a killer and a murderer and will destroy the universe, and yet in front of her is simply a man who wants to do what's best for everyone, who cares too much.'

Yeah, you just described the reason River consciously, deliberately, on purpose, with thought out reasoning, decided to be a hero? In other words your argument against is agreeing entirely with what I've said.

'(TBH, I don't think the Doctor also started to wanting to be a hero. He wanted to escape Gallifrey, and he wanted to see the universe, and he had a very good sense of what was right and what was wrong, and he couldn't stand to see children cry. I think that the last two is simply basic decency, not heroics.)'

Again saying exactly what I said, he had a life before and accidentally, unconsciously, not on purpose, became a hero. Your argument against concurs precisely with what I've said only using more words.


'Furthermore, stalking is a rather unhealthy occupation, and I don't think anyone in their proper frame of mind would equate stalking with love.'

I agree entirely, I was not calling that love, rather a leftover from her conditioning but if you love someone who wants and needs to be free, unwilling to let things get domestic (I imagine the Doctor's worst nightmare is an argument about who's doing the washing up lol) then the best you can do is meet up from time to time, or if you're a time traveller, near constantly but in small doses so to your partner you're a stalker who keeps showing up every few months or years.

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