Mon
Sep 19 2011 11:44am

Doctor Who S6, Ep 11: “The God Complex”

Doctor Who S6, Ep 11: “The God Complex”

I was loving “The God Complex” for most of the episode. The story of Team TARDIS being trapped in what resembles a 1980s-style hotel — along with three others at the mercy of a monster trying to scare them into worship — was really appealing to me. It reminded me both of Twin Peaks and of The Shining at various moments. The psychological nature of the fears involved were more adult than usually dealt with on Doctor Who, and this was a great dose of real fright after the disappointing “Night Terrors.” Up until about three-quarters of the way through, I was loving every minute.

Immediate spoilers ahead.

Then I suddenly started feeling less sure about the whole thing. I couldn’t put my finger on it — it was still the same interesting story, and the performances were some of the strongest yet — but as the ending played out, there was something that was rubbing me the wrong way. And then it hit me:

Everything I loved about Amy Pond had been unceremoniously destroyed in what appears to be her last episode as a full-time companion.

 

Doctor Who S6, Ep 11: “The God Complex”

Amelia Pond’s Story

From the very beginning, and as I’ve mentioned before, Amy’s story has largely been about her transformation from a childish, obstinate “Alpha female” to a mature, more trusting, more comfortably vulnerable woman. She started out suspicious of everyone, including the Doctor and Rory, almost daring them to let her down, because she was so sure they would. In the two seasons we’ve shared with Amy, she’s become a woman who is strong enough to trust, to believe. Whereas she started out not being comfortable enough with intimacy to even acknowledge Rory as her boyfriend, she’s ended up being his biggest champion and seeing him for the hero he is. Whereas she started out being resentful of The Doctor for keeping her waiting, she’s grown up enough to realize that, whether The Doctor is on time or not, he always will come back when he says he will. She might not be able to trust his handling of the TARDIS, or his attention span when faced with a shiny thing, but she can always trust his intentions with her, and the fact that he genuinely cares for her and will always try. Even Older Amy, from “The Girl Who Waited,” was able to overcome her bitterness and realize that no matter what The Doctor does or doesn’t do, holding on to her faith in others, this new but integral part of herself, is so important, because the alternative is “hell.”

Now, suddenly, Amy is told there is no Santa Claus, having faith is bad, and then gets dropped of at home. The end.

It feels like everything that has been built up in Amy for two seasons has been shattered for the sake of a plot device. What makes it worse is that she also doesn’t seem to have any faith in herself here, which is strange and unlike the Amy Pond we’ve gotten to know. Once it was determined that the “alien minotaur” was feeding off of faith, and The Doctor started encouraging her to lose her faith in him, I was sure that she was not only going to increase her faith in The Doctor, but in Rory, and in herself. I was sure that she was going to decide to defeat the monster by overfeeding it, causing it to overdose on the very thing it craved. I was sure that Amy Pond, she who’s spent two (of our) years tearing down her walls and learning to love and trust, would’ve become so filled with faith energy that the monster would’ve exploded!

Instead, The Doctor takes charge, throws Amy’s faith to the wolves (as if it’s his to take or give away), and then brings Amy and Rory home, giving them a new car as if by staying alive this long, they’ve just won a game show.

A lot of people have a problem with Amy, because they see her as an example of a “woman in a refrigerator.” I love Amy, because she’s learned not to fight. Fighting is easy, especially for her. At the start, Amy fought with everyone all the time. She fought against the world, constantly. Her journey, for me, was about learning humility; learning that you don’t have to stand on your own against the world all the time. It’s funny, but I can’t help but think of Harry Potter as a comparison. His journey was similar. At first, he thought he had to defeat Voldemort on his own, that it was his lonely cross to bear, but by the end of seven books he learns that his friends are what make him strong. It’s interesting to me that, when a man makes this discovery, it’s revelatory. What? He’s learned to ask for directions? How big of him! He’s becoming so sensitive! Yet a female character like Amy has to overcompensate because she’s a woman. Not only is she never allowed to suffer, lest she fall into the “women in refrigerators” trope, but she’s also never allowed to put herself into another’s care. Because that would be weakness.

It’s so... womanly.

Seen as a whole, Amy Pond has had what is usually a male character’s journey, which was made all the more interesting because she was also a mother. Now, writer Toby Whithouse has taken that away in one fell swoop, souring what appears to be Amy and Rory’s last episode as companions. The Doctor’s talk about Amy having a “bigger, scarier adventure waiting for [her] in there” with Rory, as well as Amy asking The Doctor to tell Melody to “visit her old mum sometime,” seem like tacked-on attempts at implying that Amy will hold onto the faith she’s lost one way or another, but by then it’s too late.

 

Doctor Who S6, Ep 11: “The God Complex”

The Doctor as God

While it seems that Amy’s character had to be sacrificed in order for this to happen, there are some amazing things happening in “The God Complex” relating to The Doctor’s character arc. As I mentioned last week, we see in Eleven the culmination of lessons learned by Nine and Ten. Since Doctor Who’s return in 2005, we’ve seen The Doctor go from scarred and haunted, to so sure that he was doing good in the universe that he became borderline megalomaniacal. Eleven’s journey has been about balancing that out, and here we see him confronted with another “ancient creature drenched in the blood of the innocent drifting in space through an endless shifting maze,” which forces him to confront the worst parts of himself. Two people die because of his faulty hypothesis, and he realizes that the biggest complaint about him — one that both River and Rory make, that what makes him dangerous is that those who follow him don’t want to disappoint him — is true. By learning this truth now, he gets to do one better than Nine or Ten, and seems to have actually learned from past mistakes. Rather than waiting for a huge catastrophe to take his companion away from him, in leaving Amy now, The Doctor is being preventative.

 

Doctor Who S6, Ep 11: “The God Complex”

The Talent

Last week was Karen Gillan’s show, but this week it was all about Matt Smith. One of the things that make him such an amazing Doctor is his ability to convey childlike wonder and ancient wisdom all at once, and in this episode he’s at the height of his power. In the final scene with Amy, he was such a defeated old man, and when the tears welled up in his eyes as he bid Amy goodbye, I was reminded of William Hartnell’s sad, far-off look as he left Susan behind. Smith’s physical acting is amazing, and watching him wordlessly stand hunched over wringing his hands alone at the TARDIS controls in the final shot was heartbreaking.

This is not to say that Gillan wasn’t great in this episode. She was, and the power of The Doctor and Amy’s goodbye scene rested largely on her shoulders. Another stand-out was Amara Karan as Rita, who was so interesting to watch that I wish she would’ve lasted long enough to take The Doctor up on his offer to show her time and space.

Doctor Who S6, Ep 11: “The God Complex”

As a standalone story, Toby Whithouse wrote a solid, frightening, entertaining script. However, for the reasons cited above, I don’t think it fits in well with the rest of the season, and it is hugely flawed character-wise. I question Steven Moffat’s judgement, too, in letting this episode stand the way it is.

Had a story like “The God Complex” happened earlier in the season and with a different ending, I might be able to look more favorably upon it. As it stands now, it’s a disappointment.

I’m very much looking forward to the return of Craig (of “The Lodger” fame) next week! Might he be The Doctor’s new companion? Will Craig and his wife be the new Mr. and Mrs. Pond? Or will Craig travel in the TARDIS alone, so that he and Eleven can rock a Second Doctor/Jaime-style bromance? Or does this have nothing to do with anything? (Probably.) Stay tuned!

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


Teresa Jusino will never give up her faith. 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.

57 comments
F Shelley
1. FSS
Yeah - I'm waiting to see if Moffet can pull it all together somehow to make this a satisfying season. To date, it really hasn't been a good one to me. There are still several loose ends to get tied up:

1. The Doctor dying
2. Has Amy made her peace with it?
3. The Doctor not finding Melody/River and returning her to her Mom
4. Has Amy made her peace with it?
5. Eyepatch River (from the Promos)?
6. And I had read somewhere that Karen Gillam had signed on for another season, so how will they bring her back?


