Mon
Sep 12 2011 11:37am

Doctor Who S6, Ep 10: “The Girl Who Waited”

It’s a common complaint heard from single women; this guy or that guy not being “worth our time.” In “The Girl Who Waited,” Amy shows us that Rory is quite literally worth her time in the most heartwrenching episode of Doctor Who since Neil Gaiman’s “The Doctor’s Wife.”

The Doctor has promised to take Amy and Rory to a beautiful pleasure planet called Apalapucia, and he does, only it ends up being not as pleasurable as they were expecting. Outside the TARDIS door, they find a blindingly white room with a door that has two buttons beside it. The Doctor and Rory press the Green Anchor button, and Amy, who stopped to get her phone, doesn’t go in with them, and pushes the Red Waterfall button instead. Each button leads to a white room with a large glass scope on a center table, and through that scope Amy can see The Doctor and Rory. A creepy, faceless white robot reveals that they are in the Two Streams “Kindness” Facility, a facility that’s been set up to aid victims of the Chen7 virus, a virus that affects two-hearted species, like Apalapucians (and Time Lords). So, Rory and Amy are safe, and as long as The Doctor stays in the white room, he’s safe, too. (But exposing himself to the virus by going out into the facility proper would kill him in 24 hours.) Meanwhile, Amy’s room is in a different timestream that is moving much faster. Different timestreams allow visitors of loved ones with Chen7 to sit with them for their whole lives. Rather than sitting by their bedside watching them die, they can see them in a slower timestream and watch them live.

This is a kindness.

Trapped in a faster timestream, and relying on her husband for rescue, Amy says, “Rory, I love you. Now, save me. Go on.”

That moment of putting complete faith, not in The Doctor, but in the man she loves, is only one of many beautiful moments in “The Girl Who Waited.” Tom MacRae’s script delves into themes of mortality, trust, and life experience that are wonderfully handled in true Doctor Who fashion. While I had some trouble at the beginning with the set-up of the events (why couldn’t they just wait for her to get her phone? Why couldn’t Rory just tell her to press the green button straight away?), the main thrust of the plot was breathtakingly sad and I couldn’t take my eyes away from the screen.

Amy and Rory’s Marriage

One of my favorite things about current Doctor Who is the focus on Amy and Rory’s wonderful marriage. I feel like The Doctor learns more about love and sacrifice and compassion from these two than he has in his centuries of traveling, and I think he knows it, which is why he keeps them around. To me, “The Girl Who Waited” is about Amy reaffirming her love for, and trust in, Rory, because he has never given her reason to believe that he wouldn’t keep fighting for her, or looking for her. The Doctor, well-intentioned and brilliant though he may be, cannot be relied upon in the same way. It’s her love of Rory that allows her to survive in her loneliness (even going so far as to name her pet robot Rory), and it is her love of Rory that ultimately gives her the strength to choose — despite years of solitude and bitterness — to give herself the opportunity to regain those lost years with him. As we saw in “Amy’s Choice,” Amy only wants a world with Rory in it, and any existence without him doesn’t matter. For someone as independent and obstinate as Amy to allow herself to be vulnerable enough to admit that is huge, and a sign that Rory is good for her. He allows her to be a more complete, well-rounded person than she would ever be on her own. He makes her stronger.

They make each other stronger, actually. Rory is a mild-mannered nurse, but he becomes a superhero for Amy. He is courageous for her in a way I don’t think he would’ve been for any other woman. Even as he is disturbed by seeing his wife 36 years in the future, he latches onto her because, no matter what, this is the woman he loves. Even if she is now old enough to be his mother. When The Doctor finally tells him that there’s no way that the paradox of two Amys can exist in the TARDIS, Rory can’t stand to hear Older Amy crying outside the TARDIS door, and almost lets her in. While he wanted to save Younger Amy, he also wants to save Older Amy. He can’t bear the thought of either Amy in pain.

Amy and The Doctor

Another thing I love about the dynamic of the current Team TARDIS is that, for the first time, we have companions who don’t defer to The Doctor as a default. Amy recognizes his genius, is his friend, and cares for him deeply, but she is also not afraid to call him on his mistakes, and doesn’t have to leave the TARDIS to prove that other things mean more to her than The Doctor does. Even Donna, who was The Doctor’s best friend for a while, and was never shy about calling him on his crap, always saw The Doctor as better than her and better than anyone she’d ever met. All of his other companions (and yes, I understand that a lot of this had to do with mundane things like casting issues, but I’m sticking to story here!) had to leave the TARDIS in order to more fully pursue their lives. Amy is the first who is apparently capable of having a successful married life even as she travels with the Doctor. (On television, anyway. I’m not even touching the audio dramas.)

I got chills when Older Amy told The Doctor off, spitefully calling him “Raggedy Man” and “The Voice of God,” and suspect that it’s more than just the 36 years of waiting that prompted her bitter tirade. It’s every time he’s kept her waiting. She wanted him to know that Rory has always been a better man than he is, and I find it hugely interesting that The Doctor is playing second-fiddle on his own TARDIS. Even Rory gets into the act, criticizing The Doctor for never consulting a history book for outbreaks of plague, and when The Doctor tells him he doesn’t travel that way, Rory screams “Then I do not want to travel with you!”

