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Best. Two. Words. Ever. Canton Delaware III: "He is."
August 28, 2011 12:00 AM   Subscribe

Fuck Yeah Canton Everett Delaware the Third! Warning: Dr Who, series 5, season 6, episode 1 & 2, "Day of the Moon" spoiler.

Backstory. BTW people love Mark Sheppard. Even before Canton Everett Delaware. Without giving too much away, there's even something more to it than Canton Delaware's powerful breakthrough two-word line, "He is."
posted by Mike Mongo (342 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fuck I'm over this doctor. EVERY episode either time is coming to an end, the world is coming to an end, the universe is coming to an and, he's about to die, she's about to die, it's about to die, the end is about to die. He's such a pastiche of Tom Baker shoved up a bow tied pompous public schoolboy's arse. The David Tennant doctor was bad enough with his endless cheeriness, at least he had Donna and Martha as a side kicks rather that that fucking maudlin woman he has now and her gormless twat of a husband - who surely has dies three or four times.
posted by the noob at 12:13 AM on August 28, 2011 [12 favorites]


dies three or four times

I’ve been thinking we need a South Park/Doctor Who crossover for that bit.

"Oh my god, Rory's dead!"
"You killed Rory! You bastards!"
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:43 AM on August 28, 2011 [15 favorites]


Quite right, the noob. Well, take away the plots and the dying, I actually like Matt Smith okay.

But the plots are getting a bit much. Another "OMG it's DARK and INTENSE this time, really, someone's gonna DIE" and I'm going to go and bash my head into a desk. I much preferred the previous two Doctors' very light plot archs, which went like this:

1. A bunch of episodic shenanigans
2. One big final couple of episodes, which are invariably OMG INTENSE with dozens of previous companions, enemies and so on, with abundant silliness. It ties up some easter eggs that were scattered through the previous shenanigans. The planet ends up trashed, until the Doctor finds his way to the big RESET BUTTON and fixes everything, maybe regenerating on the way.
3. Rinse
4. Repeat

The Smith seasons thus far have been:

1. Foreshadowing
2. Shenanigans
3. FORESHADOWING
    3b. RIVER SONG
4. DIRECT REFERENCES TO OMG DRAMA TO COME
    4b. RIVER SONG
5. Drama/Shenanigans
6. CLIFFHANGER
    6b. RIVER SONG
7. Skip six months ahead!
    7b. RIVER SONG
8. DARKEST HOUR
9. DARKEREST HOUR
10. CLIFFHANGER
11. RIVER SONG
posted by BungaDunga at 12:44 AM on August 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


**Spoilerish stuff below**

As a gay man, I'm generally all for as many gay characters on TV as possible, but the practice of Dr. Who characters basically shoehorning in their gayness when 1. There's almost no reason to do so, and 2. It's a big anvil of, "GAY PEOPLE EXIST AND WE'RE ACKNOWLEDGING IT" is getting a bit tedious.
posted by xingcat at 12:49 AM on August 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


The io9 clips show that Mark Sheppard has established himself as a master at giving exposition (a thankless job in the TV SciFi genre) while being a soft-spoken but intimidating S.O.B. Quite an impressive skill. It's nice to see him get to send off a two-word zinger.

As a non-gay man, I'm glad xingcat said it so I didn't have to. Still, with the latest Torchwood underperforming ratings-wise, Captain Jack may be back to the Whoniverse soon and Delaware's fiancee may have to get the "red shirt" treatment, ifyouknowwhatimean.

And I liked River Song best when she was a doctor on E.R.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:57 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look, we can love The Doctor with every fibre of our beings... THAT DOESN'T MEAN WE NEED TO DECONSTRUCT HIM ENDLESSLY. Unless you are a dalek, in which case there ain't much I can do to stop you and if cultural criticism is your new cue to EXTERMINATE that is just fine and dandy.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 1:07 AM on August 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


Mark Sheppard, who played Canton in 1969, is the real-life son of William Morgan Sheppard, who played him in 2011.

Okay, that's pretty awesome.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:09 AM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Look, we can love The Doctor with every fibre of our beings... THAT DOESN'T MEAN WE NEED TO DECONSTRUCT HIM ENDLESSLY

But we must, we grew up with him and he's an important part of our (will at least my) formative years. And frankly I feel it's become a franchise, sexed up, cheapened, dumbed down. You want dark doctor - look at Genesis of the Daleks, or Colony In Space. These six parters were really well constructed. The silly shit we get now isn't anywhere near as fun nor well constructed.

But there are glimpses, the statues are a really good idea, as are the rejuvenated cybermen
bit it's all over in a whirlwind of silliness before anything meaningful can develop.
posted by the noob at 1:21 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, I didn't much like River Song when she first showed up and I can't say I'm getting any more fond of her, no matter how much Mary Sue crap about her they try and shove down my throat. I'd rather see more of Canton Esq. than more River. Apparently the writers -can- make an interesting and likeable character, but they just focus on the wrong ones.
posted by The otter lady at 1:33 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's the problem: too much companions, not enough Doctor, a problem that I've had with nuWho since it started back up again, amd one that is only getting worse as it goes on. The more I find out about River Song, the less I like her. Another thing they need to do is stop packing in so much mythology in each episode.

also, all those kids need to get off my.lawn.
posted by KingEdRa at 1:44 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


/makes note in diary: '28 August 2011 - jaded hipsters jaded about Doctor Who'.

Seriously, what do you want? The old stories? 'Oh my, something terrible made of paper mache is on this tiny ship made from cardboard and might hurt this handful of unimportant people! What's at stake? Bugger all! What will happen? You only have to wait six long episodes to find out!'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:54 AM on August 28, 2011 [37 favorites]


(Spoiler) I was just kinda hoping the actress who played her at the beginning of the episode would stick around a little longer.
posted by iotic at 1:54 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, what do you want?

CG ≠ plot
posted by the noob at 2:00 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I've lost all interet in Doctor Who, been watching a lot of c-span 2 instead. Now there is drama.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:25 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really wanted to understand that blog, and I sort of want to understand this thread, but I don't understand any of it.
posted by dubitable at 3:08 AM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Unless you are a dalek, in which case there ain't much I can do to stop you

PROCEED WITH DECONSTRUCTION
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:49 AM on August 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


As far as I can tell, true Doctor Who fans are passionate about Doctor Who in general, but scathing about any specific part of it they actually encounter. The perfect Doctor Who story would be one from 1964 where not only have all the episodes been wiped, but so have all the off-air sound recordings, all the scripts have been burned, all the cast members have died in mysterious circumstances and no one can quite remember what the name was. That would be perfect.

It seems to be a lot of work, being a fan, as opposed to just enjoying the episodes as they come along. Or not, according to taste.

I've been watching a lot of old Doctor Who over the last few months. Generally speaking, in terms of the quality of lines written, the skill with which they are spoken and the care with which everything is arranged, this season and last are probably the best the series has ever been. As I've mentioned before somewhere, my earliest television memory is watching Tomb of the Cybermen when I was two-ish. I have a lot invested in this emotionally too, and it's been very interesting to go back and revisit something that I only ever saw once (the series was never repeated when I was a child, or very occasionally).

What's surprised me is the clarity with which I remember first episodes, and how little I remember of the rest of it. Occasional flashes. Dalek reveals. A piece of rubber trying to strangle Tom Baker, maybe.

In general they're better than I feared they would be, but stretched out, and I'm surprised I managed to work out what was going on with one episode a week to go on.

One thing I realised was that the reason the Tom Baker episodes are so great because he was basically making up his own lines. Destiny of the Daleks is terrific - Terry Nation phones in his usual plot, Douglas Adams rewrites the script from the ground up and Tom Baker noodles around on the top. But it's no more coherent than the least coherent episodes from the last couple of years.

(One slightly dispiriting thing has been finding out that Terry Nation really was a dreadful writer. I mean... wow!)

The ones I really couldn't bear were the Peter Davison episodes - endless bickering and then everyone dies. Desperately miserable. At least when Colin Baker came along it seemed to brighten up a bit. Though perhaps more panto-ish than I'd like.
posted by Grangousier at 4:00 AM on August 28, 2011 [18 favorites]


The wheel never stops turning, Canton.

That only matters if you're out there rimming.
posted by PapaLobo at 4:06 AM on August 28, 2011


Did anyone else think that the name is weirdly evocative of "Quentin Everhart Deverill" (also 'the third' IIRC)?
posted by pompomtom at 4:15 AM on August 28, 2011


You do all know it's a tea-time programme for kids, right? About a bloke who can't die, who rattles around in a small box annoying people while waving a magic wand at them? A bit like the New Testament, only without 1600 years of imperial backstory.

(Have you had Let's Kill Hitler in the US yet?)
posted by Devonian at 4:37 AM on August 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I grew up watching and loving Doctor Who (particularly Baker), and the new stuff slaughters the old stuff, and Smith's Doctor is bloody brilliant.
posted by markr at 4:41 AM on August 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


It seemed to me that the first Matt Smith season was basically the first two seasons of the reboot crammed into one. Amy has a more interesting backstory than Rose, but her character development is put on fast-forward, so she kind of ends up a cypher. And I don't think I've seen so much deus ex sonic screwdriver since Jon Pertwee. I mean, I love a bit of sonic screwdriver as much as the next person, but could the Doctor, I don't know, try a door handle without waving that thing around? It's probably unlocked....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:08 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mark Sheppard is great fun... I remember seeing him pop up in BSG and thinking "Yeah, this character is going to be awesome." And so he was.
posted by selfnoise at 5:30 AM on August 28, 2011


As a gay man, I'm generally all for as many gay characters on TV as possible, but the practice of Dr. Who characters basically shoehorning in their gayness...

That little outing moment reminded me of a scene from Law & Order, when a woman is fired from her job as ADA. She is almost out the door when she stops to ask, "this isn't because I'm a lesbian?" and the answer is "no." WTF? There was no hint in her many prior episodes that she was a lesbian, and this revelation served no purpose.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:44 AM on August 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I wasn't as enamored of the character as it seems I was supposed to be, but then I'm biased -- I think seasons five and six have been utterly dire. I like Matt Smith, but Amy is utterly worthless and if Steven Moffat wants to do a show about River Song, then someone please let him go do that and turn the show back over to someone who wants to do a show about the Doctor.
posted by Legomancer at 5:44 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Nattering Nabobs of Negativity.
posted by Mick at 6:59 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I hated River Song the first time we met her, and I hate her now.

Just, you know, in case anyone was wondering.

Bleah.
posted by tzikeh at 7:09 AM on August 28, 2011


I hated River Song the first time we met her, and I hate her now.

I wouldn't say I hate River Song, but since pretty much all she does is say "I am a mystery!" and "Hey, look! I'm clever!" it's not like she is all that much of a character. I do like the few scenes of her and the Doctor trying to figure out where they are in each others' timelines without giving anything away -- it is a clever use of the time-travel trope, which Dr. Who has generally shied away from in previous series, but I really have the feeling that, whatever gets revealed about who Dr. Song is, it won't live up to all the coy hints they have been dropping for the bast few seasons.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:23 AM on August 28, 2011


Don't you think Dr. Who looks tired?
posted by Renoroc at 7:29 AM on August 28, 2011 [12 favorites]


...whatever gets revealed about who Dr. Song is, it won't live up to all the coy hints they have been dropping for the bast few seasons.

Didn't they reveal who/what River Song is already? The scene at the cradle where they translate the baby's name?
I apologize if this has already been dealt with in the series. I don't get BBCA, and can only catch-up with Dr.Who when/if Comcast puts it up in OnDemand)
posted by Thorzdad at 7:35 AM on August 28, 2011


They did, they did. Without revealing spoilers, I'll say that I liked last night's episode, but think they played their hand too early with regards to revealing an important River Song mystery.
posted by drezdn at 7:41 AM on August 28, 2011


River has out-Fonzied Fonzie, out-Spiked Spike, and with last night's episode, out-Poochied Poochie. She needs to return to her home planet and if some tragedy befalls her on the way there, I won't cry.
posted by Legomancer at 7:46 AM on August 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Without giving too much away, there's even something more to it than Canton Delaware's powerful breakthrough two-word line, "He is."

Wait... there is? Is this because I've barely been paying attention beyond those first two episodes? I really thought 'we' went from moaning about how Steven Moffat was a homophobe due to the lack of gay characters to worshipping him for Canton Delaware.
posted by hoyland at 7:49 AM on August 28, 2011


He's fun on Supernatural, too.
posted by Decimask at 8:26 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hold up - I didn't realize the new season was out, so I went on iTunes just now to rent (yes, legally, for money) the new episode, as I did with the first half of the season.

It is not available for rental. I can "buy" the episode for $3, but not rent it for $1. That is damned irritating. Anyone know if this will continue to be the case? A $2 difference isn't a big deal once, but it becomes expensive over a season.
posted by maryr at 8:43 AM on August 28, 2011


Didn't they reveal who/what River Song is already?

Not sure. I am still watching Season 6. I would probably be done with it by now, except, you know, hurricane. However, if I was remotely worried about spoilers, I would not be commenting multiple times in a thread about the show....
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:48 AM on August 28, 2011


It is not available for rental. I can "buy" the episode for $3, but not rent it for $1. That is damned irritating. Anyone know if this will continue to be the case? A $2 difference isn't a big deal once, but it becomes expensive over a season.

The option to rent episodes of TV shows is no longer available on either the Apple TV, or when browsing content via Apple's iTunes application. Previously, participating networks offered users the ability to rent a TV episode for 99 cents, with 30 days to begin watching and 48 hours to complete it.
posted by MrCynical at 8:49 AM on August 28, 2011


Oh, eff me. I was trying to do this legally. I'm happy to watch the season for $12, but $36 is apparently past my price point. Although I see you can subscribe for the season pass at $18, which I may consider.
posted by maryr at 9:05 AM on August 28, 2011


I loved last season. Adored it. It got me into Who.
This season? It feels like Moffat is trying to go over the top with a new Important Revelation at every turn. He builds everything up with mystery and clues and drives the fans crazy with speculation, and then when the answers do come, they're absolutely nutters.
posted by Gordafarin at 9:09 AM on August 28, 2011


She needs to return to her home planet and if some tragedy befalls her on the way there, I won't cry.

But...but...she's outrageous and totally in your face!
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:10 AM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Best two words ever in this context would appear to be Tom Baker.

I loved Dr Who as a kid, watched it pretty much religiously, was scared of the daleks etc. I watched it almost to the end, but then it became stupid. When the new Dr Who came along, I liked it at first, although I had issues, but I felt Chris Ecclestone was just brilliant as the Dr and he had me hooked. Then Tennent came along and, as mentioned above, was "relentlessly cheerful", and I gave up after a couple of seasons (the last one i remember was set in a victorian castle maybe, and had some time travel plot, again maybe.)

And the noobs comment about Matt smith - "He's such a pastiche of Tom Baker shoved up a bow tied pompous public schoolboy's arse" Absolutely Spot On!
posted by marienbad at 9:12 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


But...but...she's outrageous and totally in your face!


She's Jem? Well, that at least explains why she is locked in a high-security prison. It's probably run by the Misfits.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:15 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Nattering Nabobs of Negativity.

Alternately:


Metafilter: Endless bickering and then everyone dies.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:35 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a gay man, I'm generally all for as many gay characters on TV as possible, but the practice of Dr. Who characters basically shoehorning in their gayness...

Really? I don't know, I think it's cool. I tend to think that kids (who are the intended audience, after all) benefit from any messages of tolerance, even artistically awkward ones. It's neat that Dr. Who a) shows a future where gay people have equal rights and b) shows gay people being brave and heroic. Do we even have any mainstream American shows that do this? Not on HBO, but on network TV? I can't think of any.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 9:49 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm an old school Who fan and I've generally enjoyed the new stuff. (David Tennant by the end had descended into emo mawkishness, but I lay that at the feet of the writers and the showrunner.) I've really enjoyed the Matt Smith seasons for all that River Song has gotten a bit tiresome. I was pretty sure I'd enjoy her more when we flipped things and the Doctor knew more than she did, so I'm pretty happy with the current direction of the River-oriented plot. I liked last night's episode a lot--the plot twists, the character reveals, and the dealings with the title character of the episode--and I'm looking forward to more in future episode as we lead up to the end of the season. Having said that, I'm also excited by the idea that the next season will be less overarching story arc stuff. Season arcs have led to season finales, which have been one of the less successful new series innovations IMO. And now we've done River, so let's do something else for the next couple of episodes.

As for Canton, I like him, I like that they're casual about him being gay even if it's awkward; I liked the same thing about Jack when he was around. I also liked the casual revelations involving race in this episode and think it all bodes well for the future of the show.

Although I see you can subscribe for the season pass at $18, which I may consider.

That's the HD price. If you look around the page, you can find the SD pass for less. I'm on the pass after doing it for the first half of the season. It shows up on my account the next morning and I've been very happy with it so far.
posted by immlass at 10:07 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Series six is Moffatt inviting those who like to spoil the ending for everyone else to go screw themselves. We've already seen the ending. We've already seen the beginning. We're just waiting for him to tell us the middle bits. Personally, I love it even though I don't believe you can actually spoil a story.
posted by crataegus at 10:08 AM on August 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm an old-school Who fan, ever since completely accidentally starting to watch a Baker ep with a monster -- I think it was Horror of Fang Rock -- and being utterly fascinated. It even gave me a new appreciation of horror as a subgenre of sf, the one I still have the least interest in, once I realized that it was primarily rooted in that.

Generally speaking, in terms of the quality of lines written, the skill with which they are spoken and the care with which everything is arranged, this season and last are probably the best the series has ever been.

Agreed, or at least up there with the best. I think Moffatt is brilliant and shaping up as the strongest showrunner yet. The current cast is mostly top-notch or at least able to handle the level, and the side characters with intermittent appearances or arcs like River Song and Delaware are great as well.

I can agree, even though I liked Tennant and consider him close to Baker (T.) in my Pantheon, that Davies wrote some awful epic finales (though they often started out fascinating) and that Ten became a little too winning by the end. I have liked Smith's more anguished, frustrated, and capability-limited -- even self-defeating -- Doctor thus far. (I loved Eccleston's portrayal, too, and have wished he could have done a second year. They both took the madman with a box angle and ran with it.

I sometimes do miss the sedate 5-ep serials of yore, but respect the fact that the hour drama format does to an extent force this sort of epic story-arc approach. I like one-offs, as well, just because they're usually the ones taking us someplace different. I like the way that this whole Doctor story arc is all about him and his universe, at least, rather than yet another threat to, you know, London -- which Davies rolled out at least once too often. The way Moffatt seems to handle the canon stretches is a bit more interesting and self-justifying (lampshading?) from my perspective, too.
posted by dhartung at 10:32 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Normally I can appreciate a bit of "to each his own" but this is a case where I honestly, sincerely, cannot understand how people can think seasons 5 and 6 are the "best ever". Different drums and all, but I have found them to be just dire, with a companion who adds nothing to the show, a secondary character elevated to godlike status, and every single moment revolving ceaselessly around them while the title character merely looks on admiringly. Davies had some utterly shit season-enders (I'm not a big fan of season-long arcs in the first place) but jesus, at least he was still creating a show about the title character.

These past two seasons have been half-baked storylines stretched out interminably and just stupid, SyFy-level "badass" and nerd-pandering shit piled on top of itself. This is a show which, if it weren't called "Doctor Who" I wouldn't watch, just like I don't watch shit like "Primeval" or "Stargate" or other loud, stupid, American-style foolishness.

It's something I need to figure out, though, because I am certainly in the minority, judging from the reactions I see to every new episode. "Another triumph!" "Absolutely flawless!" "Top of its game!"

I don't want to give it up because jesus, I can't imagine Doctor Who being on TV and me not watching it, but the problem isn't that I don't want to watch Doctor Who, it's that Steven Moffat doesn't want to make it.
posted by Legomancer at 10:48 AM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm only skimming this and the threads on metacooler until I have a chance to watch the episode in a bit, but agree with the complaints about Amy. I loved her initially, but later I realized that this was because I loved Amelia, the little girl. Terrific actress, well-drawn character. But as "Amy" the adult, she's either an irritating, coquettish sex kitten or, now, shoe-horned into more traditional female roles as wife and you-know-what. I really have little sense of her as a person. It frustrates me, because she looks cool, and there's lots of potential there, but I even think Rose was better done and I didn't always like Rose. I knew who she was, though. Amy seems to be the stock female character that's forced into the mold of whatever traditional role they need for a woman as the plot demands. The "heart," or the "princess to be saved" or the "grieving widow" or whatever. And in so many ways it seems like the "Doctor and Amy show" and I have a sinking suspicion she'll be with us for all of Smith's run. I need to get used to her--more, to like her. And I just don't.

I like River, though I know the whole femme fatale model is problematic in other ways. When we meet her, though, she's so much more than that--a professor and a scientist, very capable, leading her team, making sacrifices. I'll tolerate her as a mysterious sexy mystery lady since I know she grows into so much more.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:48 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I love River's backwards story. Deft bit of storytelling. But again, it's proven to be a story mostly about Amy. And blargh to that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:52 AM on August 28, 2011


her gormless twat of a husband

Oh no you didn't.
posted by Windigo at 10:53 AM on August 28, 2011 [12 favorites]


I’ve been thinking we need a South Park/Doctor Who crossover for that bit.

Like this?
posted by Windigo at 10:54 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, the universe tried to erase Rory once, AND IT EXPLODED.

So think about THAT, naysayers.
posted by Windigo at 10:56 AM on August 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


Windigo, I don't know why Rory wastes his time with these awful people who treat him like crap. I would have been long gone.
posted by Legomancer at 10:58 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I assume it's because he realizes that they're hopeless. Someone needs to keep pointing out the obvious & saving their asses.
posted by Windigo at 11:00 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ick. Actually, you pinpointed what I don't like about Amy and Rory's relationship, Windigo. He's so condescending toward her. She doesn't respect him, either. On the surface, they seem sweet, but i I think too hard about them they kinda make me uncomfortable.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:10 AM on August 28, 2011


He's so condescending toward her.

Really? I've never gotten that at all from him. If anything, it's the reverse. She treats him like he's a child (when in fact, she's the stunted one. But perhaps that's the point).
posted by Windigo at 11:17 AM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: I think I agree with most everything you said, the child version of Pond was brilliantly done and the adult version has been a terrible disappointment, I would definitely like to see the child used a bit more, there's no reason not to bring her back for a full episode rather than a cameo like last nights. Rory adds very little.

I have thought they have done some very interesting things with River, especially in the first half of season 6, though last night didn't work that well for me.

Regarding any awkwardness over Canton, I thought the much cleverer gay reference in early season 6 was the fat and thin gay anglican marines. Matter of fact, hinting at a more 'complete' universe in that what were minor characters had a back story and filling in some social milieu and at the same time 'normalising' their sexuality for a family audience.
posted by biffa at 11:28 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've only seen through the end of season 5, I have to agree the kid Amy is cooler than grown-up Amy; and Rory was annoying but got better. I'm just so tired of the high level of romantic relationship angst in New Who. I think that's one of the reasons Donna was so popular with many; besides being awesome, she gave us a break from all that, despite RTD 's constant Rose cameos.
posted by smirkette at 11:31 AM on August 28, 2011


Maybe condescending is the wrong word. Certainly paternalistic.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:32 AM on August 28, 2011


Also, we seem to have had like five season finales this season. There's only room for 4 or so non-plotty episodes. The first episode was a two-parter, then we get this pseudo half-season finale which also takes two parts, and then the finale, which will also take two parts or I'll eat my hat.

Given that the finales were always the weakest part of the previous seasons (except Eccleston's, which avoided the lameness), I don't quite get why they've decided to do this.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:34 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The ones I really couldn't bear were the Peter Davison episodes

In character, Tennent-Who claimed that Davidson-Who was his Doctor. Here are seven minutes of the Doctor being a Doctor Who fanboy.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:49 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think I like Canton for the same reason I liked Donna-neither of them puts up with the Doctor's BS.
posted by Not The Stig at 11:52 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


neither of them puts up with the Doctor's BS.

That's true of all the good companions.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:55 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


shoehorning in their gayness when 1. There's almost no reason to do so, and 2. It's a big anvil of, "GAY PEOPLE EXIST AND WE'RE ACKNOWLEDGING IT" is getting a bit tedious.

In general I agree but in the particular case of Canton I didn't feel like it was shoehorned in as a character reveal. The line in question was the last in a two episode long series of "let's make fun of Nixon" jokes. Who cares if Canton is gay? Nixon's reaction is the funny bit.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:57 AM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I propose the new term "Dumbledore" for a gay character who is never shown with a partner and who seems to have no actual interest in romance whatsoever. As in, "Canton Everett Delaware is such a Dumbledore."
posted by miyabo at 12:22 PM on August 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think that's known as an Edward Heath
posted by dng at 1:02 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Graeber, the author of Debt: The First 5,000 Years (mefi thread) made a comment on negative responses to his book which seems relevant here:
The curious thing is that one’s ability not to have to do this, not to have to prove one’s assumptions every single time one writes anything, is the luxury of power. Let me give an example. Economics – the great power discipline of the moment. Economic theory is based on certain assumptions about human action, how a “rational actor” will allocate resources under certain conditions. These are just premises, they were never originally tested, just assumed. Recently some psychologists decided to see if they were true, and created experimental tests. It turns out people almost never really act the way economists predict and the basic assumptions about human nature are actually wrong. What effect did this have on economics? None. The economists just ignored the empirical studies and carried on just as they had before. Where, on Amazon, do you have readers giving economic theory texts three-star reviews saying the material is interesting but they are based on flawed theories of human nature? As far as I can make out, nowhere. If you’re running the world, the fact that all your equations are based on premises that we know to be wrong is simply irrelevant. Meanwhile, if you’re challenging the prevailing orthodoxy, if you don’t prove every aspect of everything, you can just be rejected out of hand. So while I appreciate the reviewers’ efforts and am glad he found the overall historical argument compelling and interesting, I’m afraid in this way he really is playing the same role of ideological police as so many others – setting standards for non-mainstream views that no one ever sets for other ones.
posted by Estragon at 1:38 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I love River Song enough to more than make up for all the haters.
posted by Windigo at 1:49 PM on August 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


Also, we seem to have had like five season finales this season. There's only room for 4 or so non-plotty episodes.

Yeah this has been one of the problems for me with Moffat's run. I really like the one-off episodes. Not EVERYTHING has to be OMG MAJOR PLOT POINT. Can't they just meet some weird aliens with a problem?

That said, I really like that Mark Sheppard keeps showing up in all my sci-fi shows.
posted by grapesaresour at 2:07 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some more fill-in on the character of Canton Delaware.

First, his being gay is not "shoehorned". He got kicked out of the FBI for wanting to "get married". It was America 1969. Euphemism abounds. What more, he is a strong character. He's a g-man who cares about his work and his country but they both turned on him. And he's not willing to be a victim. That is all established from the the introduction of Mark Sheppard's character.

Second, he's cool. He's admirable for how cool and badass while playing it down at the same time. Canton comes across as likable intelligent dedicated and capable. Even so, he's low-key about it. He simmers to heating. These are highly-valued traits in a protagonist.

Lastly, he's stable. He's gay—in fact, he's not only gay but in 1969 he's a man whose white who wants to marry his partner who is a man who is black—and he's mentally healthy.

Gay, cool (American) good guy, and mentally stable? In a word, wow!

I just felt it important to point all this stuff out. I know we are most of us all adults here but trust me there are kids out there watching this episode of Dr Who right now and feeling really really acknowledged.

Speaking as a kid who grew up wanting to be an astronaut while the only gay role models were Elton John and Liberace. Fictional gay characters? The first one I recall was Marty on Barney Miller. The next was Billy Crystal playing Jodie on Soap. I remember adults saying Paul Lynde was queer. No astronauts pilots or superheroes for sure.

Personally? While I was watching Dr Who Day of the Moon, and James Sheppard's character Canton in closing erases anyone's questions/confirms supspicions once and for all with "he is," (meaning, "yes, the love of my life is black and, contrary to your assumption, Mr President, a man") I broke out in applause and cheers.

Canton Everett Delaware the Third is a g-man working with time travelers and aliens and he is gay. And if you don't find it believable, well, that's too bad.

But regardless, you can't have him. He's one of ours.
posted by Mike Mongo at 2:48 PM on August 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


I am convinced that Canton's SO is the black Secret Service agent who shot a Silent that walked into the White House after the Day Of The Moon announcement. Just saying.

I'm cool with him, but it did seem weird that gay marriage was coming up in 1969 when it's a huge issue now, but as far as I know, wasn't even on the radar compared to other worse problems gay folks had back then.

Other than that, I am apparently in the minority here for liking Eleven and Co. and the folks he associates with. Yeah, I have a few issues with Amy that I did with Rose (i.e. treats her dude like crap, and other than "they grew up together" I really don't get why she'd go for him. Also, stop calling your husband "stupidface." You're not six any more and it's mean), but in general I enjoy her. Rory isn't my favorite ever, but he's not bad, and some days Kenny even lives! He didn't even HAVE a ganger! And as for River Song, she may be a Mary Sue, but she's a twisty dark version for whom time rums backwards and I find her entertaining to watch, so I don't care. You can keep shooting hats all you like, girlfriend.

Oh, and what obiwanwasabi said. It's a good thing I started with NuWho, I don't think I would have even made it this far if I started with the old stuff, because eesh
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:55 PM on August 28, 2011


Am I right in thinking that the "limited number of regenerations" issue has now been quietly removed, because River Song gave him all her (unquantified) regeneration energy?
posted by Segundus at 2:56 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I propose the new term "Dumbledore" for a gay character who is never shown with a partner and who seems to have no actual interest in romance whatsoever. As in, "Canton Everett Delaware is such a Dumbledore."

There's a subtle distinction here. There's those, like Dumbledore, who not only have no interest in romance, they don't even claim to be gay within the story, and the only reason anyone knows they are gay is that the writer says so, outside of the fictional works: TV Tropes calls this one Word of Gay.