It seems as though this season, especially the 2nd half, has been about laying the Doctor low. The ultimate question to me seems to be whether this season will end with a defeated and humbled Doctor, or whether he will figure out a way to re-write the entire timeline from Demon's Run (or even before).
warduke72
2. warduke72
I think this episode's Doctor is the gangerDoc...He takes a couple of big bites out of an apple which the Doctor previously stated he HATES apples...and previews I read for the next episode said he spends 200 years(his time) alone before hooking up with Amy and Rory again which loops back to episode 1 of the season. So it should be interesting how Steven ties up the timey-wimey bow!
warduke72
3. Brenda F
I definitely agree with the feeling of being excited for this episode, of having chills thinking about a minotaur in a 1980's hotel labyrinth! I was sure the episode was going to be great! Then came the ending.

Out of many things in this episode the one that drove me nuts was this - faith. We say Howie's faith in conspiracies got him killed... and say Rory has no faith? If you're opening the field that wide doesn't Rory have faith in his wife? In not giving up? That he will always do everything to be there to save Amy? And that's just exploring things from Rory's end. When you get down to it... is there faith in having a TV series return after a 16 year absence?

This week's Doctor Who solution is to abandon faith... but the actual premise of 'faith' was never fully explored so it all felt hollow to me in the end. The concept of faith has been part of Doctor Who in various forms and was worthy of a far better exploration than it was given here.
R O T
4. rogerothornhill
Teresa, I think this is the first time I've ever disagreed with one of your analyses, but it's so cogent that it's making me doubt my own reaction to the episode.

Before I read your analysis, what I felt this harked back to was something like "School Reunion," the idea that anything after travelling with the Doctor would always seem like a letdown, which by the way is another subtle cruelty that the Time Lord inflicts on his companions. He always goes on about how simple humanity is heroic, but here he seems to be telling Amy that living a normal life can be its own adventure and its own form of heroism, something that is by no means gender-specific and something that I think he may be longing after himself in a way. (Hence the visit to Craig, a possible wedding . . . ) This is a possibility that was never open to Rose, for example, certainly not to Donna, maybe not even to Martha.

But you're right: this ep nails the Doctor's arc much more satisfyingly than Amy's. You're definitely shaking my resolve.

Amy & Rory are confirmed for the Christmas special, which is currently shooting in Cardiff. A few months ago I was sorta hoping that the buildup to the 50th anniversary would see the Doctor travelling with a child again, the way he did in the beginning, but this time with a young Melody Pond, but "Let's Kill Hitler" sorta blew that idea out of the water. I do think the Pond-Williams clan, however, have hit their shelf life as companions.

I think it's time for him to travel with either a kid or a bloke now, though, possibly both. We need a change.
R O T
5. rogerothornhill
Oh and do we have confirmation anywhere that what the Doctor saw in Room 11 were Daleks? ("Of course.") When I heard that there were Daleks in the clipreel from the rest of this season that Der Moff showed at BFI last month, this was my immediate thought. That way, he could bring back the Daleks without really bringing back the Daleks, keeping his usual trickster word.
warduke72
6. ShellyS
The Doctor told her what he did because he needed to defeat the minotaur that was using faith against people and Amy was next.

The Doctor has said he lies.

If anything Moffat's run has taught me, it's that we can't trust what we see and hear and there is definitely more, I believe, to this story. We thought Rory was dead and erased from time, but he came back. This is but one chapter in this season. The story isn't over. I'm still enjoying the journey.

And whatever the Doctor's motives in telling her what he did, she did need to hear it. It's one thing to believe without question, but another, better IMO, thing to question and still believe.

And good catch, warduke72, about the apple. I noticed that but didn't think it through.

A friend says that's the house they were in at the beginning of this season, when Amy and Rory get the unsubtle messages from the Doctor. So, it's not just that he dropped them off at home, but when? I think this is all part of the story of the astronaut and how they all ended up at that lake.
warduke72
7. Bhek
"Seen as a whole, Amy Pond has had what is usually a male character’s
journey, which was made all the more interesting because she was also a mother."

...except not. Neither her nor Rory did anything parent-y after having the baby. They were sad they'd lost her for like five minutes and then never grieved for her or mentioned her again. Amy had a baby, yes, but she never did anything motherly, so I think it's kind of overreaching to say "she was also a mother" as if that actually happened and was a significant point in her characterization.
warduke72
8. Ali87
I agree about the gangerDoctor. He hates apples!

I rather thought he saw himself in the room. Didn't Amy's Choice say that he was his own greatest enemy?
Ashley Fox
9. A Fox
This one suffered from way too much tell, rather than show. So many plot holes, this ep really made me question why this ep order was chosen, a bit to timey whimey happy.

urgh I did actually have a few oints but I cant concentrate as my toddler is attacking me with an orange.

Ganger Dr-the part where the Doc and Minotaur are locked in the bathroom together, the doc is standing behind a sheet of glass with flowing water, and looks strikingly like the Ganger Doctor before his features settled. (You know a bit Voldermorty, to follow on the bizarre HP refs )
warduke72
10. Raskolnikov
Pretty significant episode, and one that really surprised me at several points. Did not expect to have a send-off for the companions two episodes before the end of the season, and it seemed overall well handled. Given the abruptness of that send-off and other comments it seems there is followup in the offering, and to an extent I'll have to reserve judgment. Since this episode involves longer term impact I'll have to see that to judge it, and if Amy is back at the finale it'll lose much of its force.

At present, though, I like "The God Complex" quite a lot, more than any episode since the Neil Gaiman one--and it seemed to have a better antagonist at all. It was interesting how early they established the monster as a rather pathetic figure that wanted to die, but then kept him as a very pressing threat for the episode up to the end. In addition story-wise this episode seemed a lot stronger than most of this season. I liked that it opened in media res, that it absolutely did not waste time establishing the setting and the main rules. It managed to use the main cast effectively (one exception, see below) and build the one-episoder people up pretty effectively. Joe was already turned by the time we saw him and the teenager was pretty generic (of *course* girls mocking him was the worst thing ever, for how quickly he broke we needed something more specific). But the cowardice guy was neat, first quite funny, then loathsome by the same traits, and later on relatively sympathetic, plus Rita was quite neat--good entrance, death and most of the time in between, and some of the aspects that might have grated for a long-term companion were good in this episode.

Also by the end it really earned its fear quotient. I was a bit resistant to this going in--we'd just had a terror episode and it seemed the episode was trying to hard to build up that theme. Still, the design of the hotel was great, all of its shifting, the cameras with everything. The rooms of fear were decent (callback to the Angels, and not as one of the regulars' fear, was great) but the thing that really got to me was people smiling as they became possessed. "Praise him". Particularly creepy was the flashes to utter joy, especially with Rita near the end. That sequence was the creepiest thing I've seen on the show since Midnight, and up there with Blink in overall impact.

The one awkward point seems to have been Rory, since the episode became so much by the end about the Doctor and Amy the show clearly didn't know what to do with him. It openly acknowledged this with the creature giving him an apparently genuine escape option (first time I saw the exit sign I was sure it was a trap) and him mostly standing on the sidelines during the key scenes. It seems for his presence and character history up to this point he should have been more involved in the significant moments.

As to this as a send-off, if it is in fact a genuine one--I'm okay with that, ultimately. I liked a lot of things about Amy, and having a three person group in the TARDIS was great, but it seems there's been something off across most of this season--probably starting with the bizarre decision not to tell the Doctor about his upcoming death, and moving to Amy as less of a character and more an element of the wider plot. Here things circle around back to the initial dependency with the relationaship of the Doctor and need to overcome that, in a way that feels earned overall. (although no mention of the very recent alternate future-Amy and her being sacrificed?)
Simon Southey-Davis
11. Glyph
I... don't think I agree, Teresa, but I'm having a hard time articulating exactly why. I didn't read this as stripping away Amy's character growth (poor Donna!) but rather as cementing it: early Amy was brittle and combative, reluctant to trust anyone or anything after being let down at age 7. Over time we've seen her regain and nurture that ability to trust, to let people inside her walls, and to develop a much healthier relationship with Rory, but somewhere inside she was still 7 years old, holding the Doctor's hand and relying on him to save her.