When Doctor Who first came back with the Ninth Doctor, he was a dark Doctor scarred by war and haunted by the death of his entire species. The Tenth Doctor was more of a tragic clown, silly and frantic in the midst of his sadness. I’ve always thought that Eleven combines childlike whimsy and ancient wisdom most effectively of all. However, what I’ve been noticing these past two seasons, as everyone seems to be joining together to constantly tell The Doctor how wrong he is, his childlike quality seems to be taking on a new dimension. He’s like a child who genuinely doesn’t understand why he’s being yelled at. He’s like a puppy who gets rapped on the nose with a newspaper having forgotten that he just peed on the carpet. The Eleventh Doctor seems to be at point where he needs constant checks and balances, because the previous Doctor was approaching megalomania (specifically in “The Waters of Mars”) before he started checking himself. Now, this Doctor has checks coming at him from all over the universe; his companions included.

Older Amy

“The Girl Who Waited” also delves into the issues of a woman getting older. Older Amy is in her late 50s, and she’s gone 36 years alone and without her husband. She’s lived a hardscrabble life of survival, apparently having developed greater knowledge of technology and swordfighting while she was at it. While she was lonely, she also learned to take care of herself, and acquired skills that she might have had no reason to acquire had she not been in this situation. So, why would she want to give that up?

It would be easy to see this as Young Amy winning out over Older Amy, especially where Rory is concerned. Older Amy flirts with him, and he reminds her that she’s now old enough to be his mother. Older Amy looks wistfully at the way Rory looks at her younger self, remembering when she was the recipient of those looks. It would be easy to see this as an example of youth and beauty winning out over experience, but I don’t think that’s what this story was about. As I mentioned earlier, when it came down to it, and after the initial, understandable shock, Rory wanted both Amys. When Older Amy brought up the fact of her age, Rory said “It’s not that you got old, it’s that we didn’t get to grow old together.”

This story wasn’t about Amy wishing she were young and pretty again. It was about Amy not wanting to allow her inability to trust people, which has been a part of her since she was young, to deprive her of happiness. Yes, she made her ultimate choice for Rory, but she also made it for herself; to not allow her lack of trust in Rory’s love to deprive her of a happy life. She says, “Tell Amy, your Amy, that I’m giving you my days.” She wants her younger self to know that she is giving herself this chance, so that she doesn’t waste it. Older Amy does have the benefit of experience on her side, and she knows better than anyone else that a life without love and without friends isn’t worth very much.

The Talent

Again, despite the questionable set-up, Tom MacRae’s script was gorgeous and insightful, giving the cast and crew a lot to work with, both emotionally and physically. Wonderful, too, that it focused on the main three characters without even a guest star (save Imelda Staunton as the voice of The Interface, a hologram Josie Taylor at check-in, and Stephen Bracken-Keogh as the voice of the handbots) to distract us. Team TARDIS was served well by this kind of emotional focus. Nick Hurran’s direction was lovely, as it defly maneuvered between the intimate character moments, like the tissue-worthy scene between Older Amy and Rory at the TARDIS door, and more spectacular moments, like Older Amy’s stunning-looking fight scene with the robots. The entire cast was at the top of their game here. Arthur Darvill was heartbreaking as Rory, and Matt Smith did so much with mere glances.

But I have to save the most praise for Karen Gillan, whose performance in this episode would be worthy of an Emmy Nomination if Doctor Who were eligible for such things. (Is it?) Ah, well. BAFTA it is, then. I was shocked by the weight of the brittle bitterness she brought to Older Amy, yet maintaining the character’s intrinsic warmth and hard-won vulnerability. Her Young Amy was a bit skittish, and her Older Amy more comfortable in her skin, and both Amys met at the places where her personality remains constant, and Gillan’s balancing of all that was amazing to watch.

“The Girl Who Waited” is, by far, the best episode of the second half of Series 6.

Doctor Who airs Saturdays at 9PM ET on BBC America.


Teresa Jusino would tear apart time for Rory, too. She can be heard on the popular Doctor Who podcast, 2 Minute Time Lord, participating in a roundtable on Series 6.1. Her “feminist brown person” take on pop culture has been featured on websites like ChinaShopMag.com, PinkRaygun.com, Newsarama, and PopMatters.com. Her fiction has appeared in the sci-fi literary magazine, Crossed Genres; she is the editor of Beginning of Line, the Caprica fan fiction site; and her essay “Why Joss is More Important Than His ‘Verse” is included in Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them, which is on sale now wherever books are sold! 2012 will see Teresa’s work in two upcoming sci-fi anthologies. Get Twitterpated with Teresa,“like” her on Facebook, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.

48 comments
JCHicks
1. JCHicks
Very nice article. I agree completely that this is the best episode so far of the second half of the season. Karen Gillan's performances were brilliant. I came closer to crying at the end than I ever have over an episode over Doctor Who.
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
I agree, this was a wonderful episode. Seconding pretty much everything Teresa said.

I do wonder if this is really the last we will see of future/alternate-Amy.
JCHicks
3. Bak
She says, “Tell Amy, your Amy, that I’m giving you my days.”

