Good, Bad & Ugly Review: Doctor Who – Let’s Kill Hitler

Synopsis: This episode kicks off the second half of the sixth season of the Doctor Who series that was relaunched in 2005. The show left off earlier this year with The Doctor and his married companions Amy and Rory discovering that their comrade-in-arms, (the very much adult) River Song, is in fact Amy and Rory’s daughter. Long story short…River was kidnapped soon after her birth by the Doctor-hating religious cabal known as The Silence and the Doctor has vowed to rescue little Melody Pond from their evil clutches if its the last thing he does.

Let’s Kill Hitler begins with our crew reuniting in a cornfield and finding out that The Doctor has had no luck tracking down The Silence or Bouncing Baby Pond. As the threesome begin to get their hellos and hugs out of the way they are interrupted by a hot rod being chased by the local police. The driver of said hot rod is Mels (short for Melody), Amy and Rory’s best friend since childhood and a full on joyriding, nihilistic criminal. Soon a gun is pulled on The Doctor, the decision is made to go back in time to kill Hitler and someone accidentally shoots The Tardis. And that is all before the crew lands in Hitler’s office where they do battle with an Amy Pond robot filled with tiny people, Mels gets shot by a stray Nazi bullet and Rory punches Hitler in the face then locks him in a closet. Oh yeah…there is a regeneration in this episode too.

I have to admit upon first hearing the name for this episode I was not expecting to enjoy it that much. The idea of time travelers going back to Nazi Germany has been done a lot in science fiction and I honestly wasn’t looking for another stroll down that well worn path. So imagine my surprise when the title of the episode ended up being the biggest red herring ever. Let’s Kill Hitler was not about Hitler at all but rather focused on the many secrets that have been left dangling around River Song ever since she first appeared several seasons ago spouting off about spoilers and knowing way too much about The Doctor’s life. By episode’s end the viewer knows almost everything we need to about who River Song is and why she acts the way she does. And this episode provided some really cool moments like The Doctor flipping through his ex-Companion Rolodex looking for comfort in his time of need and The Doctor and River Song’s little dance where each was able to figure out what the other was up to before they made a move.

Steven Moffat deserves a nod for writing this episode too. he took some story beats that could have been very cheesy and made them work so well. he also gets points for taking the concept from that crappy Eddie Murphy movie MEET DAVE and making it interesting.The impeccably polite yet murderous antibodies in the robot were a very good touch too.
The performances were great all around too. Matt Smith was his usual quirky/manic self but also played up the drama that was necessary with all of the events and big reveals that went down in this episode.
I’m not the biggest Karen Gillan or Amy Pond fan but she was not too distracting this episode and she has a future playing emotionless robots if she wants it.
Arthur Darvill was great as Rory but he seemed to get short shrift when it came to dealing with River as his daughter. Too much of the focus seemed to be on Amy’s feelings and not Rory’s. But at least he got to be a bad ass Nazi Puncher which had to be fun.
I am a bit saddened that we didn’t get to spend a bit more time with Mels. I liked the character from the minute she pulled up in that stolen car and the flashback of her troubled youth at Amy and Rory’s side endeared her to me even more. Nina Toussaint-White gets a lot of credit for making a character that is seen for such a short time so memorable. TPTB should keep her in mind for the next time they are in need of a Companion because she would fit quite nicely.

But the MVP of this episode is Alex Kingston. She has taken a character that I found so grating when she was first introduced and made her one of my all time favorite Who sidekicks. And Kingston did an amazing job with this episode playing a neophyte River Song that had not as much of the bravado of the more seasoned version we have come to know but was still able to go toe to toe with The Doctor. I honestly think a spinoff show about the adventures of Dr. River Song would be a great show and I would definitely watch it.

The only downside to this episode is that it is so continuity heavy that there is no way a casual viewer could just jump in and not have a total brain freeze. This is advanced Who and requires ample knowledge of what came before (all the way back to the Silence in the Library episode from the fourth season) so newbies are ass out if this is their first exposure to Doctor Who.

Final Verdict: Even with all of the back story one needed to know beforehand this was a really entertaining episode and it was a great way to kick off the second half of what began as a very uneven 6th season. Hopefully the momentum of Let’s Kill Hitler carries over and the overarching storyline comes to a satisfying conclusion and not end on one of those lame deus ex machina endings that has been a common recurring weakness of Doctor Who ever since the show was relaunched. That being said this was one of the better installments of Who since Moffat became showrunner and has me hyped for the rest of the season. B+

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