Sunday, 28 August 2011

Review - "Let's Kill Hitler"

Well, "Doctor Who" certainly burst back onto our screens with one hell of a bang last night. "Let's Kill Hitler" was a funny, heartwrenching and exhausting episode - we were given answers...and more questions. Various little details were tied up nicely, such as the question of why River didn't regenerate in "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead".

The episode started in a cornfield - a little nod to last season's "Vincent and the Doctor" perhaps - with Amy and Rory creating a rather unique crop circle to attract the Doctor's attention. Pretty extreme but if he's not answering his phone then what can you do? Matt Smith was rocking his new coat - thankfully, no long explanation of where he got it - and we had a new character who livened things up: Amy and Rory's long time friend, Mels.

The flashback scenes to Amy and Rory's childhood were superb - and your heart went out to little Rory who was treated so casually by Amy and Mels. The great thing was how much Mels was really like River...and yet we didn't work it out. Or, at least, I didn't, so her regeneration in Hitler's office came as a complete and utter surprise. Talking of Hitler, this was exactly the right way to treat him. As a figure to poke fun at - and he was just totally incidental to the story. Rory's wonderful "shut up, Hitler" got the laughs - as did shutting him in the cupboard where he apparently stayed for some considerable time. I wonder if he listened at the door?

The Teselecta was a superb idea - and that's what this episode was full of. Really great ideas. From a robotic shapeshifting judgement machine filled with over 400 miniaturised people to River's brilliant way of killing the Doctor - and then restoring his life. It all gelled together brilliantly and the episode rocked along at quite a pace.

There were just so many good scenes that it's impossible to mention them all. The scenes immediately after Melody/River's regeneration were sublime with Rory and Amy in shock and the Doctor getting to say "spoilers"; the Doctor in the Tardis conversing with the voice interface whilst dying; Top hat and tails and sonic cane - it just goes on and on.

The writing was faultless - Steven Moffat just totally nailed this episode - and the direction, photography, effects were all first class. Alex Kingston just strutted through this episode and having been given most of the best lines, delivered them with relish. I loved the "So I was on my way to this gay Gypsy bar-mitzvah for the disabled, then I thought, the Third Reich's a bit rubbish I think I'll kill the Fuhrer."

Arthur Darvill got to punch Hitler and then lock him in the cupboard and this episode moved Rory's development along nicely. He's gone from Amy's somewhat wimpy love interest to an almost accidental action hero you can depend on. Karen Gillan got to play not just Amy but also the robotic version too - and wonderfully, you could tell which was which.

I know Matt Smith said that this was Alex Kingston's episode but he has to have a pat on the back too. He was...amazing. His desperation whilst dying and trying to crawl to the Tardis was heartbreaking - and yes, tears were shed when he died. I think the Doctor is now challenging Rory in the sheer number of times he's died over the last couple of seasons. Matt also had some terrific lines - and delivered them impeccably. "Oh well, fat lot of use that is, you big ginge" is one of my all time favourites.

Plot-wise, we got answers. We now know River's beginnings, we know what the Silence are - a religious order who believe that Silence will fall when the "question is asked". We don't know what the question is - we just know it's the oldest question in the universe. The Doctor knows the date of his death - and the location - linking nicely to "The Impossible Astronaut" and the invitations.

Obviously, there were more questions too - such as what the Doctor whispered to River. His name maybe? River kills the Doctor - that's what she's in the stormcage for it seems - so...when? When she was a child inside the suit? Or is that something to do with what the Doctor whispered to her? River has given up all her remaining regenerations to restore the does he now have more?

I love the fact that "Doctor Who" is not going to lose it's way like "Lost" did. "Lost" got so wrapped up in creating mysteries that it failed to answer most of them. I feel confident with "Doctor Who" that the mysteries and questions will be answered. We've started to get answers already and the story is moving inexorably towards that lake in Utah where the season started.

Episode rating: 10/10

screencaptures courtesy of "enchantedfleur"