Then there's those like Canton and the aforementioned Serena Southerlyn on Law and Order, who are never seen showing romantic interest in anyone, but at least claim to be gay within the fictional world. This is covered by Sudden Sexuality on TV Tropes.

(And for your time-killing pleasure, here's the TV Tropes index of GLBT-related tropes.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:29 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


By the way, I just found out that "River Song" is from a Van Morrison lyric.

Just so's you know.
posted by Grangousier at 3:34 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Skipping the rest of this thread due to potential spoilers, but I love Sheppard as Crowley on Supernatural.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:06 PM on August 28, 2011


And I haven't seen old Who but I love New Who. It charges me up. Adventure! Danger! Horror! Sci-fi! Silly speeches!
I dreamed a whole episod last night.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:10 PM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I am a mystery!" and "Hey, look! I'm clever! - and I'm his wife, did I mention I'm his wife- yes, you heard, wife. Wife"
posted by the noob at 4:11 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not to point out the obvious. but isn't part of Canton's purpose to play Mulder to Amy's Scully?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:27 PM on August 28, 2011


I keep dreaming Doctor Who episodes, too. Well, once in a while. They make great dreams. I'm all for silliness, and adventure, and scifi. And I like River Song! I just occasionally want a break from her (the Doctor probably does, too...).

Am I right in thinking that the "limited number of regenerations" issue has now been quietly removed, because River Song gave him all her (unquantified) regeneration energy?

I wondered about that. The answer is: If the writers want to. Maybe the regeneration energy is less effective when used to heal another person, and it was actually all used up. Maybe she only had another regeneration left anyway.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:32 PM on August 28, 2011


I think the regeneration-energy stuff was the real purpose of Let's Kill Hitler. "Oh crap, if River Song is half-Timelord, that means she can regenerate. We need to get rid of that." So she can die at the end of this season, is my guess.
posted by Hogshead at 4:58 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the regeneration-energy stuff was the real purpose of Let's Kill Hitler. "Oh crap, if River Song is half-Timelord, that means she can regenerate. We need to get rid of that." So she can die at the end of this season, is my guess.

She pretty much died in 'Silence in the Library', but yes - 'to set up her inevitable death' is as good a way to describe it as any.
posted by Sparx at 5:09 PM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


The whole 'death' in the library thing bothers me. That was a fine ending for a two-episode guest. Not for River Song as we know her now.
posted by Windigo at 5:11 PM on August 28, 2011


Am I right in thinking that the "limited number of regenerations" issue has now been quietly removed, because River Song gave him all her (unquantified) regeneration energy?

They laid the foundation for getting rid of the limit looong ago, when the Master was offered extra regenerations by the High Council. It's clearly an artificial limit. (Of course, it's not like a show about time travel is going to be too slavish to continuity anyway.)
posted by Etrigan at 5:12 PM on August 28, 2011


CG ≠ plot

No, plot = plot, and I'm OK with plots about the most powerful being in the universe - the last of his kind, genocider - being a little on the dark, dramatic and epic arcs side.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:41 PM on August 28, 2011


I'm OK with plots about the most powerful being in the universe - the last of his kind, genocider - being a little on the dark, dramatic and epic arcs side.

Because god forbid the show not be aimed at 30-year old adults who demand everything be "dark", "ponderous", and "mature".
posted by Legomancer at 5:51 PM on August 28, 2011


Because god forbid the show not be aimed at 30-year old adults who demand everything be "dark", "ponderous", and "mature".

Doctor Who has been dark, ponderous, and mature for years. Four words: Genesis of the Daleks. Hate on Moffat if you want, but his influences come directly and hard from the Pertwee years and the early part of Tom Baker, particularly the Hinchcliffe serials: a time that was considered so profoundly scary that Mary Whitehouse campaigned to get the guy making the scary grownup stories off the kiddy show. For that matter, it's not like Hartnell was all sweetness and light. One of the big conflicts in The Aztecs was over whether Barbara was going to be able to stop the Aztecs from ongoing human sacrifice. The idea that there was ever a time when Doctor Who was sweetness and light is a fiction not borne out by actual watching of either series, old or new.

As for the regenerations, I don't think it was entirely coincidental that we got rule number one (the Doctor lies) right after the discussion of regeneration in last night's episode. I don't count any of what was said about regenerations as settled permanently within the in-show rules.
posted by immlass at 7:14 PM on August 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mark Sheppard was also fantastic as Manservant Neville in The Middleman, which, if you haven't yet seen, you should immediately go watch all 12 episodes of, instead of reading the following rant about New Who.

I'm OK with plots about the most powerful being in the universe - the last of his kind, genocider - being a little on the dark, dramatic and epic arcs side

I'm okay with dark, dramatic, and epic plot arcs--in fact, I like them a lot--but your description of the Doctor nails a lot of what bothers me about the new series. It's like they're suffering from some sort of Heroism Inflation, where the Doctor just has to keep getting more and more important, as well as more dark and mysterious.

Part of the magic of the original series was that the Doctor wasn't the most powerful being in the universe--or at least, that the extent of his power was never entirely clear. He was just an eccentric scientist who happened to travel through time and space helping out where he could. The smallness of the Doctor made the rest of the universe seem much bigger: it was full of all kinds of powerful and mysterious people and things, of which he was just one, and he helped out where he could. He was as likely to help out in small, personal ways as in enormous, world-changing ones. People who traveled with him seemed to regard it as a fun adventure, which they were happy to have had, but not heartbroken to lose in the end.

Now, though, it's as if Davies and Moffat took their childhood love of the old series and projected it onto the entire universe. The Doctor is the most powerful being in the universe! He is famous, and everyone has heard of him! Villains fear him as the bringer of their certain doom! Attractive young persons love him! Everyone in the universe is desperate just to meet him! Oh yes, and he is tortured! So tortured! He killed off his entire race, and brings heartbreak and misery wherever he goes! But also salvation! He has saved the entire universe countless times! Particularly the Earth part of the universe, which we all know is the only one that matters!

...and it gets kind of tiresome, because the more he becomes a Universal Megacelebrity, the less room there is for the quiet, confusing, eccentric, helpful traveler, who comes out of nowhere, disappears, and is soon forgotten. And that subtlety and impermanence leaves room for a much greater variety of stories than you can have with The Most Important Man In The Universe.

I can see how the story of the new series is an interesting one too: the very old, very powerful, very damaged creature, who was finally forced to destroy his own people in order to save the universe, finally being made to confront himself, to see the effect he has on those around him, and to admit his love for his companions. But I don't think that story works for a long-running series. The more I think about it, the more I feel like, if they were going to do that story well, the whole thing probably should have ended around the 2nd season, probably with the death of the Doctor. As it is, the writers just seem to be trying to make every season more grandiose than the last, and it makes it all harder to enjoy.

All that said, I think it's pretty harsh of people to blame the actors involved. Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith have all been pretty fantastic at playing the Doctor, regardless of what I think of the overall storylines they've been involved in. And honestly, I actually mostly enjoy the new series, I'm just in the mood for a rant after watching Let's Kill Hitler, which exemplified a lot of what bugs me about the new series (not to mention Moffat's attitude towards women, which is an entirely separate rant).

But yeah, Manservant Neville.
posted by moss at 8:12 PM on August 28, 2011 [15 favorites]


Dr. Who spoilers don't exist. If the spoiler makes enough sense to spoil something, you've already seen it.
posted by BurnChao at 9:49 PM on August 28, 2011


...and it gets kind of tiresome, because the more he becomes a Universal Megacelebrity, the less room there is for the quiet, confusing, eccentric, helpful traveler, who comes out of nowhere, disappears, and is soon forgotten.

See, I think being a Universal Megacelebrity means that the writers have to be much more clever about getting him to show his other side, and that these moments have more impact as a result. If he's always just a slightly eccentric helpful traveler, then that's just what he is. But if he's a slightly eccentric helpful traveler who's eating fish fingers and custard with a little girl just at this moment, but who also happens to be a Destroyer of Worlds, well, that's something else entirely.

He's panto Gandalf, friend of the little guy, smasher of interdimensional demons, driving force behind the universe.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:57 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's time for another episode like Vincent. Intimacy and a sense of "interior"-ness are what have been missing from this current season. At this point, I'd much rather see River & The Doctor on their first date than see them save the universe. Again.
posted by KingEdRa at 12:49 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


If the spoiler makes enough sense to spoil something, you've already seen it.

It's not even possible to spoil the story of a man whose past keeps changing.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:17 AM on August 29, 2011


with the latest Torchwood underperforming ratings-wise

There's a reason for that. It sucks. I took it upon myself to blog each episode, thinking it was an interesting premise that could go a number of different, equally interesting directions.

By episode five, I had concluded that "with this latest episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, we’ve gone from 'There are definitely some problems here' territory straight into 'None of this makes any damned sense' territory."

And that, honestly, is a big part of what bugs me about the way homosexuality is portrayed in the Whoniverse these days. It's almost completely tacked on. With the exception of Delaware, the whole issue is almost out-of-genre it's so bad. Really, we're talking about a series that's run for almost eight hundred episodes with fewer romantic relationships than a single episode of a ton of other shows. Then, all of a sudden, at the end of the first season of the reboot, Jack Harkness is... pansexual? Given that you can count on one hand the times that other characters in the forty years that the show's been on have dealt with sexuality at all, the whole thing was just a huge "WTF?" Now we've got Amy and Rory in something that looks like a marriage, but it's been one of the worst parts about the current season. Doctor Who is, fundamentally not a show about romantic relationships.

Which is what made the introduction of an old lover for Jack so jarring in Miracle Day. Not only did the writers wait two thirds of the season to introduce what might have been a major motivating factor for the whole stinking deal--Olivia waited until then to contact Jack... why? And this required kidnapping Gwen's family... why?--but now it turns out that even Angelo is just one big false lead. It would have made just as much sense for the reveal in that episode to have been some other random adventure in 1928, but no, Davies needed to get his gay on.

It would be one thing if the show regularly depicted people in romantic relationships, some of which just happened to be gay. As it is, xingcat is so right it's not even funny.

Not going to self-link, but the blog is in my profile if anyone cares.
posted by valkyryn at 5:47 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay, Canton was cool, but he was a cool character in, like, one two-part episode. And yet he has his own tumblr.

What's next, a tumblr dexclusively talking about the Lost Moon of Poosh?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:13 AM on August 29, 2011


I can see how the story of the new series is an interesting one too: the very old, very powerful, very damaged creature, who was finally forced to destroy his own people in order to save the universe, finally being made to confront himself, to see the effect he has on those around him, and to admit his love for his companions. But I don't think that story works for a long-running series.

I recently read an interview with Moffat (which I can't find without a bunch of digging through my browser history) where he said he wanted to do less of a season arc thing next season and do a lot of one-off stories instead. I've had a half-formed idea for a while that the "death of the Doctor" arc ends with the Silence and the whateversits of the Quiet thinking he's dead after the astronaut kills him as seen in episode 1 of this season and him getting to do some quiet running around the universe with his reputation blown away. Then we can have stories where the Doctor is not an intertemporal interstellar celebrity recognized by all and sundry wherever he goes.
posted by immlass at 7:16 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like River Song in principle because there needs to be a female character who can stand up to the Doctor, and most other companions fail miserably in this regard. I also think Alex Kingston does an incredible job with the material they give her. But seeing another actor in the role made me realize, holy crap: she's Poochie!
posted by speicus at 7:36 AM on August 29, 2011


And BTW, what the hell ever happened to Hitler?
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:04 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


And BTW, what the hell ever happened to Hitler?

Eventually, he probably came out of the closet.
posted by drezdn at 8:19 AM on August 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think they left him locked in the closet

Finally watched the latest episode. Some spoilery stuff follows.

What strikes me is how retconny it was for a show that's generally been fairly well planned out. I liked the premise--a group of time travelers who punishes people for war crimes--but the plot for Mels/Amy/Rory/the Doctor just didn't make much sense. She had no reason to force them to go back in time. It was also obvious within seconds that the character was really River, and, as the Doctor said, they really should have introduced that character a long time ago, at least at the wedding. All in all, the entire twist that River could regenerate was honestly just pointless. There was no reason not to have her go from being a girl to being an adult in one body, no reason to awkwardly shoehorn a story about her being her parents' best friends in there (and how'd she get from the 60s to the 90s?). It would have been a stronger storyline if they'd either used the Mels character to greater effect or the regeneration stuff to greater effect or . . . something. Not just had each aspect be a one-off plot point. And Amy, again, was pretty bleh. And I do think the show is over-relying on epicness. Very convenient that there was no way for the Doctor to save himself by regenerating. It felt very artificial. Though I still love Amelia. Amelia furever.


Still, the chemistry between Smith and Kingston was fantastic--and the kiss really great visually. I think he whispered his name to her. That's cool.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:25 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I liked Awkward Student Rory.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:31 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Agree, WHADK. I actually liked all of that sequence. It just didn't make much sense in terms of the larger narrative.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:32 AM on August 29, 2011


what the hell ever happened to Hitler?

Hitler was (a) a McGuffin to get the Doctor and the Numskulls -- I bet Moffat read the Beano as a kid -- in the same room, and (b) an excuse for yet another Rory-looks-befuddled reaction shot.

Other than that the whole Third Reich setting was a wasted opportunity; as the "presented by AT&T" storyboard animation in one of the ad breaks made clear, they didn't have the budget to do much beyond the indoor scenes, and the setting was irrelevant to the story after the first few minutes.

Maybe he started with the title and wrote backwards from there?

And why did the Doctor take the time, while he was busy dying, to change into top hat and tails?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:59 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


And why did the Doctor take the time, while he was busy dying, to change into top hat and tails?

Because top hats are cool.
posted by jeather at 9:10 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


.....also, what did the whole "fish fingers & custard" thing mean? What was the point of the interface, really?
posted by Windigo at 9:26 AM on August 29, 2011


I propose the new term "Dumbledore" for a gay character who is never shown with a partner and who seems to have no actual interest in romance whatsoever. As in, "Canton Everett Delaware is such a Dumbledore."

If you're going to run with that I propose it be "Dumblebore"instead. Since I agree with Mike Mongo, the handling of Deleware's sexuality was not a bore, it was awesome.

As it is, the writers just seem to be trying to make every season more grandiose than the last, and it makes it all harder to enjoy.

I wonder if they're trying to make that an arc all by itself. River's thwacking of the Doctor upside the head in "Good man," telling him that he's come to be this gigantic terrifying boogeyman for entire races of people was clearly meant to make a point and have an impact. Perhaps imlass is correct and this is where it is heading with the death of future doctor. We subsequently went on to establish that not only can you end up with dupes - the fake flesh doctor who thinks independently and has his own consciousness - but we can have remote-control dupes (across time & space even, apparently) that can be destroyed w/o harming the "pilot," as Amy was while being treated as a human creche.

Given that Amy was visibly pregnant while her avatar was not we could even assume that the Matt Smith Doctor who got shot by astro-kid was a future post-regeneration of the Doctor.
posted by phearlez at 9:43 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


The "fish fingers & custard" thing is this season's moment equivalent to the one with Amy stuck in the forest with her eyes closed where the Doctor comes back for her - those words actually sound completely different to the Amelia-interface, so I suspect we'll find out exactly what's going on when it goes especially timey-wimey at the end of the season. We don't see who's speaking and neither does the Doctor - he's on the floor in agony.

It seemed clear to me that was a way of accessing a computer - the Doctor wasn't in any fit state to use it normally at that moment, so he was conversing with a projection. He also seemed to be using it to get a psychological boost - it's a very interesting scene in that way. He asks for the projection, and the computer's first response is to give him a projection of himself, which he rejects, asking for "someone I like". He rejects projections of Rose, Martha and Donna on the grounds that he's screwed them up and they just increase his sense of guilt. He accepts a projection of little Amelia, because she's young enough that he hasn't had a chance to screw her up yet.

(That's probably a spoiler, isn't it...)

I don't know whether it's deliberate, but it resonates with the exchange in (Gaiman's) The Doctor's Wife, where Amy says The Doctor just wants to be forgiven, and he replies "Don't we all?"

It's been fairly explicitly stated, hasn't it, that this season is about killing the mythological universal superhero Doctor in the eyes of the universe.
posted by Grangousier at 9:44 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just checked it again, in case I was wrong (which is something that happens far too often for comfort): the interface speaks with a lot of reverb, which is absent for the "Fish fingers & custard" line, during which the Doctor is lying face down on the floor with his eyes closed. He asks the interface to repeat it and we cut to the interface-Amelia not saying anything. But it gives him the psychological boost he was looking for.

So not wrong, then. About that at least.
posted by Grangousier at 10:01 AM on August 29, 2011


[spoilers]

It's been fairly explicitly stated, hasn't it, that this season is about killing the mythological universal superhero Doctor in the eyes of the universe.

I dunno about that, so far it seems that this season is about Moffat killing "inconvenient" bits of the established Who mythology so that he can create big enough holes to drive weak plots through them. PhoBWanKenobi said it:

What strikes me is how retconny it was for a show that's generally been fairly well planned out.

It strikes me as fairly de-retconny, he's retroactively destroying the myth. I mean, when River Song shoots the console and says, "I thought you said we were in a state of temporal grace!" and the Doctor replies that was just a convenient lie, well jeez, they just invalidated a myth they used in the NEW series. And then they're not using new myths they have just established. I was disappointed that River did not shoot the top hat off the Doctor's head, that's her signature move. And then the Doctor downloading his future history from the justice bot? We see him looking at his death records. Well now why the hell is River considered a criminal for killing the Doctor, when he's currently considered a threat to the entire universe? She would be considered a hero. I guess this is the new plot line.

And then there are the plain old dirty tricks. That Hitler bit was just a misdirection, to get people confused until the new season. It could just as well have been "Let's Kill Stalin."
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:09 AM on August 29, 2011


That Hitler bit was just a misdirection, to get people confused until the new season. It could just as well have been "Let's Kill Stalin."

There were two reasons why it was "let's kill Hitler". First, killing Hitler is a classic time travel trope (the trope being it's a mistake because it messes up the timeline). Second, the Hitler figure someone is trying to kill in this episode isn't actual Hitler, it's the Doctor. The same problems you have when you try to prevent evil by killing Hitler occur with River trying to kill the Doctor and the damage to the timeline it represents, as shown in all the freaking out about his actual death date. Plus it alludes to what River said to the Doctor at the end of the first half of the season about his celebrity reputation in time and space.

"I thought you said we were in a state of temporal grace!" and the Doctor replies that was just a convenient lie, well jeez, they just invalidated a myth they used in the NEW series.

That dates back to the Tom Baker years, so not a new myth. But yeah, there's a lot of breaking down of myths that I'm personally hoping will restore us to more of an original-series continuity.

Also interesting to me in terms of where the series arc is going: we're told (with the implication it comes from the Doctor) that River has used up all her regeneration energy saving the Doctor. Right after that the Doctor reminds them all that he lies. Plus we now have the robot that can change faces left in the TARDIS. I can now see one possible way out of the killing of the Doctor way back in episode 1 of the season, where we know it was him because he started to regenerate.

On the subject of Amy and Rory, which I've kind of been staying out of, I very much liked the snapshot of them we got in this episode. They've been weird and dysfunctional in various ways all along but they do love each other. In the current-time storyline this time, though, they worked as a team and didn't seem to be pissy or condescending or rude, and I liked that. It was an obvious contrast to the flashback where Amy, obsessed by the Doctor, is utterly blind to him and Mels has to point out the truth.

The Amy and Rory relationship has been one of the places I've thought the Nu Who format (1 hour shows as opposed to 4-part or more serials) has not served the show well. As it is, I hear a lot of people bitching about too much time spent on the companions and at the same time how the development of the companions is shorted. Let's Kill Hitler in particular would have worked a lot better as 4 20-minute episodes with cliffhanger endings; the beats would have been a lot more evenly paced and the character development would probably have felt less hurried. I know we're not going back to serials for money reasons, but I miss them sometimes. The rushed feeling I got in Let's Kill Hitler, for all that I overall liked it, is why.
posted by immlass at 10:46 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the episode:
Amy-Robot: Their core belief is that silence will fall when the Question is asked.
The Doctor: What question?
Amy-Robot: The first Question. The oldest Question in the universe, hidden in plain sight.
The Doctor: Yes, but what is the Question?
Amy-Robot: Unknown.
....If this doesn't result in some kind of a Hitchhiker's reference later on in the season, I will be very, VERY disappointed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:59 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


.....also, what did the whole "fish fingers & custard" thing mean? What was the point of the interface, really?
posted by Windigo at 9:26 AM on August 29 [+] [!]


The point was to explicitly state how much the Doctor doesn't like himself and feels plagued by guilt regarding his companions, even adult Amy. Despite the fact that he completely rewrote her history to give her a family and happy, normal childhood (the results of which we still haven't really seen--I recently read an interview with Karen Gillan talking about how this is a whole new Amy, but again, I have no idea who this Amy really is, and how she differs from the whole old Amy). So much for that, I guess. Angsty Doctor.

I'd like to believe Moffat is destroying new mythology for the sake of going back to something a bit more fundamentally . . . clean, I guess. But I really don't have faith in his ability to resolve the plot issues he raises in a satisfying ways. Consistently, the second of his two parters make less sense than the first (which are usually fantastic). Likewise, the second instance of his using a character or trope is typically the weaker--the Weeping Angels, for instance, whose return made them kinda not-scary. There's a real lack of consistency from episode to episode, and yet he's reaching for grand story-arcs. I honestly think Moffat is a stronger writer when he was writes small. Think "Blink," or "The Girl in the Fireplace," "The Empty Child." Those were his strongest stories, and they were fairly self-contained. When the new seasons have included flashes of those sorts of small, striking narratives--the story of Amy in "The Eleventh Hour" is a good example--it's been really effective. And I'm consistently thrilled with seasons five and six on a micro basis. Individual scenes are funny and visually striking and thoughtful (like the Mels/Amelia/Rory flashbacks). But the overall episodes and story contain so many fridge moments that it makes my head hurt.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:32 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


And why did the Doctor take the time, while he was busy dying, to change into top hat and tails?

That's pretty much what he wore to Amy's wedding.

/raises one eyebrow kowningly
posted by Sparx at 2:07 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


[Spoilers again.]

Plus we now have the robot that can change faces left in the TARDIS.

WHAT? I had to go back and watch again. The last time we see the Teselecta robot is when Amy tells it to display River. Then later the Doctor mentions he downloaded its files. But I didn't see it in the TARDIS during the wide shots. This appears to be another loose end, apparently the robot was abandoned in the Berlin cafe.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:48 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well now why the hell is River considered a criminal for killing the Doctor, when he's currently considered a threat to the entire universe?

I'm not sure where this comes from. The Silence don't like him, but at the very least the folks in the Tesseracta didn't think he was any sort of threat.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:05 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did you not see the previous episode, when the Doctor discovers he is the most feared man in the universe? This has been a theme since The Pandorica Opens, but we can't count that, I suppose, since that universe got rebooted.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:33 PM on August 29, 2011


I don't know what everyone is complaining about. Let's Kill Hitler was hilarious. I enjoy Who when it's busy being what it has always been: an absurd, scary, funny, charming, kid's sci-fi show. As for the campy epicness, it's the MO of the whole reboot. At least it's not a Dalek episode every two weeks anymore.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 6:52 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The episode had a lot of those fast-motion zoomy montages they do when someone comes up with a clever plan. ("Hello Benjamin," the banana switch, Amy's plan on the control deck.) We haven't really seen those since the first two episodes of series five and Moffat's episode of Sherlock. I like them. I hope they stay.
posted by painquale at 7:21 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


And BTW, what the hell ever happened to Hitler?

All will be explained next season when R. Kelly takes over as show runner.

that fucking maudlin woman he has now

You couldn't be more wrong. I've been going out to the back steps every night to put down a bowl of fish fingers and custard, and all I've got to show for it are the fattest, happiest, fartiest raccoons in Toronto.
posted by maudlin at 7:24 PM on August 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also, I don't quite get the "most feared" thing. I mean, quite recently Tennant's Doctor was feared by his enemies, who often knew who he was. The Seventh Doctor happily blew up Skaro's sun. It's not exactly new that he's a pretty powerful guy, and messing with him or his friends is a bad idea.

He goes around smiting bad guys. Eventually word gets around among bad guys that he's someone to worry about. Isn't that pretty much unavoidable unless he decides to do nothing?
posted by BungaDunga at 8:46 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The last time we see the Teselecta robot is when Amy tells it to display River. Then later the Doctor mentions he downloaded its files. But I didn't see it in the TARDIS during the wide shots. This appears to be another loose end

I thought he said something that implied it was in the TARDIS; maybe that was the files stuff. In any case that robot is a gun put on the mantel that needs to be fired at some point.
posted by immlass at 9:08 PM on August 29, 2011


Did you not see the previous episode, when the Doctor discovers he is the most feared man in the universe?

Huh, I didn't get that at all.

I got that there are a lot of people who are scared of him, but nothing to indicate that some sort of tipping point had been reached. He brought a ton of friendly allies to Demon's Run with him so can't be scary to everyone.

As far as him being feared, they've been playing that up since the very first Matt Smith episode when he tells the Atraxi off. It's an interesting arc to me and I liked River's line about what was going to happen if he continued on his current path, but didn't get the impression that he was that far down it.

With regards to the season closer of last season it was all of his traditional enemies that got together to lock him up. They've always feared him, that's nothing new to the Matt Smith Doctor.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:19 PM on August 29, 2011


The plot thread about River being Amy's daughter is becoming increasingly uninteresting. It's not exciting and it doesn't have emotional resonance.

Also, Doctor Who is now 0 for 2 when it comes to characters named Mel. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, that was awful. I knew she was going to be awful as soon as I saw a Totally Cool Car tear through a field. I knew again that she was going to be awful when the Doctor didn't instantly register that she was River. I knew thricemore that she was going to be awful when she had been Amy and Rory's close friend this entire time.

The episode itself wasn't bad, though, and I hope the ending means we're getting back to River working her way forwards through time as an archaeologist and Team Doctor skating about the universe doing fun, spooky Doctor Who-y things.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:05 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


With regards to the season closer of last season it was all of his traditional enemies that got together to lock him up. They've always feared him, that's nothing new to the Matt Smith Doctor.

And, of course, before that the Daleks were terrified of Ecclestone!Doctor - he may not be the most feared man in the universe, but he is what the most feared race in the universe are afraid of...

It feels like there's a sort of ramping up going on through Matt Smith's run though - at the end of his first season it was revealed that his various enemies had decided he was such a huge threat that they all had to work together against him, and in the first half of the second season people who might be called morally grey (like the Church Militant, who were structurally goodies in the Weeping Angels episode, and are sort of like the Shadow Proclamation in their role as lawkeepers) are starting to mobilize against him. On the other hand

[TINY SPOILER WARNING, JUST TO BE POLITE]


the Time Agents/Time Cops in this episode appear to see his killer as, in judicial terms, a higher-priority target than Hitler- so presumably in whatever time or extra-temporal environment they exist in, he is seen as a god guy.

(Although strictly speaking they'd just realised that the Hitler extraction had been botched, because apparently all their technology didn't run to being able to tell what year it was, by e.g reading a newspaper or asking someone, so possibly they were just switching to a target of opportunity.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:09 AM on August 30, 2011


Huh, I didn't get that at all.

I got that there are a lot of people who are scared of him, but nothing to indicate that some sort of tipping point had been reached. He brought a ton of friendly allies to Demon's Run with him so can't be scary to everyone.


Think back about Demons Run. The humans on the base were an army devoted to killing him, apparently the whole of humanity was after him. The Doctor's "allies" were all his enemies like Silurians, Judoon, and Sontarans. The Cybermen were after him, but they're traditional enemies. I think I recall those pirates in there as allies too, but they hardly fit into the grand scheme of things.

This is the flip in the series, where the Doctor starts to think he went over to the side of Evil. Or at least that's what his enemies are trying to make him think.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:38 AM on August 30, 2011


Huh, interesting. I think I disagree with you, but hopefully it will be clarified later in the season.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:13 AM on August 30, 2011


Let's Kill Hitler seemed like it might let us ignore River for a couple of episodes. That seemed promising.

(I still don't understand why River was so shocked to see Rory in A Good Man Goes To War. Especially if she's already known him her whole life. WTF?)
posted by maryr at 7:36 AM on August 30, 2011


I still don't understand why River was so shocked to see Rory in A Good Man Goes To War. Especially if she's already known him her whole life.

I'm guessing it's because in her timeline Rory is dead.
posted by a. at 10:52 PM on August 30, 2011


Yes, which makes me question that "I killed the most important man in the universe" statement she made early on. Although this most recent episode kinda kills my theory on that.
posted by maryr at 7:40 AM on August 31, 2011


Yes, which makes me question that "I killed the most important man in the universe" statement she made early on.

? I thought her statement in the Return Of The Angels episode was "I killed the best man I've ever known," which is different; more of a personal thing rather than an empiric one.

Unless she did actually say "most important man in the universe" in another ep and I'm not remembering it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:42 AM on August 31, 2011


No, that's the quote I meant, I just mis-remembered it. Either way, given how often we're led astray as to who her mother is thinking of, I think Rory would be a much more interesting victim. But then, dead Rory has been done to, ha, death.
posted by maryr at 1:24 PM on August 31, 2011


So, have we all seen the new episode? What do we think?

I liked it. I like getting back to one-off episodes, and I like getting back to the "fairy tale sci-fi" feel of Series 5.

