I quite enjoyed “The God Complex”; it was a perfectly wonderful and a bit scary, a “mad man in a box” type episode that stands alone from the complex confusion of the main. It was a wacky adventure in a strange alien place that is also a lot like home. Something strange is happening and it’s killing off the small group of survivors one by one until the Doctor saves them, it’s an oft used structure for Who and it works so well.
The reason the “God Complex” was so strong is not only because the weird occurrence story was so compelling, and the supporting characters so interesting, but because it tied in strong character development in a way that wouldn’t confuse new viewers and didn’t get tied up in the mess of the overarching plot.
A strange place is space designed to look like a hotel on Earth filled with nightmares is reminiscent of “The Shining” as well as “Night Terrors” a few weeks back. I don’t mind at all because it’s fun and new and we get Rita who is lovely and clever and the Doctor adores her too, clear sign she won’t make it. Rather telling isn’t it. Amy has faith in the Doctor despite the bodies that seem to pile around him.
“Oh, you’re good. Oh, she’s good. Amy, with regret, you’re fired.”
“I’m kidding. (whispers to Rita) We’ll talk.”
“Let’s Kill Hitler” pulled together all the strands from the first half of the season and focused on the season long arc stuff, it had its fun, and its wacky, but it mostly served as housekeeping from the first half. This is where “The Girl Who Waited” and “The God Complex” come in. They served the main plot by creating stand alone stories that highlighted character elements rather than jamming visual elements representative of the main plot into stories on a pirate ship.
“The Girl Who Waited” was an absolutely brilliant set up for “The God Complex”. It was a strange and very timey-whimey, tale where Amy gets stuck in an alternate timeline and neither The Doctor, or Rory can save her.
Older Amy becomes hardened after years of solitary confinement fighting to survive. She literally disarms a robot and naming him Rory for companionship. By the time the Doctor and Rory come back to save her it’s too late. Years have passed and she’s not the same person she was, she’s damaged. Same old story with the Doctor, fun and craziness at first but then the danger becomes too real.
She’s always been the girl who waited for the Doctor, as a child and then again. He’s let her down and she hates him. The Doctor and Rory have to make a choice, they can only save one Amy, only one can survive in the time stream. This isn’t like the flesh, they are both really truly Amy. Rory loves Amy and Amy loves him back. In the end the younger, less damaged Amy gets to exist, older Amy sacrifices her entire existence for her younger self, in hopes that she will have a better life, but mostly because of her love for Rory.
Already in “The Girl Who Waited” we see the deterioration of Amy’s relationship with the Doctor, her hatred towards him, and Rory’s as well. This tragedy makes the Doctor much more acutely aware of his guilt, the death and disaster that follow him wherever he goes, and makes a mess of the lives of the people around him. The Doctor is lonely and has a terrible time letting go of his friends, he’s tried to let Amy and Rory go before, go off on their own. But it seems apparent that “The Girl Who Waited” was a turning point for the Doctor, he knew their time was coming.
“The God Complex” was about Amy’s faith in the Doctor, it was broken in “The Girl Who Waited” but this less damaged version only remembers being rescued, not the years of abandonment…again. A monster that feeds on faith, such a perfect story for Who, I adore it. Even better is that it’s the faith in the Doctor. Amy has hated him before, abandoned as a child.
Amy’s room marked with her greatest fear contains herself as a child, little Amelia Pond sitting on her suitcase waiting for the Doctor to come back for her. As the monster comes nearer and begins to invade her brain the Doctor knows that the only thing that can save her is to break her faith in him. This is so beautiful and heartbreaking because it’s both the literal saving from the monster at this moment as well as saving her from the fate of so many companions in the past, breaking her faith in him will save her life.
The Doctor sits and tells Amy all the terrible things he’s done wrong, abandoning her, telling her this is what always happens, everyone always dies. He tells her the truths that she doesn’t want to believe because her faith in him is what has kept her strong for so long. But now she needs to grow up, he needs to grow up.
“I took you with me because I was vain. Because I wanted to be adored. Look at you. Glorious Pond. The girl who waited for me. I’m not a hero. I really am just a madman in a box. It’s time we saw each other as we really are. Amy Williams, it’s time to stop waiting.”
I love that he lets her go. Amy’s been fighting this for a long time. She ran away with the Doctor on the eve of her wedding. She’s been running from real life but it keeps catching up with her. She did return to her life, she got married because that is what she wanted. Traveling with the Doctor their marriage grew stronger and it’s their special bond that the Doctor isn’t, and cannot be a part of.
As much as I don’t love him actually calling her by her husband’s name as a symbol of separation from him (from one man to another), it works. The Doctor calls for Amelia Pond when he’s scared, Amy Pond when he needs a friend. Calling her Amy Williams is him admitting that she’s outgrown him. She’s become an adult when no one was looking. Plus, Rory has been called Mr. Pond enough times to call it even.
Rory gets to be strong again in this one. His lack of faith keeps him safe. Even the Doctor believes in something, he’s vulnerable, even if we don’t know what his fear is. What did he see in room 11? Guesses anyone? His Death? That of Amy’s, or River’? Perhaps loneliness.
“An ancient creature, drenched in blood of the innocent. Drifting in space through an endless shifting maze. For such a creature, death would be a gift.”
As the creature dies he sees the Doctor’s fear and see’s his faith. The Doctor is translating his final words. He hears them, and Matt Smith is so wonderful at times like these. Half knowing the words are meant for him, and half denying the truth of them.
“I wasn’t talking about myself.”
The Doctor has seen his death making words such as these all the more poignant as he drives the TARDIS back to earth.
“So you’re leaving aren’t you?”
“You haven’t seen the last of me. Bad penny is my middle name. Seriously, the looks I get when I fill in a form”
“Because you’re still breathing”
The Doctor reluctantly leaves them on Earth, with a home, and a brand new scary adventure to go on together. But they’re still breathing; for once he’s left people less damaged than when he found them.
With two episodes left in the season we know this can’t be the last we hear from the Ponds. Plus River is still out there and Mom and Dad are quite persistent folks.
“What happened, what’s he doing?”
“He’s saving us”
The Angels, of course the angels would be in a the Nightmare Hotel, terrifying regardless of the circumstance. Although they have to be real because even images of angels become them… but I wont be nit picky and just be scared.
In the Hall of Fear pictures hang of Sontaran (Fear of Defeat), a Silurian, a Tritovore, a Hoix, a Catkind, and a Judoon.
How excellent, funny and strong Rory has gotten to be this season. I adore him.
Gibblis, The Doctor points out that his planet has not survived so long by simply being invaded, but because they are sly and tricky. Their surrender is not passive at all, it’s a means to survive. Tivoli is the Gaius Baltar of planets. Very interesting bit to explore, perhaps we’ll see them again sometime.
Two more left in the season – I hope they can be as fantastic as the last few episodes have been! I wonder if the Doctor’s fear in Room 11 will come back and haunt him in the next couple of weeks, and what’s next for River Song? Do you think Amy & Rory will be satisfied to have both feet on the ground now?
Faith is a difficult thing to take away. The question is, will Amy really ever stop waiting?