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River Song


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River Song is a character played by Alex Kingston in Doctor Who. River Song, previously a doctor and eventually a professor, was a mysterious archaeologist.

She was also a convicted murderer who shared a close relationship with the Doctor. Significantly, she knew the Doctor's true name, which he would tell her at some point in his future for reasons as yet undisclosed. She would often greet him by saying "Hello, sweetie", whether in message or in person.
Although the Tenth Doctor's first meeting with her ended in her physical death, they had many adventures, from the Doctor's perspective, afterwards. Like Melanie Bush and Charley Pollard before her, she was an example of the rare companion whose timeline was not synchronous with that of the Doctor.

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River Song Picture


 Episodes River Song has appeared in:

Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead (2008) (2 Parter).

Notable Aliases: Doctor Song
Professor Song
Cleopatra

The following is a list of appearances by River Song.

Television Doctor Who
Series 4
Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead
Journey's End - Flashback only (archive footage)
Series 5
The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone
The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang


Following the character's initial appearance, then-executive producer Russell T Davies described her as "one of the most important characters" and "vital" to the Doctor's life.


Since first popping up onto our screens in 2008 in the series four two parter 'Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead,' River Song has been a figure of mystery and a source of much debate amongst the fans of Doctor Who. Things are never simple with River, owing to the fact that because the Doctor is a time traveller he is always meeting her out of sequence. Therefore ironically and rather tragically, the first time he meets her is actually the last time she would see him, from her point of view, because she dies at the end of the episodes.

The timey-wimey travels of River Song

Unknown date: River Song meets the Doctor for the first time.

5145: River Song is currently imprisoned in the Stormcage Containment Facility for killing 'a good man'.

Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

The series five series finale takes place even earlier in River's timeline than the previous stories did. Because of the epic scale of the finale, clues about river are quite few here - the focus instead being on the bigger story arc and the plot. There are a few clues though that are worth mentioning. Firstly, River's ability to fly the TARDIS is evidenced, and she confirms that it was actually the Doctor who taught her.

When left alone with a Dalek, River turns a little sadistic. When the Dalek initially sees her, it assumes she won't kill it because she's a friend of the Doctor. On performing a closer scan, the Dalek starts begging for mercy, which River revels in for a few moments before shooting the Dalek anyway. This again suggests that she might not be all that good.

In the closing scenes of "The Big Bang," River speaks briefly to the Doctor, and he asks her if she's married. There then follows a rather complicated exchange where all River says is "yes," but the Doctor can't understand whether she's saying yes she is married or yes she will marry him. She then says that he'll see her again soon, but apologises because then everything will change. These episodes again continue the trend set by "The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone," of having clues to the pair being very close balanced against clues to River being up to something more sinister.

We know from our knowledge of what's to come in series six that the River Song mystery will play a big part, so we will hopefully get some answers quite soon. What is most clear is that when the character was written in 2008, she probably wasn't expected to have much of a future, so it was just heavily hinted that she was the Doctor's wife. For the 2010 series, something much grander has obviously been planned, and it is clear that whoever River is, she is very close to the Doctor, although it also seems that at some point in her life she acts in a more sinister fashion, or at least performs some deeds that are morally questionable.

Many have suggested that the best man she ever knew who she killed must be the Doctor, although how this would work out I'm not sure. There are still many who believe she's his wife, although personally I think this has been hinted at a little too obviously for it to be true. Some think she's a timelord, like maybe the Rani or Romana, and some have even suggested that she is some future version of Captain Jack Harkness.

The most popular theory doing the rounds at the moment is that she is Amy and Rory's future child. This could be plausable, but like the wife scenario I hope it isn't true as I feel it would be a bit too soap-opera like for Doctor Who. Whatever the answer, we won't have to wait long for more clues, and hopefully the answer itself!

River escapes the Stormcagee to retrieve a painting from Liz 10, then moves on to the Maldovarium to pick up a Vortex Manipulator.

