S32 (6) 7 – A Good Man Goes To War

Home Forums Episodes The Eleventh Doctor S32 (6) 7 – A Good Man Goes To War

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    Craig @craig

    Repeated on BBC3 on 15 February. The BBC says the Doctor assembles an army to fight the Battle of Demons Run, but I like to think it was Rory. We finally discover who River Song really is (sort of).

    Here’s what you thought the last time around:

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    I realise this got more than a bit of flack on the blogs, but I must admit to jumping up and down with excitement during it. I think the relationship with “the gang” did it for me. I still can’t look at the scene where Mdm Vastra questions the Doctor about the “S-E-X” question, and he goes off about sexy vampires, and spitfires in space like an interplanetary James May, while she looks at him with actual pity, and more than a little despair. I find it very funny.

    My nephew, who is now in his twenties (but I turned him into a geek – so “Ha” to my Brother) turned me onto this. It’s very new metal, but a good mesh for the dramatis personae:

    janetteB @janetteb

    We are finally in sync with this thread. Watched this episode again two nights ago. It is one which get’s rewatched fairly regularly in this household and still never fails to draw a tear. I think it encapulates all that is good about Who, lots of fun, superb acting, exciting action, a few emotional punches, an (admittedly not unexpected) surprise and a lot of silliness. this episode also gave us a host of new characters all of whom had potential which happily has been subsequently tapped and many teasers about events occuring outside the frame. Will we ever find out just what the Doctor was doing in the Gamma forests or not?? We are left wondering if it is a red herring, a vital clue, or just a throwaway that Moffat might pick up upon later or has already forgotten.




    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    Well this is the episode that launched the delightful Jenny and Vastra and it was positive feedback from the fan community, I’m certain, that led Moffat to bring them back for more as the Paternoster gang. I would so very much like them to travel in the TARDIS for at least a couple of adventures too.

    It goes without saying that Vastra is majestic; a fighter and a thinker, a real swashbuckling adventurer. Jenny I really adore, because what could be braver than defying several of the prohibitions of your era at once to say “yes” to a partnership with a lizard woman from the dawn of time? I would love to see some further character exploration unfold for her (although I suspect that will be left up to us in fan-fiction).

    This was also the episode which asked explicitly – is the Doctor a “good man”? He very clearly tells us (and Madame Kovarian) that he is not, that he has “so many rules” to try and keep himself in check.

    This is, indeed, an episode I hope desperately we will be returning to, thread-wise, to find out more about the Omega insignia and who Kovarian and the Silence are working for/ with.  I am also holding out for more of the “dark Doctor” glimpsed here, the one who gratuitously blew up a Cyber battalion to make a point, the one who gave me chills with his Colonel Runaway speech, whether that be doppleganger Doctor or the Valeyard or the Trickster or simply further-into-the-future Doctor.

    Finally, this was the episode where we learned that the Doctor can speak “baby”, with adorable results, and where River at last revealed her Pond affiliations. So yes, very many things to recommend this.

    @phaseshift – agreed on the hilarity of the S-E-X scene 🙂 Matt Smith is always superb but he shone so much in this episode – in that speech, then the Colonel Runaway speech, then his final confrontation with River (where he slipped from dangerous to giddy).

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    The Omega insignia crops up a lot, doesn’t it?

    I remain puzzled by the two sets of Clerics. One set, River’s happy to work with. They’re happy to work with the Doctor.  Bishop Octavian seems to distrust River because she killed the Doctor.

    The other set wants to kill the Doctor.

    Both sets are wearing the Omega symbol (with a possible Alpha in the middle of it), but the set that wants to kill the Doctor and does kidnap River has Angel wings. The other is fighting the Weeping Angels.

    There’s also a reference to the ‘Gamma’ Forest being ‘Heaven neutral’. And yet, they have prayer, and beliefs…

    Oh, and I don’t think that bloody cot turned up just to put a baby inside. Either the Doctor’s real name is written on it, or it has another purpose.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    You know – I’ve seen the Doctor angry and frustrated on many occasions, holding forth on some intergalactic injustice or other. I think, with Doctor 11 and this attack on his friends it’s the first time I really remember absolute incandescent fury, and Matt Smith really pulls it off.

    @juniperfish’s comments on the debate on whether he is a good man reminds us perhaps on the current issue of what it takes to carry “The Name of the Doctor”. The many rules he feels obliged to respect, and surely he goes to the brink of them here? It’s bloody fun though, as he and Rory the Roman go a bit mental, blowing up Cyber-fleets, gathering an army and introducing the Whoniverse to the Patermoster Gang (still the best bunch of spinoff characters for a loooong time – Sorry Torchwood fans).

    Lots of laughs, but as ever with Matt Smith it’s the scenes where he does something different, like the contemptuous exchange with “Colonel Runaway” and his anguished run towards the trap his friends are in as Kovarian revels in her “to fool you twice in the same way – it’s a privilege” that stick in the mind. Great stuff.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @phaseshift – yes, he’s really on the edge here. This episode is – not the beginning of the ‘children’ theme, but certainly where we see that the threat to his friends’ baby sends him absolutely incandescent. The Doctor can cope with companions in danger, but not with a threat to their child.