A little birdie has told me that "Night Terrors" was initially planned to be episode 3, but somehow it got delayed. Hm!
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:05 PM on September 3, 2011


Okay, this episode should have been titled "Let's Kill Moffat." If you're going to have a classic cheapshit "creeping through endless hallways" episode, you need something more than a vague threat before the show is 75% over.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:25 PM on September 3, 2011


Canton Everett Delaware III has been the only really good thing about this season so far. I liked River when she was introduced back when, but she's grown increasingly wearisome and the last episode pretty much ruined her for me (no offense to Alex Kingston, I blame the writing and directing.) I don't know if I should watch the new one or just go to bed.
posted by homunculus at 11:44 PM on September 3, 2011


Night Terrors was a gorgeous episode. I don't know who was responsible, but nearly every shot was visually striking.
posted by painquale at 3:30 PM on September 4, 2011


Really enjoyed this episode. Wasn't anything too deep, but it felt like it was a return to form. (Did roll my eyes at the bit about them not traveling to a planet/in time . . . that might be true from Amy and Rory's perspective, but, uh, Earth 2011 is a planet/point in time. Shows how these things are really written through the perspective of the companions these days).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:39 PM on September 4, 2011


And it was all just a dream. Or was it?
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:40 PM on September 4, 2011


Actually, I shouldn't say Canton's character was the only good thing: Idris was wonderful.

If you're going to have a classic cheapshit "creeping through endless hallways" episode, you need something more than a vague threat before the show is 75% over.

I didn't even make it that far before I turned it off. Moffat is just not doing it for me lately, which is unfortunate since his early work was so damned good.
posted by homunculus at 4:10 PM on September 4, 2011


I'm surprised you guys didn't like it and that internet reaction seems to be positive but unenthusiastic. I expected people to be heaping praise on it. The slow buildup and unseen threat for most of the episode worked really well for me. I'd happily show this episode to someone as their first episode of Who.

I really don't like it when the Doctor saves the day by getting someone to feel a positive emotion though. RTD introduced that particular deus ex machina into the series and then pulled it all the time. At his worst he had the Doctor fly around simply because a bunch of people felt hope, as if Heart were a fundamental force of nature, Captain Planet-style. Moff at least had the decency to create sci-fiey explanations for "the power of love" in his two episodes to use the trope (this ep and The Lodger). But still.
posted by painquale at 10:16 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mindless Ones has a nice review of "Let's Kill Hitler"

I thought it was a bit overstuffed.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:26 PM on September 5, 2011


LiB, we're already griping about Night Terrors, did Hitler just show in the US now?

Spoilers (somewhat vague ones) for Night Terrors:

The review I saw of Night Terrors said they loved the dramatic climax that would give courage to timid little children. Well that's the most hamfisted writing in the whole episode, maybe in the whole show's history. Everyone clap for Tinkerbell and everything will be fine, Mummy and Daddy will love you and never leave you. And then when it's all over and everyone suddenly wakes up back in the place they were.. It was all just a dream.. Or was it? Gimme a break.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:21 PM on September 5, 2011


Is there any way that Torchwood and Doctor Who can still be in the same universe?
posted by homunculus at 10:07 PM on September 7, 2011


Well, I liked this one. I've been liking them all (I may be easily pleased, but at least that means I'm pleased, which counts for something). But this was something I'd not quite seen before (in amongst themes which I'll admit have already been rehearsed this season). Three (or four... or three and a half...) superb performances, and a terrible moral choice - the worst kind, where good people know that the only thing that can be done is the wrong thing.

And it looks beautiful.
posted by Grangousier at 4:43 PM on September 10, 2011


Well, I did enjoy the new one last night, "The Girl Who Waited." It reminded me of the kind of stories Moffat was writing before he took over the show. Here's io9's spoiler-laden recap.

But next week, it looks like the Doctor vs. the Minotaur?
posted by homunculus at 2:45 PM on September 11, 2011


I wonder if they're ever going to bring Jenny back.
posted by homunculus at 2:51 PM on September 11, 2011


Good catch, homnunclus, I forgot all about Jenny. Perhaps a River/Jenny duet?

To me, it looks like Amy/Rory are winding down and it's almost time for a new companion.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:12 PM on September 11, 2011


Wow, just watched "The Girl Who Waited". Now THAT'S what I've been looking for. Almost worth the first two cheesy episodes.
posted by maryr at 10:13 PM on September 11, 2011


That was good sci-fi. In time travel movies in which you can change the past, the fate of people in the about-to-be-changed future is rarely dealt with. I really liked how Rory and the Doctor fought over whether changing a timeline kills the people from the altered timeline or makes it so they've never existed. The latter position doesn't make much sense, even though its the one standardly given (by the Doctor and by others). It's neat that this episode made it look a little ridiculous. The impression I got was that the Doctor was lying in order to placate Rory, that he always lies when he gives this explanation, and that he is quite aware that he killed [spoiler]. This also explains why the Doctor is often so loath to rewrite time except in extreme cases: doing so destroys people in other timelines.
posted by painquale at 6:33 AM on September 12, 2011


It was a nice looking episode with a few good scenes.

But it felt kind of like a feminist fail to me. My husband is trying to tell me it's knee-jerk feminism on my part, but I'm really not sure.

Like the scary lying Doctor, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:26 AM on September 12, 2011


PhoBWanKenobi, I also felt it was feminist fail. Older!Amy managed to figure out how to disable the robots and build a sonic probe and turn a robot into her friend and all this other awesome stuff. Then she was killed. Younger!Amy, as soon as Rory came back, managed to do nothing except get whatevered by the robot hands and be saved. (You could argue that some of what Older!Amy managed to do was told to her by EvenOlder!Amy in the causality loop thing, but I don't think that's justified by the story.)

I also remain irritated by how little Amy & Rory seem to be reacting to the disappearance of their child.

I like that the 11th Doctor is being portrayed as a lying psychopath, though it's a little cliched now for a protagonist of a tv series.
posted by jeather at 11:48 AM on September 12, 2011


I disagree that the 11th Doctor is a lying psychopath. He's not a psychopath. He's just a liar.

He couldn't save both Amies. He had to make Rory choose so that Rory would understand why they had to leave Old!Amy behind. He had to lie to all of them so that they wouldn't sabotage the mission. It was painful, but it was the right choice in the end, given the circumstances.

I'm also not sure how poorly this episode fared as a feminist fail. Old!Amy lived on her own for 36 years, and she saved Rory (yet again) from (yet another) ignominious death within minutes of his arrival. Old!Amy then says her goodbyes and makes a very grown-up sacrifice at the end. Even within the confines of this one episode, I don't see why it's so awful that Rory gets to carry Young!Amy into the TARDIS; that's ignoring the larger context in which Amy is typically depicted as the brash, brave one and Rory as the more homey, timid one.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:00 PM on September 12, 2011


I'm also not sure how poorly this episode fared as a feminist fail. Old!Amy lived on her own for 36 years, and she saved Rory (yet again) from (yet another) ignominious death within minutes of his arrival. Old!Amy then says her goodbyes and makes a very grown-up sacrifice at the end.

She only says her goodbyes when it becomes apparent that her survival will cause the destruction of the TARDIS and her own death--up until that moment she's very adamant about her continued existence. She reacts very nobly in the end, and that's admirable, but I didn't understand why her survival should have been automatically dismissed because the younger version of herself was sad.

He couldn't save both Amies. He had to make Rory choose so that Rory would understand why they had to leave Old!Amy behind. He had to lie to all of them so that they wouldn't sabotage the mission. It was painful, but it was the right choice in the end, given the circumstances.

Again, it wasn't clear at all to me why this was the correct choice. Older Amy was completely ready to go and live her life, even if it was a life where she didn't totally adore the Doctor or whatnot; she was still a smart, capable person with a right to live.

Even within the confines of this one episode, I don't see why it's so awful that Rory gets to carry Young!Amy into the TARDIS; that's ignoring the larger context in which Amy is typically depicted as the brash, brave one and Rory as the more homey, timid one.

I disagree with your reading of their relationship. In fact, though Amy has been depicted as brash, she's frequently set up in a damsel role with both Rory and the Doctor. And this episode only looks more problematic in the context of her recent passivity (which includes being incapacitated and guarded by Rory for 2,000 years and incapacitated and pregnant for months). Rory may remain squirrely, but he's been shown as a capable defender of Amy since his first travels in the TARDIS, whereas Amy has been fairly helpless--only brash in a "gets herself into trouble" sort of way. In this episode alone, we hear that Old!Amy learned how to disable the robots "on her first day." And yet as they're fleeing, Rory disables a robot but Young!Amy is instantly knocked out by one.

I really liked how absolutely brilliant Old!Amy was. I hope they start showing us our Amy's capacity for that brilliance--hope it's not something that only comes about through solitude and isolation, or for a one-off version of her character.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:18 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seemed like Old Amy knew all along that she was doomed, and she made the choice early to doom herself for the sake of Young Amy. That's what Young Amy asked her to do. Old Amy understands that the Doctor is lying, plays along, and even forces Rory's choice at the end. This is the old "does he know she knows that he knows that she knows?" gambit. The Doctor wouldn't have given Rory the choice unless he already knew that Old Amy understood the consequences of Rory's choice, and knew what she would do.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:24 PM on September 12, 2011


I hope that's true, but I'm not sure that's supported by the episode.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:26 PM on September 12, 2011


He couldn't save both Amies. He had to make Rory choose so that Rory would understand why they had to leave Old!Amy behind.
He didn't make Rory choose, not really. He lied to Rory and chose for him, then when it was essentially too late to do switch Amys, he said "oh, well, I guess if you want you can choose".

He had to lie to all of them so that they wouldn't sabotage the mission. It was painful, but it was the right choice in the end, given the circumstances.
Sacrificing one person because you lied and tricked them into helping you doesn't seem right. (Saving older!Amy would have saved younger!Amy as well, eventually, but not the reverse.)

I'm also not sure how poorly this episode fared as a feminist fail. Old!Amy lived on her own for 36 years, and she saved Rory (yet again) from (yet another) ignominious death within minutes of his arrival.
And then she died, so we only have the Amy left who did nothing but get caught by robots and be saved. Again.

Old!Amy then says her goodbyes and makes a very grown-up sacrifice at the end.
She didn't really sacrifice herself, because she couldn't've gotten back into the TARDIS. She was sacrificed. I would have preferred if she had really made the choice. She finally was very noble about the fact that the Doctor was killing her, but it wasn't her choosing.

Even within the confines of this one episode, I don't see why it's so awful that Rory gets to carry Young!Amy into the TARDIS; that's ignoring the larger context in which Amy is typically depicted as the brash, brave one and Rory as the more homey, timid one.
Within the context of one episode, it's neither here nor there; within the context of lots of episodes where Amy brashly and bravely wanders into danger and then ends up needing to be saved, it's problematic.

I loved older!Amy and would like to see Amy act much more like that from now on. Not the cynical part, but the intelligent and effective part.
posted by jeather at 12:51 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


She only says her goodbyes when it becomes apparent that her survival will cause the destruction of the TARDIS and her own death--up until that moment she's very adamant about her continued existence. She reacts very nobly in the end, and that's admirable, but I didn't understand why her survival should have been automatically dismissed because the younger version of herself was sad.

She ultimately realized what only the Doctor had realized: that if Rory was forced to choose between the Amies, what's the most fair to Rory is the Amy who is his own age, who was not forced to live by herself for decades. Old!Amy is a very lonely, damaged person who has been in solitary confinement for decades. Young!Amy is contemporaneous with Rory and they can grow old together. It was an unfair choice to be forced on the team, but the end result was the right choice for the man she loves.

Older Amy was completely ready to go and live her life, even if it was a life where she didn't totally adore the Doctor or whatnot; she was still a smart, capable person with a right to live.

Young!Amy is also a smart, capable person with a right to live. The problem was, they couldn't both live.

In this episode alone, we hear that Old!Amy learned how to disable the robots "on her first day." And yet as they're fleeing, Rory disables a robot but Young!Amy is instantly knocked out by one.

The nice thing about having both Amies is that we get to see how Young!Amy is the smart, capable person who could, if she had to, survive for decades by herself in that place, so when we save the Young!Amy, we're not losing a capable companion, we're just getting more years with her.

...

(Saving older!Amy would have saved younger!Amy as well, eventually, but not the reverse.)

That was explicitly not the case in the episode. One Amy or the other, not both. If you save Old!Amy, then to free Young!Amy would have caused a terrible paradox, because then Old!Amy - the one with a Sonic Probe and the makeshift armor - wouldn't be hanging around on the planet for decades on end.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:57 PM on September 12, 2011


That was explicitly not the case in the episode. One Amy or the other, not both. If you save Old!Amy, then to free Young!Amy would have caused a terrible paradox, because then Old!Amy - the one with a Sonic Probe and the makeshift armor - wouldn't be hanging around on the planet for decades on end.

This was only a problem because they immediately dismissed the possibility of saving Older Amy and instead began to seek out ways to change her timestream.

And actually, I'd argue that Older Amy likely has more in common with the man with memories of being the Lone Centurian than younger Amy has.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:00 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


She ultimately realized what only the Doctor had realized: that if Rory was forced to choose between the Amies, what's the most fair to Rory is the Amy who is his own age, who was not forced to live by herself for decades.
She might have realised that, but only after it was too late for her choice to have any effect on what was going to happen.

Young!Amy is also a smart, capable person with a right to live. The problem was, they couldn't both live.
If we get to see Amy acting as smart and capable as older!Amy was, I will be ecstatic.

But remember that Young!Amy *turns into* Old!Amy. So saving one saves both, though both have then suffered through 36 years alone. Saving Young!Amy kills Old!Amy.
posted by jeather at 1:03 PM on September 12, 2011


This was only a problem because they immediately dismissed the possibility of saving Older Amy and instead began to seek out ways to change her timestream.

They were able to change her timestream, thereby saving her from decades of solitary confinement. That was ultimately a better result than simply setting her free after torturing her for years.

And actually, I'd argue that Older Amy likely has more in common with the man with memories of being the Lone Centurian than younger Amy has.

Maybe, maybe not. Rory can only sometimes remember being the Lone Centurion. Hopefully they'll play more with this.

But remember that Young!Amy *turns into* Old!Amy. So saving one saves both, though both have then suffered through 36 years alone. Saving Young!Amy kills Old!Amy.

Could you please clarify what you mean by this? Because we appear to have understood this episode in very different ways.

The Old!Amy we meet is the version of Amy who is trapped alone for decades. The Young!Amy who was ultimately saved was the one who was wandering around the garden for probably a few weeks, from her own perspective, but who then received a message from Old!Amy, fought alongside Rory and Old!Amy, etc. etc. etc.

Saving Young!Amy destroys Old!Amy, because if Young!Amy is on the TARDIS, safe with her friends, then she is not by herself on the white planet. She will age, as do all of us. She will not become the version of Old!Amy who has been stuck alone for decades on the white planet, because she is not stuck alone on the white planet. She's on the TARDIS with her friends.

Saving Young!Amy destroys Old!Amy.

If Old!Amy had been saved, then Young!Amy would have been forced to eke out her life on the white planet, which would probably lead to even stranger results, since now Aging!Amy will age secure in the knowledge that she will eventually be rescued, as opposed to growing more and more bitter in the belief that she has been left forever.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:13 PM on September 12, 2011


They were able to change her timestream, thereby saving her from decades of solitary confinement. That was ultimately a better result than simply setting her free after torturing her for years.

They should have let Old Amy decide this. She didn't think it was better until the very end, when, again, her hand was quite forced so far as it looked like from my viewing of the episode this morning.

They were her experiences to choose to erase or not. And it's this kind of men-making-decisions-for-Amy stuff that I referred to as paternalistic a few weeks ago upthread. Again, it's not only this episode, but rather a pattern of behavior and attitudes that we've seen play out across many episodes that I find problematic.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:17 PM on September 12, 2011


As for the Doctor effectively eliminating people's choices, I think it all enters the realm of those philosophy experiments where you must consider pushing someone onto train tracks in order to save fifty lives. If the Doctor had let Rory and the two Amies figure it out for themselves, they could have triggered a paradox that would have killed them all. If the Doctor had told Old!Amy that the rescue mission would eliminate her from history, then Old!Amy might have chosen to remain trapped on the white planet, even though in doing so she's creating only more misery for herself and others who care about her.

The whole point of the episode was that it was a painful experience and a painful choice, but given the rules laid out in the episode (you can't save both Amies), it ended about as well as it could have.

The Doctor, as a supreme utilitarian, sees this as a case where he has to take control, while the rest of us, with our belief in the autonomy of individuals, feel uncomfortable with this. Rory puts it well when he says, "this isn't fair, you're turning me into you!"

The episode also continues in the very Whovian tradition of showing how, while the Doctor is basically good, he is also sanctimonious, deceptive, condescending, and paternalistic towards just about everyone. (Note that River Song is one of the few people who is as smug and deceptive as he is.) I remember this theme also coming up in Baker and Tennant's run, as well as in Series Five. It's an interesting angle, especially since the Doctor is basically a travelling demigod with astonishing powers - no wonder he doesn't relate to the "little people."

They were her experiences to choose to erase or not. And it's this kind of men-making-decisions-for-Amy stuff that I referred to as paternalistic a few weeks ago upthread. Again, it's not only this episode, but rather a pattern of behavior and attitudes that we've seen play out across many episodes that I find problematic.

I hear you, but at the same time, Amy is as much a pawn of the Doctor's supreme condescension as anyone else. She just gets more of it because she hangs out with him all the time.

I'd be happy to agree that the whole pregnancy and birth angle was basically mishandled both from a story perspective and from a feminist fail angle, but I'm still not seeing it for this episode.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:26 PM on September 12, 2011


If the Doctor had told Old!Amy that the rescue mission would eliminate her from history, then Old!Amy might have chosen to remain trapped on the white planet, even though in doing so she's creating only more misery for herself and others who care about her.

Further on this idea...

Old!Amy deciding to remain on the white planet also forces Young!Amy into the life which leads to Old!Amy. Old!Amy would be forcing Young!Amy to give up her own freedom and her own existence, just as the Doctor, with his actions, forces Old!Amy to give up her experiences and existence.

It's not too different from the Doctor rewriting time so that Saxon never becomes Prime Minister. All those people who lived through Saxon's reign lost their experiences, but we don't object to the fact that they lost all of those hard experiences.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:36 PM on September 12, 2011


I hear you, but at the same time, Amy is as much a pawn of the Doctor's supreme condescension as anyone else. She just gets more of it because she hangs out with him all the time.

If it were just the Doctor who acted this way, or if Rory was portrayed as equally in need of rescuing and having his decisions made for him by the Doctor, I might agree, but this happens so much more to Amy that it's difficult not to see it as icky. Rory has been "like" the Doctor in his behavior toward Amy since the beginning.

The whole point of the episode was that it was a painful experience and a painful choice, but given the rules laid out in the episode (you can't save both Amies), it ended about as well as it could have.

I think the rules were laid out in an artificial way that played into sexist tropes--tropes which have been played out again and again with this incarnation of the Doctor. You can say, "Oh well, the characters were doing the best with what they were given," but when it comes down to it, both the situation and the choices were created by writers who didn't really seem to respect an older woman's autonomy or experiences as valuable. And that makes me sadfacey.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:36 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Old!Amy deciding to remain on the white planet also forces Young!Amy into the life which leads to Old!Amy. Old!Amy would be forcing Young!Amy to give up her own freedom and her own existence, just as the Doctor, with his actions, forces Old!Amy to give up her experiences and existence.

But very literally he wouldn't be asking Young!Amy to give up her existence. She would continue to exist.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:40 PM on September 12, 2011


If it were just the Doctor who acted this way, or if Rory was portrayed as equally in need of rescuing and having his decisions made for him by the Doctor, I might agree, but this happens so much more to Amy that it's difficult not to see it as icky. Rory has been "like" the Doctor in his behavior toward Amy since the beginning.

Since the beginning, when she flew away with the Doctor the night before her wedding, and tried to get smoochy the Doctor? When Rory was treated like a stammering yawp, and then unglamorously wiped from existence? Rory, whose many deaths and near-deaths have become a South Parkian joke?

But very literally he wouldn't be asking Young!Amy to give up her existence. She would continue to exist.

...in a way dictated to her by Old!Amy existence, imprisoned in solitary confinement. Old!Amy's existence means imprisoning Amy for decades and turning her life into, as Amy herself puts it, hell.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:43 PM on September 12, 2011


Since the beginning, when she flew away with the Doctor the night before her wedding, and tried to get smoochy the Doctor? When Rory was treated like a stammering yawp, and then unglamorously wiped from existence? Rory, whose many deaths and near-deaths have become a South Parkian joke?

Rory hasn't been treated like that all season. Amy continues to be treated like that. This is, in a way, a big part of my problem--Amy doesn't grow. In this episode, however, she did. Her older incarnation was very much like a matured, more capable version of herself. I would have liked some sign at the end of the episode that the Amy we're left with will grow, too--that she'll become capable and brilliant without being in solitary for years. But we don't see that (in fact, she reverts to helplessness), and I honestly don't have enough faith in the writing staff anymore to believe that will be true.

(Though I'd love for them to surprise me.)

...in a way dictated to her by Old!Amy existence, imprisoned in solitary confinement. Old!Amy's existence means imprisoning Amy for decades and turning her life into, as Amy herself puts it, hell.

But Old!Amy still would have chosen that over not existing. I think that's significant. I ultimately believe that she should have been the one to choose; she was, after all, the person who experienced it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:50 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, Rory spent much of the episode running around at the Doctor's behest, doing what the Doctor told him to do. The only really truly active things he did were to interact with the Amies, throw the glasses to the ground in a fit of anger, and save the anesthetized Amy, just as Amy had saved him earlier.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:51 PM on September 12, 2011


But Old!Amy still would have chosen that over not existing. I think that's significant. I ultimately believe that she should have been the one to choose; she was, after all, the person who experienced it.

Old!Amy eventually didn't choose that, when the time came. Also, Young!Amy is the one who would have been deprived of her freedom, not Old!Amy. You could make an identically strong case stating that Young!Amy ought to choose, since she's the one with the most to lose.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:52 PM on September 12, 2011


Argh. Again again again Old!Amy only chose that when the alternative was death. And Young!Amy is not risking the loss of her existence. I don't see how you can even argue that she has "more to lose" when the older version of herself would both be losing 36 years of freedom and her life.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:55 PM on September 12, 2011


If Old!Amy is saved, then Amy is imprisoned for decades. If Young!Amy is saved, then Amy is freed, albeit at the expense of Old!Amy. On the other hand, saving Old!Amy at the expense of Young!Amy imprisons Amy for several decades.

Old!Amy has already survived and dealt with decades of imprisonment, so she has less to lose by being saved. Young!Amy has not yet been imprisoned for decades, so letting her "continue to exist" by saving Old!Amy necessarily sentences her to decades of imprisonment.

This is why saving Young!Amy is preferable, because in one option you sentence a woman to decades of solitary confinement, whereas in the other option you don't. It is sad that, in order to free Amy, you must destroy the old incarnation, but it's not so bad, because now Amy will age alongside Rory, free as a skylark.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:59 PM on September 12, 2011


This is why saving Young!Amy is preferable, because in one option you sentence a woman to decades of solitary confinement, whereas in the other option you don't. It is sad that, in order to free Amy, you must destroy the old incarnation, but it's not so bad, because now Amy will age alongside Rory, free as a skylark.

I don't know what else to say but that I absolutely disagree with you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:02 PM on September 12, 2011


But you do agree with the underlying mechanics, right? Saving Old!Amy means imprisoning Amy Pond for decades. Saving Young!Amy means that she was only on the white planet for, from her perspective, a matter of weeks.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:05 PM on September 12, 2011


Yes, but I disagree with the value judgments you place on those decisions.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:10 PM on September 12, 2011


The fact that reasonable minds can disagree is why I liked the episode. I think you could make strong arguments for several different perspectives.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:13 PM on September 12, 2011


I'm just starting to wonder why everyone who I've talked to about the episode who is upset seems to be a woman-type, and the men I'm talking to have been pretty much, "Sexism? No way." But maybe it's just confirmation bias. I don't know.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:16 PM on September 12, 2011


Speaking as a "woman-type," I didn't have a problem with the episode at all, much less a problem with it being sexist.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:19 PM on September 12, 2011


I didn't say all women had problems with it. I said that those I spoke to who had problems with it have been women.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:20 PM on September 12, 2011


Whoops: I forgot to add the "therefore, I think that may indeed be confirmation bias" phrase to my comment.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:21 PM on September 12, 2011


. . . right, but that wasn't what I was saying.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:22 PM on September 12, 2011


After seeing Amy doing nothing active for the pregnancy/birth storyline and then weirdly not worrying about her lost baby, it's gratifying to see her as a self-sufficient warrior, and then a little weird to see that nullified. We've also been seeing Rory grow more as a character than Amy.

My opinion is that Series Five have the perfect ending to Rory and Amy's story, so introducing the baby into the mix turned it all kinds of weird, especially as far as giving Amy nothing relatable to react against.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:25 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Series Five had, that is.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:26 PM on September 12, 2011


After seeing Amy doing nothing active for the pregnancy/birth storyline

Arguably she's been written as passive for her entire role: it's far more often that things happen to her than that she effects things. Right back to the crack in the wall and the Doctor gatecrashing her childhood. Led blindfold through the Forest of the Dead. Guided to re-open the Pandorica by the Doctor's retro-active machinations. And so on and so on.

Rory's grown as a character because he's been allowed to make decisions. Amy, for the large part, hasn't.

(Excluding the obvious exception here: Amy's Choice hinges on Amy being given agency and on the Doctor accepting that choice. Our household has a huge soft spot for that episode. Also you can keep your Canton Delawares; bring back Toby Jones as the Dream Lord.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:04 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


They were able to change her timestream, thereby saving her from decades of solitary confinement. That was ultimately a better result than simply setting her free after torturing her for years.
Maybe, but this ended up killing Older!Amy. That might be overall a better choice -- I do not agree, and especially do not agree that it was the Doctor's choice to make by lying -- but you keep leaving that out.

They should have let Old Amy decide this. She didn't think it was better until the very end, when, again, her hand was quite forced so far as it looked like from my viewing of the episode this morning.
One could argue that she didn't necessarily think it was better even then, but that she thought it was better to die with acceptance than to die begging for help.

Given how many time streams and universes and all we have seen, I am not sure why they could not have moved older!Amy into some other part of the time stream, then picked up younger!Amy. It's as reasonable as anythign else.

As for the Doctor effectively eliminating people's choices, I think it all enters the realm of those philosophy experiments where you must consider pushing someone onto train tracks in order to save fifty lives. If the Doctor had let Rory and the two Amies figure it out for themselves, they could have triggered a paradox that would have killed them all.
Or maybe they would have worked things out themselves, or figured out another solution, or a lot of other options than killing one person to save another, because young!Amy is worth more than old!Amy.

If the Doctor had told Old!Amy that the rescue mission would eliminate her from history, then Old!Amy might have chosen to remain trapped on the white planet, even though in doing so she's creating only more misery for herself and others who care about her.
Yes, it is hard to imagine why she would choose being unhappy and alive over a martyr's death.

The whole point of the episode was that it was a painful experience and a painful choice, but given the rules laid out in the episode (you can't save both Amies), it ended about as well as it could have.
I don't see why that was a rule, honestly. The rules were set up to make this seem like the only option, but they could have set the rules up in other ways.

The Doctor, as a supreme utilitarian, sees this as a case where he has to take control, while the rest of us, with our belief in the autonomy of individuals, feel uncomfortable with this. Rory puts it well when he says, "this isn't fair, you're turning me into you!"
But the Doctor's morals aren't a priori correct.

The episode also continues in the very Whovian tradition of showing how, while the Doctor is basically good, he is also sanctimonious, deceptive, condescending, and paternalistic towards just about everyone.
Which makes him not good, in my book.

Old!Amy eventually didn't choose that, when the time came. Also, Young!Amy is the one who would have been deprived of her freedom, not Old!Amy. You could make an identically strong case stating that Young!Amy ought to choose, since she's the one with the most to lose.
Old!Amy didn't choose anything, because she wasn't given a choice. By the time she said "fine, let her live instead of me" nothing else was ever able to happen.

But you do agree with the underlying mechanics, right? Saving Old!Amy means imprisoning Amy Pond for decades. Saving Young!Amy means that she was only on the white planet for, from her perspective, a matter of weeks.
I don't agree with the mechanics, because it leaves out the part where Old!Amy dies.


After seeing Amy doing nothing active for the pregnancy/birth storyline and then weirdly not worrying about her lost baby, it's gratifying to see her as a self-sufficient warrior, and then a little weird to see that nullified. We've also been seeing Rory grow more as a character than Amy.
Which is why I think this is a lot of feminist fail on the part of Doctor Who. Rory grows! Amy grows then hits the big reset button! Rory does stuff -- even if it's following the Doctor's lead sometimes, he also acts on his own. Amy waits around for the two of them to save her.
posted by jeather at 3:06 PM on September 12, 2011


Jeez, a few days of no responses to this thread followed by 33 new ones in the space of a few hours!

I don't know what would be the morally correct thing to do in this episode. I think that in these situations we normally should just defer to the Doctor... he knows better than us whether the Silence should be exterminated, for instance. But in this case, I'm pretty sure that the Doctor decided to save young Amy at the expense of old Amy for purely selfish reasons. This way, there exists an Amy who he saved. There is an Amy out there whose life he didn't screw up, which he very much cares about, as we learned two episodes ago. If he saves old Amy instead of young Amy, the only Amy around is one he failed to save, whose life he ruined by jailing her in an isolated and hostile environment for half her life.

The more interesting hypothesis is that the Doctor lied about the Tardis being unable to handle two Amys, just like the Tardis's "temporal grace" was a "clever lie." The Doctor just could not deal with there being an Amy out there who hated him.

I'm not quite so bothered by the pregnancy not being mentioned every episode because it was sprung on all of us so quickly. Remember that they lost the baby almost immediately after they found out that it existed. They hardly had time to conceive of themselves as parents. But I do agree that it's all handled fairly clumsily.
posted by painquale at 3:09 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rory waited two thousand years for Amy, and she got all whiny about a mere 40? Typical.
posted by miyabo at 3:16 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


killing Older!Amy

I don't see it so much as "you must kill one or the other" -- remember they are the same person just at different points in their lives, thus the paradox that the Doctor lied about the TARDIS being able to support.

The choice for Rory was more: which 30 years should Amy experience? The past 30 years of solitary confinement experienced by Old Amy -- which clearly was not all character-building strength-through-adversity stuff, given the smiley-faced Rory surrogate and first-time-I've-laughed -- or an unknown future 30 years with him?

