In my Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead rewatch post I ran out of space to discuss the ending of Forest of the Dead, which even now, eight years after transmission is still causing arguments – even if it is just between my friends. Despite the fact the story was first shown all those years ago it would be unfair if I didn’t quote River Song and point out there will be spoilers below the break!
What Happens at the End?
Before we get into the discussion about the issues in the ending let’s look at what happened thanks to the BBC’s official Doctor Who Youtube channel
Sadly the clip finishes just before the controversial bit. What follows River‘s hand on her diary is the camera pulling back to reveal she is reading to three children, CAL – arguably the most important in this story – and the two children Donna looked after while she was in the Library. She kisses one of them goodnight – I think it is CAL but I can’t be sure – and switches off the light before she leaves the room.
What is the Issue?
a care-giver to three little kids
Many found this a betrayal of River Song‘s character who, at no point in the previous 85 minutes or so, showed any interest in children. It also re-enforces the concept that for a woman to be complete she want to care for children. While I agree with these concerns I don’t feel this is fair in this situation. My reasons for this is two fold.
First of all, an adult reading a child(ren) a story doesn’t automatically make that adult chief care-giver. They could be aunt/uncle or a family friend or anything really. To me River Song is the ultimate cool auntie – just don’t leave her alone with the kids when she is one of her less moral quests!
The second reason is more important. Doctor Who is a family show which means children watch. As I said above, earlier in the episode the viewers have seen Donna with two children Josh and Ella. However, when she discovers they aren’t real they disappear in a bright white light. I think the makers of Doctor Who would worry the younger members of the audience watching the show would be scared that Josh and Ella had died and/or lost their mum. This ending reveals that all the virtual reality children are alive and well.
Interestingly I’d missed remember the ending of this Episode. I thought River Song had finished her ‘story’ in the same green area where she first appears in the virtual reality environment. Not only were her old team there but also she was holding the children’s hands as well.