    And yet he caused the danger; it’s a continuation of the theme started in RTD’s era. Being the Doctor’s Companion will put you and your family in danger. Jackie and Mickey get drawn in, Martha’s family kidnapped, Wilf becomes a companion himself. Then Amy and Rory lose their child.

    And it’s his fault. River calls him out here – his friends are in danger because he himself has become dangerous. The man so terrifying that armies flee, so powerful that even the Daleks will turn to him when they’re truly frightened.

    Yes, the comments about not being a good man, and that’s why he needs so many rules have extra resonance post The Name of The Doctor. And that cot’s turned up again; I was watching the repeat of Journey ttCotT tonight. Was it just there because they’d kept it in the prop store? Or does it really have some significance that we haven’t yet discovered.



    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Indeed – I think that extra element of the “innocent” of the baby being at peril adds the icing to the cake of jeopardy, raising the stakes.

    I keep thinking the Crib should have more resonance, but the one thing that really does surprise me about it is that BBC Worldwide don’t market a copy of it, available from all good nerd Childcare stores. Surely that would be a seller?

    I was watching the scene with Colonel Runaway though with an eye to who else has played the Doctor who I could imagine doing it in that slightly subdued “quivering with anger” sort of way, and the two that immediately came to mind with McCoy and Davison, which surprised me.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    This episode might have it’s flaws but it has some of the best moments- the opening, when Amy is talking to her baby about its father, very old etc. I will admit that for a second I was thinking no, don’t you dare at the idea that the Doctor would turn out to be the father after all. I’m not a member of the Doctor Who is asexual society, but I’m very much in the Rory Williams appreciation society, and this episode has one of his great moments. ‘where. Is. My. Wife.’ ‘Would you like me to repeat the question?’ @craig, I also like to think it was Rory.

    River- some people tried of her storyline, but you can’t fault the acting here. From the reaction to realising she had just inadvertently made kinky flirting conversation to her father, to having to refuse to turn up for Demons Run. I liked the Doctor’s anger when she turns up at the end, mixed with disappointment, supplies all the information I think you need to know about his developing feelings towards her without needing to spell it out.

    Jenny and Vestra introduced perfectly, and the perfect pre-watershed sex joke. And Stax! I actually like him better here, than later. I assume he was revived but came back a little damaged? I see the point of that, but I would like to see him restored to this at some point.

    I still hold that it is Rory who is The Good Man, and it even seemed backed up here. ‘Good men don’t need rules… ask yourself why I have so many’. At this point I honestly thought that it would in fact be Rory who River kills, perhaps because he went dark after what happened to his wife and child. I’m glad they didn’t go that way, but also a little disappointed. But mostly glad.

    There was a lot here that seems to have been just left to the side. The Clerics, the Headless Monks, the fat thin gay Anglican couple, there seemed to be a potential story there, the Papal Mainframe, just the war in general seemed full of interesting ideas. Were the gamma forests only introduced to explain River’s name? the idea that ‘doctor’ means warrior to whole civilisations, rather than healing. To me doctor means learning more than healing, but I probably have my head in the 18th/19th century more than is healthy.

    But all this might have significance when it comes to the Hurt Doctor. How does ‘eleven’s’ denial of his right to the name tie in with all of this? He seems surprised in this episode, of all this bitterness and war associated with him, and it seems to relate to him specifically, the Doctor who makes people run with his reputation.

    janetteB @janetteb

    I agree with much that has been said by all above. The “Good man” of the title I am certain is Rory and in many ways this is Rory’s episode as much as it is the Doctor’s. Moffat was certainly teasing the audience more than once with the suspicion that the child was the Doctor’s but that was just Moffat at play.

    Aside from the story itself it opened up so many narrative possibilities, both character and situation. It potentially added whole swaths to the Dr Who mythos, the Paternoster Gang being just the beginning. RTD gave the Doctor earth bound families through Rose and Donna. S.M has given the Doctor a wider, multi species family which inclues Dorium whom I hope will crop up again, albiet just a head. The story also opens the canvas in a manner of speaking. Much of it hinges of things that have or will happen outside the story. We may never visit the Gamma forests on screen, (much though I hope we do) but they have become part of the fabric of Doctor Who and the religious war, which has been referenced more than once is surely going to resurface. After all headless monks are just too good not to reuse. Likewise I am certain that every viewer thirsted to know more about the “endless bitter war” which may (I think most likely) only refer to the Doctor’s lifelong crusade against evil and all forms of wrong doing.

    As to the cot, it too suggests many possibilities. It was the Doctor’s but we assume also used for his Gallifreyan children. Given that he has it on the Tardis maybe Susan was an infant when he fled with her. It seems that they have been travelling for some time before settling in London. I know that many people wish the past to remain a mystery to be filled in by the individual imagination and I don’t disagree however I would appreciate a few clues or references this anniversary year.



    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Given that he has it on the Tardis maybe Susan was an infant when he fled with her.