I saw the consequences not as killing one or the other; rather, choose Old Amy and Young Amy snaps back into place in solitary to eventually emerge as Old Amy. Choose Young Amy, and Old Amy blinks out of existence because the path that led to her experiences was never taken.

(Although for a brief moment when the TARDIS door slammed in Old Amy's face I thought: aha, now that's who's going to kill the Doctor.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:21 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The choice for Rory was more: which 30 years should Amy experience? The past 30 years of solitary confinement experienced by Old Amy -- which clearly was not all character-building strength-through-adversity stuff, given the smiley-faced Rory surrogate and first-time-I've-laughed -- or an unknown future 30 years with him?

No matter what, there existed an Amy who grew up alone and in isolation. They met her. When Amy and Rory go back and tell their friends about their adventures, they will mention having met an old version of Amy. And when their friends ask what happened to her, they'll have to say that the Doctor left her to die. If she blinked out of existence at some point, it would have to be after she got shot with the syringes. That happened in the final time stream. Rory could have stuck his head out the window and watched it happen.

The Doctor's line about her 'never having existed' is a clever lie to spare Rory's feelings, I think.

posted by painquale at 4:12 PM on September 12, 2011


Shoulda closed the italics tag after the first paragraph there.
posted by painquale at 4:12 PM on September 12, 2011


Old!Amy doesn't get "killed" when Young!Amy is freed. Old!Amy ceases to exist. There's a difference. It is no different, morally or logically, than when the Doctor retroactively destroyed the reign of John Saxon. All the people who had survived his reign were "destroyed," in a sense, because the clock was rolled back to a previous time, before something Bad happened. So, after the denouement of Series Three, all those survivors are now younger versions of themselves who haven't lived through the Master's reign as PM. If you think saving Young!Amy was wrong, then you think rewriting history to eliminate the reign of John Saxon was wrong.

The same logic would apply to trying to make Vincent van Gogh happier, in the hope of preventing his later suicide, or when they rewrite time in the Christmas episode between Five and Six, and to any number of other situations in the show where they rewrite the past in the hope of a better future.

You have ideas for having a story with different rules, where Old!Amy and Young!Amy can both exist. In all seriousness, without sarcasm, I say that you should critique the episode by writing a story more in line with what you wanted.

I liked the episode as it was, especially since there were actual stakes and difficult decisions for the characters in the story.

The choice for Rory was more: which 30 years should Amy experience? The past 30 years of solitary confinement experienced by Old Amy -- which clearly was not all character-building strength-through-adversity stuff, given the smiley-faced Rory surrogate and first-time-I've-laughed -- or an unknown future 30 years with him?

Even more important than being with Rory, a saved Young!Amy has freedom. She can do what she wants. To save Old!Amy is to sentence her to a lifetime without freedom.

The Doctor's line about her 'never having existed' is a clever lie to spare Rory's feelings, I think.

But Young!Amy was freed from the white planet, so Old!Amy could never have spent decades there. As soon as the TARDIS takes off, Old!Amy's gone. That said, I like the idea that ambiguity could be perceived there.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:22 PM on September 12, 2011


Replace all instances of "John Saxon" with "Harold Saxon," although I do like the idea of the Doctor having to take on the martial arts master himself.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:30 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I read a comment on a blog (it may well have been yours, Phoebe) which said that (and I paraphrase) River Song had better turn out to be a kickass heroine, or I'll be very angry.

Well.

From what I understand, the story of River Song runs thus: stolen from her parents by bad people, young Melody is raised to be in love with someone she must kill. And having killed him, she gives up immortality for him.

Then she does something very bad. So bad that she (apparently voluntarily) spends much of her now limited life in a high-security prison from the sheer guilt of it.

Eventually she manages to earn her freedom - and it has already been established that she doesn't need to earn it from The Authorities, but rather from herself, and her own remorse.

Then, she gives her life again.

Now, I don't think that is the story of a Kick-Ass Heroine, but I do think it's the story of an interesting character. I do like River, and the more I see of her the more I like her (and the more I see of her the more I like her in retrospect - the River of Silence in the Library is a much richer character having seen all the other episodes - which is a huge tribute to Alex Kingston's ability to act in the dark). And if what you want is a Kick-Ass Heroine, you're going to be not only disappointed but also deprived of a remarkably rich and interesting character.

Similarly, Old Amy is a character I liked very much (which pays enormous tribute to Karen Gillan, who is twenty-three years old, has mostly been employed so far to play cute, and captures all sorts of nuances beyond her years). Possibly I like her because I'm lurching towards fifty, myself.

My own personal fantasy is that The Doctor saves Old Amy, then he saves River from the Library and gives her a fresh young body, then he sends them, mother and daughter, finally properly time-aligned, toddling off towards an interesting destiny. But it ain't going to happen.

The Doctor is a fraud. He knows he's a fraud. He's been using lies and tricks for too long, and people keep getting hurt. He's a god pretending to be a man pretending to be a god. He is quite literally his own worst enemy.
posted by Grangousier at 5:12 PM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've really been struck this season by the portrayal of the Doctor who can't/won't learn from his mistakes. Two episodes ago he couldn't face the guilt associated with his old companions. Now he's messed up with yet another companion by failing to do even basic due diligence regarding his latest destination (as Rory points out). I hope they manage to come up some resolution or catharsis; we talk, rightly, about companions failing to grow--it seems as though the Doctor himself is the worst in this regard. My suspicion is he's faking his own death in order to travel incognito, which would a nice mini-reboot for the character.
posted by orrnyereg at 5:35 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I LOLed at the slo-mo samurai choreography in TGWW. Karen Gillan is lovely but the world is not ready for a Scots ninja.
posted by orrnyereg at 5:38 PM on September 12, 2011


To me, it looks like Amy/Rory are winding down and it's almost time for a new companion.

I vote for Canton, at least for a few episodes.
posted by homunculus at 5:53 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh, I thought I had resolved not to play the mug's game of debating Who time travel mechanics. But I can't help myself....

If you think saving Young!Amy was wrong, then you think rewriting history to eliminate the reign of John Saxon was wrong.

Well, not really... if the model of time travel that I suggested were applied, the Doctor did indeed destroy a whole bunch of lives when he rewrote time, but that might not have been the wrong thing to do. Those people were being obliterated by the Toclafane and under the Master's thumb. Perhaps it was better to euthanize all those civilians, and bring a bunch of happy and free humans into existence instead.

I recognize this is a totally a revisionary reading of the Who mythos. I think it's a fun reinterpretation though... I like the idea that the Doctor makes huge decisions about who will continue to exist when he travels through time, and this explains why he is so reluctant to change the past. Still, this is obviously a forced and inapt reading when applied to most episodes.

I don't think it's a forced interpretation of this episode, however. It's just not fair to say that Old Amy has no right to complain because all her complaints imply an understanding of time travel that conflicts with the season 3 finale. Doctor Who has never had any near to a consistent time travel mechanic. You take it as it comes.

So what happens in this episode? Old Amy says that she refuses to let time change because then she would cease to exist. This is an innovative and brave thing to have a character in a time travel story say! As soon as she brings this up, the story draws attention to an oddness in time travel that is usually glossed over, and it now becomes part of the story that she has a right to care about blinking out of existence! Note that no one corrects her. They don't say: hey, don't worry, you won't actually die or anything; you have nothing to fear. Instead, they bargain with her, trying to show her how much young Amy is suffering. They don't say: you will get to live your life with Rory (and wouldn't you like that?). Instead, they try to get her to respect this other Amy's feelings and hopes.

Imagine someone approached you and took you back in time to your birth, and then said that they'd pay for that baby's college fund (or whatever), but by changing history, the current you would blip out of existence. It won't cause a paradox; it'll just start another time stream. Would you let yourself blip out of existence? It's hard to see what motivation you could have. Why should you care about this other baby who will grow up to be different from you? Blipping out of existence is as bad as dying! This is exactly the weird dilemma that they put older Amy in this episode by letting her voice her complaint, and I think it genuinely is in the episode and is not just the product of a crazy interpretation. It's a really interesting dilemma, not just to be written off by saying that the two Amys are identical. Or do you think Old Amy has no valid complaint and shouldn't fear blipping out of existence?
posted by painquale at 6:33 PM on September 12, 2011


The paradox already existed in the hospital place, correct? Both Amies are there, only at different times. I'm still unclear about what the problem was: couldn't they take Old!Amy off someplace nice and leave her there, and then come back for Young!Amy? Provided the Twa Amies never met at the same time there shouldn't be a problem. Everybody lives! Or am I missing something?
posted by orrnyereg at 6:54 PM on September 12, 2011


The paradox already existed in the hospital place, correct? Both Amies are there, only at different times.

This isn't really a paradox - it's the way humans exist in time. Older me is me later on, younger me is me earlier on.

The paradox only kicks in when you pull old Amy out of her place in the time stream and put her in a past where a) she doesn't exist yet and b) her actions are changing events from what to her is the past. Really, the paradox is that Old Amy, who remembers (as Young Amy) Old Amy refusing to help Young Amy, is rewriting her own personal history by agreeing to help Young Amy. Presumably a combination of the natural resiliency of time and the temporal engines of the Kindness Station make it possible for Old Amy to coexist with Young Amy up to a point, but the existence of Old Amy not only in the presence of Young Amy but in the absence of any of the events that led to the existence of that iteration of Old Amy would strain causality too much outside a place where huge temporal engines are folding people's timestreams anyway.

(My first thought was that Old Amy would _only_ be able to live in the Tardis, as a sort of refuge outside time, which didn't sound like much fun.)

Despite the relative absence of I-am-scary-Doctor in Matt Smith so far, he really has been kind of mean to Amy, hasn't he? First he lies to her about her pregnancy, then she liquidizes the flesh that her consciousness was being beamed into, without actually explaining to her that this was what he was doing, that he wasn't actually killing her and that she would wake up in her own body a moment afterwards, and now he lies to two of her simultaneously about whether he can save one of them, to get her to comply with a plan that leads ultimately to her destruction (or, if you'd rather, her not-having-existed-heit).
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:52 AM on September 13, 2011


The Doctor is a fraud. He knows he's a fraud. He's been using lies and tricks for too long, and people keep getting hurt. He's a god pretending to be a man pretending to be a god. He is quite literally his own worst enemy.

Good points. I don't know if I'd go so far as to call him a fraud, but I basically agree with you. The Doctor is a god who tries to mingle with men and women, and as a result, they get hurt. A lot. By dint of his power, he's not as benevolent as he tries to be. I don't want Doctor Who to become a grimdark exploration of how lonely and sad the Doctor is, but I like having those touches mixed in there. Something important about the show is how alien the Doctor is, and not just in a "he acts zany" way. There's a reason why the Doctor can't just integrate with human society.

I also look forward to a day of reckoning, when we finally figure out what happened in those woods, when we see why all those people were so hellbent on killing the Doctor, the war criminal. I like the idea that the Doctor could be seen as an incredible villain to many, even though, on paper, he was only trying to do his best.

...

I like the idea that the Doctor makes huge decisions about who will continue to exist when he travels through time, and this explains why he is so reluctant to change the past. Still, this is obviously a forced and inapt reading when applied to most episodes.

Well, in a way this is exactly what he does all the time. What was different about the last episode was that we got to know Old!Amy and we liked what we saw of her, even though she was miserable and lonely. Worse still, Old!Amy knew what was going to happen to her - that she was going to cease to exist. That's a pretty cruel way to go.

To apply it to the Harold Saxon example, this last episode would be like a side story from Series 3 in which we got to see a bored, tired office drone who had gained, in the wake of the tragedy of Harold Saxon's reign, a sense of purpose and definition as a survivor, only to have all of that personal development reset when the Doctor wheels back time.

It's also similar to the Rueful Fate of Donna Noble - she goes through all that growth as a character, realizing that she's much more than just a temp, but then she's forced to return to the way she was before she ever met the Doctor. I really liked that ending for that character, because it was a well-played tragedy of a type you could only get on a show like Doctor Who.

Imagine someone approached you and took you back in time to your birth, and then said that they'd pay for that baby's college fund (or whatever), but by changing history, the current you would blip out of existence. It won't cause a paradox; it'll just start another time stream. Would you let yourself blip out of existence? It's hard to see what motivation you could have. Why should you care about this other baby who will grow up to be different from you? Blipping out of existence is as bad as dying! This is exactly the weird dilemma that they put older Amy in this episode by letting her voice her complaint, and I think it genuinely is in the episode and is not just the product of a crazy interpretation. It's a really interesting dilemma, not just to be written off by saying that the two Amys are identical. Or do you think Old Amy has no valid complaint and shouldn't fear blipping out of existence?

That difficult choice is part of why I liked the last episode so much. I love Doctor Who episodes about conundrums and impossible choices. Almost no one would say "yes" to that choice, out of self-preservation. But at the same time, it doesn't necessarily mean that my keeping things the same would be the best result for everyone, including myself. If my choice to eliminate myself improves the lot of my family, my friends, and myself, then not only is my self-preservation arguably getting in the way of everyone's happiness, but paradoxically, it's getting in the way of my own happiness.

Old!Amy's existence is an especially slanted version of this, because Old!Amy is absolutely alone and miserable, to the extent that her timeline had ever diverged from Young!Amy's.

So, getting back to the idea of Old!Amy having a valid complaint: she absolutely has a valid complaint. I understand completely, and it was horrible that she ever had to contemplate it. At the same time, I still believe that what happened was ultimately the right result. I also still believe that the Doctor was in the right to lie in order to make sure that the correct choice occurred, especially considering how emotional and painful that choice would have been.

Think about it this way: ignoring how this would be a lame episode storywise, imagine a version of the last episode where they see Old!Amy, but they never actually interact with her. They see her alone and miserable on the white planet. But, instead of initiating contact, the Doctor just says, "oh, how horrible! I've left her alone again. Luckily, I know just the thing." So he just hits a button and they wind up fetching Young!Amy at just the right time, thereby saving her from that fate. Would we feel as bad about Old!Amy not having had her day in court? The only differences here would be that we never go to know Old!Amy and that Old!Amy was never made aware that 36 years of her life would be nullified.

Issues like this are exactly why the Doctor can come off as malefic sometimes - he has awful power, and as a direct result, he has to either make horrible choices or force others to make horrible choices. It adds some color to his otherwise fun-loving, manic behavior.

...

The paradox already existed in the hospital place, correct? Both Amies are there, only at different times. I'm still unclear about what the problem was: couldn't they take Old!Amy off someplace nice and leave her there, and then come back for Young!Amy? Provided the Twa Amies never met at the same time there shouldn't be a problem. Everybody lives! Or am I missing something?

My understanding is that, in the hospital, they were merely in the highly unstable moment of having future and past selves interacting, which is a Bad Idea, but not yet a full-blown paradox.

The problem with saving Young!Amy is that Old!Amy is defined by having been isolated for 36 years. If Young!Amy is saved, then the Old!Amy we met ceases to exist. As soon as the TARDIS leaves, Old!Amy would have to become some other version of an older Amy.

The business of shunting people off into other universes and other realities is something that I think can only happen when things go very, very wrong. I was pretty drunk when I saw the ending of Series Two - maybe that was for the best - but I was under the impression that the reason they were able to shunt Human Doctor and Rose was because of catastrophic timey-wimey madness, and not just because the Doctor can easily enter other universes where people can be isolated from paradoxes.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:29 AM on September 13, 2011


It's also similar to the Rueful Fate of Donna Noble - she goes through all that growth as a character, realizing that she's much more than just a temp, but then she's forced to return to the way she was before she ever met the Doctor. I really liked that ending for that character, because it was a well-played tragedy of a type you could only get on a show like Doctor Who.

And here is where we differ. I think that what the Doctor did to Donna was among the worst things he has done to anyone -- giving her a bunch of money as well doesn't help anything. So that story -- which I think was played out badly, honestly, and Donna deserved more, even the choice to burn up or forget who she became -- was done, and now we're redoing it, with the same answer made by the sameish person.

See also:

It's that within fifteen minutes of the Doctor and Rory returning for her, Older Amy has gone from an awesome, ingenious, steely fighter to a sobbing wreck who thinks Younger Amy doesn't deserve to turn into her and doesn't trust herself not to step through the TARDIS door. At least River's arc (when looked at in the order she experiences it) is one of a character who starts from unpromising beginnings and, in part through her contact with the Doctor, ends up awesome. In this episode, 36 years of learning to be awesome are undone by the Doctor and Rory in a few short scenes.

The Doctor acts monstrously, fairly often, and although they occasionally tease that this is going somewhere, that he is feared and a criminal and etc etc, it never actually seems to make any lasting change in how he treats people. I would be happy if this is where the season ended, with him acting a bit better.
posted by jeather at 6:57 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


My problem with this episode was that the core "dilemma" was deflated by the simple fact that there was zero chance they would leave Karen Gillan in middle aged makeup for the rest of her time on the series. There was no way Old Amy was anything other than a one off, and I couldn't suspend disbelief because of it.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:57 AM on September 13, 2011


but by changing history, the current you would blip out of existence.
Almost no one would say "yes" to that choice, out of self-preservation.


I've discussed this issue with a number of people over the years (under the guise of "if life had a reset button, would you push it?") and I've found that the answer changes significantly as you get older. In my experience a lot of people would push that button saying "I've had a good run but I'm winding down. Let's let another me run through it all again."

Older Amy was tortured by the decision, but it was also thrust into her lap unexpectedly. At her age I wouldn't be surprised if she would have gone along willingly if she had time to think.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:31 AM on September 14, 2011


I don't understand the whole lot of you in this thread. If I lived 36 years in solitary confinement, being chased/fighting off enemies that can teleport and are dead-set on tracking me down when I'm anywhere but in a dingy industrial cubbyhole, and then I found out that those 36 years could be erased and I'd go back to being a (relatively) happy youngster with 36 years of love, and family, and none of those enemies chasing me... Shoot, I'd do it in an instant. I'd do it in a blink of an eye.

Old!Amy isn't really dead. Wait 36 years and she'll be back. Only, instead of being the bitter, angry person we saw in this episode, who had some kickass skills but whose psychology seemed, to me, pretty damn warped from loneliness and a sense of betrayal, she'll (hopefully, but we don't know yet) be happier.

I also don't see how it could be in any way appropriate for the Doctor and Rory to do anything but give allegiance to the younger version of Amy. They made a promise: we will come back from you; we will save you. The older version of Amy exists if they don't keep that promise. I don't think "we will save you" can be made true if you avoid rescuing someone until they've been trapped for so long that they've been so warped. (Am I really the only one who read Old!Amy as psychologically warped by being trapped so long? She seemed bitter and angry, and for pretty damn good reasons, but in a way that would require serious psychological intervention for her to have any chance of happiness. I saw her refusal to help the younger version of herself as part of that warping--the hell she had lived warped her so much she no longer would do the one thing that could help her be better. Am I really unique in this reading?) To save the older version but not the younger one would be to betray that promise, to fail to do what they said.

If we want to be deontologists, we can put it this way: they made a promise to get Amy out of there unharmed, and it was only right for them to keep that promise. If we want to be utilitarians: either Amy can live those 36 years with the Doctor and Rory, etc, or she can live them, scared and alone. I'm not that great at utility calculus, but the conclusion to that seems pretty obvious to me. If we're into virtue ethics, I really can't imagine what it would say about someone in Rory's place, were he to just shrug and accept Old!Amy at her word that he shouldn't save the younger version of her, leaving her to 36 years of hell. I do not understand how that could be a virtuous thing to do, to say, "Oh, you went through 36 years of hell and now you're so angry at me for not saving you that you don't want me to save you, even though it's thoroughly in my power to erase all that hell that you believe I'm responsible for making you live through? Well, okay!"

....

But, all that is just my reasoning behind why I side with saving the younger version of Amy. And if the above sounds a little exasperated, it's just because I'm so amazed that so many people have different readings of it. But: what I didn't take for granted is that this is a morally tricky situation. And, really, I think it's the type of situation where there is no good choice, but only a less bad choice. This is why Rory is, I believe, growing to truly hate the Doctor: the Doctor keeps putting them in situations where there is only a less bad option as opposed to a good one, and Rory is too good of a person to accept that as reasonable behavior. If Rory were the timelord, he would destroy the TARDIS rather than face a series of merely less bad choices.

One thing I found interesting is how the Doctor lies. He lies when it's in your best interest, by his estimation. He lies if it serves some great plan of his. But, throughout the run of the series, he doesn't lie when it's your life that will be sacrificed. If the good of the many requires your sacrifice, he levels with you. He says, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. But..." And then you know, before you die, what is required of you. Here, again, no one actually died. And so the Doctor lied. He'll manipulate you in every which way he can, unless he's requiring you to die. Self-sacrifice, it seems, he takes as sacrosanct.
posted by meese at 7:08 PM on September 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't understand the whole lot of you in this thread. If I lived 36 years in solitary confinement, being chased/fighting off enemies that can teleport and are dead-set on tracking me down when I'm anywhere but in a dingy industrial cubbyhole, and then I found out that those 36 years could be erased and I'd go back to being a (relatively) happy youngster with 36 years of love, and family, and none of those enemies chasing me... Shoot, I'd do it in an instant. I'd do it in a blink of an eye.

My objection pretty much boils down to this: that's fine if it's your choice, but it wasn't Older!Amy's choice, and forcing that on her is completely horrific.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:27 PM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


But, I thought the decision over which Amy gets to be rescued was settled by YoungAmy & OldAmy deciding what would be best for Rory, not themselves. If we accept the Doctor's "2 Amy's can't exist simultaneously in the same time stream" reasoning (and I grant that's a mighty big "if"), OldAmy's continued existence means that at some point YoungAmy still has to go back at some point and spend 36 years trapped on The AppleStore planet, or else OldAmy will cease to exist as she knows herself.

If anything, OldAmy tries to exploit Rory's essential Goodness for her own sake, with her scheme to thwart the paradox. The revlatory thing for in this episode is that we discover Amy can be just as much a monster morally as the Doctor is. The problem for Amy is that she isn't a "madman with a box", hence OldAmy's hatred of the Doctor. Not only has she been abandoned by him for 36 years, she is forced to acknowledge something about herself that she didn't fully confront as YoungAmy prior to AppleStore planet. That scene where OldAmy & Rory are talking to each other through the TARDIS door, she's really asking him to save her from herself.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:37 AM on September 15, 2011


But, I thought the decision over which Amy gets to be rescued was settled by YoungAmy & OldAmy deciding what would be best for Rory, not themselves.

But it was based on incomplete information.

The more I think about it, the more the episode's argument feels like a pro-life one, right down to the details--making Older!Amy talk to her sad, crying younger self to see the error of her ways (using pathos to force the decision a certain way), the excuse of her mental instability being used to allow men who "know better" to make a decision for her.. I'm aware that it might seem like a stretch, but I suspect that has a lot to do with my anger over not respecting Amy's choice
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:25 AM on September 15, 2011


not respecting Amy's choice

Well, but they did respect AN Amy's choice, just not Old!Amy's. Which dovetails nicely with the show's need to feature an attractive young woman. It would have been a genuinely daring move for Rory to choose Old!Amy over Young!Amy, story-wise. I agree that the whole thing is just really icky and typical of Moffatt's generally condescending portrayal of female characters.

Another question: why aren't the Ponds interested in finding their daughter anymore? Even if they assume she's going to turn out okay, wouldn't they still want to actually raise her themselves instead of letting her be turned into an assassin? Everyone's blithe disregard of baby Melody is kind of creepy, actually.
posted by orrnyereg at 9:49 AM on September 15, 2011


Another question: why aren't the Ponds interested in finding their daughter anymore?

Because it was a weak plotline, and watching the Ponds either raise River or really have to deal with the bizarre tragedy of never being able to raise their daughter would probably be bad television. I'm OK with forgetting it because I get better Who as a result.

Which dovetails nicely with the show's need to feature an attractive young woman. It would have been a genuinely daring move for Rory to choose Old!Amy over Young!Amy, story-wise. I agree that the whole thing is just really icky and typical of Moffatt's generally condescending portrayal of female characters.

I hear you, but at the same time, it's not as if Tennant or Smith are older men, let alone unattractive ones.

While I was watching the episode, I thought about how it could have ended with Rory picking Old!Amy but then getting Young!Amy through timey-wimey and/or Doctor-y machinations, but I'm not sure how that would have worked. Shunting Old!Amy into another dimension would have pleased some fans, but then that would take the teeth out of the choice - there's no drama if Rory wasn't really forced to make a choice.

It also would have left open how Old!Amy would have felt being alone again in some other dimension - or does she hang out with Rory Prime and Doctor Prime in the other dimension? And if it's so easy to shunt people into alternate dimensions, why don't they just do that more often when there's a problem?

Alternatively, it'd be funny to see Old!Amy come roaring back in a future episode, flanked by Ganger Doctor and the other surviving Ganger, without explanation.

...

Let's say the TARDIS lands in front of me. The Doctor comes out, crowing that in five minutes I'm going to fall through the earth and become an isolated mole man underneath the crust of the earth's surface, absolutely alone and miserable, separated from my friends, family and loved ones, forced to defend myself from encroaching mole creatures at every turn, and that I will not be rescued for 36 years.

However, says the Doctor, that event is not a fixed point, meaning I can save you right now, so you'd better hop aboard.

According to the logic of saving Old!Amy, I should refuse, because if the Doctor knows that there is a Mole Man Sticherbeast future, then Mole Man Sticherbeast must exist, therefore to save myself would be to destroy Mole Man Sticherbeast.

The Doctor would argue that yes, Mole Man Sticherbeast would be gone, but in exchange I'd get freedom, meaning the opportunity to be whatever sort of Sticherbeast I choose to be, and also I wouldn't be leaving my SO and my family and my friends behind.

However, I'd say, since I'm using the logic of saving Old!Amy, it doesn't matter that I'd be happier or more free or that I'd be making my friends, family, and loved ones miserable in my absence. If Mole Man Sticherbeast has ever existed or will ever exist, then I must not change the future. Only Mole Man Sticherbeast can choose to free me, at the expense of destroying myself.

But, says the Doctor, if you argue that versions of selves should never eliminate other versions of selves, then getting Mole Man Sticherbeast to make the decision doesn't fix anything, because even if Mole Man Sticherbeast chooses to destroy himself, he's not just destroying himself - he's destroying the version of himself from five minutes before, and the version of himself from five minutes before that, destroying an infinite number of selves on and on and on like Zeno's arrow pointed towards the present. Further, Mole Man Sticherbeast would also be destroying an infinite number of Devastated Mothers, Devastated SOs, Devastated Friends, Bemused Acquaintances, and so on.

So, getting Mole Man Sticherbeast to make the choice doesn't even work according to your own ground rules. There is no privileged "real" version of yourself that has the Master Key to make these choices, because the distance between yourself and yourself in 36 years still contains an infinite number of versions of you, each as real and fake as the next. Since it is impossible to make any sort of choice without destroying some potential version of some potential self, the best you can do is to try to make the best choices you can, secure in the knowledge that, even if you are more miserable now, at least you were happier in the past.

But I don't want to destroy any version of any self, I say.

The Doctor then throws up his hands and says, according to that logic, I shouldn't ever use my time machine at all, because any time I interact with someone I change the past and future, thereby in effect "destroying" versions of selves all the time.

Yes, I say, you shouldn't ever use your time machine ever.

And according to that logic, you shouldn't do anything ever yourself, because you also have a time machine: your own body, a unidirectional time machine traveling at one second per second. Any time you make a choice, you destroy a future version of yourself, as well as future versions of anyone connected to you.

So then I just sit there alone, not moving or saying anything.

But I've seen the future, Sticherbeast, says the Doctor, and you survive for 36 years as Mole Man Sticherbeast. You can't just do nothing, otherwise you'll destroy that version of the future, too.

Then the ground collapses and he flies away.

...

If the argument is that it was wrong to save Young!Amy because it reeks of sexism, then that's a completely separate argument from the time travel aspect being ethical, unless the argument is that saving Old!Amy would be necessary when it's Amy who's split, but saving Young!Rory is necessary in the reverse situation, or that it would have been right to save Young!Amy if Old!Amy had been a giant bore instead of an interesting character. The sexism argument would be about recurring sexist tropes/themes/etc. on the show, and not so much about time travel ethics.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:23 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Excellent, Sticherbeast.
posted by meese at 10:34 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Doctor Who: Mole Man Sticherbeasts all the way down.
posted by orrnyereg at 10:37 AM on September 15, 2011


Mole Man Sticherbeast sounds like an excellent name for a Who monster, by the way.
posted by meese at 10:49 AM on September 15, 2011


Ha. If Moffat could incorporate Mole Man Sticherbeast into an episode, my life would be complete.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:52 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huh. I didn't put together until just now that this would be the third time that the doctor has kept Amy waiting for years due to his own sloppiness. I would be pretty torqued with him by this time too.
Another question: why aren't the Ponds interested in finding their daughter anymore?
Because it was a weak plot line [...] I'm OK with forgetting it because I get better Who as a result.


Amen, brother.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:47 AM on September 15, 2011


Well, but they did respect AN Amy's choice, just not Old!Amy's. Which dovetails nicely with the show's need to feature an attractive young woman. It would have been a genuinely daring move for Rory to choose Old!Amy over Young!Amy, story-wise. I agree that the whole thing is just really icky and typical of Moffatt's generally condescending portrayal of female characters.

Actually, having rewatched the episode in order to write an epic ranty blog post about it (link in my profile if you want, but it's nothing you won't find here, really), they never ask Young!Amy what she wants to do. Perhaps you might say it's implied, but it's not at all stated explicitly. And again, they never ask.

However, I'd say, since I'm using the logic of saving Old!Amy, it doesn't matter that I'd be happier or more free or that I'd be making my friends, family, and loved ones miserable in my absence.

This to me is some of the worst bits of rherotic about this--that Rory's guilt or loneliness is more important than Old!Amy's desire to continue existing. And this is where I start to slide into parallel arguments about a woman's right to have an abortion, and other people's feelings of rights over her body and her choices and where I just start getting very upset about all of it.

