The Girl Who Waited

NTSC Region 1
14-episode
DVD box set

PAL Region 2
14-episode
DVD box set

Ltd.
DVD
6-episode volume
See below for Blu-Ray options
(Doctor Who Story No. 226, starring Matt Smith)
  • written by Tom MacRae
  • directed by Nick Hurran
  • produced by Marcus Wilson
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 1 episode @ 46 minutes
Story: Should Amy really have gone back for her cellphone to take pictures of the planet Appalapachia? As the Doctor and Rory work to rescue her from an alternate timestream, they are shocked to discover she has become a warrior battling robots while waiting for them for 36 years, and this time conundrum is only just beginning....

DVD Extras (box sets only) include:

  • Doctor Who Confidential featurette: What Dreams May Come (11 min.) (which has little to do with the main story,
    but has Arthur Darvill [Rory] exploring sharks underwater with dive master Kelly Timmins which is like a whole 'nother episode,
    plus Karen Gillan (Amy) driving for the first time... on a race track no less, instructed by pro driver Pat Blakeney)

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have already seen the program.
To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide to the season instead.


And now for one of the better stories of the season's trailing half. There's a lot to like here. We explore interesting bits of an alien planet, which still satisfies despite the budget restrictions being made a bit too obvious at the beginning. We get two Amy's, one of which is a cool Valkyrie-style warrior that puts the swashbuckling Amy from "The Curse of the Black Spot" to shame. Best of all, we get some interesting sci-fi ideas. But, in order to navigate through those ideas, the Doctor Who crew can't help stepping into their usual puddle of mud and bawling at the smell of their shoes again.


At this point in the season though, I recognized that the opportunities to do more two-parters than usual were expiring, and that this episode was probably double-banked so that Matt Smith only had to do scenes in the TARDIS and in one cheap white set. But fair enough, because he is still quite active in the story, his partial absence is really well-disguised, and Rory and Amy and Amy get so much good stuff to do that completely holds your attention. Valkyrie Amy really looks super cool while kicking butt in this one. Rory also gets another nice bit of focus as he physically personifies the efforts to rescue Amy throughout the story.

The only real downside here is that temporal theory is so badly messed up, which in turn becomes the excuse for motivating bad choices by the protagonists. If you meet an old Amy, then go back to meet her younger self and "rescue" her from the events that shaped her older self, BOTH of them ALREADY COEXIST in branching universes. Neither will cease to exist in a puff of magic. They are now doubles of each other, as often seen on the show "Sliders" (which all Doctor Who fans should also watch), or as also seen in writer Tom MacRae's previous story "Rise of the Cybermen" (story no. 176), where we have two Mickeys coming face to face and living well together. In this case, we see Amy's two doubles at different times in their lives, but they are still doubles.

Yes, it's Level 3 parallel (branching) universes to the rescue once more. But can they really still apply here, with such a weird set of artificial timestreams running? My answer is that it must apply, as long as decisions are possible. Remember, "Every single decision we make creates a parallel existence, a different dimension..." For every tiny decision Amy makes in that timestream, another version of her is spawned. This is all part of the decision-making function deeply embedded into humanoid activity anywhere in any universe on any timeline. Today's sci-fi writers are obviously still struggling with this, not realizing how it impacts EVERY time travel story and removes most of the paradoxes and conundrums that hang them up.

In the case of this episode, we sadly have to listen to a lot of guff and misplaced emotion as the characters fight the perception of a non-existent paradox or make themselves sad over, essentially, nothing.

"Two Amys together. Can that work?"
"I don't know. It's your marriage."

But I'll cut them some slack, because even if they had got the branching time bits right, there are still a lot of fascinating questions in play. You'd now have basically two Amy's with one husband to share between them. Awesome twist. The "Space" and "Time" additional scenes actually teased us with this concept (and without freaking out over it I have to add), only now, one Amy is considerably older and more bitter than the other. Perhaps this is slightly less than the fantasy Rory was having earlier. If he is forced to choose, of course, how would he not go with the younger one who is closer to his own realm of experience? All kinds of ageist themes are brought into play. In fact this is so rich, it seemed to be the obvious way to maintain audience interest in their relationship, with a very weird complication and escalation. I began to suspect that older Valkyrie Amy would grow up to become Madame Kovarian, taking her grudge against the Doctor to a new level. Well, the episode makes it appear as if that doesn't happen.

But, we all know appearances aren't everything. The Doctor's ludicrous temporal theories have the room to be dead wrong in this story, without needing to change anything of what happens on screen. We could easily believe that older Amy continues after this episode, waking up from the tranquilizer, finally realizing that the medicine of this planet isn't fatal to humans after all. The others have just decided to forget her, exemplified by the fade out to white. And she might just use the additional information that the Doctor's given her about the temporal engines to escape the facility and compressed time stream. If she ever does come back, either as Kovarian or whatever, you can probably bet her grudge against him may well have intensified.


Production-wise, this story seems quite budget conscious. We get a re-use of an entrance hall that was previously part of the cat hospital in "New Earth" (story no. 172), which still works nicely here. We get some nice variety from the time engine area, both inside and out, and the garden is really cool. Chiefly it is the lack of guest characters making this one feel cheap, along with the dull plain whiteness of the other sets. Additionally, when we do see someone, she looks exactly like an Earth person... something to stretch the imagination might have been more interesting. But all this is forgivable, because at least it's an alien planet. Thank goodness we're getting some decent ones this year.

The music really feels recycled from last year in this story, although at one point the new guitar rendition of Amy and Rory's theme is really sweet. Still, reusing music here is very appropriate, since we're focused so much on the regulars, while perhaps not enough is being done to define new elements like the planet and its people.

I think I really would have liked to expand this to a more populated two-parter with a more decent budget, and used the extra time to explore Rory's attempts to deal with having the older Amy in his life along with the younger one, while the Doctor gets a more external A-plot trying to save the planet and/or investigate some sinister plan behind the plague. We haven't had the fate of alien planets at stake nearly enough in New Millennium Doctor Who.

Music by Murray Gold
A full suite of music from the story
is available on the 2-disc audio CD album:
Doctor Who: Original Music from
Season 32 (aka "Series 6", 2011)

More info & buying options


Yes, as is, this story has a bit of a problem, but I like the setting, the visuals, the relationship questions, and the butt-kicking Valkyrie Amy. Matt Smith's disguised production absence also gets a passing grade. In short, this remains one of the better episodes of the later half of the season.



This story has become available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
14-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
14-episode box set
for the U.K.:

(Limited Edition)
DVD 6-episode volume

Blu-Ray NTSC Region 1
14-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada

Blu-Ray PAL Region 2
14-episode box set
for the U.K.:

(Limited Edition)

Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes feature little more than the plain episodes.


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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The God Complex"



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