Review: Doctor Who – 6×10 – The Girl Who Waited

Perplexingly good but unlikeable

In the UK: Saturday 10th September, 7.15pm, BBC1/BBC1 HD. Available on the iPlayer
In the US: Saturday 10th September, 9pm/8c ET/PT, BBC America

So this one’s a bit of a mystery to me. On the face of it, I should have liked it. It was quite clever, it had some poignant ideas, it had some real character moments, some great acting, some great set designs and some good direction. Okay, the robots suffered from perenial robot slowness (where’s a Raston Warrior Robot when you need one?) so weren’t exactly threatening, but that’s not really a biggie, now is it?

Yet, the whole thing left me cold.

Maybe it was the inevitability of it all. They’re obviously not going to be carting around 50+ Amy at the end of it all, so clearly the question is simply how they’re going to reverse it all and rescue younger Amy. Rory’s choice wasn’t really a choice at all. But then, they’re always going to save the companion or the Doctor so that’s a criticism of virtually all Who stories.

Maybe it was that Amy became massively unlikeable in her future. Young Amy had already seen last series that the Doctor can mess up with time travel and turn up a bit later; she also gets to glimpse her future in this episode before she becomes old Amy and knows the Doctor and Rory are hunting for her; they’ve also gone through a hell of a lot already and Rory waited 2,000 years.

And Amy, after a mere 36 years by herself (I know – the sheer sci-fi ridiculousness of comparing the abandoning effects of 36 years versus 2,000 years), suddenly regards the Doctor and to a lesser extent Rory as evil abandonners, even though she knows that they can go back in time to rescue her with her help. She’s had 36 years to mull on this, by herself, incidentally, she’s smart enough to build her own sonic screwdriver and yet she still comes to the conclusion that her "stuck by herself without her daughter, husband and best friend fighting slow robots" years are better than whatever life she might have had instead.

It feels like uncharacteristic bloody mindness on the part of Amy that the writer has injected to give some pathos to the narrative.

And it was also a tad humourless. You can imagine Stevie Moffat making it both more fun and more poignant.

But I’m not sure. It was good, despite the loopholes. I just didn’t really like it and I don’t know why.

But what did you think?




  • It’s probably symptomatic that despite everything, the character of Amy Pond is generally a bit cold. On the face of it, a sexual feisty redhead should be easy to like or empathize with – but despite everything, there’s something … remote about the character. Like it’s a collection of stereotypes as opposed to a fully-fleshed character.
    Then again, we are talking about someone whose parents were wiped from her memory, who doesn’t even seem that bothered about having the child she gave birth to taken from her hands, and who has virtually no compunction flirting with the Doctor in front of her insecure husband. If I didn’t know better, I’d almost say there was an element of psychosis in her (as in not relating to other human beings).

  • “uncharacteristic bloody mindness on the part of Amy”
    I’d say it summed her up pretty well. I thought it was a great episode too, if extremely dark. Would you continue to travel with the Doctor after this one? I bloody well wouldn’t.

  • She’s normally up for any escape attempt, time reversal, etc, usually trusting the Doctor absolutely (cf end of last half of the season). Here, even though refusing his help as younger Amy clearly ends up with her being the older Amy, she still needs younger Amy to change her mind.

  • SK

    I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, and why it left you cold: it’s a really nice idea, but the episode is completely and utterly lacking in subtext. Every single idea and conflict — and there are some nice ones — is spelt out in detail in the dialogue. Everything’s on the surface — there’s no depth.
    Some lovely moments — the Doctor slamming the door in Amy’s face, for example — but they don’t work because while they should be the bits of iceberg poking above the waves that cue the viewer into the huge emotions going on underneath, instead they are just there, made superficial by the fact that everything else in on the surface.
    And it doesn’t help that the whole thing rest son the hugely out-of-character moment of Amy — tetchy, bloody-minded Amy — not saying, ‘Which button, husband?’

