Wow, has it been a long time since I’ve updated this site.
Also been a long time since I’ve watched Doctor Who, thanks to my work schedule and the fact that it’s not on Netflix. A marathon binge is in order, though at this point I might just wait until Peter Capaldi’s episodes are on their own DVD/BluRay collection to match my David Tennant and Matt Smith sets. But I digress.
Anyway, I had a random thought about River Song’s knowledge of the Doctor’s many faces, and though I’m sure someone else has already mentioned it somewhere, I thought I’d try working out the notion myself.
According to the 2016 Christmas episode, The Husbands of River Song, River didn’t recognize Capaldi’s Doctor because she knew “all” his faces and knew he could only regenerate so many times. Because she didn’t know he had a new set of regenaterions, presumably didn’t know he could even get a new set.
The knee-jerk reaction–my reaction, at least–since Capaldi’s Doctor is the first of a new set of regenerations, is to assume she’s familiar with all of the Doctors we’ve seen.
But that reaction only lasts until we examine those regenerations.
Does she know, for instance, that David Tennant’s Doctor once regenerated while keeping the same face?
Given the circumstances of his entire existence, has she ever seen the War Doctor?
For that matter, had she ever even encountered Tennant’s Doctor prior to the Library episodes?
That gives us two, potentially three, regenerations River might know nothing about, making it possible for her to work with the Doctor in later episodes with regenerations we’ve yet to see.
Further, there is the matter of older regenerations.
If we take the video games as canon (Eternity Clock), we know that River has at least encountered William Hartnell’s Doctor and knew him as such, but how many of the others has she really seen?
I haven’t played the games yet (I own one that’s since been removed from Steam–Adventure Games, if I remember right–but I haven’t gotten my hands on the other that has also been removed from Steam 😦 ), so I honestly don’t know the answer to this. I also don’t remember if the TV show ever gave us pictures confirming which regenerations River already recognized, though there are only a couple of areas (Husbands and Library) where such pictures would be relevant thus far.
The Library marks the last time River and the Doctor met from River’s perspective (the “saved” version in The Name of the Doctor besides the point), but canonically speaking, there is nothing I have seen to confirm that Husbands is the last time they can ever meet from the Doctor’s perspective. They do tend to meet out of order, after all.
Only time, and the various creators, can tell for certain.
But in the meantime, to make this more of a fanfic “prompt,” what sort of meeting do various fans anticipate? Which Doctor(s) might River meet in our future?
For that matter, do we know for sure that River’s only had three regenarations (could there have been someone between the little girl and Mel? or–doubtful, considering the Silence’s control of her–even before the little girl?)? What might she look like if she met the Doctor in a later episode?
How would such a meeting go? How would she react to the Doctor… or the Doctor to her? How would she and the Doctor’s companion react to each other, particularly once her identity is revealed?