Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Girl Who Waited. Review.

Dr Who, The Girl Who Waited, Karen Gillan/Amy Pond
Love conquers all, and I love conkers.

Strangely enough, only one of these themes is the subject of Tom MacRae's The Girl Who Waited. I'll leave you to guess which it is.

All concerns about their daughter seemingly permanently forgotten, the Doctor takes Rory and Amy to the 2nd best tourist spot in the universe but, with his usual capacity for landing everyone in trouble, they find themselves in a medical facility for people with a plague that kills its victims within a day.

The idea is that, for the victims, the facility compresses time, allowing them to live an entire lifetime in the twenty four hours they have remaining. Someone might question why the compression doesn't also apply to the plague they're carrying, meaning that, in their own time-line, they'd still only live a day. Seemingly that's not the case, although it's never explained why.

While the facility's automated systems see the Doctor and Rory as visitors, they see Amy as a patient, meaning she's trapped there unless the Doctor and Rory can get her out.

Karen Gillan/Amy Pond, Dr Who, The Girl Who Waited
Unfortunately, thanks the the time compression, by the time the Doctor and Rory get to her, she's aged 36 years, become a genius, is handy with a sword and has a right nark on at being abandoned for all that time.

Now the Doctor and Rory have to make a choice. Do they take the older Amy with them, thus sentencing the younger Amy to decades of being trapped, or do they go back in time and rescue the younger Amy, meaning the older Amy and all she's been through in 36 years'll be wiped out of existence?

Thanks to some baffling Timey-Wimey gobbledygook, involving electric cables and Love, they manage to make both Amys appear in the same time frame, so they can both, in theory, be rescued.

But the TARDIS'll only allow one of them aboard because of the paradox their co-existence is creating, meaning Rory has to make a choice as to which Amy to abandon to her unhappy fate.

White Robot, Dr Who, The Girl Who Waited
With its white sets, white robots and occasionally confusing concepts, there's more than a hint of Patrick Troughton's The Mind Robber about The Girl Who Waited but the story itself's completely different, throwing a focus on Rory and Amy's relationship and its power to overcome decades of separation, resentment and even the laws of time itself.

What probably pleases me most about the episode (apart from the smiley Rory-bot) is it doesn't cop out as I thought it was going to by having the older Amy killed in the slow-motion fight she, Rory and the younger Amy have with the facility's robots, meaning that Rory' forced into a choice over which Amy to abandon. Of course, he chooses the younger model. Whoever thought it was going to be otherwise?

Perhaps the episode's main weakness is that the whole, "Amy and Rory have a love so strong nothing can stand in its way," routine is something that's already over-familiar to the point of tiresomeness and, because Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan never actually come across like a couple in love, isn't something that overly interests me. To a large degree it gets back to the insularity the show's displayed too often in the Moffat era, where everything in the whole universe seems to pale in comparison to the needs and wants of the central characters.

I don't know if I liked this episode or not. It certainly tried to do something different with the format and was clearly classier than last week's outing but, then again, the first three episodes of this mini-season have been so different from each other in concept, tone and execution that it feels like you're watching a totally different show each week, giving a highly disjointed feel to proceedings. It's nice to be surprised but it'd be fun to watch two episodes in  row that actually feel like they're from the same show.

9 comments:

Kid said...

The previous episodes have been so underwhelming that my enthusiasm for each new one has evaporated to the point of not bothering to watch them as they're broadcast. However, I've just this second finished watching 'The Girl Who Waited' on iplayer (time;4.06) and I have to say that, overall, I quite enjoyed it.

Felt sorry for the poor abandoned 'Rory-robot' though.

Steve W. said...

I was actually going to complain in the review that no one in the show cared about the fate of the Rory-bot. These time-travellers, they're so inconsiderate.

Dougie said...

I wasn't sure if I liked it or just disliked other episodes more. My first response was it was all very Braga Star Trek: a huge event occurs to a character that, in all likelihood, will never referenced again. I also thought: Illyana Rasputin, much?
I agree that there's no more chemistry between Arthur and "Ian" Gillan than between, say, Ben and Polly. I was actually convinced by Gillan's acting this week; normally, I can't bear Amy's "Mad Bus Passenger" muttering and scowling.

Kid said...

Although, I think that version of time was supposed to have been 'faded out' once 'young' Amy was rescued and the Tardis left, so the Rory-bot would have ceased to exist as well. (Never having come into being.) However, this is at odds with the usual, accepted hypotheses of time travel, one of which is that, at whatever point you enter another time, you create an alternate branch of reality, while the original one continues unchanged. Moffat doesn't seem to have any consistent approach to time paradoxes. How can different versions of the Doctor from different points in his history co-exist in the same time stream, but not two versions of Amy?

Steve W. said...

I think the explanation in the old days of how multiple Doctors could exist in the same place at the same time was that the Time Lords were enabling it to happen. Of course that doesn't explain two versions of Matt Smith's Doctor being around at the same time in The Impossible Astronaut.

theoncominghope said...

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

Wil said...

I thought it was funny that Amy was so mad at the Doctor for leaving her. Even my 8 year old son piped up with "why is she angry with him? She got herself into that mess when she pressed the wrong button".

I quite liked it for its 'different-ness' and the fact that I think we saw Karen Gillan have to act but the nonsense, get-out of story-jail free, science of it all (temporal time vents? With time steam?) was a bit jarring, sometimes.

Much better than last week, though.

Steve W. said...

I suppose that, after the events of The Eleventh Hour, where Amelia spent her entire childhood waiting for the Doctor to come back and he never did, Amy was starting to spot a pattern to his behaviour and that was partly why she was so aggravated by it.

I think you're right about Gillan getting a chance to do some proper acting. Far too often in the show, she's required to just blunder around shouting, "Doctor!" a lot or just looking stroppy. She really has been criminally under-used in the show - a lot of that being down to having to share screen-time with Rory, meaning she's not had the chance to properly establish herself as a character in her own right.

pete doree said...

This is the first episode I've actually got into and enjoyed, as opposed to biting my gums through in sheer boredom. They were all given a chance to act for once. Mind, I wasn't convinced by Ninja Amy's fighting skills one bit! That end rush to the tardis was spectacularly lame. Did Ian Gillan do any practice at all?

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