Spoilers! A River Song Study

River Song (played by Alex Kingston) first appeared to us in Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who series 4 contribution, Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. During that episode, we were lead to believe that she is his future travelling companion and wife.

...Who is she?

And we believed her.

She knows a lot about him, after all. She has not just any sonic screwdriver, but HIS sonic screwdriver. Something the Doctor wouldn’t give to just anyone! She knows his real first name, something he would have only ever revealed during whatever wedding vows they have in space/time, one assumes.

In Time of the Angels, we learn that she can speak High Gallifreyan, and that she can fly the TARDIS (‘properly’).

We also find out, in a round about way, that she’s not really who we think she is. And that she has killed a man. Someone who she refers to as, the best of men.

So, who is she? I have a theory.
(it might be bunnies…no. Wait. Completely wrong fandom…)

I’m going to put out there that River Song is the 13th Doctor.

…this theory is largely based on Moffat’s 1999 Comic Relief contribution, Curse of the Fatal Death 😛

If you haven’t already watched it – I linked it through on my Steven Moffat is Trying to Kill Me article – basically, through a series of hilarious mishaps, the Doctor regenerates for the 13th and final time as Joanna Lumley, and runs off with the Master 😛
So, why wouldn’t Moffat naturally lead us to this ending? 😉

Ok ok, I’m not purely basing my theory on this, I promise. We also have a few clues along the way – well, clues, or misdirection…

River Song being the 13th Doctor would explain all River knows, and not require many years of marital bliss/lessons in languages/TARDIS-flying etc.

How come he cant tell she’s him? Don’t all Time Lords have a sixth sense for other Time Lords?
Sure, but we don’t know everything about regeneration, particularly for half-time Lords. The 8th Doctor told us that he’s half human…on his mother’s side. Perhaps that is how the Time Lord Doctor could regenerate into seemingly human River Song. While he regenerates male, he’s full Time Lord…if he happens to turn female, he takes on his mother’s genetics structure. Pure speculation of course – but I stand by nothing being impossible in sci-fi!

If all this has any truth, then why say she’s his wife?
It was convenient. She needed to make him trust her. She is seeing their time line from the opposite direction to us/the Doctor, so by SitL, it’s a natural, well-established bit of misdirection, for her.
Allowing wife to be assumed was an instant ‘trust me’ and ‘don’t ask questions’ in one, regardless of whether the Doctor believed her or not. She was clearly someone from his future, and asking questions of course would give away too many spoilers. The Doctor couldn’t have that, could he?

And then, how could River end up being imprisoned for ‘killing’ the 12th him?
The possibilities centre around the 12th Doctor being present somewhere, publicly. Something causes him to regenerate, and he becomes she. Whoever or whatever expects him finds her. When she can’t produce the 12th Doctor, she’s accused of killing him. She’s held for his murder, and loses access to the TARDIS. Explaining why she needed the Doctor to come and get her in Time of the Angels – she didn’t really need him, she needed his ride!

If there is any truth to this, then we know how the 13th Doctor dies already. By saving the minds of thousands; including the 10th Doctor, and Donna. And the memory of River/the Doctor lives on in the mind of the planet library, never dying, with the friends she travelled with on her final journey. Sadness. But, as the Ood told the 10th Doctor, his Song was coming to an end.

This entire post aside – I can’t wait to be proven wrong! I love how complicated and intertwined the story and characters are becoming, so it guarantees we’ll have an exciting ride finding out what’s actually going on, and who River Song really is.

So there you have it – my Swiss Cheese River Song Theory (in that it’s full of holes…).
What’s yours? 😛

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Doctor Who: The Complete Fourth Series, which includes River Song’s introduction into the Doctor Who continuum, and Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series, which reveals some more about her story, are both available from Amazon.


11 Responses

  1. Megs says:

    Damn you Min, that actually makes a lot of sense! I had the idea that she somehow killed the Doctor after she said that the man she killed was the ‘best of men’, but it never even occured to me that she herself could be the Doctor! And I didn’t know he was only half timelord! Her last name being Song, and the Ood using the pharse “your song is ending” can’t just be a coincidence either. Very nice theory! 😀

  2. Min says:

    Haha, yay Megs I’m glad it made some sense 🙂
    The topic of the Doctor’s half-humanism is kinda controvertial…said in a movie by the 8th Doctor. You can read more about him here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighth_Doctor
    but for the purposes of this theory, I’m sticking with it being canon!

  3. malice says:

    hmm, I’m gonna stay with the wife idea for a few reasons. firstly we all know that the doctor won’t just have twelve regenerations, they will find a work around for this i’m sure (there were serveral diffrent bits of timelord tech that could allow more regenerations and it has been said that the new series aren’t completely cannon).

    Secondly how about the whole thing of “i knew something was comeing. the last time you came along you were all dressed up in a suit and brought flowers.” (ad lib).

