'Doctor Who': Matt Smith talks the season premiere's big surprise

Dr-Who-Smith

Image Credit: BBC

Tonight’s Doctor Who season premiere was not short on incident (and if you’re a Whovian who hasn’t seen the episode yet, may I suggest you do so before reading any further — SPOILERS AHEAD). But the most heart(s)-wrenching moment came early on when Matt Smith’s titular time traveler was killed by a mysterious, astronaut suit-wearing figure. True, it was almost immediately revealed that the dead Doc was a future version of the Time Lord, but the event was still pretty darned noteworthy and looks set to have dramatic ramifications for future episodes.

EW spoke with Smith about the “death” of Doctor Who — here are his thoughts:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like to read the scene in which your character died?
MATT SMITH: [Laughs] Well, as with every actor in a long running series, I guess you go through a mixture of fear and intrigue. But then he came back really soon, so that was very exciting.

Were there a few post-demise pages where you were like…
“Oh no, what happened? What have I done?” But I think it’s really bold storytelling, to kill off a main character early on, especially that character. It’s the sort of territory we want to be investigating dramatically.

The episode suggested that you will be the last person to play the Doctor.
Really? Okay. [Laughs]

Will the “dead Doctor” plot line be resolved this season?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Totally.

Okay, now it’s over to you. What did you think about tonight’s episode? About the Doctor’s “death”? The return of River Song? The Silence? Amy Pond’s big news? The introduction of Mark Sheppard’s FBI agent? And of a certain Richard Milhous Nixon?

Read more:
‘Doctor Who’ exec producer and head writer Steven Moffat on the show’s return
‘Doctor Who’ cast members Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill preview the new season: ‘A main character will die in the first episode’
‘Doctor Who’: Alex Kingston talks playing River Song, and whether she’d ever pose naked with a Dalek
Elisabeth Sladen: An appreciation of the ‘Doctor Who’ actress

Comments (183 total) Add your comment
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  • Anya

    After weeks of spoiler declaring a main character will die, they still surprised me. I was NOT expecting the Doctor to die in the first 10 minutes of the episode. Fellow whovians have been speculating as to who would die and they were all dismissed: we already know when River will die, Amy still has the season to play out so it couldn’t be her, Rory just made series regular status and it would suck beyond all imagining to have him die AGAIN! and The Doctor is The Doctor. He’s not gonna die!

    They came out of left field with that and punch me on my butt! Now we just got to figure out who the astronaut is. Somehow I dont see the little girl pulling the trigger. I vote River.

    • SteveStrifeX

      It’s a good theory, I’d like to add some thoughts to it. The series has alluded to River Song being the one that kills the doctor She mentions she’s in jail for killing a really great man (Can’t remember the exact quote atm). But that would mean that River remembers killing the Doctor, so why would she be surprised at seeing a Spaceman walk out of the lake if it was her? Though, if we are to assume it’s someone we know (the Doctor knows who it is), River would be my first guess, but it just doesn’t fit as well as I’d like

      • Casey

        I believe River said she killed “the best man she had ever known”. I immediately thought that it was River too, because of the spacesuit. But if it had been her, I think she would’ve looked guilty as well as shocked, seeing as she’d know exactly who did it. So yeah, it just doesn’t add up. I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty shocked that the Doctor died. I had seen the picture of him regenerating before the episode, but I thought it was another fakeout. It was upsetting, to say the least.

      • Val

        Also, I thought they discussed that she was put in the Storm Cage for killing a man, the greatest man she had ever known. If it was a past River- she would remember, if it was a future River- she wouldn’t have already been imprisoned.

      • Tory

        i agree. theres a ton of evidencec pointing to river killing him. shes killed “the most important man shes ever known” in her past, and her past is the Doctor’s Future. and i also have a theory about amy and the girl. amy’s pregnant, and im going to take a leap of faith and say that her daughter is the girl in the space suit, and if the girl in the space suit is what killed the Doctor, and River killed the Doctor, then they are one and the same. River is the future version of Amy’s child…. i know its a little far stretched, but then again, what about the show isnt

      • SteveStrifeX

        Interesting idea Tory, I like it. But again, if River is the girl in the spacesuit, then why wouldn’t she remember that moment? The idea that River is Amy’s daughter though, that’s an interesting idea (While the last names don’t match, Pond River could be a hint)

      • Scott

        I think the Amy pregnancy is a red herring. Amy was drinking wine at the beginning of the episode. This is odd behavior for someone that knows they are pregnant. Furthermore, the dizziness and apparent nausea were also experienced by River in the tunnels. I think the creatures (Silence?), implanted that idea in Amy’s mind in place of telling the doctor that he died. However, interesting idea that River is Amy’s daughter.

