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Best of Matt Smith: A Good Man Goes to War

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Across the next couple of months Doctor Who TV is running a series of polls to celebrate Matt Smith’s era. We want you to cast your votes on every story and at the end we’ll be comprising a list to find the top scoring.

We continue Series 6 with the mid-series finale, A Good Man Goes to War. All you have to do is rate the story with your score out of 10, so get voting and join us again tomorrow for the next episode.

Step back in time...

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127 comments
Ae5gSWAG
Ae5gSWAG

10/10 for me watched good man goes to war about 8 times and have learnt the Demons run poem off by heart it for me is the best ever and smart the way it's made but sadish at the end!

OnceTheDoctor
OnceTheDoctor

8/10 - Got very complicated from here on but brilliant episode! Would have been even better if I hadn't have ruined the cliffhanger for myself by reading the spoiler on DWYG!

The Taker
The Taker

I wouldn't call it the best episode ever, I'm not sure if I would call it my favourite episode ever... BUT what I would definitely call it is the one episode that I'd watch at any given time, regardless of mood and whatever. It just gave me so many chills, so many thrills and so many feels that I can barely count, I honestly think it's one of the most epic episodes EVER created for Doctor Who.

To me, this was the pinnacle of Series 6 and its edge-of-the-seat storytelling and it actually managed to raise my future expectations so high, that I couldn't help but feel disappointed by S6 Part 2 (arc-wise), despite admiring or loving episodes like TGWW, TGC or TWOFRS. I just remember the first part of the series, when suspense was killing me every week, so much speculation, so many theories, incredible moments and jaw-dropping cliffhangers left and right... and at the middle, it all came down to this. I loved this arc.

Funny thing is, Moffat often gets blamed by the fandom for not transforming his genius ideas into satisfying resolutions. While I mostly disagree with that notion, I'd say that it's even more false here. This story - at least to me - felt like a long journey coming full circle, especially character-wise. It was the moment when Amy finally had to grow up. The dashing, feisty young woman, who would either act carefree or be carefree, who would just forget the consequences and have some fun, the one who had secretly refused to grow up, had to face becoming a mother at a moment's notice, had to face her child being taken from her, then returned to her, then taken from her again, all because of her association with the man she loved the most, save for her husband. Amy was a constant emotional storm in this episode, which hardened and matured her in many ways and Karen Gillan managed to portray this brilliantly - her enormously powerful farewell to Melody at the beginning of the episode always makes me tear up. In the same manner: remember when we first met Rory? He was easily being intimidated by a harsh boss of his, ever living in the shadow of the Doctor, only being a nurse and the second-best... This is where he came full circle, the moment he stood at gunpoint in front of armed-to-the-teeth Cybermen and demanded to know where his wife was. In the face of danger and tragedy, Rory finally ended up being the hero he had always wanted to be. Now, there was no intended heroism on his part, he was simply willing to do whatever he needed to save his wife and child, no matter what it cost. I'd argue that it was here (not at the Pandorica) that Rory finally and forever stepped out of the Doctor's shadow, with Darvill delivering a heart-warming and heart-breaking performance, every bit as good as Gillan. Honestly, this was where the first part ot their journey truly ended. And it couldn't have had a better resolution in my eyes.

 As for the resolution of River being the daughter of the Ponds, it totally made sense and never mind the notion that it was predictable. Honestly, it wasn't. It was one of many-many possibilities that were mentioned. Now, if fans have way too much time on their hands before a mystery is resolved, it is inevitable, that among the incredible number of theories, the actual one will surface, too (it happened with Harry Potter). Fact is, the week before AGMGTW aired, speculation was still rampant and although this result might have been among the front-runners at the imaginary bookies, it was far from certain that this is where we are going to end up. It was just another likely theory. For me, the first moment of certainty came when I noticed the name MELODY POND at the beginning of the episode, and put two and two together. Still, it did not hinder my experience one bit, and while the final reveal may not have been SHOCKING, they built it up really well and it truly ended up being a gamechanger, like Moffat claimed. It changed the game in that one journey was over and another began. What's even more important: it actually made sense. We could've been surprised more (and perhaps it's a disappointment that we weren't), but at the end of the day, the reveal of River's identity takes a well-deserved place in Whoniverse history and within years and decades, no one will care about what was and was not theoretised in the days prior. As for me, I'd much rather have this, than a shocker made just for the sake of shock. Also, for River, it was the end of a road (much like for his parents), as we now had much different 'how's and 'why's to ponder on than before.

