I spent the weekend wrestling with a fever, which is still hanging on a bit, and I think it may have warped how I viewed this episode, and by extension, it will affect how this review is going to turn out. So let’s all do a shot of Nyquil and dig in, shall we?
The Doctor is taking Amy and Rory to a vacation planet, which goes about as well as it does every time the Doctor takes one or more of his companions to a vacation planet. Which means to say it all went wrong, and then there was lots of running.
Instead of landing in paradise, the TARDIS lands in the middle of a quarantine hospital for victims of the one-day plague. They land in a vestibule, with a white door with two buttons, a red waterfall and a green anchor. Rory and the Doctor hit the anchor button, but when Amy follows them in a few minutes (she left her phone on the TARDIS, and she wants to take vacation pictures) she hits the red waterfall button instead. Because the normally smart Rory just yells out for her to hit the button, without specifying which one. The door still opens, but she’s sent to a room where the timestream is running faster than in the (same) room Rory and the Doctor are in. Rory and the Doctor are able to see her through a giant, convenient, magnifying glass.
The Doctor determines that this hospital is for plague sufferers and their families. Since the plague kills so fast, families can bring sick members to the hospital and allow them to live out an entire lifetime in the limited time they have, in front of their relatives. While Rory and Amy are immune to the one-day plague, the Doctor isn’t, and apparently this place ALSO turns off his regeneration.
Let’s consider this for a second. I’ve only seen an handful of Old Who, but in all the other incarnations of NuWho, regeneration was never quite this fickle, was it?
“Let’s make this thing that can kill the Doctor!”
“But the Doctor can regenerate…”
“We’ll just have him say it doesn’t work.”
“He just said that two weeks ago, after we poisoned him. And last winter, when the astronaut shot him.”
“Then it’s a precedent, not a ret-con!”
Yes, in fact, the writers of Doctor Who do often have imaginary conversations in my head, like my own personal Rosencrantz and Gildenstern.
Back in the hospital, the Doctor and Rory bicker for a moment or two and a week passes for Amy. The Doctor formulates a plan to save her, but needs Rory to do the boots-on-the-gr0und work since his regenerative abilities are so touch and go these days. He gives Rory a pair of glasses with a camera that let the Doctor see and hear everything Rory sees and hears. (I wonder if this is the origin of the camera contact lenses in Torchwood? I’ll ask the writers in my head.)
The Doctor lands the TARDIS and Rory heads off to rescue Amy. Amy, meanwhile, is learning about the various pieces of the hospital, including several entertainment complexes and faceless robots who want to medicate her to death, as a kindness. Even though she’s immune to the plague, the bots consider her human microbes to be threats to the sterile environment. She quickly learns that the robots will short out if they touch each other, by doing a dodge and weave.
As Rory is wandering around the hospital, he’s ambushed by the bots, but Amy saves him in time. Problem is, it’s not the Amy they’re looking for. Welllllll, it is the Amy they’re looking for, just 36 years after they were supposed to have found her. And boy is she pissed. Also, wearing an impressive set of armor made out of dissembled bot parts and a Rambo headband made out of her original polka dotted blouse. Future-sort-of-Amy is a class A badass.
Amy isn’t so mad at Rory as she is at the Doctor, and she yells at him through Rory’s glasses. I’ve read some comments/reviews/etc. criticizing Rory for not throwing out that he waited 2000 years for her, what’s 36 years? I think it’s different for a few reasons.
1. Amy has some abandonment issues. Not only did her Raggedy Doctor make her wait 12 years for him to return from a five minute trip when they first met, she’s had all the people in her life disappear and reappear, including Rory.
2. Rory knew he’d see Amy again when he was the Great Plastic Centurion, Amy thought she was on her own.
3. Time has been rewritten at least twice since then, and Rory already couldn’t remember much about the 2000 years he waited.
I am filling this recap with tangents, aren’t I?
AnyWho, Amy has a pet handbot she’s drawn a smiley face on, and she named him Rory. Rory I and Rory II meet in Amy’s makeshift quarters, where she takes Human Rory after she’s done yelling at the doctor and the two of them are running from the other handbots. (Rory II has had his hands removed, he’s disarmed. Heh.)
Okay, another tangent. Dayam, Amy ages well. A few lines, a little more weight, still hot ‘n’ ginger. Rawr.
Old Amy does not want to save Young Amy, as doing so would make Old Amy never exist. Wellll, not until Young Amy again becomes Old Amy, the old fashioned way. Hopefully with a little less killing and being-all-aloneness. She changes her mind when she sees her younger self crying in a corner through the magnifying glass, and remembers the moment. Her condition: the Doctor has to save both Amys. The Doctor (remember the first rule?) tells her it will be tough, but he thinks his TARDIS can handle the paradox of having two different timestreams worth of Amys on board at the same time.
Old and Young Amy together are way more fun than they should be, and Rory looks appropriately relieved, scared and utterly intimidated by his double wives.
The trio fights off several more herds of handbots on the way to the TARDIS. When they’re in sight of it, one of the handbots manages to touch Amy, giving her an anesthetic, but it’s taken down before it can administer the anti-human-cootie drugs that would kill her. Rory scoops up Young Amy and takes her in the TARDIS. Old Amy breaks into a run for the TARDIS door, but the Doctor closes it in her face. Apparently he was lying when he said there could be two Amys on the TARDIS.
Old Amy pounds on the door, and the Doctor makes Rory choose which one he wants to keep. Rory rails, saying the Doctor is trying to turn Rory into him, and that’s not who Rory wants to be. He’s breaking, and about to open the door to Old Amy, but she tells him not to, through the door. She says if he lets her in, she’ll come, and that will take all the years he and Amy are supposed to have away from Rory and her younger self.
I may have teared up a little.
He leaves the door locked, and Old Amy is overtaken by the bots, who hit her with knockout drops and then, presumably, kill her and her human cooties.
The mood on the TARDIS is tense, and the Doctor leaves the couple alone, with that look on his face that says, “Wow, I really fuck these companions up.”
There’s again no mention of baby/toddler/timehead/lady River, which is again odd, although last week’s absence was explained by the episodes playing out of their original order. I know it’s a standalone, but it’s not standing alone in a vacuum, now, is it?
More monsters next week, and I’ll be right here on Monday ready to talk about them. Until then, dear Whovian readers, stay away from killer robots and alternate timestreams.