Dr. River Song, or How I Learned to Stop Seething and Love Doctor-Ships.
I have had a long history of hating on Doctor Who romances. And it all starts with Rose Tyler. I honestly didn’t start hating on Rose until Martha came along, when I started paying a lot more attention to the story and studying the Doctor’s back story. About then I also started hating on Martha’s fawning over the Doctor as well. Somehow the idea of the Doctor in a romantic relationship was just plain wrong.
The fact of the matter is that Rose Tyler is a Mary Sue. She’s a shippy fan-girl self insert. A shop girl plucked out of nowhere with no formal training in anything, she still manages to be perfect in every way. She destroyed the Daleks, merged with the TARDIS, saves the day more often than the Doctor himself, and inexplicably got the Doctor to fall in love with her in under two years. Even after her departure as a companion in series three, everyone else goes on about how perfect she is. She wants to stay with him forever and ever in a childish kind of way, and then ends up with her own life-sized, living, breathing, Doctor sex toy. If she has any kind of flaw, it’s that she loves and cares TOO MUCH! Mary F***ing Sue.
It rankled me to no end that he fell for Rose. I always viewed the Doctor as asexual. Not a single other companion ever developed any kind of romance with the Doctor, and it’s highly possible he simply didn’t view them in that way. Maybe the Time Lords don’t really have any sex drive to speak of, and maybe they reproduce in some bizarre strictly scientific way. He just enjoyed hanging out with humans, but actually getting romantically involved with them? It was wrong. Like… pedo wrong. After all, he’s 900 years old or so, and here’s this young, trusting, naive race of people that is desperate for his attention and approval. It still makes my skin crawl.
Spoilers after the jump! Martha Jones could have been such a better companion if she didn’t fall for him as well. Continuing this trope with a much more capable, well rounded woman was insulting. She couldn’t be happy unless the Doctor loved her back, and she couldn’t travel with him unless he loved her back. Yet another woman whose happiness could only be found through a relationship with a man. She couldn’t be content with simply going on adventures with a fun alien guy, noooo.
Which brings us to the awesome Donna Noble, who met the most tragic end of the three. Donna was not interested in the Doctor in any way, shape, or form, which allowed their relationship to grow in other, much more interesting ways. Donna actually had a character arc, she grew and developed. She was imperfect in a lot of ways, impatient and flighty, a perfect foil to the patient and brilliant Doctor. The two of them butting heads was a joy to watch, and I really miss her.
Next, Amy Pond. Yes, I like Amy, though they’re still teasing at the idea that she likes the Doctor. I’m happy to chalk the brief make-out session between her and the Doctor to pre-wedding jitters, because the alternative makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Rory has more than proven himself a perfect partner for Amy, and I’m hoping that “fall out of the sky” nonsense from Day of the Moon is the last we see of any kind of ridiculous love triangle. After all, we have to focus on the Doctor and River.
So why do I approve of the Doctor and River when the idea of his shacking up with anyone else gives me the willies? Why is this woman the only one good enough for the Doctor? Easy. She is his equal.
River Song, like Martha, is a doctor. She’s brilliant, experienced, confident, and quick thinking. She doesn’t need the Doctor to define herself or to be complete, neither does he need her. She manages well on her own, having her own adventures without him. As we know her now, she’s spent a lifetime traveling with him, learning about him and the TARDIS, slowly building a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. She’s the closest thing to a Gallifreyan he is ever going to find, and part of that is due to each of them building the relationship in that way, almost grooming the perfect mate because they know what comes next.
Granted, last episode I thought it was a little heavy and strange with the flirting, but by the end I realized it was because from River’s point of view they were in a romantic relationship already. What we saw was the end of it, and my heart broke when I saw the look on River’s face as she realized it.
This is how you do a Doctor relationship. The way the story is unfolding is great, the backwards time lines is a brilliant concept. So now that they are “together” officially, I am excited for the first time to see where this goes.
A quick aside: Does anyone else think it’s super obvious who the murderous Impossible Astronaut is?