 I could go on and on, how I loved the atmosphere, the supporting characters (Vastra, Jenny, Strax, Lorna and Dorium), how the speeches and lines of dialogue were so often bone-chilling (from the three leads, from River, from Kovarian, from Manton), how Matt Smith's Eleven has effortlessly gone through all of the emotional range of his ancient being, from the unforgiving fury of the Time Lord to acting like a clown - from flawless arrogance to self-deprecating remorse... but enough already.

 Let me just state - again - that I have enormous appreciation for this episode, it is definitely one of my favourites and besides TPO/TBB - and regardless of it's mid-season nature - it's perhaps the most complete and fulfilling 'finales' that Moffat has produced so far. A true classic of the new era, which unfortunately cannot really stand on its own, because of its arc-heavy format, but one that is, in my mind, one of the best episodes ever broadcast.

A firm 10/10 in my book.

JailBanksters
JailBanksters

I always thought some scenes could of been done better done differently.

The ending was a bit wibbly wobbly

Balatsoukas Pavlos
Balatsoukas Pavlos

Now, this is a tough one. As all the series 6 arc episodes, it is important. When one looks at it that way, it is not such a big deal - maybe a 6 or 7. However, it is not important for the arc alone, but for the whole mythology of the show. As a fan of the show as a whole, I tend to regard it in the latter way. So, a 9 out of 10...




WhoMallow666
WhoMallow666

I was very confused for most of it (how did the space pirates get there, weren't they in another dimension or something?) but it did introduce the Paternoster gang, some of my favorite NuWho characters, and Rory's badass moment with the cybermen rocks so 9/10

WhoPotterVian
WhoPotterVian

9/10- If Captain Jack had been in it like originally intended, it would be a 10.

Handbot10
Handbot10

A good story that fitted in the time it was given (most episodes seemed rushed in this series). I thought the concept of the headless monks were cool. They were awesome and slightly scary. I enjoyed this episode and was blown away by that shocking cliff-hanger at the end!

DawnTime
DawnTime

Hmm love this one a 9 from me yes has an epic movie feel.  love the line' "oh look you have made me angry" and I did not guess the River surprise at the end.

Polyphase
Polyphase

This story seemed to have been rushed. I'm afraid it gets 3/10 for me :(

TheCapaldiMasterplan
TheCapaldiMasterplan

Such a fantastic episode centred on the devastating impact the Doctor can have on the lives of those around him when he tries to show off and believes himself to be bigger than his enemies. Fantastic dialogue, brilliant guest cast (couldn't care less about Avery's return for all of five seconds though!) and the second part of this two-parter was just as good (although some people seem to dislike it).

WillHaigh
WillHaigh

Moffat's last good script until 'The Name Of The Doctor' came long.

Ninjauthor
Ninjauthor

a good episode if not that much happened. its essentially: the doctor attacks, kovarian escapes, river is revealed

lukashcartoon
lukashcartoon

10/10 Easily one of the best Episodes of this story arc. It has grand concepts here: How far does an enemy go to kill the Doctor; how does time work as a weapon against the time lord, how far has the Doctor gone in his quest and how being so prominent is a detriment.

There's also Rory's greatest scene as the Roman. Arthur Duvall has never been so heroic or determined to get his wife and child back.

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

8/10, a bit too much thrown into the episode, but it successfully shows the dark side of Matt's Doctor 


Pockydon
Pockydon

 9/10 

This is probably one of Moffat's best episodes, or at least it was when it first aired. It hasn't aged very well I don't think, mainly down to it's nature as a mid-series finale, but it's still a brilliantly written episode which sets up and examines a lot of the plot threads for series 6. The examination on whether or not the Doctor actually is a force for good is perfectly done here, as we see it through the eyes of his friends, and we see even more of how he's managed to completely screw over Amy's life. In fact, this episode is basically everything I love about Moffat and the Matt Smith era. It's a brilliant examination of the Doctor himself, with some hilarious moments and fantastic characters. The opening completely grabs your attention, and my god, Moffat writes some brilliant speeches. Matt Smith also absolutely shone in this episode, it it's quite possibly one of his best performances. 


ericbfg
ericbfg

Worth 9 not least for giving us the Vastra, Jenny, Strax team. And here they shine. Moffat's greatest contribution to Who . Hands down. Roll on Crimson horror for my 10...

