At the end of Cold Blood, Rory died. It was shocking enough to see this good man (a hero to some) fall victim to Silurian fire, but to also see him erased from the memory of the woman he loved was to witness his double death. And sad though it is to bid farewell to Arthur Darvill, I canâ€™t help but wonder if his passing might at last see the return of that other wonderful companion from earlier this seasonâ€¦ what was her name, now?
Oh yes, that was it. Amy Pond.
You remember Amy, donâ€™t you? That feisty young woman the Doctor first met as a mysterious, almost unearthly child. She handcuffed him to a radiator, remember? Handcuffs, remember? Course you do. She helped him discover his eleventh persona and you thought she was easy on the eye. You loved that screwball comedy thing she had going on. She saw the solutions the Doctor couldnâ€™t see and saved the day both on Starship UK and in Churchillâ€™s Cabinet War Rooms. Not only did you like the length of her legs and the blue of her eyes, you also managed to look past them to realise she was, quite instantly, one of the most quick-witted and uncannily intuitive of all the Doctorâ€™s companions: remember the thing with the Angel on pause? Brilliant. Amy Pond was someone we wanted to unwrap, to discover and learn about.
So whereâ€™s she been for the last few weeks?
Okay, okay, before I scare you all away, Iâ€™m not taking a pop at Karen Gillan (who, if Confidential is anything to go by, appears to be one of the most delightful people to have ever set foot on this earth), but something â€˜unevenâ€™ has happened to the character she is playing. Obviously, once the dynamic of the TARDIS crew shifted to accommodate Rory, things had to become less romantic and more awkward. The new dynamic duo was replaced by a sketchily drawn love triangle â€“ presumably so we could see Amy wrestle with a love that would be taken from her, thus leading us towards the seasonâ€™s endgame. Sadly, though, Amy took a stretch limo back seat to her fellow travellers. Those of you who simply like a Doctor Who girl to fill a pair of incredibly short shorts will wonder what Iâ€™m talking about, but aside from two genuinely moving moments (one at the end of Amyâ€™s Choice, where Amy held Rory and Gillanâ€™s eyes communicated so much that her frozen face could not, and the frantic Cold Blood sequence where Rory slipped from her memory) sheâ€™s had nothing truly substantial or dramatically truthful to do for four weeks.
Thereâ€™s been a definite â€˜cruise controlâ€™ feel to the middle of this (undoubtedly wonderful) season and Gillan has come out of it the worst. Factions of the viewing public that heartily embraced the new Doctor have begun to spurn Amy. Some have expressed dissatisfaction with the characterâ€™s moral position (her intended ravishment of the Doctor on the eve of her wedding), but others have criticised Gillanâ€™s performance. While the former position is up for some debate, the latter is, I think, unfair. Recent scripts have rarely favoured Amy and when they have theyâ€™ve made her very knowing or ironic (see her response to the 6-foot lizard man whoâ€™s just delayed her dissection). You could place such dialogue into the mouth of Runaway Bride-era Donna and it wouldnâ€™t be out of place; itâ€™s that grating. Some of the problems do lie in Gillanâ€™s delivery, which now seems quite settled (while Matt Smithâ€™s grows ever inventive), but the character is in danger of being written out of â€˜feistyâ€™ and â€˜quirkyâ€™ into â€˜shallowâ€™ and â€˜dangerously smugâ€™. Perhaps the real tragedy of recent weeks was watching Amy respond to the Human/Silurian peace talks by acting bored out of her skull. Itâ€™s hard to imagine Rose, Martha or Donna doing the same; they would have been much more proactive. Iâ€™m sure Amy is too, but someone seems to have forgotten.
Or have they?
To some extent, itâ€™s easy to feel that we might have been cheated. The Eleventh Hour promised us an enigma to be unravelled across the season â€“ but weâ€™re still no closer to knowing much about Amy Pond. Itâ€™s like sheâ€™s as much a void in the centre of the season as the Cheshire cat grin in time. We know nothing about her family or her lost memories. One can only assume that her parents either died after promising to â€˜be back in five minutesâ€™ or they, too, are/were/will be caught up in the collapse of the universe â€“ but what of her aunt? And where did all her memories go? Was it the crack that took them or something more traumatic? Was she even around for the Dalek invasion? And, hey, weâ€™re asking the questions, but does she even know who she is? She could be anyone. And I mean ANYONE (handcuffs, remember? But maybe it wonâ€™t always end like that?). All we have learnt is that she did love Rory after all. Probably.
But with her reset button pressed (one assumes only temporarily), Iâ€™m hoping the Amy we get for the next few weeks is the Amy I remember from the first five. With bits added. One hopes that Roryâ€™s narrative presence will ultimately serve some larger dramatic purpose and that their relationship will prove to be the key to the entire season (will she remember him and be given the opportunity to reverse his death â€“ like Anji did with Dave in the Eighth Doctor novels â€“ thus causing universal chaos, etc?). Perhaps Rory was there to distract us from the central mystery of Amy. Which means we havenâ€™t been cheated, then, but cleverly manipulated.
Almost ten weeks in and weâ€™re still no closer to knowing anything about Amy Pond. And thatâ€™s probably the point.