We saw last week how that dependence turned sour and bitter when the Doctor failed her, as he maintains he always, inevitably will. That's what I understood her fear room to be getting at: I think Amy knows that her reliance on the Doctor is a weak spot, that eventually he will let her down, that one day he won't come back. Everyone's making the Curse of Fenric comparison, so I won't; rather, I saw this episode as the Doctor finally, sadly, gently taking little Amelia's hand out of his own and giving her a push: encouraging her to stand in her own strength and to trust Rory, whom I think the Doctor sees as a better man than himself.

Not that that's the whole story; I also took the straightforward reading that the Doctor himself is afraid for Amy and Rory, afraid of what would happen to them if he let Amy keep her childlike faith in him. Afraid for them, and afraid of himself.

A second point: I can't make up my mind whether this was intentional or not, and whether it will reappear, but it did strike me that even while dismantling Amy's faith, the Doctor was simultaneously vindicating it: he was still saving her by insisting he couldn't, still saving her by leaving her behind to live her own life.

Wall of text... sorry.

Oh, @rogerothornhill: I didn't get any sense that the Doctor saw the Daleks in his fear room; in a similar vein to Amy's Choice, I'm pretty sure he saw himself. Note that the Doctor's room was #11, which I initially took to be just a regeneration joke, but Amy's room number (7) was specfially relevant to the vision inside. The Moff has (IMO, more than) hinted at character changes by saying that the Doctor can't go on the way he is, and the whole season has dealt prettily heavily with the idea that the Doctor is unintentionally doing as much harm as good.

Either that, or it was the idea of being finally alone, without his friends and without the TARDIS - mainly suggested by hearing the Cloister Bell. But since that could equally be a consequence of the above thought, I guess it's neither here nor there at the moment. Only a couple of weeks!
warduke72
12. SaraN
Am I the only one who was bothered by the "Amy Williams" line?
warduke72
13. bryan rasmussen
i wonder if maybe the doctor was immune to the minotaur, we never saw the fear/faith reaction shot when confronted with his greatest feaf. also if he is a ganger and saw 'himself' then who did he see?
R O T
14. rogerothornhill
@11 Yes, that's what I was fumblingly try to say, yes.

@12 Yes ,I was *very* bothered by the Amy Williams line--every bit as much as I was by the "Mr. and Mrs. Pond" line in "The Big Bang" last year. Then again, neither my wife nor I changed our names when we got married, and our children have both of them.
Joseph Kingsmill
16. JFKingsmill16
3. Brenda F - You hit the nail on the head. Rory absoltely has faith in his wife. She is his entire life and if you don't have faith in your spouse you shouldn't be with them.

Personally I am still having trouble getting past "Let's Kill Hitler" and how he seems to have speedily wrapped up River's plotline in one episode. We're being subjected to a mountain of paradoxes in order to move a story along and it's starting to wobble. I guess I am just starting to lose faith in Moffat.
Ashley Fox
17. A Fox
@12 no. It bugged the hel outa me. Big time. I think it was attempting to point out her mortality in relation to Amelia Pond being a superheroe name, but stil...it grated.

Ok Im going to take some big steps back here. So far I havent seen much discussion on the Who that is setting up the doctor-the Who that took Amy and replaced her with flesh, the Who that took Melody and raised her to kill the Dr, the Who that are very big and powerful as seen in Demons Run. I believe that Who is more than the Eyepatch lady.

Note that this Who is waging a very personal war against the Dr, taking those he loves/will love from him, you might even say a phycologica war. Its this obvious knowledge of the Dr that has led me too believe that it is also this Who who is corrupting the Dr's legend, into somethig that should be feared, not merely the Dr's actions.

But there is balance. All those descisions the Dr makes, even when many people die becuase of them, ultimatly saves many more lives, or even whole worlds...even the universe. This question or moral actions in the face of greater good is always a fascinating one, but know we see the Dr being swayed by this terrible opinion of him, losing sight of all the good that he does.

These rumours cuase him too doubt himself, to leave behind his companions, his connection to humanity, to leave behind his love, and his hope. The Dr is going to a very dark place, alone.

Now this occured to me, feel free to shoot it down. But what if it is a future Doctor doing al of this? He would be keeping his promise to find Melody, for her not to suffer. What if traveling the timeline he is currently on he becomes to much like judge/jury/excecutioner and is trying to change his own past? What if Eyepatch lady is a flesh Melody/River (enabling them to be in same spacetime) and is helping the Doctor change his past? To become something softer?

Also have to disagree with your view of Amy. And I believe that her 'losing her faith' in the Dr, will mean that she will wake up a bit, indulge her stubborness and realise that maybe rather than wait for the Dr to come rescue her, she needs to rescue him.
Ursula L
18. Ursula
I don't think Amy's faith was actually destroyed. At the end, when the Doctor left, she told Rory that the Doctor was saving them, again. Her faith may have been shaken enough to break the hold of the monster, but it wasn't gone.

Also, I thought it was clear that the Doctor was not leaving Amy and Rory forever. He said he'd be back like a bad penny. And the Doctor has already established a pattern with married Amy and Rory of alternating between traveling with them and leaving them someplace safe together for a while. They were on their own on the cruise spaceship, for a few months in Leadworth before "The Impossible Astronaut", and again when Amy was recovering after her trauma from "A Good Man Goes to War" before "Lets Kill Hitler."

***

I really liked, at the end, when Amy told the Doctor to tell her daughter to visit.

It's been a bit unclear whether Amy and Rory would focus on getting infant-Melody back, rejecting Mels and River in the process, or if they would mentally integrate the different versions of their daughter whom they've known, and come to see her as all one person, their adult daughter. The writing seems to have gone with the latter, and I'm glad. Mels and River are interesting people, and I'd hate to see them erased from time so that Amy and Rory could raise their daughter as an infant.

***

I also like that the last three episodes have explored the missing-Melody story arc thematically, rather than directly.

We've had an episode about a parent learning to accept an alien changeling child. And we've had an episode about seeing the older version of a person as real, even when you also have the younger version around, and about the older version choosing the fate of the younger ("If you love me, don't let me in" compared to River in the Library telling the Doctor not to rewrite one day of her life.)

Now we have an episode about faith, and broken faith, and being saved in ways that aren't what you expect. Whatever salvation will come for Amy and Rory's little family, it will not be what they expect - but it will still be salvation.
Katie Pi
19. Darth_Katie
I think some of these issues will be addressed in the finale. There's no way "proper" Amy and Rory won't appear in it.
marian moore
20. mariesdaughter
This episode was so perfect that I don't know how it would have worked as a pre-ganger episode which I think that I read it was supposed to be earlier. It answered some of the quibbles that I had with last week's episode about The Doctor becoming Amy's go-to "god". I don't mind that the Doctor Who is a god-less universe but it annoyed me that they seemed to be afraid to confront that attitude directly.

Yet, I did have a problem with the Amy Williams line. I think that it was supposed to represent her independence from the superhero "Amy Pond" as someone suggested earlier. For this feminist, it sounded like he was transferring ownership to Rory. There is no Western way of saying that a woman belongs to herself. ( Supergirl never became SuperWoman after all.) "Ms. Amy" just doesn't do it.

Loved Rita's wit. Loved the fact that she was a Muslim character and had the wit to say "don't be afraid". Oh, bring us more BBC!
warduke72
21. Joe_1967
Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time taking Amy & Rory being dumped seriously -- it did feel jarring and out of place, but I can't believe it'll be for more than an episode or two; have Karen & Arthur been signed for the next season? (They'd also have to completely redo the opening credits.)
Emmet O'Brien
22. EmmetAOBrien
Mariesdaughter@20: There've been a bunch of different DC characters who went by Superwoman, fwiw. Some of whom predate Supergirl.
warduke72
23. Natenanimous
The theory I'm leaning toward at the moment is that the Doctor's flesh ganger survived, and they switched places during the mid-season break because the Doctor knew that River would be coming to kill him. The real Doctor is setting something up behind the scenes while the ganger does the visible stuff, the distraction.

