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11 September 2011 @ 05:21 pm
The Girl Who Waited  
(Because I am doing Normal Things today, and what I normally do on the day after a Doctor Who episode is post about it.)

I want to chew on this episode a lot, but all my thoughts are still coming out in flail, so you're forewarned.

(Three lines--or so--next to each other:
"I grew up." "Oh, you never want to do that." --The Eleventh Hour
"We have to grow up eventually." "Says who?" --Amy's Choice
"I grew old, Rory. What did you think was going to happen?" "Hey, I don't care that you grew old. I care that we didn't grow old together." --The Girl Who Waited)

I loved this episode, barring the first few minutes which dumped a little too much information on me a little too fast, and had some business with the buttons that was slightly silly. Though that's life with the Doctor, I suppose; you never know which decisions are going to be the momentous ones. Anyway, it's a great little character study, such a reflection on the relationships here: how these three fit together, and what it is that might break them apart. (Rory's furious "Then I don't want to travel with you!" feels like a tipping point, or a promise: he's had enough of the madcap dottiness, all the "pick a point on the map and try not to die" adventures.) And the Doctor...oh, my poor Doctor. He keeps trying to fix his mistakes with Amy, showing her the universe because he kept her waiting, and he keeps making everything worse.

Kudos to Karen Gillan, of course, for a finely calibrated performance, inhabiting a stiff wariness that her Amy doesn't usually have. I'm going to have to watch this one again for the nuances, but I loved the scene in which both Amys talk about Rory: current-day Amy says that Rory is the most beautiful man she's ever known (oh my heart) with a wide-open thoughtfulness, like it's still a present-tense miracle for her, but older Amy says it with a sort of wry regret--like it's an old memory she's not sure she should dig up, in case it hurts too much. And when older Amy says to Rory, "I'm going to pull time apart for you," it isn't just determination, but hesitance, and careful wonder, as though she can't quite believe he's real, as though she's afraid to make the admission or pin her hopes on whatever feelings he might (still) have for her (after all, from her point of view they haven't been together for thirty-six years). Even when the two Amys are saying the same things, older Amy is a bit less demonstrative, more deliberative and chary with her emotional responses, where current-day Amy is still fleet and immediate. (I loved, too, the bit where young Amy comes out with some thing she's worked out about the handbots and time streams: older Amy looks at her, surprised but almost not showing it, just saying "Yes"--emotion is unfamiliar, superfluous--while young Amy does a bit of a dance, pleased and proud of herself for figuring it out. Love.)

(Also--oh, show. This is why I love you. 'Hey, I know--let's have a giant magnifying glass that can allow you to look backwards and forwards in time.' It's a surprisingly effective conceit, and produces some really lovely, elegant images.)

(This is utterly random, but: I don't know what to do with the fact that older Amy and the Doctor in "Let's Kill Hitler" both call out to interfaces before they die, with no source of warm and living comfort to turn to--or the fact that the Doctor's interface is Amelia, before he "got everything wrong"--but I like it. The boy and his box; the girl and her interface. Because this episode is strangely about the ways in which Amy turns out to be like the Doctor--building herself a sonic screwdriver (sorry, "probe"), teaching herself about the nature of time, the gold wristwatch that anchors her life--even as she's rejecting him and his "whimsy." And well done, Murray Gold, for using one of Amelia's themes in this episode--music so evocative of lost hope and innocence--and for using the Doctor's theme for the two Amys and Rory as they race back to the TARDIS.)

It's probably not a deliberate callback, but it's right all the same: the Doctor tries to be the Doctor triumphant, with the big stirring line about bringing Amy from the then into the now, expecting older Amy to go along with it--and the way she says "No" here is like the way she shouts "No!" in "The Eleventh Hour" : no, Raggedy Man--and in this episode, that's an insult in Amy's mouth--you don't get to control any more of my life.

