Arthur Darvill, you magnificent bastard! It doesn’t matter how many times Rory dies on Doctor Who, how many times he finds himself separated from Amy by time or space or parallel universes, or how many times he has to choose between inconceivable and insurmountable, Arthur Darvill just sells it. “The Girl Who Waited” was about Amy Pond in eleven different ways, but, like always, it was Rory who saved it from itself.
Frankly, “The Girl Who Waited” isn’t a new concept. “The Eleventh Hour” was about the girl who waited, “A Good Man Goes to War” was about the girl who waited. In some ways, Amy’s entire companionship is about hanging tight and keeping her chin up while the Doctor flies by the seat of his pants trying to keep his promises. Only, “The Girl Who Waited” wonders what would happen if Amy waited so long that she lost that whimsical spark of life that kept her from going nutso bananas after she shared fish fingers and custard with the Doctor the first time around.
“Come on, Rory, it’s hardly rocket science! It’s quantum physics!”
There are some other familiar themes here, too: Amy’s colossal love for Rory masking itself in patronizing affection (“Sit down, Rory!”); Rory’s bruised — but really moved — acceptance that she named her robot after him (“So he’s like your…?” “Pet.”); and, of course, the Doctor’s capricious brand of time travel that so often results in catastrophe for the people he loves.
But was this the first time someone really, truly called him out on how damaging his waggish ways really are? I mean, he knows it, obviously, but it was a bit like a punch to the heart to hear Rory shout him down about looking in a history book once in a while and then countering his claim of “That’s not how I travel” with “Then I do not want to travel with you!”
Which, of course, brings us to that age-old Whovian theme: The Doctor lies. There’s a beautiful moment with Matt Smith‘s beautiful face when he shows just a hint of remorse before he slams the TARDIS door in Old Amy’s face.
Like last week, this is a closed set, standalone episode that buys time (and saves money) between the Moffat-penned, series-long arc. And, like last week, it relies on the trio to sell the emotional wallops between the Vworps.
“Don’t you lecture me, blue-box man flying through time and space on whimsy.”
“The Girl Who Waited” may be Karen Gillan‘s best acting to date. I assume the makeup department was going for wizened with Old Amy, but good luck trying to make Gillan look anything other than perfect, right? Her hardened, almost lifeless portrayal of Old Amy — even down to the defeated posture — was pretty spectacular. Her greatest moment, I think, was her shock when she heard herself laugh for the first time in four decades.
And this little monologue was delivered beautifully:
You know when sometimes you meet someone so beautiful, and then you actually talk to them, and five minutes later they’re as dull as a brick? Then there’s other people, and you meet them and think, “Not bad, they’re OK.” And then you get to know them, and their face just sort of becomes them. Like their personality’s written all over it. And they just turn into something so beautiful.
It’s one of the best descriptions of love I’ve ever heard, and the editing of the him-inside/her-outside the TARDIS sequence was superb.
Having said all that — how very much I love Gillan (generally) and Darvill (especially) — I think it’s time to explore some new themes with them or look toward the future for some new TARDISmates. It would be a shame to see Matt Smith‘s tenure eaten up with only one set of companions. And, honestly, the niggling voice of feminism in my ear is tired of seeing Amy wait it out for her boys to come rescue her. She certainly made the most of it this time around — fully transforming into a samurai warrior! — but I’m ready to see something fresh, whether it be new stuff (like saving the world instead of each other) for Amy and Rory, or new companions.
“Sometimes knowing your own future’s what enables you to change it, especially if you’re bloody-minded, contradictory, and completely unpredictable.”
Three random notes: 1) The voice of the Two Streams — wink, wink — interface was Imelda Staunton, and I kept expecting her to go “Hem, hem!” like Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. 2) Darvill and Smith flat worked those hispter glasses. They should think of updating their accessories wardrobes. 3) Speaking of which, was that a new coat I spied on the Doctor?
Now, here’s The Question: When Amy wakes up in the TARDIS, the first thing she says is, “Where is she?” Is she talking about Old Amy or is she talking about Melody? My guess is Melody.
What did you think of “The Girl Who Waited”?