Women = Babies except when they’re alone, then Women = Kickass

I will put it out there to start with that I am a HUGE fan of Dr Who. I love every doctor in their own way and can debate the merits of each of the companions all night. Amy Pond, admittedly, is not one of my favourites. But it wasn’t until this episode that I started to hate Rory oh so much more…

Quick synopsis: Amy is accidentally placed in a different time stream on a quarantined planet and ends up waiting 36 years for Rory and the Dr to rescue her.

Before this, Amy has been a pretty pathetic companion. She’s not overly intelligent like Martha; she doesn’t have any useful skills like Donna… I guess she can be described as feisty. But, at the end of the day, she is a plot device, there to be rescued.

In this episode, she is left to her own devices for twenty years. No husband or Doctor to rely upon. And she becomes so amazing. She creates her own sonic screwdriver; she survives and avoids the robots sent to “cure her” (which will, of course, kill her). This amazingly resourceful character just highlights Amy’s potential, the intelligence that is seemingly being suppressed by Rory and the Doctor.

Of course, the final result is that Rory gets his young, hot, DEPENDENT wife back. And abandons the older version. All that effort, all that creativity and resilience gets wasted.

Considering the tone of the rest of the season, it’s almost undoubtable that they were not going for a radical feminist message. But at the same time, the message I got from it is without others to rely upon, a woman can become so much more than a damsel in distress. To fully achieve your potential, you must remain alone.

Since Moffat took over Dr Who, the show has been focussing more and more on women as mothers, wives and little else. Some have said that this is a correlation with Moffat’s own continuing focus on parenthood (such as Coupling and Jekyll) but seeing the latest Christmas special, where women are stronger than men SOLELY BECAUSE THEY HAVE A UTERUS, smacks of benevolent sexism and a fundamental lack of understanding of women. But that is another story for another time.

15 comments

  1. Robin Burks says:

    I agree completely with this post! I had a huge problem with that particular episode because we finally got an Amy that was independent and could kick butt and did not need Rory or the Doctor to help her out. And then I was disappointed (although not surprised) that Rory chose the young helpless Amy over the one that proved she could live without him (of course, when I phrase it like that, it makes sense).

  2. Ritch Ludlow says:

    i dont think amy is particularly dependent on rory. he may have saved her before, but shes done the same for him. As far as their relationship goes, hes far more dependent on her.

  3. Ritch Ludlow says:

    also, i dont understand why you’d hate rory for choosing his girlfriend over the older amy. would it have made him a better person to sentence her to 36 years of lonliness, after the older amy had already offered to sacrifice herself? if you’re mad at the content, thats fine, but i really cant understand how rory is a villain here. i think one of the strengths of this story is that there are no villains, except maybe the doctor, but hes really just a plot device and exposition.

  4. Ritch Ludlow says:

    i dont think older amys circumstance is gendered either. the fact that its her instead of rory that gets left behind isnt relative to their gender, i dont think. would things have been different if it had been rory instead ofbamy?

  5. Kate Philip says:

    But the older Amy didn’t want to die. She didn’t want all of her experience and accomplishments to be wasted. Rory made that choice. At the end of the day, Rory isn’t the villain, but the writers who decided the only way Amy could be strong and independent is if she doesn’t have her boys to rely on.

    And also, its gendered because Rory gets to become the hero. Amy just gets rescued.

    • Ritch Ludlow says:

      But I’m suggesting that the decision isn’t due to him being a man and her being a woman. What if Rory were the one who had waited 36 years? Would Amy have decided to let Rory wait 36 years, and save future Rory instead? I doubt it. I’m not convinced that decision is gendered.
      And while talking about dependence, Rory is far more dependent on her than she is on him. She’s somewhat dependent on the Doctor, perhaps, but the Doctor is also dependent on HER.

      I don’t understand why people see Amy as so useless. She saves Rory in Vampires in Venice and Curse of the Black Spot, she saves the world in Victory of the Daleks, saves the Star Whale in Beast Below, saves River in Let’s Kill Hitler….I mean, she’s not useless. She hasn’t pulled a end-all-save-all like Martha and Donna in their final stories as official companions, but I’d argue that’s because her story isn’t over yet.

      By no means do I think Amy is a great companion, but I think people tend to ignore her achievements and motivations when critiquing her.

  6. elleclegg says:

    I have to disagree with your interpretation of the episode. Actually, I disagree with anyone who labels Moffat as a mysoginist or anti-feminist, but that’s an argument for another day.

    While I can’t dispute that Amy becomes extremely kick-ass in her time alone, I would suggest another interpretation of the message we are supposed to get from this. A mysoginist would have made her break down, or brought in another male character who could defend her in the absence of her usual protectors. Moffat didn’t – he showed that Amy is a resourceful, capable woman who can defend herself. She didn’t become more capable because her men were away, she was strong right from the start. That, I think, is a very positive message.

  7. I also have to respectfully disagree. While it’s true that Amy had been resourceful and clever, she was also tortured and broken. Mentally and emotionally scarred from her experience. I think anyone would have wanted to spare her from that.

