By Tyler Dawson
Here’s the thing: I don’t hate any episode of Doctor Who. They are all watchable and entertaining to some degree. It’s not like if one of my least favorite episodes pops up on my Netflix queue I automatically skip it. So when I say Let’s Kill Hitler is my least favorite episode it’s like saying Coors Light is my least favorite beer. I love beer and I will drink Coors Light for $1 beer night during Happy Hour but it’s not my go to beer and you’ll never find it in my refrigerator. Let’s Kill Hitler is the equivalent of being forced to drink Coors Light right after finishing a glass of your favorite expensive beer; you’ll drink it because it’s there and it’s still beer but what you really want is more of your favorite because it’s so damn delicious.
Let’s Kill Hitler was the mid-season premier (thank God they are doing away with that nonsense for Series 8 http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/moffat-reaffirms-no-split-for-series-8-56617.htm) after the stellar mid-season finale A Good Man Goes to War. Then after months of anticipation for the follow up, we get the goofy and clumsy Let’s Kill Hitler which feels like everyone trying to get back into the swing of things, more specifically Matt Smith as the Doctor. As Mels is driving her sweet Corvette Stingray through the cornfield, The Doctor, Amy, and Rory are hiding behind a newspaper and let out a collective (and highly unconvincing) “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!” then scatter.
Then we meet Mels. Mels, Mels, Mels. I don’t really even know where to begin with her except… why? Why go that route with her? She’s over the top, obnoxious, and only exists as a River Song plot device. The Doctor even makes light of the fact that no one has ever mentioned her or seen her before now (after uttering the God-awful and uncharacteristic “Doctor very lost” lines… really Moffat? What the Hell?). Mels then proceeds to point a gun at the Doctor, who again makes a goofy uncharacteristic face, as he meekly asks where she wants to go… To Nazi Germany, of course! The titles roll and for some reason we find ourselves watching a series of flashbacks chronicling Mels’ and Amy’s “friendship” since childhood (which again has NEVER been mentioned up until this point)… essentially Mels has always been obsessed with the Doctor and breaking the law, but I’m really not sure why we needed to know that since it was pretty obvious from the get go. But anyway…
So here we are in Nazi Germany and the Tardis crashes into Hitler’s office (thanks to Mels who shot it for some reason because the Doctor lied to her about some technobabble?) and they inadvertently save his life by knocking over the Teselecta. This leads to highlight of the episode: Rory punching Hitler in the face and putting him in the closet.
Before he can do that, however, Hitler fires off some shots and hits Mels, who reveals that she is Melody Pond after the Doctor proposes to her for some reason. She then begins to regenerate and finally shows up in the body of River Song, thus mostly unravelling the mystery of the character set up years ago in Silence in the Library. After bouncing around and “exploring” her new body, she asks about River Song and the Doctor (again, with a goofy face and odd inflection in his voice) replies “spoilers”. Afterwards a battle of wits involving a banana between Melody and the Doctor ensues until finally she kisses him on the lips. It turns out that the kiss somehow administered Time Lord killing poison that only kills the Doctor but not Melody even though she is also kind of a Time Lord but not really. Then she jumps out the window and kills some Nazis (which was admittedly was pretty cool). This is roughly the halfway point of the episode and it picks up from here.
It’s almost as if they wrote and shot the second half, took a few months off, then wrote and shot the first half and edited the two together. But the first half is damn near unwatchable as far as Doctor Who goes and it seems just so out of sync with the rest of the series. I’m not sure what happened but as soon as The Doctor starts dying the episode didn’t miss a beat. The Melody Pond character was still awful until she “transformed” into River, but at least Matt Smith recovered and started playing the Doctor we know and love instead of what seemed like a poorly done fan film that was the first half of the episode. However despite the relevance to series, “Let’s Kill Hitler” still ushered in a mostly mediocre finish to Series 6 and start of Series 7 which is strange because Series 5 and the first half of Series 6 were so strong. That said, “Let’s Kill Hitler” was pivotal in setting up “The Wedding of River Song” and it does pose some interesting questions as to the future of the Doctor which, rumor has it, will be directly answered in “The Time of the Doctor” Christmas special (http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/matt-smith-is-final-doctor-56627.htm). For instance, we are to believe that the Doctor can regenerate from absorbing the Time Vortex or a blast from a Dalek laser beam but not a simple poison? Could Moffat have been implying way back in Series 6 that he was out of regenerations? Is that the reason why the Silence is just now trying to kill him? Is that why in each of the 11th Doctors seasons he has gone to great lengths to fake or prevent his death? We will find out soon enough!**
“Let’s Kill Hitler” will always be the episode that, for me, was the biggest let down of the entire NuWho series for its horribly campy, uncharacteristic beginning and its heralding of the Great Moffat Slump. Sure there were a few great episodes after it (my favorite comes in this time period!) but things really didn’t pick up until very close to “The Day of the Doctor”. Hopefully Moffat gets back to his tempered self with Capaldi’s run, but as much as I loved Matt Smith’s Doctor most of the writing toward the end absolutely hamstrung him. It needs to get back to being your favorite beer and not Coors Light.
** Update post Christmas Special! It appears the rumors were correct and Time of the Doctor mostly cleared everything up. I very much enjoyed the special and I am very much looking forward to Capaldi. Hopefully we will have a legit write up of it soon.