Actually what she says is "I'm giving her the days."
JCHicks
4. Tumas-Muscat
My thoughts exactly. Definitely one of the best episodes of Season 6, if not the best so far. It highlights one of the characteristics which make Doctor Who quite unique in the sci-fi genre: it genuinely tries to focus on emotion once in a while, and when it does manage to do so, it often does so brilliantly.
JCHicks
5. Ann1e
I think it's very interesting that neither of the episodes almost unanimously loved by all fans this season (this and The Doctor's Wife) were written by Steven Moffat.
Ashley Fox
6. A Fox
The Doctors' Wife was written by Gaimen.
JCHicks
7. a-j
Pretty much agree except with your unhappiness with the set-up. I liked the way it happened accidently. Why would the Doctor and Rory wait, why would Rory say which button? The terrible situation they find themselves in is a result of a simple easy couple of errors which underlines the danger of travelling with the Doctor and gives extra emphasis to Rory's fury with the Doctor's recklessness. I also think that this episode, along with A Good Man... is showing how dangerous the Doctor has become.
JCHicks
8. OriginalSibling
The worst part (one might say, the only bad part) of this episode was the mostly-recycled soundtrack, especially "The Sad Man with a Box" from The Big Bang. Very overdone.
JCHicks
9. Pendard
There was one Rory line that I'm surprised you didn't mention. When the Doctor reveals that only one Amy can get into the TARDIS and he has been manipulating everyone, Rory starts to object, and the Doctor asks him if he wants to throw the young Amy out to let the old one in and says it's his choice. At which point Rory says, "You're making me like you!" THAT sent chills down my spine.

The Doctor is certainly at his most manipulative in this episode -- and this is not out of character, because we've certainly seen this side of his personality over the years. In a way, his manipulation is "a kindness" (as the hand-bots would say) since he's sparing Rory an impossible situation and he's saving the older Amy from making a decision out of bitterness that will cause her to become so bitter in the first place. It's strange: the Doctor let her down when he failed to save her, and he let her down a second time when he refused the save her -- but if refusing to save her the second time is what lets him save her the first time, did he ever really let her down at all? (My head hurts...) Anyway, the Doctor makes all the decisions and manipulates the players in a way where you can't really fault his logic, but MAN is it disturbing when he gets like this. Even he seems to be disturbed by himself.

Lastly, I thought it was fairly reasonable for Rory to assume the door went the same place no matter which button you push. However, I think it says something that, when asked to choose a button at random, Rory picks one and Amy picks the other.
Teresa Jusino
10. TeresaJusino
Bak @3 - Thank you! Sorry. She does say "I'm giving you the days" a bit later, but not at first. Dear Tor.com web gods, would you please fix that quote above? :)

A Fox @6 - I believe Annie said that neither The Doctor's Wife nor this episode were written by Moffat, which is true.

Annie @5 - What's interesting to me is that it's clear that Moffat can write a brilliant standalone episode (um, hello, BLINK?!), but he hasn't done so in a long while. He's gotten so caught up in puzzle boxes. Mind you, I love the puzzle boxes, but I do miss his brilliant single, or two-part stories.

a-j @7 - I don't know, it just didn't seem very natural. Rory said "push the button" as if it weren't obvious that there were two different colored buttons with two very different pictures on them. It's not like it was just a simple Up/Down button like on an elevator (and even then I'd ask what direction they went in) To me, that problem could've been fixed if perhaps Rory said "push the green button" and then Amy couldn't hear him for some reason. Rory could've also not remembered which one he pressed. If Amy asked, and he was like "Oh, crap. Which one DID I press?" that would've made it more real to me. But for Rory not to say, and for Amy not to ask "Which one? There's a green one with an anchor and a red one with squiggly lines on it" just seemed too convenient. Things like that bother me. It wasn't a error, and can't be a error, if there isn't a "wrong" one to press, you know?

Pendard @10 - Yes! It's true! That line WAS amazing. Well, I couldn't mention everything that was chilling and gut-wrenching in the episode, otherwise it'd be twice as long!

However, I disagree about that being a reasonable assumption about the buttons. Especially with their experience traveling through time and space? Never make assumptions about ANYTHING. Though it's an interesting point you bring up about Amy making the opposite choice from Rory...
JCHicks
11. Jo Ann
Most whole heartedly agree with 99.9% of your review... I too, didn't notice the haphazard set up, and just assumed it was part of a reckless zest for fun. But I will agree with such a solid, intense episode, two more minutes to set it up securely would have made this one of the best episodes since the return of the series.
Daniel Goss
12. Beren
One thing about Rory's "Then I don't want to travel with you." and "You're making me like you." (but not like-like, I assume. Sorry, moving on.)

I'd like to see that fester. Rory has always seemed like this whole 'TARDIS thing' is just something he's doing because he wants to be with Amy, and this is where Amy happens to be at the moment. Now having been faced with the very real prospect of losing her, or worse than losing her, I would like to see his motives shift slightly to making a very real effort to get Amy out of the TARDIS and back to 'real life.' I don't see how seeing this, and especially feeling what he felt when he had to leave Amy behind, can fail to effect him in a profound way.
-Beren
JCHicks
13. Edward Brennan
It does seem, with this and the last episodes, that Moffat fails in his desire for a working series arc. I can see team TARDIS having adventures when there is nothing particularly pressing, or that they get sidetracked by unforseen forces, but from a series perspective Moffat fails to balance his desire for a series arc and a desire (and I believe a good one) for stand alone episodes.

