Warning: the following article contains spoilers.
Does a Sunset Admire You Back? The Most Misunderstood Moment of River Song.
If you like River Song, you likely you know what moment I’m talking about from the title of the article. For those who don’t, here is a bit of background.
In the Christmas Special, The Husbands of River Song, River meets the 12th Doctor and doesn’t recognize this regeneration. They have several hilarious exchanges and get caught in a situation where River Song is told she is being used as bait to catch the doctor. She replies:
River: Go on! Scan the whole parsec! He’s not here! God knows where he is right now, but I promise you, he’s doing whatever the hell he wants, and not giving a damn about me! And I’m just fine with that!
The Doctor: River.
River: When you love the Doctor, it’s like loving the stars themselves! You don’t expect a sunset to admire you back! And if I happen to find myself in danger, let me tell you, the Doctor is not stupid enough or sentimental enough, and he is certainly not in love enough to find himself standing in it with me!
This moment is the greatest, but many people miss the context and think River doesn’t ever know the doctor loves her. But this is not true.
There is some debate about the timey-wimey nature of The Doctor and River Song’s relationship. But in general, the more River Song gets to know The Doctor, the less he knows her. Think about it.
The more in love River is with The Doctor the less he loves her.
Most people follow their relationship in The Doctor’s timeline. That is (mostly) how the show is presented. And because of episodes like this where the timeline is more wobbly, we don’t often think about River’s way of seeing things.
Flemming: You’re the woman he loves.
River: No I’m not.
Flemming: She’s lying!
River: The Doctor does not, and has never, loved me. I’m not lying.
She wasn’t lying. He had never loved her…yet.
They know their relationship is complicated and will always be bittersweet, and most of the time more bitter than sweet. Moments like this are a prime example.
River loves The Doctor so deeply she knows the end of their time together (for her) was coming up. She knew he would not have their memories yet. She loved The Doctor she knew. All of him, the part that she knew would know her, and The Doctor who didn’t know her yet.
That was the sunset
The Doctor who didn’t yet know her. The Doctor who was blissfully ignorant of the woman who would kill him, but tragically missing the memories of the only woman in the Galaxy who can call herself his wife.
This was the man she loved in spite of his lack of loving her, because she knows one day he will love her just as much as she loves him.
This doesn’t stop the pain of having the man she loves dancing about the universe “not giving a damn about” her. But it gives the bitter taste a hit of sweet.
Do you agree?
Which moments of Doctor Who do you think are misunderstood?
All statements are my opinion. I am not affiliated with any of these programs in any way.