River uses the Vortex Manipulator to travel back to Planet One to leave a message for the Doctor and then on to 102 AD where she poses as Cleopatra.

2010 The Tardis drags River to Amy Pond's house, then explodes thorugh every point in history!

River is trapped in a time loop.

2010: The Doctor saves River from the time loop

Universe Reboot!

2010: In the new universe, river goes to Amy's wedding to drop off her now-blank diary.

51st century: River escapes the Byzantium crash. She leads the Tardis to Alfava Metraxis, where the Weeping Angels are waiting.

After Moffat took over from Davies as executive producer of the show, River Song appeared in the 2010 series. She encounters the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), to whom she is more familiar, at an earlier point in her timeline in the two-parter "The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone". She leaves coordinates for the Doctor to eventually find so that he may rescue her in the 51st century, and with him she investigates the crash of the spaceship Byzantium. She proves herself to be more adept at flying the TARDIS than he is and reveals to him that she is imprisoned for killing "the best man she had ever known". An even earlier version of River appears to assist the Doctor in series finale "The Pandorica Opens"/"The Big Bang". After she is contacted in prison by Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice), she leads the Doctor to 102 A.D. Whilst River is travelling in the TARDIS on her own, it explodes with her inside. The Doctor, using River's vortex manipulator, is able to save her and teleport her out. She then assists him in closing the cracks in the universe in an alternate 1996. After quietly assisting Amy Pond in remembering the Doctor by giving Amy her diary, she states to the Doctor that he will soon learn the truth about her, after which everything will change.

River Song in the opening two episodes of series six.

Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone

In the first two parter of the fifth series, River Song appeared once more, helping the Doctor battle the weeping angels. There were revelations galore in these episodes. Straight off we know that it is much earlier in Rivers timeline, and she knows that it is still early days for the Doctor. She reveals that she knows how to pilot the TARDIS, but hints that it wasn't the Doctor who taught her. The husband/wife scenario is still pushed through, but what joins us in these episodes is a more sinister side to the character, and a suggestion that she might not be what she appears to be.

River brings with her an army of clerics (clerics are apparently warriors in the 52nd century,) but it is soon revealed (first to the audience and then much later to the Doctor) that River is on parole from a high security prison, and is trying to earn her freedom by doing some good deeds. One of the clerics warns her not to let the Doctor find out who and what she really is, for fear of him not helping them out. Later, in "Flesh and Stone," we find out that River killed a man, the best man she ever knew - that is why she has been in prison. A cleric warns the Doctor that she can't be trusted, and River herself admits that she's always lying.

51st century@ River is take back to the Stormcage for a possible pardon.

51st Century: The first time the 10th Doctor meet River Song.

The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) first meets River Song in the Doctor Who 2008 series two-parter 'Silence In The Library/Forest Of The Dead', written by Steven Moffat during the Russell T Davies era of Doctor Who. She encounters the Tenth Doctor in the 51st century and claims to be someone he will come to trust completely. She is able to convince the Doctor of his future trust in her by whispering his real name into his ear. The adventure in the Library is River's last real-life encounter with the Doctor in her chronology, but is their first encounter in his.

These episodes seem to heavily hint at a romantic relationship between River and the Doctor. She mentions several meetings that she has already had with him, and they sound an awful lot like romantic dates, such as the picnic at Asgard. She refers to the Doctor as 'pretty boy' and is generally quite flirty with him, although in fairness she is quite flirty with everyone.

When she knows that the Doctor doesn't know her yet, she appears genuinely heartbroken and says to Donna that she knows the fact that he looks right through her shouldn't kill her but it does - implying that they must have a very strong bond in his future in order for it to be so gutting not to be recognised. "Silence in the Library," also tells us that she has knowledge of the TARDIS, as she knew what emergency protocol one was without the Doctor telling her.

51st Century: River sacrifices herself to save the Doctor in the Library.