  • Mark Carroll

    I liked the ideas. I also liked the reduction of frantic running around; perhaps its not necessary even for one-parters.
    I didn’t mind the robots being slow because it’s not like they need to much expect patients to be persistently non-compliant and it’s more their problem than anyone else’s if they do themselves harm through that. She already started out with a warning against the robots.
    Given that isolated Amy presumably had to work hard to develop a valuable independent resourcefulness, I can see that she might not want that all to slip away. Anger may have been a useful tool against despair. It wasn’t obvious to me that it would all be reversed; maybe there’d be some other useful way to dump/leave the older one.

  • You’re not going to be shocked if I say I liked it a lot, and that I cried (softy that I am).
    What can I say? maybe my critical threshold hits bottom with things I love (like Doctor Who). I’m not beyond picking out things that don’t work, but it takes a lot for me to feel disappointed and not get anything from an episode. It certainly didn’t leave me cold…

  • TemplarJ

    A good review, and you pinpoint my problem with it – inevitability.
    RTD managed to circumnavigate the idea the Doctor Who is an on-going series and therefore the conesquences to lead characters can only go so far by making sure that events tend to ultimately dictate the manner of characters’s departures (Rose gets ‘punished’ for being too clingy, the tenth Doctor too arrogant etc).
    But much as I like the aesthetic of Moffat’s run, the characterisation does seem to be suffer from a Star Trek conceit where it’s all okay again by next week. Rory has effectively lost a wife and child over the last couple of weeks but the chances are he’ll be bouncing around again on saturday.
    Still, time for that criticism to be addressed this year yet.

  • SK

    I suppose Davies’s style was an advantage in this regard, that it’s hard to guess the ending of an episode when getting there will involve no form of story logic known to man.

  • MediumRob

    @rullsenberg: I’m a softy. My (non-softy) wife actually turned to me when Rory and old wife were talking through the TARDIS door to each other and asked if I was going to be all right. And surprisingly, I was. That’s my problem. I should have been snivelly.
    @[email protected][email protected]: good points everyone!

  • benjitek

    This episode is yet another demonstration of why the Doctor should have just 1 companion.
    It’s also proof of what happens when a series has it’s budget slashed. The props look like they were purchased at a thrift store 🙁
    A far cry from the days of The Satan Pit: http://www.tv.com/shows/doctor-who-2005/the-satan-pit-2-592748/

  • Mark Carroll

    I missed the lesson about why he should have just one companion. Though, in this one it was a bit disappointing that for fairly unlikely reasons the Doctor got to stay behind.
    I’ve not tended to think the busier times notably worse. I think we got rid of Adric before we got Turlough and Kamelion was usually only half there but still I didn’t notice that period being terrible for tending to have two or three fairly different companions around.

  • It began so well, but the suspense soon evaporated and was replaced by a horrible mawkish sentimentality about Amy and Rory’s relationship. And once again, someone died. Okay, technically it wasn’t a proper death, as it was only old Amy and she ceased to exist the moment the Tardis disappeared, but… Whatever happened to subtlety?
    I liked the set and the robots, particularly the weird hand thing.
    Old Amy was good – three stars for the make-up people, but why no grey hairs or Ripley-style no.1 haircut?
    As for Matt Smith, I can’t help feeling that he’s lost his way as the Doctor. There’s too much of the sub-Tenant ‘timey-wimey’ stuff and not enough of the authority that should come from a 900-year-old alien who has travelled through time. I still like him, but I find it hard to believe that he’s same Doctor as Tom Baker or William Hartnell.
    It’s all a bit too sexed-up for me.
    I agree with an earlier comment: two companions generally don’t work (with the possible exception of Jamie and Zoe, or Sarah-Jane and Harry) and although Rory’s becoming a more rounded and interesting character, I can’t help wondering where it’s all going.
    Finally, is Doctor Who a family show any more? You might not want it to be, but that’s the only way it will get financed. I’m concerned by the increasing number of people who feel turned off by the confusing plots and nightmare-inducing plots. Is this a case of hubris? I hope not.

