With “The Wedding of River Song” we saw the final story of Season 6 of Doctor Who. It is hard to call this story a conclusion to the Season, as there are far too many lingering issues to be resolved next Fall, but there is no reason we cannot take a quick look at the preceding 10 stories in order to sort out the 5 best. Oh, and though â€œA Christmas Storyâ€ is technically part of this Season weâ€™ll leave that for a larger Who-Christmas post in the coming months.
1. â€œThe Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moonâ€ Episodes 1 & 2
What an opener! From the Doctor being 195 years older, to his death on the beach, though to the horrifying introduction of The Silence, this story set the new Season arc off right. Written by the nearly impeccable Steven Moffat and brilliantly directed by Toby Haynes, the two episodes of this story create a substantial emotional dilemma for the companions: to tell the Doctor of his own future, or not? Doctor Who has always been at its best when the companions are well rounded and central to the emotional stresses of the story. Amy resolving herself to killing a child (in a space suit) because it may save the Doctor is a distressing act for show, especially such a morally grounded and family-oriented one as Doctor Who.
2. â€œThe Doctorâ€™s Wifeâ€ Episode 4
Written by self-professed Who obsessed novelist Neil Gaiman, â€œThe Doctorâ€™s Wifeâ€ focuses upon the oldest and most emotional significant companion the Doctor has ever had, the TARDIS. Not only does the story present a serious threat to the Doctor but also it progressively advances the overall mythos of the series in a way that few single stories have (Aside from â€œRoseâ€ and RTDâ€™s Time War to reboot the series I cannot think of any New-Who stories to even attempt such a development). From the telepathic boxes last seen in â€œThe War Gamesâ€ to the use of an Ood, Gaiman successfully links the nearly 50 years of Who in a seamless package. With the incredible casting of Suranne Jones as Idris, the TARDIS personified, this episode nailed all of the emotional and story points necessary to have a lasting impact on the universe of Doctor Who.
3. â€œThe Girl Who Waitedâ€ Episode 10
The story of Amy Pond and, more importantly, Rory Williams. Amy finds herself trapped in a faster time-stream that leaves her a bitter and Amazonian woman once the Doctor and Rory finally are able to rescue her. Incredible direction from Nick Hurran and written by the young Tom MacRae, who last wrote the introduction of the Cybermen to New-Who. This is a powerful episode that on first viewing seems to be about Amyâ€™s feelings for the two men in her life, though it is truly a story of how Rory so deeply loves Amy that he would risk his very own existence for her. Now, we have seen why Rory is the perfect man for Amy but this is the first story where he fully stands up to the Doctor and what a life on the TARDIS could mean to him and Amy.
4. â€œThe God Complexâ€ Episode 11
Director Nick Hurran is in full force with another significant companion story, this time written by the incredible Toby Whithouse. With the Doctor beginning to question the sustainability of his life with Amy and Rory, they find themselves trapped in never-ending maze where a Minotaur mercifully kills the trapped guests one-by-one. Doctor Who has built a remarkable mythology in which to draw from so the Greek story of the Cretan Labyrinth is a perfect foil to play off of. The Doctor is a God of sorts (as the 10th Doctor so proudly, and foolishly, demonstrated) and his peaceful defeat of the Minotaur lays the necessary groundwork for the eventual death that he must embrace. Beyond the long-term ramifications for the Doctor, Whithouse again displays a true appreciation and understanding of the companion: like in â€œSchool Reunionâ€ he delicately handles the joy and eventual heartbreak of traveling with the Doctor.
5. â€œClosing Timeâ€ Episode 12
Another story from long-time Who writer Gareth Roberts, â€œClosing Timeâ€ reunites the Doctor with Craig Owens from last seasons Roberts penned â€œThe Lodger.â€ I know there is a fair number of dissenters to the greatness of â€œThe Lodgerâ€ and if it were any other Roberts story, particularly â€œThe Unicorn and the Waspâ€ and â€œThe Shakespeare Code,â€ then I would join you but with Matt Smithâ€™s Doctor Robertsâ€™ scripts no longer come off forced and undeveloped. This is a genuinely funny and touching story the deals not with Cybermen but with raising children, something the Doctor has mentioned in the past but never really been shown doing. Originally, I was hoping for a strong Cybermen story to make up for the terribly weak-entries of the RTD years and though I am still waiting for that story we were instead offered an episode that felt emotionally satisfying that hinted at future Cybermen-greatness.