In the words of River Song,
Something I just noticed after rewatching the “Doctor Who” episodes “Silence in The Library”/”Forest of the Dead” …..
Okay. I’ve read articles about how Steven Moffat effectively stripped away any power that River Song was reputed to have had, by the way in which he altered her apparent characterization from a powerful woman who stands up to the Doctor to an abused girl who lives her life around the Doctor’s. There is a point to those articles.
What’s worse is that, in an episode which didn’t even feature River Song at all, “The Time of the Doctor,” Moffat managed to completely undercut the meaning and sense of sacrifice in River’s actions in The Library. I’m talking about that scene at the end, in which River knocks out the Doctor and takes his place, sacrificing her life to save those people and save the Doctor. The thing is, it’s not really a sacrifice. Follow:
In “Forest of the Dead,” The Doctor wants to be the one who dies, to save River.
But from “A Good Man Goes to War,” we know River was kidnapped and held by Madam Kovarian, becoming who she was by dint of Kovarian’s actions.
But from “The Time of the Doctor,” we know that Kovarian only acted because the Doctor was on Trenzalore, traveling back along the Doctor’s timeline.
Therefore, River is who she is only because the Doctor reached Trenzalore.
If The Doctor dies at The Library, River ceases to exist as she had been.
Therefore, River’s sacrifice is less about saving the Doctor (although I’m sure that’s a part of it) and more about ensuring that she exists within the existing timeline. If the Doctor dies, River is an ordinary girl growing up in Leadworth … if she is born at all.
Therefore, Moffat either planned this all along … or he retconned River’s story, removing the most heroic thing she did for love of the Doctor, leaving her just a pawn of destiny.
What do you think?
In the words of Daniel Keys Moran, who wrote several books with time travelers as characters, “When one travels time, free will is often moot.” I just never really expected those words to apply to “Doctor Who” except for those so-called Fixed Points.