On the human colony Mendorax Dellora, on Christmas Day 5343, a man named Nardole follows a set of instructions and knocks at the door of the TARDIS, parked in the street. The Doctor opens the door and is less than thrilled when Nardole points out that he’s wearing a pair of fake antlers. Once the Doctor complains to the TARDIS, Nardole asks if the Doctor is a surgeon. Once the Doctor says that it’s close enough, Nardole says that there’s a medical emergency. As the Doctor goes off with Nardole, Nardole says that there is a medical emergency and wonders if the Doctor read the agreement.
Nardole leads the Doctor to a saucer-shaped spacecraft and a woman emerges from the hatch: River Song. She doesn’t recognize the Doctor in her current incarnation, and the Doctor recognizes her. River tells him to forget that he knows her and never use her name. She says that her husband is dying and she needs a surgeon.
Inside the ship, River leads the Doctor and Nardole to her husband: King Hydroflax. She assures him that his soldiers are guarding him and he should take things easy. Hydroflax is a humanoid head attached to a large cyborg body, and four billion people are watching him on TV screens. River tells Hydroflax that he’s her one true love, and admits that she disobeyed him by bringing the finest surgeon in the galaxy against his instructions.
As the people on the screens cheer, River calls the Doctor forward. He refuses to bow, and River calms Hydroflax down before talking to the Doctor in private. She brings up a hologram of Hydroflax’s wound, and points out that there’s a bullet wound in Hydroflax’s head. River explains that the projectile is a diamond. Hydroflax was raiding the Halassi vaults for the Androvar, the most valuable diamond in the universe. An explosion lodged it in his skull. River suggests that the Doctor remove Hydroflax’s head, and admits that the Halassi hired her to recover the diamond. When the Doctor objects, river points out that Hydroflax is the Butcher of Bone Meadows and eats his enemies. The Doctor stalls, says that he needs more information, and River admits that he reminds her... of her second wife.
Hydroflax and his soldiers come in, having overheard them. He says that perhaps she should have just head and removes his head from his own body. River introduces herself and says that she’s going to take back an artifact Hydroflax stole and return it to his innocent victims. The soldiers attack and River fends them off with her sonic trowel. The Doctor grabs Hydroflax’s head and threatens to toss it down the garbage disposal unless the king gets control of his advancing body. The body advances but refuses to disobey its programming and possibly risk the Doctor harming the head. River contacts her pilot, Ramone, tells him to prepare for teleport, and has the Doctor put Hydroflax’s head in her bag. Once they depart, the body vows to find the Doctor and River.
River and the Doctor teleport outside of the saucer. While Ramone resets the calibrations, the Doctor laughs as Hydroflax’s head threatens them. River finally joins in and the Doctor figures that she knows who he is but she’s just pretending. Before he can explain, Ramone arrives and River kisses him. She then introduces him to the Doctor as her husband. Ramone says that he located the TARDIS but has found no sign no one matching the Doctor... based on his previous twelve faces. River says that she deliberately crashed Hydroflax’s ship there because the planet intersected the Doctor’s timeline, but is sure that she knows all of the Doctor’s faces.
The cyborg body questions Nardole, who insists that he knows nothing. He’s glad to tell it anything he knows, and the body says that he will be uploaded. It soon detaches Nardole’s head and attaches it to the head socket on its body. Nardole is less than happy about the situation as the body flies off.
River, Ramone, and the Doctor go to the TARDIS and River explains that she’s going to steal it because she needs time travel. The Doctor tries to object without giving away who he is, but River points out that the Doctor has never noticed when she stole it before. She sends Ramone to their space hopper to meet them later, and orders the Doctor inside with Hydroflax’s head. The Doctor feigns shock at seeing the TARDIS interior for the first time, and River gets him a drink from the private stock. Hydroflax’s head powers down to conserve batteries and emits a homing signal. River tries to dematerialize the TARDIS, and the Doctor suggests that it won’t leave because the door won’t close because it senses that the same life form is inside and outside at the same time.
As Ramone heads for the hopper, Nardole calls to him. Ramone tracks him down by his voice, and finds the body pointing a gun at Nardole’s head. The local begs Ramone to do what the body says.
River suggests that they kill Hydroflax’s head to stop his cyborg body. As the Doctor objects, Hydroflax activates and warns that if he dies then his body will detonate, destroying the planet.
The body tells Ramone that he’s going to take River a message.
Hydroflax explains that his cyborg body contains a stabile black hole. Ramone knocks at the door and barges in... his head attached to the body. It grabs River and prepares to kill her, and the Doctor shuts the door. The TARDIS finally dematerializes and River, breaking free, yells at the Doctor to toss her the head. She catches it in the bag and they run outside... into an expensively-decorated spaceship on a seven-galaxy cruise.
The maitre’d, Flemming, greets River. She asks the alien to deadlock the cargo hold and Flemming agrees. The Doctor and River sit down and she explains that they’re aboard the starship Harmony and Redemption. All of the passengers are dictators and mass-murderers on a planetary scale, and the ticket price is one billion credits and she plans to sell the Androvar.
A concierge tells Flemming that there’s an issue with the deadlocked cargo hold door.
