Many people have issues with River Song. I really have no idea why, because in my head, she's the greatest new side character to come along since 2005 Nu-Who started. Oh, don't get me wrong. I love Rose and Martha and Captain Jack and Wilf, Mickey was my favorite Companion's companion and Donna was the funniest. I have love for every character to come across the Whoverse. Even the bad guys. But I love River. Moffat created the most complex Time Traveling character I've ever come across (yes really) and she is the only child the Doctor always came back for and took care of every possible time he could. Let me explain...in River's POV. It's long, but it's so worth it. I promise.
But while we thought she was bonding with Amy and Rory at Demon's Run, she was actually kidnapped and then taken back to 1969 (Impossible Astronaut S7Ep1) where we catch up with her, now about 10 years old, locked away in an abandoned orphanage with some scary aliens and an insane caretaker. There, she calls the man with the Highest Authority in the land, President Nixon (ha!), obviously trying to reach The Doctor because with the Time Lord part of her brain she probably remembers him a bit, but when she comes face to face with him and Amy, inside an astronaut suit, screaming for The Doctor to help her, her mother shoots at her! WTF?
That would probably scar any child deeply, right? But this is Melody Pond, Child of the TARDIS, the offspring of The Girl Who Waited and The Last Centurion. When The Doctor foils the plan of the Silence, Melody is able to escape and at the end of Day of The Moon (S7Ep2) she regenerates and makes her way in the world to....
So, here she is, probably about 30 years old chronologically (10 as melody and 20ish as Mels) after giving The Doctor the poisoned kiss of death, she watches how hard he tries to save Amy and Rory from the robot Teselcetor, despite dying, and she doesn't totally comprehending it because, well, Mels raised herself alongside her parents, never having that parental supervision in her life and it does something to her, more importantly, the programming that's inside of her from the Silence. She gets into the TARDIS and saves her parents when The Doctor tells her she's the Child of the TARDIS, After seeing how much her parents care for The Doctor, and hearing whatever he whispered to her also connected, and learning she eventually becomes River Song, she asks her mother if The Doctor is worth it then saves him with her regeneration energy. She's okay, but knowing that Melody is now River Song, The Doctor sets her up in the hospital in the 5120s far away from Amy's timeline, pretty much alone and on her own again, so what is she to do? Study archaeology and start looking for The Doctor!
She's now Doctor River Song and during her search for The Doctor, she recently collected the accounts of three young children, seeing him in a cowboy hat, on Earth, looking at bit sad and heading out in the TARDIS. This is the time right before his fixed point death on Lake Silencio in the USA by the Impossible Astronaut. While she's reading over accounts, Madame Kovarian shows up with the Astronaut suit and says they've been watching her this whole time. (Closing Time S6Ep12)
After she awakens from her second kidnapping by the Silence, she's in the suit, underwater, moments away from shooting The Doctor. She walks ashore, opens her helmet, crying, she can't stop the suit. The Doctor knows, shows River the other, future River, standing on the beach with Amy and Rory, promising her she's forgiven, even if she won't remember it, even if she's in prison for it. (The Wedding of River Song S6Ep13)
Thanks to her time with The Doctor in the recent past or her interactions with her parents, River is somehow able to override the Silence programming and not shoot The Doctor. Problem is, this is a fixed point, it already happened to her mother before she was born and changing it now that she is born (she's technically there three times!) it creates a fracture in time and space. This creates an alternate timeline where all of time is collapsing on itself. Amy, River, and a group have taken Madame Kovarian hostage and think they have the Silence imprisoned.
However, The Doctor, promising to take care of Amy and Rory's daughter, takes her out on a bunch of night trips throughout her time in prison, most known through the minisodes:
Her first Diary documentation on screen with The Doctor is The Pandorica Opens (S5Ep12), she's sitting in prison, reading her diary of all the adventures during Night and the Doctor and a few others I'm sure, when Churchill from the 1940s calls, attempting to find The Doctor due to a new Van Gogh painting uncovered showing an exploding TARDIS. She breaks into the 5145 year version of the British Museum gets the painting and uses her newly purchased, probably formerly Captain Jack Harkness's time vortex manipulator, and poses as Cleopatra to a bunch of Romans and summons The Doctor to the time and place on the exploding TARDIS painting.