This is why the Doctor showed up wearing a different coat at the start of Let's Kill Hitler. This is why he didn't want River to give him her regenerations, but she did anyway. This is why he suddenly likes apples, when before he hated them. Also, he solved a Rubik's Cube puzzle in this latest episode, but in Night Terrors (which was originally meant to air in the first half of the season, when it was the real Doctor) he said he hated Rubik's Cubes.

If the Doctor at the start of The Impossible Astronaut was really 200 years older, then I think that was the ganger too. He doesn't look any older. We've seen that River aged from a child to an adult as Mels. The original first Doctor aged into an old man. The Master aged the tenth Doctor. So we know that Time Lords age even if they don't die from it. But 200 years and he looks exactly the same. If he were a ganger, he might not age because he's made of Flesh. He also appeared to be faking some of his knowledge with River.

When the Doctor was shot by the astronaut, the ganger began to regenerate. Normally he wouldn't be able to regenerate because he's not a real Time Lord, but remember -- River gave him her regenerations in Let's Kill Hitler.
warduke72
24. Drachasor
I think the Doctor just did here what he always does. If necessary he ruthlessly takes whatever strategy will save lives. In this case, saving Amy's life required attacking her faith as effectively as possible, so he did that. I actually would have been disappointed if it had been a classic "overfed the monster" story. I think the "Amy Williams" line was just meant to emphasize that.

We're NOT supposed to like this. It's supposed to be sad and a bit heartwrenching. The Doctor is supposed to seem ruthless and/or a bit of a jerk. That's how he has to operate sometimes. This season has been building on that and this episode did that perfectly. It has also been building on the idea that traveling with the Doctor is dangerous and that he feels guilty over taking anyone with him. To be fair, it is extremely dangerous and this is a valid point. The counterargument, which I hope to see is that I think most companions realize it is dangerous, but exploration and saving lives make it a worthwhile endeaver.

It's a bit like how Davros said that the Doctor turns his companions into weapons. There is truth to this. He turns them into warriors who fight to preserve life, freedom, and dignity as much as possible. This isn't a bad thing, but it can be given a bad spin.

This seems to be leading to analyzing the companion relationship. Is it fair for the Doctor to take all the responsibility and consider his companions as children, unable to properly understand the risks and dangers of what they are doing? I think he tends to do this. On the other hand, it is understandable that he doesn't want to keep his friends around long enough so that they eventually die. It is a tossup in my mind whether the Doctor's door would have dead companions in it, or just have the Doctor or some variation of the Doctor (like the Dreamlord) which represents the Doctor using companions as commodities (what he fears/hates about himself).

One last thing to bear in mind. Amy doesn't actually lose her general level of trust in the Doctor or Rory. At the end she still seems to trust him and trust Rory. What we see in this episode might be better expressed as the Doctor temporarily shaking her faith (e.g. trust) in him so that the monster is defeated. Seeing this I think restores Amy's trust.
Stephanie Padilla
25. DN10
About Rory seemingly not having faith in anything, even Amy: I think -- or, rather, hope -- that it's not indicative of laziness on the part of the writer, but rather hinting that something strange is going on with his character. The bit where he spoke about traveling with the Doctor in past tense, for instance, was VERY strange -- almost as if he knew that his and Amy's time in the TARDIS was almost over, but how could he possibly have known that? Moffatt has said that there is a reason Rory keeps dying -- perhaps it's linked to this recent strangeness? Perhaps there's more to Rory than we know? It would be an interesting twist, although I don't know how likely it is.
warduke72
26. Drachasor
Hmm, not related to this episode per se, but am I the only one bothered by the fact they treat Amy hitting Rory (to the extent that Rory has been shown to shield himself from an expected hit) as a joke? To me it has gotten past the point of being remotely funny and into the realm of reinforcing the false idea that women can't be abusive. It's worse when they keep showing more incidents where Amy has treated Rory horribly. Again, it is supposed to be funny, but it really isn't.

Note if Rory acted the same way towards Amy as she does to him, there'd be a ton of outrage and people would hate the character. Imho, they really need to cut out this sort of behavior from Amy in the future.

A bit of a concern I have the other way is how Rory is routinely shown to be a stronger and more psychological stable character than Amy. Wait 2000 years? No problem. Psychological messing around on Amy in the Doctor's Wife? She loses it. Miss 20 years away from Rory? she loses it. Yes, she eventually comes around, but the difference is a bit jarring. In some ways (the 20 year time skip at least), it is more realistic. Rory is some sort of impossible man.
warduke72
27. V.C. David
I don't see it as Amy being made to lose her faith in the Doctor, but rather, to stop putting him up on this pedastal she's made for him. As he said, he wanted them to see each other as they really are, ie not some idealized version of themselves.
Michael Ikeda
29. mikeda
My thought about Rory "not having faith" is that it's a specific kind of faith that he lacks. He loves and trusts Amy but she's his wife, not his Messiah.
Ursula L
30. Ursula
Names are powerful things. And the use of names has been deeply symbolic for this story arc.

In "A Good Man Goes to War" Amy said "Melody Williams is a geography teacher, Melody Pond is a superhero." Now, neither a superhero nor a geography teacher are bad things to be. But they are very different things to be.

The name "Pond" for Amy and Rory's family is very much about their travels with the Doctor. It is the Doctor who named the family "Pond" at the wedding, much to Rory's surprise. Amy tells the ganger-Doctor not to call her "Pond" because that name is just for the Doctor.

The name "Williams" on the other hand, is all about Rory. Rory initially protests at being called "Pond" - he never intended to stop being "Williams." Rory calls Amy "Mrs. Williams" when he brings her the rescued (ganger) Melody.

The Doctor has previously Named both Amy and Rory "Pond", as his companions and superheroes. Now, he is naming Amy, and by extension Rory, "Williams", the safe family living in Leadworth.

And in doing so, he also gives voice to the way in which Amy and Rory's lives are diverging from their daughter's. They are "Williams", but she remains Melody Pond, Superhero, AKA River Song. She's an adult who will visit her parents, not an infant to be raised by them.
warduke72
31. conifer16
I thought that Karen said that she was going to be in the seventh season? Am I remembering wrong ? Sorry if this has been answered I didn't read any of the comments above.
warduke72
32. Pendard
To me, this felt very much like a logical last step in Amy Pond's journey. Her faith in the Doctor was born in childhood and it was unquestioning -- strong enough that she would make a chest full of toys, and bite four psychiatrists who said he wasn't real. But the Doctor isn't perfect. He makes mistakes and people die. He really is lonely and, to an extent, vain. Before Amy could really grow up, she needed to see the Doctor the way that Rory sees him (or as the Doctor sees himself) -- as a wonderful but flawed, fallible man; an equal, not a god. You can see in this episode that she hasn't learned that yet. The moment she realizes that she and the others are in danger, she immediately tells them not to worry, the Doctor will save her. We've how that blindly faithful Amy will end up in last week's episode -- feeling betrayed when the Doctor inevitably fails her.

