The Girl Who Waited
This review took me all day. I’ve been struggling to think of what to say about The Girl Who Waited. Even now, over 24 hours since I first saw the episode, I still don’t know quite what to write.
Not because it was awful, far from it. It was actually one of the best episodes of Doctor Who I’ve ever seen, one that only two people of the many I’ve spoken to about the episode didn’t like. I think it may be that the episode was so good — no, not good. So beautiful that I don’t quite know how to put it into words.
Summary: Amy is trapped in a hospital/infirmary for people who have an infection that is deadly for creatures with two hearts. It works on multiple time streams, with Amy in one and her boys in the other, but a huge sonic-zapped magnifying glass allows Rory and the Doctor to communicate with her. She enters the hospital with a warning to not let the “staff” (robots called Handbots who are programmed to be kind) treat her as it will kill her and a promise that they will come and save her.
But when Rory comes to rescue her, he finds the Doctor got it wrong. Instead of the Amy he just left he gets a middle-aged Amy that has lived in solitary confinement for 36 years. She’s bitter, she’s angry, she hates the Doctor and has lost all of the warmth that young Amy has.
Old Amy says she will help Rory rescue her younger self, but only if Rory takes her along too — if young Amy is rescued and she is not she will cease to exist and effectively die. Rory promises, but when it comes to it the Doctor explains that they can’t have both Amys, it’s impossible. Rory has to choose between his young wife and his old wife, the woman he loves that was left alone for 36 years.
This episode was the first time in her time as assistant that I’ve been impressed with Karen Gillan’s acting. I’ve never thought it was rubbish, but in this episode she is spectacular. Amy always prances around the screen like someone who has everything she could ever wish for and the world at her feet — which is true, I guess — but Old Amy was broken. Hard hearted, bitter, broken, but still completely believable as an older Amy. Kudos to Karen for managing to pull it off.
And Arthur Darvill? Rory? You are my favourite assistant, ever. I adore you. I do. Rory is the kindest man in the entire world and the love he has for Amy is beautiful. Arthur Darvill was incredible all through this episode, in turn frustrated, confused, hurt, angry, protective and devastated. A genuinely brilliant performance from Arthur and Karen.
Although to be fair, their script was amazing. Tom McRae, who wrote the Cybermen two-parter from series two, penned this and I am already looking forward to his next episode. This wasn’t really an episode for aliens and sci-fi — it was an incredibly touching, grown-up episode about human emotion and love. The scene where young Amy is reminding Old Amy about how much they love Rory and why is gorgeous. The final scenes of Old Amy and Rory with their ears pressed against opposite sides of the TARDIS wall is almost agonisingly sad, but so beautiful. And again, incredible performances from Arthur and Karen.
But like I said, there have been a few grumbles that it was boring. I can understand why some people would think that. There wasn’t much action, the dilemma that drove the plot wasn’t about saving a life but about Rory’s internal struggle between what he wanted and whether Old Amy was still the woman he loved. It moved the heart and the head rather than the gut and the pulse. It wasn’t as exciting as others have been. What did children think? I haven't spoken to any kids, did they like it?
I liked it, though. Sometimes Doctor Who doesn't need to be action packed to grip me completely and totally, heart and soul. And there was some action. Amy, especially in her older form, is delightfully kick-ass here. The sequence of her fighting the Handbots whilst Rory carries an unconscious Amy is fantastically shot. The whole thing is fantastically shot. It all looks...beautiful.
Beautiful. That’s what this episode is. From start to finish. Just...beautiful. Far too beautiful for me to do justice to with this review. If you haven’t watched it, please do. If you have, feel free to try and do a better job than me in the comments.