I am going to lay my bias out on the table; I love River Song. I love her storyline, her confusing timeline with the doctor, and her mad curls. She is a unique character in the Whoniverse outside of the expected alien villains and clingy companions.
Now that’s out in the open, the first thing I have to say is that I liked that this episode wasn’t drowned in Christmas. Sure it was set on Christmas Day 5343 against a small snow filled town, but the fact it was Christmas, wasn’t shoved down your throat like leftover turkey. It sort of reminded me of the Matt Smith and James Corden episodes of season 6 and 7, in the sense that it felt like a standalone episode that loosely tied into the previous episode/story arc.
The episode focused on River attempting to obtain the most valuable diamond in the universe – which happens to be lodged in her husband’s head. The doctor, mistaken for a surgeon is called in to remove it from King Hydroflax’s head. Although this was supposed to be the driving plot of the episode, what really captured the audience’s attention was the dynamic between River and The Doctor, especially as she doesn’t recognise his new face. It was interesting watching the shoe on the other foot, as The Doctor took a backseat role and played companion to River.
It was funny, charming and had a heart wrenching, tear jerking moment or two and is definitely in my top three best Christmas episodes since the 2005 revival of Doctor Who.
My only downside is that I felt like this episode happened too soon. By the end of the episode we are led to believe that this is the last time we would see River and the Doctor together, (as per the hints dropped into previous River Song episodes). I was unprepared and saddened and now hold out hope that the Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss will find some unexplainable loophole to bring her back one last time.
Understandably the River/Doctor storyline needed to come full circle at some point, and I am interested to see what they have in store for season 10, as it seems that they are once again wiping the slate clean.