R.J. Anderson (rj_anderson) wrote,
R.J. Anderson

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DOCTOR WHO: "Amy's Choice" (5x07)

A deceptively simple, character-driven episode that at times strains credulity to the limit -- but there's a very good reason for that, as we find out at the end.

And I loved it LIKE PIE.

For me, the ideal story combines a good solid plot with clever dialogue and deep insights into the hearts and minds of the characters. But if I have to pick only two out of the three, I'll take the dialogue and insights over the airtight plot, because what's the use of telling a technically sound story if it's populated by characters we don't really care about uttering flat and cliched dialogue, and/or having experiences that ultimately don't change them or our perception of them at all?

What I really adored about "Amy's Choice" was that I thought I was having to settle, but in the end, I got all three after all. Everything that had seemed stupid or unnecessary in the plot turned out to be totally logical in the context (unlike some of the more ridiculous things we've seen this season, like Amy talking a Dalek-made robot who is also a bomb out of blowing up by having him remember a girl who exists only in his programmed imagination, say what?). Because anything can happen in dreams, and if anything the incidents in this episode made more sense than most dreams do, not less.

I knew that "Amy's Choice" was going to involve Amy choosing between the Doctor and Rory in some way. But I really had no idea how much it was going to reveal -- in a startling and even heartbreaking way -- the darkness and guilt within the Doctor's soul. It's so hard to tell us things about the Doctor's mind and heart that we don't already know, without diminishing him and making him seem common; but I thought this episode did a wonderful job of raising as many questions as it answered, and bringing us close to the Doctor's inner turmoil without overplaying its hand. This is the kind of emotion I like to see, instead of the Epic Man Pain of the Lonely God that made the last season of the Tenth Doctor's run so tiresome. It's all the more powerful for being played lightly, instead of being announced with Ominous Horns and billowing gouts of fire and lone emo tears rolling down the Doctor's cheek. The delicate implication that the Doctor is secretly insecure about his bow tie and fears it is not really cool after all touched me more than any of the Tenth Doctor's world-killing angst.

As far as the dreams themselves go, there are so many interesting psychological implications to dissect. I think the aliens in the bodies of elderly people are a reflection of the Doctor himself -- he's secretly terrified and revolted by the thought of being so old and never dying, even as he acknowledges that's exactly what's happening to him (and once again, Matt Smith does the old-man-young-body thing brilliantly, just with his hands). He feels like he's becoming a monster, someone who destroys everyone he touches. And when that side of him lashes out, who's in the way? Rory. Because part of the Doctor wants Amy all to himself, even though he knows it can't last.

And yet at the same time, he's also (as the Dream Lord) trying to press Amy to make a choice, to let her be the one who decides what she wants most -- and part of him does want her to choose Rory, for all their sakes. By killing Rory in the Leadworth dream (via the aliens, a product of his own imagination), the Doctor drives Amy to realize how much she truly does love Rory and can't bear to be without him. And once she's made the choice that she doesn't want to live without Rory, the Doctor puts her in the driver's seat and chooses to "die" with her. There are so many layers here, selfishness and self-sacrifice intertwined -- it's so very true to life, because which of us ever has totally pure (or totally evil) motives?

Also, so much love for Amy. I do not understand how some people can say she lacks "spunk" and "lets the Doctor walk all over her". Again and again she's shown that she can face the Doctor's snappishness with aplomb, but she doesn't take it in the sense of being cowed by it. In this episode there's that beautiful scene where she deliberately pretends to be going into labour just to freak the Doctor out, and prove to him just how weak he is when it comes to dealing with ordinary life. I loved that so much! And how on earth does it make her "passive" that she expects the Doctor to be able to save people and fix things, and she gets angry with him ("What is the point of you") when he doesn't? The Doctor himself continually tells his companions he's going to save people and fix things, and ultimately, he usually does. If Amy doesn't trust him to keep her safe, why would she be traveling with him at all?

Besides, the line, "Ma poncho boys. If we're going to die, let's die like a Peruvian folk band" is made of pure unadulterated win. HOW CAN ANYONE NOT LOVE AMY.* I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS.

Other random things I noticed:

- Once again, red and blue are important. In the TARDIS dream, the Doctor's bow tie, shirt and braces are red. In the Leadworth dream, they are all blue. Amy, meanwhile, wears red and blue in both worlds, while Rory's outfits are neutral. This Means Something -- but what?

- Another recurring motif as the aliens come out of the elderly people's mouths and we see a single eye on a stalk. Eyes are very important this season -- but so are mouths (think of all the Scary Teeth we've seen, including being right inside a big mouth in "The Beast Below"!). Not to mention hands. We're treated to a closeup of Rory's trembling hands as he sits in the nursery with Amy, just as we had a closeup of Amy's nervously twisting hands in "Flesh and Stone".

- Did anybody notice that the guy who was driving the (red) van when the Doctor first jumped into it looked awfully like Ten in his Clever Specs? We see him a couple more times, helping folks get into the van.

Okay, I think I'm done now. Thoughts, people! I know you have them! Tell them to me!

* No, this is not an invitation for you to tell me why you dislike Amy in comments. If you don't like her, or Eleven, or Rory, or Steven Moffat, or this season in general, you have every right to feel that way, but please go and talk about it somewhere else. Thank you.
Tags: doctor who, reviews, tv
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