I actually love the grand arc for this season, and I love episodes like this and "the Doctor's Wife", but Moffat is getting so sloppy in showrunning he ends up hurting both aims.
JCHicks
14. Pendard
@Teresa (#10): I suppose it does look like an elevator -- that is a good point. I just think that we, the audience, are on guard against anything in the first five minutes of an episode, but Amy and Rory don't know it's the first five minutes of an episode. It seems like a simple door to them. They don't give any thought to any of the other doors they walk through, why should they think too much about this one? (If anything was weird, it was that Amy walked into the room when she could see through the door that the Doctor and Rory weren't in there.)
Sky Thibedeau
15. SkylarkThibedeau
Since the return of the series the Doctor has begun to remind me a bit of the Squire of Gothos or Q from Star Trek. A bit of an omnipotent but Childish being. I'm wondering if Time Lords regress with each generation becoming less mature with each rebirth?
JCHicks
16. sofrina
what's troubling about the initial mix up is that amy can see them through the door, but when it opens and they aren't in the room, she goes in anyway. i think they were all culpable.

it was a marvelous episode but so many nitpicks are out for everyone to see. what's amy been eating all these years, where does she sleep, has no one on this planet stopped by for a maintenance check or something?, how has amy's outfit - and cell phone battery - held up all this time? why did no one use melody as a temptation to the older amy to help save young amy?
Teresa Jusino
17. TeresaJusino
Beren @12 - I actually feel like they might be headed toward that, if rumors about Karen Gillan's other projects that conflict w/Doctor Who shooting next year are to be believed...

Edward Brennan @13 - Doctor Who is the one show I give a free pass as far as story arc simply because of the nature of the show. I partly agree with you, but at the same time, I can accept that they have adventures interspersed with the main story arc because of the way they travel. What we see on the show can be happening at any time. And from a practical perspective, I think the audience can use a break from the main story arc every now and again, and constant reminders of the arc - like seeing the crack in EVERY EPISODE - can sometimes be annoying. :)

Pendard @14 - See, I don't think that's the case. I think a normal, not-in-a-Doctor-Who episode person would ask which button. I think that Amy and Rory, who DO live in Doctor Who, would be ESPECIALLY likely to ask which button. They thought the door was weird when they first got out of the TARDIS. And big colored buttons with pictures on them? I dunno. I feel like anyone would want to figure out what those pictures mean before pressing anything...

Skylark @15 - that's an interesting comparison! I'd agree with that, except that The Doctor, unlike Q, doesn't play with people's lives for fun. He's genuinely doing (or trying to do) good.

Sofrina @16 - I actually didn't think there were that many nitpicks. All of the things you bring up are actually answered really simply. Amy is in a care facility. With the Interface to help her, getting around the sensors to get things like food would be quite possible. Also, it's capable of giving patients whatever they want and need. I'm sure a power source for a cell phone wouldn't be hard to acquire. As for where she slept, we saw that. She seemed to have built a place made out of the same screens that would make her undetectable to the sensors - the same ones she put all over her makeshift armor.

However, it IS interesting that no one brought up Melody as an enticement. However, I think that Amy's love of Rory is stronger. That didn't seem particularly strange to me.
JCHicks
18. Scavenger
Actually, i think it is elligible for an Emmy. The guy from Luthor, another BBCA show was up for an Emmy, iirc.

This episode is rather like a frabagie egg. Very pretty, but very fragile...if you start poking at it..why didn't Rory say to press green...how does the red stream work...it fallsmapart very quickly.
JCHicks
19. Smaug's Li'l Brother Puff
So... From the Doctor's perspective roughly as much time elapsed -- beginning of episode to end -- before Rory entered the Red Waterfall as after. So why didn't Rory age 30-something years (and Amy another 3osome along with him) while he was in there? Amy aged a week just while the men were in the Green Anchor.

And don't "wibbly-wobbly" me. It's cute when #10 says it. It's annoying as "frak" when anyone else does. ;-P
JCHicks
20. Narmitaj
In the Doctor Who Confidential after it (45-min Making Ofs shown after each show episode on BBC3 in the UK, at least) they showed the elaborate ageing prosthetic makeup Karen Gillan had to wear, and various people praised her performance, which I thought was fine. But why not make her hair different to help her along? Surely it would have been relatively simple for it to have been greyed and tied up in a bun or handled differently or something - going from 23 to 59 is a bit of a step, but the hair (and her legs & trousers, for that matter) looked identical.

I wonder why it had to be 36 years rather than, say, 24. Maybe I missed that bit. I also thought the failure to handle the red/green button issue was clunky, a minor bit of idiot plottery.
JCHicks
21. Kvon
I agree that this was one of the most touching episodes of Who in a while, but I kept wondering, Rory waited for Amy for 2,000 years, and Amy is irritated at just 36 years? Granted, it's likely easier if you're made of plastic.

I loved the idea of older Amy wandering through the universe on her own, and was really hoping she go that chance. Great portrayal of a competent and brilliant if bitter older woman.
Teresa Jusino
22. TeresaJusino
Smaug's @19 - The only reason there was an old Amy and a young Amy is that The Doctor brought them to the wrong point in the timestream. Rory wouldn't have aged, because he and Young Amy and The Doctor were in the same time stream.

