Doctor Who, "Amy’s Choice"

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[Mirrored, as always, from the original review over at]

Billions of blue blistering barnacles in a thundering typhoon, can you believe we’re over halfway through the series already? It seems like only yesterday that we were just being introduced to the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond (of course, if you just started watching the latest series yesterday then that would explain the feeling completely).

We’ve seen Amy and the Doctor face the Weeping Angels, the Daleks, fish from space (like pigs in space, but not as cool), a space whale (who wasn’t really a bad guy, just misunderstood and fed humans in a point which was rather glossed over in the episode) and flying snowflakes with eyeballs. We also come to learn about the ball of crazy that is Amy Pond, the newest incarnation of The Doctor and in the last episode – Amy’s fiancé Rory.

"Amy's Choice" is a character piece; it’s an exploration of all three current cast members with a focus on Miss Pond in particular. The episode opens “five years later” with the Doctor stumbling back into Amy and Rory’s blissful married life in a sleepy English village. Amy is now pregnant and Rory has a terrible ponytail. What’s happened?

The story takes a rapid left turn by having the trio fall asleep on a bench and wake up back on the TARDIS, convinced that everything was a dream. Until they fall asleep again and wake up back in the village of the future. It quickly transpires that an individual named ‘The Dream Lord’ is manipulating them, giving our travelling time jockey’s a simple choice. Two scenarios, one real, one a dream – choose to die in one of them – if it’s the dream you wake up, if it’s reality... Well I think everyone (except Rory) can figure that one out immediately.

In the village all of the old people turn out to be inhabited by aliens that can see by sticking an eyestalk out of pensioner mouths and spit a gas that turns people into sand. On the TARDIS everything has failed and they’re falling towards a cold star, an impossible stellar body even in the world of Doctor Who.

From here the story flips back and forth between the two ‘realities’ with increasing danger and urgency. Our three chronologically advantaged heroes know they have to choose one ‘reality’ to die in but they’re divided over which – until events choose for them.

Amy’s Choice isn’t the strongest of episodes where its plot is concerned – the resolution of the episode is somewhat predictable and the explanation of events at the end smells suspiciously of the science fiction equivalent of “magic”; but like last week the episode isn’t designed with the story at the forefront. Instead it’s an episode that is meant to give us an insight into the timey-wimey Doctor and his latest companions; it’s unsurprising for an episode named "Amy’s Choice" to provide an examination of Amy and her relationships with ‘her pancho boys’, but it does do an excellent job.

The surprise comes in the form of The Dream Lord, who is revealed to be a facet of The Doctor’s darker side; it’s not an original concept for the series (see The Valeyard – who shares many characteristics), but it is always an interesting one to experience, a being as long lived and almost perpetually steeped in violence as The Doctor would be hard pressed to not carry some baggage. The Dream Lord was quite an enjoyable creation for a one off story and was one of the strongest elements – funny, creepy and thought provoking, just about right for the episode’s tone.

Amy’s Choice was a solid episode that held a lot of tension in it, but I suspect that it won’t hold up as well on repeated viewings as there’s not a lot of depth to it once you know the important outcomes of the story. But it is a vital piece of the season and has added an extra layer of complexity to the already vibrant character of Amy and that’s something to be welcomed.

Other Observations:

  • Finally I can believe in Amy and Rory as a couple, the chemistry isn’t completely there but they’ve kindled a bit of a spark.
  • Karen/Amy looked absolutely terrible in the pregnancy suit, I’m sure that was the point – but she really looked like she was smuggling a small planetoid under her shirt.
  • I’m still concerned that Rory is going to become another one of Moffat’s man-child characters (Coupling has no less than four of them over its run, that’s all the main male characters), but he’s still functioning as comic relief and that’s somewhat unacceptable for me. I like him more when he’s being serious, like his observations about the Doctor last week.
  • “Me pancho boys” – best dialog of the episode by miles.

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