It’s finally here: you’ve been waiting for it all week but finally we present to you our massive roundup of reaction and reviews from around the web for the latest episode of Doctor Who, The Girl Who Waited.
There were 6 million of you tuned into the episode for its premiere screening on BBC One on Saturday evening, an increase of half a million on the previous week, so clearly there was enough in the promotion to pique interest and make a difference which saw Doctor Who beat Ant and Dec’s latest vehicle Red Or Black? by over a million. Once again the episode cut a share of over 30%, maintaining its consistently high audience share.
Of course as you know, we don’t really care about the overnight figures as they barely mean anything without iPlayer viewings factored in.
The critical opinion is far more important…
Mez Burdett has picked some great reviews, kicking off with this snippet from The Guardian who rightly praise Karen Gillan for a remarkable performance in the episode.
“Last year, Karen Gillan had a tendency to over-enunciate and to shout at the end of her SENTENCES. But this was her episode completely. A dodgy-looking makeup job aside ( you try making that face look haggard), the two Amy’s were believably different; the pitch of their voices, their posture, the old, bitter Amy eventually melting into familiar Pondisms as her boys worked their magic on her. Well done, Karen.”
Assignment X, too, had praise for Gillan, but mainly for Tom MacRae, the episode’s writer:
“Kudos to Tom MacRae for not only writing a powerful, character-driven script that still manages to construct a logical and satisfying time conundrum at the heart of the story, but for affirming the bond of love and devotion that makes the Amy/Rory romance resonate in a way that it often failed to do in the past. This year too, Karen Gillan’s portrayal of Amy has improved by leaps and bounds, but here she turns in a breath-taking, award-worthy performance as an older Amy with a very different bearing and outlook on the universe.”
Over at the website of popular UK sci-fi magazine SFX, the focus is on praising the concept of The Girl Who Waited. It’s interesting that no episode or even story has really dealt with this particular threat of time travel before.
“Though it begins as a fusilade of smart one-liners, Tom MacRae’s heart-smasher of a script takes a considerably more sober tack. It unearths the darkness behind the essential premise of Doctor Who – the perilous flipside to a life spent crashing through the cosmos in that beautiful blue box. It’s an exploration of the “romp” gone wrong, and the consequences that must be paid.”
As you would expect, Flick Filosopher MaryAnn Johanson tells it like it is, highlighting the marvellous dialogue that permeated this memorable episode:
“Amy’s speech about beautiful people who are boring and ordinary people who are beautiful is one of the loveliest bits of dialogue from the entire 48-year history of the show. there is the dark side to all of this. The dark side is always the same, but not every story seems to realize that. The dark side is the Doctor himself. He lies again, naturally, but we expect that. Rory’s complaint to the Doctor — “You’re turning me into you” — is bitter and pointed. The sense that the Doctor is not the hero we make him out to be hasn’t been so strong in the Steven Moffat era before now.”
Meanwhile Andrew Reynolds has a few useful snippets which he kicks off with a rather unusual reference to REM…
“That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion.”
It somehow seems wrong that now the events of The Girl Who Waited have been erased from history, with Rory reunited with the oblivious younger Amy, that the one defining moment of their relationship, throughout all history will be Rory’s 2,000 year vigil.
There’s no denying that it taps into the same often repressed yearnings explored in The Girl Who Waited: Rory surviving on the sustenance of one day being reunited with his loved one, fighting off those that wish to separate them until that day comes – when called upon Rory becomes more than a man.
While Amy never willingly chose to make that same sacrifice her own trust in Rory crumbles far more readily than Rory’s steely nerve- where he can see an end in sight, she loses focus and nearly negates letting her older self regain those lost years- as if each passing year had validated that pain to the point where life without it would be worse than enduring it.
A lot has been made of the “Dark Fairytale” world that Steven Moffat has created but here with lovers seperated in two different worlds is where it felt its most magical; it’s something that Tor.com felt too:
“As we saw in Amy’s Choice, Amy only wants a world with Rory in it, and any existence without him doesn’t matter. For someone as independent and obstinate as Amy to allow herself to be vulnerable enough to admit that is huge, and a sign that Rory is good for her. He allows her to be a more complete, well-rounded person than she would ever be on her own. He makes her stronger.”
It is this strength that lead to Newsarama calling the union of Amy and Rory:
“Considering he was willing to stand guard over her for 2,000 years, it’s obvious this is one of the great romances of history.”
This misunderstands what history is about; its not about those great moments that serve as a reminder to a power that has long since begun to fade with repetition but those human moments, where what was expected to happen fails or those moments that succeed but not in expected ways. Instead, it is the emotional pull it has on those key figures and the ability to spin a yarn about what fits the general interpretation; The Girl Who Waited even sounds like a fable.
That’s why its such a shame that Amy and Rory will only be remember (so far) for the moment the Roman faced down the Cybermen rather than the quiet moment a girl lost her religion.
It’s that same vulnerablity that makes the Older Amy – forced into a life of hiding in the shadows from the deadly stings of the Handbots – turn on the one man that put them in this test of time. With life onboard the TARDIS becoming more and more bleak it begs the question raised by CraveOnline: Why are Amy and Rory still travelling with the Doctor?
“Rory’s anger towards the Doctor was every bit as intense as the older Amy’s was. The fate of Amy and Rory’s daughter has already been settled and the sad truth is that if they travel with the Doctor for too long one or both of them will probably end up dead… permanently.
My guess is that they’re sticking around for now in the hopes of finding a way to save the Doctor from The Impossible Astronaut. Anything beyond that is going to need a very compelling reason to get them to remain on board the TARDIS. And one last thing to keep in mind: we’ve already seen the future of Amy and Rory last season during the Silurian two parter. In the distance, we saw an older Amy and Rory waiving at their present day counterparts and we’ve yet to catch up to that point in time.
Whatever happens until that time, they stay together.”
Rory, as has been established, is a man of principle. He will stand up for what he believes in – though often those beliefs are little more than screwing his courage to the sticking place and facing unbelievable odds – could this TARDIS family, who, like life with the Fifth Doctor are at least consider equals, in fact be greater than the man himself? As the Doctor himself has said he is ‘tired of running’ from those forces that seeking vengence could this all be leading towards the Ponds killing not the Doctor but just what we believe the Doctor to be?
Could we be talking about another kind of regeneration? Bleeding Cool have been questioning the same thing:
“Remember a couple of weeks ago.The biggest question kept in plain sight. “Doctor?” The answer. “Who?” Steven Moffat has talked about reverting the Doctor away from the figure that everyone knows, fears, and has has legends about. Is that how he will survive his own death, by becoming someone else – by becoming no one? Will he no longer marry River Song? Doctor… Who?
And if they do rescue Melody Pond as a baby… will they kill River Song?”
Christian Cawley, Andrew Reynolds and Mez Burdett all contributed to this article.