By Heather S. Vina
Written by: Tom MacRae
Recap: The Doctor is bringing Rory and Amy to the planet Apalapucia, which was voted #2 planet in the top 10 greatest destinations for the Intergalactic Traveler. When Rory asks why they aren’t going to the #1 planet, the Doctor tells him it’s hideous, basically a tourist trap.
However, when they step out, expecting to look upon a beautiful world, all they find are doors and a sterile white room. Rory and the Doctor head out to go to the next room, while Amy ducks back inside to get her phone. Rory pushes a button on the elevator-like buttons, the “green anchor” button. He and the Doctor find another sterile-looking room inside, with a table and a few chairs, and a magnifying-like glass on the table. Instead of being smart and waiting for Amy, they go inside and the door closes behind them.
Really, guys? Really? Come on, you should know by now: Don’t split up! And don’t go into rooms where doors might slide behind you without at least all being together!
Amy tries to follow, but tells them that the door is locked. Rory tells her to push the button, but instead of his telling her which button to push or her asking which one to push, she pushes the “red waterfall” button, and ends up in a room different from the guys.
When she never makes it inside, Rory opens the door, but finds her gone. He comes back into the room, while the Doctor manages to activate the magnifying glass thing. Inside it, they can see Amy and she can see them, yet they’re still not in the same room.
Suddenly, the Doctor and Rory’s door opens. A faceless robot walks in and welcomes them to the “Two Streams Facility”. It asks them if they will be visiting long. The Doctor is distracted when Amy calls out to him: Something is happening in her room and time seems to be going “wobbly”, according to the Doctor.
The robot comes up to Rory with its hand out and asks him again if he will be visiting long. Amy pops up and looks at them through the glass, asking them where they’ve been. She’s been there for a week, yet for them, barely a minute, if that, has passed. The Doctor realizes that they are in two different time streams, running parallel to each other. Amy is in a faster time stream than them. Just as the robot is making a threatening move towards Rory, Amy’s room starts to shift again. Everyone is yelling at the same time as the credits start to roll.
The Doctor manages to stabilize Amy’s stream. The robot scans Rory with its hand, but doesn’t harm him. The Doctor asks Amy what she did. She says she just pushed the door button and came in. They realize she pushed a different button from Rory and, therefore, ended up in a completely different room.
Rory goes outside and presses the button for the red waterfall, but when he looks in the room, there’s no Amy. Smartly, he doesn’t actually enter the room, so the doors don’t trap him in there. He goes back to the Doctor and tells him that she wasn’t there. The Doctor bemoans that it’s “never simple”. He tries to reason with the robot that they’re aliens, and didn’t know, but the robot rejects his statement.
The robot explains that the facility is a “kindness” facility for people infected with Chen 7. Immediately, the Doctor covers up his face with his jacket. The Doctor explains to Rory that it’s known as the “One Day Plague”: You get it and then die in a day. Luckily, the Doctor and Rory are in the sterile area, but alas, Amy is not. Even more lucky, though, Chen 7 only affects beings with two hearts, like Timelords and Apalapucians, so Rory and Amy are safe, but if the Doctor walks into an infected area, he will be dead within a day.
The Doctor explains how the Kindness facility works: The people who are dying are in a faster timestream, so they live out a lifetime in a day, but their timestream is set up to sync with their loved ones’ timestream, so said loved ones can still visit them and watch them live out their lives. The Doctor explains it’s better to watch someone grow old and live out a life in a day, than to sit by their bedside and watch them die in 24 hours.
The Doctor takes the magnifying glass and uses the Sonic Screwdriver to lock it onto Amy. Unfortunately, this sets off the alarms. He tells her that she’s on her own, until he can use the TARDIS to lock onto her and punch through the timestream to get to her. She needs to go into the facility and hide, keeping away from the handbots, whose medicine might kill her because she’s alien. He tells her to leave them a message where she is.
Amy pushes the button to “Check In”, but gives Rory one last message: She loves him, now go and save her.
The guys go back into the TARDIS and the Doctor attaches the glass to the console, planning on using it to lock onto Amy. He rummages through a toolbox and pulls out a pair of dark-rimmed glasses. He gives them to Rory. They’re a camera and audio that will allow the Doctor to see and hear everything that Rory sees and hears.
