Let’s Kill Hitler
Let’s Kill Hitler was the eighth episode in the sixth series of Doctor Who and the first episode in the autumn half. It was, in a sense, the second episode of a two-part story, preceded by A Good Man Goes to War. Like A Good Man Goes to War, it revealed much about River Song’s origins, also dealing with Amy and Rory’s childhood and how they became a couple. Additionally, it explained why the Silence had been trying to kill the Doctor.
The autumn premiere featured the first regeneration of a female Time Lord that showed the complete change in physical appearance from an old to new incarnation on-screen. Previous Time Lady regenerations were shown with the change from an old form already completed or cut out before the physical change even began. Let’s Kill Hitler also dealt with other aspects of regeneration, such as being able to rapidly heal from otherwise fatal injuries while the regenerative cycle was still live, and a capability to donate any amount of it at will.
This was the first Doctor Who story to feature the personal appearance of the tyrant dictator Adolf Hitler. However, the title of this episode may suggest the story revolved around him. In truth, he received close to five minutes of screen time and was quickly ejected from the plot. A few references to World War II and Nazism were present, but the majority of the episode focused on the first appearance of the Justice Department and the strange types of technology they utilized.
Rory drives through a corn field wildly as Amy gives directions badly. She is telling him how to trace letters by mowing down the corn with the car that will spell out a name, trying to summon the Doctor in the loudest manner possible, so that he cannot avoid contact with them any longer by dodging Amy’s phone calls. Stopping their car, they find the the Doctor standing by his TARDIS in a new green pea coat.
He holds a newspaper with a photo of the crop circle reading “Doctor” they have just made, commenting “Seriously?” with an incredulous smirk on his face. Amy replies that the Doctor had not been answering her calls and this was the only way she could really get his attention. She asks if he has found Melody over the summer. The Doctor makes the bad news easier to deliver by asking Rory if he can give Amy a hug. Once he has permission, he embraces Amy and tells her “You know who she grows up to be, so you know I will find her.” Amy notices that this is a polite of saying he failed to track down her baby. Rory examines the picture. There is a line in the message that they didn’t make.
The trio suddenly learns what caused the unknown stroke in the message when they hear the high-powered engine of a sports car revving through the corn field and shredding a new line down the middle of their crop circle. All of them start screaming for their lives. They dodge out of the way as a Corvette almost runs them over. Out steps Amy and Rory’s best friend, Mels, who flirts with the Doctor and fondles the TARDIS. With police sirens prophesying her arrest for car theft, she points a gun at the Doctor and demands he take her to kill Hitler.
Flashback: Mels is a childhood friend of Amy and Rory and a troublemaker at school. She gets in more trouble than anyone except boys, insults teachers, continually references the Doctor, steals buses and points out to Amy and Rory that they’re in love. Back in the present, the TARDIS flies wildly because Mels has shot the time rotor. He barks at the delinquent, “You shot it! You shot my TARDIS! You shot the console!” Mels accusingly remarks, “It’s your fault!” He inquires, “How is it my fault?” She replies, “You said guns didn’t work in this place. You said we’re in a state of temporal grace.” Angry that she fired her gun out of foolish curiosity, he snarks, “Oh, that was a clever lie, you idiot! Anyone could tell that was a clever lie!”
In 1938 Berlin, a janitor watches a Nazi officer. In a futuristic control room, the crew discuss copying the officer as the janitor follows him. In the control room, a woman complains that the last time they relied on the computer, it “made Rasputin green”. She goes to “the top level”, where an electronic voice politely threatens her until she adjusts a device on her wrist. She looks through a view port, which is the eye of the janitor, actually a highly advanced ship, the Teselecta. She relays colour codes to the control room. The janitor becomes the officer’s double and beams him aboard with a miniaturization ray. Learning the officer’s identity as a war criminal, the crew leave him to the antibodies. They politely threaten the officer before killing him.
The Teselecta enters Adolf Hitler’s office while the captain complains about the shock-absorbers malfunctioning. Hitler asks why his officer has entered without permission. The Teselecta activates “justice mode” and paralyses him with a beam of light from its mouth. However, one of the crew says they arrived too early in his timeline, just before the TARDIS crashes through a window and knocks over the Teselecta.
The TARDIS occupants stagger out in a cloud of smoke caused by Mels’ havoc. Hitler thanks the dumbfounded travellers for saving him and asks what the TARDIS is. The Doctor advances on him, saying it’s a police box and “The British are coming!” The Teselecta picks itself up and a panicky Hitler fires at it. Rory punches out Hitler and takes his gun.
The Doctor and Amy help up the Teselecta. Rory shoves Hitler in the cupboard while the Teselecta goes into observation mode — “fainting”. Mels staggers forward. She calls Hitler a lousy shot and collapses; she was hit by a bullet. Rory tries to help her and the Doctor tries keeping her conscious by talking to her. Mels says she wanted to marry the Doctor and he promises to ask her parents when they fix her up. Mels says they’re right there, then begins to glow.
