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Doctor Who XXXII.10: The Girl Who Waited

September 10th, 2011 (08:02 pm)

Instant reaction: not bad at all. The best of this half of the season so far, and with pleasing references to the Arthurian tale of Sir Gawain and the Loathly Damsel. While the fifty-plus Amy is by no means loathly, she's not the person Rory wanted or expected at first glance. Rory, like Gawain, leaves the choice to Amy; a pity almost that the Doctor has to play deus in machinam and turn the other Amy away, though in the end Amy's agency is restored. The rules of Doctor Who and the legendary roots are like magnetic forces repelling each other.

I also appreciated Amy being on the other side of a glass from the Doctor and Rory, repeating a motif from 'A Good Man Goes to War', but also more obviously reminding me of Cocteau's Orphee films. Amy acquires their accoutrements as if the magnifiying glass concentrates their props on to the Amy in the other time stream. Cocteau wrote an Arthurian play about doubles, too...

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/448927.html.

Comments

Posted by: sharaz_jek (sharaz_jek)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 08:12 pm (UTC)

with pleasing references to the Arthurian tale of Sir Gawain and the Loathly Damsel.

I knew it felt vaguely mythic-resonant.

Amy acquires their accoutrements as if the magnifiying glass concentrates their props on to the Amy in the other time stream.

Nice catch (and also provides a plausible explanation for future!Amy's armour - now both of them have had to wait, though under very different conditions)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
ArthurElaineLetter

thanatos_kalos inspired that point as she tweeted much the same idea a couple of seconds before I wrote that bit - the sword and the sonic screwdriver being Rory's and the Doctor's respectively.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 08:37 pm (UTC)
Liz & Pertwee

First reaction...wow...I had to sit and catch my breath for a few seconds.
I agree that this was the best in a long time. I ahd not spotted either of the parallels, but the whole thing was deeply archetypal,and was almost advertising that fact by almost completely dispensing with sets.
It was also a tour-de-force from Karen Gillan, but I had expected some more Rory (especially as himself, not just channelling the Doctor).
And talking about channelling - surely those glasses were nicked from Torchwood??!!!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)
Torchwood

Most definitely - there is a story about the glasses and the lenses to be imagined by those who want to fill in the ninth Doctor-Rose-Jack era.

I agree about the minimalist set design adding a lot to the atmosphere, which made the garden location the more striking, and the grading brought out its greenness.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC)

Posted by: sharaz_jek (sharaz_jek)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 09:05 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 09:25 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 09:05 pm (UTC)

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 09:25 pm (UTC)

Posted by: sensiblecat (sensiblecat)
Posted at: September 12th, 2011 05:02 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 12th, 2011 05:12 pm (UTC)

Posted by: muuranker (muuranker)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)

How did I miss the Gawain?

I am guessing that is because I am around the age of older Amy, and do not consider myself/women my age to be loathly.

This was, I think, the flavour that I thought was missing.


To my mind, the things that make the loathly lady loathly are not so much age, as things which are more and more common as women age (such as loosing teeth). None of which Amy exhibited. A bit wrinkly, and that was it. She even fell down like a young woman.


Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC)
shaolin

she even fell down like a young woman.

To be fair, she had to keep quite fit and agile...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC)

I was a little nervous of mentioning the comparison to the Gawain story - and as I say, I don't think the older Amy is 'loathly' - I'm closer to her age than that of the younger Amy myself.

I agree with widsidh on the agility issue, though there is also some impatience with the idea that a little latex is enough to depict ageing, which you get across film and television.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)

Posted by: muuranker (muuranker)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 09:56 pm (UTC)

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: September 10th, 2011 10:24 pm (UTC)

Posted by: aranelcharis (aranelcharis)
Posted at: September 11th, 2011 02:12 am (UTC)
England

I got some Alice vibes from the looking glass...

Is Sir Gawain and the Loathly Damsel another name for Chaucer's The Wife of Bath's Tale? Or did Chaucer borrow from that tale? My English 12 class just started The Wife of Bath's Tale on Friday. Coincidence? :)

I get the feeling that waiting is a huge motif in Doctor Who: Amy waits for the Doctor, Rory waits for Amy under Stonehenge, it appears to Amy that Rory has died waiting for her after they're separated (in "The Doctor's Wife")...this time it's Amy that waits for Rory/the Doctor. The first thing I thought of when I saw the "old" Amy was the dead (really old) Rory that Amy saw actually.