It's River's birthday (Good Man S6Ep7). Her father, Rory, comes to get her help. Her reaction to her father here is heart-breakingly wonderful because this version of him doesn't know her, even though she spoke to him recently. (Alex Kingston is so amazing) Then he tells her the Silence took Amy and their baby and you can just see it in River's face, knowing what they're about to go through after living it herself. She shows up at the end, after baby Melody Pond was taken back to 1969 only to be confronted by a very angry Doctor. She tells him she couldn't have prevented this. She basically tells him it's his fault. She reminds him that he used to gallivant around the universe for fun but now he's fixing big things and fighting armies and making everyone afraid of the name Doctor. River tells him that the child will become a weapon against him out of fear and reveals to him that she is Melody Pond. He rushes off to find the baby, leaving her behind to tell her parents that she's River Song.
Now that the cat is out of the bag for everyone, River should be excited for her next adventure, right? Nope. Now she has to go back and relive it again, this time from the opposite side. A TARDIS blue envelope arrives at the prison, she heads to the USA to meet up with Amy, Rory, and The Doctor. In the diner, he tells them he's been running and it's time to stop, he needs their help. River knows what's going on and it's clear she's not happy about it.
During the picnic, River is the first to see the Astronaut. Now, because she was programmed by the Silence and you forget about them the moment you look away, River doesn't have a clear recollection of what happened when she killed The Doctor, she just knows it happened and everything she learns from records and other during her travels. When the Astronaut shoots, she holds Amy back, gets really pissed and shoots at herself after The Doctor "dies" realizing quickly that of course she couldn't change it even if she wanted. (This hearkens back to Wedding, when The Doctor say she is forgive for what she did, because at that point in his timeline, he understood everything that had happened knowing she wouldn't really remember.)
After they burn The Doctor Robot with Canton's help they head back to the diner trying to figure out who the fourth envelope went to. In waltzes in another, younger Doctor and River is fuming. The one she just saw, knew everything about her, just set it up so she would watch herself "kill him" while knowing his younger self would show up needing her help in finding the Impossible Astronaut. WTF? I'd be pissed, too.
However, this River is a bit older, wiser. She knows who the Astronaut is and what needs to happen to make sure nothing changes for them in this timeline so she carefully explains the situation to The Doctor, but this younger Doctor doesn't trust older River, last time he saw her was at Amy and Rory's wedding, he doesn't know who she is...again. So it's up to Amy to convince The Doctor to go back to 1969. During The Doctor's infiltration of the White House, there's a bit of flirting, but River's still pissed and not having the smart ass remarks, but goes along with the investigation, staying rather quiet considering her personality. When they get to the warehouse, she makes the correlation that things can't be changed (which her younger self already tried to do) and starts to understand why on her own. She has a great conversation with Rory, telling her story of being in love with the mad man in a box, her father relating more than she even realizes due to Amy's situation, and she's starting to see The Doctor in the days where he's younger and knows her less. One day he won't know her and it'll kill her. (Amy shoots at young Melody here, but luckily River wasn't around.)
As her time in 1969 progresses in Day of the Moon (S6Ep2), River travels around the world, counting the number of Silence, while The Doctor sets his plan in motion to collect Amy, Rory, and Canton. They pick River up after she jumps off a building, and they chat about how the Silence have infiltrated Earth for centuries. The crew breaks up with Amy heading to find the little girl (Melody), while River and The Doctor head to NASA to check out the space suit. Here, River learns the lengths the Silence went to so she'd kill The Doctor: putting her in a powerful lifesupporting suit as a child and keeping her captive. During Amy's rescue, there's a bit more flirting, you can see she's starting to handle herself against The Doctor now, even if she still has some anger issues. After being a badass against her captors the Silence Aliens, with good reason in this context, for sure, and being cheeky with her dad, The Doctor takes River back to prison. He offers to take her. She refuses, knowing everything that's about to happened to them. They have a moment, and she kisses him. It's the first time he's kissed her in his current timeline, which for River it usually means her last. She knows that means she's coming to the end of her time with The Doctor and that he will begin to know her even less. (While this is happening, the alternate Wedding timeline happens with everyone remembering both)
Next, it's the Time of the Angles (S5Ep4). River, using her knowledge of The Doctor, sends him a message via a homing box, basically summoning him. It's his first time seeing her as #11. She's there to help the Clerics with the Weeping Angles.
