Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor has come to a close on “Doctor Who,” so it seems only fitting to look back on some of his best moments. Zap2it’s resident Whovians are selecting their favorite 11th Doctor episodes to take a look at exactly why they’re so important, not only to Smith’s portrayal of the role but for the show’s legacy.
Sure, you can make the argument that “Let’s Kill Hilter,” the eighth episode of Season 6, is a River Song/Alex Kingston tour de force, and you’d be right. We’d already seen an older and wiser River before, and so watching Melody’s regeneration into the “ohmigosh” face we’d come to know as River (even if she doesn’t at first, and the Doctor, Amy, and Rory are left speechless) was brilliant… “you named your daughter… after your daughter.”
You need to be good to play against Alex Kingston and that kind of plot twist, and Matt Smith‘s Doctor was indeed good.
Immediately after Mels/River’s regeneration, while she’s checking her teeth and hair, he’s like a newborn colt, surprised into silence, trying to hold his legs and arms comfortably, and failing.
But he regains his composure quickly.
Their back-and-forth, guns, letter opener, bananas and lipstick banter, literally dancing around each other, sets a tone for the long and complicated relationship between the Doctor and the woman who would eventually become his almost-equal and wife, and Matt Smith does it wonderfully. He’s attracted to her yet freaked out at the same time. He’s up for the challenge. He’s ready.
And then River’s quick little flirty kiss turns deadly — Judas Tree-poisoned lipstick is the Doctor’s undoing. For the last half of the episode, Matt Smith slowly dies, coming to terms with the fact that he may indeed be killed by River Song. He searches for a face to comfort him inside of the TARDIS, and little Amelia Pond tells him he will die. And he does indeed die, in white tie, only to be saved by River’s remaining regenerations, because he is so very worth it, and the stage is set for their lasting attachment and heartbreaking partnership, and again, death at the unwilling hand of River Song.
Why does this episode stand out as a favorite? Because Matt Smith was playing the joker and the victim (a role the Doctor doesn’t usually play.) He was funny and touching, witty and charismatic, but with a quiet, underlying sadness when he realizes he may have actually been undone by a kiss. He lives on, though, saved by River, only to be undone by River again and again.
So we’ll miss the Matt Smith/Alex Kingston complicated chemistry, as Matt moves on from “Doctor Who.” It was a fun three seasons.
We love this flirty fan-made video… enjoy.