Ok so my question is this... Is Tasha Lem actually River Song?

There are a few reasons for me to suspect that she is but I'd really appreciate other people's points of views.

Here are my thoughts as to how she may actually be River Song...

  1. She is against aging... From what we know is that River Song was uploaded into the Library's computer system so her "soul" is trapped in there. Is it entirely possible that she has some form of android or cyborg body in which her soul / mind exists? If this is so then that would explain why she is against aging.... Her mind is inside of a machine that will last forever (provided that the machine does not deteriorate)
  2. Tasha Lem "died" several times at the hands of the Daleks, which either mean that Tasha Lem has some sort of regenerative ability, or she's not entirely mortal which lends itself to the above mentioned point as well.
  3. The Doctor in "The Time of The Doctor" says to her after she regains control of her body that she has been fighting the psychopath in her body as long as she lived... River Song was conditioned into being a psychopath by the splinter faction of the Papal Mainframe.
  4. The Doctor begins insulting Tasha Lem until she snaps and he says "You could never resist a row", which is reminiscent of River Song.
  5. This would explain how she is able to pilot the Tardis.
  6. There's a mystery in how River Song was able to communicate with The Doctor after Clara had leaped into his timeline. She even says there was some unknown reason as to why she was still able to communicate with him at this point, which is still a mystery.
  7. The entire flow of River's story started off with Silence at the Library, she also has a very strong connection to Papal Mainframe in which Tasha Lem turns into the Church of the Silence as well as part of church splitting off which then creates River Song to begin with. In fact in the series the second time she is shown she is working with the Church's warrior knights to defeat the Weeping Angels.
  8. Another point though far fetched is that River Song's real name is Melody Pond, a short version of her name being Mel, which is Lem backwards.
  • Personally, I agree with @BESW's debunking of the theory, but +1 for making the case for it clearly and in detail. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Dec 31 '13 at 7:20
  • There was also her strange comment about having no problem getting the TARDIS to go where she wanted it to, getting the Doctor to go where she wanted was tricker. – Simon O'Doherty Jan 3 '14 at 11:15

No, there is no good reason to think Tasha Lem is River Song.

Most of the points which get raised in favor of this theory are weak circumstantial evidence. Time of the Doctor repeats motifs from throughout Matt Smith's seasons, so it makes sense that Tasha Lem seems familiar; she's an amalgam of character traits and tropes Moffat's already used, many of them in River Song. But she's not any particular character we already know.

  1. "Against aging" is a cute phrase, but we have no idea what it means. Plenty of creatures in the Whoniverse age slowly or not at all. This bit of evidence contributes nothing either way.

  2. The Daleks (and the Sontarans, the Sisterhood of Karn, etc) are capable of reviving a dead person repeatedly. We had a whole episode establishing that fact: Asylum of the Daleks. (Since regeneration scrambles the body and personality, especially when used reactively, it doesn't make any sense that Tasha Lem regenerated even once under Dalek torture: she'd be a different actress with a different personality.) This evidence actually undermines the theory.

  3. Sure, River Song fits the bill of "fighting the psychopath," but so does Madame Vastra. Tasha Lem's a lot more like Vastra, actually: a person we meet after she's had a long, checkered past with the Doctor off-screen, to which they allude but never show. This evidence means nothing either way.

  4. Again, parallels could just as easily be drawn to the Doctor's banter with Madame Vastra, or most of his companions. River Song does not have a monopoly on that kind of dialogue. Moffat likes the dynamic too much to limit it to just one relationship. This evidence means nothing either way.

  5. Any idiot can fly the TARDIS if she likes you and thinks you ought to get wherever it is you want to go. Being able to fly the TARDIS has always been totally dependent on whether the story needed you to be able to. Sometimes only a fully inducted Time Lord can fly a TARDIS, and sometimes any random Joe off the street can do it. In her interview Orla Brady speculates that the Doctor taught Tasha during a quiet moment in the Siege of Trenzalore, which rather confirms that the actress didn't think her character is River Song. This evidence is largely useless in establishing the theory, but could be supporting evidence if other, stronger clues are found.

  6. River Song's digital ghost is not evidence to support Tasha Lem being River Song; it's just evidence that River Song's story might not yet be over. If the rest of the support for this theory were stronger, this would help overcome any challenge based on the idea that River Song is dead. By itself, it says nothing about Tasha Lem's identity.

