Last Friday’s Doctor Who Christmas special was a fascinating look at the contradictions of River Song. But it also gave her some much-needed closure, and her pairing with Peter Capaldi finally made the Doctor’s relationship with River feel like it had some weight.
Over in Vanity Fair, Joanna Robinson talks to actor Alex Kingston and writer Steven Moffat. And Kingston seems particularly glad that River Song finally got a better swansong than her previous appearance, in the Matt Smith episode “The Name of the Doctor.”
Kingston sort of hints that she thought her chemistry was better with Capaldi than with Smith, saying: “I described working with Matt, Karen [Gillan], and Arthur [Darvill] as spending a day with a basket of puppies. But with Peter its very different because he’s much more focused.”
She also says that “The Name of the Doctor” was a bit frustrating for her, because it wasn’t even clear what she was doing there. “I didn’t really know my role in it. For me, it was sort of a strange episode. It ended in a way that I felt I was somewhat left hanging with no idea or confirmation or anything that my character would be back.”
Robinson (who also did a great piece about Rey in Star Wars) also puts her finger on why River Song’s arc during Matt Smith’s era bothered me so much. The relationship “sometimes felt one-sided and rarely felt particularly loving,” as Robinson points out. I had sort of repressed the fact that just before the Doctor marries River Song, he berates her: “It’s stupid. You embarrass me. Why do you have to be this?” And it’s really true, as Robinson writes, that “Matt Smith’s treatment of her was often combative or exasperated.”
But it’s also true that seeing Capaldi’s Doctor with River Song, and seeing his acknowledgement of his feelings for her, goes a long, long way towards making that relationship more like what it always should have been.
Robinson’s article also includes an interesting confession from Moffat, who says he thought “The Husbands of River Song” might be his last time writing for Doctor Who, and he just wanted to write River Song one last time. And there’s tons more in there. The whole thing is very much worth reading. [Vanity Fair]