Amy makes her way to reception, where she is introduced to the Interface (Imelda Staunton’s voice), which welcomes her to Two Streams. She is told that, as a resident, she now has access to all of the entertainment zones inside. She just needs to pick one.
Amy makes her way outside, where a handbot tries to give her medicine. Amy takes off and barely manages to escape a horde of handbots by ducking into a vent. The handbots can’t see her there.
Rory and the Doctor land on the Red Waterfall side of things. Rory ducks out to go looking for Amy.
Amy, still running from the handbots, makes it to the Gate, where the Interface explains that she can depart to any of the entertainment zones. Amy ends up picking the Garden one and makes her way to a lovely outdoor garden with interesting topiaries. It’s a little alien-looking, and actually reminds me of Alice in Wonderland and the Queen of Heart’s garden.
Amy tries to get the Interface to tell her where she can keep away from the Handbots, but the Interface doesn’t answer. Amy then manages to get her answers by asking clever questions. The Interface informs her that the vent she was hiding in where the Handbots couldn’t see her channels the exhaust fumes from the temporal engines. The Interface shows her where the temporal engines are hidden, but before Amy can question her more, she’s attacked by two handbots. She manages to get away from them by putting their hands together, and takes off back to where she was before, where the temporal engines are. She writes on the doors, “Doctor, I’m waiting,” and ducks inside.
Rory continues exploring, but is confused by the lack of people. The Doctor messes with the glass and Rory sees people walking by in streamy kinds of waves. There are people there; they just are in different timestreams that don’t overlap with each other. Rory is distracted by his thoughts of whether these people are happy or not, when he’s accosted by someone with a sword and a mishmash of “armour”. It’s Amy, only, not the Amy that the Doctor and Rory just left – an Amy who is much older.
The Doctor realizes that the glass and time are a bit wobbly, therefore, they locked onto Amy’s timestream, only much further into it. Amy explains to them that she’s been there on her own for 36 years. After the third decade, she stopped being able to think “charitable thoughts” about the Doctor, and now resents and blames him for what happened to her. She tells him that she hates him. She doesn’t blame Rory, though.
Rory tells the Doctor that they can go back, but the Doctor explains to Rory that this is Amy’s timestream and they can’t go back. Rory is upset, not because Amy is old, but because they didn’t “grow old together.” The Doctor is amazed by her Sonic Screwdriver. She explains to him that she made it, but it’s a “Sonic Probe”, not a Sonic Screwdriver.
Amy leads Rory to her lair, which is near the temporal engines. There, she has a handbot, which she named ‘Rory’ and drew a face on. It’s her pet that she made for company. She made it safe by disarming its hand. Both Rory and the Doctor are a little appalled that she made the robot into company, but Amy is harder, cynical, and lashes out at the Doctor, again.
Amy takes Rory out to the gardens. The Doctor talks to the Interface. He wants to know where the regulator valve is and gets the Interface to give him some specs on the temporal engines. Amy and Rory share a moment and a laugh, and she tells him it’s the first time she’s laughed in 36 years. Rory leaves her and the Doctor alone, and the Doctor tells her that there’s still time to fix this.
Amy ends up saving Rory from a handbot. The Doctor explains to Rory that he’s figured out how to use the temporal engines to fold two time spots together, bringing Past Amy to Present Amy’s timestream. He tells Amy that he’s going to save her, but Amy tells him no, and then ushers Rory out of the garden. The handbots are coming.
Amy storms back into the facility. When the doors close behind her, Rory sees the faded message that she first wrote, alerting the Doctor to where she was. Rory follows Amy and asks why she won’t help herself. It boils down to this Amy not wanting to cease to exist, which she most certainly will if they manage to save Past Amy. Rory says that she will die in there, but Amy says that she won’t if they take her with them. The Doctor tells Rory that they can do that, but that means leaving their Amy in there. She will have to wait 36 years to be rescued. Rory is appalled at the idea of having to choose which wife to save. He is furious with the Doctor, blaming him for not knowing about the plague before they came there. He throws down the glasses and tells the Doctor he doesn’t want to travel with him, anymore.
