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12 August 2015 @ 08:57 pm
NuWho Rewatch: A Good Man Goes to War  
A Good Man Goes to War has an awkward role to fill: that of a half season finale. Meaning, I suppose, that it needs to contain the kind of spectacle one would expect from a season finale, but leave enough dangling plot threads to lead in to the second half of the season. A Good Man Goes to War in some ways works very well. The birth of Melody Pond and rescue of Amy Pond neatly tie up several of the ongoing questions from the first half of the season, leaving the "how will he get out of that" question of the Doctor's death remaining from the season opener and opening up the new problem of the rescue of Melody from the clutches of Madame Kovarion. On the way it delivers plenty of spectacle, introduces the hugely popular new characters of Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax, and makes explicit the themes of how the Doctor should balance out his undeniable power, with appropriate humility, and reign in his propensity to meddle with ever more grandiose issues - themes with which Moffat has continued to grapple, to a greater or lesser extent, through all his seasons so far.

It ought, on that analysis, to be an unqualified success, and I'll say here that I enjoyed it immensely. It has lots of great moments. But it hasn't changed my mind that the plot Moffat introduced with this season lacks his normal finesse. Thematically, the idea that the Doctor is deliberately brought to a moment of triumph by Madame Kovarion only to have it snatched away at the last moment in the reveal that Melody Pond has not been rescued after all, works really well and it is played with conviction by all concerned (except perhaps the model baby, which doesn't always entirely convince). On the other hand why? This is the kind of plotting that I came to expect from Russell Davies, where the progression of the character development took precedence over the nuts and bolts of plot sense. Madame Kovarion's aims are, presumably, to return Amy to the Doctor (for whatever reason - possibly just not to rile him too much) while absconding with the baby to 1969 (for again somewhat murky reasons, thought there is a throwaway comment about it being an "appropriate" environment which is presumably supposed to cover that). It seems to me that that could have been achieved a lot more simply, and with considerably less risk, by leaving with the baby any time during the month it takes the Doctor to show up. It's possible it is a genuine attempt to kill the Doctor with the final ambush, but since the Doctor's half a dozen allies actually do successfully fight off the headless monks without anyone doing anything particularly clever, that looks like a somewhat mediocre plan.

As I say, I actually like this episode a lot. It has many great moments. It handles its character arcs really well. I just wish the underlying plot hung together better.

metanews coding: <a href=http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/166888.html>NuWho Rewatch: A Good Man Goes to War</a> (DW) <i>Discussion of the sixth series half season finale</i>

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/166888.html.