Also, I think this is the first time that I've actually been convinced by the Rory/Amy on-screen chemistry. I'm not quite sure why it's taken me this long.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 11th, 2011 02:22 pm (UTC)
Northumberland

They are not quite the same story though share the same motif, or so I am told. The earliest extant version of 'The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell' is later than 'The Wife of Bath's Tale', according to Wikipedia anyway.

It's Amy who gets to explain how Rory became beautiful in her eyes, rather than vice versa...

Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: September 11th, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC)

But... it was toe-curling and horrible and kept trying to force emotion out of us like we're a bunch of sponges who'd been injected with saline solution. At excruciating length, even by the standards of recent episodes. And after it conned me into watching it by starting with a proper sci fi premise and no small children, too.

Perhaps I've been sitting next to Ponder too long, but I'm starting to agree with his demands for 'proper science fiction' again.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 11th, 2011 02:10 pm (UTC)
MattKarenArthur

Well, I felt the emotion was real and unforced, and the premise intriguing and well-developed. I prefer this sort of thing to almost any story served up as Doctor Who in the 1980s.

Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: September 11th, 2011 02:26 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 11th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: gwydion_writes (gwydion_writes)
Posted at: September 11th, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC)

Great catch on the Gawain! I was wondering about the samurai- like fighting style- lone samurai etc. But one more thing- why does this episode also feel like Amy and Rory had no child? Was this too part of the interchangeable season order?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 11th, 2011 06:45 pm (UTC)

I felt that the two of them were emotionally more mature than they were last week; a decision has clearly been made not to dwell on the loss of Melody, even though I think it should have been brought up in conversation at least once after 'Let's Kill Hitler'.

I'm not really up on far eastern allusions - manga and anime and Japanese cinema have all passed me by, largely - but given that Amy must feel as if she has been cast out of her order, I can see there is a parallel.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 11th, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 11th, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC)

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 11th, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 11th, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC)

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 12th, 2011 01:22 pm (UTC)

Posted by: sensiblecat (sensiblecat)
Posted at: September 12th, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
awkward moment

I'm not familiar with the Gawain story but I did spot that the doubling reached almost Shakespearian levels at times - right through to a certain gender reversal.

It is perhaps inevitable that by this point in S6 we are constantly reminded of past episodes. I'm not sure how much is intentional and how much just happens. But I saw elements of at least three classic RTD finales. First, the Doctor's apparently callous abandonment of Amy Senior is reminiscent of Jack at the end of POTW. Visually, the very white setting had an Army of Ghosts vibe to it. And the doubling of Amy recalled an earlier doubling of the Doctor.

I feel that there's been enough distance from the RTD era now for a certain amount of deconstruction, or at least examination, to be acceptable. And one thing that occurred to me was that everything Eleven does, we've already seen Ten do at certain times, and it was a lot easier to forgive him when he was as attractive as DT. Which is pretty worrying, in a way.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 12th, 2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
DoctorQuillDWW

Of course - I'd not thought of Shakespeare, but the parallels work.

David Tennant and Matt Smith play the role of the Doctor in contrasting ways - one might simplify it to say that Tennant inhabited the Doctor, but that the Doctor inhabits Smith. Eleven is much more distant and less knowable than Ten; something which is apparent in 'The Eleventh Hour' is how the Doctor (who has been the only common link between stories since 'The Next Doctor') is distanced from the audience, as he goes off apparently to have adventures without us (and, importantly, Amy) before coming back. It's a comment on the gap between Survival and the TV Movie and then 'Rose', which RTD used to fill in the Time War, but it's much more potent now because so much of the viewing public have been won over to a fan perspective over the past few years, or so Steven Moffat believes.

A lot of commentators have pointed back to the similarities between this story and The Mind Robber, at least in terms of visualisation, though I never thought of the all-white sets as a void, as they were too well-delineated for that.