I was a little apprehensive about the mid-season premiere of Doctor Who. Not for the reasons a lot of critics were (concerned about The Doctor assisting Hitler or something like that), but rather because Season 5 and the first half of Season 6 (or however The Moff aka Steven Moffat wants to map it out) were so wonderfully and artfully done that almost anything a smidge less would be a huge disappointment. Aside from one slight misstep, my apprehensions regarding ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ were proven unnecessary.
This was a brilliant bit of misdirection on The Moff’s part. For months we were led to believe that The Doctor, coming into contact with a war criminal, was going to be up close and personal with Adolf Hitler so naturally we assumed that would be what the episode was about. Then, ten minutes in, Hitler got knocked out by Rory and locked in a cupboard. That’s it. The episode really was all about River. In one episode we see the regeneration, birth, and rebirth of River. Her conflict between what she was brainwashed to become and the person her spirit tells her to be is evident and well done.
This is where I take slight issue with ‘Let’s Kill Hitler.’ We’re initially introduced to Mels, a childhood friend of Amy and Rory’s who was sassy and always in trouble. She definitely shows this off when she first meets The Doctor as she hijacks the TARDIS and ends up shooting the console. When Mels gets shot and apparently dies she regenerates into River, but not exactly.
These actions were great to see the very beginning of the character we fell in love with back with David Tennant’s tenth Doctor, but her introduction exposed an issue that I have with some of The Moff’s writing.
When you sit down to watch an episode of The Doctor, you have to be prepared for a lot crammed into an hour of television. Sometimes, though, there’s too much wedged in and it is too fast paced to really leave an impact. It was a small thing in the scope of the episode as a whole, but it would have served the character and scene a lot more if we had even heard mention of Mels before this moment.
Matt Smith is brilliant as The Doctor. He has, in my opinion, already surpassed Tennant and is neck and neck with Tom Baker for best Doctor ever. Watching him, even in the throes of death, striving to save Amy and Rory is heart wrenching. ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ is an emotional roller coaster for The Doctor, dealing with saving his friends, being threatened by the woman he has grown to love, and faced with the continued reminder of his impending death is a lot even for a 900+ year old Time Lord.
Throughout the series we’ve been reminded that certain points in time are fixed and cannot be changed while others can be manipulated. One of the workers inside the Tesselact mentions that The Doctor’s death that we saw in the first episode of season 6 is one of those fixed points. It’s another fine bit of writing on The Moff’s part in regards to The Doctor’s death.
Additionally, we learn some more about what The Silence is and the lengths they will go to take The Doctor down. Last season we learned that the creatures The Doctor confronted in the very beginning had been there manipulating mankind for thousands of years to get to the single point of man going to the moon, but why? We never got the answer until now.
Moving forward through the rest of the season, I’ll know better than to let apprehension get in the way of The Moff and Doctor Who. ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ is another solid episode that paves the path for the remainder of season 6 to continue the trend of Dr. Who excellence.
– James Zappie