Narmitaj @20 - I noticed about her body staying the same, but not her hair. However, looking back I could imagine that Older Amy, feeling a bit self-conscious about getting older even on her own, might dye her hair or something. They don't explain it, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.

Kvon @21 - Exactly. Plastic. Rory never got hungry, or tired, or cold. :) He also wasn't depending on Amy to save him. He was guarding Amy. Amy was more bitter, because she was made to feel helpless, then had to help herself. Rory wasn't waiting, he was guarding. One is passive, the other is active. Amy, strong-willed as she is, was bitter in part about being forced to be passive. AGAIN.
JCHicks
23. Narmitaj
@TeresaJusino - sure, Amy Pond might have wanted to dye her hair. But it was a more a production rather than character thought - making an actor's hair go a bit grey is a relatively simple contribution to age-making.

I also wondered why Rory hadn't brought up the 2000-year wait he'd gone through, then thought maybe that was part of some other other time-stream/universe... I haven't kept track of all the continuity issues over the last couple of series!
JCHicks
24. Raskolnikov
On the whole I liked it. A lot of the episode went with some conventional creepiness, but there were enough twists and innovation to make it appealing. Not hugely surprising--once the future Amy showed up the course of the story was pretty obvious, and as a moral dilemma it wasn't as powerful as the episode seemed to believe it was. In particular, with the future vs past self I was reminded a lot of Star Trek DS9's "Children of Time", an ultimately much meatier, wide-scale and interesting approach. There it was a whole ship's crew involved, the sure knowledge that one of them would die almost immediately, as laid against 200 years of subsequent generations with 10,000 descendants risking being retroactively erased. What made this particular episode more simplistic than it needed to be was the indication of how bad the time gap was for future-Amy---she describes it as hell at one point, so it's far less of a reach to conclude that the better alternative is to take the (familiar) present Amy and avoid all that isolation. And I have to say, I was rankled a bit by the subtext of this episode, the way that Amy's hopes for a better personal timeline were inseparably linked to having her romantic interest. And that in the end the choice was made to sacrifice the more independent, intelligent and resourceful Amy. Still, it was an overall good episode, with lot more substance than the preceding two, and playing around with the structures of timetravel a lot more than was usual. Not as meaty as the previous man Rory/Amy tortured relationship choices episodes--Amy's Choice and the Big Bang--but fairly good in the overall atmosphere, and benefits from drawing out the companions as characters a lot more than recent episodes have done.
JCHicks
25. Smaug's Li'l Brother Puff
Teresa@22: Duh. Thanks.

I'd like a time stream that helps me get smarter faster. kbai.
marian moore
26. mariesdaughter
It may be a bobble, but I think that Rory did not tell Amy which button to press because he assumed that they were so much on the same wavelength that she would naturally pick the same button as he did. (Or maybe that is my own experience speaking)

What I find interesting (again) is given that the Doctor Who universe is a god-less universe, how the writers come to make the Doctor "god". I wonder if that is just something we humans do. It’s something I watch for and it’s interesting to catch instances of.
A few--
At the very beginning of this Doctor, Amy is praying at her bedside for someone to close the crack in her wall and the Doctor shows up.
In the Hitler episode, the Doctor criticizes the folks punishing criminals for acting as god and then asks ‘and I wonder who you think I am’ (which can be interpreted more than one way—nice touch).
Last week, the Doctor hears a child's fear of monsters and comes running.
Amy calls the Doctor "The voice of God" here and as 'God', the Doctor hands a moral choice over to Rory to make.
In fact, way back to Tennant’s Doctor – people are always looking up to the skies and wondering when the Doctor will appear, like that bearded guy in the sky that they used to pray to, I guess. In the “Children” episodes of Torchwood we are up to the book of Job, I guess. Because Gwen is noting that sometimes the Doctor must turn away from Earth in shame. The Doctor has not responded to their prayers of rescue.
JCHicks
27. Pendard
@Skylark (#15): The Eleventh Doctor doesn't really act more immature than the First, Second, Third, Fourth or Sixth. They're all a pretty petulant, irresponsible bunch. I will grant, however, that he is getting more powerful which can make his immaturity more frightening.

@Raskolnikov (#24): I didn't think of the connection with DS9's "Children of Time" but I definitely see it now that you mention it. It's different enough that I wouldn't say it's derivative, but a definite similarity. DS9 had more scope, but this episode was better at making you feel complicit in the end of the episode. The DS9 crew were ready to sacrifice themselves for their future descendants before the alternate timeline Odo stopped them. In this episode, the Doctor has to betray the future version of Amy, and we, as viewers reluctantly give his betrayal our blessing just like Rory did. Excellent material either way, though!
Kevin Connolly
28. Cross777
I've finally come to understand this is no longer my Doctor. I've seen
pretty much all of the Doctors and I cannot ever remember the Doctor
MURDERING a companion before. Lying to the older Pond and then leaving her behind is not my Doctor.

I was willing to forgive RTD ignoring all the previous history of this show, because Christopher Eccleston sold me on the fatigued, angry survivor trying to recapture his past. I stuck through the goofy Ten and horrible Rose hoping for better and finally getting it with Matt Smith. Better, but clearly not as enjoyable as the old adventures.

