Stars: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Josie Taylor, Imelda Staunton, Stephen Bracken-Koegh
Writer: Tom MacRae
Director: Nick Hurran
Network: BBC America, airs Saturday nights
Original Telecast: September 10, 2011
There are almost always episodes in DOCTOR WHO that showcase companions in different ways. Whether it’s Rose (Billie Piper) in “Father’s Day” dealing with the emotions of losing and re-gaining and losing her father again, or it’s Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) finding out how important she is and that her life has to intersect with The Doctor’s in “Turn Left”; these stories always tell us more about the companions of the infamous Timelord and give the actors who inhabit those roles a chance to flex their acting skills.
“The Girl Who Waited” is a brilliant, absolutely brilliant, showcase for Karen Gillan as Amy Pond. Leave aside the facts that the storylines still have not allowed her to grieve for the loss of her child, and that if there was in fact grieving that it took place off camera, and you can completely immerse yourself in this episode dealing with the duality of self and what one wrong decision can do to create a lifetime of regret and bitterness.
Amy, The Doctor (Matt Smith), and Rory (Arthur Darvill) end up on a planet that has been quarantined with a plague that kills species with two hearts. All of the people in the quarantine have been relegated to time lines that move at different paces so they can still live their individual lives and not be killed off by the disease in a normal linear 24 hour span.
Amy gets separated right off the bat and ends up in a timeline that is moving faster than Rory and The Doctor’s, so they home in on her signal using the TARDIS and end up in a future where an aged and bitter Amy Pond has nothing but contempt and hatred for The Doctor for leaving her there to fend for herself and grow old alone.
The gelatin prosthetics on the older Amy Pond are amazingly lifelike and all of the physical and emotional wear that Gillan gives to the elder Pond creates a heart wrenching portrayal of what could and might very well be the character’s future. There is a gravitas to this performance that Gillan has been working up to with the development of her character and has achieved with this single episode.
Equally brilliant is Arthur Darvill and his portrayal of Rory as the husband who will do anything to save his wife. Once when he was plastic he waited two-thousand years to be re-united with the woman he loves, and this episode only served to strengthen that bond between the two characters. Darvill literally induces tears with his closed door argument /discussion with the older Amy about leaving her behind. The moment is so beautiful and so agonizing at the same time that you really have to stop for a moment while crying and be quietly amazed that this scene is taking place on a science fiction series.
That’s one thing that I think sets DOCTOR WHO apart from a lot of science fiction television that spends it’s time worrying about special effects and aliens and spaceships; the thing that keeps viewers coming back week after week and season after season is the type of relationships that the viewer develops with the characters. Those relationships are only going to be strong if there are episodes like this one that make you ache for the decisions that the characters have to make in order to keep on soldiering on.
Past this point it will be interesting to see how the Rory / Amy/ Doctor relationship has changed. Rory screaming that he didn’t want to travel with The Doctor any more was powerful, and it stands to reason that he really means those words. His child is lost to time, and he had to sacrifice one version of his wife to let another live. These are not things a person would easily forgive and forget. All of this has to be changing Amy as well, so I’m curious to see how things actually pan out for the finale of this season.
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Article: TV Review: DOCTOR WHO – Series 6 – “The Girl Who Waited”