    Also, Rory’s obvious battle with his decision made it much more than “I want my hot wife back.”

  8. James says:

    Yeah, I had problems with the episode too. Elder Amy’s speech at the end amounts to “I really want you to take me with you, but ignore me because I’m not important.” It felt a very cynical ploy to use her to rubber-stamp what Rory wanted to do with a veneer of approval. Add that to Rory telling Elder Amy not to flirt with him as she’s too old and the fact that he drops her like a hot potato as soon as younger Amy appears and the whole thing leaves a rather nasty taste.

    It’s a great shame as until the las tfive mi utes I really liked the episode.

    • Ritch Ludlow says:

      I didn’t interpret the end speech that way. The idea was that one of two people had to be sacrificed. She knew that, and she discouraged him from coming after her in a self sacrificial way. I believe the idea is the whole “she is young and has her life ahead of her; I am older and come from years of misery and trauma, therefore she should be the one to live.” Which I’m not saying I agree with, but I think its more complicated than you suggested.

      Also, I don’t think Rory discouraged the flirting because of Elder Amy’s AGE, I think he did it because his girlfriend was in the room.

      • James says:

        I’ve not watched the episode for a few months, but as I remember he tells elder Amy that she’s old enough to be his mother and this conversation takes place before they’ve found young Amy.

        As for the end of the episode, it felt very much forced by the writer into the position where Rory had to make a choice. There have been examples previously of two versions of the same person being in the Tardis without the ship being affected. It just felt to me to be very false that on this occasion one of them had to be abandoned. The writer’s hand was just too visible for me to be comfortable with it.

  9. R. Taylor says:

    I think most of the companions don’t “need” to be a badass if the Doctor is there, because the Doctor is the consummate capable unknowable alien god who fixes everything. If Amy hadn’t gotten separated, she wouldn’t have needed to build her own screwdriver and elude alien bots—the flip side of this being, as Joan Redfern points, that if she hadn’t been with the Doctor in the first place she would never be in a position where that was even a possibility.

    Most companions that I can think of (I’ve mostly only seen New Who) have some of their greatest moments of personal power without the Doctor around. I think it’s more the inequality of the Doctor/companion relationship and how the writers choose to handle character growth in general than anything about Amy in particular. The companions’ journeys with the Doctor may open their eyes to all the things they could be, but they have to come into their own on their own.

    • tansy says:

      I agree with your comment, R – it’s hard for anyone to be self-contained when he’s right there, because the Doctor is awesome at everything. And while it’s gendered in that the majority of companions are female, it’s also something that applies very much to the male companions. Mickey and Rory’s greatest moments of character development and badassery happen while they are off on their own, and Jack is a hugely different character as protagonist & lead actor of his own show than when he is the Doctor’s sidekick, as was evident the many times he came back.

      Having said that, I still remember the fan backlash about season one because the Doctor didn’t technically solve any of the problems of the episodes, but his presence inspired others to have their hero moments and do the saving themselves thing.

      I only had two problems with The Girl Who Waited: one is the paradox that it makes no sense for older Amy to be so resentful of the men failing to save her when, in all but *this* version of reality, her younger self heard and knows that it was her older self that dug her heels in and refused to let it happen. So a lot of the tensions don’t quite make sense.

      I also didn’t get why, in older Amy’s rage at the Doctor, she didn’t throw the loss of Melody in his face, which would have added huge resonance to the latter half of the season – likewise in Night Terrors & especially the God Complex, it would have been nice to have Rory acknowledging his own loss. A single line would have done it.

      I love the idea that Amy on her own can be bad ass and that she doesn’t need the Doctor to survive – and that there is a more complex approach to the time issue. And I’m really sorry older Amy didn’t survive (though technically we don’t KNOW she didn’t, there is a slim possibility she’s out there rampaging, like Jenny). But I think the story was for the most part handled with respect, and I like the fact that, in the final episode of the season, we see a different bad ass Amy who again has been stranded without her boys and does JUST FINE without them – in fact that it is she and River who are working to save the Doctor, because it’s his turn to be saved, despite his own wishes.

  10. Alasdair says:

    I think “The Girl Who Waited” is a fine episode, but it’s not without its problems. Most obvious is the unfortunate contrast with last season’s “The Big Bang”. In this episode, Amy waits for Rory for 36 years and goes a bit crazy. In that one, Rory waited for Amy for about 1000 years and was just fine! Granted, their situations weren’t quite the same – Amy was in constant danger and gradually ageing, while Rory was immortal – but still, the contrast is painfully obvious. Either episode would have worked well by itself, but putting the two of them in successive seasons weakens them both.

    • Ritch Ludlow says:

      But also Rory was in the real world, and we at least know he had enough of a life to get a security guard job in the end. Amy was completely alone. Also Rory had decided to stay by choice, whereas Amy was just sort of accidentally abandoned. I if there is a major weakness in either of those stories, its in Rory’s that, 1000 years didn’t phase him, when it clearly should’ve. Then again, he was plastic.

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