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13 September 2015 @ 07:33 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The Girl who Waited  
I like The Girl Who Waited. It is, I think, the Doctor-lite episode of this season and revolves around Amy's accidental entrapment for thirty years in some kind of wierd time-locked quarantine facility and the resulting dilemma over whether to rescue the older or the younger Amy (or both). It has come in for a fair bit of criticism, both for its framing of Amy as a girl who passively waits, and for the Doctor's obvious preference for younger, rather than older Amy.

I think, to an extent, both are valid criticisms since they are very much the surface presentation of the episode, but they ignore the fact that the title is a deliberate tag back to Amy's childhood waiting for the Doctor. The older Amy here has been forced to wait against her will, with no possibility directing her energies elsewhere, has become pretty awesome in the process, is no longer a girl, and has emerged stripped of her starry-eyed hero-worship of the Doctor. I strongly suspect the contrast between her two waits is deliberate and is, in fact, supposed to pre-figure the idea that she can not always be the girl who waits but must eventually become an independent woman.

Similarly the Doctor's preference for younger Amy is criticised directly by Rory and I think we are supposed to be repulsed by it. As I mentioned when reviewing Night Terrors these three episodes, together with the first half of next season are about redefining Amy and Rory's relationship with the Doctor as they grow older and this episode is deliberately presenting us with a what-if where Amy is completely disillusioned. The Doctor is actually attempting to cling onto the girl who waits in preference to the woman who sees him more clearly (though arguably both Amy's have a distorted view of him) and this is a development that then gets reversed in The God Complex, the next story where the Doctor has to deliberately push Amy away. We aren't supposed to approve of his behaviour here.

Mind you, it would have been nice if older Amy had escaped. I like the idea of a grumpy, formidable, older Amy having her own adventures travelling the universe.

The initial set-up is also several levels of ridiculous but I think the rest of the story the episode is telling is sufficiently interesting and well-done to make-up for the fact that the dilemma is extremely contrived.

As I say, I like this episode. Like many Doctor/Companion-lite episodes it tries to do something a little different with more of a focus on character than on action and I think it succeeds pretty well. If it fails, it is perhaps, that the irony of the title and its criticism of the Doctor are not made clear enough.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/169820.html.
eve11eve11 on September 13th, 2015 07:28 pm (UTC)
I think it's also complicated by the fact that while Older Amy turned out pretty badass, she also had a pretty horrible existence for the interim time. All alone, dodging handbots and imminent death. So the Doctor's preference for younger Amy isn't necessarily selfish. He knows he can save only one of them, and saving Older Amy is essentially sentencing young Amy to that fate.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 14th, 2015 02:10 pm (UTC)
I hadn't thought of that. I think part of the Doctor's issue is the basic selfishness of wanting undisillusioned Amy, and of course older Amy argues that she doesn't want to lose the experiences that made her who she is. But I'm not sure the program clearly drew that out.
athene: rory sexydeinonychus_1 on September 13th, 2015 09:07 pm (UTC)
I'm quite a fan of this episode, but mostly because it revolves to a large extent around the relationship between Amy and Rory. I've made no secret of the fact that Rory is one of my favourite DW characters of recent years, and this ep in particular was a good one for him.

And I have to admit, that scene at the end with Old Amy and Rory on opposite sides of the TARDIS door made me cry the first time I watched it, and quite possibly on at least one subsequent re-watch.

I like your thinking about the ongoing theme of Amy and Rory becoming more independent from the Doctor, and I think for Rory in particular this is one of the moments that makes him really open his eyes to what effect the Doctor is having on their lives. When the Doctor makes Rory be the one to choose, doesn't he say something like, "You're turning me into you."?

To some extent Rory has always had a far less rose-tinted view of the Doctor than Amy, but he has become complacent and allowed himself to be carried away with the fun and adventures. For Rory, this is a wake up call, and a reminder of how dangerous and morally ambiguous the Doctor can be.

But yes, I wish they could have saved Old Amy, she would have had awesome adventures on her own around the universe, and deserved better after everything she had been through.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 14th, 2015 02:14 pm (UTC)
I think, even before this, Rory was fairly clear-sighted about the Doctor. I think The God Complex, for instance, would have played out the same way had this not happened, though I think coming so soon after the Girl Who Waited it helps emphasise the way he doesn't believe in the Doctor come what may.

I think part of what is going on here is that the Doctor is aware of Rory's reservations and is, absolutely, trying to make Rory sympathise with the Doctor's point of view by trying to force him to make the choice the Doctor has already made. I liked that Rory was having none of that.

If anything, and in spite of this, I think Rory's overall arc is one of moving towards the Doctor while Amy's is about finding a kind of equilibrium between independence and continued adventures.

I wonder if there are any older Amy fixits out there?