When we see her next, she's in 1938, meeting her father out on the street when he appears. (Angles Take Manhattan S7Ep5) She used her vortex manipulator, he's not sure how he got there. River meets with a man holding a Weeping Angel's in his house, the reason she's there in the first place, all the while giving The Doctor some help to make his way to the timeline. When the angel traps River, the sound of the TARDIS isn't far behind but the landing is hard, there's something weird in this timeline but he lands, knocking out the man involved.
This version of The Doctor has known about River for a while now, he's a bit flirty back to her, softening up a bit compared to many of their meetings when too many spoilers were in the way. He calls her Doctor Song, she says it's Professor now, and she's been pardoned for a long time now since the person she killed no longer existed. She calls out The Doctor for deleting himself from all the databases in the universe and he says it's because she said he got too big. (This also hearkens back to OswinClara's deletion from the Dalek mainframe.) She asks for help breaking out of the angel's grasp but he'd have to break her wrist to get her out because Amy read it in the book. A book which lead them to her. A book she'll eventually have to write, basically reliving--yet again--everything that happens here.. They check the chapter headings for clues to find Rory and River sees the look on The Doctor's face as he continues to read the book. He angrily tells her she needs to get out without breaking her wrist and change the future, without telling her why.
River does get out, faking it at first, but when The Doctor grabs her hand, sees what happens, he asks why. She explains how hard it is and how much it hurts to be in love with The Doctor. Pretty much every companion loves him, all in different ways. She's no different than Sarah, Rose and Martha or Jack or even Donna and Wilf. Only her whole life and a big portion of her parents lives have revolved around The Doctor and she's pretty much seen it all now. All the crap she went through wasn't easy, despite how much The Doctor tried to make up for it. She knows it wasn't his all fault, even if he did send her to the future, but the pain for her is real and this is the first time they've been at a place in time where their knowledge is matched. The Doctor is realizing the full impact of her life which is why he heals her, because he does care. But River, being River "knows" that #11 is the last face he'll have and wasting his energy on her is stupid and she throws his line back at him about being embarrassed. River confesses to her mother that she's lying to keep The Doctor from realizing she's much older now because he doesn't like endings.
The group tracks Rory to the Angel hotel where they see old Rory die, after the explanation of what will happen to Rory, he and Amy take off, trying to change the future, and River thinks a paradox could break the Angel hotel's feeding ground. She and The Doctor escape to the rooftop in time to see Amy and Rory jump off the building creating the paradox and sending everyone back to the graveyard safe and sound...no, not really. Rory's been sent back in time. Amy wants to go in the TARDIS but of course they can't. River confirms the chances she'd get sent back to the same time as Rory are very good, knowing her parents should be together. They have a touching if awkward moment and poof, her mother is gone. The Doctor is a mess, but inside the TARDIS they have chat, and she said she'd travel with him whenever and wherever, not all the time, though, he needs a full-time companion and it can't be her. But they both know what lies ahead so the moment is bittersweet. The Doctor goes off to find another companion in Clara, while she heads off to write the book and continue her adventures.
River's next adventure we see her in sends her into the company of a dying robot king called Hydroflax. She's called for a surgeon. The man she meets knows her name. That's not a good thing for a time traveling archeologist trying to keep a low profile but she dismisses The Doctor's delight at seeing her because they need to get to work, she threatens him to keep this mouths shut about her name and dismisses The Doctor's attempt at humor because her "husband" is dying. This River is much older now. She seems a bit harder, sadder, and maybe up to no good. She lays it on thick, talking to her dying king husband, and that means she wants something, I figured she wanted something important considering how campy she was getting, but she proclaims to all watching the king, that she found the best surgeon in the galaxy. She really has no idea he's The Doctor. After she realizes he's stalling the procedure, she pulls him aside. The Doctor's reveal goes over her head for reasons that become clear later, but she gets right to the point, showing him a diamond stuck in her husband's head. "I basically married the diamond." She wants him to take the king's head off. He's not a very good guy, and he's going to die shortly anyway, so she see no problem much to The Doctor's dismay. She plays up the badass a bit here, still following Rule #1 Lie.