    @janetteb – I thought that as well, but it seems to have been thoroughly exploded by seeing Susan going into the TARDIS as the Doctor first steals it (Name of The Doctor). She looks the same age as she is in An Unearthly Child.

    I suspect that CGI’ing William Hartnell to be carrying a baby was, unfortunately, impossible. 🙁

    Anonymous @


    I was watching the scene with Colonel Runaway though with an eye to who else has played the Doctor who I could imagine doing it in that slightly subdued “quivering with anger” sort of way, and the two that immediately came to mind with McCoy and Davison, which surprised me

    Good call. I think you’re right. I can definitely hear McCoy’s “Colonel Rrrrrrrrrrunaway” in that speech. (Again reminding me that there is much of Doc 7 in Smith’s Doc 11. But I could also hear the quiet fury that Davison sometimes pulled out in there too…

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @phaseshift and @jimthefish

    Yes, as soon as Phaseshift said that, I also thought ‘spot on’. McCoy, especially – but Davison would’ve played it very calm, very polite and like a very sharp dagger that he’s going to twist.

    janetteB @janetteb

    OOps. I forgot about the scene with the Doctor and Susan stealing the Tardis. (either too much or not enough coffee clearly) I have been thinking about that cot though and the thought did occur, why Old High Gallifreyan, which I assume is a language akin to Latin. The constant repitition of that langauge may not simply be because it looks pretty as I had assumed. Perhaps that is a clue in plain sight. This might be an echo of the BG aborted story line linking the Doctor back to the earliest days of Gallifrey. Maybe he is not simply just “any old timelord” but a timelord of special significance or maybe the cot is simply a family heirloom. (Guess that is the boring explanation.) And why did he have that cot on the Tardis? He clearly didn’t need it for Susan unless there was a possibility of regenerating into an infant so he took it along, just in case. He clearly left Gallifrey empty handed so he must have returned for it at some time, maybe when he ran for President. While I am certain that the when and how of the cot being on the Tardis will not be, and need not be explained I would hope that S.M would have thought of an explanation. It is the Why that matters.

    I have to say I don’t much like that possibility. I much prefer the Doctor to be a plain, simple, humble timelord who rebelled against his autocratic, and probably corrupt, society.



    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @janetteb – given the emphasis on ‘The Name of The Doctor’, and the idea that there’s nothing particularly special about Clara as Clara Oswald – I would make a guess, given the number of times Clara mirrors the Doctor in the poster, that the hint we’re being given here is that the Doctor was originally ‘John Smith from Gallifrey’. Or possibly ‘Lord John Smith from Gallifrey.’ 😉 He was once a baby in a cradle – but even as a baby, he was reaching for the stars.

    Just as The Impossible Girl is ‘Clara Oswald from Blackpool’. And just as ‘Doctor Who’ was originally another TV show from the BBC, suitable for the entire family on Saturday evenings. When they started out, they were only special to their family/audience – but they both had dreams from their babyhood.

    The High Gallifreyan may be the Doctor’s name; parents often put names on a cot. If so, that suggests that anything that has the Doctor’s original name is now safely stored in the TARDIS. Which also suggests that – for some reason – the TARDIS felt that Clara needed to have the Doctor’s original name stored in her hidden memories. The TARDIS can create labyrinths to take the passengers anywhere they want; she led Clara to the cradle, the Doctor’s original name, and the Encyclopedia entry on ‘children’.


    Anonymous @

    This episode is my favourite episode in series 6, I liked at the end when there was that battle between the doctors friends and the headless monks.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    A Good Man Goes to War. If the last ep was a two-parter, this one is two parts worth crammed into one. [The real] Amy having a kid. Rory giving ultimatums to the Cybermen. A new monster, the Headless Monks. An old ‘monster’, a Silurian – Madame Vastra, apparently doing her part for Victorian law and order by eating Jack the Ripper. (Which would explain why he disappeared without trace). But not constrained by Victorian gender stereotypes vis-a-vis Jenny, apparently. A Sontaran nurse. I’m sure the Moff had fun writing all this! And all this in the first 10 minutes.

    Just too much action to describe in a short post. But the Doctor has been busy. Dorium Maldovar. Lorna from the Gamma Forests. More Silurians. Judoon? I didn’t expect them. Strax the Sontaran. (Though I wish they’d left out those sappy space-going Spitfires. And the pirate crew from Black Spot, though at least they have a starship, so they’re a little bit more credible. But sometimes, ‘everything’ is too much).

    I certainly didn’t see the implication when Madame Kovarian bragged about fooling the Doctor twice, the same way… not till baby Melody turned to ‘flesh’ mush. Fooled me twice, too.

    ‘The only water in the forest is the River’. How long have we been waiting to find the meaning of that? Only three episodes, apparently. It seems longer. Frankly, I wouldn’t put it past the Moff to have this planned since he named River Song, back in Season 4.

    And all these are great characters – Madame Vastra and Jenny, Lorna from the Gamma Forests (sad that she died), Strax the Sontaran, even Dorium the blue.


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