      • SteveStrifeX

        Ah good catch Scott, I didn’t think about that (with the wine, and River feeling the same way). There is something linked to Amy being “pregnant,” the aliens, and the child in the spacesuit. Grrr, have to wait another week for some closure

      • Scott

        I think it would be humorous if River emerges from the tunnels proclaiming that she is pregnant to the Doctor. If the creatures have the ability to influence thought and made Amy believe she was pregnant, it would be funny if the same happened to River. Who knows what poor Rory would say.

      • LTC

        River did seem surprised at first and then when the shots were not hitting the mark, it seemed that she remembered something, something bad/sad, and she sort of understood why they didn’t hit the spacesuit person.

      • JLC

        How about this idea. The “Doctor” that died was actually the Master, who took over the Doctor’s body. The “Doctor” was so much older because he was actually another Time Lord, the Master. River is in the astronaut suit and killed “the greatest man she’s ever known,” the Master.

      • CLM

        Scott, The red wine thing isn’t necessarily indiciative. I think the wine is a differenc in our cultures. In the UK, a glass of wine for a pregnant woman isn’t considered a big deal (drinking hard alcohol on the other hand is a different story.)

      • Chris

        The girl in the suit isn’t River, I think it’s Jenny (from the Doctor’s Daughter). Maybe a clone, since she’s a little girl, and not grown up. Moffat said she was coming back at some point, and with everyone so fixated on who shot the Doctor and River’s identity, it would be a big swerve to bring in Jenny like that.

      • foosion

        River said she killed the best man she had ever known in Flesh & Stone (two part weeping angel story last season), with the very heavy implication it was the Doctor. Other dialog from that episode supports the theory.

        On the other hand, as noted, she’d have remembered killing the Doctor as an astronaut.

        So it doesn’t make sense if it was her and doesn’t make sense if it wasn’t.

      • Barbara Luther

        I love how Tory hit it dead on…

    • AB

      No love for Matt Smith? He acted that scene beautifully. He fully embodied the Doctor at that moment (David who?? LOL).
      Anyone think that it might be the Doctor in the space suit, from yet a different point in the time continuum?

      • SteveStrifeX

        Could be; but why would he say “I know it’s you.” The line was more directed to someone trying to hide their identity from the Doctor, and past Doctor wouldn’t even bother hiding it from future Doctor. I’m hoping that we didn’t actually see the end of the Doctor at that point, but something in the timeline will shift and that moment never happens. I know it’s supposed to be 200(ish) years later in the Doctor’s timeline, but still, I’d rather that not happen

      • Orac

        Please, no. Not the Valeyard again… LOL!

      • foosion

        My immediate thought was that it was either the Doctor or River Song. Later thought was Amy’s daughter.

  • deedeedragons

    Really intriguing story to open the series with, why is the little girl IN the spacesuit? The Aliens where very good & creepy & i know it has nothing to do with Who but i’m pretty sure The Simpsons Milhouse is named after Nixon.

    • buffyluva

      duh about the milhouse reference. welcome to 1990.

  • cynthia

    Loved it! Although, I think they need to also resolve the RiverSong plotline as well. It has been going on for a while and it is hard to keep track of the mythology – much like how the X-Files dragged it out too long. I love Mark Sheppard! Glad to see him back after Supernatural. He’s a lot of fun!

    • Dan

      Not really. She’s been on the show for ONE full season. She guest starred in a two parter before that 2 years ago that seems like forever ago. River is BRAND new… just like Amy. They need to “resolve” River as much as they need to “resolve” Amy. This is the fun of her story and her character… and rubbish to you for comparing it to XFiles.

      • Brett

        They need to “resolve” her story for two reasons – it’s ceased to be interesting, and I’m tired of hearing Alex Kingston say, “Spoilers….”

    • Flip

      Agreed. River needs to go away, stat! I’ve hated her since her first appearance in Season 4.

