Before the Angels Come
I’ve been refusing to think about the end of Amy and Rory, the end of River. I don’t know whether it’s going to be an end, or a disappearance, a transformation or transmutation, a fall or an ascendency. I don’t know if I’ll cry or if I’ll be dry-eyed, but I am already aching. Which is probably why I’m not thinking about it, because I’ll only ache more.
(Why on earth does a story do this to me? Actors, typed words on dog-eared scripts, hours of painstakingly layered binary codes turning green screen and nothing into something else … oh, I know. promethia_tenk and elisi and lonewytch and others far brighter than I am have said it so much better than I do, so many times. I wish I’d had more time and attention span recently to read more of their amazing metas. But I digress.)
The point is, I haven’t been thinking of them going because, as we all know, if we don’t think about it, it won’t happen. And I know, I know it’s going to happen, and I’m a Who fan and I’ve seen companions come and go, and some of them I’ve missed terribly, and I’ve still gotten over their various passings and learned to love whoever comes next. I know Who is all about change and I have loved the show for more than half my life, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to me. But I have loved the Ponds - River and Rory and Amy - more than I ever expected to. Why is that, do you suppose?
Let’s wait on that, shall we? I want to talk about other things so that I don’t have to think about goodbyes. So I’ll go back to the things I believe.
I believe that River Song’s story never got less interesting as it went along. That’s what I’ve read all over, that’s the common wisdom. But common wisdom’s a language in which I am largely illiterate.
For me, River’s story only become richer, sadder, more joyful, more terrible and full of laughter, more awful in the old and new sense. Her personality only became clearer and deeper, stronger and more admirable with each new ill done to her, each victory she gained over herself and those who strove to malform her. She became River Song; not the Doctor’s shadow, nor his assassin, nor his mirror, nor his puppet. She escaped victimhood (and certainly was no psychopath, but I’ve ranted about that before.) She became herself and no other. She regained honor, regained her mother and father, relearned love and trust. She regained herself against unimaginable odds. She was broken, but became whole, and lived her life, finally, for herself. And the Doctor loved her for it. People snip and snark, saying the Doctor couldn’t love her, trotting out a myriad of reasons. When they say those things, their words are like babel to me. I don’t understand them.
I have no idea what is coming - what many of you have already seen - but for me … now and forever, River is marvelous, glorious, tragic, and transcendent.
I know there are people out there who say she is a Moffat caricature of a real woman (which presupposes what the hell a real woman is and presupposes even more about River’s creator), who say she’s uninteresting, or that she’s arrogant, smug or annoying merely for doing things Our Hero does, merely for … well, as I said, there are people who speak about River Song in common wisdom. I don’t speak that. I honestly don’t understand people when they make these comments. I fear that they don’t understand me when I talk about how much I love River, though, so we talk past each other.
I shall miss her very much. And I shall miss her mother, too.
How can I understand people who call Amy cardboard, who say she is shallow, or selfish or just a caricature of a woman, written by someone who doesn’t understand women? (They say it about her daughter, too … ah, there’s the family resemblance.) How can I parse those who judge or damn her with faint praise, saying “She’s OK, when she’s with Rory.”
I can’t. What I do understand is the way Amy drew people into her orbit, and the way she never stopped fighting, never stopped living. She may have been the girl who waited, but that simply meant that she refused to give up. I’ll remember her fearlessness and her cheek, her intuition, the way she tilted her head to look at people with eyes as curious and unforgiving as a bird’s, the kindness that she held inside her, a little to her own surprise.
I understand too that, kindness aside, she is incredibly Old Testament. Amy speaks vengeance. If you hurt someone dear to her, if you take someone away from her who she loves, you may not survive.
After she’s gone, I’m going to remember Amy’s voice and the way she looked at people when she spoke to them. You really couldn’t look away from Amy when she spoke to you - perhaps because you could never be sure of whether looking away would hurt her, or make her hurt you. She was that fierce and that damaged. It always seemed a half-hiccup away from tears, even when she was happy. And it was always moments from a growl, as attractive as her Scottish burr could make that. Anger and hurt, fight and flight, all wrapped around the kernel of someone who, as a child, was placid, practical, yet completely at home with wonder. (She cooked the fish fingers, cleaned up, thought the Doctor was silly, and packed her bags.)
Do you suppose that part of the reason Rory loves Amy so much is that he and Amelia-who-was, who still sits in the heart of Amy-who-is, have so much in common? I wonder. No matter; I shall miss Amy very much, because of those things at the very least.
I’ll miss Rory, who was smart and observant, brave, resilient, flexible but with a backbone to match Amy’s. Who loved Amelia and Amy, who loved River, who both took care of people and cared for them. He was honorable - possibly the most honorable person the Doctor has had in his life recently. Even when we were supposed to laugh at him, in those first days, he silenced laughter because he always spoke the truth; irritable, angry truth sometimes, but always the truth. Oh, and there it is, the heart of Rory - honor, and truth-telling and unswerving love.
I - and this truly isn't me going off on a tangent, bear with me here - love S6 even more than I loved S5. That's because I think S6, for me, braided family, and time, and myth, and faith, and family again, and circular paths and the way past them, and love, and hate, and reaching out, and holding back, and still more family, revelation and deliberate obliteration, all together. Watching the strands weave about each other, dizzied and intoxicated me even as it nourished me.
Ultimately (and here's where we veer back to today, which I'm trying to ignore for a few minutes more) for me, this has all been about love, and how love is the right thing to choose. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t mean love always wins out, but if love’s one choice and lack of love is the other? Choose the hurt and find your family.
And what a family. They all waited, didn’t they? Amy for the Doctor, Rory for Amy, River for the Doctor, the Doctor for all of them - look at how often he stayed in one place for them, when his nature told him to go, how very much he loved them when he chose to do that.
Amy and Rory and River all waited, but then … then they all stopped waiting and went forward.
Each of them rejected stasis. River broke her programming, Rory became human despite his plastic prison, Amy broke time to find her family not once, but twice.
And the Doctor helped them travel forward and back. He may have taken them down into the dark places, into loneliness, anger, horror and grief, but never because he wanted to. And he always lifted them up again, every time, because they were his family. And they flew together; into laughter and adventure, companionship, belonging and becoming so much more than they were at the start.
Such stories they told, and made, and were; Amy, Rory, River and the Doctor. And how my heart aches, even before I see their last adventure.