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Published on September 13th, 2011 | by Christian Cawley

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The Girl Who Waited

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.

Doctor Who - The Girl Who Waited

“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…

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About the Author

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A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




13 Responses to The Girl Who Waited

  1. avatar Joe says:

    Well actually this episode make me feel like this was the perfect example of wrong turn doctor who has been taken since Moffat is in charge. In RTD era we had a perfect coktail : Moffat came up with some brillant very sofisticated episodes while RTD knew how to overall give it some passion, and make the character humans.

    This is a perfect example of how meaningless the character are becoming. This was supposed to be a sad story, but franckly I found the two Amys pretty much annoying and I did not give a single f*** of what would happen to both of them. It was very clear from the start of the episode how it would end, and the whole “girl who waited” thing, just seemed like just a sad way of recycling, the rory who waited story, without even being ashamed of it.

    I’ve been a huge fan of all of moffat’s work until this season. Of Course he is cleaver and all the storylines he gives us are very nice and polished, but the problem is : He’s too clever, he wants to fit too much in a small timeslot and as a result his characters don’t have souls anymore. Everything is going too fast and is the end everything’s feels meaningless because at the same time you could begin to have some compassion, the story already moved on and there is nothing left to feel sorry for. The best example of that was probably Mels, whom we discovered and vanished ten seconds later, because Moffat had to much to say in one episode to further develop the character.

    Of course Moffat did not write this episode, but you can feel he’s right there at every second. It could have been have been great, if only we could still believe Amy can experience feelings. Of course she knows how to fake a sob, but is anyone really believing it ?


    • @Joe – you’ve completely missed the point. I don’t know what show you’ve been watching, but “she knows how to fake a sob” – when did this happen? “if only we could still believe Amy can experience feelings” – what are you talking about?

      If these characters didn’t have souls then people wouldn’t be watching and every other comment would refer to this. Clearly they do, and while they might suffer from the writing of certain episodes the actors – all three – did a superb job in The Girl Who Waited.

      You’ve clearly got a lot of pent up frustration about Steven Moffat’s version of Doctor Who; a lot of people had a lot of pent of frustration over RTD’s vision of the show. However both versions are too fast and there are just as many RTD era episodes that can be described as feeling “meaningless”.

      • avatar gavinio says:

        I’ve not been sold on the episodes for most of this series to be blunt. I thought it got off to great a great start and I even enjoyed the pirate episode that most people seemed to hate as it was fun. Since then I’ve found a lot of the episodes ‘meh’. Night Terrors has probably been the pick of the bunch from the recent episodes but The Girl Who Waited was really ho hum for me. Bland to look at, slow moving storyline and I too am bored by Amy. I’ve just never warmed to her. Arthur Darville is by far the more interesting actor of the two – he makes the absolutemost of everything given to him – which at times is not much – and it was he who shone on Saturday not Gillan. Perhaps what it all comes down to is that I remember watching Doctor Who as a kid and being thrilled by the adventure not the emotions. As an adult I still want that adventure not emotion.

  2. avatar Mr Peel says:

    Shouldn’t CO2 be H2O?


    • @Paul @Mr Peel

      Chemistry was never my strong point :) Appreciated.

  3. avatar Paul says:

    CO2?

    Can’t say I’d noticed a carbon dioxide running theme myself.

    The Moff seems big on H2O, though.

  4. avatar Dave says:

    I thought it was a fantastic episode for all the reasons you’ve stated. I’m not ashamed to say I blubbed my eyes out watching it.

    I really only wanted to say that I still don’t get what anyone saw in ‘Midnight’, which seemed like awful dross to me. Can’t disagree with your other examples of great episodes though.

    • avatar gavinio says:

      I completely agree with you about Midnight.

  5. avatar Steve says:

    Much as I enjoy the show, I cannot help but wonder how this episode can appeal to a young audience. I have been watching this since I was four years old and have enjoyed and endured the episodes week by week all the way back to the days of Pat Troughton. What keeps me watching is the imagination and the adventure of it all; it keeps me young. I wonder if my children will feel the same about these episodes in forty years time.
    Joe has hit an important point. Who is watching the show now and is it just appealing to an adult audience who have grown up with it and love it for what it is?


    • @Steve – I watched The Girl Who Waited with my two young nieces (5 and 6) – only episode since the first half of the series to hold their attention. I think it is easy to underestimate a child viewer, as witnessed by switching on the patronising rubbish on the CBBC channel.

      You mention that you watch for “the imagination and the adventure of it all” – did nothing in the Girl Who Waited strike you as imaginative? The concept, the setting, even the detail of older Amy building a robot Rory?

  6. avatar Gruff says:

    Fantastic episode in my opinion. As good as The Doctor’s Wife for the season. It really is a shame though that we are limited to 45 minute episodes, as alongside Night Terrors I felt that 15 more minutes to develop and enhance the ideas in the story would’ve possibly made both stories into top 50 of all-time. Both suffered for being a little rushed – the end of NT and the heartwrenching don’t open the door scene in TGWW being prime examples – I don’t feel tired of the TARDIS gang at the moment, but the stories appear to be leading to the exits of both Ponds. Maybe an earlier regeneration of Melody/Mel/River could become a new companion who pops back to see her folks occasionally…

    • avatar Dave says:

      Personally, I thought it was just the right length. I can’t see what could have been added to make it longer, unless you wanted to see more of Amy’s struggle to adjust to life on her own? Certainly not a story that merited being double length, touching and thought-provoking as it was.

      Maybe I need to re-watch Night Terrors, I had it down as nearly as poor as the pirate ship one. One for the kids, I thought.

  7. avatar Steve says:

    Hi Christian
    I do not intend to convey any dis. On the contrary, the Girl who waited was full of visual joy. Unfortunately it still requires a great deal of concentration on the part of a younger audience to keep up. I personally love the new moves, it’s just that I really think that the Moff needs to balance his ambition with the future of the show.
    I liked ‘Midnight’ immensly and could easily watch it over and over again; I don’t think my kids could. Dr.Who has always appealed to a broad audience and having watched the BBC PROMS music attachments to the DVD’s I can see for myself why Dr. Who has a huge captive audience. I would like that audience to enjoy many years of imaginative drama and I compare DR.WHO to Lord of the Rings and Narnia, Even dare I say Sherlock; however if the young audience are not watching then it’s just for the fans. The Pirate story may not be popular with the adults but my kids will remember it for a long time.
    Lets have a show that we can all celebrate !

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