Professor River Song is on one of her adventures, The Doctor finally has a go, and carol singers will be criticized.
After a brief prank from the TARDIS, The Doctor answers a call for The Surgeon (close enough) and is reunited with his wife, professor of archaeology, River Song, and wife of King Hydroflax (yes, it’s confusing, there’s a flow-chart). Professor Song, while not recognizing The Doctor, requires the surgeon to save her royal husband and remove the most valuable diamond in the universe from his brain. However, in confidence, she really just wants the diamond and has no qualms about the death of Hydroflax.
Hydroflax overhears her plans to murder him and quickly condemns The Doctor and Professor Song, showing that his head is already removable from his body, which is a large robotic killing machine. Narrowly escaping Hydroflax’s ship, with Hydroflax’s head in tow, The Doctor is introduced to another of Professor Song’s husbands. Still not recognizing him, Professor Song searches for The Doctor, code named Damsel (he needs a lot of rescuing), instead finding his TARDIS and stealing it, as she apparently has a habit of doing without The Doctor’s noticing. The Doctor is invited onto his own TARDIS and finally has a chance to react properly to it being bigger on the inside. Professor Song and The Doctor arrive on a cruise for the rich and genocidal, as River searches for a buyer for the diamond.
“The Husbands of River Song” is a rare treat for The Doctor when he gets to become a companion himself, and experience what these adventures are like from a new perspective. This adventure of diamonds and murderous space kings seems to be a usual day for Professor Song. As The Doctor tags along, he sees how River truly acts when he’s not around, becoming a voyeur to conversations about himself and learning how River truly feels about him. It’s hearts breaking for The Doctor as he sees just what it’s like to love him, or to love a sunset, or the stars themselves. But this realization for The Doctor is what Professor Song has lived with for 200 years.
In conversations I’ve had with friends on the character of Professor River Song, they hold the belief that her entire existence was created to simply love The Doctor. While I feel there is so much more to her character, the child stolen from Amy and Rory as an infant and raised to kill The Doctor, who came to love him not because “he’s The Doctor,” but because of how he treated a woman he, as far as she knew, had no knowledge of, who studied and became an archaeologist, an adventurer, a master thief and escape artist, and a woman who’s lead a full life of other romances than The Doctor, my friends weren’t entirely wrong. A large part of her character is her devotion to The Doctor, and this trait is analyzed in this Christmas special.
Loving The Doctor is compared to loving the stars, a sunset, a monolith. This is a sentiment that has been brought up before, most recently by Missy, comparing their friendship to something far more advanced and complicated than love. River acknowledges her love for The Doctor, and also understands that to love a man so historically great and relevant, is to not be loved in return. There has never been a doubt that The Doctor cared for River, from the first time he met her in the Library as the Tenth Doctor, or as the Eleventh who flirted endlessly as a rebellious young love, not quite sure what to do past the flirting. But The Doctor has never shared such feelings of romance since Rose Tyler.
The Twelfth Doctor’s relationship with River Song is quite different from the Tenth’s or Eleventh’s. The Twelfth Doctor shows that it’s true that romantic feelings are too simple a description for what The Doctor feels River. In a way, this episode is a reintroduction of River to The Doctor, much like Melody Pond’s first introduction to The Doctor in “Let’s Kill Hitler.” The Doctor sees how she truly feels about him, and how negligent of her he’s become. We see the maturity in the relationship between The Doctor and Professor River Song. He’s given the chance to show that he does truly love her, as only a star or a sunset could.