Still confused about the tangled, time-crossed chronology of River Song and the Doctor on Doctor Who? Alex Kingston herself narrated the whole River timeline, in the final episode of the tie-in show Doctor Who Confidential after Saturday's season finale.
We track River's own POV on her timeline below — plus there's a four-minute Doctor Who skit, written by a group of schoolchildren. Geronimo!
Oh, and it should go without saying that there are spoilers here, for anybody who's not up-to-date on Doctor Who.
Sadly, the BBC is pulling the plug on their "making of" series, Doctor Who Confidential, after more than six years of following every episode of the main show. At least the show went out on a high note, with some actually indispensable insights into the River Song story.
As creator Steven Moffat tells the show, "I've never found River Song's timeline that complicated. It's just, she has the adventures roughly, broadly in reverse order to the Doctor."
In any case, it's worth hunting down a copy of the final Doctor Who Confidential, since it has a long stretch of River Song narrating her own life story, as read by Alex Kingston. (Update: I embedded a slightly crappy quality version at left.) It goes roughly like this:
SI was born in battle, on an asteroid called Demon's Run. I was the daughter of Amy Pond and Rory Williams. They named me Melody Pond. I was kidnapped, taken by Kovarian, a servant of the Silence, to an orphanage on Earth.
SI was raised with only one purpose: to kill the Doctor.
I escaped the spacesuit and lived on the streets. Homeless, alone and dying. Until I regenerated.
SAnd became the best friend of young Amy and Rory. Growing up with my parents. Waiting for the arrival of the Doctor. And then I regenerated into a new form. I was the woman who would become River Song. Although I didn't know that at the time.
SI was born to kill the Doctor. And I did so with a kiss. A kiss poisoned by the Judas tree. But I was shown who River Song would be, and I saw just how much I would love him. And I so I gave all my remaining lives to restore his. Because I knew the Doctor was worth it.
SAnd in return, he left me the most wonderful gift. (Referring to the blank diary.) I knew that some day I would find the Doctor. (We see her going to archeology school.) But the spacesuit was waiting for me.
SBut I just couldn't bring myself to kill him. And so, all of time collapsed. And only the Doctor could save the universe.
Rule one: the Doctor lies. He escaped his own death. A secret I knew I had to keep. Even though it meant imprisonment. But I've always been good at escaping.
SFrom this point on, I realized I knew more than him. (At this point, we see her telling Rory she can't be with the Doctor until the end, and then their meeting as adults, at Demon's Run.)
SFrom that moment on, we were living our lives in the wrong order, the Doctor and me. And in all our future meetings, I would know him more, and he would know me less.
SUntil one day the Doctor would invite me to watch me kill him. Once again I found myself at Lake Silencio, folding back on my own timeline. This time a witness to the Doctor's shooting, knowing everything but unable to tell those who cared the most that the Doctor would survive.
SBack to the orphanage where I grew up, but this time as witness to my own escape. (Shooting all the Silence in the tunnels.) Did I mention I was kick-ass with a gun? No-one kidnaps me and gets away with it.
SAnd then came his first kiss and my last.
But I always knew the Doctor would be there for me, so long as I left him a message. (Referring to the giant carving in the cliff wall.) He would always be there to catch me. (Flying out of the spaceship.) Even at the crash of the Byzantium he came, my love couldn't resist it — bringing with him an Amy Pond who did not know me.
S(And then we see Amy and Rory with River in the garden, drinking wine.) I finally let Amy know the wonderful secret — that the best man I ever knew was alive. However delighted they were, I knew a far worse day was waiting for me: My last encounter with the Doctor. I always knew that one day my love wouldn't know me. Now I looked into his eyes and saw that day had come.
The Doctor was willing to sacrifice himself to save the Library. But I had to take his place. But that man, that impossible man, never gives up. The Doctor saved me, preserving me in a computer. And all my glorious memories of the Doctor live on. Because just sometimes, everybody lives.
Meanwhile, here's the four-minute skit, "Death is the Only Answer." Could that be the answer to the oldest question, the question hidden in plain sight? Probably not. Anyway, here's Einstein and the Doctor, together again for the first time since 1987's "Time and the Rani":