Being able to depend on others in one thing, having unquestioning faith in them is another. Only a god deserves unquestioning faith. The Doctor may have a god complex but he is not a god. I think this point is driven home in the episode by what he finds in his room. We don't see it but when he says, "Who else?", it seemed pretty clear to me that his greatest fear is himself.
warduke72
33. AlBrown
Teresa, I didn't have the problems that you did with this episode, because I never saw it as Amy's faith being taken away, I saw it as she had reached the time where she needed to outgrow her childish faith in a Doctor, who is actually a very fallible being. When he returned Amy and Rory to Earth, I saw it as the Doctor trying to 'save' them from the fate of so many of his other companions. Remember the scene in the Tardis during "Let's Kill Hitler" when all the recent companions appear, and the Doctor's reaction is guilt, guilt and more guilt?
The faith we have as adults is very different from the childish faith that does not question, or consider, or act. It is time for Amy to let go of childish adventures, as a companion of someone else, and become her own person. It is also time for her and Rory to develop a relationship with each other, not just a relationship that is shaped by their many and fast paced adventures through time and space.
I think the Doctor's room of fears was the one with the cameras, where he got to watch the nurse give in to the monster and die. That death was very effective because both the fine acting from her and the script made the point that this was a very special person, not just a 'throw away' (or as they say in Star Trek, a 'red shirt'). It really pointed out that he can fail, he cannot be the savior of everyone.
One thing I haven't liked this season is too many episodes that stand relatively well alone, but then have the last five minutes be devoted to "here is the moral of the story," or "here is what this means to the Doctor and his companions." I don't need to be hit in the head to get a point.
Some good speculations above about apples, Rubik cubes, ersatz Doctors, and other things that may or may not be clues. It will be interesting to see where this season goes.
warduke72
34. Raskolnikov
What? He’s learned to ask for directions? How big of him! He’s becoming so sensitive! Yet a female character like Amy has to overcompensate because she’s a woman. Not only is she never allowed to suffer, lest she fall into the “women in refrigerators” trope, but she’s also never allowed to put herself into another’s care. Because that would be weakness. It’s so... womanly.
Seen as a whole, Amy Pond has had what is usually a male character’s journey, which was made all the more interesting because she was also a mother.

Across this season Amy has had her independent action represented as incorrect and gun-happy, kidanapped twice, treated as a living womb for the larger plot device, and had her whole 'basis of having a good life' explicitly reduced to her relationship with Rory. And it's your argument that this represents a well thought-out, empowering message. Um.
warduke72
35. Drachasor
Rasklnikov,

I think that might be an overly negative take on Amy, and not entirely accurate.

I think it can be hard writing female characters that are immune to critique along some sort of feminist lines. As Teresa points out, if you show them making mistakes, then you can be accused of making women look stupid. If you show them weak, then women are just weak creatures, you sexist monster. If you show them suffering, then it's just another damsel in distress. Etc, etc, etc.

I think Amy is a realistic character. If she was a male, you wouldn't be giving these critiques. Does she make mistakes? Yes. Is she at times too violent? Yes, but the Doctor has had many companions that are a little too violent (which is sometimes useful). Has she been kidnapped? Sure, but what companions don't get kidnapped? Just because her kidnapping was part of a larger plot, doesn't mean anything special by it. Btw, technically she was only kidnapped once and replaced with a doppleganger.

I don't think the "living womb" is a fair characterization, since the baby was conceived with love by her and Rory. A good life being married to someone she loves and loves her, having a family, as well as exploring the Universe? I don't think there's something particularly wrong with that. Rory's happiness if anything seems to be reduced to less than that, arguably (he's not as big on the travel).

You can also look at all this the other way. She handles a lot of crazy stuff with grace and aplomb. She gets tortured. Does she break? No. She's been shown to reach correct conclusions about the doctor well before Rory in the Doctor's wife. I could go on, but does a character have to be a female superwoman to be an example of female empowerment? Seems problematic to me.
warduke72
36. Bhek
@35:
"If she was a male, you wouldn't be giving these critiques."

Well no. Stories and fictional characters don't exist in a vacuum. In a society that idealizes passive women who dedicate themselves to their husbands and family (to the point of giving up their name and identity for his), having a female character criticized for being too independent, or being kidnapped and waiting for someone to save her (A Good Man Goes to War), or being used as an incubator and not even being aware of it smacks of sexism and, if we're kind to the writers, ignorance. Female characters don't have to be superwomen, they just have to not be, you know, tired misogynistic caricatures.

Take Donna for example. She wanted married life and all that, but that was one facet of her personality. She was sassy and smart and independent, and didn't take bullshit from the Doctor. She's not a superwoman, but a good character that has not been reduced to her womanhood. Gwen from Torchwood is another good example. She also has a husband and a baby and cares for them immensly, but it's never implied that she should "grow up and become Gwen Williams" instead of fighting alien monsters.
warduke72
37. Drachasor
I don't see how you can say Amy isn't independent. She's generally the the more dominant figure in her relationship with Rory. The show in general has been pretty harsh to both Rory and Amy. Yes, Amy is aware of the pregnancy and then it gets erased from her mind in some fashion. On the other hand, Rory gets killed and mind-controlled into attacking his wife. Rory gets kidnapped in an episode and has to wait for his wife to save him. Generally things seem pretty even-handed to me when you actually look at the whole show.

If there's anything to complain about, it would be the apparently humorous intent of Amy's abusive actions towards Rory. Not funny.

I think you are reading in waaay too much into the "Amy Williams" thing. Your overlaying your expectation of sexism onto that. I think it was merely intended to be a toll by the Doctor to seperate her further from her loyalty to him by making her reconsider her identity. There are few ways as powerful to indicate that than by a change of name, and not a lot of ways to go about that. You're taking that line to imply more than it does.

True, the last couple of episodes haven't really highlighted Amy saving the day. That doesn't mean she hasn't done a lot of heroic stuff on the show however. It is incorrect to characterize her overall character by just the most recent episodes. She's been shown to be quite capable in numerous episodes this season.

I think you are also ignoring the actual story that is going on here. It isn't about Amy not being allowed to fight monsters. It's about the Doctor's guilt for putting the people he cares about the most in danger. It's about his guilt for changing who they are and manipulating them. It's about how going around with the Doctor is dangerous, and probably isn't something you can really do for your whole life. This is as much a lesson for Rory as it is for Amy, but Amy's character was by her nature more attached to the Doctor, so it is a harder lesson for her to learn. Of course, I expect this to be partially subverted, as the Doctor seems to blame himself too much here.

An accusation of misogynism is not a light statement to make. I don't think there's any reason at all to indicate Amy indicats HATRED of women. If anything, I'd say you are being far, far too sensitive here. If you wouldn't give these critiques to a male character, and the show has had a wide variety of strong females (including Amy, I'd argue), then you are simply making a mountain out of nothing. Seems to me you even tacitly agree the show treats men and women in an equal manner. Isn't that the whole point of feminism?
warduke72
38. Narmitaj
I too thought Amara Karan was great, and it certainly seemed like The Doctor thought she would be up to trundling round the universe with him, so it was a pity she got offed (still, both Karen Gillan and Freema Agyeman had small parts as other people in Doctor Who before being brought back as companions).

Seems she is in real life some kind of clever clogs: she did PPE at Oxford (the degree of choice for lots of Brit politicians and journalists etc, including our current Prime Minister and the Leader of The Opposition), and then she went into mergers and acquisitions for a bit before deciding on drama.
warduke72
39. Ace Hamilton
The Doctor doesn't hate apples. It is very clear that his tastes were completely thrown off by his regeneration. He even puts an apple in his pocket in the same episode for "later."
warduke72
40. Natenanimous
He put the apple in his pocket because Amy gave it to him with the face on it. She put the face on it so he'd be more likely to eat it, but he didn't want to eat it so he just stuck it in his pocket. A polite way of saying, "Thanks, but no thanks." Later he gave it back to her and didn't eat it.

It's true that his tastes may have been thrown off by the regeneration, but I think the apple thing was very obvious, and when combined with the apparently changed opinion/ability regarding Rubik's Cubes, it can legitimately be considered a clue that something is up.
Jenny Thrash
41. Sihaya
Hmm, I liked both parts of the episode on their own, but I do have to agree with you that they seem disjointed, Teresa. Also, I think it's kind of a dangerous thing for the Doctor to get all metaphorical while he tells a very young Amy to lose her faith in him. Essentially he's saying, "Grow up and leave childish things behind." Unfortunately, that childish thing is him, and to an extent every viewer who identifies with Amy might have wondered if he was talking to him, which is odd for a show (and a character) which was revived on the faith of fans.

What was behind the Doctor's door? Well, two obvious things are himself or Adirc. Himself, because we already knows he hates and fears himself. I figure that 1-10 were sitting in that room. He's acknowledged his self-hatred out loud, already dealt with it, nothing to see here, move along - which would further explain why he didn't suddenly burst out in the Halleluja chorus before he'd even shut the door. But if Adric were behind the door, it would explain why the ending of the episode did get so abruptly weird, now wouldn't it?

