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18 September 2011 @ 09:08 am
The Girl Who Waited  

Well, yes, I can see the problem with the sub-text here, namely that you should sacrifice your life, not to save that of your loved one but so he can be a bit happier than you think he might be with you around, and that younger and inexperienced is preferable to older and cynical, but I'm not 100% sure that the cynicism of the sub-text and its messages about the ways people are prejudiced against the old in small subtle ways, wasn't the point. I thought it was a thoughtful and well-executed slice of Doctor Who, though one that you can do a lot of picking over.

The Doctor is almost the villain of this piece and I think that was deliberate. I'm sure, like many people, I feel his god complex (no, I've not seen this week's episode, I'll be dead chuffed if his actions are addressed there though I'm not sure they will be) has been played on so often that it's getting a bit old. But I think it's rarely been as stark and clearly callous as it was here, and I think its rarely been made so obvious that he isn't making these decisions about people's lives because of some abstract notion of the greater good, but because of often petty and personal reasons. In this case he doesn't want an Amy who dislikes him. But as with Donna, he makes and enforces a decision about her future in clear contravention of her wishes.

The tragedy, of course, is that Rory who tries so desperately to do the right thing throughout shows in lots of tiny ways that he prefers the younger, prettier, more familiar Amy. It's there in every instinctive reaction before his thinking mind cuts in and kudos goes to Arthur Darvill for the way he played it. But it was all those small tells that, in the end, defeated the older Amy far more so than the Doctor's cold determination to leave her behind.

Like many people, the fan in me wanted older Amy rescued and, given the limits of acting with a prosthesis, go off to have her own adventures in Time an Space but I'm not sure the episode would have been as strong with that ending and it's implication that all the small unkindnesses that Rory tried to suppress did not, ultimately, break her determination to live. Speaking of the prosthesis I thought it was remarkably good. It only really showed up when you had the two Amy's next to each in the immobility of the older versions face compared to the younger one and that could have been ascribed to age and disillusion.

If I'm quibbling, the set up for the episode was a bit flaky. The business with the two buttons was unlikely, though not impossible but I never really caught the idea behind the two time streams. I thought initially that those not infected would be on the faster time stream - able to share their full lives with the person having only a day to live, but instead it seemed like those infected were in some bizarre time stream where they could age, but other bodily processes (i.e. the progress of the disease and the need for food) were suppressed. This didn't make a lot of sense to me. Nor did the lack of a "umm... oops... I've accidentally entered the wrong room, can you let me out now please?" protocol.

At the end of the day I thought this was an excellent piece of Doctor Who, and I'm not entirely convinced that the problems with its treatment of older Amy, were not entirely deliberate. A dramatised reflection of an unfortunate reality that was meant to make us feel angry and examine our own prejudices.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/54099.html.
munchkinofdoom: beach 18munchkinofdoom on September 18th, 2011 09:06 am (UTC)
I watched this for the first time last night - the ABC is a week behind the UK - and I'm still thinking it through.

I think, firstly, what caught my attention was actually the TARDIS. There's been a subtle progression, from the Master using her to create his time paradox, through to The Doctor's Wife and now into this ep where she was not at all keen on letting both Amy's into the TARDIS. That it seemed that the Doctor's decision to leave the older Amy behind was governed more by the fact that the TARDIS would reject her.

The end of the ep pretty much brought me close to tears, and Doctor Who isn't good at that with me even though I useually cry at the drop of a hat. The way that older Amy begged Rory not to open the door, because she knew tht, given even half a chance, she'd fight to live even if it meant risking her younger self.

In the end, like with Donna's fate, what really did my head in regarding the Doctor was that he was willing to risk freeing both Amy's from their timestreams, knowing that if he could only save the earlier Amy, the older Amy wouldn't just fade away but have to face the consequences of being left behind. She was real, not just a future possibility.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 18th, 2011 09:12 am (UTC)
I don't know about a reading in which the Doctor has little choice. The look on his face when he shuts the door was, I felt, pretty hostile.

