DOCTOR WHO: The Only Water In The Forest Is The River?

“The Doctor’s Wife” delivered another cryptic moment pertaining to the overarching Doctor Who story. This time it was Idris (AKA the living consciousness of the TARDIS) who gave us our next clue.

Moments before ‘Idris’ died, she whispered the cryptic message to Rory, which he later revealed to the Doctor:

Rory: “The only water in the forest is the River. She said we’d need to know that some day. It doesn’t make sense does it?
Doctor: “No, not yet.”

I was surprised that the Doctor brushed it off so easily, but I guess he’s used to things playing out in timey-wimey fashion, and no doubt stored it away in his memory banks.

Still, what could it mean?

Your guess is as good as mine but it’s definitely a piece of the larger puzzle. Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • It seems likely that it involves River Song, for obvious reasons.
  • Could it refer to our first meeting with River, in “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead”?
  • Amy is a ‘Pond’. It’s a bit of a stretch, but could it have something to do with her?

Plenty to consider. For me, this episode felt a lot more progressive than “The Curse of the Black Spot”. While that episode also contained some seeded moments, I felt it lacked the emotional weight to go with them. “The Doctor’s Wife” gave us something to think about for future episodes, while also allowing us to see the Doctor and his “old girl” with new eyes.

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  1. says

    I’m thinking it is related to the future Doctor’s death we saw in the first episode.
    How about….
    > “Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees” A solution to a problem is staring the Dr. in the face yet he can’t see it. And “River” is the key?
    > A river as metaphor for a life giving arterial function?
    > A river for its cleansing nature, perhaps something Baptismal to reinvigorate or even revive the Dr.?
    > The forest as something dense, byzantine and unnavigable but the river providing the way out?
    Something along those lines. I’ll keep thinking about it.

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  2. The Other Dave says

    The sentence was said by Idris (the Tardis), who spent the entire episode (pointedly) trying to find the word ‘Alive’. And she said this sentence to Rory BEFORE she had found the word. I believe as she had not yet found the word ‘Alive’ she substituted the closest word she could find (Water) for it. (as in Water = Life)

    So the sentence she was trying to communicate was:
    “The only one alive in the forest (Library) is River”.

    The Doctor saw River killed (vaporised) in the Library. (They later showed the vacant chair.) Assuming River was dead, the Doctor uploaded her ‘ghost’ from his screwdriver to the library computer. But… what if she had not been vaporised but had been ‘saved’ by (Cal) the Library? Cal had already shown repeatedly that she automatically ‘saved’ anyone who was about to die. (It is therefore illogical that Cal would save everyone EXCEPT River.) So River is ‘The only one alive in the Library’ (as all the other saved people were released and River’s friends are just images).

    This could turn out to be critical in the episodes this fall, after the Doctor passes the timeline of meeting River for the first time (his last time with her)… he could then turn two opposite time lines (Doctor and River) into a circle… by ‘resurrecting’ River from the Library.

    An example of this closed timeline loop was also hinted at by the Corsair’s tattoo… a serpent swallowing it’s own tail. Moffat is notorious for blatantly including plot hints (like the Doctor leaving and then reappearing wearing his ‘lost jacket’ (future Doctor) to talk to Amy in “Flesh and Stone”). Also Moffat likes to weave characters back and forth through timelines more often than in the Back to the Future trilogy. So Moffat’s choice of the Corsair’s tattoo was unlikely to have been a random choice, and is more likely a plot hint.

    Also the last glimpse of River’s diary in “Forest of the Dead” showed a piece of paper wedge in the book with a pointed line turning to match the flow of another pointed line, with a closed circle underneath.

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    • Mezznok says

      Please, the next time you decide to fuck my mind, feel free to use condoms/lube. that was the most amazing thing i have ever read.

      Like: Thumb up 1

  3. Dave's Not Here says

    In “Forest of the Dead” River mentions that the Doctor she knew was an older man, older-looking than David Tennant. Obviously, Matt Smith doesn’t fit that criteria. So, River’s first encounter with the Doctor may be a regeneration or two away. I think, ultimately, River may turn out to be the regenerated little girl from the end scene of “Day of the Moon.”

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  4. says

    First of all, I like how this has become a Dave only subject. Secondly, I defer to your reservoir of knowledge gentlemen. I’m a fan of this iteration of the Doctor but you two really know your stuff.

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  5. Dana Geister says

    Even though Matt Smith is the youngest Doctor ever, he is still technically older than all of the other Doctors.

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  6. shayna says

    props to you for making these connections! After the latest revelations you must be feeling pretty smug!

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  7. Melody says

    “the only water in the forest is the river” is an anagram. Moffat himself says it in DWM#436 in production notes. It says:
    “No! You Fool! Have you not studied the modern Doctor Who? The mysteries never end! They cease not! Because ‘the only water in the forest is the river’ is… an anagram! “Thirteenth… Who… televises… nyaforiterr.”
    Moffat has left it up to us to figure out that last one. Personally, I’m finding it tricky. But what does he expect us to do? KBO, of course!!!!!!!

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  8. says

    I think The Other Dave hit the nail on the head. I think river and the doctor, and the tardis itself are the same, and i think Dave’s Not Here also touches on something important. In the final episode of season 6 Amy also mentions how the doctor looks older than the last time she saw him, as if there is more timeline hopping going on between the time loop and the resolution of the 1969 plot line. The only aging the doctor does that is physically noticeable is from regeneration to regeneration. I think the forest is time, and the river is someone that passes through the whole thing from start to finish. If River Song is this river, and doctor who does die a proper timelord death at some point, this would play into his reincarnation as River. The gender ambiguity of the doctor and time travel itself is also alluded to in the name of the corporeal tardis: Idris. Idris is a personage from the Qur’an, a man, who ascended to heaven without dying. A man who ‘was a man of truth and sincerity, and a prophet, and that he had a high position among his people’. This sounds a lot like the good doctor doesn’t it? There is too much allegory and build up of long term plot lines to ignore these subtleties.

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  9. Mihai says

    “The only water in the forest is the River.”
    To open your minds : in the 7th episode of season 6 that woman that has got Amy Pond will get an army of people who knows the FOREST’s Language as we speak English. River Song was First named by her mom, Amy Pond, Melody Pond.
    Song and Melody have the same meaning and because in the Language of the FOREST it doesn’t exist a word to translare ‘Pond’, They said : ” The only water in the forest is the river “, and she has been given the name : River Song insteand of Melody Pond

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    • says

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  10. mE says

    You guys are so funny! Remember the pattern: Idris-TARDIS would give answers to future questions. So Idris is providing the answer to the future question Amy is thinking in “A Good Man Goes to War”, when she’s trying to figure out the translation of the prayer leaf. River provides the answer: “It’s your daughter’s name in the language of the forest…except they don’t have a word for ‘pond’ because the only water in the forest is the river”. After River makes that statement, Amy looks at the prayer leaf, now able to see the translation of the name Melody Pond as “Song [perhaps, “of the”] River” i.e. “River Song” in the language of the peoples of the Gamma Forests.


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