When it was revealed that Alex Kingston would be back for the 2015 Christmas Special Whovians roared with disapproval. Not all, but a lot, and not for the usual anti-River reasons. This time around those opposed to River Song returning were actually those Whovians who loved her the most.
There’s a strong contingent of Whovians who hold steadfast to the notion that River Song belongs to the Eleventh Doctor. I can sympathize with why a lot of people feel this way, but I can’t understand why they honestly believe it to be true.
I understand that River and Eleven had many intimate moments (aside from being married) and went through a hell of a lot together, but sharing a majority of screen time with Eleven doesn’t mean she can’t have adventures with Doctor’s beyond him.
River Song is—or was—the Doctor’s Wife. While this doesn’t mean she was around for all his incarnations (obviously) we know she interacted with several. Technically she’s only been seen with Doctors Ten and Eleven, and will soon meet Twelve. Steven Moffat has let it slip before the Christmas Special, entitled The Husbands of River Song, that She’s not going to recognize the Doctor when they meet; a juxtaposition of their “first” encounter in Silence in the Library when River clearly knows the Doctor, but he has no idea who she is. While she may not recognize him in the upcoming special, that doesn’t mean much since wibbly wobbly timey wimey. It’s Doctor Who after all. Sequential reality isn’t a given.
My issue with those who believe River belongs with Eleven comes from the idea that while it’s easy to say her limited time with Ten makes her more Eleven’s companion and wife, it doesn’t mean she didn’t spend time with one or more Doctor’s after Eleven. In fact, it would be very much like current Doctor Who to have them meet even after Twelve has regenerated. The tragedy of River not knowing the Doctor could play for a long while. Or it’s all a ruse and she actually does know him. Or after this meeting with Twelve she never doesn’t know him again. Whatever the case, cut and dry doesn’t describe their relationship!
River: You’re young.
The Doctor: I’m really not, you know.
River: Oh but you are. Your eyes! You’re younger than I’ve ever seen you.
While this quote actually implies that River has known at least a few more Doctors after Eleven, the “fact” that she doesn’t recognize him when they meet on Christmas almost contradicts it. But I think we must be careful of falling prey to Moffat’s masterful misdirection and half-truths. He has often hidden truth in place sight, if only viewed through the lens of a lie. We have no idea what the circumstances of their meeting will be, but I’m sure it’s not as simple as “she doesn’t recognize him”. I, for one, can’t wait for this rather zany-looking episode. It should be an entertaining touch of humor and adventure after so much sorrow towards the end of Season 9. And while I’m sure The Husbands of River Song will have its share of sadness, I think we’re in for a real treat that will serve as a bridge to the next fantastic season.