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Like Mother, Like Daughter

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5x05: “Octavian said you killed a man.”/6x13: ”I killed someone.”

Amy’s gaze on River when she suspects her of doing harm or witnesses her being evil is of disgust and failure to understand. Whether it is before or after Demon’s Run.

River’s guilt stems from that look. If you put aside the few weeks they spent together at Demon’s Run, her mother levelled a gun at River before she even laid eyes on her. Of course, none of them knew who the other was at the time Amy aimed at little Melody, but River was always and from the beginning confronted to Amy Pond,  judgment death machine, her mother. Amy loathes killing -like every companion-, and River is a killer. As a consequence her first reaction to River on many occasions is of disgust, bafflement, distrust. Amy doesn’t get evil, at that point: why would someone kill the Doctor, why a child would, why would River keep Melody away from her, why would she be killing the Doctor? And in LKH, it’s still the Doctor who reminds the Ponds that their daughter is about to be given hell. At some point, she thought River deserved to be condemned for her act. Because River is Mels who cannot behave like a “normal legal person”.

 

AMY: Yeah, but I can remember it, so it happened, so I did it.

By the time River has truly become River for Amy, Amy is fully aware of the situation: Melody was brainwashed and sacrificed herself for the Doctor, and River did not want to kill the Doctor, risking the Universe for him. She never did kill him. But the memory remains. River is very much her mother’s daughter in that case. As far as she’s concerned, she killed the Doctor, twice; Amy killed Kovarian. Even if Kovarian and the Doctor are alive and well, Amy and River both consider the killing as an act impairing their being, despite the fortunate outcome. Intent amounts to acting out.

 

AMY: What does that make me now?

River has been often mirrored by monsters, and Amy, going by her reaction to River as a killer, a trickster, accepts the label for herself and acknowledges that connection between them –River Song didn’t take it all from Kovarian after all. It’s a difficult realisation, because she remembers how she reacted to River being a killer, to River doing harm. River doesn’t answer, she cannot yet –has she ever reached self-forgiveness? I doubt it. Amelia judgement death machine happened again and again. And River Song doesn’t know what it makes her.

 

RIVER: If you could talk to him, would it make a difference?

Amy seeks the Doctor’s help. River hesitates, not because the Doctor defying death is a secret he entrusted her with, but because she was in her mother’s shoes, moments ago for her, on the beach. In area 52, the Doctor gave her absolution –always and completely- and years after Silencio Lake she still hasn’t forgiven herself –her face before the Byzantium as she said “A very good man” speaks volume. Another person, even as loved and respected as the Doctor, both by Amy and River, cannot truly provide peace of mind if she isn’t ready to forgive herself.  River knows it; he is a wizard after all. He is handling River with sleight of hands: he offered her the comfort of absolution always and completely because he remembers River’s face on the beach. Would Amy discuss Kovarian’s death with the Doctor, he would come up with the same answer as River –the aborted timeline. Probably, he would add Amy is not a killer. Sleight of hands, again. Because Amy is like River, and intent amounts to acting out.

Amy reaches out for the Doctor, not River, because at that point, she does not need words of advice from her mirror. It’s a game of reflection and guilt River only manages to break by offering her trust –the Doctor’s trick- and her love –visiting her mum. But, and contrary to all the other times, not with answers.