|The Wedding of River Song|
|Companion(s):||Amy, Rory, River|
|Main enemy:||Silents, Kovarian|
|Premiere broadcast:||1 October 2011|
|Premiere network:||BBC One|
|Format:||1×45 minute episode|
|Confidential:||When Time Froze|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|Closing Time||Death Is the Only Answer|
|Let's Kill Hitler||The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe|
|Another memorable moment|
|Behind the scenes video|
|More behind the scenes stuff|
|Another behind the scenes moment|
The Wedding of River Song was the thirteenth and final episode of the sixth series of Doctor Who. The episode featured an unusually extreme alteration to the course of history resulting from a change to a fixed point in time. It also showed how the Doctor survived his supposed death and it concluded a long-running story-arc when the Doctor married River Song. However, a new arc arose in its place with a prophetic statement about the Doctor's future battles, which would become a pressing matter in due time.
This episode was notable for featuring Simon Callow to briefly reprise his role of Charles Dickens, who was last seen six years prior to this episode in the Ninth Doctor's story, TV: The Unquiet Dead. The Eleventh Doctor stories had up until then remained somewhat detached from the Russell T Davies-era, introducing a purely new entourage of human and humanoid characters to work with instead of bringing back the old ones. This cameo effectively broke the practice.
The War of the Roses enters its second year as London picnickers are warned not to feed the pterodactyls and Charles Dickens is interviewed on television about his new Christmas ghost special. Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill returns to Buckingham Senate on his personal mammoth from a conference with Cleopatra in Gaul to wonder why it is always 5:02 PM on 22 April 2011. His Silurian physician, Malokeh, tells him it is always so but Churchill has his doubts. He orders his soothsayer dragged from the Tower of London. It is the Eleventh Doctor, who tells him why: "A woman."
In a flashback, the Doctor wants to know why he must die. Taking the data on the Silence from a dying Dalek, he finds Father Gideon Vandaleur, actually the Teselecta, who points him at Gantok, the Silence's agent. They play a game of live chess. To avoid checkmate or death, Gantok takes him to Dorium Maldovar's head in the Seventh Transept.
Dorium insists that if the Doctor lives, on the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the Eleventh, when no creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question that must never be answered will be asked: the first question, hidden in plain sight. He asks if his visitor wants to know the question. The Doctor agrees nervously.
Taking Dorium's head with him, the Doctor determines to continue his farewell tour. However, when he learns his old friend the Brigadier is dead, his bravado crumbles. His time has come. He gives the Teselecta invitations to deliver. He goes to Lake Silencio with Amy Pond, Rory Williams and River Song, where they drink a bottle of wine Napoleon threw at him. An impossible astronaut rises from the lake and he goes to meet it. It is River Song, trapped in the suit by Madame Kovarian and the Silence. She has no control over the suit as it prepares to kill the Doctor. He forgives her unconditionally, shutting his eyes as her arm rises to deliver the three deadly blows.
There are five bursts that make him flinch. The Doctor opens his eyes and demands to know what she has done. River smiles. She has discharged her weapons systems harmlessly and the world shatters.
The Doctor and Churchill discuss these events. They see they are holding weapons. Tally marks have appeared on the Doctor's arms. They look up. The ceiling is infested with dozens of Silents. Before they can attack, a grenade rolls into the hall and a troop of soldiers under an eyepatched Amy Pond invade. She shoots the Doctor.
He wakes from the stungun in Amy's office on a train bound for Area 52 inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. Amy grew up with a crack in her wall. She can remember both timelines and has drawn pictures of the other timeline, but cannot recall Rory is Captain Williams, a soldier in her force.
In Area 52, the Doctor and Amy walk past more than a hundred captured Silents to the King's Chamber, where River Song awaits them. Madame Kovarian is a prisoner, tied to a chair. They have used her eyepatch to create eye drives to let them remember the Silents when not looking at them.
The Doctor goes to take River's hand, but she knows they are the poles of an explosion waiting to destroy this timeline. She has him handcuffed and tries to convince him to live. The Silents, who have actually just been waiting, escape because it is their trap the Doctor's friends have fallen into. As the soldiers retreat to the King's Chamber, their eye drives electrify and kill them. Kovarian mocks them, until her eye drive sparks too. Rory stays to hold off the Silents, while River, Amy and the Doctor go to the apex of the pyramid to see what River has built. The door flies open; Rory falls to his knees as the Silents enter and begin to electrocute him, but Amy, at last remembering who he is, returns to kill them with a machine gun. She murders a terrified Kovarian by putting her Eye-Drive back on. Amy then suggests to a very happy Rory that they should get a drink when everything is over.