PS - Am I the only one who thought "This isn't East Croyden!" as soon as she saw the domestic setting? I wound up thinking that maybe this was really Sarah Jane's goodbye, if Moffat could have written it.
warduke72
42. Raskolnikov
#35 Drachasor:

First, it seems that my second post in this thread (to which you are responding) has been deleted, it is not currently present. Site moderators, is there a reason for this? I don't believe that my comments were beyond standards of tact, and it's a pretty censoring aspect to this discussion to remove without comment.

I think it can be hard writing female characters that are immune to critique along some sort of feminist lines. As Teresa points out, if you show them making mistakes, then you can be accused of making women look stupid. If you show them weak, then women are just weak creatures, you sexist monster. If you show them suffering, then it's just another damsel in distress. Etc, etc, etc.
I think Amy is a realistic character. If she was a male, you wouldn't be giving these critiques. Does she make mistakes? Yes. Is she at times too violent? Yes, but the Doctor has had many companions that are a little too violent (which is sometimes useful). Has she been kidnapped? Sure, but what companions don't get kidnapped? Just because her kidnapping was part of a larger plot, doesn't mean anything special by it. Btw, technically she was only kidnapped once and replaced with a doppleganger.

In terms of drama we were presented with the facts of her abduction twice, narratively that's what I'd count it as. Making it the case that she was actually being held across the season doesn't make it less of a thematic issue. As well, the fact that she was kidanaped exactly to serve as the mother for the desire asset, Melody, very much reduces her to her gender role in a way not readily analogizable to a male counterpart.
Beyond that, I'd agree with Bhek's comments, and with Donna as a counter-example of writing a fallible, far from perfect individual who is not defined by her relationship with males, which Amy comes across as being. There's quite a lot to Donna beyond romantic engagement, dependency on the Doctor (and the fact that she went out looking to track him down rather than waiting for years gives more agency in that relationship) or with other men. What is there for Amy beyond that? As is we've had most of the more Amy centric episodes have been her and the Doctor specifically (Eleventh Hour, God Complex) her stance towards Rory (Amy's Choice) or a combination (Big Bang, Girl Who Waited).

I don't think the "living womb" is a fair characterization, since the baby was conceived with love by her and Rory. A good life being married to someone she loves and loves her, having a family, as well as exploring the Universe?

How does putting in a loving heterosexual romance change the basic reduction for her role?

You can also look at all this the other way. She handles a lot of crazy stuff with grace and aplomb. She gets tortured. Does she break? No. She's been shown to reach correct conclusions about the doctor well before Rory in the Doctor's wife. I could go on, but does a character have to be a female superwoman to be an example of female empowerment? Seems problematic to me.


Strawman. That's not what I'm saying.
Teresa Jusino
43. TeresaJusino
Raskolnikov @42 -
There's quite a lot to Donna beyond romantic engagement, dependency on the Doctor (and the fact that she went out looking to track him down rather than waiting for years gives more agency in that relationship) or with other men. What is there for Amy beyond that? As is we've had most of the more Amy centric episodes have been her and the Doctor specifically (Eleventh Hour, God Complex) her stance towards Rory (Amy's Choice) or a combination (Big Bang, Girl Who Waited).
What's funny is that I don't see Amy as being put "in realation to males" the way you mean. The thing about Amy from the very beginning is that she has trust issues, and over the course of these two series, she's had to learn to let those trust issues go. That's her very basic journey. The fact that the two most important people in her life are men are incidental - one, because the show is Doctor Who, so one of those men would have to be The Doctor; and two, because she is a young woman with a husband. And there's nothing wrong with that.

I think comparing Amy to Donna is a little off, because Donna was an older character. She was more secure in herself than Amy is because of her age. Had we seen Donna at Amy's age, it might have been a different story. But just because they're both women (and redheads) doesn't mean they're alike at all. They're apples and oranges.

Also, I love Donna to bits and think she's an amazing character - but what exactly did she have going on other than dependency on The Doctor and without marriage? In "the Runaway Bride" she would've happily gone on to just get married and live that life had her husband not been helping aliens. She loved traveling with The Doctor, because all she was back home was a temp secretary. Without The Doctor, she never would've seen her own potential. Then, eventually she wants to BE the Doctor. When she becomes the Doctor/Donna, it's almost like she's HIGH on The Doctor, and doesn't want to let that go. The Doctor forcibly takes it out of her memory and puts her back in the boring life she hated. Um, if you're going to nitpick about "agency..."

Donna was intelligent, opinionated, and caring the way Amy is all those things. I think Amy and Donna are more similar than you'd like to think.
As well, the fact that she was kidanaped exactly to serve as the mother for the desire asset, Melody, very much reduces her to her gender role in a way not readily analogizable to a male counterpart.
I don't see her purpose in being Melody's mother as "reductive" at all. Women have babies. It's something they do that men can't. Does Amy's pregnancy emphasize her gender? Of course. But to say that being a pregnant woman is something that she's "reduced to" is, in itself, a reductive comment. As if the only way for a female character to matter is to eschew everything that makes her a woman.

Also, the fact that her "chosen one" of a child is ALSO a female - and an amazing one at that - adds bonus points. Being River Song's mom is not exactly a shabby thing for Amy to have on her resume. So often, the sought-after children are boys. The fact that that's not the case here is really refreshing.

As for some other things that I wanted to comment on from these fine comments:

1) I had no problem with the "Amy Williams" thing. I agree w/Ursula. It was a symbol of her growing-up. She is a married woman, after all, and that's something she chose. Rory's been putting up with being called "Mr. Pond" all the time, so it's time for her to return the favor!

2) I agree with Drachasor that I find the violence (or joked-about, off-camera violence) toward Rory troubling. I think I mentioned that in a review of a past episode - I remember talking about it somewhere. But it's true, I hate when stuff like that is joked about on television - thw wife with a rolling pin whacking her husband over the head with it, etc, etc. Not only does it support violence against spouses, which I don't believe in no matter what the gender of the perpetrator, but it also supports the stereotype that a woman who voices her opinion is also a shrew who'll hit you with things. I feel remiss, now, that I didn't address this in this review! Ah, well. Next time. :)

3) Apples! Rubik's Cubes! Yay clues! (and they are. Totally.)

4) Pendard and AlBrown - I understand that Amy needed to get rid of her childish view of The Doctor. But this is where I had trouble - because the episode seemed to be equating "faith" with "childishness" and I would never equate those two things. I think you've helped me pinpoint exactly what was troubling to me. There didn't seem to be an option for Adult Faith in this episode. The choices were, either you have faith, or you grow up. And that, to me, is a false choice. One that made the character of Amy weaker, which I know wasn't the intent.
warduke72
44. Edward Brennan
I think this episode sort of draws a line between a more religious like faith, than the sort of faith we have in family or friends. A faith that transcends all evidence. Conspiracy theories, Religion etc sort of faith. Not the sort of faith that one person has for another. or the sort of faith we have that our car should start in the morning. Amy's faith had gone beyond that. She no longer had to worry because the doctor would take care of it. She had lost the human sense of fear. A reckless faith that the Doctor knew he could not live up to. He is constantly telling people to depend on him, that things will turn out ok. For many a Dr Who redshirt they don't. But Amy's faith is the faith she tried to impart to Rita- a join my Doctor Religion sort of faith. Rory does not have that faith in the Doctor, or anything else for that matter. Love, Compassion, etc but not that.

It is interesting that We know the Doctor has that sort of faith.
warduke72
46. Raskolnikov
Teresa:
What's funny is that I don't see Amy as being put "in realation to males" the way you mean. The thing about Amy from the very beginning is that she has trust issues, and over the course of these two series, she's had to learn to let those trust issues go. That's her very basic journey. The fact that the two most important people in her life are men are incidental - one, because the show is Doctor Who, so one of those men would have to be The Doctor; and two, because she is a young woman with a husband.
I don't see that as being incidental. It's an issue that all of Amy's meaningful relationships with other people are through conventionally femine roles. She has no real relationship with her parents shown, even after they started existing again. Her stance with Rory is defined as One True Love. And her stance with the Doctor takes on a pretty conventional romantic lens, protector/rescuer, if no longer directly sexualized.