He is becoming a simpsons character with his stupid catch phrases "glasses are cool" really, aren't you sick of what is cool or timey whimey? This is supposed to be a TIMELORD, not a prop for the companions . Get back to space, helping people and fighting eveil races. Meet some new races, old friends, perhaps another time lord or two, something.
Ursula L
29. Ursula
I liked the way in which this tied into the story arc.

Despite the Doctor's manipulations, and the pressure on Rory to choose, in the end, it was old-Amy who decided her own fate, and to rewrite her own past. And Rory, with great sorrow, let the older version of Amy go, because that is what she chose. He was ready to open the door and let her in, if that was what she wanted, letting her older-self decide whether or not her younger self should go through such difficult and transformative experiences.

And that goes nicely to the question of who gets to choose baby-Melody's future, when adult-Melody, as River in the Library, has said that her life should not be rewritten.

On the one hand, old-Amy let her past be rewritten,and wrote herself out of existence, so her younger self could be happy. Is that the choice that should be made for Melody/Mels/River, to write out Mels and River so that Melody can have a happy and normal childhood, rather than the difficult life she clearly had?

On the other hand, it was old-Amy who chose her own fate, rather than someone else choosing for her, which suggests that River in the Library has the right to choose for baby-Melody, even against the dreams of her parents and their desire to love and care for their infant child.
JCHicks
30. Smaug's Li'l Brother Puff
Cross777: While I think you're overstating things a mite -- the Doctor didn't murder anyone; he repaired a timeline that never should have been split -- I totally agree with your last few sentences. This season feels a lot smaller in scale compared to the previous five. The whole thing has become a little parlor drama with four characters. Even the episodes with Utah locations, and the Idris episode set outside the universe, something about them felt unappealingly restrained and close.

I miss the wide open expansive rush of things before this particular story arc closed in. Unless the next few eps are just spectacular mind-fucks, I'm afraid this will go down as the overall weakest series of the modern era.
JCHicks
31. AlBrown
I liked this episode, the set up did seem a little thin when examined too closely, but when you have to present a whole new world in just the first couple of minutes of an episode, sometimes you have to use a kind of shorthand to do that.
After SO much story arc and so much frantic pace in the beginning of the season, it is nice to get some stand alone episodes in the second half. Sometimes you need to slow down the pace and let the story breathe a little. As much as I liked A Good Man Goes to War, for example, it was a definite trip to Short Attention Span Theater (Look, Cybermen! Look, Spitfires! Look, Victorian ninja lizard lady! Look, blue guy! Look, Rory back in Roman garb! And Headless Monks and weird military religious orders! Not to mention, The Big Reveal!).
And as for myself, I think we have had far too many stories that hinge on time paradoxes this season. Just go somewhere, and deal with the issues that are present at that time and place, for goodness sake!
Bottom line, though, this episode had some good writing, and good acting, especially from our Ms. Pond(s).
Ashe Armstrong
32. AsheSaoirse
When I finished the episode, the only thing I could think is, "Mr. and Mrs. Amy Pond, you are smashing." Loved this episode. And Rory DOES become a superhero for her! I love Rory! Karen was fantastic in this episode as well, utterly brilliant. Set-up, yeah, kinda lax but the rest of the episode was just amazing.
JCHicks
33. mutantalbinocrocodile
What I'm wondering about Amy/Rory, though, is how much their current marriage is a product of the rebooted universe. Amy always loving Rory, even as a child, really doesn't line up with what we saw of their dynamic in Season Five. He was at that time clearly a boyfriend/fiance of convenience who Amy was embarrassed of, and she didn't really understand that she loved him until he was dead. The current Amy, who has grown up with her parents, Rory, and Mels, is really not the same person emotionally as last season.
JCHicks
34. Raskolnikov
#28: The Doctor has murdered a companion before. You forgot about Kamelion?

#29: Tie in to the story arc? I think that's taking a really optimstic approach to things. No one in the story even mentions Rory waiting for Amy several thousand years, it works better as a standalone that doesn't even respect late S5, much less the positioning of the Doctor and Companions in the current rush toards Utah stuff.
Bike Baykara
35. Amarie
What I find interesting is not just that Amy and Rory chose different buttons but also the buttons themselves. Rory chose the green anchor the calm color and well, anchor is a bit too obivous. Amy chose the red waterfall, the color we think represents danger and waterfall as a more dynamic symbol.

I think someone mentioned but I find the fact that they completely forget about their child - who obviously had at the very least a difficult childhood - and do not look for the younger version of her at all just wrong. Yes since they saw River and Mels it might be an established fact now but wouldn't you talk or think about her at all?

And I agree, we need more episodes which is built upon something other than time paradoxes.
JCHicks
36. theoncominghope
I think the question of “right” is essential to looking at the episode. I’m grateful that the episode didn’t make light of the consequences of the decision, but I do believe the Doctor went too far, which could potentially be fantastic for the narrative.

A few too many thoughts on last night’s Doctor Who: http://theoncominghope.blogspot.com/2011/09/doctor-who-on-forgotten-wives-and.html
Kevin Connolly
37. Cross777
#30 - I still say Murder. He could have saved her, I mean come on he had two versions of himself back at the end of the Rose arc. He and the Tardis could have handled two Ponds.