Atop the Great Pyramid, River has built a beacon, calling the universe across all of time: The Doctor is dying. Please help. Every reply is, "Yes, of course". The Doctor, however, insists that no one can help him. He must die to prevent all of time disintegrating.
River despairs and swears to suffer more than any living thing in the universe for him. The Doctor tells Amy to uncuff him. He uses his bow tie to marry River in a handfasting. He whispers a secret into his bride's ear and tells her she must never tell anyone what he has just told her: his name. As she looks at him in wonder, the Doctor asks for her help.
They kiss and time moves again. River shoots the Doctor thrice, preventing his regeneration. He dies. The distorted timeline vanishes.
Some time later, River, fresh from the crash of the Byzantium, arrives at her mother's home to split a bottle of wine. Amy wonders what the events in the aborted, frozen time line say about her, particularly her murder of Kovarian. She needs to talk with the Doctor, but he is dead. River disagrees. Amy notes that her daughter is still having adventures with him in the centuries before his death, but River tells her a secret which she probably shouldn't. As Rory joins his wife and daughter, they dance for joy until Amy realises to her horror she is the Doctor's mother-in-law.
A monk carries Dorium's head back to the Seventh Transept. Dorium recognises the Doctor and asks how he escaped. The Doctor explains that River actually shot the Teselecta, with him safe inside, waving happily at her. Now the entire universe believes him dead and it's time to step back into the shadows. He leaves.
Dorium calls after him the question the Doctor has been running from his entire life: "Doctor who?"
- The Doctor – Matt Smith
- Amy Pond – Karen Gillan
- Rory Williams – Arthur Darvill
- River Song – Alex Kingston
- Madame Kovarian – Frances Barber
- Emperor Winston Churchill - Ian McNeice
- Malohkeh- Richard Hope
- Charles Dickens - Simon Callow
- Dr Kent - Emma Campbell-Jones
- Gideon Vandaleur - Niall Greig Fulton
- Gantok - Mark Gatiss (Credited as 'Rondo Haxton')
- Herself - Sian Williams
- Himself - Bill Turnbull
- Herself - Meredith Vieira
- Dorium Maldovar -Simon Fisher Becker
- The Silence - Marnix Van Den Broeke
- Carter - Richard Dillane
- Nurse - Katherine Burford
- Barman - Sean Buckley
- Canton Delaware - William Morgan Sheppard (footage from The Impossible Astronaut)
- Voice of the Dalek- Nicholas Briggs
|Executive Producers Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger and Beth Willis|
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
Cultural references to the real world
- Amy introduced herself as "Pond. Amelia Pond." She followed a grenade into the room, and she was wearing all black with an eye patch and a gun, which she uses to shoot the Doctor. Her cadence, stance, accessories, and tone were an obvious reference to James Bond.
Fashion and clothing
- The Doctor wore the Stetson given to him by Craig Owens up to and including the time he is hidden aboard the Teselecta.
- Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart passed away before the Doctor phones the institution where he was staying; he talked about the Doctor all the time and insisted on having a spare glass of brandy ready in case he should show up.
- Charles Dickens was interviewed on television in the alternative timeline.
- Anderson is one of Rory's soldiers that is killed by the Silence.
- The Doctor was reading Knitting for Girls.
- The Londinium Cotide reported that the War of the Roses has entered its second year.
- River built a timey-wimey distress beacon.
- Gantok used gauntlets as limited protection against the electrified chess pieces.
- Dorium says that the Seventh Transsept has excellent Wi-Fi.
- Amy had an office on a train. The Doctor has never had an office and envied both the office and the train.
- This episode pays tribute to Nicholas Courtney, who died in February. The Doctor learns his character, Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, died peacefully in his sleep, fulfilling the prophecy made by the Seventh Doctor in the 1989 episode Battlefield. The episode also contains scenes in which "everybody was wearing an eyepatch"; this is a reference to an anecdote Courtney recounted frequently at Doctor Who fan events, about an incident while recording of the 1970 serial Inferno (DWMSE 31). Furthermore, Amy says to the Doctor "We'll be in Cairo soon", Cairo being Courtney's place of birth.
- A prequel to this episode was released online.
- This is the first and only episode of Doctor Who to air on the same night as an episode of fellow BBC Saturday night drama Merlin. The first episode of Merlin Series 4, The Darkest Hour, was broadcast right after The Wedding of River Song.