And there is of course her job, not mentioned in almost two seasons--as a kissogram. Uh, yeah. On a pretty basic level this suggests a weaker and more convention brand of gender writing than Donna, who very distinctly didn't relate to the Doctor through a romantic lens, had a more independent (and plot-relevant) job, relationship with her mother and her grandfather. There are a lot of things that are not simply reducable to cliched femine position, which Amy does not. And the situations where Amy is presented as being distant from the men in her life (Rory's balefiring last season, "The Girl Who Waited") it's presented as a horrifying thing.

And there's nothing wrong with that. I think comparing Amy to Donna is a little off, because Donna was an older character. She was more secure in herself than Amy is because of her age.
She's a fictional character created by the writers. My question would be why the show made the effort to write her in this manner.

And yes, the way the Donna arc ended was rather horrible.
warduke72
47. Drachasor
If you really want to find sexism, you can find it almost anywhere. Ignore the strong points of a character, and just analyze anything through the sexist lense.

By this Donna was an exceptionally sexist characterization of a woman. She requires a man (the Doctor) to point out how ridiculous her attachment to her fiance is, to whom she likes for very shallow reasons. Her "career" is that of being a temp, suggesting that women just aren't any good at permanent jobs. She requires a man to guide her through the wonders of space and time, and often makes mistakes. It is only through the guidance of a man that she is able to have any growth as a character. Indeed, her final high point is thanks only to literally being infused with man-stuff (the whole Doctor-Donna thing*). When that is taken away, she must be put in the care of another man, her grandfather, because her mother is shown to be a deeply flawed being -- just like Donna, I guess because they are women, right? I mean, without a man she was nothing. That's the constant theme.

I could go through and name all the moments Donna acted badly or was shown in a bad light. How she was largely shown up by other women her were younger and prettier (*gasp*) until her man infusion. Generally it is easy to distory any story like this, I think. Maybe I'm just some filthy man, but I don't find this a useful way to look at characters. All good characters have weaknesses and strengths. Looking at just when they are strong is just as invalid as looking at just when they are weak. I think you are tending to do the latter too much,
Raskolnikov. There's not a female character in existence you couldn't tear apart doing that.

*Personally I found that whole thing terrible and Mary Sue-esque. Besides that I thought Donna was very well done.
Ursula L
48. Ursula
The reason why you find sexism everywhere is because it is everywhere. It's not a matter of looking for it, so much as recognizing it. Even when a character is otherwise strong, it slips in, like a sickly fog.

Saying that someone is "looking through a sexist lense" when the see sexism is a way of dismissing their real-life experience of sexism as somehow less than fully real.
warduke72
49. AlBrown
"But this is where I had trouble - because the episode seemed to be equating "faith" with "childishness" and I would never equate those two things. I think you've helped me pinpoint exactly what was troubling to me. There didn't seem to be an option for Adult Faith in this episode. The choices were, either you have faith, or you grow up. And that, to me, is a false choice."
This is very well put, Teresa, and is something I didn't really pick up on when I first watched the show. Being a person with strong faith in things unseen and unprovable, and like most folks, viewing the show through my own biases, I never saw it as a condemnation of all faith, just misplaced faith. But looking at it again, it could be seen as a fictional statement of some of the points people like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have been making in recent years.
It will be interesting to see how the Doctor parting with Amy and Rory plays out over time. Who knows, he may find that in trying to 'save' them, he could discover that he has put them in a worse situation than they would have been if they had stayed with him. He's not God, after all! ;-)
warduke72
50. Raskolnikov
Drachasor:
If you really want to find sexism, you can find it almost anywhere.
Ignore the strong points of a character, and just analyze anything
through the sexist lense.

By this Donna was an exceptionally sexist characterization of a woman. She requires a man (the Doctor) to point out how ridiculous her attachment to her fiance is, to whom she likes for very shallow reasons. Her "career" is that of being a temp, suggesting that women just aren't any good at permanent jobs. She requires a man to guide her through the wonders of space and time, and often makes mistakes. It is only through the guidance of a man that she is able to have any growth as a character. Indeed, her final high point is thanks only to literally being infused with man-stuff (the whole Doctor-Donna thing*).
When that is taken away, she must be put in the care of another man,
her grandfather, because her mother is shown to be a deeply flawed being-- just like Donna, I guess because they are women, right? I mean, without a man she was nothing. That's the constant theme.

Maybe I'm just some filthy man, but I don't find this a useful way to look at characters. All good characters have weaknesses and strengths. Looking at just when they are strong is just as invalid as looking at just when they are weak. I think you are tending to do the latter too much,

Raskolnikov. There's not a female character in existence you couldn't tear apart doing that.

I'll second Ursula's comments on the broader theme of this. Suffice to say that I don't view sexist tropes as minor elements, and think an unwillingness to engage on this issue is particularly productive. Particularly this debate is happening because the initial post praised Amy Pond's character arc prior to this episode, and I and others suggested it was more problematic. More generally there's often a nasty case of fandom not wanting to consider it's particular text might be problematic, and there's often an explicit or implicit assumption that charges of sexism are the ones creating a problem with what was otherwise fine.
In terms of this issue I'd recommend a characteristically excellent piece by Sady Doyle on 'I don't like your toys'.
http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/08/26/enter-ye-myne-mystic-world-of-gayng-raype-what-the-r-stands-for-in-george-r-r-martin/

In terms of Donna's characterization compared with Amy's, I don't have to view Donna as perfectly written for it to be held, and I don't say that. I will say, again, that in terms of a feminist analysis she seems better than Amy, because she has a number of things that Amy doesn't--job that's not reducable to sexuality, friendship with the male lead without romantic elements, greater capacity for meaningful action away from the Doctor (early "Partners in Crime" and "Turn Left" as against depiction of Amy as simply waiting, both "Eleventh Hour" and "The Girl Who Waited"). That was a choice of writing to structure the later situation in this way, and I think beyond Amy a case could certainly be made that Moffat tends to write women in a rather problematic way--"Girl in the Fireplace" and Jekyl immediately come to mind.

If none of the issues brought up here seem a meaningful sexist pattern, what exactly do you see as the necessary benchmark on this? The author saying 'this is why women are bad' or is there the possibility of a less direct pattern of representation being relevant? Trying to see where you're coming from in this.
warduke72
51. Drachasor
My point is that there's just as much of a pattern with Donna as there is with Amy. You just like Donna's character, so you don't make an issue out of it -- nor is it a real issue.

Yeah, Donna has a career, but it is shown to be an empty and pretty meaningless one. She is shown to be fairly dependent on men if you look at it that way. First the potential husband, then the Doctor, then her grandfather, and then it is wrapped up with a husband again. She gets captured more than once as well. Blah, blah, blah. I could go on, you see. Of course she's not a weak character. Neither is Amy. They have other stuff going on. They are both shown to be able to be equals with the men on the cast and while sometimes they need the help of the men, the reverse is true as well.

My point is that you have a ridiculous standard for a strong, female character when you apply it to Amy. You even admit this is a double standard, because Amy would be a fine character if she was a man (so you said, anyhow). This is an overly limited and ultimately feeds sexism more than anything else, since you act like certain sorts of characters are acceptable for one gender but not for another. Ridiculous, I say.

Amy has done plenty of strong things. She'll continue to do plenty of strong things. A couple episodes where she gets captured doesn't mean anything. That happens to all companions. Who cares if she doesn't have a big career? I'd say most companions of the Doctor historically haven't had much in the way of a career. A job doesn't define a person, and, if anything, the show demonstrates how in the right circumstances even someone who might be otherwise unimpressive can become great. I think Amy fits into that rather well (as does Rory), and you are making much ado about nothing.

I mean, what are YOU really saying here?
Female character shouldn't get kidnapped? Or the villain just shouldn't be competent at it so they can escape? Because you don't have a problem with males getting kidnapped effectively.