If the argument is that it was wrong to save Young!Amy because it reeks of sexism, then that's a completely separate argument from the time travel aspect being ethical, unless the argument is that saving Old!Amy would be necessary when it's Amy who's split, but saving Young!Rory is necessary in the reverse situation, or that it would have been right to save Young!Amy if Old!Amy had been a giant bore instead of an interesting character. The sexism argument would be about recurring sexist tropes/themes/etc. on the show, and not so much about time travel ethics.

That's pretty much been my argument all along--that at the very least you can't evaluate the ethics here in isolation because they've been changed by the sexual politics of the show and it's not as if we have a pure argument here that can be divorced from the sexism. However, an argument that says you should spare yourself the pain of certain experiences that were instrumental in forming your person because they sucked is kind of an anathema to me, too.

In my blog, someone suggested that we're not really supposed to empathize with the Doctor here: he wants to save Young!Amy because she doesn't hate him, not because of his promise to her. In other words, her nativity and fondness for him allows him to continue liking himself and act like a whimsical, fun time traveler. You see parallels of this in the Hitler ep, when the only person the Doctor can abide by as his voice interface was little Amelia, untouched by their travels together. He not only prefers his companions young; he seems to prefer them pure and uncomplicated. There's something morally questionable about that. Maybe he shouldn't be using his time machine. He's sure ruined a nice handful of lives with it, for all that he's helped.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:27 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


And according to that logic, you shouldn't do anything ever yourself, because you also have a time machine: your own body, a unidirectional time machine traveling at one second per second. Any time you make a choice, you destroy a future version of yourself, as well as future versions of anyone connected to you.

So then I just sit there alone, not moving or saying anything.


And also, that's a whopper of a slippery slope. I suspect you're being tongue-in-cheek, but really absurd argument.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:31 PM on September 15, 2011


While I was watching the episode, I thought about how it could have ended with Rory picking Old!Amy but then getting Young!Amy through timey-wimey and/or Doctor-y machinations, but I'm not sure how that would have worked. Shunting Old!Amy into another dimension would have pleased some fans, but then that would take the teeth out of the choice - there's no drama if Rory wasn't really forced to make a choice.

But he wasn't. The Doctor made the choice, really.

Had Old!Amy made the choice, then it would have been fine. Had Rory made the choice for both Amys, it would have been as objectionable as this story was, though with slightly different problems.

In my blog, someone suggested that we're not really supposed to empathize with the Doctor here: he wants to save Young!Amy because she doesn't hate him, not because of his promise to her. In other words, her nativity and fondness for him allows him to continue liking himself and act like a whimsical, fun time traveler.

If they follow through on this plotline properly -- that we shouldn't be empathizing with the Doctor, that he is doing bad things and will somehow get some sort of negative consequence to that -- I would be very pleased. (I don't think this plotline has been really suggested by the show, though it isn't inconsistent with it.)
posted by jeather at 1:40 PM on September 15, 2011


* naivety. Clearly. Her nativity doesn't matter, because it happened offscreen in a tube.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:42 PM on September 15, 2011


Actually, having rewatched the episode in order to write an epic ranty blog post about it (link in my profile if you want, but it's nothing you won't find here, really), they never ask Young!Amy what she wants to do. Perhaps you might say it's implied, but it's not at all stated explicitly. And again, they never ask.

You also don't want to ask Young!Amy. You want Old!Amy to decide for her.

This to me is some of the worst bits of rherotic about this--that Rory's guilt or loneliness is more important than Old!Amy's desire to continue existing. And this is where I start to slide into parallel arguments about a woman's right to have an abortion, and other people's feelings of rights over her body and her choices and where I just start getting very upset about all of it.

The abortion analogy is inapt - it's Amy's life, not anyone else's. The analogy fails especially since you're fine with Old!Amy deciding for Young!Amy - as well as Old!Amy deciding for Older!Amy, which is to say any version of herself who would have existed had the Doctor and Rory not arrived when they did. If you privilege Old!Amy's existence over Young!Amy's existence, then you are every bit as paternalistic as someone who privileges Young!Amy over Old!Amy - you're just arguing that your paternalism is better than their paternalism.

That said, if I were to put the episode into the terms of a real life metaphor, I'd say it has more to do with suicide or otherwise wasting your life. If I became a raging, homeless alcoholic, it'd probably be better for everyone, not just myself, but also others who count on me, if people intervened to get me to change, as opposed to letting me stay on the downward spiral. No person is an island, and all that.

That's pretty much been my argument all along--that at the very least you can't evaluate the ethics here in isolation because they've been changed by the sexual politics of the show and it's not as if we have a pure argument here that can be divorced from the sexism. However, an argument that says you should spare yourself the pain of certain experiences that were instrumental in forming your person because they sucked is kind of an anathema to me, too.

You've been making an awful lot of arguments which are strictly about the ethics of the time travel situation, arguments which do not take anyone's gender into consideration. Your arguments about the ethics of the episode's resolution would apply even if all the characters were female or if all the characters were male, or if a typically passive character had been making a choice for a typically dominant character, and so on.

The arguments about the show's sexism exist outside the show's universe per se - they would be about how the people behind the show have depicted certain events, people, etc.

[everyone is a time machine traveling at a second per second]

And also, that's a whopper of a slippery slope. I suspect you're being tongue-in-cheek, but really absurd argument.

If it's such a slippery slope, then please explain what's so absurd about it. If we follow Whovian time travel rules, and if we believe in basically any version of free will, then yes, our actions will constantly create and destroy new future versions of ourselves.

...

Had Old!Amy made the choice, then it would have been fine. Had Rory made the choice for both Amys, it would have been as objectionable as this story was, though with slightly different problems.

But according to that logic, Old!Amy would have destroyed Older!Amy, as well as imprisoned Young!Amy, and all the iterations of Amy in between. It's just a different flavor of paternalism.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:46 PM on September 15, 2011


You also don't want to ask Young!Amy. You want Old!Amy to decide for her.

Uh, please don't tell me what I want. You're mischaracterizing the arguments against the episode already with a pretty ridiculous strawman. Please don't assume my own feelings or narrative desires, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:48 PM on September 15, 2011


PhBWanKenobi, I'm having trouble keeping clear whether your objections are to a) what happens within the story and b) how the story was constructed. When you describe your objections, it sounds like you want to say b. It sounds like you're saying, "It really sucks that the authors wrote Amy such that..." or whatever. But when I look at the content of your objections, it looks like you're objecting to a, saying something like, "It really sucks that Rory and The Doctor treated Amy such that..." I, and others, have been responding to your comments as if they were a.

However, could this instead possibly be a way of putting your claim? "It is inappropriate that the authors wrote a story in which an older woman is made to sacrifice herself in order to save a younger one."
posted by meese at 2:02 PM on September 15, 2011


However, could this instead possibly be a way of putting your claim? "It is inappropriate that the authors wrote a story in which an older woman is made to sacrifice herself in order to save a younger one."

Argh, no, not at all. I'll respond but my blood pressure over this conversation is currently through the roof and I'd rather respond when it's not just angry mashing of fingers against keys. If you're impatient, go see what I said on my blog, or CRTL+F for what I actually said here (as I just did, because the extent to which I feel I'm being misheard just BOGGLES MY MIND), because I feel I've been pretty clear. But I'll be back in fifteen or something.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:05 PM on September 15, 2011


Uh, please don't tell me what I want.

If you want Old!Amy to decide, then Young!Amy does not have any choice about being imprisoned.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:35 PM on September 15, 2011


(I don't think this plotline has been really suggested by the show, though it isn't inconsistent with it.)

I hope and presume that the show is basically going to do this: the Doctor who tried to do the right thing, but became a villain by doing so, depending on your perspective. The John Le Carré Doctor.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:37 PM on September 15, 2011


But according to that logic, Old!Amy would have destroyed Older!Amy, as well as imprisoned Young!Amy, and all the iterations of Amy in between. It's just a different flavor of paternalism.

That isn't what I said. Had Old!Amy decided to sacrifice herself, it would have been fine, if we want the ending to have only one Amy survive. But the Doctor sacrificed her, after lying to her.


I hope and presume that the show is basically going to do this: the Doctor who tried to do the right thing, but became a villain by doing so, depending on your perspective.

I hope that it will do this, but do not think it will.
posted by jeather at 2:50 PM on September 15, 2011


Yeah, jeather, he already did that. Remember there is that story arc that has not really been fleshed out, the Time War. We already know he has committed multiple genocides, including his own race, as some sort of unspecified way to save the universe.

This is quite a different Doctor than the one who hesitated to blow up the first Dalek incubator because of all the civilizations that would bond together to fight them.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:11 PM on September 15, 2011


Okay, back, a beer-to-cool-down later, and on my work break so I can try to state my feelings clearly. All along, I haven't been trying to make any assertion about the ethics of time travel in this episode independent from a feminist argument. In fact, when I said initially that this episode was a "feminist fail," I didn't mean that the episode de-existized a female character who I liked and that sucked (although that's true, too); rather, I meant that the actions of the characters, the situations that they found them in, and the ultimate choices that they made reinforced patriarchal values that are frequently asserted both in our society and in the universe of Doctor Who, particularly in the past season and a half. Namely, those values are the inability of women to make decisions by themselves, a tendency for them to get themselves in trouble and have to be "saved," general passivity, a lack of valuation placed on the choices women make about their own lives and bodies, and so on. Instead, the episode, the show as a whole, and, of course, our society, all place the onus of decision making about what's best for women on the men in women's lives, implying that the women are incapable of making choices, or, when they do, that those choices are invalid because they might make men feel bad, or because the women in question are fundamentally incapable of making these choices "responsibly" because they're flighty and crazy, or whatever. To answer meese's question, I don't feel that the choices of the characters are at all separate from the choices of the writers. When I say, "the Doctor and Rory should have respected Amy's choice as stated," I mean "the Doctor and Rory were written in a way that made it seem like they didn't respect Amy's choice as stated and that seems to affirm a sexist worldview, possibly unconscious, on the part of the writer." But that's wordy.

I don't particularly care about the ethics of time travel independent from this argument (I'm a physical determinist! Though a lot of good that does when you're talking about Doctor Who). If we were talking about Older!Rory, my feelings might be different. We wouldn't have to look at his behaviors through a lens of sexist history and patriarchal values as asserted by the show. If the Doctor were a woman, this would be a very different conversation, too. But the Doctor isn't a woman, he's a man, a man with a history of making decisions for others. And in this episode, these decisions were affirmed and carried out by another man. In the narrative of the show, these two men ignored what one woman was stating, didn't ask another for her opinion (and yes, I'd likely feel differently if they had; it would have made the ethics and the feminist argument here far more complicated and interesting), and used deceit to ensure that their wishes were carried out.

Other aspects of the show make this problematic: the existence of the Lone Centurion in a similar story, a character whose largest difference from Older!Amy being that he doesn't look old; general societal feelings about the value of a 56-year-old woman; Amy's inability to grow as a character in the overaching story when contrasted with the growth of her husband; Steven Moffat's feelings about women and marriage; inconsistent writing; and so on. Also relevant I think might be the value you place on trauma. I feel that the argument in this show--that it be best to spare Amy her traumatic past even if she herself would choose otherwise--was a paternalistic one, and one that devalues her life experiences. Again, I might feel differently if we were talking about a male character; I might feel differently if Younger!Amy had more clearly stated her own desires. But she didn't. And so I'm only going on what was actually there: Rory and the Doctor's actions, and Older!Amy's very deliberately phrased feelings. And remember that she stated these feelings before any suggestion of a time paradox was ever created. The Doctor and Rory never even consider listening to her. Because she's crazy, because she's old, because she can't possibly mean what she says, because it's "kinder" to decide for her.

It's writing like this that I find problematic from a feminist standpoint, only exacerbated by the fact that Amy has been such a passive and poorly developed character who often exhibits little agency other than just enough agency to get her to a place where she needs to be saved. And the Amy we see in this episode, acting actively and showing strong character, is wiped from existence, and even the growth that her younger counterpart should experience in this episode (disabling the robots) never happens. Which is what I mean when I say that this episode felt like a feminist fail. I thought I would feel otherwise on a second viewing, but a closer examination of the script actually reinforced this for me. I also think this episode was well-written and well acted. It was just also sexist, that's all.

So . . . you're free to disagree with me. Just please don't put words into my mouth. Accordingly, as for whether this means I'm arguing that no person can ever take any action in the "time machine" of their bodies, I never said that, and I don't really care about that argument at all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:16 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sticherbeast, I think your mole man story assumes more about how time travel would work than OldAmy needs to assume. For example, sure, you could write a story in which every choice we make destroys the denizens of some other timestream. But why think that? The idea that changing the past erases a certain person's future doesn't imply that making decisions in the present erases a person's future. Most time travel models in which you can change the past don't imply this: it's a pretty unintuitive addition. I do not think that OldAmy's "logic" commits her to most of the things you describe. And even when it does have weird implications for other episodes, I do not think this is a bad thing.

There are three issues being run together in this thread: the existence of individuals in an overwritten timeline, the difference between agent-relative and agent-neutral reasons, and the individuation of persons across timelines. I can't always tell whether you (and others here, like meese) think OldAmy's logic makes no sense because (1) not having existed is different than being destroyed, (2) the new timestream is a preferable one to the old timestream, or (3) NewAmy is OldAmy, so in helping NewAmy have a better life, she helps herself. These issues come apart. Let me try to explain why I think OldAmy has reason to complain about the Doctor's treatment of her by going through these three issues in turn.

1: OVERWRITTEN INDIVIDUALS

Let's change the case to get rid of issues about whether OldAmy and YoungAmy are the same person. Suppose that the Doctor got there even later than he did in the show. It turned out that OldAmy eventually discovered a man living in the same facility, and together, they had a son. The son grew up, and the parents died. Rory now has to try to solicit the help of the son. There is no chance that the son will exist in the altered timeline. The Doctor says: "Look, we're going to change the timeline. It'll make it so that you never exist. Don't worry, it's not the same thing as dying. Here, push this button to help us out."

OK, now we've gotten rid of the complication that some "version" of the person will exist in the new future, so we don't need to care about whether people should care about other "versions" of themselves. Does the son have good reason to push the button? (Note that on the Doctor's logic, any cares, commitments, or loves that the son has shouldn't count as a reason against him pushing the button, because those cares, commitments, and loves "will never have existed.")

I don't think that makes sense. The son can say: "but I exist right now! How is making it so I do not exist not like killing me? We don't even need to bring time into it. I exist; you want to make it so I do not exist."

I can't think of a single model of time travel in which this is not a valid complaint. There aren't many sensible models of time travel in which one can change the past. (It's pretty much incoherent.) In all such models, you don't actually change the past, you either change something that is like the past or are shunted to some timestream that is like that past. And this means that

On one model, time-travel is like dimension-hopping, like Sliders. If you try to change the past, you're just leaving timeline A and hopping to timeline B. (It's left open here whether timeline A is destroyed upon leaving it or whether timeline B is created upon arrival.) The problem with taking this as a model of Doctor Who is that it never makes sense to try to change the past. It's never possible to change the future, it's just possible to visit places that are happier than the one you're currently living in. If this is the model at use in the Amy episode, then the Doctor didn't save Amy. He left her to age and then created a new young one for himself. In any case, Amy's son would never be written out of existence. He'd just not be included in the new one.

On another model, the "growing block" model of time, nothing in the future exists, but the past exists. Reality is a 4D block that is growing outward. When you go back in time, the block shrinks. (This is the philosopher Peter van Inwagen's view). Now, the block has to grow and shrink, but it can't grow and shrink in time, because time is one of the things that is doing the growing and the shrinking, so it needs to grow and shrink in a parallel temporal dimension: hypertime. I think this is closer to the model used in Doctor Who, because it lets him genuinely change the past: just not the hyperpast. (Although maybe the Doctor can travel in hypertime, in which cases the five-dimensional block incorporating hypertime as a dimension grows and shrinks in hyperhypertime. And so on, iterating upward infinitely.) So the block grows out in hypertime, Amy has a son, and the Doctor arrives. The Doctor shrinks the block back to before Amy's son existed (so he never has any future experiences, effectively ending his life) and then starts writing a new future. But although her son never exists in the past of the future, he still exists in hyperpast.

The point of mentioning these models is just to point out that it makes no sense to say that once someone exists, you can't rewrite someone them out of existence. They always have some kind of existence: you can wipe them out of time but not hypertime, or you can wipe them out of this timestream but not some other timestream. Wiping someone out of reality altogether is nonsense: all you can do is destroy them.

It's true that this has weird effects on other episodes. But this is the one episode to deal with it head-on by making Amy actually voice a complaint that characters in all the other episodes should have been making, if they had bothered to think about how time travel with changing pasts must work. I do not think it is a valid to criticize OldAmy in this episode by pointing out that it means the other episodes of the show make no sense, or means the Doctor is destroying all sorts of innocent people (as Sticherbeast does), because this show is always crazy. Reductio ad absurdum doesn't work in a show that revels in the absurd. It's OK for the show to be nonsensical in other episodes in order to generate some funtimes, but this is one of the few episodes to really try to think through what time travel would actually be like. I don't think we should shrug off the more sophisticated interpretation of time travel in this episode in order to bring it in line with the zaniness of The Big Bang.

2: AGENT-RELATIVE REASONS

Being pro-choice, I think it would have been perfectly fine for my mom to have had an abortion instead of having me. (Or less politically: it would have been fine for my mother to have not had sex with my dad.) For all I know, it even might be the case that I'm a drain on society and the world would be a better place without me in it. But I'm glad that they had me, and if I could go back in time, I'd make damn sure they kissed at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. I have agent-relative reason to care about my parents kissing, but there might not be any agent-neutral reason that could justifiably compel a third party to try to get my parents to hook up.

Suppose the Doctor told Amy's son, "listen, if you the new timeline won't be any better. Amy will have a daughter (a second daughter, not River), who will be exactly as happy as you, and everyone else will be exactly as happy." (Or maybe they'll be a little happier.) From an objective standpoint, there might be no agent-neutral reason to prefer one timeline over the other. There might be no good reason to prefer Amy's son to Amy's daughter. But Amy's son has plenty of reason to prefer that he continue to exist! He likes existing more than he likes some random daughter existing. (This is not necessarily a selfish thing to do.)

One way to think about this: imagine OldAmy is perfectly selfish. She doesn't care about doing what is right, she just wants to do what is best for her. Should she fight with the Doctor and Rory? Or is she wrong about what is in her own best interest? I think there's a little conflict here about whether OldAmy has any agent-relative reason whatsoever to demand the Doctor take her aboard the TARDIS.

3: PERSONAL IDENTITY

This one's the most tricky. I think some of you think that given that OldAmy and YoungAmy are both Amy, that if OldAmy does something to benefit YoungAmy, then she benefits herself. In other words, some of you seem to think she is wrong when she says:

"He wants to rescue past me from thirty-six years back which means I cease to exist. Everything I’ve seen and done dissolves. Time is rewritten... I’ll die, and another Amy will take my place, an Amy who never got trapped in two streams, an Amy who grew old with you, and she, in thirty six years, won’t be me..."


The problem here is that there are all sorts of ambiguities in the phrase "same person." Some people claim to become entirely different people when they find god (or whatever), but there's also clearly a sense in which they're the same person after their personality and commitments change. In the sense that matters for OldAmy's decision, I do not think that OldAmy and YoungAmy are the same person. When YoungAmy grows old, she will be an Old Amy, but she will not be OldAmy: they will have shared none of the same experiences.

What has essentially happened here is a case of identity fission. Think Will Riker and Tom Riker on Star Trek TNG. Riker got in a transport beam: one Riker got out on the Enterprise and one got out on a planet. At this point, they both have equal claim to deserving the name Will Riker, but they are clearly not the same person. It would not be acceptable to say to Tom Riker: "hey, we're going to kill you, but it's fine, you'll continue to exist," and then point at the Riker across the room. It is also strange to say to Tom Riker: "OK, we're going to go back and make it so you never existed. But don't worry, Will will still exist." Tom has agent-relative reason to prevent that. Doing something in Will's interest is not doing something in Tom's interest, because the two of them have different interests and reasons for action.

When YoungAmy and OldAmy are in the same room talking to one another, and OldAmy is having experiences YoungAmy will never have and YoungAmy is having experiences OldAmy will never have, how is that not just a case of identity fission, similar to Will and Tom Riker?

(Side question: I always thought that when recappers put an exclamation point in names like 'Old!Amy', it meant 'not'. Someone acting like Jack Bauer might be called !Jack, and if he got old, he'd be Old!Jack. Am I wrong about the meaning of the exclamation point?)

OK, so, here's how I'd stake out my position:

1) Would Amy's son be destroyed if the Doctor changes time and saves Amy?
YES
2) Does the son have agent-relative reason to continue to exist?
YES
3) Amy and Amy's son are different people. Are OldAmy and YoungAmy different people in the sense of "different people" that makes OldAmy's complaint sufficiently similar to Amy's son's complaint?
YES
4) Does this make the Doctor a lying ass?
YES

I'm not sure exactly where other people get off the boat.
posted by painquale at 3:29 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your blog post convinced me about the general tone of the series, PhoBWanKenobi.

However, I think Rory was less dismissive of OldAmy's desires than you seem to. He seemed weirded out by the situation, but pretty respectful toward her. It's the Doctor who was the real monster, and I definitely saw him as a selfish monster in this episode. I think we were meant to see him that way. Intended viewer alignment was with Rory and against the Doctor, for sure.
posted by painquale at 3:38 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, I think Rory was less dismissive of OldAmy's desires than you seem to. He seemed weirded out by the situation, but pretty respectful toward her. It's the Doctor who was the real monster, and I definitely saw him as a selfish monster in this episode. I think we were meant to see him that way. Intended viewer alignment was with Rory and against the Doctor, for sure.

I could see an argument for that--he's much more explicitly conflicted and, in some ways, seems to fall back into rhythm with his wife very quickly (which is what introduces the conflict, isn't it? The turning point for her is when he makes a joke with her--that's when she decides she wants to come with). However, at that point my blog post was 2000-some-odd-words long so the idea of introducing any more complexity made my head explode.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:42 PM on September 15, 2011


And the Amy we see in this episode, acting actively and showing strong character, is wiped from existence, and even the growth that her younger counterpart should experience in this episode (disabling the robots) never happens.

That's what puzzled me. When Old!Amy was the same age, with the same amount of experience, on her first few days in the robot facility, she figured out how to disable the robots, and clearly she never got caught by them. But Young!Amy somehow didn't do this, she actually got caught by them.

Amy can be a sexual being, or she can be brilliant and active (Old!Amy, little Amelia Pond), but she never gets to be both at once. Why don't we get to see the Amy who can figure out how to make a sonic probe/screwdriver? Does the Amy we have left even know she figured out how to hack the robot network and create a sonic screwdriver etc etc, and that she can do her own awesome things without the Doctor telling her what to do? There are a lot of ways that her story can be dealt with in the next couple of episodes, that allow her growth and anger and just change in general, but I doubt it will happen. But I'd be happy to be proven wrong.
posted by jeather at 8:18 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wish we could have seen Young!Amy's immediate reaction to being told that Old!Amy had been left behind and that both of them had been lied to.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:40 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


For example, sure, you could write a story in which every choice we make destroys the denizens of some other timestream. But why think that? The idea that changing the past erases a certain person's future doesn't imply that making decisions in the present erases a person's future.

The problem is that we're dealing with the Whoniverse as described in the show. I'm not developing a different logic behind time travel, because that's irrelevant to the episode. The Doctor, by the end, when he is telling the truth, says that only one Amy could exist, and that actions in "the present," such as taking off with Young!Amy in tow, would, in fact, rewrite that denizen of the future out of existence. Arguing with that base assumption would take us out of the universe of the show.

It's also hardly unprecedented for time travel stories. The conflict in Back to the Future comes down to a nearly identical problem: don't rewrite the future in a way that will rewrite you.

It's also hardly unprecedented in the Whoniverse. For example, in the last Christmas episode, after Michael Gambon's character is a changed man a la the ending of A Christmas Carol, the machine no longer recognizes him. He's a different person in the present, in a sense, because they've changed the past.

It has also been established repeatedly in the Whoniverse that terms like "the present" don't mean very much. ("Tenses are difficult, aren't they?") The interior of the TARDIS is sort of like a bubble floating through time and space, and there isn't one single "present" that we can refer to. All we can do is follow the Doctor around and observe him subjectively.

There are three issues being run together in this thread: the existence of individuals in an overwritten timeline, the difference between agent-relative and agent-neutral reasons, and the individuation of persons across timelines. I can't always tell whether you (and others here, like meese) think OldAmy's logic makes no sense because (1) not having existed is different than being destroyed, (2) the new timestream is a preferable one to the old timestream, or (3) NewAmy is OldAmy, so in helping NewAmy have a better life, she helps herself. These issues come apart. Let me try to explain why I think OldAmy has reason to complain about the Doctor's treatment of her by going through these three issues in turn.

It's a straw man or a misunderstanding to say that I think she has "no reason" to complain about the Doctor's treatment of her, just as I also think Rory and Young!Amy have reason to complain about the Doctor. As meese pointed out upthread, this episode was not about a black or white issue. It was not about a good choice, it was about a "less bad" choice. The "less bad" choice was privileging the rescue of Young!Amy over Old!Amy, even if that means lying to Old!Amy in order to make sure it happens.

I might as well state my position now, for brevity and clarity's sake. I think that the Doctor was right to save Young!Amy, but he was put into a difficult position as a result of having met Old!Amy first. Old!Amy would be self-aware about being rewritten; she would not want to be rewritten, because from her perspective, that would basically be like dying, or at the very least, having your consciousness negated. The Doctor, who takes a different view of self-preservation than most humans who only live in the present, was therefore proactive about making sure she wouldn't be the one to escape, thereby sentencing Amy to 36 years of imprisonment. To a time traveller, privileging the "present" would be seen as a sort of cognitive fallacy, even though it might manifest with seeming cruelty in the moment.

The Doctor used deception and hidden knowledge to guarantee that Young!Amy would be saved, and it was this use of deception and hidden knowledge which traumatized all other parties involved. Strangely enough, perhaps Young!Amy is the least traumatized of the three, although we'll have to wait and see to see what the lasting effects are from that. At least Old!Amy's suffering is over and will, in a sense, never happen, so that's that, for what that's worth. This leaves Rory as being potentially the most justifiably angry of all - he was forced to listen to his wife lay down her life, in a manner of speaking, while she was just inches away, all the while being given an illusory choice to eliminate one version of his wife or the other.

(This cruel-to-be-kind logic is very Time Lord - I remember a Grant Morrison story in which the Time Lords were upset that the Doctor had foiled the Cybermen. After all, after only three measly million years of suffering, eternal peace would have broken out…)

Let's change the case to get rid of issues about whether OldAmy and YoungAmy are the same person. Suppose that the Doctor got there even later than he did in the show. It turned out that OldAmy eventually discovered a man living in the same facility, and together, they had a son. The son grew up, and the parents died. Rory now has to try to solicit the help of the son. There is no chance that the son will exist in the altered timeline. The Doctor says: "Look, we're going to change the timeline. It'll make it so that you never exist. Don't worry, it's not the same thing as dying. Here, push this button to help us out."

I'm sorry, but this is an inapt counterfactual. That is a completely different situation and it doesn't apply to this episode. There is no counterpart to the son or the other man in the story we saw. The story we saw specifically had Amy in isolation for 36 years. The story we saw specifically had Amy describing her life as a living hell. The deck was stacked within the episode to show that Amy's life was in every way worse - and, importantly, alone, with no other contact with any other person or influence on any other person, except negatively in her absence - than if she had been free.

I don't think the Doctor would have tried to "save" Old!Amy if there was a Man and a Son, or if he had tried to, in that case, he would not have been in the right to save Young!Amy over Old!Amy in that case, as Old!Amy is now interlocked with other members of society. In that situation, they should just free her and see what happens.

However, since it's an inapt counterfactual, and not a comparable hypothetical, I'm stuck with the Mr. Jellyneckian reaction of "if 'ifs' and 'buts' were candy and nuts then we'd all have a bowl of granola." Old!Amy was by herself, in a life she hated on every level, not and there were no Sons to zap out of existence.

I can't think of a single model of time travel in which this is not a valid complaint. There aren't many sensible models of time travel in which one can change the past. (It's pretty much incoherent.) In all such models, you don't actually change the past, you either change something that is like the past or are shunted to some timestream that is like that past. And this means that

Doctor Who actually only rarely deals with changing the past per se, but when it does do so, it does go for the "and here's a new reality" gambit. I refer to Michael Gambon and his machine that no longer recognizes him, just as I also refer to the ending of Series 3, when Harold Saxon's paradox is written out of the universe. Things like other dimensions are shown as being beyond the ken of the Doctor - the TARDIS cannot just zap over to other realities whenever it likes.

The Whoniverse deals mostly following the Doctor around as the subjective throughline for time - we see his past, present, and future in terms of episode one being before episode two from his perspective, and so on, with some major exceptions, such as 6x01. Dealing with your past self is seen as highly unwise, because of paradoxes. There's also the idea of fixed points and unfixed points - some things you cannot change, whereas other times, the past can be rewritten.

The Mole Man hypo would work differently in other stories' universes, but that's not the point. Other models of time travel simply do not apply to the show's established logic. Going into how other shows deal with time travel doesn't really work, because the Whoniverse has its own way of working and other shows have their own, and there isn't a "real" version of time travel that we can refer to. Doctor Who is not Sliders, for example, which means that dimension-hopping is not an easily done thing, and Doctor Who does, in fact, show the future as being a place that exists, just as much as the present and past exists. If the future didn't exist, the Doctor wouldn't be able to go there. The twist is that some futures are fixed, whereas others are not.

