Yesterday, I watched ‘A Good Man Goes to War‘, and I like it. No, I love it. For some reason, it works as an episode introducing the new season (or at least the second part), piles on new characters like they’re going to be relevant (which they haven’t been until the 2012 Christmas Special) and progresses the story of River Song by leaps and bounds (which for some might be a turn-off, by I have always loved the River Arc and have the hots for Alex Kingston).
As a roleplayer, the episode stands up as a great model for starting a campaign. You get a pretty solid story, a pile of new characters, an immediate challenge for the characters to face, and an ongoing quest to latch future adventures off. You have rich back story potential in the Madame Vastra, for example, or Strax – aliens who have lives that work against the norm. Sontaran Strax has a penance to serve, set by The Doctor, and he does his best to keep to his word. He vows to punish and defeat everyone once he had served his time – but plods on helping and healing in the meantime. Like River Song, his story ends here – but we know that much has come before and we have glimpse some of that in the 2012 Christmas Special.
The brief appearance of the Cybermen provides the chance for action and explosions without needing to get them directly involved. The presence of the Cyber-fleet adds to a cinematic quality. I found the whole episode felt like a film more than an average episode of the series. When you felt like you’d reached a conclusion toward the end, they tack on a little bit more than supplies a necessary twist that would drive through the rest of the season.