Sunday, 11 September 2011

Review - "The Girl Who Waited"

We all knew that this was the Doctor-lite episode this season - and I'll be honest ... I'm not a fan of Doctor-lite episodes. I know why there's a need for them but in general I don't really like them. "The Girl Who Waited" was a huge surprise in that it was an extraordinarily Doctor-heavy, Doctor-lite episode - if you see what I mean. The Doctor was always there - his presence was essential - but this was Amy and Rory's time to shine.

Last week with "Night Terrors" we had chilling scares. This week with "The Girl Who Waited" we had time paradoxes and hard science fiction concepts in a beautiful, character driven story. The Doctor and Rory are separated from Amy on "Appleapachia" and soon discover, by virtue of a time glass, that Amy is in a faster time stream. On Amy's side of the glass, time is also compressed - so that, although a week has passed for Amy, she has not felt the need to eat or drink. They are in a "Kindness Facility" that houses victims of a plague called "Chen 7" - the plague affects two-hearted lifeforms so the Doctor must stay in the sterile area or the Tardis. Due to the faster time streams experienced by the victims, their families can literally watch through the time glass as they grow old and die in one day. As the Doctor says, "... sit by their bedside for 24 hours and watch them die or sit in here for 24 hours and watch them live..." An intriguing concept!

Deciding that he can use the time glass as a kind of satnav to lock onto Amy, the Doctor sends Rory into the facility to find her. And then it gets all wibbly. Rory does indeed find Amy. An Amy who has waited for 36 years - and what an Amy! She's become adept at surviving inside the facility; has reprogrammed the voice interface and even built her own "sonic probe". She's very handy with a sword - and the great thing is that you can really see her developing like this. Just look at who her daughter is if you want any more convincing.

36 years on her own...brooding and hating the Doctor, the scenes between the three of them were painful and heartwrenching. With another twist of the knife, the Doctor figures out a way to "fold" two points of Amy's time stream and get the young Amy back - the problem is that aged Amy would cease to exist. And she's having none of that. Eventually, with a terrific conversation between young Amy and aged Amy via the time glass, aged Amy agrees - on the condition that she leaves in the Tardis too.

We knew it wouldn't be that easy. We knew that, even though the Doctor said it was possible, that we wouldn't have 2 Amy's on board the Tardis. If it had been any other show you would assume that they would take the easy way out. Other shows would have had aged Amy either dying before she reached the Tardis or be captured by the Handbots. Not "Doctor Who" though. You can never accuse "Doctor Who" of being lazy and taking the easy way out. With young Amy on board the Tardis, the Doctor shuts the door in aged Amy's face. Two Amy's cannot exist on board the Tardis - as the Doctor says "the paradox would be too massive". He gives Rory the choice - which Amy does he want. In the end though, it's aged Amy who makes the choice and implores Rory not to let her in. It's hearbreaking - especially when she puts her hand against the window of the Tardis.

"The Girl Who Waited" is a heartbreaking yet beautiful episode. Visually stunning and perfectly realised, you'll find yourself fascinated by the science fiction concepts whilst at the same time reaching for the tissues because of the pure character driven drama. Kudos to everyone involved in this - but especially Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan. Given their chance to shine, they grabbed it and ran with it.

There has been a bit of controversy online about the decision the Doctor made at the end of "The Girl Who Waited". I will just say this. One thing the Doctor does - and will always do - is what is RIGHT. No matter how hard it is - no matter how much pain it causes him or his friends, he will do what is right. It might not be popular or cute or fair - but it is right. The Doctor has responsibilities - he won't just create paradoxes because he can see the consequences. The Doctor makes mistakes - he's not perfect - but he has a moral code that he adheres to. And if you don't think that decision hurt him - if you don't think it was painful - then take a look at the following screencap. Take a look at his eyes and then tell me it didn't hurt.

Episode Rating: 10/10

Screencaptures courtesy of "enchantedfleur