I have written about this in many other posts before, but I find this so mindblowingly beautiful that I feel it deserves its own post:
If you have watched The Husbands Of River Song, the next thing you need to do right now is to re-watch A Christmas Carol. Because that Christmas special is one big, beautiful metaphor for the Doctor and River’s story. Down to the last little detail. Five years before the Singing Towers and three years before Trenzalore – in his very first Christmas special ever, Moffat was outlining the entire thing for us, including River Song’s encounter with Twelve. Be prepared to be blown away (I hope).
FISH LIKE SINGING
Many of you have probably figured this out before: Abigail’s singing creates a wave pattern in the fog that the fish like to swim in. It’s a river made out of song. A river song. And indeed, Abigail is one big reference to River Song. Her days being numbered, she only appears in the Doctor’s life from time to time and ends up sacrificing herself for the lives of thousands who would have otherwise died. We knew this already when the episode aired.
“WHEN YOU’RE ALONE, SILENCE IS ALL YOU KNOW”
Abigail’s song, on the other hand, is all about the future. More specifically: the Silence. We had gotten to know the Silence in series five, but only in this Christmas special do we get a first hint of what the Silence really is about:
When you’re alone, silence is all you see.
When you’re alone, silence is all you’ll be.
When you are here, music is all around.
When you are near, music is all around.
(Abigail, A Christmas Carol, Doctor Who)
Silence means loneliness. In series seven we learn that the Silence have been fighting against the return of the Timelords. They want him to remain the last of his kind. They even steal baby Melody from his best friends. Music is love. Music is family. Music is River Song. Silence is solitude.
Which makes it a really beautiful thing that the first carol of the Christmas special can be heard at exactly eleven o’clock.
The Doctor meets the ponds for the very first time right after he regenerates into Eleven. This is also the first time he ever hears voices through the crack in the wall. Both of these mark the beginnings of him no longer being alone. A Christmas Carol reminds us of this by starting to play music exactly when the clock strikes eleven.
KAZRAN, THE LAST OF HIS KIN
But back to less abstract metaphors: The bitter, old, and lonely Kazran is the most amazing metaphor for the Doctor. Haunted by his ancestors, he is prepared to let a lot of people die, until he is presented with his future and his past. Yes, true, this is a reference to the actual Christmas Carol, but it was also a really, really fantastic way of Moffat telling us what he had planned for the 50th anniversary special.
Note that the dying people are even calling out to Kazran from the crashing spaceship, like Gallifrey calls out to the Doctor through the cracks of the crashing TARDIS. The detail here is incredible.
Of course, Kazran struggles with being a good man once more when he realises that he has but one night left with the love of his life. And he keeps postponing that last night until he is so old that Abigail barely recognises him when he is finally ready.
And of you think this isn’t enough reference to Husband Of River Song already, do take note that the very last time we hear Abigail’s song is Christmas day, at twelve o’clock. Again, with the detail!!! Moffat… I am actually lost for words here. This is the most amazing thing, ever. Ever ever ever.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: THE SHARK AND THE SCREWDRIVER
Most of my readers know this metaphor well, because it is my absolute favourite. While Kazran and Abigail tell us all about plot lines, the shark and the screwdriver tell us about the Doctor and data-ghost River’s relationship.
The shark, biologically programmed to kill, nearly gets killed herself when she and the Doctor meet for the first time. Kazran and the Doctor have to rush to release her into the cloud before she completely fades away. (Get it? Into the cloud.)
The Doctor’s heart screwdriver is now broken and part of it remains within the shark, signalling the other half, and trying to repair itself. I know that I have written about this way too many times, but I just love it so much. After losing River, the Doctor is never whole again and can only try and repair his own heart by staying connected to data-ghost River.
And this is my favourite, favourite metaphor, ever. Thank you Moffat. And thank you also for the insanity of plotting out the entirety of eleven’s and partly twelve’s era, and for telling it to us five years in advance. Anybody wonder why I am a fan?