  7. Again, this is not evidence that Tasha Lem is River Song. It's just the observation that River Song and the Mainframe have crossed paths. The leap from "She was kidnapped, abused, and imprisoned by the Mainframe and its heretical sects" to "She must be the leader of the Mainframe" is astronomical, similar to speculating that Jason Bourne must be the leader of Treadstone--or maybe the CIA. This is a wild leap of logic, not evidence.

  8. If the rest of the evidence weren't weak, circumstantial, and easily applied to many other characters just as well as to Tasha Lem, the anagram of their names might be useful as supporting evidence. By itself, it's just a coincidence.

We've got a handful of supporting evidence with nothing solid for it to support, and a few bits that actively contradict the theory. Tasha Lem hadn't seen the Doctor's Eleventh body. The Doctor banters with nearly everyone he meets, and Eleven kisses anyone nearby when he's in an excitable mood. River Song being Tasha Lem brings up far too many questions of how? and why? for us to take the notion seriously without something more concrete to go on... and a way to remove the obvious contradictions in a reasonable fashion.

Tasha Lem is familiar because Moffat wrote her using many of the same conventions as River Song and other Strong Women With Secrets in his Doctor Who and across his various other shows. There's no strong evidence that she's actually a character we've met previously, any more than there's evidence of the same for Madame Vastra or Liz Ten, or Strax.

When we look for the things which would be true if our theory is correct, rather than for things that would prove our theory, it's called affirming the consequent. Most of the "evidence" that Lem is really Song would be true if the theory were true--but could just as easily be explained a dozen other ways, so it doesn't prove the theory.

This isn't to say that Moffat couldn't suddenly reveal Tasha Lem is the new River Song: he likes sudden reveals that had no reasonable foreshadowing. But at the moment we have no useful evidence to support the notion.

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  • An excellent and well constructed answer. I should add that Tasha's back-story (in relation to how she learned to pilot the TARDIS) also doesn't fit what we know of River. – Valorum Dec 30 '13 at 22:51
  • You make valid points as far as some of the evidence but there are a few points that you make that I feel are not 100% warranted... #3 What would be the point of saying that she has been fighting a psychopath all her life, clearly after having a conversation about River Song being a psychopath... Granted we do not know her full history but this could be a subtle hint towards her possibly being River. #5 How can you possibly say that any idiot can fly The Tardis... There were an episode where The Doctor states that they are meant to be piloted by multiple people... – DoctorWho22 Dec 31 '13 at 17:45
  • I don't see any supporting evidence that any joe can just fly The Tardis, I've never seen any episode where a regular person just flew The Tardis like they knew what they were doing and made it look easy. Also The Tardis wouldn't allow just anybody to pilot it also. In fact in one of the earlier episodes the Fourth Doctor stated that the Tardis controls are isomorphic, which is a fact that isn't always consistent... but there's also the point that Tasha Lem says "Flying the TARDIS was always easy, but flying The Doctor she never quite mastered." River has always had a tough time with The Doc – DoctorWho22 Dec 31 '13 at 17:57
  • @DoctorWho22 The psychopath thing isn't enough, by itself, to hang a theory on. As for the TARDIS-flying bit, that's complicated enough to need its own question-and-answer, which I'll post when I can. For now let's just say that the "six people to fly it" thing flies in the face of everything else we've ever seen, and that I can think of perhaps a half-dozen non-Time-Lords who've flown it without the Doctor's supervision. – BESW Dec 31 '13 at 23:09
  • The only times I remember that people flew the Tardis without supervision in recent memory was usually The Tardis flying itself. – DoctorWho22 Jan 2 '14 at 15:32

Aren't her and the Doctor's timelines backwards? So I think this would be the first time she sees this body if she is River because this is Matt Smith's last show and she would know Capaldi.

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  • Their timelines are muddled, but not linearly reversed. The first time she saw the Matt Smith body was when she was in the form of Mels, Rory and Amy's friend, who regenereated directly into River Song. There's no room for Tasha Lem in there. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Jan 3 '14 at 8:30
  • A few people seem to theorize that there is a possibility that she is River Song post library. – DoctorWho22 Jan 6 '14 at 14:39

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