Last week we were in the past and in the dark with vampires from an alien ocean and now we’re trapped both in the here and now in the freezing cold and in the future, in a dark and nasty happily ever after. Two realities, two dreams, and an impossible choice between the two with the wrong one leading to certain death…
…and that’s this weeks’ episode of Doctor Who, the quite lovely “Amy’s Choice,” written by Simon Nye, who’s responsible for the British sitcom, Men Behaving Badly (and which, you may remember, also had a brief incarnation here in America starring Rob Schneider, Ron Eldard, and Justine Bateman).
It’s kind of funny to think of Nye’s addition to this series of Doctor Who, particularly because he’s considered an excellent comedy writer, and this was perhaps the least humorous episode of the seven aired so far. Well, that’s not exactly true: There was some humor, and it was deliciously dark in places.
The plot was simple: The Doctor goes to visit Rory and Amy Pond in the future, five years after they’ve stopped traveling with him and Amy’s Pregnant and Rory’s got a silly looking ponytail. They’re back in Leadworth and it’s boring, except for when they fall asleep and wake up in the TARDIS, which is powerless and drifting towards a frozen star. They’ve found themselves as the playthings of a creature calling himself the Dream Lord, who hates the Doctor, and has a challenge for the three of them: Survive. One of these two realities is actual reality and one is a dream. You can die in the dream and wake up in reality. But you can’t die in reality and wake up anywhere but dead. Oh, and did I forget to mention the evil old people in the Leadworth reality?
The episode itself was solid and fun, but don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly the least of the episodes of we’ve seen in the series so far. And, despite a wonderfully mind bending premise, the most pedestrian as well. We’ve been on quite a journey of madcap adventures, humor, emotion, and wild fun, and while “Amy’s Choice” had all of that, it pales in comparison to what’s gone before. But, then again, this was also the last episode filmed and the one that had to be the cheapest to save up their effects budget for (presumably) the end of the series (with the return of River Song and the Pandorica opening and what have you).
And special mention should be made to one of my favorite lines from this episode, let along this whole series so far: “There is something here that doesn’t make sense… Let’s go poke it with a stick!” That’s always been my personal philosophy.
It was nice to see Karen Gillan get to do something more than just looking pretty, being snarky, looking hilariously scared, and wearing those fabulous short skirts, and couldn’t have come soon enough, especially when most critics are starting to complain about a lack of a connection with her character so far. And I think that argument does have a bit merit. There’s so many wonderful individual moments to the Amy Pond character, so many great traits to her that makes me love her more than any previous companion we’ve been treated to, but at the same time we’re missing something, it feels like. And perhaps that something is more than just the lip service we’ve been paid to her possible abandonment issues?
And, of course, it was nice to really take a jab at the Doctor’s insecurities as his dark side pokes fun at his eccentric appearance, his “tawdry quirks,” the way he abandons his children when they outgrow the fairy tales he takes them on tours of, and perhaps also, his trust issues.
High praise should go to Toby Jones’ Dream Lord villain, who was both played with an evil glee but also the lynch pin that made this pretty standard plot work together. That fine execution helps the “It was all a dream (within a dream [inside of a dream])!” ending work well. But the supposed resolution of the “love triangle” this early in the season makes me suspect that Rory’s end will be coming soon, perhaps next week or the week after, I’d suspect.