Forgive the bland title, but I didn't want to give away spoilers.
"The Wedding of River Song" is the thirteenth and final episode of the sixth series of Doctor Who, and was broadcast on 1 October 2011. During this series finale episode we learn...

...time stopped because the doctor didn't die when he was supposed to (the first time that episode, but the second time in the series). But then later on when the doctor and River went back to the beach, the doctor actually being the Teselecta machine, River shoots him (actually the Teselecta), and the doctor manages to survive. This was supposedly the doctor's death we see in the first episode of the series. So why doesn't time stop/act all at once again?


Did they ever explain who the silence and Madame Kovarian are?


When River was on the beach (the River out of the astronaut suit), did she know already that the doctor would survive and how he would survive?

  • Another question, involving the whole fixed time thing: Why does the weird thing happen in this episode but not in the Waters of Mars (I'm not going to say what the weird thing is because that would be a spoiler)
    – dkuntz2
    Oct 2, 2011 at 16:55
  • This should probably be given a more useful title, like "What happened in 'The Wedding of River Song'" Oct 2, 2011 at 20:43
  • @dkuntz2 is it ever specified in Waters of Mars that it was a fixed point in time, and not just an important point in time? That might make a difference; its also possible that the fact that The Doctor (a trained Time Lord) is the one who changed events on Waters of Mars made a difference; or else the fact that time was fixed on its own means we just never saw the time catastrophe?
    – KutuluMike
    Sep 1, 2012 at 15:51

2 Answers 2


I'll answer each spoiler in order:

  1. The issue wasn't just that The Doctor died there, it was the precise events that played out then. The astronaut appears, shoots and kills The Doctor, and then they burn his corpse. By having the Teselecta take his place, The Doctor got to have his cake and eat it too. Events played out as they were supposed to at that fixed point, but he got to survive.
  2. No, not really. There were some minor developments along these lines as Kovarian's eye-patch was finally explained as a mechanism that allows the wearer to remember The Silence when not looking at them. Series 6 did add some more clarification on The Silence though. Now we know that at some future (to the Doctor) juncture, The Doctor will fight a war against them. This war will potentially end on the fields of Trenzalore, when The Doctor answers the first question, as that is when "Silence falls".
  3. Yes. When Amy and post-Byzantium River were hanging out near the end of the episode, she said one of the many lies she had to do was pretend she didn't remember recognizing the suit. She also brought Amy and Rory the good news that the Doctor survived. So she either remembers seeing the mini-Doctor inside the Teselecta's eye right before she shot "him", or she simply knew the Doctor was safe due to what he whispered in her ear.
  • Although in fairness, it's possible that River at the Picnic didn't remember the suit at first - after all, younger river (Lets Kill Hitler) did say "Honestly I don't remember, it's all a bit of a jumble"). Oct 3, 2011 at 14:27
  • 1
    The Doctor actually tells River in that episodes that she won't remember doing it; note that as a plot involving The Silence it would eventually have been edited out of her memory.
    – KutuluMike
    Sep 13, 2012 at 14:23

A different point of view (and considering no answers have been explicitly given, I guess there's a lot of possibilities):

1: The fixed point in time ended up as it should, and exactly as it should. The Doctor probably knew he wasn't going to die and the fixed point all along was not the Doctor dying, but the Teselecta being killed and burned. So everyone who saw that incident, including any historians writing about it, went only by what was reported from visual observation, saying the Doctor was killed. Nobody knew that at that fixed point it was the Teselecta that was killed or destroyed.

2: That hasn't been made clear at this point. I felt it was a clear setup for more stories with the Silence in the next season.

3: River-on-the-beach may or may not have remembered the incident from when she was River-in-the-astronaut-suit, but it doesn't matter for what we've seen. If she remembered seeing the Doctor in the Teselecta's eye, she knew he'd survive and they had to play it as it was supposed to happen. But even if she didn't remember, she still knew that it was a fixed point and HAD to be played out and knew the Doctor well enough to know he had a plan and was trusting them to play it out as he asked.

  • Re: #3: In Doctor Who Confidential which did a run through of River Song's timeline it is said the older-she (part of the party) knew she would see the Doctor die.
    – Richard
    Oct 2, 2011 at 6:43
  • @Richard, I didn't see that, but I know in an earlier one they said that Stephan Moffat had told the different actors bits and pieces of what they'd need to know and that Alex Kingston knew more than the rest, so that kind of implied she knew who killed The Doctor at that point. I still think, whether the older River knew or not, it wouldn't change her behavior.
    – Tango
    Oct 2, 2011 at 17:53
  • 3
    When I think about it, though, the whole "It's the Teselecta that was killed" part of the plot doesn't explain why we saw regeneration energy starting to form and activate when The Doctor was shot - unless the Teselecta could emulate it.
    – Tango
    Oct 2, 2011 at 17:54
  • @TangoOversway Per my answer to #3, she did know the Doctor was safe. He whispered that into her ear in the aborted timeline. That's the good news the post-Byzantium River brought to Amy and Rory at the end of the episode.
    – user1027
    Oct 2, 2011 at 18:55
  • 1
    @TomalakGeret'kal: Almost certainly; the Doctor's had amply time to program it in advance, and has the advantage of knowing exactly how it's supposed to act. It's a relatively short role, after all.
    – Tynam
    Dec 26, 2011 at 15:05

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