But this is the one episode to deal with it head-on by making Amy actually voice a complaint that characters in all the other episodes should have been making, if they had bothered to think about how time travel with changing pasts must work. I do not think it is a valid to criticize OldAmy in this episode by pointing out that it means the other episodes of the show make no sense, or means the Doctor is destroying all sorts of innocent people (as Sticherbeast does), because this show is always crazy. Reductio ad absurdum doesn't work in a show that revels in the absurd. It's OK for the show to be nonsensical in other episodes in order to generate some funtimes, but this is one of the few episodes to really try to think through what time travel would actually be like. I don't think we should shrug off the more sophisticated interpretation of time travel in this episode in order to bring it in line with the zaniness of The Big Bang.

I reiterate my point that I do not "criticize" Old!Amy for anything. A major point of the episode was that Old!Amy's plight is sympathetic. I criticize people in the real world who think that saving Old!Amy, within the show's logic, would have been the best choice.

It is, indeed, a problem for what your argument that the show would have to flagrantly contradict itself in order to make saving Old!Amy the right decision. If you want something like saving Old!Amy to be the right decision, then you would have to watch another show. I, personally, would not have been satisfied by an ending where the someone figures out a way to shunt Old!Amy into an alternate universe.

(Although, that said, I could have appreciated an ending where Amy figures out a way to shunt herself into a different universe, or where she's given assistance by the armies from the mid-series finale, thereby leading to an Old!Amy who's a sworn enemy of the Doctor, who probably grows to hate Young!Amy as well, but who also has a soft spot for Rory.)

The Big Bang isn't a problem here, either, because the titular event did, in fact, rewrite history. Rory was no longer an Auton, stars existed, Amy wasn't in prison, the whole bit. That there was an ontological paradox at the heart of it was part of the fun, but there was enough convincing hand-waving to make it all work, and it was satisfying to see them ride that paradox like a rail car. The whole point of that arc was to see how you could escape the perfect prison. The Big Bang makes enough sense for me on that level, and not merely in a "and then zaniness happens to save the day" sort of deus ex machine.

Similarly, wiping someone's existence in order to save their existence is exactly the kind of Chestertonian paradox that Who revels in.

Should she fight with the Doctor and Rory? Or is she wrong about what is in her own best interest?

All of this rumination about abortions and agent-relative decisions has much more to do with why the Doctor doesn't go around changing people's pasts as obviously as he did in the last episode - and certainly not with his subjects' knowledge. When the Doctor travels, he almost always works in the "present" - he tries to unravel the problem at hand, as opposed to zipping back and killing the villain's pregnant mother so as to avoid any conflict. He also almost never introduces himself as a time traveller.

I'm not sure what you're getting at with this section. Of course Old!Amy and her fictive (meta-fictive?) Son would want to save their own existences. Anyone would. From a Time Lord's perspective, however, this goes back to privileging the present being a cognitive fallacy,.

Old!Amy was not happy being by herself. The reason why she was mad at the Doctor was because he left her on the Apple Store Planet. The Doctor knew a way to save Young!Amy from being imprisoned, so he chose that. The problem was that Old!Amy was self-aware about what was going to happen to her. The Doctor's chilly-but-logical response to Old!Amy's complaint would be that Old!Amy won't be around to argue with the now-saved Young!Amy by the time the deed is done.

Again, a major point of the episode was that there was a sad paradox at the heart of the episode, and another major point of the episode was that the Doctor would have to become villainous in order to do what he justifiably believed to be correct.

It was exceptionally clear in the episode that we were supposed to feel bad for Old!Amy, that we were supposed to understand Rory's rage, and that we were supposed to see the Doctor in a much darker light. That doesn't make the Doctor a "monster," however, and I even go so far as to argue that the Doctor had been placed into a thoroughly unwinnable situation.

Rory's suggestion of checking for plagues before traveling to strange planets sounds like the best advice for the doctor that I've ever heard. I hope we go further with this idea - that time travel isn't a toy, that time travel turns you into a god, and gods aren't people and gods can't keep pets.

In the sense that matters for OldAmy's decision, I do not think that OldAmy and YoungAmy are the same person. When YoungAmy grows old, she will be an Old Amy, but she will not be OldAmy: they will have shared none of the same experiences.

Old!Amy's continued existence is contingent on sharing experiences with Young!Amy. If they vary, then Old!Amy ceases to exist.

Further, if you posit that Old!Amy is a different person from Young!Amy, then you're also arguing that Young!Amy must spend 36 years of involuntary solitude so that someone else - Old!Amy - may live.

According to Whoniverse logic, Old!Amy comprises all previous iterations of Young!Amy. New versions of Young!Amy create new Old!Amies.

The Tim/Tom Riker example is inapt. The two Rikers are two different beings, essentially identical twins. They are not two different iterations of Riker across the same timestream, where one grows into the other.

When YoungAmy and OldAmy are in the same room talking to one another, and OldAmy is having experiences YoungAmy will never have and YoungAmy is having experiences OldAmy will never have, how is that not just a case of identity fission, similar to Will and Tom Riker?

Old!Amy says "wait…I remember this" as she starts talking to Young!Amy. Fusion, not fission.

(Side question: I always thought that when recappers put an exclamation point in names like 'Old!Amy', it meant 'not'. Someone acting like Jack Bauer might be called !Jack, and if he got old, he'd be Old!Jack. Am I wrong about the meaning of the exclamation point?)

Yes, my understanding is that the format is adjective!character.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:44 AM on September 16, 2011


When I say, "the Doctor and Rory should have respected Amy's choice as stated," I mean "the Doctor and Rory were written in a way that made it seem like they didn't respect Amy's choice as stated and that seems to affirm a sexist worldview, possibly unconscious, on the part of the writer." But that's wordy.

But those two sentences mean different things, the second sentence makes perfect sense, and the first sentence actually sort of doesn't.

If there had been an episode of of Doctor Who where a stereotypical, hook-nosed Jew was an avaricious goblin out to steal, then we wouldn't say that the Doctor was wrong to prevent him from stealing. We'd say the show's creators were trafficking in ugly stereotypes.

I don't particularly care about the ethics of time travel independent from this argument

So why were we ever arguing about it, at length? That was, I believe, meese's point upthread - the aspects of the episode which may be construed as feminist fail are entirely severable, if not already fully severed, from the dilemma as depicted in the story, within the universe of the story.

I agree with some aspects of what you say about the past episode and I disagree with other aspects. I think that the last episode did Amy no favors so far as getting her character back to being an active character, and that is of course an issue which is soaked in preexisting issues about the patriarchy. That said, you're ignoring the passivity of Rory throughout the episode - he's essentially turned into a walking pair of glasses for the Doctor. You're also ignoring how the episode itself portrays the Doctor as a screw-up on several major levels - he doesn't check to see what the planet will be like when they step off the TARDIS, he negligently allows Amy to be separated from them, he gets the timing of the rescue completely wrong, he lies to everyone (not just Old!Amy), and he lets Old!Amy contemplate her impending "death" (which she later hastens) while Rory can only bawl impotently on the other side of a door. The episode did not portray the Doctor's actions as being an unmitigated good, and he gave both Rory and probably Amy as well excellent reasons to not trust the Doctor anymore. It's interesting storytelling, and not just giving all the good characters cookies and all the bad characters slaps. As Kurt Vonnegut put it, "Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of."

And when you raise the issue of how the Doctor doesn't ask Young!Amy what she would like, as evidence of further sexism on the writers' part, that example just isn't convincing. Your initial concern had been that they didn't honestly ask Old!Amy what to do; if that had been your concern, then you must accept Old!Amy's decision overriding Young!Amy's decision, which overrides Amy's choices just as much as anything else. Using Amy's treatment in this episode as a synecdoche for women's treatment through the new run comes off as very "Walrus and Carpenter" - what you want for that female character isn't any more liberating for that character than what the predominantly male writers had wanted.

I think that there are more productive ways to identify problematic issues and themes in the new season.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:03 PM on September 16, 2011


That's what puzzled me. When Old!Amy was the same age, with the same amount of experience, on her first few days in the robot facility, she figured out how to disable the robots, and clearly she never got caught by them. But Young!Amy somehow didn't do this, she actually got caught by them.

We see Young!Amy figuring out that the two robots can be made to conk one another out, even though we do later see Young!Amy, in the midst of an all-out battle, being knocked unconscious, just as Rory earlier had been.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:08 PM on September 16, 2011


When I say, "the Doctor and Rory should have respected Amy's choice as stated," I mean "the Doctor and Rory were written in a way that made it seem like they didn't respect Amy's choice as stated and that seems to affirm a sexist worldview, possibly unconscious, on the part of the writer." But that's wordy.

But those two sentences mean different things, the second sentence makes perfect sense, and the first sentence actually sort of doesn't.


Sorry, that last clause was over-the-top and not really what I mean. It's not so much that the first sentence is nonsense, so much as it is IMHO a weak ethical argument if we approach the situation from happening as depicted, which is what we have to deal with if we're criticizing the characters themselves.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:36 PM on September 16, 2011


So why were we ever arguing about it, at length?

I'm not sure. Every time I stated, very plainly, that I was arguing about female constructs and patriarchal values here you tried to tell me that I didn't believe that saving Old!Amy would damn Young!Amy to thirty six years of imprisonment. That is why I'm so frustrated with this conversation. As I said somewhere upthread, it's not that I doubt the mechanics, but rather that I disagree with the value you place on "freedom" here alone, and instead value other things--experience, stated free will, characters who don't conform to sexist stereotypes, female characters being allowed agency and decision-making power over their lives. But . . . you continue to try to engage me in an argument about mechanics, and that's incredibly frustrating. I'm starting to empathize with Older!Amy, in that I just feel like I'm not being heard.

That was, I believe, meese's point upthread - the aspects of the episode which may be construed as feminist fail are entirely severable, if not already fully severed, from the dilemma as depicted in the story, within the universe of the story.

What you seem to be missing about my argument is that the dilemma as depicted in the story is constructed in a way that limits the characters' options to ones that reaffirm sexist values. The writers created the situations here, the characters, and the choices that characters made out of many bad options. And I felt that all of these were done in a way that reaffirmed sexist values. You can't sever the elements of the story from the discussion of the way these elements are fundamentally flawed from a feminist perspective. I'm not . . . entirely sure why you would argue that you could. It feels like you're trying to cut my argument off at the knees. I'm fine with disagreeing, for what it's worth. At this point, I'd much prefer it.

And when you raise the issue of how the Doctor doesn't ask Young!Amy what she would like, as evidence of further sexism on the writers' part, that example just isn't convincing. Your initial concern had been that they didn't honestly ask Old!Amy what to do; if that had been your concern, then you must accept Old!Amy's decision overriding Young!Amy's decision, which overrides Amy's choices just as much as anything else

Well, why isn't it convincing? I find it problematic that they didn't ask Younger!Amy what she wanted (they assume her desires, reiterating patriarchal values), and I find it further problematic that they didn't listen to Older!Amy when she stated how she felt. I find both things equally concerning from a feminist perspective. I'm not sure what the solution would be if Younger!Amy had stated her desires. I guess it depends on what her argument would be.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:56 PM on September 16, 2011


Every time I stated, very plainly, that I was arguing about female constructs and patriarchal values here you tried to tell me that I didn't believe that saving Old!Amy would damn Young!Amy to thirty six years of imprisonment. That is why I'm so frustrated with this conversation. As I said somewhere upthread, it's not that I doubt the mechanics, but rather that I disagree with the value you place on "freedom" here alone, and instead value other things--experience, stated free will, characters who don't conform to sexist stereotypes, female characters being allowed agency and decision-making power over their lives. But . . . you continue to try to engage me in an argument about mechanics, and that's incredibly frustrating. I'm starting to empathize with Older!Amy, in that I just feel like I'm not being heard.

My difficulty with our conversation is that you often phrase your concerns with regard to certain characters doing good or bad things, being paternalistic or not, being heard or not, etc., when your concern is actually with the writers.

This leads to confusion when you are saying that the Doctor was behaving in a certain way towards Amy in this episode, but that you'd feel differently if Rory had been in Amy's position, or if the Doctor had been a woman - you are actually judging the universe of the show as the writers have assembled it, as opposed to the Doctor's actions as a character.

Also, if you are describing characters' actions as being horrific, paternalistic, etc., then it is completely in play to bring up how those value judgments may be flawed within the universe of the story. When you criticize the characters, you have to deal with their POV, their world, and the rules they have to play by. When you focus more on the writers, you get to step outside of that.

There are many situations where characters are doing something right, within their story's universe, even if we may also argue that those characters' writers have done something else wrong.

You can't sever the elements of the story from the discussion of the way these elements are fundamentally flawed from a feminist perspective. I'm not . . . entirely sure why you would argue that you could. It feels like you're trying to cut my argument off at the knees. I'm fine with disagreeing, for what it's worth. At this point, I'd much prefer it.

You could structure your argument as being about how the writers generally treat gender relations within the universe of the story. You'd probably have to look more closely at how you make value judgments about characters within the show's universe, because those exist at the behest of the show's creators.

This is why I had brought up the idea of the stereotypical Jew whose theft is foiled by the Doctor. The weak critique would say that the Doctor was wrong to prevent thieves from stealing. The stronger critique would be that the show's creators are trafficking in ugly stereotypes by depicting a stereotypical Jew as a thief.

Well, why isn't it convincing? I find it problematic that they didn't ask Younger!Amy what she wanted (they assume her desires, reiterating patriarchal values), and I find it further problematic that they didn't listen to Older!Amy when she stated how she felt. I find both things equally concerning from a feminist perspective. I'm not sure what the solution would be if Younger!Amy had stated her desires. I guess it depends on what her argument would be.

But you completely override Young!Amy's desires when you consult Old!Amy for a decision. This is where criticizing the characters runs aground against your desire to have a larger critique about Doctor Who and feminism and ignoring the rights of Amy - you criticize the characters for doing abc or or for not doing xyz, but your alternative courses of action are not more liberating for the characters.

Critiquing this conundrum as a feminist fail moment for the show would be more along the lines of pointing out how Amy must be lied to in order to protect her from herself, and how we lose a powerful-looking woman in her 50s, and how this is a bit of whiplash given the rubbishing her character's gotten over the past season.

The critique grows much weaker when we start substituting our value judgments of the writers for the value judgments of the characters. For example, the idea that the Doctor and Rory were being overly paternalistic of Amy by trying to save her from 36 years of solitary confinement rings extremely false to me - why wouldn't they try to save her from that? I'd want them to do the same for me. I'd be pretty miserable if I was Mole Man Sticherbeast, molemanning around under the crust of the earth, when you suddenly appear and say, "by the way, the Doctor was going to save you from falling under the crust, but we saw an older version of you and decided it would be paternalistic to assume that you would have wanted to be rescued."

On the other hand, the idea that the writers were reinforcing patriarchal values by putting the characters into that situation would be completely fair.

At the same time, that critique would also have to deal with how the episode was obviously designed to make you sympathize with Old!Amy and see the Doctor in a very dim light. It contains much of its own critique, and it seems apparent that they're going to deal with this more as they go on.

I am more than fine with simply agreeing to disagree at this point, especially since a new episode is coming up.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:42 PM on September 16, 2011


This is why I had brought up the idea of the stereotypical Jew whose theft is foiled by the Doctor. The weak critique would say that the Doctor was wrong to prevent thieves from stealing. The stronger critique would be that the show's creators are trafficking in ugly stereotypes by depicting a stereotypical Jew as a thief.

Quite frankly, I ignored that because it felt like a Godwinning.

My difficulty with our conversation is that you often phrase your concerns with regard to certain characters doing good or bad things, being paternalistic or not, being heard or not, etc., when your concern is actually with the writers.

I'm concerned with the characters actions as they assert the apparent sexism of the writers; they're essentially one and the same, but it's easier to refer to the characters actions in common conversation. I've been abundantly clear on that, and I wish you'd just accept that instead of repeatedly derailing the argument into nitpicking about whether I'm really annoyed at the characters or not.

Critiquing this conundrum as a feminist fail moment for the show would be more along the lines of pointing out how Amy must be lied to in order to protect her from herself, and how we lose a powerful-looking woman in her 50s, and how this is a bit of whiplash given the rubbishing her character's gotten over the past season.

Thank you for telling me what I should be arguing. Are we still doing the hamburger thing?

For example, the idea that the Doctor and Rory were being overly paternalistic of Amy by trying to save her from 36 years of solitary confinement rings extremely false to me - why wouldn't they try to save her from that? I'd want them to do the same for me.

I don't know what to say besides that, when a woman says something, and her husband and another man ignore that because she must be wrong to feel that way--and you assert that they're right, because you think she's wrong to think that--that sounds paternalistic to me. That's what I've been saying all along. You can tell me she's wrong because you'd do otherwise 'til you're blue in the face; I suspect that's what the writers felt, too. But that doesn't make it true or right.

I am more than fine with simply agreeing to disagree at this point, especially since a new episode is coming up.

Thank friggin' God.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:05 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


This evening I went to the Mid-Manhattan library to select my DVDs for the weekend. In the TV section they have a decent selection of Classic Who--mostly Tom Baker, a few Peter Davisons, and something called "Dalekmania" that I can't bring myself to investigate further. There was a couple in their 50s with Caribbean accents scooping up the Who DVDs. "We hit the Doctor Who jackpot!" exclaims the man excitedly. Then he starts singing the theme song: dum dum-dum dum-dum, and his wife starts singing along with him: dooo-weeee-OOOOOOO... And they collapse into giggles.

Just demonstrates the hold this show still has on people. And now I'm looking forward to this week's episode.
posted by orrnyereg at 6:22 PM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here's io9's spoiler-filled recap of "The God Complex."

I for one never lost my faith in the Minotaur. That flesh-hungry half-man half-bull kept us safe from the terrorists.
posted by homunculus at 12:58 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not a single REDRUM joke?? I am disappoint.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:05 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Overall, there was a lot to like about the time travel ideas that TGWW plays with, but I agree the feminist critique is potent here. It really is hard to explain why we should privilege saving Old!Amy over Young!Amy. You can say that's the best thing for her, but Old!Amy didn't agree with that (not until it was too late anyway). She wanted to live, and no one took that desire seriously. The only reasons to default to saving Young!Amy are (1) Rory wants to continue to have sex with a young, fun wife, (2) the Doctor doesn't want to feel guilty again and (3) we don't really care what Old!Amy wants, or we think we know better than she does whether her life is worth continuing. It really doesn't matter that, at the end, she acquiesces. She was given no say in the matter anyway. Yes, Young!Amy wanted to be rescued, but if the choice essentially boils down to kill one woman or imprison one woman for 36 years (knowing already that she can and will survive it), under what moral schema do we decide that death is preferable to isolation? A really brave bit of writing would have had the same set-up but with the Doctor explaining to Rory that, given the option, we can't choose to blink another person out of existence for the sake of our own happiness. Old!Amy enters the Tardis and we zoom away to leave Young!Amy to 36 years of isolation. (Yeah, I know, as it is written Young!Amy was about the get the shot that would presumably have killed her, but it certainly didn't have to be written that we. They didn't even need to bring the Amys together. Having talked to Old!Amy and realized that she had the right to say that she preferred to continue her existence as it was, they didn't need to interact with Young!Amy at all. We could have had a nice teary shot of Rory, in the Tardis with Old!Amy, looking through the magic mirror at Young!Amy as she dispatches her first robot and goes scrounging through its parts for anything useful, knowing what lies ahead.)

On another (but related) note: this feels like an "impossible decision" episode, but the writers tried to make the decision as easy as possibly by having Old!Amy be alone, bitter, and devoid of any happiness. That makes it easier for us to feel okay about denying her agency. Another, braver, choice would have been for Old!Amy to have eventually contacted whatever person is running the place, proved that she is human and disease-free, and been released. She makes friends and has a good life, and has a current boyfriend (after the first decade pining for Rory, she's moved on.) While the Doctor and Rory are frantically trying to save Young!Amy, Older!Amy re-enters the hospital, knocks on the door of the Tardis, and explains that while she appreciates the effort and it's nice to see them again, she's moved on and has a happy life now, but if they pull her younger self out of the timestream, it's going to mess up the good thing that she has going now, and, thanks, anyway, but I'd rather not die. Does that Amy have the right to keep existing? I think most of us would say that yes, of course she does, and if Rory privileges his own happiness over Older!Amy's existence, he would be making a terribly immoral choice. He needs to move on. But the only difference in that scenario is that Older!Amy is happy. And it simply isn't tenable to say that happy people get to continue living while unhappy people don't. Especially since Older!Amy certainly went through an unhappy period while securing her release, but it makes no sense to say that she had no agency then but does now. And Old!Amy from the episode as it is written certainly could have a happy future ahead of her. We've already seen that she can still laugh. If the Doctor had saved Old!Amy and a year from now she was drinking beers, surrounded by friends and volunteering with a charity that helps people with PTSD, none of us would feel okay about ending her life, against her wishes, to go rescue Young!Amy. But fortunately, we caught her at a very miserable point in her existence, so we don't mind killing off the old, bitter chick to go back and hang out some more with the young, fun version.

In short, yeah, feminism fail.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:11 AM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well think of it all this way, there's only one more episode this season, so now we can go watch reruns of Tom Baker in The Horns of Nimon, without Moffatt pretending it's new.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:44 PM on September 18, 2011


Just finished watching The God Complex. Wonderfully creepy and fun episode, but still doing the character of Amy no favors. This is the third episode in a row where Amy is a victim who needs to be rescued. Combined with the whole pregnancy arc and the fact that the characters seem to have remarkably short memories (episodes are either mysterious and plot-heavy or have no references to prior events at all - why no concern for the lost Melody Pond? Why is Amy's faith in the Doctor still unshaken after what he did to older Amy, and why don't we get to see her reaction?), I'm finding this series overall disappointing.
posted by Gordafarin at 2:41 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the whole, I think Doctor Who has some of the most interesting ideas that any series has ever tackled. And I really do like how they are treating the question of who the Doctor fundamentally is. But it does appear that the writers aren't able to deconstruct the Doctor's identity, play around with science fiction tropes and have the characters react realistically to what's been happening. It is very, very hard to believe that Rory and Amy wouldn't be completely distraught over the loss of their baby, even if they know that she eventually turns out okay. Can we really believe that they wouldn't at the very least insist that he arrange a sit-down with River so they can ask a lot of questions and get to know their own daughter? Why aren't we dealing with the implications of their weird new family formation? And doesn't River want to know more about her parents? How can these people be so uncurious?

Having said that, I remain and fan, and what DW does well it does better than anything else I know. But this season is getting hard to believe, and it's not because of weird time-travel paradoxes. The personal reactions aren't ringing true.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:24 PM on September 18, 2011


It was a whole week since Amy needed to be saved or have the Doctor make a decision for her without consulting her, perhaps we had forgotten about that.

I was also rather underimpressed that for Amy to grow up and get past her hero complex -- a good thing for her to do -- she had to take Rory's name (or at least the Doctor called her Amy Williams). Was her not changing her name supposed to be part of that triangle, or her immaturity?
posted by jeather at 3:25 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


jeather, I think that relates to the stated need for them both needing to 'grow up' - that's the Doctor acknowledging that she's no longer little Amelia Pond (note all the cut-in shots of Amelia) but has, in fact, grown up into Amy Williams.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:45 PM on September 18, 2011


the Doctor called her Amy Williams

To me that felt like a patriarchal handing-off of Amy to Rory. Which rather undercut the previous ten minutes' theme of "rely on yourself rather than putting faith in the Doctor." Self-reliant maybe, but you belong to this dude now, okay?

I wonder what was in the Doctor's room; it clearly didn't surprise him much. All his lost and damaged companions?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:43 PM on September 18, 2011


Amy had to grow up, but choosing to call her by her husband's name, which she quite consciously didn't take, is a very odd way of having her do it. Sexist, of course, and bizarrely telling her to rely on Rory (which somehow wouldn't be faith like it was when it was about the Doctor).
posted by jeather at 5:18 PM on September 18, 2011


I agree with coriolisdave: I think he was calling her Amelia Pond as a reminder to himself that she's not The (Little) Girl Who Waited anymore. Whatever one thinks of Rory, she IS his wife. Though an overall bland episode, it was nice to see the Doctor doing the right thing for a change.

As for what was in his room: his reaction reminded me of the end of Amy's Choice, when he revealed that the Dream Lord was a manifestation of his own subconscious. Is he afraid of himself?
posted by orrnyereg at 6:15 PM on September 18, 2011


Also, Matt Smith has wonderfully expressive eyes. Give those peepers an Emmy, already!
posted by orrnyereg at 6:19 PM on September 18, 2011


Is he afraid of himself?

I think he's not so much afraid of himself, as he is afraid of himself from certain angles. He loves himself, as the god who gets to sweep in, save the day, reaffirm the value of love and beauty and humanity, and then whisk off for new adventure -- from that angle, he's good. But he hates himself, as the irresponsible busybody who raises people's hopes and makes them love him only to see them killed or maimed or destroyed. So, it seems pretty reasonable to suppose that he saw himself in the room... But I'd have to guess that it wasn't just him, but him failing to save someone or similar.

Another possibility is that it's all his past companions. He has failed them all (hasn't he? I don't know OldWho so well). It would fit with the ending of the episode.

Another possibility is that it's the TARDIS somehow destroyed. He does say "Who else?" as opposed to "What else?" which implies a person. So maybe Idris, dead? But I don't like this solution so much because I think the thing that the Doctor has faith in is the TARDIS. And you can't inspire someone's faith in X by showing them X destroyed.
posted by meese at 6:39 PM on September 18, 2011


At some point I'll get around to reading everything here. I missed this thread in my Hurricane-induced week offline and because it doesn't have a "doctorwho" thread I couldn't find it later. No matter.

I see that last week had PhoBwanKenobi and Stitcherbeast arguing like mad about The Girl Who Waited.. I'll just say that I share PhoB's discomfort with the episode, but I think the grand point is missed there: we were supposed to be uncomfortable with it. The Doctor did something he can't explain away, and the very end of the episode has him walking away from doing so. The Doctor's actions were cruel and cowardly and the episode isn't very subtle about the fact that they are to be viewed that way.

What I love is how subtly that builds (particularly in the season's "Doctor-lite" episode.

1. He tries talking to Old!Amy, using his tropes of old, and realizes that she's no longer enamored with him, in fact hates him, and has no interest in sacrificing herself after a lifetime of self-sufficiency (even if the existence was hell, it was her own.)
2. He finds Young!Amy, gets the two Amies talking, and hopes that will resolve the matter. It does, eventually, but Old!Amy still insists upon living.
3. The Doctor, desperate, talks out of his ass about how, sure, both of them can live, just get everyone to the TARDIS. Oh, wait! It's all your responsibility now, Rory! Bye!
4. Rory and the Amies make it through to the final room, Old!Amy holds things off so that Rory and Young!Amy can get inside the TARDIS, and then goes for it herself.
5. The Doctor, his bluff called, slams the door in her face. He was lying in step three. Moreover, he was willing to kill off the disillusioned Amy who no longer adored him, in order to maintain the status quo with an Amy who thinks of him as a God. (This is obviously borne out in "The God Complex," but also in "Let's Kill Hitler," where the only form of the interface he can suffer is that of AMelia, who doesn't have a reason to hate him.)
6. And this is the worst, he tells Rory that the choice is his, while knowing that the very essence of Rory is that he cannot possibly make that choice. He cannot actively choose to let Amy die, no matter the circumstances. And so the Doctor can remain certain that the door will remain closed due to inaction, but hey, it was Rory's choice.

It was a progression all the way through from pragmatic to unforgivable, with each step making just enough sense on it's own that once it all comes together it feels shattering. Yes, it was an impossible situation. The Doctor still shouldn't have done it the way he did. And we get Rory calling him out on it, thank god.

Speaking of God, right, "The God Complex." More specifically, the "Amy Williams" thing. Perhaps I'm being too charitable, but that moment floored me, I think because I didn't see it in the feminist-fail way which, to be fair, it could easily, easily be seen in. Emotionally, at the time, I saw it as something different, and something which I think is far more thematically tied to the moment.

Amelia Pond is The Doctor's idealized fairy-tale girl. She is perpetually seven years old in his mind. Her name, as he said in "The Eleventh Hour," is something straight out of a fairy tale, in fact. Amy Williams, however, is a grown woman with a life that doesn't revolve around flying around with him and telling him how awesome he is. She is a woman with a life that the Doctor, meaning well for the most part, has disrupted horribly. By continually calling her "Pond," including at her wedding, he was rejecting this version of her in favor of the one he preferred, "The Girl Who Waited."

Instead, here, he says, "let us see each other as we truly are." Calling her "Amy Williams" is not passing her off to Rory, but acknowledging that she grew up, and made choices without him.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:39 PM on September 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


I wonder what was in the Doctor's room; it clearly didn't surprise him much. All his lost and damaged companions?

I thought I heard The Cloister Bell when he opened the door...that page actually confirms that they played it at that point too.

Also, Matt Smith has wonderfully expressive eyes. Give those peepers an Emmy, already!

Sadly, I think being a BBC production excludes it from American television awards...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:41 PM on September 18, 2011


Yeah. I think the best Smith, Gillam and Darvill (and, I guess, Kingston) can hope for is a BAFTA.

Anyway, since this appears to be the devoted discussion thread, I'll repeat what I said in the newer one:
At the beginning of the season, Amy and Rory are at home, with no way of contacting the Doctor, and have been there for an indefinite amount of time. They are called out by the mysterious invitations to Lake Silencia, where they meet up with The Doctor and break out the champagne. We then discover that The Doctor has been running for 200 years since he last saw them, and that he called them there to watch him die.

And then, "The God Complex" ends with him leaving Amy and Rory at home, indefinitely, with no means of contacting him, and the Doctor running off, distraught, knowing that his death is coming sooner or later now.

So... are we back at the beginning of the season, now? And if so, how? Was it a new home the Doctor was giving them along with the new car? (The scene feels deliberately ambiguous about this, to me.) And how can that work when Amy references River being her daughter at the drop-off pont, while only learning about her pregnancy at Lake Silencio (or there abouts)?

Oh, also the Doctor was notably chowing down on an apple last night, as well as solving a Rubik's Cube, two things he has called "rubbish" in the past. What is going on?

