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Sunday, 18 September 2011

Doctor Who - The Girl Who Waited - Series 6 Episode 10 - Review

What’s the Story?

On a visit to Apalapucia (thank you subtitles) the second most popular travellers destination in the universe (who wants to go to ‘The Planet of the Coffee Shops’ anyway), Amy finds herself trapped in a faster time stream on a planet where a deadly plague has broken out. With the Doctor confined to the Tardis lest he be infected it is left to Rory to find Amy and rescue her from the Handbots, robots designed to administer medicine, a medicine that will kill human Amy. When Rory finds his wife however, she is not quite how he left her…

What's the Verdict?
To quote directly from my review of ‘Night Terrors’, last week I wrote that ‘The Doctor’s Wife' remains the only standalone episode of this series I can imagine myself being able to consistently rewatch and enjoy’. I was referring particularly of course, to the difference between so-called ‘arc’ episodes and the standalones but I no longer feel the same way after the watching the extraordinary ‘The Girl Who Waited’.

This episode took what is a very complex science fiction idea and gave it a linear, easy to follow structure and created not only a fantastic episode of science fiction but an emotional, heartrending story that explored the relationship between our two companions in a fresh and clever way. Of course, it wasn’t without humour and there were a number of typical Doctor Who, laugh out loud moments scattered throughout. How great it was for all of us glasses-wearers to finally hear what we have known for years, that ’glasses are cool’.

The paradox at the centre of the story may start to collapse with too much thought (and personally I can never imagine a situation where I choose to push a red button when there is also a green button!) and certainly when the Doctor said the Tardis would be able to maintain the paradox, question marks started forming in my head. Of course, The Doctor lies, and it was inevitable that only one Amy would be able to remain in the Tardis. It was equally inevitable that this would be Young Amy, and yet the conclusion did not feel predictable or overly sentimental.

If there is anyone out there that still doubts Karen Gillan’s abilities as an actress and Amy Pond’s credentials as companion, I do hope these people were silenced by this episode. If not, then I fear they never will be, and that is a shame, as those of us that have come to love the character were treated to a stunning performance from Gillan throughout this episode. She will rightly receive plaudits for her performance as the Old Amy, bitter and resentful of the Doctor after being left for 36 years. It was genuinely shocking to hear the tone of hatred and anger in her voice as she spoke to her ‘raggedy man’, usually so warm and playful towards him. It was clear Gillan had put a lot of thought and time into perfecting her performance, with the brisk focused walk of a soldier and the lower, more monotonous voice of someone that has only had a computer interface to interact with. It should not go unrecognised however that her performance as Young Amy was also stellar and the scene where they talked to each other through the magnifying glass, was not only visually stunning but contained some wonderful dialogue and a very nuanced performance that caused the first (but certainly not the last!) tears to spring to my eyes (although, having said that, realising that Amy had called her ‘pet’ Handbot ‘Rory’ nearly set me off as well!).

As the episode flew towards it’s conclusion, you just knew there was a heartbreaking ending to come. Matt Smith was confined to the Tardis for most of the episode but he can always be counted on to produce a great performance, whether it is as the whimsical, playful Doctor or the weary and occasionally ruthless Time Lord. Shutting the doors on Amy seemed cold and a brave thing for Moffat and Macrae to show their ‘hero’ doing, but can anyone say it was the wrong decision in the circumstances? Making Rory choose between the two versions of Amy also seemed harsh of The Doctor and Arthur Darvill was wonderful here, standing up to the Doctor but ultimately not being able to make the choice. For it was important to show that it was Old Amy that ultimately sacrificed herself, in seeing how much Rory loved her younger self, remembering how that felt and realising he was prepared to let her in and give up everything for her, she gave Young Amy ‘the days’ with him she never had. It was an incredibly poignant moment, some may think it was overly sentimental but personally I thought it was a wonderful moment that really cemented their relationship and proved once and for all that Amy loves Rory just as much as he loves her. As soon as their hands met on either side of the Tardis door, my tears certainly started flowing and I predict that there were a few more shed across the country at this point.