Hilarity and flirting take place and River and The Doctor escape with the king's head thanks to Ramone, River's...other husband. While waiting for him to show, The Doctor think she's joking, still, and tries to get her admit she knows it's him but Ramone interrupts them, updates River about his search for "damsel" but he has only been looking for the 12 faces of The Doctor, luckily, he found the box. (This is when it dawns on The Doctor that she really doesn't know him.) She's going to steal his TARDIS, do what she has to do and pop back without him knowing, she's done it plenty, apparently. He's having a bit of fun now, going along for the adventure, this time, playing the outsider. River listens to "the surgeon" do the bigger on the outside speech. (Hilarious). River tries to take off and The Doctor gets to be the clever companion helping solve the puzzle, and she finds this impressive, and remains adorably clueless. There's a problem though, the king's head is in the TARDIS the body is outside and it won't take off, more cleverness between the two creates some great banter but the body eventually makes its way inside the TARDIS forcing them to take off and the pair narrowly escape onto a space liner full of the universe's worse killers.
Together they charm their way to dinner, and during the walk River says she's over 200 years old, and gives a flimsy explanation then confesses she's selling the diamond. During dinner, there's a bit more told about how River got there and how easy it was to lie to the king about loving him. The Doctor is about to tell her the truth, but they're interrupted, and he asks about the Diary instead, wondering why she looks sad. She say it's nearly full, knowing her Doctor knew how long it would need to be. She brushes off the conversation, not stupid enough to tell a stranger how she really feels about The Doctor, and makes a deal with some weirdo aliens to get the diamond. Trouble erupts when they show the buyer the king's head, but it's the body they need to worry about. It wants The Doctor's head and River Song knows him, she's the best bait so they hold her and "the surgeon" for questioning.
When one of the bad guys reads passages from River's diary, she's devastated and scared and goes
After The Doctor joins her at the controls they attempt to save the ship, River is distracted by the planet being named Darillium, knowing #11 Doctor had promised to take her there to see The Singing Towers but kept postponing. He'd like to postpone again, #12 says. To save her, he teleports River to the TARDIS, but she goes back to save him. Together they decide a ship of murderers isn't worth each other or changing history for since she's 400 years in her past anyway, so they save themselves, brace inside the TARDIS, but River gets knocked out.
When she wakes, it's Christmas and The Doctor is waiting for her on the balcony near The Singing Towers. He appears in a new suit, (he already mentioned the haircut) gives her a present, a Sonic Screwdriver. The small talk is adorable, I really love these two (damn it!), and as River listens to the towers, she glances over to see The Doctor crying, he tries to brush it away, they're both so sad. She mentions stories about this being their last night together. He said not to worry but she figures out that it is, says The Doctor can find a way around it, a loophole, but he gives the everything must end speech thinking she wants a happily ever after, but all she wants is time with her Doctor. She hits him with the "you don't understand time" barb, but this Doctor knows. He's older and wiser now. He beat a diamond wall to save Clara for billions of years. He can appreciate everything she did for him, how many times she really saved him. He's become The Doctor River finally needs him to be. He has a beautiful speech about the music of The Signing Towers, saying every time someone needs it, there is always a song. He's talking about himself, too, helping River to realize he does care and love her in his own Doctory way. And knowing how he treated her in the past wasn't always the best, he plans on making it up to her but giving her 24 years, one night on Darillium.
Who knows what will happen in those 24 years. I'm hoping we'll hear a bit about it next season, but the story isn't over for River, she's heading to the Library. Now, the name of this episode is Silence in the Library (S4Ep9). Does it have a double meaning? The Library is quiet because no people are there, but River was programmed by the Silence, so technically that could be another meaning, right? Anyway, she meets #10 here for the first time and vice versa. He obviously doesn't know her but she knows him very, very well now, so at first she figures he's being coy for a reason. But when she realizes that he doesn't the heartbreak on her face is apparent, she's starting to put it together. However, the problem at hand is a big one and the team gets back to work trying to figure things out when The Doctor tries to take a peek into River's Diary. Of course, she doesn't let him.
