Doctor Who got off to a marvelously energetic, funny, clever, noble mid-season start on Saturday night with the episode titled “Let’s Kill Hitler.” Resolving the cliffhanger of the seventh episode by, with devilish perversity, raising more questions and introducing more plot lines – shaggy-dog story-telling being part of the series’ enduring charm – Doctor Who jumped across time and space in Steven Moffat’s witty script.
Matt Smith’s Doctor, Karen Gillan’s Amy, and Arthur Darvill’s Rory were all grappling with the mischievous “Mel” who seized a gun and uttered the words that gave the episode its name: “What the hell: Let’s kill Hitler.”
Soon they were in 1938 Berlin, and we encountered the Teselecta, a miniaturized crew in a humanoid-resembling spacecraft on the outside, a Star Trek-like flight deck inside. They could make their outer shell resemble anyone, from a Nazi to Amy. These adventurers on a Fantastic Voyage were enthusiastic comic foils to the more poignant plot about Amy and Rory’s search for their missing child. Adding to this was the return of Alex Kingston, waving her Medusa-like hair around, thoroughly enjoying her torment of both the Who gang and the Nazis with equal relish.
The Hitler come-on proved to be just that: a jape in which Hitler was stuffed into a cupboard and left for the remainder of the episode. (You didn’t really think The Doctor or anyone around him was going to actualy off Hitler and alter history, did you? It’s one of the great sci-fi/speculative fiction notions that must prevail.) The funny thing is (and I mean, truly, funny), “Let’s Kill Hitler” didn’t need Hitler to be an excellent DW episode. That was guaranteed by Kingston’s performance and the ongoing revelation of her character River Song as the daughter of Amy and Rory, the regeneration of the now-dead Melody (“the child of the TARDIS”), of her poison kissing of the Doctor and her subsequent use of her “regenerating” powers to save him.
As usual, Smith, Gillan, and Darvill played their roles with dash, while the show grounds them in some authentic emotion. As much fun as it was to see the morphing of River Song, it does leave Amy and Rory childless, doesn’t it? While the Teselecta got under the skin of various people, the series itself gets under the skin of its main characters, and its audience, in a unique manner that continues to play out.