Amy’s Choice

After accompanying them at the end of the last story, Rory along with the Doctor and Amy find themselves caught up in an Inception style adventure. It’s a unique thing for the show to do as it hadn’t actually explored the story telling potential of dreams before. Not only does it offer an interesting and original concept for Doctor Who, but it also introduces another of my favourite Eleventh Doctor villains.

The opening of the story sort of threw me off a little bit upon my first viewing since it seems to pick up five years after the Doctor stopped traveling with Amy and Rory; seeing them living in a lovely cottage in Upper Leadworth. Amy is now pregnant and her husband is now sporting a wonderful pony tail…oh and he’s now a fully qualified doctor rather than a nurse as before…but it’s mostly the pony tail thing that gets focused on. The Doctor appears to visit them by accident but sticks around to make jabs at how uneventful their current situation seems to be.

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Hearing the bird song every time they are about to fall asleep/wake up is a really effective idea. Especially the time when they hear it in the Tardis and realise that they can’t be awake.

It transpires that there are two alternate realities – attack of aliens inhabiting elderly people in Upper Leadworth – or in the Tardis with no power drifting towards a star that burns cold. What I love about both of these possible realities is that they both seem ridiculous; one flies in the face of reasonable science, and the other….just sort of seems a little bit silly (which isn’t unusual for this show). Considering the fuss that is made in this series about Amy calling the pond in Leadworth a duck pond despite not having any ducks – and having that somehow relate to the cracks in the universe – it’s a shame that none of the same locations are used as in The Eleventh Hour. It might have been nice to revisit some of those familiar places.

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The Doctor threw the Tardis manual into a supernova – he always did disagree with it I suppose. I also like how we see the two different variants of his costume in this episode. Red in the Tardis and blue in Leadworth.

Acting in part as an exposition machine and part as a villain, we have the Dream Lord. It is he who explains to the trio that they have to choose between the two realities, one being real and one being fake. The character is played spectacularly by Toby Jones (who has been in pretty much everything by this point). It transpires at the tail end of this adventure that the Dream Lord was actually a manifestation of the Doctor’s dark side. Perhaps a little bit like the Valeyard he represents an evil side of the Time Lord. Although it’s a twist that I certainly didn’t see coming, it’s actually very cleverly hinted at by the Dream Lord wearing basically the same costume as that of our hero most of the time he is on screen. He is a villain that can’t ever really make a return to the series but for me he is extremely memorable and appropriately enough is able to see right through the Doctor. I love their relationship, he is able to make very pessimistic observations about the Time Lord. He mentions his strange fascination with travelling with earth girls in much the same way that the Master had. It’s also referenced how once the Doctor stops travelling with someone he just moves onto the next person, never looking back – how can he call these people his friends? It’s an interesting comment to make on our main character.

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Dream Lord – “If you die in the dream you wake up in reality….Ask me what happens if you die in reality.”
Rory – “What happens?”
Dream Lord – “You die stupid, that’s why it’s called reality.”

With one version of reality being in Leadworth, the other is inside the Tardis as it gets gradually colder. I love the opportunity that we get to see more of the new console room, and to get more familiar with it; it’s different levels and eye catching console. With no one but the Dream Lord and each other to talk to, it also gives the three leads time to gel together to a greater degree. Not only is it a fun idea for an adventure, but it also offers us a little bit more information about the characters. For Rory the reality of being settled down with Amy – and without the Doctor – is the more preferable option (aliens inside the elderly aside). The Doctor however outright likens that reality to being a nightmare. It leaves Amy with the choice between which world she thinks is the real one, which one she wants to be the real one, and whether she’d rather have a life with Rory or a life with the Doctor….hence the title.

In the Leadworth dream we have an invasion of the aforementioned aliens. They are called the Eknodine. They are essentially little green eyestalks that pop out of the mouths of the elderly humans that they are inhabiting and are able to shoot gas which can reduce it’s victims to dust. Quite silly and scary when you think about it. I know that they are by no means supposed to be the primary threat of the episode, but they don’t exactly come across as very threatening. Inhabiting the elderly means that they only ever walk very slowly and although they are shown to be strong (by throwing Rory quite far) we never see another example of this. There is something quite funny about seeing dozens of elderly people try to attack and gain entry to the pair’s cottage. You’re trying to tell me that just one of these dudes could throw Rory several feet onto the ground, but several of them are incapable of smashing a non-boarded up window? Unfortunately for Rory, one of the Eknodine kills him; making Amy sure that this cannot be the true version of reality. The Doctor and Amy then drive at a reasonable speed into the cottage in order to kill them and send them back into the other reality. If I’m honest it doesn’t really look like they are going fast enough to kill themselves, more just put themselves in crippling agony. But I’m nitpicking.

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That poor postman greets all of those elderly people as if they haven’t got green eyestalks popping out of their mouths. “Morning!”

As we get further into the episode the Doctor realises that neither version of reality was real – and that the Dream Lord was trying to get them to choose between two dreams. Therefore the Doctor blows up the Tardis and the three of them wake up for real. Believe me it’s a lot simpler in the episode and it is really cool. A couple of bits of psychic pollen had fallen into the Tardis console and induced a shared dream state for all of them. Therefore there wasn’t really a villain in the first place, just one big nightmare. Despite it taking place in a dream the episode features the first ever on screen death of Rory Williams. Let’s keep an eye on how many times the series does that shall we? As the title told us that she needed to – Amy chose between the Doctor and Rory, choosing her husband-to-be. But then nothing really happens, they still appear to be in exactly the same position as they were at the start of the episode, with no lasting effects.

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Is it only me that thinks the frozen Tardis looks really cool? Even though a lot of the cast look colder out on location than they do in here.

Much like many of the episodes in series five, Amy’s Choice is one that I always return to. It’s a very enjoyable episode with a great premise and never fails to entertain me, no matter how many times I’ve watched it. Considering this, it’s a bit of a shame that the writer Simon Nye hasn’t come back to write for the show again. Especially as he created and wrote Men Behaving Badly which is a brilliant series. This episode features a great one-off villain and lots of great dialogue. Therefore I’ll be giving this adventure nine Amys, Doctors, and Rorys sitting on benches out of ten.

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Nine Amys, Doctors, and Rorys sitting on benches out of ten.
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