There's a bit of explaining about the Library, and River says she trusts The Doctor completely despite him just meeting her, but one of the team dies, leading to another moment between them where The Doctor tries to get information from her, but River refuses, knowing she can't tell him anything at all. #11 hasn't even met her yet so #10 has no clue. While The Doctor is working to find the Vashta Narada in the Library, she and Donna have a chat about the timelines. She's clearly upset, but wise older River knows better than to let her emotions get in the way of saving everyone, so it's put on the back burner for the moment while River uses her own Sonic Screwdriver (a bit worn after 24 years it seems) and gets to work, much to The Doctor's confusion and annoyance.
Things are getting scary. Donna is gone, The Doctor is mad, and still trying to figure out who River is, but she's only giving him bits and pieces, creating an argument that the others think looks like a married couple squabbling. (Unrelated note this picture name is River10 hahah, what a coincidence!) River can't tell him everything to make him trust her, but she does whisper something in his ear, and The Doctor is on board, finally, and gets right back to work trying to save everyone in the Library.
After figuring out the Dr. Moon is interfering with the Sonic, The Doctor does whatever he does to get more information while River has a quick conversation with Anita about meeting The Doctor out of order. She's seen whole armies turn and run away (Good Man Goes to War), and he can open the TARDIS by snapping his fingers. The Doctor has figured out what happened in the Library, and starts to work on the computer to try to un-teleport the 4022 people saved by the little girl in the computer, CAL, but the it needs more power in order to reboot. The Doctor has a plan, he'll hook himself up to the core for extra space so it can reboot. River doesn't like this. He can't die here. She knows he needs her, now more than ever, and knocks him out then hooks herself up to the computer.
When The Doctor wakes up, River's putting the final touches on the hook up, reiterating her final "night" with the future Doctor on Darillium, She doesn't want him to rewrite time. Not one line. She's at peace now, having spent real time with Doctor #12, making up for most of what happened with #11 and promises him it's okay, and he'll see her again. He mentions that fact she knows his name. She says "Spoilers" and dies....but not really, because he had years and years to figure out a way to save River, and #10 realizes what the future him had done and uses the Sonic Screwdriver to upload her data ghost into the Library computer, much to River's surprise and delight considering she figured she would die instead. She creates a happy little world for herself and her friends also stuck in the computer and in a way...everybody lives.
River has been living in the Library computer for ages. (The last time she'd seen #11 is when her parents were sent back in time.) When we see her again, she's the data ghost version from the Library summoned to a TimeTraveling dream held by Madame Vastra. (The Name of the Doctor S7Ep14) She knows Vastra (interesting) but not Clara, which is a bit awkward for her, probably, but River knows The Doctor shouldn't travel alone, so she doesn't worry about it much. Next we learn The Doctor's secret has been uncovered, River knows his name but that's not the secret they're talking about, leading Vastra to ask if #11 Doctor has been to see her, she says no, he doesn't like endings. After hearing the word Trenzelore, River freaks out, knowing he can't go to where his grave is and helps everyone to wake up and get to work. (This is a bit Timey Wimey, too, because #11 never told River his name. #12 must have because he'd already been to Trenzelore twice and knew what already happened but she has no idea.)
Data ghost River hitches a ride on Clara's mental connection and shows up on Trenzelore next to "her grave" with River thinking The Doctor can't see or hear her. She helps them get to the TARDIS unseen via Clara, while explaining the Library situation to her. When they arrive at the TARDIS grave it's River who opens the door to save everyone. (Here you can kinda tell he hears her, he's confused and upset about it but he knows she's there) River tells Clara what will happen to her if she goes into The Doctor's timescar, but Clara knows she's already done it, so she jumps in, and resets everything back to normal.
Whew. So. There you have it. One character created all this drama. Amazing huh? What a story.
If you go through this, congrats. You don't even want to know how long it took me. These guys did it too, but well, mine's better right? http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2015-12-25/river-songs-doctor-who-life-in-order
So did you not like River before? Did you already love her? Do you like her more or less now? I'm curious. Tell me.
I think I'm going to go and watch some Doctor Who. :-)