Doctor Who #889: The Girl Who Waited

"You're asking me to defy destiny, causality, the nexus of time itself, for a boy."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Sep.10 2011.

IN THIS ONE... Amy is shunted to a different time-stream and grows old fighting robots while she waits for Rory and the Doctor.

REVIEW: A rather wonderful and romantic timey-wimey story about Amy and Rory's relationship, The Girl Who Waited reveals what drew Amy to Rory, and also shows how far Rory would go for his wife. There are two versions of Amy. The younger one makes an appeal to the older one to erase her own existence for Rory's sake, and the older Amy, a fiery survivor, grants the appeal on the same basis. 36 years separate them, but Rory is what remained older Amy's only comfort during her lonely exile. She named a robot after him, sure, but more importantly, she's unable to look at him when he finally shows up. It's too hard. And if she hates the Doctor now, it's not just because he's unreliable (though that's part of it), but because he separated her from Rory. Having found Rory again, she wants to be saved too. She doesn't want to lose the last 36 years, which is who she is now, and why would she? She's just found her love again, and wants time to enjoy it. The scene where the two versions of Amy discuss Rory make their love for him real. If you thought Karen Gillen was just this flighty thing and limited as an actress, this will change your mind. Her young Amy is emotionally affecting, but on her older Amy, you can feel the years, the pain, and yet, that same emotional undercurrent.

Rory too gets angry at the Doctor, but it doesn't amount to a rejection of the older Amy. In a way, he's still older than she is, having spent 2000 years as a Roman Centurion, waiting for HER. Of course, he didn't get older. He's not upset that she grew old, but that they didn't get to grow old together, a crucial point. He's still attracted to her as a woman in her 50s (and she KICKS ASS as this hard-as-nails samurai robot fighter), and when older Amy asks to be saved in addition to young Amy, he goes along with it, and is distraught when it doesn't work. He loves Amy so much, he can't bear to lose any version of her. Older Amy may think his attentions are all for younger Amy, but that says more about her own shame at having grown older. He's just saving the Amy most in trouble, he's not making a choice. The Doctor forces the choice on him - cruelly, perhaps - and still, he can't make it (compare to Amy's Choice, which ends completely differently, but shows the same level of romantic passion). It's older Amy who begs him not to open the door, knowing she would fight for her existence and likely erase younger Amy from the time stream. The ending, a mirror of Doomsday's, with two lovers separated by a wall, is extremely moving. It's hard for me not to tear up when she gives her younger self fresh new days with Rory. In contrast, the Doctor stands not unkind, but aloof, as if he knew all along how the story would inevitably end. And on an intellectual level, we know it too. What's amazing about this episode is that we come to believe it should actually end the other way, with two Amys surviving.

It's also a visually striking episode. The abstract white rooms and white robots recall such fare as The Mind Robber, but we're also offered amazing exterior environments. The ageing make-up is some of the best and most natural I've ever seen (certainly on TV). Karen Gillen doesn't look like she's been smothered in latex. She has more lines in her face, she's a bit heavier and her hair has strayed to a browner shade. I completely believe it. Her last request before sacrificing herself is to see the Earth one last time, and the way the two versions of her are juxtaposed feels lyrical, poetic. The fight choreography is acceptable, which in itself is a success for Who, but not really the episode's focus anyway. The Girl Who Waited looks like nothing else New Who has produced.

SECOND OPINIONS: My original review, I Need an Extra Time Stream to Write All These Reviews, explores several of these points and more besides.

REWATCHABILITY: High - I'm a sucker for timey-wimey scenarios, and the episode looks gorgeous, but it's the acting and the moving exploration of the Amy-Rory relationship that makes this the best episode of Series 6.



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