Thursday, May 27, 2010

10 and 1 Items About Amy's Choice

(Spoilers about Doctor Who 5x07, Amy's Choice.)Item 1! The Moffat fairy tale continues to beat its drum, as the impish Dream Lord puts our heroes to sleep and puts them to the test. Can they tell which is dream and which is reality? If Series 5 has sometimes felt like the 7th Doctor's whimsical era, here we find something of the black and white days of Hartnell and Troughton when such entities would sometimes pick on the TARDIS crew (in The Celestial Toymaker and The Mind Robber, most famously). I guess the point is that Moffat's take, although updated for the New Millennium, still has its roots firmly in the show's history. Doctor Who as Fairy Tale is not "new". It's always had that facet to it.

Item 2! Of course, there was no Dream Lord, it was ALL a dream. Normally that would be a big no-no, wouldn't it? Except the point of the story isn't the destruction of either threat, or even the choice between realities. It's really about Amy resolving her feelings for Rory. And while the former is "undone" (all a dream), the latter is not and creates a foundation for the stories to come and the Doctor/companion relationships around which they will be told. So while some might say the story is complete filler, I rather think it's a turning point in the series.

Item 3! And the choice is... Rory! Well, thank God for that. The last thing we need is another companion love-sick for the Doctor, especially one who was in a perfectly good relationship to start with (if we go by the wedding, anyway). I'm not saying she didn't "settle" (she's never told him she loves him), but at the ultimate moment, she did choose the person she'd forged a life with for the last couple years over the understandably attractive mystery man with the time machine. When faced with a choice between excitement and stability, she chose stability. Whether you agree with that choice or not, it does give a second life to Rory as a companion. Again, the natural comparison is to Mickey, who never got out of the Doctor's shadow and consequently spent half his time whining, and the other half trying to prove something. Rory's insecurities are (mostly) dispelled here (though comedy can still be had from Amy consistently pairing off with the Doctor rather than him), and in the next story, will have a frank "mates" relationship with the Doctor. Amy's Choice flattens that triangle.

Item 4! If the entire scenario was created by the Doctor's subconscious (tapping into Amy and Rory's dreams as well), could we not say then that the Doctor was subconsciously trying to drive Amy away to prevent another Rose/Martha problem? After all, The Vampires of Venice was something of a FAIL in that regard (or at least a "we'll see"). The Doctor's mind being as complex as it is would have seen the collective dream as an opportunity to straighten out the Amy/Rory relationship. The ambiguous moment at the end, with the Dream Lord appearing in a reflective surface in lieu of the Doctor's own face, might indicate that it wasn't so subconscious after all. Was it all a huge put-on? Was the Doctor guiding the dream after all? Did he put the psychic pollen in the TARDIS works himself? I don't really believe that, but the idea's there if you want it.
Item 5! When the Doctor says the Dream Lord could only be one person "I don't know how you can be here, but there's only one person in the universe that hates me as much as you do." Who is that? For New Who fans, it sounds like he's talking about the Master. And maybe he is. There's no reason the person he fingers at first is the same one (himself/pollen) he blames later. Older fans, of which I am one, will have to point out (as much as I hate to do so) that the Doctor's "dark side" has appeared before, as the Valeyard in Trial of a Time Lord back in the 80s. If that continuity is respected (and there's really no reason to), then this dark shard of the Doctor will split from him somehow in between his 12th and 13th incarnations. Could he prove to be a problem to the Doctor in psychic form 'til then?

Item 6! Is there dream symbolism in Amy's Choice? I'm no expert. I'm better with literary symbolism. If I go that route, I suppose I could look at Rory's domestic dream and see "growing old together" turned into a nightmare of monstrous old age and loss of control. Plus, Amy's pregnant and kids get turned to dust? There's a parental fear there. As for the dream aboard the TARDIS, what's a cold star supposed to represent? Is it the Doctor's manifestation of his non-passion for Amy, or simply a representation of his character's contradictions?
Item 7! Simon Nye wrote this episode, a comedy writer (best known for creating Men Behaving Badly) brought in by Steven Moffat, himself a sitcom writer of old. Strangely, though there's the usual patter, it's not a particularly funny episode. But then Moffat's first episode of New Who was a creepy horror story (The Empty Child). Just goes to show these guys are writers, first and foremost. I'm generally impressed with Moffat's new blood.

Item 8! If there IS comedy in the episode, it's dark comedy. Here's a story with pensioners turning children into dust, a joke about committing "self-harm" and Amy aborting her baby when she opts out of one possible reality. Then again, when said pensioners are attacking with chainsaws and getting whacked upside the head, it has to be considered comedy.

Item 9! Though it cheats the location, so to speak, Amy's Choice is only the second to take place entirely inside the TARDIS. The other was the Doctor's third adventure, The Edge of Destruction, way back in 1964!

Item 10! So the special effects are back up to snuff, right? After my comments in the previous review, I guess somebody listened. ;-)

Item 11! What's written on the emergency tool box in the TARDIS anyway? Let's take a closer look:
That's a lot of ridiculous nonsense, actually. Build date 1963? At the Gallifrey Blackhole Shipyards? Only qualified Time Lords may use this TARDIS by order of the Shadow Proclamation? Theft will result in extreme penalties and possible exile? Great nods to the show, but of course, that can't be right. Of wait, it's all in the DREAM!

Next time: The Silurians are back!


Jeff R. said...

Of course this was the central episode for the season: through the entire season so far there's been an incredibly strong "impossible choices" motif, and this is the episode that brings that motif front-and-center.

I have to say that the second thought I had after the "person who hates me most" line [the first being the obvious one that they went with] was the Black Guardian. The Dream Lord did sort of carry himself a bit like an Eternal...

Siskoid said...

Or the Doctor dreaming about Eternals.

StacyD said...

The TARDIS dedication plaque was just a funny little in-joke in my eyes. In the wake of the Time War, continuity could be all over the place, but I sincerely doubt the build date was recorded in Terran solar years. Still, a fun little nod, like the dedication plaques on the various TNG-and-later Federation starships.