After the first half of series six left us mulling over the reveal of River Song being the daughter of Amy and Rory, “Let’s Kill Hitler” was one of the most eagerly anticipated episodes of Doctor Who. If you look at his tenure, Steven Moffat was doing a brilliant job up until then. Series five was a hit and series six started off in epic fashion with the Doctor’s apparent death at Lake Silencio. When the series returned though for its second half, Moffat began to lose control and this episode perfectly encapsulated all of Moffat’s failings as head writer.
Series five’s finale “The Big Bang” showcased Moffat’s ability to write a good story that followed more than one time period. We already knew he was good at that after “Blink” but the finale really confirmed his talents. However he seemed to get a bit lost in his own plots as he went on and “Let’s Kill Hitler” was the beginning of his slump as head writer. We saw Amy and Rory’s childhood friend Mel regenerate into River and Alex Kingston then give perhaps her most irritating performance on the show. This is largely down to the way Moffat wrote her though. It was confusing as the Doctor knew she was trained and brought up to be his murderer, so why was she so unbearably flirtatious? It was horrible to watch and made me cringe as she continued to tease and include innuendos in almost every sentence that she spoke. As Doctor Who is prodominately a kids’ show, Moffat’s continual desire to include sexual references was really off putting and this episode was when it began to overshadow the rest of the episode negatively. It began a trend of Moffat stereotyping his female characters as annoying and overly flirtatious, something that’s continued throughout the last few series. Osgood was a welcome change to the usual Moffat girl, but even then there’s a clear way in which he writes female characters that doesn’t suit the show or fairly represent women.
Another pitfall of Moffat’s is misleading and strange episode titles. Throughout his tenure, the show has been littered with episode where the title doesn’t match the story. Although this isn’t a major issue, it’s certainly strange. “The Magician’s Apprentice”, “The Bells of St John” and firstly “Let’s Kill Hitler” all had episode title that didn’t conform with the story. “Let’s Kill Hitler” was set in Nazi Germany, yes, but Adolf Hitler was in it for about two minutes and other than a throwaway line from Mel back on Earth, nothing any character said or intended to do was related to killing or harming the Fuhrer. It just seems odd Moffat would name episodes like this. It’s almost as if he does it to make more people watch it. This probably works against him though as viewers who tuned in because of the title will feel let down at what they saw and most hardcore fans don’t really care anyway. The episode would’ve been much better served to be titled something to do with River’s regeneration or the Doctor’s potential death.
The humour in this episode, or the attempted humour I should say also stood out. Some episodes Moffat has written have been genuinely funny, but some are just plain grim. This one goes in the grim category. Moffat was so determined to make fun of his home nation Scotland, when the Doctor was talking to the TARDIS interface, it took me out of the scene. Again, this is a kids’ show and although they may not understand a lot of humour, some of it has to pander to them. Even so, the stuff that was included just plainly wasn’t funny to anyone of any age.
Finally, it was the start of the demise of series six. We found out in this episode that River was in jail for killing the Doctor which took most of the mystery out of the rest of the series. After such a promising start with so many unanswered questions, Moffat answered them all too early, leaving the rest of the series to fall a bit flat. This a problem that the writer has had throughout his run, as series finales sometimes are a bit anticlimactic. Story arcs also could be panned out for a bit longer. We maybe didn’t need to know who Clara was for a little longer. The mystery surrounding her character was intriguing but cut short at a time when the War Doctor took centre stage and we all forgot who the “Impossible Girl” was. “Let’s Kill Hitler” is the standout example of this though. We didn’t need to know River killed the Doctor. It would have made the finale more intense and more impactful when we saw her in the spacesuit kill the Doctor.
Overall “Let’s Kill Hitler” is one of the worst episodes in Moffat’s era. It is so poorly planned and scripted to the point of severe annoyance when viewing. It sums up most of Moffat’s failings and although I think he’s done a solid job as showrunner, it is episodes like this that infuriate fans and really bring his reign down a few levels.