It must be said one of the episodes weaknesses was that the time paradox stuff wasn't terribly clear. It must be said I was under the impression that the Doctor allowed the dual Amy's only because it was clear he wasn't going to persuade Rory to abandon the older one so that they could nip back and save the younger one and similarly I was under the impression that, in leaving her behind, she would, eventually get over-written. I probably need to rewatch though, because I want to listen to the dual time stream explanation at the beginning as well.
munchkinofdoom: beach 18munchkinofdoom on September 18th, 2011 09:44 am (UTC)
I don't know about a reading in which the Doctor has little choice. The look on his face when he shuts the door was, I felt, pretty hostile.

Like you, I've only watched the ep once, but what really stuck with me was the scene before that, once both Amy's had been materialised - or probably that the earlier Amy's timestream had been merged with the later Amy's - and they'd started running for the TARDIS. At that moment, and it's very short, the TARDIS tried to dematerialise and the Doctor had to fight it. I think, up to that moment, the Doctor thought that he might be able to pull off saving both Amy's - and I agree that Rory pushed him to it.

I agree that he made a cold, calculated choice, and especially pushed that choice onto Rory as to which Amy to save, but the deed had already been done. He'd freed the future Amy from being tied to the earliy Amy's timestream so she couldn't just fade away if left behind.

But, from the way the TARDIS behaved, it looked to me like all bets would be off once both Amy's were in the TARDIS - that the TARDIS could somehow undo what the Doctor had done and that the earlier Amy would be lost if the later Amy stayed in the TARDIS.

*shrugs* I'm not sure I'm explaining it clearly, but I think that the Doctor's decision to merge the two Amy's timestreams wasn't a calculated deceit to force future Amy to help them, but was one of his usual attempts to wing it. Only this time it failed.

I hate how he forced Rory to choose between the two Amy's when he should have just locked the door. Yes, the future Amy hated him, but I'm not sure how much that played into leaving her behind. Rory had already carried the early Amy into the TARDIS. They had an Amy. There was no way of teling how the TARDIS would react to the presence of a future Amy too, but from earlier indications it wasn't going to be good. A bird in the hand etc.

I think, for me, it came down to cowardice rather than calculated cruelty.
athene: doctor elevendeinonychus_1 on September 18th, 2011 10:40 am (UTC)
but was one of his usual attempts to wing it. Only this time it failed.

It's possible this is the case, but I'm fairly sure I came away from the episode with the impression that The Doctor knew pretty much all along that he wouldn't be able to save both. He knowingly lied to Rory in order to get Rory and Amy back to the TARDIS, because he knew Rory would never be able to make that decision himself if he knew he was going to have to choose.

And I think Rory has lost a great deal of his trust in the Doctor by the end of the ep because he realised that the Doctor lied to him. Although, one presumes, neither Rory nor the Doctor have told Amy the truth about how Old Amy was left behind...

Having said all this, I've only watched it twice and that was a week ago, so I may have missed details.
munchkinofdoom: beach 18munchkinofdoom on September 18th, 2011 11:24 am (UTC)
Well, you've watched it one more time than I have. *g*

It's possible this is the case, but I'm fairly sure I came away from the episode with the impression that The Doctor knew pretty much all along that he wouldn't be able to save both.

*nods* I think there's also a corollary to that, in that the Doctor started out in a position where he could save neither Amy. Future Amy wasn't willing in the beginning to help because it would wipe out her timeline.

The Doctor had to try to save both Amy's in order to gain future Amy's co-operation. And the thing is, I suspect that the Doctor would have been happy just to save one of them, without distinct regard to which. Because there was a good chance that future Amy would get to the TARDIS first. The Doctor had no way of knowing if she'd eventually sacrifice herself if the time came, she was the better fighter and had more experience with the facility.

And from the Doctor's dialogue to Rory, he thought that the TARDIS would default to the later timeline, wiping out early Amy if necessary. So unless the Doctor was willing to block future Amy if she got there first, she probably had a better than even chance of being the Amy to survive.

Again, I think it comes down to one Amy is better than no Amy, but - and especially once the TARDIS got involved - it wasn't a foregone conclusion that it would be early Amy.

I might be giving the writers more credit than they are due, but it is an interesting dilemma to find yourself in.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 18th, 2011 04:44 pm (UTC)
I'm anticipating a positive deluge of fanfic and I think it's definitely quite high on the rewatch list!!
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 18th, 2011 04:47 pm (UTC)
I think it's a great character episode, precisely because of the ambivalence around all the choices. There wasn't anything easy about it, and I think the writers recognised that!