"Good men don't need rules."
This is a challenging review to write for me because I have some deeply conflicted opinions on A Good Man Goes To War. It used to be a solid 9/10 and in my top 20 episodes, but now it’s fallen somewhat in my regard and there’s several things I both love and can’t stand about it. Often at the same time.
I’ll start positive and say that - while I think the split series format brought its issues – as the climax of the first half of Series 6 it’s a runaway success. On the surface, a roaring and spectacular story, with all the scale and emotional intensity one might expect of a proper finale. On an arc level, it’s representative of some of the biggest game changers: The reveal of River Song’s identity, and The Doctor’s realisation of the monster the universe is beginning to recognise him as. And it managed to integrate both into the context of series 6; capitalising well on the running themes of the Pond’s faith in the Doctor and their relationship as his companions, and tapping into the vein of abstract and psychological horror of losing a child (again with visions to continue in 6b). This story had a lot relying on it and, while I now think it lacks heart, I don’t think it fails catastrophically on any meaningful fronts.