  • It began so well, but the suspense soon evaporated and was replaced by a horrible mawkish sentimentality about Amy and Rory’s relationship. And once again, someone died. Okay, technically it wasn’t a proper death, as it was only old Amy and she ceased to exist the moment the Tardis disappeared, but… Whatever happened to subtlety?
    I liked the set and the robots, particularly the weird hand thing.
    Old Amy was good – three stars for the make-up people, but why no grey hairs or Ripley-style no.1 haircut?
    As for Matt Smith, I can’t help feeling that he’s lost his way as the Doctor. There’s too much of the sub-Tenant ‘timey-wimey’ stuff and not enough of the authority that should come from a 900-year-old alien who has travelled through time. I still like him, but I find it hard to believe that he’s same Doctor as Tom Baker or William Hartnell.
    It’s all a bit too sexed-up for me.
    I agree with an earlier comment: two companions generally don’t work (with the possible exception of Jamie and Zoe, or Sarah-Jane and Harry) and although Rory’s becoming a more rounded and interesting character, I can’t help wondering where it’s all going.
    Finally, is Doctor Who a family show any more? You might not want it to be, but that’s the only way it will get financed. I’m concerned by the increasing number of people who feel turned off by the confusing plots and nightmare-inducing plots. Is this a case of hubris? I hope not.

  • Like you, I felt it suffered from the fact that we were never in any doubt which Amy was going to survive but I still felt it was an improvement on last week’s episode and well above average for this particular season.

  • Sorry about the double posting. It was a temporal anomaly.

  • Well I really loved it. I did find it very emotional, and the relationship between Rory and the two Amys had real pathos for me. Am total softy too, rest of my family thought it was a bit soppy.
    I am not convinced that Rory and Amy are unaffected by losing their daughter. The doctor has told them they can’t interfere now, and presumably it looks like he hasn’t found her as a child, so they know there’s nothing they can do about it? But Rory certainly seems to be standing up to the Doctor a bit more – don’t turn me into you, I thought was a very telling comment, and maybe he won’t put up with everything the Doctor tells him. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of River Song’s attempts to kill the Doctor either. I think Steven Moffat has some other stuff up his sleeve. (Ok will be disappointed and come and say so if that’s not true!).
    So I really enjoyed this episode, I thought it was clever and sad, and I liked old Amy. I get what you mean about her knowing that the Doctor and Rory will come and get her, but last time she had to wait nine months. 36 years is a very long time, and I liked the fact that she’d forgotten how much Rory loved her, and her desperate need to survive had overwhelmed her so much she had grown bitter towards the Doctor. I mean, it’s not like he doesn’t have form in keeping her waiting is it?
    Old Amy and Young Amy clearly couldn’t coexist, but I did like the insight it gave Rory into the Doctor’s coldness, and the fact that he’s lied yet again.
    I also disagree with Steerforth, I think Matt Smith is a brilliant Doctor.
    I do agree this may not be so much of a family show as it was – it IS confusing, but have just spoken to two 13yos about it and they’re bitching that they can no longer text their mates and watch at the same time, as they have to CONCENTRATE, which personally I see as an entirely good thing 🙂
    Also someone I follow on Twitter said his kids absolutely loved it. So nothing is set in stone…

  • Rullsenberg

    “have just spoken to two 13yos about it and they’re bitching that they can no longer text their mates and watch at the same time, as they have to CONCENTRATE, which personally I see as an entirely good thing ”
    Could not agree more! That’s BRILLIANT!

  • @Rullsenberg. If you know how much trouble these two can get themselves in, you’d think it even better:-)
    The 9yo says episode one was a bit confusing but there wasn’t enough killing Hitler, otherwise she liked it; episode two was creepy, especially the dolls; episode 3, she liked the robots but thought it was a bit kissy kissy:-)

  • bob

    I liked this episode too though feel somewhat gutted that no one (neither characters nor writers) had the imagination to save Amy. A wonderfully twisted episode that put Rory through the wringer. I only wish that there was a sense of characters remembering and growing week by week. As someone else here mentioned, who would travel with the Doctor after that?
    I think that old Amy just had better perspective on the Doctor since she had had time to consider him… and came to a pretty good conclusion that he was toxic.

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