#34 - I think Kamelion was more assisted suicide than muder. Kamelion was sentient to a degree, but he was more machine than life.
Jenny Thrash
38. Sihaya
There was so much wrong with this episode I don't know where to begin. Everybody's emotional gurnings turned on both the stupid button incident and a truly, deeply faulty explanation of the time stream thing (The victims' whole freakin bodies are in the other stream - they would die in twenty-four hours of their own relative time, or a gnat's breath of the observer's time). Amy goes on and on about her 36 years and Rory never once grows a backbone and says, "Woman, I did it for a thousand years. Do I ever wonder out loud if you were worth the wait? And I once heard this story about a guy named Jack who makes us both look like pansies." Amy figured out how to fight the robots and taught herself to build a sonic screwdriver, but never figured out how to program the system, or where the robots come from. She never hacked her ID, the robots' travel system, or even the food production system, apparently. She 'disarmed' her Rory robot but didn't try to see if she could do that alot more times. She didn't try to see if she could exit the facility out some other end, maybe the bottom of the garden or the back of the cinema. So she was supposed to have taught herself these amazing things in 36 years, but never once used actual problem solving skills. And then she blames the Doctor.
In many ways, this is the exact episode where Amy proves herself to be totally passive. Up until now I've kind of defended such activities as natural to her life, the spots she's gotten in, etc. But now she's got 30 years to solve a problem that is, frankly, not going anywhwere. And she decides to be really, really angry instead. And her priorities are revealed. She never once says, "I miss my daughter." Which actually, yes, does bug the ever living smudge out of me. She just hangs out. All the "amazing things" that make old Amy who she is are really pretty small. I would have destroyed her timestream, too. And no, I don't think it's the same thing as killing someone. Something that never happened? Never actually happened. Unfortunately in this case it effected two observers, anyway, like a shared bad dream.

The episode's visual creativity, on the other hand, is truly amazing and at some point I just turned off my brain and let my eyes drink it in. I was actually pretty happy to just enjoy the alien visual concepts, the garden that should have been put into an episode of "The Prisoner," and the blue .... thing in the art gallery. The robots and the engine room made me think alot of the fifth Doctor's days, too. So I could watch this episode again - with the sound off.
David Thomson
39. ZetaStriker
Cross@37: Actually, it seems fairly consistent to me. It's not a matter of an Amy from a different point in her timeline, it's an Amy from a timeline that doesn't even exist any longer. We've seen paradoxes before, but when time gets changed, it generally stays changed. This seems more on the level of the alternate dimension stuff that happened at the end of the Rose arc, and we already know that the TARDIS can't ordinarily handle that.

As for the Doctor, he didn't think he killed her because to him she never existed in the first place. He changed that future, and therefore it never happened. I like it, really, because it goes to show how alien his perception of time really is. I think they spend far too much time making his seem like a really well-traveled human, so bits like this should come up more often in my opinion.
Kristen Templet
40. SF_Fangirl
Sihaya@38. Amen. I am shocked at the praise being heaped on this episode that I found pretty lame. The weak set up was obvious from the get go. The Doctor being succeptable to Chen7 (and even his regenerations wouldn't save him) so he has to remain in the Tardis is inconsistant with the entire history of Doctor Who which has never shown him ill.

Old Amy, who described her life as hell, refusing to allow her younger self to be saved to prevent the life of hell occuring is just wierd. I appreciate that she obviously was not suicidal since she fought for her life everyday, but inisisting on retaining her 36 years of solitude seemed a odd choice once offered the opportunity to prevent it.

And then there was the cop out at the end of Amy trapped outside the Tardis door telling Rory not to open it. The Doctor lied and made a horrible decision and forced Rory to support it (by doing nothing), but to have older Amy offer absolution undercuts it.

I was pleasantly surprised by the plot when the Doctor locked the older Amy outside. I fully expected that she'd sacrafice her life for Rory's or young Amy since we knew the episode had to end with only a single, 20ish Amy. I'm not happy with what that means for the Doctor's character though.

A very disappointing episode really.
Teresa Jusino
41. TeresaJusino
SF_Fangirl @40 - We obviously disagree as far as the interpretations of certain actions in the episode, but I was particularly struck by one of your criticisms:

The Doctor being succeptable to Chen7 (and even his regenerations wouldn't save him) so he has to remain in the Tardis is inconsistant with the entire history of Doctor Who which has never shown him ill.

Never shown The Doctor ill? Really? The Third Doctor was never ill and in a situation where Jo Grant had to go get help because he couldn't wake up? The Doctor has totally been sick before. And he's an alien, not a God. It's entirely possible that there are diseases that affect his species.

Sihaya @38 -
a truly, deeply faulty explanation of the time stream thing (The victims' whole freakin bodies are in the other stream - they would die in twenty-four hours of their own relative time, or a gnat's breath of the observer's time).

You have that backwards. It's a kindness to the patient not to the visitor. To the patient, they are living a whole life. To the visitor, only 24 hours have passed. So the visitor in the Green Anchor would sit there for a day, but the patient would feel like they were there their whole lives. To Amy, 36 years had passed, but to Rory and The Doctor, it was minutes. It wasn't that hard to understand, and it wasn't a faulty explanation.