The Living Angel / is Regenerating
The Living Angel / is Regenerating

10/10 This for me, was the moment Moffat went from brilliant to genius. 

I do wish that we had seen more of Kovarian in the series overall. I love a fierce,wicked vilianess. She is kind of a space religious extremist




Oodkind is foretold...
Oodkind is foretold...

It had a lot of good scenes. The story was, overall, epic and fun, and it was entertaining. However, a few plot points seemed pointless and silly, and the tone seemed a little forced. Overall, however, I think it was entertaining, and probably the last time I entirely enjoyed an episode by Moffat. (With the possible exception of Day of the Doctor. Let's Kill Hitler was kind of Fun, but I'll discuss that tomorrow.)

Riversmith
Riversmith

10/10 from me.

Not only for the River reveal but for Matt Smith's impressive acting ability: from the menacing "You tell me who you are" to River, to the touching "Hello" and "How do I look?" a few minutes later (when he finds out). Love it.

Deus_Ex_Machina
Deus_Ex_Machina

10/10. The highlight of the series. My only issue was that my suspicions that River was Amy's daughter were confirmed the second I heard the name Melody Pond, and I spent the rest of the episode wishing they'd hurry up and tell us that.

There's also the issue that it was followed by the worst episode of the season. DW seems to have a knack for putting the best and worst episodes next to each other. Look at the classic series. Arguably the best classic story, the Caves of Androzani, was followed by arguably the worst classic story, The Twin Dilema.

Weepingdalek
Weepingdalek

10/10-simply showstopping! However I just wish Jack had of been in it. Damn Miracle Day!

Chronos the Fannibal
Chronos the Fannibal

9/10 This had a amazing cliffhanger! I loved the Doctor kinda invading this base with his band of friends, plus of course finding out a bit more about this Kovarian arc :D 

But I sorta wish the headless monks had a bit more to them in some way...


The Moment
The Moment

10/10 from me this may be my favourite episode of the series.

Americanwhovian
Americanwhovian

9/10 pretty epic. To this day we still don't have a complete backstory on Jenny strax and vastra

grumpyoldcow
grumpyoldcow

One of the Best of Matt Smith, absolutely. The actor gets to show case his many faces of his Doctor in this episode, leaving me hoping for more from him.

The story moves along with reveal after reveal so fast I barely have time to sort one out before another one amost bowls over the one before it!

This episode includes one of my favorite lines. When the Doctor is trying to explain to Vastra and Dorium about when Melody "began", he says that the first night Amy and Rory spent the night together in the TARDIS, " in this version of reality" was on their wedding night. "This version of reality", humm?? I say like Dorium, oh really Doctor? I suppose a time traveler, like the Doctor, can be forgiven for forgetting all the previous times Amy and Rory traveled with him prior to their wedding since he probably can't always keep it straight in his head, or, what other version of reality? I have way too much fun with that line. Humm, versions of reality? Love it.

But I digress, sorry. A great episode, thoroughly entertaining, not a dull moment.

I'm still holding out for a Gamma Forest episode, darn it.

RUAZ
RUAZ

Torn between a 7-8. In the end went for 7.

RecycledCompanion
RecycledCompanion

I liked this episode a lot more when I saw it the first time -- probably would have rated it a 9 or 10 out of ten back when it first aired. However, it didn't wear well with time for me. The best parts for me were the River bits, all of them, right from the beginning when she refuses to join everyone else, right through the moment with the cradle (though I'd already guessed that Rory & Amy were her parents quite some time back), and all of Arthur Darvill's performance -- loved Rory in this episode.


I've found that the overall premise of the episode (the good man going to war -- over the kidnapping of Amy & her baby -- and the Kovarian woman's complex schemes) wears less well with me. In fact, I find that I really don't like it much at all.


