Predictions for what will happen during The Wedding of River Song, which airs tonight:
In Forest of the Dead, the tenth Doctor reveals that River Song gained his trust because she whispered his name — his true name — in his ear. In his words:
River, you know my name. You whispered my name in my ear! There’s only one reason I would ever tell anyone my name. There’s only one time I could…
Rebecca wrote up a lengthy speculation on this quote, noting that the line “there’s only one time I could” is important. This is more than just a wedding vow, she argues, and it may have to do with his death. Note that she said this before even Time of the Angels came out, so give the woman a prize, I think she’s right. I strongly suspect that the Doctor will reveal his true name to River Song in this episode, and this act enables him to get a “Get out of Jail/Death Free” card at the end of the episode. Or, rather, it enables River to give it to him, possibly after his body is burnt on the pyre.
There will be no cliffhanger. While threads might lead the viewer into the Christmas special, an explicit cliffhanger would tie the hands of Moffat in writing what is typically a stand-alone story. And early indications of the Christmas special suggest that it is pretty stand alone. And forcing us to wait until September, which is when the seventh season is likely to start next year, would be just too mean.
We won’t get an explanation of how or why the Silents arranged to have the TARDIS blow up last season because, despite being explicitly connected at first, the two seasons’ narratives have drifted apart. It remains to be seen if Moffat leaves us breadcrumbs promising us a proper explanation in season seven, or if this will have to be put down as a continuity error.
The Doctor and River (and likely others — possibly even Madame Korvarian) are involved in a complicated dance that ensures that it looks like the Doctor is killed, but in fact uses the appearance of his death to slip quietly away and let the universe get on with life without him — all while trying not to trip over their own timeline and cause a nasty paradox.
What are your predictions?
Added at 11:24 p.m.
Okay, so how did I fare?
Point the first: the Doctor would tell River Song his true name as part of his plan to escape his oncoming death
…Yes, and no. He said he told her his name, but he really got her to look him in the eye to show her that he actually had an ace in the hole. Which makes sense, since why else would River change her mind about allowing the original timeline to restore itself? But it does mean that River still doesn’t know the Doctor’s name and that moment is to come later…
Point the second: no cliffhanger
…Correct, there. And I think a good decision, stylistically. While questions remain to be answered, this part of the arc needed a resolution here and now. The Doctor has a bit of a fresh start, just in time for Christmas.
Point the third: no explanation of how and why the Silents had the TARDIS blow up last season
…Correct there too, and a fair choice, stylistically speaking, as lumping that in would have made the episode completely unintelligible. But I note that Moffat has left a few breadcrumbs leading forward, including a statement about the “Fall of the Eleventh”. Looks like the arc is going to span Matt Smith’s whole regeneration, and I personally think he’ll be regenerating at the end of season eight (not coincidentally the 50th anniversary of the program)
Point the fourth: the Doctor and River are involved in a complicated dance to ensure that history plays out AND the Doctor lives, without tripping up and creating terrible paradoxes
…Correct there, I think, although not quite in the way I assumed. The Doctor’s very much in charge, here, and it’s River’s love for him that causes her to mess things up. I don’t know how I feel about that bit of characterization, but overall I’m satisfied. I also sort of wanted the Doctor and Madame Korvarian to come to some sort of understanding, since throughout most of the episode, both wanted the same thing (time to be restored, and the Doctor’s damage to history repaired). The decision to make her into a stock mad villain wasn’t the best one, in my opinion.
And as for the predictions in the comments below…
Big points to Robert for guessing the simulacrum. And a point also for Adam for suggesting that the gangers were a red herring to this effect. I think Adam’s right, and the gangers were used to distract the audience’s attention away from the simulacrum.
The Ganger Doctor is dead, by the way. He acknowledged that the pulse on his sonic screwdriver would dissolve all ganger flesh, himself, the captain and Lilly included. He used it anyway.
A point for Adam about Rory. River didn’t accidentally kill him, but he almost died, so that should be worth something.
And, Mustafa, I like your thoughts on where we’re going for season 7. I’d almost forgotten the voice saying “Silence will Fall” and it’s interesting, isn’t it, that we’ve already had a bit of a throwback to The Curse of Fenric with The God Complex, isn’t it?
Overall, I liked the episode a lot, but I need to think about it more before I give it a proper review. Until then, stay tuned.