      • Caitie F

        Agreed. I am over her story. I am also over Amy (my least favorite companion ever) and Matt Smith. There is no way he is the last doctor…didn’t he say he would only do two seasons?

        If it wasn’t for the great writing, I would not look forward to Doctor Who Saturdays

      • Brett

        I can’t believe they’d end the series on the 11th Doctor – there are two more incarnations to go…..

      • matt

        it would suck to end on the 11th doctor. i read up on the classic. and i so want to see the doctor turn into the valeyard.

      • Thalia

        I believe Matt Smith said in an interview that he would like to be around until at least the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who – which would be 2013.

      • Laura

        The spring cliffhanger is the revelation of who River is, so you don’t need to wait long.

      • AM

        I’m glad I’m not the only one that doesn’t care for River. I liked her way back when, but now I think her story is too convoluted and doesn’t make a lot of sense. Plus it really creeps me out to see her and Matt Smith flirt! Amy is pretty annoying too. She over acts everything. And something about her nails totally bug. Rory should be the companion. His dynamic with the Doctor is my favorite.

    • foosion

      Steve Moffat explicitly said they’d resolve River Song this season.

    • Zhombied

      Supposedly everything is revealed in episode 7.

  • Mikaylah

    Amazing episode. Matt Smith is fast becoming my favorite Doctor. He goes from playful to soulful in seconds. I also love Amy, and am kind of worried about how her “big news” is going to affect the show.

    • Maria

      Yeah, I agree. I love Amy, love her and Rory together, but am a bit disappointed that they’ve chosen to go this cliche oh-they-just-got-married-well-we-all-know-what-the-immediate-next-step-is! route. Because that sort of “big news” is kind of a “big deal” and really cuts down on the amount of running-away-from-scary-things potential.

      • Mikaylah

        Yeah, because either she isn’t really pregnant (which seems weird then to even add it), or she loses the baby (sad), or she has a baby and then what? Sure, I can imagine Rory being the stay at home dad while mom is off with the Doctor but would Amy even do that? Would the Doctor let her? I love Amy as his companion, and Rory, so I am holding out hope there is another alternative.

      • Chelsea

        Yep, I agree with all of you. I don’t think there’s a place on canvas for a baby right now, if ever honestly. Is the kid going to come along on the Tardis, lol? I like things the way they are now! I hope there’s another explanation for Amy feeling ill, but what?

      • mscisluv

        When Amy first was feeling sick, I immediately thought that she must be pregnant. But then didn’t River feel sick later (after seeing the aliens) as well?

      • Ryan

        This just sounds like a safe way to replace Amy at the end of the season, with her staying home with her newborn baby.

      • Shawn

        Maybe she’s not really pregnant, maybe The Silents put that thought into her or something to forget about them or something. Just a thought, probably aint true.

    • Flip

      I’m still shipping the Doctor and Amy. I like my companions to have romantic feelings for the Doctor (Rose and Martha for example) and vice versa.

      • Chelsea

        I admit, so am I. Still, I LOVE Rory and I don’t feasibly know how anything could happen between the Doctor and Amy without it killing him.

      • AB

        Well, ain’t gonna happen. Get over it.

      • Alicia

        Before Catherine Tate, I would have said that the Doctor/Companion love interest was a requirement. After her, I prefer it not to be. Especially when the companion is married to another guy! When Amy tried to seduce the Doctor I just went “NOT AGAIN! NOT ANOTHER ONE!” Last season was establishing Amy/Doctor as something that’s there but (on the Doctor’s end) NOT going to happen. Then they established Amy/Rory because, let’s be honest, we were all thinking “my god, why is he even WITH her?!” Now they have to figure out how the triangle will work without it being awkward. Because it totally is right now.

        The real question with Rory/pregnancy I think we’re all asking here is can a companion move on in life and still be a companion? Martha didn’t think so. But maybe Amy can. She’ll try really hard, at least.

      • Carla in Houston

        No way Amy and the Doctor can be together. Rory waited outside of the pandorica for Amy for 1000 years or something. I know that was a robot version of him, but it was still him. No way they write that into the plot and then have Amy have feelings for the Doctor. No way.