[It never occurred to me while watching that this might be a problem for some viewers, the fact that older Amy doesn't want to rewrite things and get back to the way they "ought" to be, because I was so thoroughly on board with that idea. As I see it, older Amy doesn't need to love her current life, or, frankly, to have enjoyed one minute of it, to want to keep it. All she needs to do is to want to continue to exist. What the Doctor and Rory are asking of her is this: they are asking a conscious being to obliterate her own consciousness. She doesn't have to want to stay where she is--and she jumps at the idea that they might take her with them in the TARDIS instead of young Amy--to fight against her own obliteration. Saying "you won't know it happened" or "you'll never have suffered" doesn't matter, because in that moment, she still has to choose to give up her own existence, to concede to moving from being to not-being. It doesn't seem at all strange to me that she refuses. And the last scene bears that out: even when she knows that the best thing is for young Amy to go off in the TARDIS and grow old with Rory instead, she still has to warn Rory not to let her in if he loves her (this scene broke my heart, and then kept breaking it)--because otherwise she'll fight, because she'll grasp at any possibility of staying alive, if he lets her.

And it's another reason that I found the end so moving, because she didn't have to warn him: Rory unlocks the door, and she could have fought, could have pushed her way in. But instead, she does what she wouldn't do when the Doctor simply assumed it of her: she chooses to sacrifice herself--to give her days to Amy, rather than having them taken from her; to give Amy the chance to be the girl she can hardly remember being.]

(I haven't found a particularly good place here to praise Arthur Darvill, so this aside will have to do. I love how at sea Rory is--sometimes falling into natural rhythm with older Amy, sometimes completely off-balance; how furious he is at the Doctor; and the scene with older Amy outside the TARDIS door took my breath away.)

And when Amy says no to the Doctor in this episode, as in "The Eleventh Hour," the answer is more or less the same, though for totally different reasons: "Just believe me for twenty minutes." Because here, that's all the time he needs to trick her and then slam the door in her face ("Doctor! I trusted you!"). And the way he forces Rory's hand onto the latch makes my stomach turn, still: it's slippery and manipulative and horrible, and thank heavens Rory calls him on it--"You're trying to turn me into you!" The Doctor tries so hard here to believe in the benevolence of time, talking about older Amy like she's a monster underneath his bed--"she's not real," she doesn't exist--tries to believe that if he shuts his eyes hard enough, he can fix this disaster, too. And I get that, I do; he's so focused on saving Amy that nothing can get in his way, even lying to her and abandoning her to die--but instead of taking responsibility for that decision--and there's a moment when he could--he quails at it, tries to make that responsibility belong to Rory instead--and he lets himself and Rory down so horribly. I don't even have the words for it, how shocking that moment is. He tries to paper it over at the end, too, with an assertion that everything's okay--"I told you I'd save her, and I did"--and sticks his tongue out at a waking Amy like a child--which is discordantly adorable, almost like he's taking refuge in that childish gesture. (Definition of "whimsy": "how the Doctor makes it through the day.") But he knows how that isn't the whole story, and that last look at his face, when Amy asks, "Where is she?" tells us that he isn't even sure that it was enough.
janie_airejanie_aire on September 12th, 2011 12:24 am (UTC)
Rory's furious "Then I don't want to travel with you!" feels like a tipping point, or a promise: he's had enough of the madcap dottiness, all the "pick a point on the map and try not to die" adventures.

Oh god yes. And how about Rory-bot picking up the glasses, galvanizing him to keep going on? It's Rory's monster that saves the day there.

And the Doctor...oh, my poor Doctor. He keeps trying to fix his mistakes with Amy, showing her the universe because he kept her waiting, and he keeps making everything worse.

I had the distinct feeling that the Doctor knew exactly what would happen, more or less, when he brought them on this adventure. I think he's *that* manipulative. He took them on this adventure to teach them about time-streams. So they can save him. Bastard. :)

let's have a giant magnifying glass that can allow you to look backwards and forwards in time.

so perfect!

It never occurred to me while watching that this might be a problem for some viewers, the fact that older Amy doesn't want to rewrite things and get back to the way they "ought" to be...

It makes me think of River. Red waterfall? What would happen to the River we know if Amy and Rory went back in time and rescued her from the life we've already come to know?

tempestsarekind: eleventempestsarekind on September 13th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
Oh dear. I wonder if you might be right about the Doctor teaching them about time streams (although I have to imagine that the lesson wasn't meant to be quite so hands-on!).

I'm really very concerned about how this season is going to end. And I'm with you--I wonder if we're not heading for some kind of choice needing to be made regarding saving Melody, even if that means she doesn't grow up to be River, or grows up to be a different River.

(Though I also kind of wonder if the River we've seen earlier--that is, later, in her own personal time line--isn't actually the result of a decision that hasn't been made yet. In other words, are "Let's Kill Hitler" River and "Time of Angels" River or "Silence in the Library" River two different Rivers?)

...I think I need to lie down for a bit.
viomisehuntviomisehunt on September 12th, 2011 02:31 pm (UTC)
All of that, especially Amy saying no to the Doctor, but yes to her life with Rory.

All the actors were wonderful, but I loved Karen/Amy in this as well Arthur/Rory. 1000 years as plastic, baby melting in his wife's arms, now having to choose when there was for him really no choice. But Amy's choice to sacrifice her life is very similar to what her daughter may have to do. In order to have that day to day life from infant onward with her very deserving parents, she will have to give up the life with the Doctor. What will it mean, I wonder.
tempestsarekind: TARDIS plus angelstempestsarekind on September 13th, 2011 07:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah--I really want this season to be over, in a way, just so I can start figuring out what it all means! I definitely think that the issues of this episode are going to be important down the line...
viomisehuntviomisehunt on September 13th, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC)
Thing is: That eye patch lady's name is a little close to Kevorkian, and that facility was a Euthanasia station. I am not comforted by the silence that followed Amy's question as to where her other self was. The Doctor just looked-- wrong. Choices theoretically do create alternative realities.

I'm not in any hurry to see the season end, as I'm enjoying it immensely. I hope we have less fillers and more quality episodes like "The Girl Who Waited".
tempestsarekind: eleven is awkwardtempestsarekind on September 13th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC)
Well, it wasn't comforting, so I think you're right not to be. :) I do like that when Eleven makes a bad choice, the narrative tends to flag it (unlike with Ten, who would rewrite history as it suited him--Harriet Jones, anyone?--and nothing in the narrative contradicted it at the time). So as uncomfortable as that ending is, I did like it, because it was honest.

Oh, I'm enjoying it, too--I just want to know how it all works out!
litlover12 on September 18th, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)
I loved the episode. Only just watched it today. There was this thing with me being too chicken to watch "Night Terrors," and taking a long time to get up the nerve to watch it, and wanting to watch them in order, and . . . well, anyway. You know I've only seen a few eps so far, but I think this is my favorite, with the possible exception of the "Christmas Carol" one. The moment with Rory and older Amy at the Tardis door made me choke up. And there were so many other lovely moments, softening -- if that's the word I want -- what was on the whole a rather bleak story. Like "the most beautiful man" (oh, my heart too!), and the moment when Rory jokes about fezzes and they start to laugh together, and then are pulled up short by the strangeness of laughing together again. Wonderful.

(Though I'll admit I was a little impatient at first at all the button confusion. How hard is it to realize that there are TWO buttons, people!? :-) )

As usual, your analysis is terrific!

Edited at 2011-09-18 01:59 am (UTC)
tempestsarekind: eleven wears a fez nowtempestsarekind on September 18th, 2011 02:14 am (UTC)
Oh, the buttons, I know--so silly!

But I loved the "fez" moment so much; it's this moment of shared history, which for Rory is recent, but for older Amy is a dusty memory, and yet she still reacts to it--to Rory--in their old, familiar way.