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