Up until this point, much of Amy and Rory’s story in Doctor Who season 7 has been centered around pulling the Williams’ away from the Doctor, through relationship problems and/or a busier, more demanding life than traveling with the Doctor can allow. Fortunately, the highly-anticipated, long-awaited mid-season finale proves to be one of Steven Moffat’s most successful episodes of recent, mixing the terrifying suspense of his most famed episode, “Blink,” with that of his most emotionally nuanced, “The Girl in the Fireplace.”
Amy and Rory’s final episode finds them taking in the sights of New York City, through various moments in time, thanks to the Weeping Angels. Though the Weeping Angels have returned since their introduction in Moffat’s aforementioned opus, this is the first time since that moment where their involvement was an integral, active, element of the story, rather than a species looking to rescue itself using time energy.
The story itself attempts to combine the emotional impact of what the Angels can do with the intrigue of developing the silent assassin backstory, to varying degrees of success. When the Angels’ time traveling ability is playing an impactful element of the story, its use is flawless and often imaginative, leading the series to explore and, more importantly, explain new rules in traversing time travel. However, when the Angels’ backstory is further developed (introducing the infant weepings of its offspring), it often takes away from the nuanced terrors that the Angels subtly brings. A Statue of Liberty Angel, while interesting, is awkward in its use.
For Amy and Rory’s farewell, the entire Williams family is brought in on the action, giving update to (now) Professor River Song and her frequent legal issues. Song isn’t used to her full potential in the episode, but since it is a story centered around Amy and Rory, her inclusion as a supportive character brings some emotionally rich, often painfully dark, moments to the episode.
The Doctor is at his all-time best in this episode, often touching on more personal elements of the story to bring depth to the character and plot. As the Williams family is battling the time travel conundrum before them, the Doctor is attempting to beat the laws of time and space, all to prevent an inevitable ending to occur.
But that ending does occur – multiple times, in fact. Providing multiple moments of conclusion for audiences to ease the stress, Moffat waits until the end to sneak in one of the most heartbreaking conclusions to one of the Doctor’s companions. The moment hits you with the same shock you see the characters react with, leading Amy to do the most instinctual thing: uncontrollably scream for his assistance. After rules of paradoxes are somewhat explained, Amy says her final farewell and joins Rory in his time-fixed destiny in the past, adding “Amelia Williams” to a present-day grave stone already bearing his name.
Since this is Moffat’s first companion departure, everyone was wondering how he would do with the transition. Though there have been some interesting episodes in this season, we’ve yet to have any one episode really tie into another – and this mid-season finale doesn’t really either. Now that Amy and Rory are gone, a new companion, Clara, will be introduced on Christmas, and then the Doctor’s story with a new traveler will begin, unlikely to touch upon previous moments including the departed companions.
Still, Amy and Rory’s finale more than make up for whatever stand-alone episodes may have been contained in the first half of season 7. Because Amy and Rory have become such an integral element of the series, even helping to secure Matt Smith’s Doctor in the hearts of many fans, the handling of their departure was of the upmost concern. More than just a series about space travel and alien encounters, Doctor Who is very much a character driven series, and Amy and Rory are certainly two memorable characters. The girl who waited, and The Last Centurion.
The conclusion was handled masterfully, mixing the heavy-hearted ending of Donna Moss (Catherine Tate) with the fixed, untouchable destiny of Rose Tyler, to bring an emotionally fitting finale for two of the TARDIS’ most memorable inhabitants.
Until Amy and Rory’s final episode, it felt as if, perhaps, Moffat was attempting to trade in an emotionally-driven companion transition for one where the audiences have already developed the want to see them go, allowing the new companion to be a welcomed face to the series, rather than a perceived downgrade from familiar characters.
Thankfully that was not the case, so on to bigger and better things. And a new companion to find in the past.
Doctor Who season 7 continues in 2013 on BBC and BBC America
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