The Doctor pulls them away from Mels, whose actual name is revealed to be Melody. Amy says she named her daughter after her, but the Doctor explains, “You named your daughter after your daughter”. Mels begins regenerating with a scream.
The crew of the Teselecta look in bewilderment at a criminal whose crimes dwarf Hitler’s: Melody Pond. Melody ends her regeneration in her River Song incarnation. She chatters on about her new look before going off to weigh herself.
The three time travelers talk, realizing that Melody is River Song right at the beginning. Melody asks who River is, but the Doctor refuses to tell her “spoilers”. She pulls out a gun, “getting back to business”, points it at the Doctor and pulls the trigger. The gun, emptied by the Doctor during the regeneration, clicks uselessly. A scintillating conversation ensues and Melody pulls a banana at the Doctor, who had turned the fruit bowl she had left the gun in, then Melody swings a letter opener at him but is disarmed. The Doctor asks why she didn’t kill him in the field and receives the reply that they’d only just met — she’s a psychopath, not rude.
An impatient Melody asks if killing him will take all day. The Doctor inquires if she was busy and, an explanation that the Silence tailored Melody as the Doctor’s “own bespoke psychopath” later, Melody kisses him with poisoned lipstick and jumps out a window to go shopping. The Doctor gives Amy his sonic screwdriver and tells her to find Melody. Dying, he stumbles into the TARDIS.
Outside, Melody enrages soldiers into shooting her. Rory, horrified, cries out, “No!” as his daughter is pelted by automatic gunfire. However, she is within the first fifteen hours of her regeneration; she produces a shock wave that heals her and knocks out the guards. She steals a motorcycle. Amy and Rory steal another and follow her.
Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor turns on the voice interface as a hologram of himself. He asks for someone he likes. In succession, it offers images of Rose Tyler, Martha Jones and Donna Noble, all of whom induce wails of guilt. Finally, it offers young Amelia Pond, who tells the Doctor that he will shortly be dead. The poison comes from the Judas tree, and regeneration is not available. The Doctor tries to get “Amelia” to help him gather his strength. It insists it is not Amelia, but a hologram. He collapses, gasping for help, then hears Amelia the hologram say “Fish fingers and custard”. He finds the strength to drag himself to the console.
Elsewhere, Melody enters a restaurant and orders the patrons at gunpoint to take off their clothes. Outside, Amy and Rory wonder where she is. They see the screaming restaurant patrons run out in their undergarments and hurry in just as the Teselecta, now in Amy’s form, arrives.
Melody is working on her ensemble when Amy — actually the Teselecta — runs in. Amy and Rory wake up where the Nazi officer did. They are threatened politely by the antibodies until a crew member gives wrist devices to ward them off. They are taken to the bridge, where they are told that their memories of these events will be erased later.
Outside, the Teselecta asks Melody why she killed the Doctor on behalf of the Silence. Melody really doesn’t know. Her past is all a blur. It captures Melody as it did Hitler. The Doctor arrives in evening clothes. He asks whom she killed. He uses a sonic cane to scan the Teselecta and learns Amy and Rory are inside it.
Melody tries to flee, but is recaptured. The Doctor demands they leave her alone and asks who they are. The Teselecta explains that as a form of justice, they visit unpunished criminals at the ends of their lives and “give them hell”, agonizing pain, while the timeline continues. The Doctor asks who wants him dead and Amy persuades the captain to tell him. It says the Silence are behind the plot to kill him. They are a religious cult who believe “silence will fall” when the oldest question in the universe is asked. It does not know what the question is. The Teselecta resumes torturing Melody.
The Doctor tells Amy to save her daughter. She uses the sonic screwdriver to turn off the crew’s security clearances. The antibodies attack them and they teleport to safety. Amy uses a microphone to ask the Doctor for help. The antibodies are politely threatening Rory and her again. The Doctor struggles against his painful death. He crawls towards the TARDIS, shocking Melody that he still cares. The Doctor asks for her help, using her name, River. Melody demands to know who River is.
Inside the Teselecta, Amy and Rory are cornered by the antibodies. They accept their doom. Suddenly, the TARDIS materializes around them. They begin to thank the Doctor. Instead, they find a shaken Melody at the console, saying she flew the TARDIS. It taught her how.
They go to the Doctor, but he says there is no way for him to survive. He asks to speak to Melody. He asks her to find River Song, whispers something in her ear and dies. Melody asks who “River Song” is. Amy orders the Teselecta to show them. It shifts into the form of Melody’s current incarnation.
Melody learned that she is River Song. Amy and Rory ask Melody what the Doctor whispered in her ear. She does not answer this, but asks her parents if the Doctor is “worth it”. They don’t understand her question, but agree he is. Melody kisses the Doctor and gives up all her regenerations to save him.
Melody wakes in the greatest hospital in the universe. The Doctor leaves her a TARDIS blue diary. They must leave her to find her own way back to them.
In 5123, Melody, now calling herself River Song, applies to study at the Luna University. When asked why she wants a degree in archaeology, she says she is “looking for a good man”.