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Review #2983: Doctor Who 6.8: “Let’s Kill Hitler”

Posted on the 29 August 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

Fandom seems roughly split down the middle about “Let’s Kill Hitler”, with many expressing disappointment over the missed potential, with seemingly just as many praising the episode’s fast-paced dose of myth-arc. Personally, I was a bit worried, upon hearing the title for the episode, that this would be too much of a stand-alone adventure, so I was glad to see that the title was a bit misleading. “Let’s Kill Hitler” is very much a follow-up to “A Good Man Goes to War”.

Review #2983: Doctor Who 6.8: “Let’s Kill Hitler”

There is a part of me that would have liked to see the episode mine more out of the idea of the Doctor and company running around in pre-WW2 Berlin with Hitler, but I know that if this had been the episode’s primary focus, I would have felt cheated out of a conclusion to the preceding cliffhanger. I will say that I was glad to see that Hitler was given a reasonably accurate voice: one seemingly based more on the existing recording of his voice during a calmer conversation, which differs greatly from his more well-known and frequently parodied speech voice.

My first impression after watching “Let’s Kill Hitler” was that this was one of the craziest, wackiest episodes of “Doctor Who” thus far. We’ve got miniaturization rays, a tiny human crew piloting a human-sized, shape-shifting mech ship, and a somewhat psychopathic (albeit brain-washed), and extremely flamboyant River Song running around Berlin and shooting up the place, forcing people to remove their clothes and run screaming through the streets in terror. Oh, and the Doctor wears a tuxedo and top hat for seemingly no reason other than for the hell of it. But then again, this is virtually par for the course for “Doctor Who” these days.

Of course, “Doctor Who” has always had a strand of silliness woven through it. I’d say it’s part of the show’s charm. But it seems as though the show has gradually grown more gaudy and excessive over the course of its run since 2005. This was more of a problem in the Tennant era, because it correlated with a decrease in overall storytelling quality (primarily relegated to the season 4 finale and the subsequent specials). The Smith era continues with the over-the-top storytelling, arguably taking it further than ever before. “Doctor Who” now liberally strays from sci-fi and into fantasy, evoking an almost “fairy tale” feel at times.

But at least in the Matt Smith era, Moffat’s storytelling has been relatively sound. It’s not quite the “Doctor Who” I became a fan of during the Eccleston and Tennant years; it’s something different. But I enjoy it overall for what it is, even if my tastes lie more with serious, scarier episodes like the “Satan Pit” two-parter, “Blink”, “Midnight”, the “Time of Angels” two-parter in season 5, or Moffat’s brilliant season 2 episode,”The Girl in the Fireplace”. “Doctor Who” is often referred to as a children’s show, but that wasn’t always as evident in past seasons as it now is on a regular basis.

That said, I still have to admit that Steven Moffat weaves a fun tale. And there are other issues with “Let’s Kill Hitler” that could be more fairly cited as actual flaws. For one thing, it’s a bit ridiculous that we are expected to believe that Amy and Rory have spent so much of their lives with Mel, and only now do we learn of her, especially considering her apparent lifelong fixation with finding the Doctor. In fact, for a while there, I wondered if we were seeing some sort of altered timeline. Presumably, this “Mel” form must be what River regenerated into in that alleyway in New York after she killed the Doctor in Utah, and then somehow went back in time to Amy and Rory’s childhood.

I also had a bit of trouble swallowing River’s change of heart at the end. The whole thing feels a bit rushed. It still works, overall, and contains plenty of humor and heartfelt character moments. But it could have benefited from some breathing room. I’ve heard a few fans make the suggestion that this would have worked better as a two-parter, and I’m inclined to agree.

But even more interesting than the River Song reveals (to me, at least) was the further development of The Silence. No longer simply an alien race, we now know them as a religious movement dedicated to the Doctor’s destruction. I’d love to take credit for thinking that the “question” is “Doctor who?”, but upon reading online I discovered that a great many among the fandom had come to the same conclusion on their own. For what it’s worth, I think the explanation fits rather well, considering the hints that have been dropped about River knowing the Doctor’s real name.

“Let’s Kill Hitler” isn’t as refined as it could be, and it’s all a bit much to try and cram into a single episode, so not everything gets the emphasis that it deserves. But it succeeds as an entertaining follow-up to “A Good Man Goes to War”, with enough of a focus on the myth-arc to keep me satisfied. This season still has the potential to exceed the quality of the previous one.

Rating: 7/10

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