As for Amy not escaping on her own, she chose to survive and stay, because she said she would wait. Rory is her husband, the person she loves more than anyone or anything in the world. The person she once destroyed an existence for. She trusted his word that she would come back for her. It's not that she "couldn't" figure out a way out, it's that she didn't want to. She was being true to her word. And yes, she got angry and bitter, but it also shows that Amy never gave up hope and faith, which is also very true to who she is. It would be easy to say "Eh. Rory's not coming back. I'm on my own." It's much stronger to hold on to your faith. So, she either escapes on her own and gives up on her faith in everything she holds dear, or she stays and uses her resourcefulness to survive while ALSO staying true to herself and not giving up hope. I love the choice she made.
Jenny Thrash
42. Sihaya
"You have that backwards. It's a kindness to the patient not to the visitor. To the patient, they are living a whole life. To the visitor, only 24 hours have passed. So the visitor in the Green Anchor would sit there for a day, but the patient would feel like they were there their whole lives. To Amy, 36 years had passed, but to Rory and The Doctor, it was minutes. It wasn't that hard to understand, and it wasn't a faulty explanation."

But it was. In the red time stream the plague victims theoretically live a whole lifetime because a whole lifetime actually passes within that stream. But that doesn't make sense. Their bodies are going through that stream, too, not just their brains. In the contracted time stream, the victims' bodies would have 24 hours *relative to the victims' personal time stream,* whichever stream they were in. There wouldn't be a lifetime for the patient.

As for the other thing - I have faith in my husband, but I also know that things happen. I'm not dumb. He could get hit by a bus tomorrow; that wouldn't be proof that he somehow lacks moral and emotional fiber. Getting my own butt through the day when I promised to wait for him would definitely not mean I didn't have faith in him. It would mean that I wasn't choosing to be helpless. And let's say that, having some understanding of the two timestream problem, I did decide to wait for him, because he could simply be struggling with some small problem? If I was smart enough, like I said, to figure out how to invent a sonic scredriver then I would have been working on alot more problems to make life bareable at that place. Amy attacked her symptoms rather than her problem.

You hate the 'girl in a box' episodes, right? The ones where Amy is made truly, deeply helpless? I don't mid those, because I've found that everybody winds up in a box at some point. That's real life. I've been in a box a couple of times. But to me, this was an episode where Amy was put in a roomy toolbox - one with manuals and even some toys. And she made it the smallest, most uncomfortable, ugliest toolbox she possibly could, and she held the lid shut. It wasn't some deep cosmic love that made her do it, in my opinion, it was stupidity. And she was made stupid, extremely stupid, more than TV threshold stupid, to suit the writers' needs at the same time that said writers were trying to convince me that she's so danged brilliant. They made her stupid and told me she was smart. I really couldn't abide that.
David Thomson
43. ZetaStriker
Well I hated the Doctor's Wife, which Annie@5 seemed to think was universally loved too. In fact, I hated it so much I've still only seen 3/4ths of it. I got bored and annoyed with the entire idea of the plotline, and just backed out. Only Doctor Who episode I never finished. That's my controversial statement of the day.
JCHicks
44. Pendard
@Sihaya (#42): When Amy has been trapped in the Red Waterfall room for a week, the Doctor asks her what she ate during the week and she says nothing, she wasn't hungry, so he concludes that she's experiencing compressed time.

The Red Waterfall time continuum has been altered so a patient can live at an accelerated rate while the disease progresses on the outside world's schedule. It kills the patient in 24 hours real time, but they've lived their entire lives in the meantime, stopping to eat a meal every few decades. It's pretty clearly explained that it works that way. If you want to know how it works, on the other hand, you'd have to ask an Apalapachian.
Jenny Thrash
45. Sihaya
Pendard@#44 - The line's there, but the explanation is nonsense. The Doctor might as well say "Fish." Why would the disease progress on the outside world's schedule? It really shouldn't - it's right in there with the patient. So is her breakfast, and the rest of her metabolism. If her metabolism is really in the outside timestream, then that creates another list of wrong, a cascade of wrong spilling all over the place.
Ursula L
46. Ursula
One thing I thought was that at the end, when Rory was about to let older-Amy in to the TARDIS, it wasn't just that he didn't have self control, it was that he was actually willing to choose older-Amy, because choosing older-Amy meant choosing all of Amy - she is younger-Amy, plus thirty-odd years of life experience.

Older-Amy's life certainly hadn't been easy. But it was hers. And it was a triumph - she survived against amazing odds, both physical and psychological. Older-Amy was hardened by her difficulties, but she still retained Amy's essential passion for life.

And she wasn't willing to write off everything she fought for, just because the Doctor thought her existance was a mistake. Amy had fought to live, and she kept fighting to live, right up until the end.
And for Rory, Amy is always Amy, whatever her age. And if Amy, decades older, says that the fighting life she's led is worthwhile, Rory is not going to call her, or her life, a mistake to be undone.

In the end, older-Amy is the one who chose. And older-Amy is the only one with the right to choose, as she is the one who lived those years and can best judge if they were worth living, and she is the one who will be gone if those years of experience are unwritten.
R O T
47. rogerothornhill
Missed this three days ago but glad to read it now: once again, a perfect gloss on a welldone bit of television. I do think it's time for Rory & Amy to leave the TARDIS, though: they have enough legitimate issues with 11 and if they ever want to have children . . .
JCHicks
48. Peggy Erickson
Regarding The Girl Who Waited, what are the symptoms of Chen-7, or Gen-7 illness? Please email me at Dr.WhoPeggy@gmail.com
Thanks, Peggy

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