There’s a scene that is evidently supposed to justify the way Moffat’s version of the show has been talking the Doctor up as a powerful, scary, dangerous bad-ass. It supposedly justifies the Doctor’s own increasing tendency to appear decidedly impressed with himself, to see himself – and talk about himself – as Mr Scarypants. It justifies the decision to show him (especially in Moffat scripts) as being hubristic, bombastic, aware of his ability to strike terror into the monsters. Look me up, Vashta Nerada, and then run away. Look me up, Atraxi, and then run away. “There’s one thing you never put in a trap…” and “Don’t ever think you’re capable of playing games with me…” and all that pompous, I’m-so-hard, showoffish bum-gravy.
The scene in question is said, by some, to throw all this into relief, to undermine it, to pull the rug from under the Doctor’s feet, to be the reversal towards which all this was leading, a treacherous terminus that forces us to reassess our hero’s morality, and to make him reassess it too.
The scene is near the end of ‘A Good Man Goes to War’. It’s the scene where River rebukes the Doctor. He says “None of this is my fault!”, referring to the war waged by the anonymous military people and their anonymous Headless Monk friends, the war in which Amy and her baby have become unwilling pawns, in which other friends and allies of the Doctor have been killed. River snaps back at him that it’s all his fault. He brought it all upon them by allowing himself to become a figure of terror to the bad guys, a warrior… to the point where even his name – “Doctor” – has come to mean “mighty warrior” in the language of the anonymous military people.
You see, Doctor, what a pass this has come to? Ooooh, you have become what you were fighting.
Except that it doesn’t do or say or achieve anything of the kind. If that is the intended import of the scene, it fails miserably.
Firstly, how many times are we supposed to have seen the Doctor bitten-on-the arse by his own hubris now? And when has it ever changed his behaviour? He’s supposed to have been humbled at the end of Series 5… only to come back at Christmas, so arrogant, such a self-appointed puppet-master, such an unrepentant and moralising neoconservative of other people’s souls, that he inserts himself into a man’s past, his memories, his innermost self, and rewrites his life – as he watches.
It’s similar with the Doctor’s ‘lesson’ at the end of ‘A Good Man Goes to War’. Once River has finished lightly scolding him, and he’s finished looking faintly sheepish, he instantly snaps back into normal mode. River – the quintessential Moffat ‘strong female’… i.e. slavishly obsessed with her man – goes all gooey-eyed as she reveals her (entirely predictable) identity and the Doctor, grinning, announces to Amy and Rory that all is well. He knows that they’ve just lost their chance to raise their daughter, irrevocably, forever.…