At the dinner table, the Doctor warns that a deadlock seal can be broken. River points out that only a genius can break it, and Hydroflax isn’t. As the Doctor prepares to tell River the truth, a maid comes up and tells River that her guest has arrived and will join her in a few minutes. River is reading her diary, and says that it’s almost full. She explains that the man who gave it to her always knew exactly how long a person would need a diary, and was nothing special... but very useful on occasion.
Flemming goes to the cargo hold door and Ramone calls out on the view screen, saying that he’s the only one in the hold. The concierge confirms that there is only one reading in the hold, and Flemming goes to investigate.
Scratch, the representative of the Shoal of the Winter Harmony, arrives to purchase the Androvar. River demands immediate payment, and Scratch pulls open his head and removes a metal sphere. She hands over Hydroflax’s head and says that he’ll have to dome digging. Scratch suspects that it’s a trick, and everyone turns to reveal that they’re similar aliens. River warns that she’s taken precautions in case of her death, and Scratch okays the payment via the sphere. Before he sees the head, Scratch says that they do it in honor of their king... Hydroflax.
The body takes Flemming hostage, and the alien offers to get the body a head worthy of a king.
Scratch and the other aliens wonder why River is delaying. The Doctor says that they have to check some things and River plays along. They finally hand over the bag without opening it, and Scratch refuses to let them leave. The Doctor takes out the head and starts a fake auction, He activates the head, which screams and the aliens bow. As River and the Doctor leave, the cyborg body comes in. The crew grabs the Doctor and River, and the cyborg informs Hydroflax that he will die in seven minutes. The body says that it needs a new head, and disintegrates Hydroflax’s head. As everyone stares at the diamond sitting among the ashes, Flemming takes River’s diary and says that it’s the guide to the Doctor’s head.
Flemming reads through the diary and says that River is the known consort of the Doctor. It “uploads” Nardole’s head, and he confirms that River is known to the Doctor. River says that she has no idea where the Doctor is, and that the Doctor doesn’t love her. The body scans her and confirms that she’s telling the truth, and River says that while she loves the Doctor, he doesn’t love her back because he’s not that small or ordinary. The Doctor finally interrupts and says, “Hello, sweetie,” and River realizes who he is.
Shocked, River claims that she was stalling. They identify the exits and the clock chimes two. River says that the safest place to stand in case of a meteor storm is exactly where they are. The ship’s systems announce that a meteor storm is coming. As the ship shakes, the floor breaks open, and the Doctor and River drop to the ballroom below. The diamond falls down and River catches it in her cleavage. The Doctor goes after the rampaging cyborg body while River heads to the bridge to stabilize the ship.
The body threatens to take the Doctor’s head, and the account transfer cell falls down. The Doctor catches it and says that any king will need money, and offers to demonstrate. He slaps it into the head socket and the best firewalls in the universe argue in the cyborg’s head. The Doctor grabs River’s diary and runs for the bridge. The crew has run for it, and the Doctor helps River fight for control. She recognizes the planet that they’re heading for: Darillium. She reminds the Doctor that he’s always promised to take her to the Singing Towers for dinner and he always cancels at the last minute.
The Doctor uses the power cell from the internal teleport to send her into the TARDIS. River pilots it to the bridge and materializes it around the Doctor. She then comes out and works the controls, and the Doctor comes out to argue with her. He insists that no one person on the ship is worth her, and she says th4e same about her. The ship heads for the surface and they get inside just in time as the ship crashes. When the Doctor wakes up from the internal explosions, he confirms that River is unconscious but okay, and finds the diamond nearby.
The Doctor jumps the TARDIS forward until the debris burns 0ut. A man named Alphonse comes looking for survivors. The Doctor tells him that there will be no survivors, and sees the singing towers nearby. He suggests that someone should build a restaurant with a view of the towers. When Alphonse points out that it would take a lot of money, the Doctor gives him the Androvar and says that the reward is very substantial.
Back inside the TARDIS, the Doctor takes the craft forward in time and goes out again. The TARDIS is now in the restaurant, and the Doctor makes a reservation for four years in the future.
When River wakes up, she emerges from the TARDIS. The receptionist--four years older--tells her that the Doctor is waiting for her on the balcony. As River goes there, she finds Ramone in the cyborg body. He explains that they pulled the body from the wreckage and they’ve been working there ever since. The nasty part of the program was deleted in the merger, and Nardole wishes river a Merry Christmas from inside the body.
The Doctor arrives in a suit and gives river a present: the sonic screwdriver she takes back with her to meet his tenth incarnation for the first time. They take their seats and admire the Singing Towers, taking in the music. River wonders why he Doctor is sad, and he wonders why she is sad. She says that she’s worried now that her diary is almost full, and he tells her not to worry. River explains that she’s looked up some stories about the two of them, and some of them say that they spend their last night at the Singing Towers. She figures that he can find a way around her last night, and the Doctor warns that some things can’t be avoided. River tells him that he’s wrong, and “happy ever after” just means time. She figures that he wouldn’t understand. He asks her about the towers, and says that no one can explain how they generate music... but there’s always a song when someone needs it the most.
As River takes that in, she wonders how long a night is on Darillium. The Doctor tells her that it’s 24 years, and River says that she hates him. Smiling, he says that she doesn’t.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 26, 2015