However, because the episode when it initially aired grabbed me so hard, and the lead-up to it was so good, I'm going to still give it an 8/10, though I now find it more of a 6-ish, or even lower. In the context of the season when watched for the first time, it was a big hit with me, though this is one of those rare occasions with Doctor Who when I actually like an episode less over time rather than more, which is usually the case.

Anthony Retondo
Anthony Retondo

The last near-masterpiece from Moffat imo. A truly gripping episode balanced with action, laughs, drama and character development. I love it more each time I see it. 

Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!
Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!

9/10 - I love this episode. It is action-packed, fast-paced, tense, and without a dull moment. It is a fantastic character piece for the Doctor, and all of the actors involved do a spectacular job. It answers a lot of questions so that the next episode can set up more while still exploring some of these ideas further. This episode, along with many others in this series, are why I compare Series 6 to a carefully and intricately constructed murder mystery novel with a timey-wimey twist. We start off the series with a murder, which the Doctor has to investigate, and little by little we begin to unravel the details as if we're peeling an onion, and by the series' end, we know most of the answers, and why know why the events that transpired happened how they did as well as how they affected the Doctor. The Silence and River Song add a deep air of intrigue and mystery to the arc because we are as completely in the dark about who and what they are as the Doctor is. 

And speaking of River, know that she is a character that I used to despise intensely. I groaned every time she turned up on the screen and she was a major factor in my original decision to quit the show (yes, I know, I was an idiot). But after I came back to it I realized how wrong I was. The issue was that I never quite grasped her character and how she was meant to work within the story, but looking at it now with a clearer view, I cannot help but love how her character progresses and how her development is carefully woven both backwards and forwards throughout all of her appearances. Here, at the end, we are seeing a River who isn't quite the dewy-eyed idealist of "The Wedding of River Song"; by this point, she has seen what the Doctor is capable of and knows the damage that he can cause, and she calls him out on that, because she understands him. But it pains her to tell him who she is, and she is hesitant to do so, because she knows that it signifies a turning point in their relationship, like their kiss in "Day of the Moon" - the Doctor is beginning to know her better, which for her, means that he is beginning to know her less. We know that their lives aren't running strictly in reverse relative to each other and that that is just the general shape of it (Moffat has confirmed as much), and that on occasion, River does get a Doctor who knows her. We see a bit of that in the beginning - River just came back from a birthday party (which in of itself was a deviously clever nod to the episode's resolution :P) with a Doctor who does know her. But Rory doesn't know her, and Amy doesn't, and the Doctor that we see doesn't - the people most important to her are beginning to not know who she is, because getting further and further along on her timeline. It really is tragic, and I think that it is amazing that we can read that much about her from just two cameo appearances.

Sorry, that got a bit away from me there. My point is that this episode, and the arc of Series 6 as a whole, are, in my opinion, really quite genius. The mytharc itself and the character interactions are all so expertly developed, and so terribly underrated as well. Some would say that Moffat was perhaps too ambitious, but I think he pulled it off regardless - Series 5 may be my favorite installment of the modern show, but whenever I want to rewatch and episode, more often than not end ends up being one from Series 6.

Anyway. Scorecard time!

Astronaut/Moon - 10/10

Curse - 5/10

Wife - 8/10

Flesh/People - 5/10

War - 9/10

(P.S. To me, this episode comes off as even more brilliant in light of "The Time of the Doctor". So I give it a few extra bonus points for that.)






GibbyBlogger
GibbyBlogger

I like it. It's nowhere near perfect, but I do really like it. The highlights for me have to be: the three leads - badass Rory ("WHERE. IS. MY. WIFE!?"), the angry Doctor ("Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many."), and an emotional Amy ("So they took her anyway. All this was for nothing."); the supporting characters - Lorna Bucket, the Fat One and the Thin One, and of course, Vastra, Jenny and Strax; and the humour - "Captain Harcourt, I hope some day to meet you in the glory of battle, when I shall crush the life from your worthless human form. Try and get some rest.", "No, no, please. Not me. You don't need me. Why would you need me? I'm old, I'm fat, I'm blue. You can't need me!", "It's okay. She's still all yours. And really, you should call her mummy, not big milk thing."
"Okay, what are you doing?" "I speak Baby."
 "No, you don't." "I speak everything, don't I, Melody Pond. No, it's not. it's cool."
etc.


