"Let's Kill Hitler"
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Richard Senior
THE ONE WHERE
With the Doctor off looking for Melody, Amy and Rory use an elaborate corn circle to attract his attention. When the TARDIS lands in Leadworth, their friend Mel arrives in a stolen car, hijacks the blue box and suggests that they go to kill Hitler. Turns out there’s a bit more to her than we first thought…
What a brilliantly misleading title! We’ve spent the last three months waiting for a romp set in Nazi Germany, and when it comes… well, it is a romp set in Nazi Germany, but not in the way we were expecting. In fact, nothing about “Let’s Kill Hitler” is predictable except for the fact that it’s got the Doctor, Amy, Rory and Adolf Hitler in it.
Moffat’s script takes pleasure in wrongfooting you from the start, packing the episode with never-saw-that-coming moments and ingenious reveals. When that red sports car skids up to the TARDIS before the credits, it seems logical that River Song should step out, but no, it’s Mel… Who later turns out to be River Song anyway. Then there’s the Nazi officer-impersonating robot that turns out to be a vessel packed with hundreds of tiny people – very Men In Black – who travel around time and space dishing out justice to war criminals. An ingenious idea, brilliantly delivered – the morphing effects are Hollywood good.
And we certainly never expected the Doctor to save Hitler’s life – “Believe me, it was an accident,” says the Doc, defensively – and definitely had no idea that the most evil man in history would spend the vast majority of the episode unceremoniously locked in a cupboard.
Indeed, this has to rank among the cleverest Who episodes Moffat has ever written. After the intensity of “A Good Man Goes To War”, we needed something lighter – which “Let’s Kill Hitler” is – yet Moffat manages to mix the gags and silliness with genuine emotion, and some important additions to the season’s arc plot. Like the “birth” of River Song.
Even though this earlier model is a complete psycho – which makes sense, seeing as she’s been raised from birth to be a weapon to kill the Doctor – Alex Kingston manages to keep her grounded enough to make her about turn and sacrifice at the end of the episode seem plausible. And the actress has a complete blast as this amoral version of the character, running around Berlin with a pair of machine guns while looking for a new look to go with her freshly regenerated body.
But it’s Matt Smith who steals the show, in one of his finest performances as the Doctor. Clearly relishing the Time Lord’s new long coat and the chance to step out in top hat and tails, he’s utterly magnificent, whether acting the joker, or living otu 32 minutes (ish) of death scene. The mix of optimism (“I’ve got 31 minutes of life”…) and sadness is a tricky thing to pull off, yet Smith does it in a quintessentially Doctor way – and shows off a Lee Evans-ish knack for physical comedy into the bargain.
And it turns out that Rory’s evolved into some kind of action man. Who knew?
Young Rory is amazing! Poor lad – a lifetime of being bossed around, and an infatuation with Amy so quiet that she thought he was gay. At least she ran after him pretty quickly when she realised the truth.
A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT
The Melody Pond/River Song lifestory has a little more meat on it. It looks like the little girl’s regeneration at the end of “Day Of The Moon” produced Mel, who then found her way to Leadworth to hang out with Amy and Rory. But was Melody in the suit when the astronaut killed the Doctor in America? If so, surely she’d remember doing it – and in her timeline, the Doctor would already be dead. Also, we know that she ends up in prison for killing the Doctor: does the Doctor’s “death” in this episode count? Or will she do it again?
We’ve also now seen River’s first meeting with the Doctor, but we’re assuming it isn’t his last encounter with her (they’ve got a whole relationship to get through), so it looks like their timelines aren’t unfolding in exactly opposite directions.
There’s also a couple of nice River touches here: that Amy and Rory should name their daughter after herself is unmistakeably Moffat, and it’s rather apt that the Doctor should be the one to give River her spoiler-packed diary.
There are lot of references to marriage from Melody/River – is that a tease for the season finale, “The Wedding Of River Song”?
Two of the SFX team attended university classes in Hitler’s offices. (In real life, it’s the Bute Building at Cardiff University.)
The Doctor recalls “Vampires In Venice” as being a good adventure, but as any Who fan knows, the episode was called “Vampires Of Venice”.
THE GOLDEN SHOT
Has someone been watching 2001: A Space Odyssey ? The match cut when flashback Mel flings the TARDIS tin and it turns into the real thing is beautiful.
SILENCE IS GOLDEN
So those weird guys with no mouths aren’t actually the Silence – it’s a movement, not a species, and they’re obsessed with finding the First Question – wasn’t it great how Moffat managed to cram some blatant exposition in, without it feeling like blatant exposition? That said, all this talk of ultimate questions is sounding a little too Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to us…
BEST LINE 1
Amy: “Can you ride a motorbike?”
Rory: “I expect so. It’s that kind of day.”
BEST LINE 2
Rory: “I’m trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I’m really trying not to see this as a metaphor.”
BEST LINE 3
The Doctor: “There must be someone in the universe I haven’t screwed up yet.”
BEST LINE 4
The Doctor: “She did kill me, and then she used her remaining lives to bring me back. As first dates go, I’d say that was mixed signals.”