On the more solid emotional ground, I'm glad that there's no way we've seen the last of Amy and Rory, as both of them, but Rory in particular, have been growing like crazy this season (which I'll have to respectfully disagree with some of you about - it hasn't been perfect, but the highs have been amazingly high) At this point I'm watching more for Arthur Darville than for anyone else, even as I love all three leads, and I couldn't wait for Rory to be gone last season.

Quite an accomplishment, really.
If we can get crazy-ass theories moving on this I'd love to read them.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:37 PM on September 18, 2011


Amy had to grow up, but choosing to call her by her husband's name, which she quite consciously didn't take, is a very odd way of having her do it. Sexist, of course, and bizarrely telling her to rely on Rory (which somehow wouldn't be faith like it was when it was about the Doctor).

It also mirrors how the Doctor pointedly refers to Rory as Rory Pond (and the couple as the Ponds) at the beginning of the season, and it also mirrors the first episode where the Doctor tells Amy that it was a mistake to no longer call herself Amelia. He doesn't mean any harm, but the Doctor has the funny habit of controlling his companions' identity - after all, it's the Doctor and his Companions, not Amy and Rory and their Doctor.

I think he's not so much afraid of himself, as he is afraid of himself from certain angles. He loves himself, as the god who gets to sweep in, save the day, reaffirm the value of love and beauty and humanity, and then whisk off for new adventure -- from that angle, he's good. But he hates himself, as the irresponsible busybody who raises people's hopes and makes them love him only to see them killed or maimed or destroyed. So, it seems pretty reasonable to suppose that he saw himself in the room... But I'd have to guess that it wasn't just him, but him failing to save someone or similar.

For a while in the episode I wondered if Rita wasn't supposed to be some sort of nightmare vision for the Doctor - that even if he were to start anew with a new friend, she'd die like all the rest.

[The Girl Who Waited] was a progression all the way through from pragmatic to unforgivable, with each step making just enough sense on it's own that once it all comes together it feels shattering. Yes, it was an impossible situation. The Doctor still shouldn't have done it the way he did. And we get Rory calling him out on it, thank god.

I agree with your analysis. That's why I loved that episode so much. It was dark and difficult, and it exposed many long-simmering issues people have had with the Doctor.

I also enjoyed The God Complex, for similar reasons. By the end, the Doctor's remaining tactic is to cure Amy of her faith in him, by confessing what his vanity and failure. He also performs his most notable act of medicine, by euthanizing the minotaur. The only person whom he saves, aside from Amy and Rory, is the world's biggest coward.

It'll be interesting to see the show build the Doctor back up. It's been fun, seeing the Doctor as a "fuck yeah, let's get shit done" sort of hero, but it's high time that we got back to the Doctor skulking around strange planets and quarries, hopefully for 2-4 episode mini-arcs. What NuWho lacks nowadays is that sense of wonder and wandering from the Classic era. It's time to bring that back, by bringing the Doctor back to being a curious but often befuddled alien.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:02 PM on September 18, 2011


So, as much as I liked "The God Complex," (and I really did, aside from the Abbott and Costello routine of the Doctor's conversation with the Minotaur, repeating everything it said for us) it troubled me in a weird way when I watched it last night. Like it was unresolved in ways that it wasn't admitting to. Anti-climactic in a jarring way. Watching it again, I don't feel that as much, but still...

I think it's clear that we're going to be seeing Amy and Rory again (they're on contract, for one thing) but abandoning them at that point seemed off somehow. Their story wasn't done yet.

And now I see it more clearly. As bad as The Doctor might be for his companions, and sure, he can be, he's not recognizing how GOOD Rory is for him. How much he needs Rory around.

Rory has come fully into his own. He is a man who treats the Doctor as a friend, but who is also perhaps the only person in the universe who neither loves him nor hates him, and yet knows him intimately and will call him out on his bullshit. Rory spends his time on the TARDIS to be with Amy, not to see what the Doctor can tempt him with. He is, in short, the conscience that The Doctor needs.

And it'd be a damn shame to see him lose it.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:35 PM on September 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Instead, here, he says, "let us see each other as we truly are." Calling her "Amy Williams" is not passing her off to Rory, but acknowledging that she grew up, and made choices without him.

NB: have not watched yet. But I suspect the reason why things like this, and the stuff that's being read as sexist in the last ep rankles some people is that even though it could be all innocent and unintentional, MoffatWho seems to very often default to very traditional models when it comes to women. "This woman grew up now and the way you know that is because she took her husband's name" might be just one example of that kind of thing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:39 PM on September 18, 2011


(Another example would be River saying she's going to be an archaeologist because she's looking for "a good man"--as someone pointed out on my blog, yes, this is just a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Doctor. It's also what women used to say when they'd go away to college in hopes of finding a husband. There's a sort of consistent return to an almost pre-feminist world in Moffat's Who and I think that's what makes me, at least, a little, "Buh?")
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:43 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


PhoBWanKenobi: I hear you. I had one emotional reading of the moment and another immediate concern that it would be read differently, for obvious reasons. I think Moffatt has brought upon himself uncharitable readings of his scripts, and that's his own fault. But for whatever it's worth, he didn't write "The Girl Who Waited" nor "The God Complex."

(And if we're blaming him as a showrunner, he also certainly never ended an episode with a woman being made into a sentient sex-toy of a flagstone, either.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:44 PM on September 18, 2011


Nah, but he is responsible for the River eps, which are what's lending a lot of the general air of this kind of attitude toward women to his seasons. I think a lot of viewers are reacting to the stuff in concert, not any single element specifically.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:51 PM on September 18, 2011


I'm sorry, I should have been a lot more clear in my previous comment. Moffatt brings a lot of feminist baggage along with him, to be sure. He didn't write the last two episodes, and thus I link it's uncharitable to bring Moffatt's issues into those so much, as they were both great character pieces with grey morality that were about much deeper things that what Moffatt thinks women want to do with their lives. I understand that he's the showrunner, but I doubt he's meddling with the scripts in order to add "That Magic Moffatt Sexism Touch" though maybe I'm wrong.

On the other hand, I found RTD's treatment of women within the context of the actual show to be far more troublesome than Moffatt's. The ending of "Love & Monsters" (which was otherwise an excellent episode, I thought) was the most horrifying example, but it was all over it. Donna's fate. Martha, travelling with him because of a crush and then leaving because he couldn't be with her. Giving Rose the "gift" of a half-Doctor. "Don't you think she looks tied?" Any of these things are things Moffatt would be tarred and feathered for, but RTD didn't make the dumbass comments in interviews, and so they are left to slide.

And Moffatt has said some stupid, sexist shit which I'm not going to defend, but it has also created a situation (of his own making, to be sure) in which if he includes a woman, the character will be judged harshly. "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" is proof that he thinks women can't be smart and beautiful at the same time. But what about River? or Madame du Pompodour? Well, they're examples of going too far the other way, I guess. In any case, he can't win on this front.

And that's his own fault. He said some stupid shit. But I'm not going to bring that stupid shit into brilliant episodes he didn't even write.

And I'm also going to keep making the point that RTD was far worse about this shit than Moffatt has been, even if RTD was smart enough to to say something stupid in an interview.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:12 PM on September 18, 2011


Well, I wasn't blaming Moffat specifically but rather raising criticisms of Moffat-era Who, which is different. I'm not saying that RTD is beyond reporach--he's not, and I think we're all horrified with what he did to Donna, the Doctor included. Not sure how River and MdP are examples of him going too far, anyway. I liked The Girl in the Fireplace--liked River's early appearances. It's been mostly what we've learned about her motivations that have squandered her for me as a character, and I think what Moffat said in that interview explained a lot of what already bothered me about the two primary couples' relationships, rather than creating problems in and of themselves.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:21 PM on September 18, 2011


(In other words, I'm talking more about the writing staff generally and how things have felt off than putting it on the shoulders of any one writer, or even episode. It's when you look at it all together that it looks really damning and seems to be a very traditional sort of narrative, rather than when you look at any parts in isolation)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:25 PM on September 18, 2011


Right on. I know about the problems people have with Amy as a character (and maybe my rant above came from getting them, but not entirely sharing them) so I get your objections. My female Doctor Who fans share them, so I need to assume that the problem is on my end, but I see it as intentional. As likable as The Doctor is, he is a selfish, jealous, vain bastard who ruins people.

(Which doesn't explain the choice to make Amy a kiss-o-gram, so... well, no, I've got no explanation for that. But I still love the last two seasons.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:37 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


To put it another way, (and I'm soft-pedaling the feminist argument here because I am, frankly, not qualified to judge) the back-half of the season has been about how awful the Doctor is to Amy, even while seeming to be great to her. He can only accept the interface of Amelia, because he fucks over his companions so badly. He kills her older self in favor of saving the younger Amy who still adores him (and erasing the damage he did to Old!Amy) and.. and...

He made her an outcast through her childhood, getting her sent to four different shrinks. Then he made her wait some more. He stole her away the night before her wedding and then rejected her advances, guilting her about it and bringing her fiancee along, almost as a punishment. When she was curious enough to look around New Britain, and then choose to forget as EVERYONE else chose, he nearly kicked her away. He jealously forced her to choose between himself and her fiancee as a life-or-death matter. He left her for months with no word just to invite her to watch his death, and he caused her newborn child to be taken away from her. And then he killed a version of her who was wise enough to reject him in favor of one young enough to still love him.

In other words, The Doctor has been fucking abusive beyond the charts to Amy. And I'd blame the showrunners and writers for this if not for the fact that the back half of this season has been about the slow realization of how fucked up this all is. It's all a comment on how badly he has treated her, while she remains wide-eyed at getting the opportunity. And it's fucked up. But that's the point.

I thought the Doctor breaking Amy's faith in him was perfect because it had been so well-earned at that point. Everything he said was true. And it hurt because, well, this was The Doctor. And not just that, it was Matt Smith's Doctor, arguably the most well-rendered and lovable one to date (calm down Tom Baker fans, I said "arguably.")

Basically, we're at a point where the show is making the point that the Doctor is wrong.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:03 PM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bit late, but: I'm just starting to wonder why everyone who I've talked to about the episode who is upset seems to be a woman-type, and the men I'm talking to have been pretty much, "Sexism? No way." But maybe it's just confirmation bias. I don't know.

I'm a man, I think it's sexist, and part of a general disappointing trend. "It's time to grow up, and be a proper woman, and take your husband's name!" "I want to be a cool space archaeologist, yeah - but only so I can meet my man!" And of course we save Young Amy, she's still fertile and attractive. Old women are valueless, unless I guess they're providing childcare or midwifery.

Time for a female Doctor.
posted by alasdair at 1:21 AM on September 19, 2011


For a while in the episode I wondered if Rita wasn't supposed to be some sort of nightmare vision for the Doctor - that even if he were to start anew with a new friend, she'd die like all the rest.

From the production side of things, my SO mentioned to me (though I haven't confirmed it) that there's some sort of executive order that they can't kill off companions anymore. So instead, they kill off one-shot characters that would make great companions - hence Rita, and Lorna, the girl from A Good Man Goes to War.
posted by Gordafarin at 4:34 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sometimes think I watched a different "Girl in the Fireplace" than everyone else, because all I remember about it was Madame de Pompadour waiting around for the Doctor her whole life, then dying, plus some amazingly creepy aliens who wanted her brain.

I think Moffatt has brought upon himself uncharitable readings of his scripts, and that's his own fault. But for whatever it's worth, he didn't write "The Girl Who Waited" nor "The God Complex."

Assuming for the sake of argument that Moffat didn't make any changes to those episodes or their dialogue, the season is based on his showrunning, the episodes are fitting the arc he created, etc. It's an atmosphere, and I am sure the writers are chosen because they fit in with the general way he wants the show to go (as well as being good writers).


Was RTD more sexist? Well, in ways yes, in ways no. Rose, whether you liked her or not, grew a great deal as a character, as did Martha -- she had a crush, she left when it wasn't reciprocated and came back when she was ready. (So did Donna, but she got hit with the reset button, so that doesn't count.)

"Don't you think she looks tired?" was -- it's hard to explain it, but it was a knowingly sexist comment, certainly, and it was used in that way. It was partially a deliberate reflection of the surrounding culture, where I feel the sexism in the Moffat episodes are accidental glimpses of Moffat's actual thoughts. Not that RTD was perfect (what he did to Donna still is worse than the smaller scale stuff SM is doing to Amy, though this is again and again and again), but I felt his female characters were better drawn and less stereotyped than his male characters.
posted by jeather at 5:35 AM on September 19, 2011


I just think Moffatt doesn't write women well, period. The Jeckyll miniseries is a good example of this. Maybe it's not so much sexism as a lack of ability.

So how many more episodes are left in this season? I haven't really enjoyed an episode since the Ganger two-parter and am increasingly indifferent to how this season gets wrapped up. What I AM excited about is next season, where (if Matt Smith makes good on his promise) Craig Ferguson will be one of the baddies. What this show needs are handpuppets, and musical numbers.
posted by orrnyereg at 5:50 AM on September 19, 2011


Late to the conversation, so forgive me if someone else has already raised this, but:

I think it's clear that we're going to be seeing Amy and Rory again (they're on contract, for one thing) but abandoning them at that point seemed off somehow. Their story wasn't done yet.

Their story is just beginning, I think. I got the feeling that "The God Complex" takes place before "The Impossible Astronaut." He's dropping them off at their apartment. An undetermined amount of time later, they get the blue invitations to the beach. (Amy, IIRC, says something in that episode along the lines of "We haven't seen or heard from him in a while.")
posted by jbickers at 6:36 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I got the feeling that "The God Complex" takes place before "The Impossible Astronaut." He's dropping them off at their apartment.

FWIW, the door is white in The Impossible Astronaut, but blue in The God Complex.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:46 AM on September 19, 2011


Sorry, which door is that?
posted by orrnyereg at 6:57 AM on September 19, 2011


To put it another way, (and I'm soft-pedaling the feminist argument here because I am, frankly, not qualified to judge) the back-half of the season has been about how awful the Doctor is to Amy, even while seeming to be great to her. He can only accept the interface of Amelia, because he fucks over his companions so badly. He kills her older self in favor of saving the younger Amy who still adores him (and erasing the damage he did to Old!Amy) and.. and...

He made her an outcast through her childhood, getting her sent to four different shrinks. Then he made her wait some more. He stole her away the night before her wedding and then rejected her advances, guilting her about it and bringing her fiancee along, almost as a punishment. When she was curious enough to look around New Britain, and then choose to forget as EVERYONE else chose, he nearly kicked her away. He jealously forced her to choose between himself and her fiancee as a life-or-death matter. He left her for months with no word just to invite her to watch his death, and he caused her newborn child to be taken away from her. And then he killed a version of her who was wise enough to reject him in favor of one young enough to still love him.

I might be misinterpreting the uses of the verb "made", but I think this ascribes more intentionality to the Doctor than there actually is. The Doctor didn't mean to leave Amy for any more than a second, but he did. He didn't mean to give her a complex, but she got one regardless. And so on. The Doctor wasn't thinking through why he wanted to bring Amelia Pond into his life, but he did anyway. The Doctor is a fairy tale creature, basically a demigod, but he has no other Time Lords to hang out with, and while he loves humans, he can never really maintain a close, normal human friendship. His only real lasting relationship is with the TARDIS.

The River Song storyline hasn't wrapped up yet, so I can't give a final judgment there, but it looks as if his relationship with River Song is sort of like a travesty of his relationship with his companions - she loves and adores and protects him, but she plays as smug and coy with him as he does with others, she appears and disappears without predictable pattern, there's romantic tension but with hardly any consummation, and ultimately she was born from the trauma of her friend. Oh, and she's also been designed to kill him, so that's a thing.

The River Song plotline has not been successful this season, but it's interesting thematically.

For future companions, while I like Craig, I'd also like the Doctor to have a companion not from present-day earth. A companion who's less naive than your usual earth critter and as potentially full of surprises as the Doctor himself.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:59 AM on September 19, 2011


Sorry, which door is that?

Their house/apartment door. Different doors.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:59 AM on September 19, 2011


c/o Reddit, here's the door at the beginning of TIA. It's evidently not the same door as on the house the Doctor gives them.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:04 AM on September 19, 2011


"Don't you think she looks tired?" was -- it's hard to explain it, but it was a knowingly sexist comment, certainly, and it was used in that way. It was partially a deliberate reflection of the surrounding culture, where I feel the sexism in the Moffat episodes are accidental glimpses of Moffat's actual thoughts.

It's a comment that uses sexism, surely, but if we accept the Doctor as an alien being then I think it's worth separating out his beliefs and everyday choices from him using aspects of a world as a weapon. And in that case we have a furious Doctor who views that as a genocidal action from someone who defends it as her duty. Okay fucker, he seems to be saying, you want to wallow in how things Are rather than aiming for how you Should Be? Then here's MY use of how your society Is.

In that same vein, it's hard for me to pin sexism on the Doctor since he pretty much talks down to every human. You're not being singled out for scolding because you a woman, you're being treated like a child because you're human and he thinks you're all toys.

Which isn't to say I'm not open to questioning whether Moffat or RTD are engaging in sexism when they always pick out the female characters for this treatment. My impression of the Doctor as a character has him being dismissive of everyone of all genders, but if all we ever see is him dismissing Amy (or Rose or Donna or whoever) or using sexist methods against the PM then that certainly may be a window into the minds of the show runners or writers.
posted by phearlez at 8:55 AM on September 19, 2011


"Don't you think she looks tired?" plays into sexist behavior. That said, I interpreted that as the Doctor doing what he needs/wants to do "by any means necessary." The Doctor didn't care one way or another that PM Jones was a woman or a man, and that gambit - the whisper campaign to reduce confidence - would have worked for a man as well.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:00 AM on September 19, 2011


In that same vein, it's hard for me to pin sexism on the Doctor since he pretty much talks down to every human. You're not being singled out for scolding because you a woman, you're being treated like a child because you're human and he thinks you're all toys.

Well, yes, but he's always a male character. And a fictional construct at that. There's no need to make a male fictional construct play into these sexist behaviors, but the writers of Who pretty consistently do.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:02 AM on September 19, 2011


Jones' entire arc is pretty interesting. At first the Doctor is her fan and champion, but then she does something the Doctor finds reprehensible and he indirectly has her deposed. What the Doctor doesn't anticipate is the consequences that ensue: his actions to depose her will lead to the rise of "Harold Saxon". Later on, former PM Jones then comes backand is revealed to not only have been justified all along, but also to be a true blue hero who will be responsible for saving the planet. She had a rich, assertive story for a side character, especially since you almost never see characters really stand up to the doctor, prove the Doctor to be wrong, and come back swinging - she was ultimately more interesting than Rose or Martha.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:14 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Harriet Jones is awesome. Plus, now she's a kick ass lady on Downton Abbey and got to do some excellent flower show scheming and life saving.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:18 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I called her "Harriet Jones, Prime Minister" while watching Downton Abbey. Take THAT, Maggie Smith!
posted by orrnyereg at 9:24 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something else nice about PM Jones: she's an antidote to the usual thinking that characters are improved by the addition of weaponry. Too often the show tries to show that characters are strong and interesting by the ability to wield guns and swords, but that's not the point of DW, at least not of good DW. I like the show because almost no problem is solved merely by firepower.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:38 AM on September 19, 2011


Well, yes, but he's always a male character. And a fictional construct at that. There's no need to make a male fictional construct play into these sexist behaviors, but the writers of Who pretty consistently do.

Ayuh, my point was merely that there's a lot of behaviors that we would class as sexist when they're aimed at female characters but which the Doctor also points at male humans. So when discussing sexist behavior on the show I feel like we need two different discussions, depending. Some actions are obviously sexist independent of talking down to us one-hearted folk. Others are problematic because the show writers show it happening more often to women than men.

So I think claiming sexism in Who based on "look at how he's doing X to Amy" may sometimes be less accurate than "we only ever see him do X to Amy."

Perhaps it's deck chairs on the Titanic, but when you have a character like the Doctor who has a long established character of being paternalistic to -everyone- it seems meaningful to me.
posted by phearlez at 10:28 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just told my gf, "I'm going to write up what we just talked about on Metafilter" and she shrieked incredulously. "Uh oh you're getting that gleam in your eye." We watch episodes together. After which I scour the Internet for blogposts and report back, usually prefaced with, "Do you want to know what the nerds are saying?"

1. My gf said: a) it's obvious that the Girl Who Waited prioritized a sexy ingenue over a mature, competent woman who survived on her own for almost forty years; b) also obvious that the show is inherently paternatlistic--given its premise of a brilliant male genius escorting around an attractive woman whose vocation is largely related to screaming. What really bothered me, she said, is that, rather than using old Amy to grow young Amy as a character, her entire point (and their joint motivations) revolve around Rory. Sad that an episode--about a young woman maturing into a bad-ass, older, more heroic version of herself--fails the Bechdel test: not one lovelorn woman, but two versions of her, both only able to talk about the male love interest.

2. We thought The God Complex was thrilling. Great plotting happens not when we get new information or resolve a plot hole, but when these things cause conflict between characters. The Doctor's disavowal of himself to Amy had more at stake than Amy's parents coming back to life or her pregnancy and stolen baby, and the Doctor's ultimate love. Less predictably, it was even more complicated! On the surface, the speech was a great character point, tapping into the Doctor's self-loathing, the plot arc about his apotheosis, Amy's misplaced faith in him (the Girl Who Waited as subtext), his use of Amy as a sanctified self-esteem balm (the Amy icon in Let's Kill Hitler), and how he's generally screwed around with her life. The Doctor seemed to be painfully confessional. He was. And he was also lying: he was only telling her what she needed to hear to save her life. On the one hand, while disclaiming that he was a hero, he was actually being a hero. On the other--he was actually repeating her role as the child who needed to be rescued. He was demonstrating rather than rebutting his god complex--which he further reified by leaving Amy and Rory behind, "saving" them, as Amy rather insightfully put it.

3. I think it's obvious that we've lost a lot from the RTD days: romantic idealism (when's the last time you heard an inspirational speech about the human race?), any sense of emotional stake between the characters, the Doctor as the identification character, and any relevance or context that make the stories important to someone who doesn't care about, to paraphrase Margaret Atwood, the conversations of intelligent squid in outer space.

It's also important to realize how much we've gained. I'm not talking about the obvious stuff, like the complicated plotting. The episodes are atmospheric and filmic. What they lack in social subtext, they gain in mis-en-scene and milieu: the worlds are believable. The genres of storylines are much broader (compare Vincent, Amy's Choice and The Lodger) and the filler straight-ahead Classic DW stories are, in some ways, better than the "event" episodes. Also, the Doctor is much more ostensibly intelligent: we can see him problem solving or thinking laterally like Sherlock, not the hand-wavey ST:TNG "science" of the David Tennant days.

I really love how the episodes seem generally much weirder and Lynchian. Almost every episode this season has had something really tactile, provocative, and hard to assimilate, even if it's just something like the robot hand gestures in TGWW or the leftover fears of other people in TGC.
posted by johnasdf at 8:52 PM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


In that same vein, it's hard for me to pin sexism on the Doctor since he pretty much talks down to every human. You're not being singled out for scolding because you a woman, you're being treated like a child because you're human and he thinks you're all toys.

I don't think toys reads right: pets is probably more accurate.
Incidentally, I have taken to cooing at my hard-to-cuddle cat, Do not be alarmed. This is a kindness. It works about as well.

also obvious that the show is inherently paternatlistic--given its premise of a brilliant male genius escorting around an attractive woman whose vocation is largely related to screaming.

I think there's been about a 2:1 preference for female companions since the beginning, but until we had Rory, there hasn't been a real, honest-to-goodness male companion in NuWho. Mickey -- whom I hated as a character at first -- was eventually much improved (and Adam was another eviction, but it's hard to say his time on board counted). You can also say that Rose-Martha-Donna were successive attempts to "improve" the quasi-required female companion character. Rory, though, not only improved but turned into a really interesting character [per Navelgazer], and not just because of his throwaway lines.

But basically, you have to look at the structure of the show. Doctor has companions due to neediness, expressed in acceptable or less acceptable ways, depending, over the years. Those companions, story-wise, are Not the Doctor (as well as thorough Mary Sues), thus going to get in trouble somehow, whether male or female. Eventually, the Doctor must save/rescue them, with attendant conflict as to his motivations. The problem may or may not be actual unconscious sexism, but it is a basic, pervasive structural issue with the show. I think it's useful to look at the ways in which the problem is in fact larger than the 'feminist fail' issue as identified, which then places 'feminist fail', when it occurs, in this broader context.

I can't go on at much more length on this (boy is it late here) but in TGWW, it would have been fascinating to see Rory swallowing hard and trying to get Older!Amy to forgive him and come with him, and Older!Amy making the choice to retcon herself away, all while the Doctor were still trying to get the timelines right and save Younger!Amy. I'm not sure the intended narrative goals of the episode would have been as fully met that way, though.
posted by dhartung at 12:33 AM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Guardian suggests that the current storyline is too complicated. I don't think that's it--The Wire was complicated but always made sense within its own universe. Not sure that DW could say the same.
posted by orrnyereg at 5:26 AM on September 20, 2011


It's not a question of being complicated, and it's not as if being complicated is a new thing for Who.

It's just that the River arc seems to be plot for its own sake - there isn't really any strong payoff in sight for all of this foofaraw. Anticipating River's mysteries was a lot more fun than seeing them play out. I wish they'd had the long term planning to keep River a mysterious character for years. The Doctor plays his cards close to his chest; I don't see how making River's past such an open book was an alternative strategy. Further, her character works best when it's obvious that she has a life independent of what we see on the series.

It's not helped by the fact that River's character has grown flatter as she's "developed". It was intriguing, the idea that she'd marry the Doctor and perhaps kill him, but now I guess the only reason she wanted to kill the Doctor was because she was brainwashed? Enh? Weak. Why couldn't she have had her own reasons for doing what she did, as opposed to being a mere puppet? I get the sense that they don't want to show River ever do anything actually bad or to ever fail at anything - which is a problem, because those are things that interesting characters do all the time.

Meanwhile, the show has been allowing the Doctor to not only fail, but also to make cruel decisions (as he's done in the past, esp. the 7th Doctor), and his character is all the more interesting for it.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:47 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, more that the Guardian asks whether it's too complicated, and the answer seems to be no. I think Moffatt's suggestion that adults tend to make the show more complicated than it needs to be by making up stuff that's not there has more than a grain of truth.

The thread has set me thinking about Amy - her story has been about the juxtaposition of "real life" (I put that in quotes, because her real life is a bit stylised, but then so was Rose Tyler's come to think of it) and her fantasy life with her imaginary friend, with Rory having a foot in both camps. As far as the shape of that story goes, it's obviously important that she end up back in real life, and this will almost inevitably be some kind of domestic arrangement, largely because ... well ... that's what people do in real life. When Rita asked The Doctor "Why? Why do you need to save us?", he answered to the effect that he was responsible for the disruption to Amy's life (I think he said "them" but the camera showed Amy), and in a sense his aim is to give her a normal, real life, to return what he thinks he has deprived her of (the prefiguring of this was her wedding at the end of the last season). In a typically doctorish way, he's done it by giving them a Georgian terraced house and a Jaguar (the former is as desirable as the latter in a property sort of way, even if it is actually in Newport, Gwent), which still tends towards fantasy rather than reality, but it sort of reminded me of the end of Back to the Future. As I'm not especially a feminist, if she ends up surrounded by babies it doesn't really bother me (though I really do hope her life is more interesting than that), as long as she takes responsibility for her own life, whatever it is. The Doctor inadvertantly put her life into stasis (occasionally acting out other people's fantasies as a kissogram, unwilling to acknowledge her relationship with Rory) - it's his responsibility to provide her with the means for moving out of that, but it's her responsibility to actually do it.

At which point, yes, Old Amy, which is very interesting with reference to this subject, but it's the end of lunch, I have to get back to work and I have, appropriately, written this post in the wrong order.

If you look at River's story in River-order, you see that that's what happens for her: designed to be merely a function of The Doctor and The Silence's hatred of him, she grows to such an extent that after the Byzantium she is released, on account of her actions, from Stormcage (which in some ways can be seen as representative of her dependence on The Doctor), becomes a doctor herself and at their final meeting her relationship with him is flirty, but collegiate. Her decision to sacrifice herself is tragic, but it is her decision.

Whether she kills The Doctor at Lake Silencio (and I'll put my spoilerific cards on the table and say that I think it's Young Amy who does that) it seems obvious that it's to fool The Silence rather than follow their programming.

I find it interesting to compare with the fates of Rose and Martha - they get to run around the universe Being Awesome and Blowing Shit Up, but to be frank, that's bullshit. It's just fantasy. On the other extreme, yes, Donna. Who gets to go back to her old life, but unchanged, which is even less satisfying from a narrative point of view (to say the very least).
posted by Grangousier at 6:06 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


until we had Rory, there hasn't been a real, honest-to-goodness male companion in NuWho

I'll counter Adam with the glorious Wilfred Mott.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:22 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


it's obviously important that she end up back in real life, and this will almost inevitably be some kind of domestic arrangement, largely because ... well ... that's what people do in real life. [...] As I'm not especially a feminist, if she ends up surrounded by babies it doesn't really bother me (though I really do hope her life is more interesting than that), as long as she takes responsibility for her own life, whatever it is. The Doctor inadvertantly put her life into stasis (occasionally acting out other people's fantasies as a kissogram, unwilling to acknowledge her relationship with Rory) - it's his responsibility to provide her with the means for moving out of that, but it's her responsibility to actually do it.

I would prefer she doesn't end up doing nothing except mothering, because it doesn't seem particularly like Amy and also because it's an overused trope that harkens back to a fake 50s idealism, but certainly if, when her story ends, she ends up doing something *and* having babies (who don't get kidnapped), then there's nothing wrong with that.

