This week’s Doctor Who took the series to a much needed and more serious place, one where time travel is dangerous and you never know what is (or isn’t) on the other side of the door.
Attempting to drive a wedge between Amy and Rory with the very real prospect of a much older, changed Amy Pond was a fantastic idea in a story which saw the Doctor become as much an enemy to his companions as time itself. I firmly believe that this episode is in the same class as The Doctor’s Wife, Midnight, Blink, Human Nature and Waters of Mars as being among the very cream of stories since Doctor Who returned in 2005. Writer Tom MacRae – whose previous Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel wasn’t exactly a fan favourite back in 2006 – has given us a story with real heart, built up with layers of emotion, love, anger, hatred, anger, dismay and even some laughter.
We should all spend some time considering the choices that Rory was forced to make in this story, and hope that we’re never in this position.
Destined to be the next big thing out of Cupertino, the iHandbots looked as though they had Steve Jobs’ dabs all over them, from the smooth design to the clever use of a flesh-like hand to provide a human interface. They were supremely cool, however, with a head packed full of dart syringes and the ability to transmat into position and start marching on their intended plague sufferer.
The fact that “Apple App Achia” was in quarantine because of the Chen7 plague was a useful way of keeping the Doctor out of the action, yet his presence was felt throughout either in the shape of a truly excellent Matt Smith (playing it darker than the Time Lord Victorious ever did) or the shadow that his actions cast across a story that demanded that poor Rory make a choice between two versions of his wife, knowing that one will be erased and the other left to endure 36 years of solitude armed only with a voice controlled Interface (renowned character actress Imelda Staunton) and the inspiration of having travelled with a sonic screwdriver-wielding madman in box.
Eagle-eyed viewers would have noticed yet more H20 (thanks everyone) related shenanigans in this latest episode, with the Two Streams kindness facility featuring a Green Anchor or a Red Waterfall option (which is how Amy gets lost, making the wrong choice). Those with long memories will remember the empty pond at Leadworth, River Song, Melody Pond and all of the various nautical/wet references over the past two years. Either The Grand Moff is descended from pirates or he’s bitter about the amount of rain he endured in his formative years in Paisley.
“This is how it ends… Pond flirting with herself,” said the Doctor in the Comic Relief special Time/Space, but when the prospect of a real second Amy Pond is presented we don’t get too many girl on girl quips from the Time Lord or Rory. Instead, the discovery of the older Amy, hiding away much like the alternate William Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Second Chances”, comes as a shock, with both Rory and the Doctor initially unsure has to how to deal with her.
What is most brilliant about the scenes with Mature Amy – makeup aside – is how the actress carries herself, adopts a different voice and generally uses quite evolved versions of Amy’s mannerisms. Karen Gillan has come in for some unnecessary criticism over the last couple of years for her portrayal of Ms Pond, but I’m happy to say that she is definitely the actress I always thought she was. Mature Amy was brilliant, and it’s mainly down to Gillan.
One of the things that struck me most about
Rory’s Choice The Girl Who Waited is that it is in many ways flawless. Before you go arguing over the quality of Karen Gillan’s “Older Amy” makeup (which was of course fantastic) or perceived flaws in the logic (you’re expecting logic in modern Doctor Who? Are you mad?!) let’s just appreciate this for what it was, a perfectly executed story featuring the three leads, some robots and a voice and a heart-rending scenario for poor Rory.
Most importantly, let’s watch it again…