Monday, 12 September 2011

Doctor Who: The Girl Who Waited ( review with spoilers )


There's nothing more soul-destroying than waiting: waiting for a bus, waiting for exam results, waiting for a Doctor. Amy Pond has done her fair share of waiting already but, in this latest episode, she learns how terrible waiting can really be.

"This facility was built to give people the chance to live. I walked in here and I died."


The Tardis lands on the planet Apalapucia, voted second favourite destination for the discerning intergalactic traveller, and home to "sunsets, spires, soaring silver collonades".....

But of course it all goes wrong. The planet has been infected by the disease Chen7 - deadly to lifeforms with two hearts, like our favourite Time Lord. By the simple act of pressing a wrong button, Amy finds herself in a faster timestream to her companions, seemingly out of reach forever, in permanent quarantine, menaced by white-faced "Handbots" - medical droids whose "kindness" could kill her. The Doctor and Rory frantically try to find a way to catch up to Amy's timestream, the Doctor trapped in the Tardis, Rory living up to his promise to protect his wife.


Amy: "You didn't save me!"
Rory: "This is the saving! This is the us saving you! The Doctor just got the timing a bit out!"

The Amy that Rory finds in the Twostreams Facility is an Amy who has waited 36 years for her rescuers. She has become cold and cynical, a seasoned warrior woman in home-made armour. Rory has to decide: will he save this battle-hardened Amy, or save "his" Amy, meaning the older version will never have existed?


The Girl Who Waited is a terrific episode, a real standout in this second series of the 11th Doctor. The time travel concepts present the characters with tough moral choices and agonising decisions. All three regulars are fantastic: Matt Smith conveying so much sadness in his eyes alone, Arthur Darvill further discovering a strength and anger in the formerly-meek Rory, and Karen Gillan absolutely owning the episode as the two Amys. This story is as great a showcase for her acting range as Turn Left was for Catherine Tate's, and is one in the eye for all those fans still hung up on Billie Piper/Rose - Karen Gillan easily earns a place amongst her predecessors here, alternately tough and tender, wide-eyed and cynical.
And it's a beautifully filmed episode, too. From the stark white, sterile Twostreams facility, to the ornate alien gardens, to old Amy's ramshackle lair, the look of the episode is stylish, filmic, utterly convincing.

I won't let you wait any longer for my verdict :-)

5 out of 5 Bow Ties

10 comments:

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I really enjoyed this one too though I wish they would have given me a few regular Doctor episodes before making it the 'Amy Pond Show' again. If this episode had been show further along the season it's impact would have been ever greater.

Steve W. said...

It's definitely a relief to see Karen Gillan being allowed to do some proper acting for a change. Too often she's just been called on to blunder around shouting "Doctor!" a lot or just looking stroppy. I can't help feeling the show's wasted her presence far too often in the past.

Steve said...

I thought the make-up to make her look older was very good (although she should have had a few grey hairs). Shame they killed off "old Amy", she would have made an interesting addition to the crew.

That Baldy Fella said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this one and am looking forward to next week's. Stepson The Elder may struggle to watch it though due to Weeping Angel aversions...

Steve W. said...

@Steve. I was impressed by the ageing makeup too. When you compare it to the ageing makeup they used to use in Star Trek shows - which seemed to mostly comprise of flinging a bag of flour at the actor - it was a masterclass in restraint and subtlety. The lack of grey hair really was odd though.

cerebus660 said...

Thanks for the comments, guys! On the subject of Amy's lack of grey - maybe the Interface kept her supplied with hair dye for 36 years?

Emm said...

It reminded me of Aeon Flux in it's beauty and simplcity (yes, I know, I am the only person on earth who liked that film).

It is always so interesting to me to read Doctor Who reviews. Yours is the complete opposite of one I read on another site but I agree with you. I love all three of our main characters in this series although I did dislike one or two episodes along the way which is unusual for me.

cerebus660 said...

Thanks for commenting, Emm! "Beauty and simplicity" pretty much sums up that episode. Definitely one of the best of the Matt Smith stories so far.

Momo said...

I just managed to see this one ( a week later than everyone else but hey, I'm in a slow time-stream (which helps me lie quite successfully about my age!)
I am guessing that Amy is 25 in the show (by reason that she is approximately eight when the Doctor first meets her and when he returns five minutes later (as promised) she says she waited 12 years. Then at the end of that show she waited another two years and I feel that she's been with the Doctor for perhaps two years in terms of show time.
So in this episode, the girl who waited and waited for 36 years this time, she must be approximately 51 and my stars she looks good for that age.

So surviving all that time with the kind robots wanting to give her happiness - I'm thinking food, safe shelter and even cutting her hair nicely. In 36 years what would we forget? I wonder how I will be aged 51 and how different I will be from when I was 25. Life experience forges us to be who we are and in a world where robots want to offer Amy such kindness and perhaps euthanasia she had become quite the capable warrior even though these med-bots we not 'battle-class' all it would take is a touch of the hand or the injector darts.

Lots and lots of colored bow ties for her acting in this one. I especially liked the reasoning she had when the tardis door closed on her and the feelings she and Rory expressed. Time paradoxes and the avoiding of in stories such as this I think offer us a chance to see ourselves from an extreme emotional point of view.
I'm happy these characters always do the best and follow the most noble (Hi Donna) cause.

cerebus660 said...

I really don't want to think about how old I'll be in 36 years' time :-)

I'll probably just be a head in a jar...

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