falling_voices: (golden twirl)
[personal profile] falling_voices
There are quite a few things to be said about The Girl Who Waited, which is exactly the reason why I'm not doing a more in-depth review of the episode the way I did for Night Terrors: I don't think I would ever get to stop. As it is, though, I do have a few remarks to mention.

So this isn't an episode about timey-wimeyness, although it does have some timey-wimeyness; this isn't an episode about science-fiction, or strange planets in quarantine, or about deathly robots trying to help you — through killing you. It's an episode about relationships. It's an episode about Amy and Rory, and it's been a long time in coming. 

One thing I've always adored about their relationship is their shift in the normal system of gender roles. The symbolism of boy meets girl, the traditional concept of a relationship between a man and a woman, has been absolutely altered. Rory is the one who remains at home while Amy leaves on her adventures; he is naive, easily flustered, faced with her confidence and dismissive attitude. He's the one who waits for her, who stays behind for her, and she's the one who forgets him. This was how they were presented to us in the fifth season.

We had the slightly emotional moment that was Amy's Choice, and then The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang occurred, and that changed everything. These twin episodes managed to put Amy and Rory on an equal level, instead of reasserting society's cliché hierarchical system. There is a radical rewriting of their relationship, and it becomes an equilibrium, no longer as one-sided as it used to be. This is even better than reversing traditional gender roles, to be honest, because it sets the woman and the man as balancing one another — and the results were shown in what we have seen of the sixth season so far, and all its quiet, adorable moments between the two. (Amy kissing Rory's bruised knuckles in The Rebel Flesh comes to mind.) Still, especially after Let's Kill Hitler, in which young!Amy and young!Mel make heavily and distressingly dismissive comments at young!Rory, I was a little dissatisfied about their storyline.

And then The Girl Who Waited happened, and upped the scales to a degree I hadn't even imagined.

Karen Gillan is striking as old!Amy. Sure, the make-up is very nice and she really does look old, but it would never have sufficed if she hadn't acted the hell out of that part. I can't possibly imagine the Karen Gillan from very early season five achieving the level of emotion and depth she gave her character in this episode. Old!Amy moves differently, talks differently; she looks different, and she is still disturbingly Amy. She's the fairytale version gone wrong of the girl who waited. She's the beautiful princess who has become the ugly old witch.

I've seen people compare this to Amy's Choice, and it does fit: where Amy had to choose between two lifestyles and two men, Rory now has to choose between two lifestyles and two different versions of his wife. He's forced into the role of the monster in this fairytale gone bad — forced into the role of the Doctor, literally. Strikingly, the sequence in which he and old!Amy are trapped on either side of the TARDIS doors and he murmurs, on and on, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry reminded me of the Tenth Doctor when I watched it for the first time — coming after his accusatory You're turning me into you! to the Doctor, it was almost terrifying.

One of my favourite scenes was Amy's long-winded explanation as to why she loves Rory so very much when he is so very ordinary, in what seems to me to be one of the most gorgeous reasons to love someone, ever:

Amy: You know when sometimes you meet someone so... beautiful... and then you actually talk to them and five minutes later they're dull as a brick? ... Then there's other people. When you meet them you think, Uh, not bad. They're okay. And then you get to know them, and... their face sort of becomes them. Like their personality's written all over it. And they turn into something so beautiful.

Both Amys: Rory's the most beautiful man I've ever met.

I was crying. And then there was the macarena and Rory's breathy First kiss, and by this point I was pretty much done and over with.

And it was an episode about Rory too — about Rory's big, enormous heart, the one that breaks and heals and breaks again and then never stops going. Of course Rory wonders whether the people in the time streams are happy. Of course he pretended to be in a band to impress the girl he fancies. Of course he can't choose, in the end. Beautiful boy.

I love that we get to see them change. Usually in books and movies and TV shows the closure of the romantic relationship ends the story; the established pairing, having done its deeds, is then taken entirely for granted — it's the old And they all lived happily ever after type of ending, and it's not bad, per se. But it's so rare that we get to see more. It's so rare that we get to see the conflicts between two people who are together, and who keep hurting each other nonetheless. It's so rare that we get to see a romantic relationship deepen and further itself with each new development, each adding a level of consciousness and emotion to their involvement together. I love it; it shows it's real. 

It really was a very dark episode, though — old!Amy's death was inevitable, but the Doctor's involvement in her final choice (i.e, shutting the door in her face) was interesting; even more so in the way that I think he was presented as darker and more dangerous in TGWW than he ever was in AGMGTW. That's the monster theme again, and his gradual influence on his current companions' lives is becoming darker and darker. Both his companions have betrayed him in his episode, in a way; old!Amy by growing to hate him, Rory's shout of I do not want to travel with you! But their betrayal is only an answer to his own, of them: he's betrayed Amy by leaving her for thirty-six years, and he's betrayed Rory, and Rory's heart, by asking him to choose. It's fascinating. Heartbreaking, but I'd love to see the repercussions of this episode on their relationship as a team, as well as the finale.

There's really so much to say about this episode, but I think I can safely say that, after The Doctor's Wife, this is my favourite Season Six episode. (Night Terrors and The Impossible Astronaut being next on the list.) It was DW at its best — sci-fi related but ultimately about the characters and their relationships — and it made the Amy/Rory relationship that much truer and better to me.

Also, this:

Old!Amy: Show me Earth. Show me home. ... Did I ever tell you about the boy I met there — who pretended to be in a band...
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