- Meredith Vieira, co-host of the American morning news/chat programme Today, filmed her cameo during a visit to the Upper Boat Studios as part of a profile of Doctor Who produced for Today. The profile aired on 9 May 2011, contained several minor spoilers for this episode. It revealed the cameo appearance by Richard Hope as Malohkeh and the return of Ian McNeice as Winston Churchill. Appearances by several Cybermen served as a "false flag" spoiler suggesting they might also appear in the episode. They did not.
- This is the first series finale of the revived series not to be a multi-part episode. In fact, it is the first series finale ever to only be one episode, though it can be seen to be completing the multi-part story started in TV: The Impossible Astronaut. It was also the first-series finale of the revival series not to feature a "classic series" adversary as the main antagonist, even though it featured a cameo of a Dalek.
- In TV: The Impossible Astronaut the versions of the Doctor give their ages as 909 and 1103. The Doctor has apparently lived for almost two hundred years between these two episodes. Writer Gareth Roberts indicated in an interview that this is indeed two hundred years after The God Complex for the Doctor and he spent these years "waving" at Amy and Rory through history books.
- The hat shot off the Doctor's head by River in TV: The Impossible Astronaut was a copy made by the Teselecta.
- This is the ninth time the actor playing the Doctor has portrayed a different character in the same story. This previously happened with:
- William Hartnell (The Chase and The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve)
- Patrick Troughton (The Enemy of the World)
- Tom Baker (The Android Invasion and Meglos)
- Peter Davison (Arc of Infinity and The Caves of Androzani)
- David Tennant (Journey's End)
- Matt Smith (The Almost People)
- Matt Smith (The Wedding of River Song)
- This is the second time the Eleventh Doctor is shown with facial hair, coincidentally he is previously depicted with it TV: Day of the Moon which was directly tied with this episode.
- This was the last episode to be covered by Doctor Who Confidential due to that series' cancellation. Starting with The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, the official Doctor Who website would feature short making-of videos after each episode's transmission.
- A message that "Doctor Who Will Return" appears at the end of the episode.
- This is the first series finale of the revived series in which the final scene is set outside the TARDIS.
- The Doctor will get married. This was proven true.
- Part of this episode will be set in Egypt. This was proven true.
- The Doctor's reflection in River's helmet shield is not reversed, as it should be.
- When Gantok falls into the pit of skulls his hat falls off, yet it's back on right before he's devoured completely.
- When River is about to shoot the Doctor, she begins raising her hand. In the next wide shot, it is risen fully and ready to fire. However, in the next close-up, she is still raising her hand.
- Time was frozen at 05:02:57, and progressed to around 05:03:06 the first time the Doctor and River touch, but when the Doctor and River kiss later, a clock is shown on screen, with time resuming from 05:02:00. This is not necessarily an error, however. The world may be "caught in a time loop" with duration of milliseconds that merely widened briefly when they touched, or the time may have reset to the fixed point when River and the Doctor broke contact.
- When Amy and her team arrive to save the Doctor in the senate hall, the Doctor throws Winston Churchill to the floor and takes a few steps forward. A second later he is shown on the floor right next to Winston.
- When the Doctor flashes back to the picnic on the lakeside, he fills River's wine glass about a quarter full, but when they all say, "Salut", the camera changes angles and the glass looks full; when the camera returns to its starting position, it is back to a quarter.
- Also, during the same scene, the moon is not visible in the sky as it was in The Impossible Astronaut.
- When the Doctor is talking to Rory about Amy in front of one of the Silence tanks, the Doctor's reflection shows both of his eyes completely visible, even though he is wearing his eye-drive.
- When the Doctor and Churchill are fighting the Silence, black marks start appearing on the Doctor's arm even though he has no pen with which to make them. The Doctor is inside the Tesselecta, and the crew can alter the skin of his facsimile to create "tally marks".
- Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart is said to have died in his sleep peacefully at a nursing home. The Seventh Doctor had stated that this was exactly how his old friend would pass away. (TV: Battlefield )
- The Doctor uses the internal TARDIS phone. (TV: World War Three, The Beast Below, The Big Bang)
- Charles Dickens appears in an interview talking about an upcoming Christmas story involving ghosts. (TV: The Unquiet Dead)
- Winston Churchill is the Holy Roman Emperor. (TV: Victory of the Daleks, The Pandorica Opens)
- The Silurian scientist Malokeh is Winston Churchill's physician. (TV: The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood)
- Dorium Maldovar returns as a head. He was beheaded by the Headless Monks. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War)
- The Doctor mentions his former companions Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness.