    • CNJ

      I liked how the Doctor said “lets go” to 1969 by giving all the info on when and where, and then stopped midway to say “No Way am I just going to go when you are hiding something”. He hides things all the time. Yet he doesnt trust River and Amy has to convince him to go without knowing what is going on. Crazy back and forth there. But was done well. I need to see what happens.

      • Doctor Who Fan

        that was my favorite scean Matt did an awsome job when he was telling River he didn’t trust her.

  • LK

    I think they’ve been giving out clues that River kills the Doctor throughout her character’s storyline unless they were just throwing out a bunch of red herrings. Also, that astronaut suit — River Song first appeared in the DW series wearing the same type of suit. And maybe it’s just me, but this whole premier made it appear that Amy Pond is River Song. Those dramatic screen shots of River then moving directly to Amy. I might just be theorizing random BS. In any case, good premier. I’m excited for this season.

    • Mikaylah

      It definitely feels like they’ve been alluding to River having killed the Doctor. She says whoever she killed was the best man she had ever known, and once you know the Doctor who else could you mean? I’m not so sure about the Amy/River theory, but they did set up a lot of parallels between them in this episode.

      • izzy

        I’m with you. River & Amy can’t be the same person nor River is Amy’s daughter. River is from the 51st century same as Captain Jack! As for who River really is we will find out in episode 7, I’m guessing the consequences/fallout is the mid season clifthanger. If it is River who kill the Doctor then it make her sacrificial death more like guilt. I love River, I really hope her storyline won’t be so anti-climate.

    • AM

      I’m on the fence about River being the one to kill the Doctor.
      Points for the theory:)
      1. River IS in a suit like that in season 4
      2. River’s time line is opposite the Doctor’s.
      3. River is in jail for killing the best man she has ever known.
      Points against the theory:
      1. She doesn’t seem to know what is going on in the episode. She should remember.
      2. The astronaut walks away. We don’t see an arrest.

    • foosion

      She was wearing a very different space suit in Silence in the Library.

      Her being the astronaut is too obvious

  • Richard Hopkins

    As for a main character dying during the season , it just happened … The Doctor did die , so that tease has been filled .

  • jh

    what if River is Amy’s future daughter? River kills the the Doctor because of something that happened to Amy while she was with him? OR same idea- but, River kills him because rather than give up life with the Doctor- they give River up for adoption (or leave her on some planet) and River is a wee bit bitter about it?

    • GimplyGump ☺

      heh, I didn’t read this far down when I posted. ☺☻☺

    • Sharlin

      River is too far from the future to be Amy’s daughter. I think River is from the same century as Captain Jack.

      • GimplyGump ☺

        That was why I said the baby was left (kidnapped, sick only future meds could handke, etc) in the future.

      • Dreamrose

        There is no conclusive proof that River Song is native to the 51st Century. She’s a time traveler, after all. We’ve seen River in the 51st Century, the 52nd, the 21st, and 2nd, all apparently on her own power. We just don’t know.

    • Edilio

      MY FAV LINES OF EACH PERSONAMY:because its my husband my skirt and your glass floor (and) Ok kids this is where it gets caplmicotedDOCTOR:oh RORY!! XP (and) ive apsolultely no ideaRORY:an unexpected house (and) SHE CHEATED she wore a skirt!

  • JLC

    It may just be me, but I think this episode put to rest the “River kills the Doctor” theory. River admitted as much when she talked to Rory in the catacombs. She definitely does something that will put her at odds with the Doctor. But I don’t think that’s it (and it seemed a bit obvious to me anyway, particularly with Steven M. involved)

  • MSH

    My theory is that River is the Doctor’s clone/daughter. I agree that River will ‘kill’ one of the Doctors and get sent to prison for the crime. However, we know that Time Lords rarely stay ‘dead’, so I can see a plot line that allows the Doctor to work behind the scenes (saving the day) while River is on trial and serving her time.

    What a great casting ‘get’ for Mark and William Sheppard to play the same character 40+ years apart.

    I wonder if Amy is going to have an alien baby. The aliens introduced with this episode aren’t remembered when you aren’t looking at them, so it is possible for them to ‘take advantage’ of Amy without her remembering it.

    • Carla in Houston

      River is NOT the Doctor’s clone/daughter. She flirts with him and calls him “sweetie”. That would be just gross!