Not great, but really enjoyable - 7/10

JJ2000
JJ2000

8 - Only because I actually think it is in my Top 5, so that is why I put it there. :)

shyx111
shyx111

9/10, this episode and Let's Kill Hitler are one of the many reasons I love Series 6 so much! And yes, I like Let's Kill Hitler.

KingOrokos
KingOrokos

An extremely action-oriented, high-octane thriller, A Good Man Goes To War succeeds in many places but falls short in a few. For the most part, it achieves what it sets out to do with style and aplomb, showing us a battle that could deservingly be called one of the Doctor's finest hours and then bringing him down from his Oncoming Storm pedestal to deliver some shocking character revelations. Smith is absolutely perfect in this story, managing to retain the offbeat charm that typifies his Doctor even as he bellows in rage or smirks in arrogance. His supporting cast is also very impressive, from Gillan and Darvill (on top form as usual) to Kingston (whose puts her all into her short appearances) to McIntosh, Stewart and Starkey (who are at the peak of their game in this, their debut story). Moffat's storytelling, meanwhile, is sublime - the first twenty minutes go by without a single appearance from the Doctor himself, and our hero is never more impactful than in his absence ( think of Blink, where the Doctor's truncated appearances on a DVD easter egg seem incredibly unearthly and mysterious). Furthermore, Moffat presents in this script a number of ideas which resonate throughout this era and the show's run as a whole; there is no better example for this than Lorna Bucket, a woman who has built her entire career around a man, a 'warrior', who doesn't even remember her. Here, Moffat tears down the hero who has never been more worshipped and godified than at this point in the show's run, and in this he lays the groundwork for the remainder of Smith's time on Who. This story was a turning point, not just for the series, but for Eleven's era. 


That's not to say, however, that it lacks its flaws. Whilst the episode succeeds utterly at being an action thriller, a war movie even, it loses some of its punch when it tries to become something completely different in the closing moments of the story. Switching from an epic, grand, and somewhat simplistic battle of wits and morals, A Good Man Goes To War suddenly tries to entangle itself back into the overarching plot of series 6, giving us a quick and simple "I'm your daughter" revelation and then dematerialising off into the sunset. The story's unwillingness to spend more time providing exposition for events thus far in the series, even as it relies on those events for its own set-up, is quite frankly baffling; and the lack of overall arc progression concerning the Doctor's death and the Silence is unforgivable in a story billed as a 'mid-season finale'.


Overall, I think A Good Man Goes To War wants to have its cake and eat it too. It wants to be a standalone epic, a cautionary tale of what happens when you piss off the most dangerous man in the universe - and in that respect, it succeeds. But it also wants to be a clever little pitstop in the season's complex arc, providing only a few arbitrary answers in the final seconds, and it is here where the episode falls flat. A fantastic story, but one which should have been allowed to stand in its own sunlight, rather than under the shadow of series 6's interesting - but divisive - overarching storyline. 8/10.

TheRiseOfTheTwelfth
TheRiseOfTheTwelfth

Matt Smith's acting, Peter Hoar's sublime directing and a corker of a story from Moffat - all outer-space battles and dark, dark tones - make this one of my favourite episodes of Who ever. 10/10

Cyberbloke
Cyberbloke

I wish Ood Sigma had been in it, as well as Captain Jack. It would've made the eras of 9, 10, and 11 closer and less segregated from each other.

Ae5gSWAG
Ae5gSWAG

Next time don't read about it on DWYG!

Americanwhovian
Americanwhovian

I don't really get kovariN's plan. You you take away the baby of the friend of the most dangerous man in the universe, turn it into a time lord so she can go in an astronaught suit that she doesn't even need her to pilot it that could have just done it itself. Why not just snipe the doctor out when he was at lake silencio, the obviously knew how time lords work

The Living Angel / is Regenerating
The Living Angel / is Regenerating

@Americanwhovian  I kinda agree, but i have come to the conclusion that she wanted to personally hurt him for some reason. What better way to kill a TimeLord than with another, conditioned and controlled Time Lord.

Also Kovarian was kind of a religious extremists.