Demons run when a good man goes to war; night will fall and drown the sun when a good man goes to war. Friendship dies and true love lies; night will fall and the dark will rise when a good man goes to war. Demons run but count the cost; the battle’s won but the child is lost.
On the asteroid Demon’s Run, Amy Pond has given birth. But the villainous Madame Kovarian and the religious order of the silence are waiting to make a collection that tears Amy’s world apart. Across the galaxy, the Eleventh Doctor and Rory Williams are assembling an army to fight the battle that lies ahead, whilst in Stormcage, River Song prepares to escape for what may be the last time. For this is the battle of Demon’s Run. On this day, the Doctor will rise higher than ever and fall so much further, and finally, this is the day he discovers who River Song is…
Series 6 is very divisive in the Doctor Who fandom, people either seem to love it or hate it; everyone has biases, no matter how impartial they claim to be. The job of reviewer is pretty much to give your opinion on a specific thing, whether it be Doctor Who episodes or microphones or a pair of designer high heels. Personally, I’m in two minds of Series 6; I think Part 1 is great and Part 2 slowly slips down in my rankings. I think that the Silence arc was really interesting, as well as the Madame Kovarian arc; both of which I feel should have really ended in A Good Man Goes To War.
The pre-titles sequence of A Good Man Goes To War is, in my opinion, one of the strongest pre-titles sequences ever. We see new mum Amy talking to her newborn daughter about a fantastical man who is impossibly old, who will stop at nothing to find them. I really enjoyed the way the pre-titles scenes were written, as it made you genuinely doubt yourself as to whether Rory is the dad. Steven Moffat did this just to make you wonder whether Amy cheated on Rory with the Doctor. Could it be possible? Would it happen? Not only did we have the semi-mystery of who Amy’s unnamed child’s father is, but we also got to see the Cybermen get absolutely wrecked by the Last Centurion himself. I love badass Rory.
“Would you like me to repeat the question?” what a cool line.
I’m aware that I always talk about things I notice when I rewatch an episode for review, normally for episodes I haven’t really watched since initial viewing years ago; but there is a little thing in A Good Man Goes To War that gets me every time. On Demon’s Run, there’s a notice with the sonic screwdriver saying “Remember: 1. It’s not sonic. 2. It’s not a screwdriver.” You have to give Steven Moffat and the production team credit, they’re great at adding these little details that are just so funny.
Lorna Bucket is one of Doctor Who’s many could-have-been-companions that are a real shame they weren’t able to reach their full potential. Her 30 seconds with the Doctor are enough to change her life, make her join the marines at Demon’s Run just for a chance of meeting him again. To be honest though, if I met the Doctor, I’d probably spend most of my life trying to meet him again too.
A Good Man Goes To War is also notable for the first time we get to meet the yet unnamed Paternoster Gang, comprising of Madame Vastra, the Silurian, Jenny Flint, her girlfriend and Strax, the Sontaran nurse. These three characters have somewhat become a semi-regular staple for the show, featuring in five episodes as of writing this. Our first introduction of the Paternoster Gang sees them join forces, with Strax being from about 2000 years in the future compared to his Victorian counterparts.
Rory’s encounter with River whilst trying to recruit her to the Doctor’s cause is a beautiful small scene, seeing these two characters interact; these two characters who are so similar in a lot of ways, is spellbinding. It’s very rare that Rory and River get a scene alone together, and it’s a total shame, as they compliment each other beautifully. Dorium Maldovar on the other hand, the character created because John Barrowman couldn’t reprise his role as Captain Jack due to him being Captain Jack for Torchwood: Miracle Day seems to be lacking any real backstory, unlike his ragtag army’s counterparts. I get that Dorium is really intended as comic relief for a very dark episode, but I still wish we’d gotten some more information about him.
If there’s one character in this episode that’s totally heartbreaking, it’s that of Amy Pond. It’s totally understandable that she’s utterly distraught due to her having just had her daughter essentially kidnapped from her, and it shows you just how vulnerable the feisty ginger scotswoman can be. Not only that, but it goes to show how important a part of the Doctor’s life Amy actually is.
There’s one aspect of A Good Man Goes To War that I haven’t really noticed before, and that’s the lack of the Doctor. It’s not until around the 20 minute mark that he actually first pops up, disguised as a Headless Monk. The Doctor’s plan to save Amelia is truly a plan worthy of both the Doctor and Sherlock Holmes. Even if it does seem a little unDoctorish; letting the humans begin their own bloodshed. The part of the plan that was the most unforeseen cameo and aspect of the plan, had to be Danny Boy from Victory of The Daleks and Captain Avery from The Curse of The Black Spot turning up near the end of the plan for some reason that seemed totally unnecessary apart from to make the most of the actors whilst they were on their lunch breaks or something.
I think that it’s in A Good Man Goes To War that we first really see the Eleventh Doctor’s ‘Fury of a Time Lord’, whilst the Tenth Doctor seemed to be a more frantic, uncontrollable rage, like we saw in The Waters of Mars and The End of Time, the Eleventh Doctor seems to be a lot cooler, calmer and more collected; making his fury seem even darker in a way. The Tenth Doctor might have punched someone but the Eleventh Doctor makes that person punch themselves. Twice.
The idea of a good man going to war is a great one, especially if the man in question is the Doctor; a character we know abhors violence, it would have been interesting to see the Doctor have to reluctantly join a great battle in order to save someone or something that he holds dear. Imagine the Doctor we saw that took Wilf’s gun from The End of Time but filled with regret and reluctance for a whole episode. That’s what I hoped A Good Man Goes To War would have been; instead we had the Doctor delegate tasks so he didn’t have to get his hands dirty, and a battle that ended seemingly extremely quickly.
Steven Moffat is a master at pulling the rug from under your feet, waiting for you to gangly clamber back up before pulling another rug out from under your feet again. If there’s an episode that demonstrates that, it’s probably A Good Man Goes To War. The casual viewer would no doubt think that the end of the battle would have been the actual conclusion of the battle; but they’d be totally and utterly wrong. The Headless Monks are back for more. The more hardened viewer would then believe that this secondary battle would be the end of the revelations, but they’d be totally and utterly wrong too. The revelation that the Melody that Amy was looking after was also made of Flesh was heart wrenching; and seeing Amy seemingly lose faith in her Raggedy Man is devastating for both the Doctor and the audience.
River’s arrival in the closing minutes of the episode and argument with the Doctor really does put the Doctor as a character in perspective. We’ve seen the Doctor become this legendary figure, ever since any viewer started watching; whether you started in 1963 or 2005 or even a few episodes before, but that’s only because we’re lead to believe that the Doctor is a great man, but that’s only because we see all of the adventures from his side of the story; an idea that is revisited in The Name of The Doctor.
Overall, I think that A Good Man Goes To War is a great episode for the hardcore Whovian, however I feel like it would alienate the casual viewer if this was their first episode. I think the character developments are stellar and I was more than satisfied at the reveal that River is in fact Amy and Rory’s daughter.
The rating system on the Gallifrey Archive is achieved on a scale of 1-10.
For A Good Man Goes To War, I will give a rating of: