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02 September 2012 @ 12:24 pm
Asylum of the Daleks  
Last night, on my walk home, I passed a guy wearing a fez! So I, er, kind of accosted him and his friend with eager, awkward questions about why he was wearing it. OOPS. (Also, when I got closer, I could see he was also wearing a tweed blazer, though no bow tie. Hurrah.)

Anyway. Despite my being on record as always being Meh About Daleks, I liked this episode a lot (although, 'tis true, I didn't care overmuch about the Daleks themselves). I can't seem to get my face fixed for a proper post, though, so I'm going to do that thing where I more or less copy my comments from other people's posts, just so I have some sort of record of what I thought.

First, though, I don't think that milk and eggs have ever been so heartbreaking. I loved that, the way that the Doctor just seems to be being ridiculous and paying attention to the wrong detail when he keeps asking about the milk, but it's actually an important clue, the thing that doesn't fit. (And I really liked Oswin, her bravery, her insouciance in the face of terror, and her ability to insist on her humanity, even inside that Dalek shell, in order to let the Doctor go. Also, the Doctor *touches* the Dalek casing, which blew me away; he's trying to comfort her, even though he so obviously can't. Oh, my dear Doctor.) I also loved that "fix Amy and Rory's marriage" goes on the list, just as important as defeating or escaping the Daleks, and he handles that at the same time, without even letting them know it. Finally, Matt Smith has a face, and it continues to be brilliant, from the sheer terror on his face when Oswin can't get the door open, to the fervent gratitude in it when she lets him go.

Okay, here's the copy-and-paste bits:

- (on Amy not mentioning that she has given Rory a child): The thing is, though - River's not a child, not for Amy and Rory, and she never will be. She's their daughter, absolutely and always, but when someone says they "want kids" they tend to mean they want to *raise* kids, not just to have contributed their genetic material to someone they didn't raise, so I get where Amy was coming from in that regard (even though...having an actual conversation would maybe make more sense than just falling on her emotional sword and kicking Rory out pre-emptively?).

- (further thoughts on the above): I wrote a post not too long ago that was all about Amy's failure to talk about her feelings - which is perfectly in keeping with her behavior from the beginning (never telling Rory she loves him, never really talking about Melody). So in a weird way, it kind of makes sense, especially when you add Amy's abandonment issues into the mix: give him up before he eventually leaves you, right?

The hard part is seeing why Rory wouldn't press her - but the more I think about the episode, and how quick and bitter his "I love you more than you love me" comments were, the more I can kind of see that he might not fight it? He's willing to hang on forever as long as there's hope that Amy loves him, but if she kicks him out, and he can't believe that she loves him...I don't know. Everyone's got a breaking point; maybe that was his.

- (on Amy's failure to consider/introduce adoption as a solution): Yes - Rory so doesn't care; it's all Amy's projection. The way she phrases it, though...she doesn't say "we can't have children," but "I can't give you children." Which, I think, might rule out adoption on an emotional level; she's focusing on the act of conceiving a child with Rory and then bearing it to term - which is what she assumes he wants. Obviously if they'd talked about it, she'd know that didn't matter to him, but she's assuming here that the genetic relationship matters to Rory, so she wouldn't see adoption as a solution to the problem anyway.

- (on Amy's career): I have to say, it makes me kind of uncomfortable when people say such harsh things about Amy being a model when, y'know, *Karen* has been a model...She probably didn't think she was frittering her life away when she was doing it. More to the point, Amy's a role player, that's what she does. She pretends to be other people as a kissogram, she pretends to be other people on her adventures with the Doctor (see "Vampires of Venice," for example, or the way she so quickly adopts pirate swagger in "Curse of the Black Spot"); it doesn't strike me as especially odd that she'd do that with modeling as well. That is, it seems like a reasonable extension rather than a change or even a regression. [Edit: even the way she talks about Rory for so much of the episode is a protective role: that carelessly hard-and-bright "I don't have a husband," the brusque "can't chat, I'm working," the sarcastic, dismissive remark about lost causes.]

- (on the Daleks): The thing I like about erasing the Daleks' memories of the Doctor is that it's not really about remaking the villain - it's about remaking the Doctor. Oswin says that the Daleks have become strong in fear of him, and the Daleks themselves identify the Doctor with supreme hate of them; they make each other. Whatever happens next in that story, the Doctor will have to *choose* to be the Predator or the Oncoming Storm, to take that mantle up again, because it's not a given. That's an odd and unexpected kind of grace.

[Edited to add more Ponds stuff, in response to sadcypress's post:

YES PONDS YES. You have said everything I wanted to say but couldn't get into words. Pushing Rory away is *such* an Amy thing to do, and I hadn't even considered the whole "of course he'd go if he thinks that's what she wants" angle, but that makes so much sense! He wouldn't fight her on it, not when he's so quick to think she doesn't love him. (And, oh, Amy, totally failing to consider that he might get that impression from her kicking him out - just like she *so* doesn't understand why he takes it so personally when she runs off the night before their wedding. You ridiculous uncommunicative darling, you.)

As far as the ETA2 (someone else suggesting that it's ridiculous that Amy only cares about not giving her husband what he wants): Amy can't *do* anything about the other stuff that's happened to her; she can't make Demon's Run not have happened or get Melody back. Worrying about not being able to have children, and pushing Rory away, is her way of keeping the "damage" from spreading. So yeah. Because, also, if Rory hadn't been trying to slow down her conversion, and more or less forced Amy into that confession, all we would have seen of her was that brittle, careless young woman declaring "I don't have a husband." It's not that Amy doesn't care about all the other things that have happened; it's that this time, we happened to see her drop the facade.]
Emily-- Toppington von Monocle: bridey [brideshead]sadcypress on September 3rd, 2012 03:37 am (UTC)
I am so very intrigued by this role-playing aspect of Amy; it sounds spot on to me. She's so eager to be somebody else, somebody Not-Amy. It's why she loves adventuring with the Doctor- when you're running away from monsters, you're someone exciting, someone who doesn't have to stop and deal with the Real Life that happens when you're not with the Doctor. She has such a hard time accepting Rory's devotion to her because I honestly think that SHE doesn't think she's earned it. She'll play other roles because she doesn't think she's very good at being Amy Pond (especially not any more).

Naming is so huge for her- she stopped being Amelia Pond and started being Amy. The moments when we see her take on the name Amy Williams (or see it being given to her) are hugely symbolic. Amy Williams is the grown-up. Amy Williams can try to live on her own without the Doctor, and it's Amy Williams who will sign her divorce papers. The Ponds have become the fabulous adventuring duo that Amy thinks she's lost forever.

I'm very taken with the idea that Amy has not dealt well with the trauma of Demon's Run. The text of the show glossed over this trauma with some very poor writing decisions, and this frustrates me. That being said, fictions don't belong to their creators once they're out there in the world, and it's very easy to read between the lines and see the toll that it's taken on Amy OUTSIDE what we've seen on film. When has Amy EVER 'dealt well', to be honest, and who could blame her when something so horrific has happened to her? Amy is aware of what she perceives as her brokenness, and when you put that together with someone who wasn't very comfortable with herself in the first place, it's not going to end well.

Amy, bless her, is SO DAMN CONSISTENT. It hurts to see it, but the logical progression from choice to consequence to choice and round again makes so much sense. Her story has so often been about the choice to stay a child or grow up, and how sometimes you can do both or the one doesn't preclude the other. She sees the world in the false dichotomy of Child/Grownup and tries to stay a child with the Doctor and have the adventures she SHOULD have had with him as a real child. As she travels with the Doctor, she realizes that she can have it all and grows SO MUCH. But then life with the Doctor takes its toll and terrible things happen to her, and she's struggled to face the new challenge that she perceives- if she's broken, she can either break Rory, too, or save him and break apart all on her own. But that's NOT the truth, it never was. She's so smart and she's so strong and she's so WRONG, wrong in the ways that she always has been. She's grown so much, but she isn't perfect, she's too human for that.
tempestsarekind: a sort of fairytaletempestsarekind on September 3rd, 2012 03:09 pm (UTC)
Yes! I mean, I don't want to see Amy give up that role-playing aspect entirely, because it's who she is, but it's also definitely a screen, a way of dealing with all the things that have happened to her. When you spend your life with people putting labels on you (like "the mad girl"), choosing the roles you play and defining how people see you is so important. I'm really interested in where the show is going to leave Amy. Karen's performance was subtly not-right;she even scared the Doctor with her hunger for adventure this time, so desperate to throw herself into a story that she wasn't even afraid of the Daleks! I wonder if all of that was because of the divorce, or if it's everything that's happened... You're right, last season's writing decisions were a problem in so many ways - do they try to address that going forward, or just ignore it? Because subtextually, between the lines, it's absolutely all there, and not being able to deal with it doesn't mean not caring or that it won't have knock-on effects. (Why oh why did Moffat cut the bit where River is supposed to have told Amy to deal with the hurt by pushing it all down? That's really important!)

As for Amy Williams - to adapt what Amy said about Melody, 'Amy Williams is a schoolteacher; Amy Pond is a superhero.' Amy Williams still feels *wrong* to me, a legal fiction because it's simpler, but not who Amy is. I think I'd be really disappointed if Amy could only settle into domestic life by becoming Amy Williams rather than staying Amy Pond. It's a careful line the show has to walk between "travels with the Doctor don't last forever, and that's okay" and "eventually you have to Grow Up and be married and be boring," and it's hard to come down on the right side when the hero is so obviously Peter Pan and Amy is more Wendy-like than any of the other new Who companions!

It's interesting; I've seen a lot of criticism of the Ponds that says their story is played out, that they already had their send-off in "The God Complex," but it's not just them, it's about the Doctor too, and in a way that's the point. Moffat's on record as wanting to explore what happens when the Doctor stays in a companion's life far longer than he should, and as cute as "Pond Life" was, it's evidence of that. I love how much Eleven loves Amy and Rory, that he is *family*, but at the same time, how does he extricate himself, when he has always been a part of Amy's life? How does he leave them without some tragedy making the choice for them? I'm heartened by Amy's line in the series trailer, about how the adventuring is beginning to feel like running away... I just want everyone to be HAPPY, darn it!

Edited at 2012-09-03 03:12 pm (UTC)