- Amy drawings of several creatures and moments from her adventure with the Doctor, including:
- the Krafayis (TV: Vincent and the Doctor),
- the Weeping Angels (TV: The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone),
- the Saturnyns (TV: Vampires of Venice),
- the Silurians (TV: The Hungry Earth, Cold Blood, A Good man Goes to War),
- the Daleks (TV: Victory of the Daleks, The Big Bang),
- the Minotaur (TV: The God Complex),
- the Cybermen (TV: The Pandorica Opens),
- the Smilers (TV: The Beast Below),
- a self-portrait of herself as a pirate (TV: The Curse of the Black Spot),
- and of herself emerging from the Pandorica (TV: The Big Bang).
- The Doctor encounters the Teselecta again, and its captain. (TV: Let's Kill Hitler)
- The Doctor again sports a beard. (TV: Day of the Moon)
- When talking to Amy after the timeline has been restored, River mentions climbing out of the Byzantium. She is still in her combat fatigues and has just seen a younger Amy who had no idea as to River's identity. (TV: The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone)
- Amy is partially protected from some kinds of temporal changes by her long-term exposure to the cracks. (TV: The Eleventh Hour, The Big Bang)
- When River says to the Doctor that time can be rewritten, he replies "Don't you dare." This is what River says to the Tenth Doctor in a similar situation (TV: Forest of the Dead) and echoes the sentiment of the First Doctor when trying to stop Barbara Wright interfering in Aztec history. (TV: The Aztecs)
- River mentions "Rule #1: the Doctor lies." (TV: The Big Bang, Let's Kill Hitler)
- A Silent calls Rory "The man who dies and dies again". (TV: Amy's Choice, Cold Blood, The Curse of the Black Spot, The Doctor's Wife)
- When the Doctor meets River in Area 52, he again greets her by saying, "Honey, I'm home." River again replies "And what sort of time do you call this?" (TV: The Big Bang)
- The Doctor mentions Elizabeth I waiting in a glade to elope with him. (TV: The Shakespeare Code, TV: The End of Time, TV: The Beast Below)
- The Doctor says, "Geronimo!" again. (TV: The End of Time, The Eleventh Hour, The Beast Below, The Big Bang)
- The Doctor asks River, "Why do you always have handcuffs?" (TV: Forest of the Dead, TV: Flesh and Stone)
- Dorium tells the Doctor what the "question that must never be answered" is. (TV: Let's Kill Hitler)
- The notion of "Doctor Who?" as a dark secret rather than simply a question has been mentioned before (TV:Silver Nemesis, The Girl in the Fireplace), and hinted at by Ian Chesterton: “Who is he? Doctor who? Perhaps if we knew his name, we might have a clue as to all of this”. (TV: An Unearthly Child)
- The barman on Calisto B is a red humanoid. (TV: New Earth, Gridlock, The End of Time, The Pandorica Opens and COMIC: Agent Provocateur)
- While held captive, Madame Kovarian is annoyed at River and the Doctor's flirting, as Amy was earlier. (TV: Day of the Moon)
- River mentions having to pretend not to recognise a space suit in 1969. (TV: The Impossible Astronaut)
- A heavily damaged Progenitor Dalek appears.
- The Doctor makes marks on his arm when he sees the Silence. He also discovers them under the same circumstances as Amy did, inadvertently looking up at the ceiling where a large nest of Silence is roosting, then forgetting the encounter over and over as he keeps looking down, putting increasing numbers of tally marks on for each time he notices the Silence. (TV: Day of the Moon)
- River says she is a child of the TARDIS. (TV: Let's Kill Hitler)
- The Doctor reads a knitting magazine. (TV: Day of the Moon)
- River shoots the Doctor shortly after marrying him. Her father, Rory, shot Amy while they were engaged. (TV: The Pandorica Opens)
- The Doctor gives River important information by whispering into her ear. (TV: Forest of the Dead, Let's Kill Hitler)
- The Doctor is revealed to simulate a regeneration through use of the Teselecta. He later explains he had exhausted all twelve of his allotted twelve regenerations, thus if he had suffered lethal wounding at Lake Silencio, he would not have begun to expel regeneration energy- instead, he would have died immediately. (TV: The Time of the Doctor)
- The Doctor later faces Dorium Maldovar's prophecy in TV: The Time of the Doctor.
Home video releases
The episode was later released in the complete series 6, which included the first and second half of the series, was released on DVD and Blu Ray on the 21 November 2011.