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So here we are at last! Not since Bad Wolf has a story arc generated so much interest, and considering how Mr Moffat set this plot running with a bang in The Impossible Astronaut with the Doctor's apparent death at Lake Silencio, The Wedding of River Song is probably the most hotly awaited, speculated and debated finale so far, eclipsing even The Parting of the Ways in Series 1.
The Radio Times preview article even managed to make this episode seem all the more tantalizing with the following quote -
Loose ends are tied up and, more importantly, the series and its heroes are repositioned in line with Moffat’s vision. Sorry to be so cryptic.As indeed am I! Now as this is was a Moffat scripted episode, I was fully expecting it to open with an almighty swerve. And indeed it does! And that probably the most plot detail you're going to get from me!
So then, yes there are answers, and yes there some old familiar faces making guest appearances as you'd expect in a series finale. And yes, the matter of the Doctor's death is dealt with.
Now for the most part this episode is a twisty, turny road to resolving THAT final question and ultimately how well you like the finale is going to depend on how well the last five minutes sit with you. And be warned, a quick look at my Twitter stream is showing extremely divided reactions to this one.
Now the thing is when you set up a massive dilemma like this, whatever solution you eventually present will leave a certain proportion people dissatisfied. Often it's a case of damned if you do and damned if don't - if you plan the seeds for the big answer and people can guess it, they'll be disappointed and cry 'cop out!', but if you pluck something new and mental out of the ether, everyone also will scream 'cop out'!
But even if your solution can avoid both the above reactions, it still might fall somewhat flat - falling prey to that old Buddhist concept that dictates that often the journey is more exciting than the destination. And I think in the case of The Wedding of River Song, the afore-mentioned high levels of expectation coupled Moffat's reputation of being an extremely clever time-wimey writer are probably going to work against it for many viewers.
And personally, I will say I have mixed feelings on the resolution.
Now on one hand, we all know that the Doctor isn't going to REALLY die. Come on, we've always known that. And the method by which he gets out of this terminal fix isn't just pulled out of thin air. It's not an RTD deus ex machina - which instantly ranks it over some other previous season finales I could mention - and to quote another dying Doctor "the moment has been prepared for..."
But on the other hand, to paraphrase Obi Wan Kenobi, this was not quite the resolution I was looking for...
However I would stress I rather enjoyed the bulk of this episode's ride, and it's only the resolution I'm not sure about. And more on that in the forthcoming Spoiler Zone review after I've had more time to ponder all the ins and outs. (Time-wimey note for future readers - remember I am writing these spoiler-free reviews mere minutes after the credits roll!)
Ultimately though, you're going to have to judge this one for yourselves folks! Some of you will love it, some of you will hate it and others, like myself, will be somewhere in between...
JIM MOON, 1st October 2011