Is it tht plots involving a secret pregnancy can't be done? I don't see what's inherently sexist about such a plot. And I'm hardly alone here. It isn't like her baby and the pregnancy even ended up meaning nothing.

A female character who is attracted to the Doctor is something sexist? I don't see it either. Heck, she's pretty clearly decided the Doctor isn't for her, so that element isn't even around anymore. So are strong males not allowed to be objects of interest? Or are women just not allowed to feel attracted to anyone on the cast?

There's just nothing actually sexist here. It isn't even like Amy is remotely portrayed as weak or incompetent. Just the other week she became an older and more badass for an episode. Was that supposed to have been sexist? Or is her being strong and capable just something that doesn't fit your narrative, so you ignore it? In the Doctor's Wife she figures out the Doctor lied long before Rory does. Again, there are lots of examples of her being a strong character this season. Boiling her down to getting kidnapped twice and so forth is just not a remotely accurate representation (nor is it unusual in any way unusual companion of the Doctor's).
Chris Meadows
52. Robotech_Master
Surprised nobody's brought up the parallel to the way that the Seventh Doctor (temporarily) destroyed Ace's faith in him in "The Curse of Fenric" because it was powering a shield that kept the monster-of-the-week from being able to get destroyed.

I always thought one of the weaker elements of that episode was the way this got glossed over at the end. I can't remember exactly how it went, but it was like the Doctor said, "I didn't really mean all that stuff, Ace," and she said, "Aw, Professor, you really had me going there for a minute, tee hee" and they went off to their next adventure like nothing had ever happened. At least this episode ends in a slightly more realistic fashion, with the Doctor and Amy and Rory having to take some time apart to come to terms with what they've said to each other.

Don't expect it to last, though; Karen Gillan said at Comic-Con that she's definitely returning for the next season. (I wonder, that being the case, if this is a bit like Tegan Jovanka's departure-and-return during the 5th Doctor's tenure—written out when the actress wasn't sure if she wanted to come back for the next season, then written back in again when she decided she wanted back in? Perhaps they left this episode open-ended while Karen was still making up her mind?)

That's something a bit weird I noticed about this season compared to previous seasons, by the way. I'm not sure if it signifies, but rather than constantly traveling with the Doctor, Amy and Rory were basically in and out of the Tardis like it had revolving doors. They started the season stuck at home after the events of the Christmas special, until the Doctor's letters arrived. They were off the ship again after "A Good Man Goes to War" (for no really good reason except to give Mels the chance to show up in a stolen sports car, given that the Doctor apparently didn't actually do anything worthy of mention between sending them home and picking them up), and finally had to attract the Doctor's attention with a crop circle. And now they're chucked out the hatch again for the Doctor to go off and visit his ex-flatmate for another jolly session of live-like-the-humans-do slumming.

Why is that, I wonder? Is there any significance to it? Will it be like that not-wearing-his-jacket thing in "The Time of Angels" and be part of some greater master plan in the end? Or was it just an excuse to see what silly things Amy and Rory do to try to get the Doctor's attention?

At any rate, I would not be at all surprised to see them again in the season finale, however—and not just the versions who were there in the original episodes. They've got to get closure on watching the Doctor die, after all.
Ashley Fox
53. A Fox
After Older amy's abilities, I rather think it will have something to do with Amy figuring out how to build a screwdriver, or some such.
warduke72
54. Bhek
@52:
Funny you should say that about Curse of Fenric, because its treatment of the losing faith moment is kind of the complete opposite of what happens in The God Complex. (you might want to take a look at this, for both the clip and the commentary:
http://theoncominghope.blogspot.com/2011/09/doctor-who-god-complex-aka-characters.html)
warduke72
55. Jae
Can we get someone else to write Doctor Who reviews? Maybe someone who's not so in love with a character that they will judge episodes based solely on the treatment of that character. Or maybe someone who, despite their own feelings about the show, is willing to at least consider criticisms of the problematic aspects that others see in it.
warduke72
56. Natenanimous
@52

I believe that the Doctor was quite busy during the mid-season break when Amy and Rory returned home, before they pulled him back with the crop circle. I think he returned to the scene of The Rebel Flesh and reconstituted his flesh ganger, so that they could work together to diffuse the plot from the Silence to destroy him. When Amy and Rory attracted the Doctor's attention with the crop circles, I believe it was the ganger Doctor who showed up in the TARDIS, and who has been with them ever since.

Whether or not this current parting of the trio has similar plot reasons I'm not sure yet. Perhaps the ganger Doctor needs to go do something by himself, or perhaps it's as simple as he says -- what he's doing is dangerous and he doesn't want to be responsible for their deaths.

Either way, he also knows that there was an earlier version of Amy and Rory present at his death scene (because Amy told the real Doctor accidentally that they watched him die). That means that the current Amy and Rory can't be with him when that happens. If he feels it's getting close, that might be another reason for dropping them off.
warduke72
57. AlBrown
Jae, I totally disagree, I think Teresa does a great job. Reviewers should be passionate and opinionated, that is what makes life interesting, to see the viewpoints of others, presented with vigor. And why shouldn't someone stick to their guns during a discussion? That is what debate is all about. Disagreement is healthy.
warduke72
58. yasiru89
I'm going to 'keep the faith' and think of this episode as a transit point into bigger things. Maybe a deconstructive series six finale for the Doctor like The Death of Time was. As such, this episode I think speaks more about the Doctor than Amy, who we've obviously not seen the last of. She seems too accepting, and this might be because she expects the Doctor to work out something she knows she can't help him with. Indulging him even.
The faithless Amy sequence didn't bother me as much as it did the reviewer, but, as good as the episode was, it really did seem abrupt.
warduke72
59. Rachaol
I'm an episode behind this season, and have just finished watching "The God Complex" and reading Teresa's review. I suspect my opinion has already been stated above, but I would like to add it anyway.
I think the Doctor did not take away Amy's faith in him. Rather I think he informed her faith. He essentially said let's see each other clearly. I am simply a madman in a box. Then he named her Amy Williams. The madman in a box still returns to the girl who waited, but after nearly two seasons, I think the Doctor wants to remove any illusions about who she waited for and with whom she has chosen to share her life. He did not remove her faith in their relationship. The Doctor's words were intended to allow her to significantly refocused her understanding of that relationship. He asked her to examine her faith. In the end she still maintained the faith in the relationship, but the fact that the alien minotaur was released means she successfully relased that misplaced faith in the Doctor as a god who will always swoop in and fix everything.

Living in a part of the world where unflinching and unexamined FAITH is encouraged and prized as THE ultimate virtue, I often wish there were more examples of maintaining that relationship with a higher power while recognizing that we also have realtionships with other humans. I think the Doctor's exchange with Rita about being Muslim, and her reply "you're not afraid, are you?" was the first clue meant to point us to examining the issue of the need to examine belief. Furthermore, I think the point of the episode was an appeal to viewers to thoughtfully examine your beliefs before you reach an end you cannot return from.
Teresa Jusino
60. TeresaJusino
Jae @55 - I always consider people's criticisms and talk to them about them. However, just because I listen to other people's viewpoints doesn't mean I can't engage with them and disagree with them. I think that, rather than a review, you're looking for a mere synopsis of the episodes. Reviews, however, are inherently opinionated, and you're free to agree or disagree with me as you like.

Natenanimous @56 - thank you for breaking that down! :) You bring up something really interesting, as I've been trying to keep track of when characters' gangers would've gotten involved. I like what you're thinking.

Rachaol @59 - thank you for stopping by! I definitely understand what you're saying - and yes, others made that point above. Here's what I said to them @43 (at the bottom):
I understand that Amy needed to get rid of her childish view of The Doctor. But this is where I had trouble - because the episode seemed to be equating "faith" with "childishness" and I would never equate those two things. I think you've helped me pinpoint exactly what was troubling to me. There didn't seem to be an option for Adult Faith in this episode. The choices were, either you have faith, or you grow up. And that, to me, is a false choice. One that made the character of Amy weaker, which I know wasn't the intent.

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