After Rory throws down the glasses, the Doctor hears crying. He gets Rory to hold up the glass and they can see a crying Past Amy, standing in the corner. Rory goes back to Present Amy. He tells her to look him in the face and tell him she won’t help her. She tells him she won’t. He holds up the glass and shows Present Amy Past Amy. Past Amy sees them and realizes that the older woman is her.
Past Amy asks why they weren’t saved. Present Amy tries to tell her it’s because the Doctor and Rory left them, but Past Amy doesn’t believe that Rory would do that. Present Amy admits that it’s because she won’t help them save her, because if she does, then she will cease to exist. Present Amy tells Past Amy that there will be no convincing her to change her mind, but Amy manages to do it with three words: “What about Rory?”
Together, the two Amys reminisce about Rory and when he came to school with a ridiculous haircut: “All of those boys chasing me and it was only ever Rory.” Past Amy talks about how you meet someone who is so beautiful physically, but after a few minutes, you realize they’re dull as a brick, and not that beautiful at all. Then you meet someone who is okay-looking, but you get to know them and realize that they really are so beautiful. That’s Rory to her: “He’s the most beautiful man I’ve ever met.” Past Amy convinces Present Amy to do it for Rory. Present Amy agrees.
Amy tells Rory she will do it, but they have to take her with them, too. Both Amys. Rory asks the Doctor if they can do that, and he says maybe, if he recalibrates some things and shuffles other things, maybe the TARDIS could handle the paradox.
The Doctor gets the plan going: Both Amys are to stand at the same spot in their timestreams, thinking something so powerful that it can rip through the timestream. Meanwhile, Rory is to do some rewiring in a panel with the regulator valve. After he does it, it will give them ten minutes to get back to the TARDIS.
They start the process, with the Amys remembering the Macarena, which is the first time that she and Rory kissed. It works, and present Amy and past Amy are face to face with each other. Rory and past Amy have a happy reunion, made a little awkward that it’s in front of Present Amy. The Amys start talking in tandem and the temporal feedback makes Rory’s glasses spark, causing him to throw them down. The temporal feedback starts reverberating into the TARDIS, where sparks start flying there, too. The Doctor explains that the TARDIS is reacting negatively to the paradox.
There are eight minutes left for them to get back to the TARDIS. They have to fight their way through a large amount of handbots that are coming after them. They manage to make it back to the Gallery where the TARDIS is and Present Amy fights her way through a field of handbots. Unfortunately, Past Amy ends up being hit with the antiseptic hand of a handbot and goes unconscious. Rory carries her into the TARDIS, where the Doctor greets them. However, just as Present Amy is running towards the TARDIS doors, the Doctor looks at her, apologizes, and slams the doors shut.
Rory is shocked at what the Doctor did, but the Doctor explains that he lied: There could never be two Amys in the TARDIS; the paradox is too massive. Rory protests as Present Amy bangs on the door outside, but the Doctor tells him that it’s his choice. There can only be one Amy. Which one will it to be?
Present Amy pleads with Rory. She tells him that the look on his face when he carried Past Amy to the TARDIS reminded her of how he use to look at her. She had forgotten how much he loved her. She had forgotten how much she loved being on the TARDIS, with him. He cries and says he can’t do it, but as he moves to open the door, she tells him that if he loves her, don’t open the door. If he opens it, she’ll come inside, so for all of their sakes, don’t open the door. They tell each other that they love each other. She tells him to tell Amy that she’s giving her the “days with him”.
Rory lets go of the door, and Present Amy turns to the handbots. She calls on Interface to show her Earth. She starts telling Interface about Rory, as the handbots come up to her and knock her unconscious. As they come up to medicate her, the TARDIS starts to dematerialize.
Sitting watch over their Amy, Rory asks the Doctor if he always knew that he couldn’t save both Amys. The Doctor tells him he promised Rory he would save her and there she is, safe and sound. Amy wakes up and he leaves them alone. Amy asks Rory where the other Amy is, but there’s no answer for her.
