Saturday, May 29, 2010

Doctor Who: Intergalactic Wag

This episode is titled Amy's Choice but the funny thing about it is that it really isn't about Amy, even though it frequently does seem to be about Amy.

After all, the episode is Captain Obvious when it comes down to it: the Doctor tells Rory to stop competing and when Amy is genuinely clueless over whom they are competing, they both turn towards her with these duh faces. Even the Dream Lord (aka the Doctor gone dark side) says,

Amy's men, Amy's choice

which of course puts a darker spin to the cheerful, happy-ish ending (before the silence bit) at the end of the previous episode when Amy happily pronounces that she's got her space ship and her boys.

But what I can't figure is why this point is belabored. Why does she have to choose and more importantly, why does this Dark Side Doctor Dream Lord feel the need to contrive a situation forcing her to choose -- when it's not really a choice at all because Rory is still with her in the frozen TARDIS - he'd just rather have a family. So perhaps the choice isn't between the Doctor and Rory, but whose happiness: Rory's or hers?

Personally, I don't think that's a choice anybody should have to make.

But, as I said above, even though the episode looks like it's about Amy (and it is in a lot of ways), I think it's more about the Doctor. He seems to be more concerned about the decisions his companions make. He wasn't that concerned when it came down to Rose choosing him over Mickey -- he actually seemed to take it as a no brainer. I just find it odd that his subconscious would contrive such a scenario for Amy.

I wonder what would have happened if the Doctor hadn't realized the frozen TARDIS was a dream - would they have just kept dreaming? If they had died through indecision in both dream worlds would they still have woken up in the "real" reality? If they did wake up in reality eventually (whether or not they died in both dream worlds or they died later on in the frozen one if the Dream Lord hadn't given himself away), then wouldn't that have rendered the situation of Amy's Choice pointless?

Personally, I think this is all symptomatic of the problem with Amy -- because there is something strange going on with her, something to do with the cracks in the universe.

Have I mentioned how much I like Amy recently? She does seem to know the Doctor quite well. Of course, when he first meets up with them "five years later" he says,

Doctor: you know me, I don't just abandon people who leave the TARDIS ... you don't get rid of your old pal the doctor so easily.

Amy: You came here by mistake, didn't ya?

Doctor: Bit of a mistake, yeah.

Of course, I, through my computer screen, was calling shennanigans the minute the Doctor started speaking. And yet, Amy gets it and, what's more, she seems fine with it (in comparison to Rose). She gets that they're two different people -- the Doctor's an alien! -- and she accepts that instead of wanting the Doctor to be someone he's not.

She also calls him out again:

Doctor: My mind isn't working because this village is SO DULL. I'm slowing down like you two have.

[Amy fakes labor; the two doctors panic]

Amy: Okay it's not coming. This is my life now and it has just turned you white as a sheet. So don't you call it dull again. Ever. Okay?

Perhaps life is only as dull as one makes it.

But then, she has a bit of an arrogant moment:

Amy: Who are you and what do you want? The Doctor knows you but he's not telling me who you are. And he always does - takes him a while sometimes, but he tells me. So you're something different.

Dream Lord: Oh, is that who you think you are, the one he trusts?

Amy: Actually, yes.

Dream Lord: The only girl in the universe to whom the doctor tells everything. So what's his name?

I actually find this an interesting moment because it invokes Professor Riversong and the fourth season implication that she was the only person to whom the Doctor had revealed his true name. And yet, also in Flesh and Stone, the Doctor wonders whether he should trust Riversong or not. I find the juxtaposition slightly...ironic. Even though I still think Amy is being a bit full of herself, which just reinforces her mature-ish child-likeness.

I also thought it was interesting how the ideas of child-likeness and growing up were being invoked in this episode.

The Dream Lord says,

Your friends never see you again once they've grown up - the old man prefers the company of the young

The Doctor says, way back when in the first episode,

Oh, god you never wanna do that

When Amy said she had grown up.

And Rory invokes it too in this current episode:

Amy: Don't you wonder, if that life is real, why did we give up all this? Why would anyone?

Rory: Because we're going to get married.

Amy: We're in a time machine. It can be the night before our wedding for as long as we want.

Rory: We have to grow up eventually.

Amy: Hm. Says who?