  • Rusty

    IF the Doctor is really dead as number Eleven, then where does the Valeyard come in? Or do the fans of the new series dismiss anything from the Classic series?

    • steve c.

      And, there are now two ancient races living under the earth? (Lizard episode, remember?)

      • Brett

        Pretty crowded down there.

      • Orac

        More than two if you go back far enough in Who history.

      • Bruce

        They’re called Silurians.

    • Amber

      I’m hoping that he’s not really dead, because that would mean the end of Dr who when Matt Smith decides to stop. I don’t think they’d do that. I kind of don’t think they have the right to do that.

  • Sharlin

    This version of the doctor is definately not the last since River alludes that the Doctor regenerates to another version she knows.

    • Nicole

      I thought she was alluding to the 10th doctor when she meets him for his 1st time and he doesn’t know her. She said something about how it would kill her to know when she meets him that he won’t know her.

      • Sharlin

        She has seen the Doctor in other regenerations in the future besides 10 and 11. She told 11 that she only kisses him when he looks older. Obviously, she never kissed 10. So it’s probably the 12th version or beyond (if he can break the Time Lord rule of 12 regenerations)

      • Julia

        Yes, but could she have meant older as in years or older in regenerations? We can’t really say.

      • orville

        I think she gauges his “age” by looking into his eyes. She’s done that on more than one occasion.

      • Carla in Houston

        If you recall, when she meets number 10 the first thing she said was “you look so YOUNG”. So she obviously has met some older version before she meets either 10 or 11.

    • Brett

      When River persuaded the 10th Doctor that she knew him, she whispered something to him that he would only ever tell to one person. How does that figure into everyone’s theorizing?

      • mscisluv

        She whispered the Doctor’s real name, which he said he could only tell one person…

      • AB

        she knows his name, isn’t that it?

  • Alice

    My favorite line from the episode is the Storm Cage guard. “You better get down here, she’s doing it again. Dr. Song, she’s…packing.”

    • Susan

      That was my favorite line, too! I was still laughing about it the next day. Brilliant!

  • John

    It was a great episode. The best line was when Delaware told Nixon. “You were my second choice for president.” Ha, ha, ha!

    I think whoever killed the Doctor was not one of the people gathered by the lake. It had to be someone else and it has to be something that the Doctor planned as a way of keeping himself alive rather than of actually dying, so let’s see what happens… I think River killing him is too obvious, but I suspect that maybe she kills Rory or something like that. Maybe River is Rory and Amy’s child? Amy is a Pond and River a river. The doctor died at a lake. Water everywhere!

    • GimplyGump ☺

      Maybe it was the Doctor himself … a future version. He might not be dead but placed in a “coma” that mimmicks death.

      • kh

        That’s immediately what I thought, that it was the Doctor himself, a future-future Doctor, that’s why he stopped the regenerate process.

      • Kristina

        We saw them burn the body though, it can’t be a coma.

      • Carla in Houston

        We saw them burn the Master also, but he came back……

    • Ariel

      -”That big logo makes them so tacky and cheesy. First time you have poetsd something I don’t like. If I had to choose I would go with the grey. You can’t do white cloth shoes in this city.”

  • steve

    It was the Doctor himself in the spacesuit, killing himself. It’s that whole “interfering in his own time-line” thing. Did you people not watch the episode at all?

    • db

      The interference with his time line comes from the Doctor communicating with his past self and bringing him into a matter his future self is involved in. The matter of the astronaut’s identity is not at all established. The person in the astronaut suit could be the Doctor. It could be someone else. We don’t know for certain yet. In fact the astronaut’s identity is bound to be one of the elements of the season’s overarching mystery. So any snarky comments on your part about other people not paying attention to the episode are unwarrented.

      • Jeremy

        The scene with the astronaut reminds me of the scene with the Watcher in Logopolis (4th Doctor)–so I suspect the Doctor is the astronaut. Which would mean the Doctor killed a version of himself. Misdirection, much like he did in the Big Bang, tricking Amy and Rory into giving him an opportunity to wire himself into the Pandorica.

        Just my interpretation, of course; doubtless it will turn out completely differently.

      • Chris

        Great catch on the Logopolis part, Jeremy. I was thinking that myself when I saw it.

    • AB

      stuff it, steve

  • Me

    Wondering if the child Amy is pregnant with is River…

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