Doctor Who Series 6×10 – The Girl Who Waited

Written by Tom MacRae
Directed by Nick Hurran

Arriving on the planet Apalapucia for a brief holiday, The Doctor and Rory become separated from Amy, who finds herself in a different time stream.

"Waiting for someone to come out of somewhere . . . "

After a couple of weeks with episodes that made me feel underwhelmed with the current direction of Doctor Who, The Girl Who Waited was an episode that made me say “Finally.”  We finally got off Earth, even if it was inhabited by temporally displaced people who only appeared as blurred figures in one shot.  Amy finally got some much needed character development.  And I was finally able to sit and enjoy an episode without feeling irritated or disappointed.  The initial trailer for The Girl Who Waited filled me with concern that it would be a re-hash of Amy’s Choice (Rory’s Choice?) with visual references made to The Mind Robber.  That wasn’t entirely the case.

In a way, I feel that The Girl Who Waited revisited an idea from The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords and did it better, namely the idea of paradox and alternate time-lines.  The scale was much smaller in Girl, but the emotional consequences much more effective.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Amy and Rory’s eventual exit from the show has been set up here, and if it isn’t, it should be.  It is hard to see how Rory will be able to recover from what he faced here, hard to see how he will be able to trust The Doctor after being made to kill an alternate version of his wife.  In truth, if The Doctor had made the choice for him, the divide between these two male leads would have been worse, but there was really no way for the relationship between these two characters to recover.

If I had any criticism of the episode, it would be that the setting was largely inconsequential.  This entire episode was a character piece.  The setting existed solely to instigate the characterization.  While this isn’t a bad thing, per se, it is a further reinforcement to me that setting is becoming less important in Doctor Who.  World-building is less important.  As I discussed this episode with my wife, we realized that our favorite episodes from the Moffat Era are character-driven.  These seem to be the most-effective episodes.  I believe this is the limitation of the 45 minute running time.  It is difficult to do effective world-building and strong plot in 45 minutes.  It is much easier to do escapist spectacle or character development.  Or, I suppose, overly-preachy, shallow social commentary as Star Trek has often proven.  While I enjoy that Doctor Who has done some wonderful character-driven pieces since the revival, my biggest concern is that the show cannot be sustained on character alone.  We cannot have major revelations about Amy or Rory each week, nor are we able to insist that The Doctor is mysterious when the focus of the show is character (although I rather think we should admit that the “mysterious” nature of The Doctor has been long abandoned).

As it stands, however, I am perfectly happy adding The Girl Who Waited to my list of Moffat-era successes.

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4 thoughts on “Doctor Who Series 6×10 – The Girl Who Waited

  1. I liked this episode. I know my family and friends dismissed it as weird (along with the next story) but I thought it was quite thoughtful and original. I was astonished by how much Karen Gillan has grown as an actress throughout the series. While there were times when I felt she was being a bit too campy and “cutesy-pouty” in her personality, this story really shows the potential her character and the potential of having a couple like Amy and Rory in the TARDIS. Her acting as the older Amy whose faith in everything including the Doctor has been shattered is truly jaw dropping and one of the best performances of the season so far. Arthur Darvill also steps up to the plate giving an equally great performance. The moment when he finally snaps on the Doctor is very powerful and the Doctor’s wounded look as he realizes he’s seen this all before and can do nothing to alleviate the problem (Aliens of London). Of course we get another white void, but then white voids always seem to turn up in the best episodes of the series! And those robots are really cool as well, although I don’t think I would ever want to put one in a real hospital since I doubt having one have its head open up with thousands of needles would put me at any kind of ease. Weirdly, I am finding that I enjoy the individual stories of this season more than the story arc. Stories like The Curse of the Black Spot, The Doctor’s Wife, and the God Complex have inspired my imagination on what Doctor Who can still do to thrill and intrigue me. But I will admit that I, like many other fans, will be waiting impatiently for Saturday to see how the Doctor gets out of his own death…

    • Thanks for the comment.

      I rather think this episode is edging out The Doctor’s Wife as my favorite, in part due to the character development and strength of the acting. Arthur Darvill is heart-wrenching in this one.

      I’m a bit sad that I’m a week behind in viewing (but I want to watch these with my wife and we had to miss a week). It will be hard to avoid reviews and spoilers because I anticipate the response to the episode to be strong (both loving and hating it). And like you, while I have been preferring the arc-lite episodes, I’m quite eager to see how this arc is concluded. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to theorize, but while I think I have caught clues throughout, I still don’t really know what will happen. I find myself excited just to see how Moffat does it, and slightly indifferent as to whether or not I’ll like it.

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