And I say, why is gallavanting around in the TARDIS saving the bloody universe Not Grown Up while settling down in some dinky village popping out babies is Grown Up? Even the Doctor described such an event a "terrible nightmare [. . .] that was scary."

Definitely scary (but perhaps I'm just not being particularly objective at the moment).

And maybe, like the scenario of Amy's Choice was ultimately pointless, the question -- the choice between growing up or not growing up -- is, essentially, pointless. Does it really matter if they decide to stay in the TARDIS or do what people expect other young people to do - settle down and procreate? Will the universe really end if people aren't forced into these traditional boxes:

A competition between men (a bumpkin competing with a Time Lord), the family or the universe.

What's needed is a re-definition: Amy chooses Rory not because he's somehow better than the Doctor, but because she loves him differently than she loves the Doctor. Her love for the Doctor is obvious, but it's also obvious that it's not the same kind of love -- and that that's okay too: she and the Doctor are in this together, despite whom she "chooses". And even though it's Rory she's kissing at the end of the episode, she still has a family right there in the TARDIS - just not the traditional kind. Not the nuclear kind. And I think it bears mentioning that even the way the Doctor interacts with Rory is more emotionally intimate than what's ever been portrayed with other male characters. So - in a way, they are emotionally bound to each other in new and refreshing ways, creating their own odd sort of family, redefining what it means to have what Rory seemed to desire and what Amy seemed to desire and ultimately reconciling them by accepting people as they are instead of who they want them to be.

What do you know. You can have your cake and eat it too.

So, all this time I've been saying this episode's been about the doctor, but I keep on rambling about Amy.

Doctor:The Dream Lord was me. Psychic pollen it feeds on everything dark in you - gives it a voice, turns it against you. 907 years - had a lot to go on.

Amy: But why didn't it feed on us too?

Doctor: The darkness in you two - it would have starved to death in an instant.

So, back in Flesh and Stone again, it was mentioned that Riversong had killed the best man she had ever known, and of course I (and probably a good many other people) feared she had been referring to the Doctor (which I believe would be dreadful from a writer's perspective). Personally, this episode gives me glimmers of hope that the writers will not go in that direction because it's obvious that even though the Doctor is a good man (for the most part) and a complicated one at that, I'm not sure he could be considered a "best" man -- even though he is extraordinary.

And really, what is a best man. Best men are boring.

Then there were two moments in the episode where both Rory and Amy ascribed a label or definition to the Doctor:

Rory: This is so you, isn’t it? A weird new star, 40 minutes left to live, and only one man to save the day?


Amy: Save him, you save everyone, it's what you do, it's what you always do.

Doctor: Not always. I'm sorry.

Amy: Then what is the point of you?

Which actually parallels a scene from the first season of Torchwood when Gwen asked the same question of Jack over the corpse of her dead fiancee...

I think these labels or definitions cause a lot of anxiety for the Doctor. I love 11's reaction to Amy's grief -- his face is stricken, and he wants to touch her, comfort her, but doesn't:

Very, very poignant.

And even though the Doctor does end up saving the day by realizing the frozen TARDIS, it's obvious that the Doctor isn't just the grand hero. Even though he's alien, he's "human". There's a darkness in him -- there's more to him than just what his companions have seen. There's more to him than his titular role as a protagonist.

He's a real boy.

Remarkable Moments:

Doctor: Ice can burn, sofas can read - it's a big Universe.

I like that. It's like -- I don't think the human race will ever stop discovering new and exciting things -- and that's okay. It's adventurous.

Amy: Shall I get the manual?

I threw it in a supernova.


Because I disagreed with it. Stop talking to me when I'm cross!

1. People should use the word "cross" more.
2. It's a good thing Amy wasn't wearing her mini skirt during this scene. All I'm saying.

Doctor: there's something that doesn't make sense. Let's go and poke it with a stick.


Doctor: They're scared. Fear generates savagery.

are possibly my two favorite quotes of the episode because they're so true. I also think that knowledge helps keep fear -- and therefore savagery -- at bay. Anyway, they made me very happy and warm inside, like hot cocoa on a blustery, wintery day.

One of my favorite (albeit brief) moments in the episode:

People look so beautiful when they sleep. 

No comments: