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"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...

...that it was River in the spacesuit all along, but that she didn't want to kill the Doctor and only did so because the suit was in control. But if the suit was in control, what's the point of her being there at all? Why bother with the whole complicated Flesh/abduct child/raise her to be a psychopath/Mels/let her get her doctorate/kidnap her again/stuff her in the suit thing?

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    She was there because it was prophecied becase she was there. Its all wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey.
    – Xantec
    Oct 3, 2011 at 12:00
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    She isn't, Moffat got a bit carried away.
    – Pharap
    May 28, 2014 at 14:42

4 Answers 4

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River Song is, all in all, a really complicated spacetime event, with a timeline that crosses' the doctor's in dozens and dozens of different places. If you were trying to make sure something couldn't be changed, you'd want to make sure the events leading up to it were complex and intertwining - and River Song is nothing if not complex and intertwining. Of course, I have no particular in-show evidence for this, but I can't think of any other good explanations for making River Song go through the motions of trying to kill the doctor when his death was already a fixed point.

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    That's what happens when you have a time head.
    – Dan Ray
    Dec 14, 2011 at 13:45
  • Also, the point is to attempt to kill him so that he can't regenerate. It's not clear what the murder weapon is, but being wielded by a Time Lord may be important to that.
    – Tynam
    Dec 18, 2011 at 23:02
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    @Tynam Nah, killing him before he finishes regenerating (or doing enough damage while he's regenerating) will kill a Time Lord, regardless of who does the killing.
    – Steam
    May 22, 2013 at 13:56
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    @Tynam Note, "doing enough damage". Yes, Tennant's hand was cut off but that's not instantly lethal. I'm assuming that there's some sort of threshold, up to which regeneration energy can still restore to full health.
    – Steam
    May 22, 2013 at 15:02
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    @Yawus: The Doctor would have actually had to have regenerated in order to have gained such a "shield," as you put it. Shooting a Time Lord post-regeneration (when they have already shifted into their new incarnation and can heal themselves) is different from shooting a Time Lord mid-regeneration, in which case they will die because they haven't finished healing the previous fatal wound that they suffered, and suffering another one would simply damage the body too much.
    – Amy
    May 30, 2013 at 1:11
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While never actually stated, I could guess two possible reasons.

One: The suit couldn't kill the Doctor without someone inside of it. Possible, but lacks a clear reason why.

Two: River was effectively a hostage to keep the Doctor from defending himself. Doubtless his sonic screwdriver could disable the suit with little effort, but if it was being used to keep River alive (as it did when she was a child), then even disabling the suit might kill her. The Doctor might take that chance with a person he didn't know, but he wouldn't even consider risking it with River.

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It's been said in different ways, but the underlying factor here is knowledge -- a recurrent trope in stories that deal with Time-travel is that things must occur as the prophecy / foretelling / whatever says.. But there is wiggle room, in what is NOT said, or what is NOT know.

In this case (avoiding spoilers here), the doctor had to be there.. and people saw what happened.. But the doctor took advantage of the fact that what they thought they saw was not necessarily what they actually saw; it may be a fixed point in time, but if people know it simply by 'viewing' it somehow, then it leaves what is actually happening open to interpretation.

So why River? Because a fixed point in time is like a black hole for probability; it's inescapable.. well, unless you want dire consequences for the universe as we see. Once it was 'seen' (historically, by prophecy, whatever) it was set in stone.. And since River was seen as the agent, she had to be there.. History is inaccurate, in that she had no intent to take the action she did, but what history recorded is what was seen. Could someone else (say a Clone of River) be used? Sure, but the Silence was behind this, and they WANTED what had been seen to happen to occur, so they took every step to make it a (I don't believe I'm about to say this...) retroactive self-fulfilling prophecy. They wanted it to happen, so they took every step to make it happen as it was 'supposed' to.

Again, we are still dealing with an ontological paradox.. but that's nothing new in the Whoniverse.

Synopsis: River was necessary, because in the fixed point that was seen / recorded / whatever, she was there. She could no more be removed from the situation than the Doctor could (humor intended.) The fact that she was not in charge of what was happening was irrelevant, she was there to fulfill the requirements of time/history/destiny/etc.

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The suggestion is that she needs to be there to complete the Prophecy of the Silence.

i.e. that River Song will Kill the Doctor at Lake Silencio

Which is, after all, a Fixed Point in time and thus cannot be changed.

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    But that just begs the question, doesn't it? They prophesy it, then they make it happen - but that doesn't answer why they did so in the first place. Oct 3, 2011 at 9:21
  • @Daniel Well, she isn't strictly speaking required. Except that she is the weapon the Silence forged to kill the Doctor. They probably weren't very happy that she rebelled once. Her being in the suit might have been punishment. It's also possible the suit was attuned to her in some way. I assume this could get explored in the next season.
    – peacedog
    Oct 3, 2011 at 13:00
  • @peacedog I've learned it's best not to assume things like that. For instance, I assumed we'd learn this season why the Tardis exploded last season, but we didn't, and in fact it hasn't been mentioned again. Oct 3, 2011 at 17:56
  • @Daniel I said could, not would. I don't expect anything; in some respects Moffat's tenure has been inconsistent (the whole is greater than the sum of the parts I think, so it doesn't bother me). The thing about this as opposed to the Tardis' exploding is that it represents a potential mechanism to explore River and/or the Doctor and River's relationship. Not that writers will lack for excuse to do that, but that does put it into a different category.
    – peacedog
    Oct 3, 2011 at 18:03
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    River Song is, all in all, a really complicated spacetime event, with a timeline that crosses' the doctor's in dozens and dozens of different places. If you were trying to make sure something couldn't be changed, you'd want to make sure the events leading up to it were complex and intertwining - and River Song is nothing if not complex and intertwining.
    – Phoshi
    Oct 5, 2011 at 13:05

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