    Finally I just can’t accept the idea, it makes my head hurt but also “the best of men” couldn’t be the doctor as the bishop had no idea who “the doctor” is and you would think he would (I think it’s jack/the face of boe). Also would river song need the book to keep track? but at the same point it would make sense if she wrote it when she regenerated into that form. Eh I don’t know anymore. and what about the whole timelord consciousness in a human body visa vi donna noble. Like i said this idea makes my head hurt.

  4. nate says:

    River Song as the Doctor? You just blew my mind. Any chance she could be an incarnation of Jenny, although that would be kinda icky if it were what with her claiming to be The Doctor’s wife and calling him sweetie…

    I don’t think River is The Doctor, too much crossing of ones own timeline which is something that The Doctor refuses to do, isn’t it?

  5. hoodfish says:

    It gives me a headache just thinking about it but she knows how to fly the TARDIS?

  6. Min says:

    Nate I hadn’t thought of Jenny. I wonder if we will see her show up again? Though I agree it’d be yucky if River WERE Jenny, it’d still be an awesome twist.

    Like I said at the beginning, one of the main reasons I want this to come true is simply to have a Curse of the Fatal Death type ending XD if they had Joanna Lumley playing River Song, it’d be too much of a dead giveaway, though 😛

    Re the crossing of timelines – it still happens, though – the Doctor crosses himself unintentionally a number of times. I see what you mean, but I still think they can work around it. The fact that the ‘current’ Doctor is none the wiser would make it more plausible for future/River-Doctor to…well, not interfere, but simply interact.

  7. Sarcastic says:

    Everything about River Song is implied. None of it is ever confirmed. In fact River usually brushes future revelations off either by not saying anything and walking away or saying “Spoilers.” Remember its the Doctor who implies he would never reveal his real name unless under certain circumstances that everybody assumed was marriage or sex. River never confirms this information. The Doctor also assumes that a future version of himself gave her a sonic screwdriver and taught her how to fly the TARDIS. Remember she says he wasn’t available. If we put all these little bits together and include her being human…River Song is the Doctor’s Mother.

    She knows his name…because she gave it to him at birth.
    She knows how to fly a TARDIS (probably) because his Dad taught her how to fly a TARDIS…and most likely how to speak Gallifreyan. The Doctor’s dad gave her a sonic screwdriver of her own…a gift perhaps. Its also possible that she kills his Dad (Wibbly wobbly, Time-y wimey!)…although I tend to agree its the Doctor she kills.

  8. Envy says:

    @ Sarcastic A mother that flirts with him and claims to be
    his wife? No. Maybe the Rani but probably not. Prove me wrong,
    Envy

  9. David Knowles says:

    No, the Doctor would never use a gun. Never.

    I also do not want her to be his wife either. Seems to obvious.

    I want something bold an something unknown, but I want her to stay Human, after all we keep on hearing how great us humans are, it about time we had a great human in the show who can match the doctor.

    Through just a little spoiler for next season, the trailer show us an my interpetation.

    The reason I suspect she can fly the Tardus is because help build one in the future, a human version we sure it last season.
    The reason she may be able to speak Gallifreyen is because her Tardus is reverse engineer from some Time Lord ruins or former colony or a other crash Tardus (Not the Doctors but the Master one is missing is not it), after all she is a archeologist.
    The person who tried to destroy the universe at the end of last season is something released from the the ruin or by the new Tardus.

  10. Jocelyn says:

    I must say i’m at the second try with this series!Maybe i will find interesting after all cause the first try last 2 episodes!

  11. Duncan says:

    While it does seem like a splendid theory that would be extremely fun, I don’t really buy it.

    The first thing I learned when watching Doctor Who is that he was adamant about not crossing his timelines unless necessary.

    If River were to be the Doctor, it would mean that he changed his mind from that to the belief that interacting with past regenerations is entertaining.

    SPOILERS:

    And, just throwing this last part out there, but do you think it would be possible for the Doctor to watch himself die?

    When River sees the Eleventh Doctor shot again during regeneration and turns out to be actually deceased, how would that have worked out?

    I’m sure that due to some event throughout the Doctor’s travels he won’t actually come to true death anytime soon, but would someone witnessing their own death not cause some terrible event for the universe?

    Contrarily, the Tenth Doctor witnesses River’s death in The Forest of the Dead.

    To me, it seems highly unlikely that she could be.

    Not to mention that one would remember the accounts of previous incarnations.
    A prime example of this is in The Time of Angels, where both River and the Eleventh Doctor are present.

    The Eleventh Doctor mentions that he has encountered the angels on Earth many years ago, proving that he retained the memory from the Tenth incarnation, but still barely helped Amy survive the angel from the recorded video.

    If River were the Doctor, would she not have remembered that images of the angels become angels? Because she seemed entirely content with having that recording play repeatedly, as well as not knowing that looking into an angel’s eyes would result in something that harmful.

    SUPER FUN-SPOILING SPOILERS:
    Lastly, it has now been legitimately explained who she is…but…spoilers. 🙂

    Thanks for letting me run my brain off on this. Examining the concept in the mindset of pre-spoiling of her identity was quite fun. 🙂

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