But so far, she hasn't taken responsibility for her own life. And the Doctor has to help her move on, yes (ethically, anyhow), but only after she has chosen to do so, instead of choosing for her, which is what he keeps doing. Amy chose to join him, and eventually she would grow up and choose to leave him, but she keeps not being allowed to do the growing up.
posted by jeather at 6:26 AM on September 20, 2011


In a way, Old!Amy is the fantasy gone tumid. She's trapped all by herself in a fantastical world, a simulation of a simulation, surrounded by medicine that kills, a vacation that's a prison. Not independent, just alone, stranded with a fake Rory. It was like a mockery of aging, just as Amy's baby was like a mockery of having a family. Instead of being able to have and raise her own child, she doesn't experience her own pregnancy, the baby she holds is a fake, and the child is merely an adult whom she already knew.

Amy in the real world, on the other hand, really is the master of her own destiny, and her experiences in the TARDIS have taught her to be brave and resourceful. It's a good ending for her, for now. It's also a satisfying end for Rory - he was a loyal companion, but most importantly, he was never in love with the Doctor in the same way that Amy was. He always had one foot out the door, and it was telling that he kept dying throughout their adventures. Stay in the TARDIS for too long, and you really will lose the Rory Williamses of this world.

Amy's situation is prefigured by Donna's situation. Something interesting about Donna's ending was that, while the ending was fairly tragic for her, it was great for the viewer. The theme of Donna's journey was that she was an unhappy temp with no confidence or direction, but she became a strong, smart-ass equal to the Doctor. Taking her experiences away from her reset her to the moment before she grew. However, the viewer remembers what Donna can do, and the viewer still knows that Donna has that potential. At the end of the day, we're all basically like Donna - we have normal lives - but maybe if we could travel through time, we'd grow like her. And for all we know, maybe we already have...

Anyway. Cheesy, but there's something there. And there's something to how Amy (and Rory) wind up which is basically like the happier version of Donna's story.

I never really cared for Rose, although I guess the idea behind her was that she was ethically pure, pretty clever, and always up for an adventure. Rose existed more for the Doctor than for herself - she reminded him of life before the Time War.

Martha was a fun companion, spoiled by the fact that RTD wanted her to get romantically involved with the Doctor. Feh. Why couldn't Martha just have been a capable partner in crime? Although, considering how much they played the 10th Doctor as a nerdy sex symbol, I guess it made sense to have Martha be interested in the Doctor and then move on. I dunno. I guess I'd have to watch that season again to get a firmer opinion on it.

I hope the Doctor's next longtime companion will be more like Evelyn or Frobisher.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:32 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


because it doesn't seem particularly like Amy

Oh, yes, I'd definitely agree with that. The most obvious thing is that she goes to medical school (which I can sort of see. At least she's had a lot of experience with cadavers).

Seen as purely Amy's story, The Doctor represents fantasy, and Rory represents reality - in fact you can trace her changing relationship to the two positions based on her relationships with those characters (note the appallingly repressive version of domestic bliss in Amy's Choice, which is why I brought the spectre up; Rory's disappearance from the universe and unexpected return, and his position as ship's sceptic and sarcast). In choosing between them she is not necessarily subjugating to either, but rather choosing which world she will live in.

Despite his prior medical training, I see her as the GP and him as the house-husband, actually.
posted by Grangousier at 7:41 AM on September 20, 2011


Or perhaps she could become a real policewoman, rather than a pretend one.
posted by Grangousier at 7:43 AM on September 20, 2011


Really? I see her as a graphic designer (she seemed like a pretty gifted artist as a kid). Who teaches kickboxing three nights a week at the local Y.
posted by orrnyereg at 7:45 AM on September 20, 2011


Based on TGWW, Amy would be a better engineer than doctor, but if she became an artist that would also fit. I agree that the Doctor is fantasy and Rory is reality, and that eventually she will choose to live in reality, and this is good. If she is allowed to choose instead of forced into it. Which I am pessimistic about.
posted by jeather at 7:46 AM on September 20, 2011


Finally watched The God Complex last night. It was a sort of interesting exploration of the way the Doctor really has failed his companions, and I like how it cast TGWW in a different light (though probably more for other viewers than for people who were already unhappy with how TGWW played out).

But man, was that name-thing really cringeworthy. Not necessarily because it was traditional--likewise, I wouldn't be unhappy with Amy becoming a mother because of that--but because it was something we've never heard Amy herself state a preference for. "It doesn't seem like Amy" is pretty much the crux of it.

The problem may or may not be actual unconscious sexism, but it is a basic, pervasive structural issue with the show. I think it's useful to look at the ways in which the problem is in fact larger than the 'feminist fail' issue as identified, which then places 'feminist fail', when it occurs, in this broader context.

I think the basic, pervasive structural issue with the show can be sexist, can't it? I'm not exceedingly familiar with OldWho, but there was some essential reiteration of sexist values there even when companions weren't always written as being in love with the Doctor. The new show's tendency to make the relationships explicitly romantic have probably highlighted what was already a problematic power dynamic.

Though I like Martha. It was refreshing to see a woman say, "Yeah, I liked you, but you don't like me so what am I waiting around for?" She had better things to do. She rejected him.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:56 AM on September 20, 2011


I've been watching a lot of the Jon Pertwee era stories over the past year or two (he's quickly replacing Tom Baker as my favorite Doctor). The classic series did show a paternalistic attitude toward the companions: being dismissed, talked down to, or constantly having to be rescued. I think the difference between the old and new series is that the Classic Doctor was much more emphatically an alien from an advanced race. He did treat humans like pets because that's really what they were: likeable, intelligent in their own way, but simply not at the same level. The Third Doctor condescended to everybody, men and women alike. The new series has, for all its excessive Time Lord mythologizing, has really de-emphasized the Doctor's alienness in the way the character is portrayed and in his interactions with his companions. The paternalism stings more because it's coming from some guy who happens to have a time machine, not an aloof alien (completely different species, mind) with different priorities and a different ethical code than humans. In all respects the NuWho Doctor is protrayed as just like us in all meaningful respects; he tells us he's an alien but he doesn't act like one.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:35 AM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's one of the things I really like about the dynamic between the Doctor and Lucie Miller in the audio dramas. In many ways, she could have been Rose, or Amy--she's young and spunky. But his initial disdain for her actually hearkens back to the ol' jerky first Doctor. When they eventually do become close, it feels very earned, and much more meaningful.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:31 AM on September 20, 2011


Question: Some people have mentioned Moffat saying stupid things re: women in interviews. Anyone like to point me to specifics? I'm curious.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:24 PM on September 20, 2011


I believe the quote generally referred to is this:
There’s this issue you’re not allowed to discuss: that women are needy. Men can go for longer, more happily, without women. That’s the truth. We don’t, as little boys, play at being married - we try to avoid it for as long as possible. Meanwhile women are out there hunting for husbands. [...] The world is vastly counted in favour of men at every level - except if you live in a civilised country and you’re sort of educated and middle-class, because then you’re almost certainly junior in your relationship and in a state of permanent, crippled apology. Your preferences are routinely mocked. There’s a huge, unfortunate lack of respect for anything male.
posted by jeather at 6:28 PM on September 20, 2011


Wow. That is pretty ridiculously dumb.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:29 PM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Due diligence prior to getting the rage on: where's that quoted from, jeather? There's no possibility its been taken out of context? It's not a badly-judged attempt at humour through exaggeration? Cos yeah, if not.. wow.
posted by coriolisdave at 7:12 PM on September 20, 2011


This may be the original place the quote came from. Obviously it's always possible to take things out of context, but as far as I know -- which isn't very far -- Moffat didn't dispute anything in that article until recently, when it was being used along with some of his stories on Who and Sherlock to suggest that he has some misogynistic tendencies. There are multiple possible explanations for why he only started complaining now, from "he didn't figure it was a big deal that he was misquoted until everyone on the internet started quoting it" to "he said and meant it at the time and only now realises it was bad PR".
posted by jeather at 7:26 PM on September 20, 2011


I keep meaning to mention how interesting it is in retrospect that the official BBC tagline for this season is TRUST YOUR DOCTOR.
posted by dhartung at 10:21 PM on September 20, 2011


jeather: yup, that's the quote (or rather amalgamation of two separate quotes) everyone is referring to when Moffat's sexism is brought up. I've avoided reading the context for those quotes largely because I want to pretend that they are somehow even a little bit defensible.

I love Moffat's writing and construction. I love what he's done with Doctor Who, so that, even at it's worst ("Curse of the Black Spot") it's nowhere near how abysmal it could get in the RTD era (with "Daleks in Manhattan." or "The Satan Pit" or "Journeys End" or, really, most standalone episodes which weren't written by Moffat which we forget in our "worst-of" rankings because they were simply not worth remembering for any aspect.)

I wish to say that, yes, little girls notoriously get "princess obsessions" when they are young, and that little boys don't think as much about marriage at that age. But he doesn't let me defend him, because he's already opened with "women are needy" and I'm not going to follow him there.

Similarly with the other quote. Yes, it is more acceptable on TV, right now, for the middle-class white guy's opinions to be invalidated for humor. That might not always be fair. The humor is there, though, because that is the dominant culture being mocked. To claim victimization there is horseshit.

So basically, I refure to read the context because I've already imagined the best possible context in my head, and it isn't quite enough. And I don't want to make it worse. I enjoy the stories. I don't want to bring more baggage into them.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:19 PM on September 20, 2011


c/o Reddit, here's the door at the beginning of TIA. It's evidently not the same door as on the house the Doctor gives them.

Perception filter.
posted by jbickers at 5:46 AM on September 21, 2011


Perception filter.

Or a continuity error.
posted by orrnyereg at 6:14 AM on September 21, 2011


Or a completely different house.
posted by Grangousier at 8:24 AM on September 21, 2011


the quote generally referred to
You know I was a little dismissive about PhoBWan's tirade against Moffat's misogyny but fucking hell that quote is offensive. I apologise for my (unspoken) lack of respect and I believe it's not so much a feminism fail as a humanity one.

Also, the utter lack of call-out for Moffat is shameful. Us nerds need to step up with this shit because I'm tired of being surrounded by mouth-breathers who think that because they were the cleverest in their class their bigotry is "an argument".

I suppose the only saving grace is that whenever you meet a whiny-assed guy bemoaning his oppression by the matriarchy at least you get to kick him in the balls and tell him to man the fuck up. I'm sure he'd agree that anything else would be Political Correctness gone maaaaad
posted by fullerine at 9:10 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, it's cool, fullerine. Deep down, I really think that the misogyny here is a kind of subtle and insidious sort. It's the kind that might slide by without notice if you don't have a broader context (like that Moffat quote) to inform it--all these little elements are easily excused by [writer-created] plot restrictions that add up to a more disheartening whole. And they're common cultural tropes, too. That a woman needs to be saved, and that she needs the men in her life to do the saving. That a woman's goals be defined by their relationships to the men in her life. It's not as if Moffat is alone in this kind of thing. But it's tired, isn't it?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:12 AM on September 21, 2011


I am not faulting people who enjoy Doctor Who despite it being imperfect -- I am one of those people, though I enjoy it less and less. (I also prefer RTD's vision of the show to SM's in general, which means that I enjoyed Torchwood: Miracle Day even though it was terrible.)

[quote]I really think that the misogyny here is a kind of subtle and insidious sort. It's the kind that might slide by without notice if you don't have a broader context (like that Moffat quote) to inform it--all these little elements are easily excused by [writer-created] plot restrictions that add up to a more disheartening whole.[/quote]

I don't think the quotes are necessary as broader context. They add things, but I think watching these past two seasons as a whole is enough context, and more than enough context.
posted by jeather at 11:58 AM on September 21, 2011


Meant to italicise using html instead of quote using forum text, sorry.
posted by jeather at 11:58 AM on September 21, 2011


Moffat's views on gender probably ossified when writing Coupling. When your paycheck depends on you writing jokes about stereotyped gender roles, you're not going to see the world any other way.
posted by painquale at 12:21 PM on September 21, 2011


Perception filter.

Or a continuity error.


This is Doctor Who. It's a perception filter. Or a modified polaric field. Or something.
posted by jbickers at 12:31 PM on September 21, 2011


When your paycheck depends on you writing jokes about stereotyped gender roles, you're not going to see the world any other way.

Yes, but that describes most of British TV drama at the moment. Presumably, most of American TV drama too, but I wouldn't know. Moffatt's proclaimed views are different from Sharon "I love making men cry" Horgan, but probably only in phrasing and viewpoint.
posted by Grangousier at 12:35 PM on September 21, 2011


I agree completely that Moffat (and Co's?) chauvinism/sexism (I wouldn't call it misogyny per se, I think those are subtly different things, but that's a discussion for another timestream) is weird and troubling, but at the same time, I think the show is entertaining despite that. As someone said in another thread (about George R.R. Martin, I think?) no one can write something that is entirely unproblematic. As long as it isn't both problematic AND crappy (like, for example, Zach Snyder's 300) I can deal with it.

My problems with NuWho are less about the sexism than about some of the changes made overall in the nature of the show that were made presumably because RTD, SM, and others thought they were necessary to appeal to a modern audience when the show was brought back. I prefer a Doctor who is, as someone above said, truly alien. Someone who is charming and smart but also befuddled and not quite understanding of human nature and more than a bit proud of himself thus occasionally a bit of a cock. I think Matt Smith gets closest to this of the 3 New Doctors, which is why he's my favorite of the three ("I danced with everyone at your wedding. The women were brilliant, the men were very awkward."). But I was really, REALLY bothered by the TENnant/Rose love story -- really, a nearly thousand year old alien who has seen just about everything in the universe and saved it a dozen times is going to fall for a plucky, clever, admittedly sexy chav from 2005? Not bloody likely. I love Billie Piper and Rose, but come on dude. And I liked Martha a lot too, but the unrequited love hampered that season too; Donna remains the best of the new female companions (Rory is fucking awesome in his own right, though Amy has been very much up and down, and lately more down than up because of the writing) because the writers didn't put in a damn love story.

I enjoy the contained nature of each episode, and I like the overarching storylines in general -- some of my favorite Classic Who stories were the Key to Time series, the Black Guardian Series, and the Trial of a Time Lord series, and when I was growing up watching the show on PBS, they often aired 4 episodes back to back, rather than one 30 minute show per week. BUT... the need to raise the stakes every season has started to hit a point of diminishing returns, I think.

The Daleks are going to take over the world! Whoa.. that was intense, what's next? The Daleks AND the Cybermen are trying to take over the world, and they are going to fight each other over it! Oh my god, that's crazy! How could they ever top that? HOLY SHIT THE MASTER IS BACK! YES! And now he's trying to take over the world with evil peoplepods from the future and start an intergalactic empire! That's fucking rad! Wait a minute... THE DALEKS STOLE EARTH?! And a bunch of other planets... AND THEY ARE GOING TO DESTROY THE UNIVERSE! FUCK YES!!! That was more intense than anything ever. No way they can -- The Master is BACK?! And he's taken over the world AGAIN?! AND THE TIME LORDS ARE BACK!!!! AND now THEY want to destroy the Universe! OMG I am shitting my pants now!! Oh man, what's this about the Pandorica? And a tear in time and space? Oh shit, is that part of the TARDIS?! Wait a minute... All the Doctor's enemies have teemed up!!! He's been trapped in the Pandorica and the Universe is Ending (again)!!! And, oh he's out. OK, that was a lot easier than -- hey, if he couldn't open it up when he found, how is it that Rory can just use the sonic screwdriver...? OK, nevermind... Moffat is great at building suspense and tension -- arguably a better long-term planner than RTD ever was -- but he can't quite pull off the pay off.

And my biggest (yet smallest) complaint: The Sonic Deus ex Machina Screwdriver. In Classic Who, the SS didn't even appear until what, near the end of Patrick Troughton's run? And then it was destroyed, and Doctors 5-7 didn't use it at all (until the TV Movie). It was bad enough during RTD's run, but with Moffat and Smith, the sonic screwdriver is essentially a miniature supercomputer that can open, scan, disable, or reprogram anything (except wood, I guess). I wish to Christ they would destroy it or de-power it or something. The Doctor should use his cunning, his intelligence, and his charisma to solve problems. He's a scientist and an engineer, yes, but he defines his tools, not the other way around. The more powerful and useful his toys, the less intimidating the threats he faces and the less interesting HE is.

I've enjoyed the 2 Moffat seasons generally speaking, and I like River Song, although some of the shine has been taken off of the storyline by the rapid reveal and abrupt denoument. I'm glad she'll be out of the story for a while (well, at least until the last episode of the season), and I really appreciate that Moffat has kept many of the other villains of the Doctor off-screen: the Daleks are not really threatening if they appear every few weeks and get trounced in the space of an hour or two. I think they need to try to reinvigorate the series at least in part by reviewing what made it last for 26 years in the first place and try to broaden the types of stories they are willing to tell. And, I would love if they did more two parters, which would essentially be analogous to the 4-part serials of the classic series -- you have enough time for some mystery, a serious threat to develop, a cliffhanger or two, a near resolution and setback, and finally a conclusion and aftermath. I loved the idea of "The God Complex" but found the story lacking -- just too rushed. Why did the Minotaur want to die again? Because he was, um, old or something? And then the Doctor glances at the screen in the spaceship's holodeck computer-generated hotel maze illusion and dumps all the explanatory info in a nice 30 second package. If it had been a two parter, they could have done so much more: the idea that the hotel maze was constantly shifting was toyed with but never really developed (the current victims/residents were surprised they had made it back to reception, yet after that there seemed to be no problem getting back there or to the kitchen/dining room whenever they needed); we could have spent more time with the characters, getting to know them and their fears/flaws before they died; a sort of rivalry between Amy and Rita could have developed; the reveal of the monster could have been delayed a bit, perhaps until the cliffhanger ending; and the Doctor's realization of his misreading of the Minotaur's modus operandi (feeding on faith, not fear) could have happened at the midpoint of the 2nd episode, giving a good 15-20 minutes of drama as he tries to figure out how to break Amy's faith and save her, rather than "You're a grown-up, Amy Williams (nee Pond, Amelia), Oh look, now the Minotaur has fallen over and is dead." This could have also given us a bit more satisfying reason for the Doctor and companions to part ways -- there's, what, one line where Rory talks about traveling with the Doctor in "past tense," Amy takes Rory's last name, buh-bye? Meh. So much potential wasted.

Last thing I'll say: The end of this episode could not precede the first episode of the season, if only for the reason that Amy says "If you see that daughter of ours, tell her to visit her old Mum," whereas in "The Impossible Astronaut" Amy was not yet (or didn't know that she was) pregnant. What I'm curious about, though -- what was happening between A Good Man Goes to War and Let's Kill Hitler? Did the Doctor just drop Rory and Amy off, then go searching unsuccessfully for the Silence and baby Melody? Did he find her and then lose her in NY, where she was seen regenerating at the end of AGMGtW? And did he never meet "Mels" because it wasn't until the events of AGMGtW that River Song could be inserted back into the timeline of Amy's life, thus appearing and retroactively rewriting her and Rory's personal timelines but appearing for the first time in the Doctor's? And where did River Song go after the end of AGMGtW?
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:49 PM on September 21, 2011


When your paycheck depends on you writing jokes about stereotyped gender roles, you're not going to see the world any other way.

But when you're writing about a universe in which literally anything is possible, it's fair to expect something a little more nuanced.
posted by orrnyereg at 1:51 PM on September 21, 2011


Oh, I forgot to mention: No one has mentioned (I think) that "The God Complex" seemed to draw from Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves -- shape-changing, physically impossible building, scary minotaur, mental breakdowns, etc.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:56 PM on September 21, 2011


Haven't read House of Leaves myself, but the Mark Watches review noted some strong parallels.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:37 PM on September 21, 2011


I don't know--I'd wager that this was because they were both playing with the myth of the Minotaur than the Who episode existing as a throwback to HoL.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:11 PM on September 21, 2011


That's terrible about Moffat's quote re: women. Bleh.

I loved the idea of "The God Complex" but found the story lacking -- just too rushed.

I agree, even though I liked the episode as a whole. This episode deserved to be a two-parter. Drawing it out would have been good dramatically, and it would have also given the ending more shape: if we're more invested in the episode's own story, we're going to be more surprised when it ties in so much with where Amy and the Doctor stand with one another now in the series.

I also prefer RTD's vision of the show to SM's in general, which means that I enjoyed Torchwood: Miracle Day even though it was terrible.

I can't speak for Miracle Day, but while I prefer Moffat's vision to RTD's, there's a lot to be said for RTD's vision. RTD's run was inconsistent, but it brought life back to Who, and there were so, so many ways that could have gone wrong.

What RTD did best was maintain Doctor Who as a tradition and as a family show. There was a sense with each episode that RTD was gathering around a fictive family and saying, "okay, now here's a fun story..." And even though many of the stories were crap, they were charming crap, and you never lost that fun vibe.

The weakest part of Moffat is that he's too professional. When there's a weak plotline, it feels like a bad plotline on a television show. When RTD would have a weak plotline, on the other hand, you'd just sort of roll your eyes at how terrible the show was, but you'd keep on watching, because come on, it's Doctor Who, it's not like it's "good" or anything. Daleks in Manhattan was a miserable serial, but it did have a sort of children's Christmas pageant feel.

That said, I still think the Moff is a great showrunner. Flaws and all, Series Five and even Six have been pretty great.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:11 AM on September 22, 2011


PhoBWan: I just assume that the writer of "God Complex" had read HoL at some point (as well as numerous other things) and they came out in a show that had some broad parallels. Didn't mean to imply it was a conscious copy or even that the similarities are super important, just interesting.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:34 AM on September 22, 2011


I'm just not sure, though. I think there's a high likelihood that you'll end up with something House of Leavesish if you're doing any sort of modern update of the Cretan Labyrinth. Personally, I was more strongly reminded of The Shining and that audio drama serial where the people in an office building are secretly controlling giant robots. But the second one might be a bit of a stretch.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:04 PM on September 22, 2011


I, too, thought it was referencing The Shining--the hotel decor looked very similar to the Overlook, the people slowly going crazy, triggered by a certain phrase ("praise him"/"all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"). Also, I always thought House of Leaves drew from DW, not the other way around.
posted by orrnyereg at 12:09 PM on September 22, 2011


Yeah definite Shining reference.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:40 PM on September 22, 2011


I really, really wanted Rita to be the next companion. She would have been perfect. An intelligent, sometimes ornery, not-ridiculously-hot woman would have been a great contrast for Amy.

I know he's already had an MD companion, but she was too young, too gorgeous, and too spandex for her medical training to be believable.
posted by miyabo at 5:17 PM on September 22, 2011


I dunno. I thought Rita was pretty gorgeous. I mean, she's sweet lime!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:35 PM on September 22, 2011


not-ridiculously-hot
Really? I think mine is broken. *bangs hotometer*

I like the way The Doctor obviously started to be smitten by his possible new companion only for a jump-cut to her inevitable death. It seems as though the whole Matt Smith incarnation is about the maturity of The Doctor as an individual and the end of him treating companions as objects.

(Perhaps there's hope for Moffat after all)
posted by fullerine at 3:26 AM on September 23, 2011


So is everyone just waiting to see how they bring The Doctor "back from the dead" next week?

Blink and you miss it Cybermen plot
Sonic Ray Gun
Same ending as an episode earlier this series

Also, "I've been running for years", but hey that's not important, we wont show any of that.

A good series ruined by a dreadful "series arc"

The dialogue and acting has been fantastic but the "shit I've got 10 pages to wrap this whole thing up" writing is fairly damning of Moffat's show running skills. Next week is a single episode finale which I assume is going to give Neal Stephenson a run for his money in the "is that the ending?" stakes.
posted by fullerine at 5:04 PM on September 24, 2011


fullerine: Maybe I'm being dense -- which episode are you saying it has the same ending as? (terrible for terrible grammar me am)

But come on, how can anyone not love "Stormageddon: The Dark Lord of All" and the Doctor and Craig as "partners"?

but yes, I did think that the Cybermen got short shrift, and getting defeated "by love" is kinda weak. And the sonic ray gun is yet another example of the Doctor's toys being too powerful since the start of NuWho
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:02 PM on September 24, 2011


which episode are you saying it has the same ending as?
Night Terrors.
Dad saves the day with the power of his love for his son.
Perhaps ending wasn't the best choice of words, resolution maybe.
But come on, how can anyone not love "Stormageddon: The Dark Lord of All" and the Doctor and Craig as "partners"?
I think that's where the frustration lies. There has been glimpses of some truly outstanding writing for this series but it seems to have been suffocated by THE ARC and (if rumours are to be believed) production constraints.
posted by fullerine at 8:20 PM on September 24, 2011


Okay, so we're onto "Closing Time." Good.

Fullerine, people are, I think, by-and-large stuck in the mindset that the finales need to be two or three episodes long because of the RTD model of introducing the MASSIVE THING WHICH WILL DESTROY ALL UNIVERSES BUT BIGGER!™ at the end of each season, so that it "required" multiple episodes to make any sense of, except that those finales were themselves over-stuffed and mostly sucked.

So, instead of inserting a random meaningless phrase into the background of certain scenes and calling that a "story," Moffatt has played with making this entire season a single story, more or less (meaning excluding "Night Terrors" and "Curse of the Black Spot," obviously.) The downside of this is that he's put all of his chips down on next week's finale, but the upside is that he doesn't need to yank us away for a week or two of clumsy set-up in order to show off his lack of skills at being a poor man's Michael Bay.

(In other words, let us all be happy that Moffatt isn't continuing poorly conceived traditions from RTD, who was a vastly inferior showrunner. Yes, he was. He really fucking was. Anyone foolish enough to argue about this is assigned the homework of watching Torchwood before they respond.)

Calming down and moving on...

I liked it. A lot. Always good to see Craig (though I would have liked more Sophie as well.) and Stormageddon was adorable. The Cybermen were relegated to monster-of-the-week status but that's about where they belong.They served the purpose of telling the story of Craig's education in how to be a dad very well, and since they serve no other real purpose anymore (i.e. they aren't scary or threatening) this was a good use for them.

This episode made me double down on my "weird time loop" half-theory, that somehow Amy and Rory receive their invitations to Lake Silencio after getting dropped off at the end of "The God Complex," and that this will probably contribute to how things go haywire with the Doctor trying to meet his date with destiny.

Also, because we're clearly going to be judging this episode as all others on the Amy Pond Feminist Fail Meter, I think the details show that she's not just a model in the future, but actually a Coco Chanel-type of entrepreneur. Unless models get to name the fragrance they are selling and determine the marketing taglines for it, in which case, color me edified.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:02 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't think of it that way, Navelgazer. I did sigh when it was revealed she was famous for being a perfume model. She deserves a better epilogue than "don't worry, she gets by on her looks". But yes, I was reading into it way too much due to this discussion thread. I'll try to accept it as a nice callback to Petrichor and give them time next series to hopefully bring her back for a better conclusion.
posted by Gary at 2:11 AM on September 25, 2011


Well, that episode was flatly awful. Horrible pacing. The incidental music has been becoming more and more overwhelming for some time now, but it's never been quite this parodic.
posted by painquale at 4:45 AM on September 25, 2011


Ah, Night Terrors. Of course, not sure how I missed that.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:54 AM on September 25, 2011


I'd like to hope that Craig will appear in the second-to-last episode of every Moffat season, as both an answer to the claim that the Doctor destroys the life of his companions partners, and as an example of a character traveling the "slow path."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:55 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


So...that happened. One funny gag (Stormageddon) and a whole lot of nothing. I know this puts me in the minority but I am officially sick to death of River Song (and that pains me, because Alex Kingston is a terrific actor). Can't they give her a spinoff so Moffatt can keep his Mary Sue without having an entire season of DW revolve around her?
posted by orrnyereg at 12:49 PM on September 25, 2011


I thought the episode was pretty great, especially since I don't particularly care for Cybermen.

My main problem with this arc is that 1) making River Amy's daughter does nothing of interest and 2) having River kill the Doctor because she's been pressed or programmed takes away whatever agency that character might have had in a more interesting story about River willfully, knowingly, and purposefully killing the Doctor, for reasons good or ill.

I didn't think of it that way, Navelgazer. I did sigh when it was revealed she was famous for being a perfume model. She deserves a better epilogue than "don't worry, she gets by on her looks". But yes, I was reading into it way too much due to this discussion thread. I'll try to accept it as a nice callback to Petrichor and give them time next series to hopefully bring her back for a better conclusion.

I took the Petrichor reference as meaning that she's more than just a model - models don't invent their own fragrances, typically.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:58 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


People who invent their own fragrances and advertise them are very successful models, singers, actors, etc. (They do not, of course, invent them, but they tell the people who make the perfumes what they like the smell of, and I assume they do have input there.) None of which fit Amy as a character, honestly, just the general trope of "successful woman who does womany things because she is such a hot woman". But she's back to being Amy Pond, which is nice.

And given they were about to do a father story, it would have been okay to do a mother story in Night Terrors, and perhaps one of the two children could have been a daughter.

(The episode itself bored me. I didn't really find it objectionable on its own [lack of] merits, though in the context of these two seasons it does no better than anything else.)

RTD had a very different vision of the show than SM, and if you prefer SM's vision, then sure, you'll think he's superior. I prefer RTD's, which means that yes, I like Torchwood despite its massive plotting problems, because intricate plotting doesn't make up for soulless characterisation in my books.
posted by jeather at 7:40 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really enjoyed this episode. I particularly liked seeing The Doctor talking with Stormaggedon.

Is there a good place online to discuss Doctor Who? This thread isn't really working out. (I keep waiting for someone to make a TV-related Mefi spinoff. )
posted by meese at 8:11 PM on September 25, 2011


Metacooler started after the Great Spoiler Debate here; hasn't been very active lately, all the Doctor Who chat has kinda migrated back here again.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:56 PM on September 25, 2011


Yeah, it felt like despite my best efforts, we were missing a big chunk of the decent Who-conversation which was still on the 'filter.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:58 PM on September 25, 2011


Is there a good place online to discuss Doctor Who? This thread isn't really working out.

Reddit's DW section is pretty good, IMHO, especially since they corral each episode into its own "official discussion thread."
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:46 AM on September 26, 2011


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