If there’s one thing that this weekend’s (American) Doctor Who demonstrated, it’s that love conquers all – and if it doesn’t, then suicide is a perfectly good alternative. No, wait, I mean, that the Doctor likes young people and will happily kill them off if they dare love someone else. No, that’s not right, either. Maybe what we should take away from (the wonderful) “Amy’s Choice” is that the Doctor not only knows what you say about him when you’re being mean, but he thinks much worse things about himself all the time.
I admit it: I called that the 5-Years-Ahead reality was a dream pretty early on. Not because it seemed impossible, but because I refused to believe that the people behind the show would let themselves get locked into a future where both Rory and Amy not only survived, but went on to live a life that was, on the face of it at least, happily ever after (Well, aside from Amy’s wishing for adventure, of course. But that’s what Amy does). I totally didn’t call the Frozen Sun reality a dream, though, nor did I guess the identity of The Dream Lord – even though, looking back, the name was more than a little bit of a giveaway – and the double-bluff (and then surprise reveal) was the kicker at the end of an episode that was already pretty damn wonderful. What Who does best, I think, was somehow mix fairytale and horror and mundane oddness to the point where you can’t quite tell which is which anymore, and “Amy’s Choice” managed that without breaking a sweat – Were the old people weird because they were old, or were they aliens (Clue: It’s a science fiction show for kids)? Is the town so empty because something nefarious is afoot, or just because it’s such a small town? Is there any reality where a mullet ponytail is a good idea?
But, even at the end of the episode, with reality reasserted and the dreamspores that were behind everything thrown out the front door, nothing was quite the same; like a real nightmare, everything that had happened in the dream(s) changed the way we thought about things – If the Dream Lord was really part of the Doctor’s subconscious, then that means that part of him, at least, believed all the things he’d been saying all along, about the Doctor needing to surround himself with young people, about wanting Rory dead so that Amy would love him, and everything else. Amy, as well, may have come out of her experience having “chosen” Rory, but she hadn’t, really – We’d seen that she won’t, really, be happy with Rory’s idealized post-TARDIS life (Also, while there’s something romantic about Amy admitting, at the end of the episode, that she didn’t really know which dream was which, it also means that she really tried to kill herself after Rory’s “death,” as opposed to just trying to break out of a dream world. Rory’s the only one who escaped relatively unscathed – He even cut the ponytail off! – and that feels oddly important, in the run of the season so far: In a season so clearly about childhood and children’s relationships with adults, Rory is the sensible grown-up who is really trying to keep Amy safe (and who sees the Doctor for what he really is, in a way)… which can’t bode well for him in the long run.
Midway through the season, and there’re a lot of themes and threads in play… “Amy’s Choice” may have been a break from the ongoing “Crack in Time and Space” storyarc, but it was anything but filler. All Who should be this good.
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