Not Quite Done Yet: A Flaw in River’s Timeline?
Guest contributor Trevor Michaels believes there’s one missing element.
Last year’s Christmas special saw the stunning finale to River Song’s timeline, and it was brilliant to see a real deal made out of her farewell. I always felt that a DVD Extra with Matt Smith in a tuxedo was never going to be enough to properly bid farewell to the character we’ve grown to love so much. So like many people when we saw Capaldi’s Doctor give her a Christmas gift to remember I was an emotional wreck…
…But there’s one thing that always has bugged me about River Song and that is the reintroduction of her after Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. When River Song first meets the 10th Doctor, she recognises him. Sure the sonic screwdriver, weird clothing and arrogance gives it away, but to most who watch it feels as if she’s met him before and she knows that face. Fast forward to The Time of the Angels, her second TV appearance, and Matt Smith’s Doctor makes the comment, “We keep on meeting in the wrong order”. You can probably see where I’m going with this: I believe there’s a hole in her timeline that can only be filled by at least one other adventure with the 10th Doctor which makes sense.
If Ten ran into River again during his travels alone after Series 4, he would recognise her and possibly even be delighted to see her given how things ended the last time. Of course she wouldn’t know who this man is, and he would know exactly who she is, quite the reverse of their first meeting. Obviously, as there always is, there would be some kind of adventure to be had between them, so that when River gets to the library, she recognises that incarnation of the Doctor and expects, or hopes that he will recognise her too.
Of course there’s always “Wiggle Room” for adventures in-between major events. The 11th Doctor seemed to like to pop off and sweep her away whenever the day had an ‘a’ in it, but if we fill this minor hole, River Song’s timeline would be solid and I personally feel it would make her one of the greatest companions ever to step foot in the TARDIS.
We’re at a point now where we can sit down and compile a playlist of her episodes, and it’s as long as an entire season of Doctor Who. It’s also incredibly fractured because she always meets him at different points. This is immensely entertaining when you consider that for a time travel show, companions lives had been amazingly reliable and solid up to then. I think River Song has to be up there as one of Moffat’s greatest accomplishments for the show.
Of course more recently than The Husbands of River Song we saw a Big Finish release “The Diary Of River Song”. Series 1 was superb and it was great to see her interact with the 8th Doctor for a while, who was ***Spoiler alert*** all ready to go pick her up and take her round what was left of the universe (The Time War being in progress at that point) and the heart-breaking rejection he receives. *** End Spoiler *** With David Tennant now returning in a few months for more Ten/Donna adventures we can cross our fingers and hope that Big Finish will plug that little hole in her timeline with some adventures together. I don’t think anyone would complain.
As sad as it is to admit, I feel her TV timeline is done. Unlike Big Finish, which moves in every which direction you can imagine, the TV series only looks forwards, meaning any interaction with River would be from a future Doctor, or 12’s future and I personally feel that this would detract from her emotional farewell we all enjoyed this Christmas. Some suggested that she will be brought back to celebrate Moffat’s exit in Series 10, and I have to say I’ve mixed feelings on this for the reasons above.
So, if I am correct this is the only major flaw in the timeline of River Song. I would love to know if anyone has thought of some more, or alternative explanations and if you have, please comment them below.