Doctor Who episode 779: Amy’s Choice (15/5/2010)
‘Which one of these men would you really choose? Look at them. You ran away with a handsome hero. Would you really give him up for a bumbling country doctor who thinks the only thing he needs to be interesting is a ponytail?’ Everyone knows how Moffat carefully constructs his episodes, with Post-It notes and whatnot. But this entire series is just as carefully structured.
The Eleventh Hour introduces the new Doctor, The Beast Below takes more time to introduce the new companion, then we get the new Daleks, two episodes reintroducing the mystery of River and bringing the “arc” into focus, and then an episode introducing Rory. Amy’s Choice could, in theory, have happened sooner, but it would have lacked impact. And look what’s coming next – Amy has to make her decision now for Rory’s fate in the next two-parter to make the right impact. This is a Babylon 5 level of ongoing plotting.
Though he has key “arc” elements to cover, Simon Nye wisely chooses to write this as a comedy: the idea of characters trying to work out which world is real and which the illusion is a bit hoary (Buffy faltered when it pretended its version of this, Normal Again, was a genuine conundrum). The time travellers flip between Afternoon of the Living Dead in Upper Leadworth and a freezing TARDIS, battling pensioners like they’re zombies and the Dream Lord like he’s an annoying git. Even better, it’s actually funny, particularly the wrongness of whacking feral OAPs over the head, Rory’s unfortunate ponytail, and Amy’s enormous pregnancy. The old Doctor, Rose and Mickey triangle replayed as farce.
But Nye also has a job to do, and the last, tragic few minutes of the episode gain weight from the contrast. I’m uncomfortable with suicide as the go-to reaction to loss, and Amy’s immediate willingness to give up her life and her baby’s because she doesn’t want to go on without Rory makes me squirm. But her cold appraisal of the Doctor’s “I’m so sorry” reaction, ‘Then what is the point of you?’, is shocking in the right way.
Next Time: The Hungry Earth