With an absence of a real ‘monster’ of the week, (the Handbots are unlikely to keep children awake at night, although the notion of ‘killing with kindness’ was a clever one), this was a very different episode of Doctor Who but one of the most engaging for some time. The episode worked so well because we are so invested in the characters of Amy and Rory now and it is for this reason that I am in no hurry to see them depart the Tardis. By having such a strong core of characters, time can be taken to make episodes like this and it is nice to have such multi-layered companions, that can think and act for themselves. This episode certainly showed the potential both Amy as a character and Karen Gillan as an actress has. It might be good to see more of that ‘warrior‘-like Amy start to come out as it did also in The Curse of the Black Spot.

Overall, ‘The Girl Who Waited’ was a showcase for Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill to show what they could do but also had such a strong script and a lot of heart that means this episode could be one of the most talked about and most memorable for some time. Let’s hope that when the inevitable time comes for Amy and Rory to leave the Tardis, they get the happy ending they deserve!

Best Lines

The Doctor - ‘Ah, that’ll be the small act of vandalism alarm’

The Doctor - ‘Glasses are cool’

The Doctor - ‘Eyes front soldier!’

Old Amy - ‘In fact I think I can now definitely say, I hate him. I hate the Doctor. I hate him more than I’ve ever hated anyone in my life, and you can hear every word of this through these ridiculous glasses, can’t you Raggedy Man’.

Rory - ‘I don’t care that you got old. I care that we didn’t grow old together’

Old Amy - ‘They look ridiculous’
Rory - ‘That’s what I told him. Still, anything beats a fez eh?’ *they laugh*
Old Amy - I think that’s the first time I’ve laughed in 36 years.

Rory - ‘This is your fault! You should look in a history book once in a while, see if there’s an outbreak of plague or not
The Doctor - ‘That is not how I travel’
Rory - ‘Then I do not want to travel with you!’

Old Amy - ‘All those boys chasing me. But it was only ever Rory. Why was that?’
Amy - ‘You know when sometimes you meet someone so beautiful and then you actually talk to them and five minutes later, they’re as dull as a brick. Then there’s other people, and you meet them and you think, ‘Not bad, they’re ok’. And then you get to know them and their face just sort of becomes them. Like their personality’s written all over it. And they just turn into something so beautiful.
Both Old & Young Amy - ‘Rory’s the most beautiful man I’ve ever met’.

The Doctor - ‘If anyone can defeat pre-destiny, it’s your wife’

Rory - ‘Two Amy’s together, can that work?’
The Doctor - ‘I don’t know, it’s your marriage’.

The Doctor - ‘Come on Rory, it’s hardly rocket science, it’s just quantum physics!’

The Doctor - (to the Tardis) ‘What’s the nasty Amy done to you? Just calm down dear’

Rory - ‘I’m not on my own. I’ve got my wives’ *thumbs up*

Rory - ‘This isn’t fair. You’re turning me into you’.

Old Amy - ‘The look on your face when you carried her. Me. Her. When you carried her away, you used to look at me like that. I’d forgotten how much you loved me. I’d forgotten how much I loved being her. Amy Pond, in the Tardis. With Rory Williams. ‘
Rory - ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do this’ *goes to open door*
Old Amy - ‘If you love me, don’t let me in. Open that door, I will, I’ll come in, I don’t want to die. I won’t bow out bravely, I’ll be kicking, screaming and fighting. To the end.’
Rory - ‘Amy, Amy I love you.’
Amy - I love you too. Don’t let me in. Tell Amy. Your Amy. I’m giving her the days. The days with you. The days to come. The days I can’t have. Take them please. I’m giving you my days’.

Old Amy - ‘Interface, show me Earth. Show me home. Did I ever tell you about this boy I met there? He pretended to be in a band.’

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