Review: I’m not quite sure what to think of this one. I can’t say that I really liked this episode. It’s not because it was mostly featuring Rory and Amy, because I like both characters. It’s not because there wasn’t enough of the Doctor, because one of my favourite episodes, “Blink”, barely had him at all. I think it’s because I just didn’t get a very good feeling from it and it vaguely irritated me.
First thing off the top was: Why did Rory and the Doctor blithely walk into the room without Amy there? Why did Rory tell Amy to press a button, without making sure she knew which button, and why did Amy not ask which button? Why did Amy enter the room when she didn’t see the Doctor and Rory there?
It just started the episode off on a bad note for me, that they were all three fairly brainless in how they ended up separated.
Then, we had both Amy and Rory indulge in one of my least favourite character devices ever: blaming someone else for their choices. Both of them have done this before, Amy most of all, but I really despise when Companions blame the Doctor for what happens to them. Once again, the Doctor never forced them to come with him. Amy, especially, has always insisted on coming along in the TARDIS. So, for them to turn on the Doctor, and blame him for their predicaments, quite annoys me. They’re not naïve; they’re not ignorant. They know the danger; they know the risks. Yes, the Doctor is more knowledgeable and vastly more experienced, but this doesn’t let them off the hook for their own choices and well-being.
They really need to stop having Amy and Rory blame the Doctor for their own choice to travel with him and risk the danger of it all. It just makes me annoyed with them and makes them look bad.
I actually like that the Doctor put the choice of which Amy to save into Rory’s hands. Because this should be Rory’s choice. He’s her husband, her next-of-kin. And all of the hard and painful choices shouldn’t be left on the Doctor’s shoulders, not when they don’t have to be there. For a change, one of them can know what it feels like to have people’s lives and deaths in your hands, and know the weight of that. It’s easy to throw stones and question people when you don’t have that responsibility. Perhaps, next time something like this comes up, Rory will have more empathy for what, exactly, the Doctor goes through and what kind of weight this is.
If the Doctor had taken the choice on, it would have been so easy for Rory to slide back into blaming the Doctor. But this way, the choice is on him and Amy, and on no one else.
This isn’t to say that I dislike either Rory or Amy. Like I said, I like them both a lot. Rory has really grown on me and I like that, at heart, he is a sweet and caring man. I just don’t appreciate it when they turn accusing eyes on the Doctor, like he’s some monster and they his unwilling victims.
Speaking of Amy: I guess I can understand not wanting to cease to exist anymore, but it still seemed too easy for Amy to completely turn away from her past self. I struggled with that one, because it didn’t make sense to me. Why would you allow yourself to be tortured, when you could stop it yourself? That just seemed self-defeating and self-hating, and I felt like it wasn’t believable to me that it would be so easy for her to turn away from herself, when she knew how it felt and what she went through back then.
Plus, how in the heck did Amy suddenly become some kind of computer genius who could build her own sonic screwdriver and rewire the handbots? Did the Interface help her and teach her? Because that certainly doesn’t seem like the type of thing that she could self-teach.
All in all, while this wasn’t a hated episode of mine, it definitely wasn’t a favourite. I think there were too many things that annoyed me in the character writing for Amy and Rory. And starting off the episode with all three characters being stupid didn’t help. It’s not as boring or as lame as last season’s “Victory of the Daleks”, but it definitely wasn’t an episode that I could say I really enjoyed.
The garden was beautiful, though!
The Doctor: I bring you to a paradise planet two billion light years from Earth and you want to update…Twitter?!
The Doctor: Time’s gone wobbly! I hate it when it does that.
Robot: Will you be visiting long?
Rory: Good question. Bit sinister. What’s the answer to not get us killed?
Rory: What are you doing?
The Doctor: Locking onto Amy. Small act of vandalism; no one will mind. [Alarm sounds] Ah, that made the Small Act of Vandalism alarm.
Amy: Rory, I love you. Now, save me. Go on.
Amy: I got old, Rory. What did you think was going to happen?
Rory: Hey, I don’t care that you got old. I care that we didn’t grow old together.
Amy [wearing the glasses]: They look ridiculous.
Rory: That’s what I told him. But still, anything beats a Fez, eh?
The Doctor: Come on, Rory, it’s hardly rocket science, just quantum physics!
You can buy this episode, and the rest of season 6, on Amazon.com.