Okay, now I think Doctor Who is having faceless masses of enemies who all say the same thing on a weekly basis just to screw with me. Yes, I realize this is probably the least important part of “The Girl Who Waited” – a complex, emotional episode that still has me thinking about it a day later – but seriously: what is their deal?
Anyway, here’s the plot of the thing… The Doctor brings Rory and Amy to a pleasure vacation planet where, it turns out, something went horribly wrong*. The Doctor and Rory find themselves in an all white, iPod-esque room, so naturally, they press a button… Which lets them into another all white room, albeit one with a giant magnifying glass. A few seconds behind, Amy runs up, and presses the other button – the red one, because given a choice between a green button and a red one, everyone presses the color that’s universally recognized as “wrong.” She ends up in ANOTHER white room with ANOTHER magnifying glass, but there’s no Rory, and no Doctor in sight.
Except there is: looking through the glass, she can see the duo, and they can see her… And then time speeds up. She’s now been in the room for a week, without food, but she feels fine.
Here’s where it gets complicated, if you can believe that it isn’t complicated yet, because it is! The facility is in lock down because of a rare disease that only affects people who live on the pleasure planet… And timelords. Amy has checked in to the facility as an infected person, while The Doctor is in the sterile side of the facility with Rory. The disease kills people in 24 hours, but what the facility does is, it isolates them in their own, personal timeline. Family members are then able to spend the rest of their loved ones’ “lives” with them, as they age normally, while in the real world, only one day has passed.
Got all that? Good. It gets more complicated, because as Amy explores the facility, and The Doctor – back in the TARDIS to keep himself safe – coaches Rory on how to go in and save her, she herself splits into two distinct timelines. One of them is the “isolated” timeline, which advances a full lifetime in twenty-four hours. That means by the time Rory finds her, Amy has been the-girl-who-waiting for thirty-seven years. However, the “actual” timeline still exists, meaning the-Amy-who-isn’t-wrinkled is wandering around, getting ready to wait for thirty-seven years.
Unfortunately, both Old-Amy and Regular-Stylez-Amy can’t both exist… Or can they??? No, they can’t, so Rory needs to choose between them. But first, we get Old-Amy as a kick-butt warrior, chopping her way through the medical robots with no faces who all talk the same way I complained about at the beginning. And then we get TWO Amys, both fighting at the same time, and Rory generally cowering and trying not to get killed. See, The Doctor figures out that he can get both Amys to exist, even though technically, rescuing Young-Amy would mean that the Old-Amy timeline would never have happened.
Ow my head.
Unfortunately, there’s some things The Doctor didn’t mention. Like, the fact that he was lying, and once Rory and Amy (2011 version) are safe in the TARDIS, he shuts the door in the face of Old-Amy. It turns out that they can’t both exist, so The Doctor leaves the choice to Rory: does he want his hot young wife, or his older, slightly crazier wife… If it means killing the other one.
Seriously? What a dick.
Rory, as you can imagine, chooses Hawt-Amy, and Old-Amy peacefully yields, saying she wants to give herself all those years she missed with Rory. And then she ceases to exist. Rory asks whether The Doctor always knew she couldn’t be saved, and he says of course… Except that’s not what his face says.
Then, thankfully, we don’t flash on the screen of his death day for no good reason, so hooray for that!
Here’s the thing about this episode: my initial gut reaction was to be pissed off… The first quarter is plenty confusing, with Star Trek style technobabble flying fast. The music throughout was loud, and not that great. And the end of the episode paints The Doctor, pretty clearly, as a villain. Regardless of what his motivation was: he killed Old-Amy. And he forced Rory to do it. We’ve seen the Doctor use people as “guns” before, but never so blatantly as this. That said, just because it made me uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Complicated, impossible choices are what The Doctor is all about. Though, at the same time, I’d argue that this pushed it a little beyond the realm of “impossible choices” and into the realm of “impossible a-hole.” I don’t know, I’m still figuring this one out.
That all said: the second half was hugely emotional, and the final scene of Rory and Old-Amy, separated by only the whispy wood of the TARDIS door, professing their love for each other was hugely emotional. Karen Gillan, in general, owned this episode, finding incredible nuance between her old and young versions. Arthur Darville, too, really sold the thing… He’s still mostly a device to get emotion out of Amy, but here, he got to stretch his acting muscles, and the final scene would not have worked without him. Matt Smith is always good, though like I said above, I’m not sure about pushing him squarely into the villain role, it feels like it’s setting us up to WANT him to die at the end of the season. Just a thought.
Next week, we head to a spooky hotel with writer Toby Whithouse, the creator of Being Human… So we’ll see you there!
*Okay, I’m just going to put this digression at the bottom here: has the Doctor ever taken his companions to a pleasure planet where everything goes just fine? Ever? It’s episodes like this that make me think there must be hundreds of relatively fun but boring to television audience sight-seeing adventures between every episode… Because given the constant threat of death, why would anyone in their right mind think traveling with The Doctor was any fun?