In the second of the two episodes she sacrifices herself to save the Doctor's life. In turn he is able to upload her consciousness into a computer (in which she is able to live on) through the use of a sonic screwdriver that he apparently gave to her at a point in her past which for him has not yet occurred.

She is also shown to have a future version of the Doctor's sonic screwdriver, and she assures the Doctor that it was given to her, and that she didn't steal it from him. "The Forest of the Dead" perhaps gives us our best clues, as it's in this episode that we find out River knows the Doctor's real name, and indeed she whispers it to him as proof of how close they are. When another character accuses them of arguing like an old married couple, the two of them look at each other in a manner which could imply that they are married, but this might just be deliberate misdirection.

Towards the end of that episode when River is preparing to sacrifice herself, the Doctor says that there is only one time when he could tell someone his name - which many fans have suggested to mean his wedding day. Overall then, from these two episodes the husband/wife relationship is most strongly suggested, and indeed that is what most fans assumed and put their money behind after seeing these episodes. That was all fine until Series five aired.

Back To Front

The irony of The Doctor's first meeting with River Song is that it's her last meeting with him. She sacrifices herself in order to save the inhabitants of the library, but a future version of The Doctor has given her a modified sonic screwdriver with a consciousness loop inside to save her essence to the large hard drive. Song lives on in a virtual world with her own companions for company.

River maintains a diary of her encounters with The Doctor, which she claims contain spoilers (a nice nod to the insatiable fan appetite for information about new plots). She herself is a source of cryptic clues as to what's in the future for the time traveller and his friends. But River always seems to be one step ahead of the story, with us never being completely sure if she's a pure companion, or if there's something evil about her that we've yet to discover.

2010: The last time the Eleventh Doctor saw River.


What do we know about River Song?

She's morally ambiguous. She'll steal artefacts, trick shady alien dealers into giving her Vortex Manipulators (that are still attached to their owners' arms), and use her mysterious allure to snog her way out of prison.

Daleks are afraid of her. As we saw in The Big Bang, a Dalek made the mistake of thinking a companion of The Doctor wouldn't use violence against it. However, whenever Song told him to look her up in its databanks, it begged for mercy. Clearly she's known to be a ruthless enemy in alien circles.

She knows a lot about The Doctor and Gallifrey. She can read and write old Gallifreyan, she has a small encyclopedia of her adventures with The Doctor, and she can fly the TARDIS better than him!

She's a killer. In Flesh And Stone, River admits that she killed a man, the best man she has ever known. That's why she's imprisoned in a Stormcage. And if she can be believed, that Dalek didn't get shown any mercy either.

She doesn't seem to be a TARDIS regular. Despite her impressive knowledge of The Doctor, she doesn't seem to travel with him regularly. She hails him via notes left on historical artefacts or via his psychic paper. On the other hand, she's also able to pilot the TARDIS...so she must have spent some time aboard it.

There's something dangerous about her. In Flesh And Stone, Father Octavian gives The Doctor an ominous warning that all is not seems with River Song: "You think you know [River], but you don't. You don't understand who or what she is."

Is she The Doctor's wife? Yes, they have a very 'married couple' dynamic. But is it possible that - despite The Doctor's inadvertent proposal at the end of The Big Bang - the marriage thing is a very convenient thing for us to latch on to? My personal feeling is that it's a bluff.

She loves The Doctor. In The Big Bang we see Song trapped in the TARDIS in a constant loop, saying "Goodbye, my love." Unless she was talking to the TARDIS itself.

And we know how her story ends. No matter what else comes to pass, River met with the Tenth Doctor in Silence In The Library and was forever 'saved' to a virtual world. Even in that final moment, she seemed impressed by The Doctor's resourcefulness and fond of him. There was no hint of malice, or a desire to harm him.


Merchandise

Official toys based on River Song include an action figure and a model of her "future sonic screwdriver". Alex Kingston said about the action figure, "I don't quite believe it. You don't get that on ER."
 


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Copyright 2000-2014 Vic Stathopoulos. All rights reserved.

Updated: Tuesday 1st, April, 2014

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