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re: Doctor Who: I didn’t sign up for this.

When I started watching Doctor Who again regularly in 2010 it was because that initial run of episodes from “The Eleventh Hour” to “Flesh and Stone” appealed to me in multiple ways: they appealed to my sense of adventure, to my yen for emotion-driven storytelling, and to my love of strong, proactive female characters whose internal landscapes and motivations were interesting to their creators and to the people telling stories about them.

Series five — or series one, or series 31, or whatever you want to call it — was driven emotionally by the relationship between the Doctor and Amy: the plot grew organically out of a story which was, at its heart, all about the Doctor making up for breaking a promise to a little girl who asked him for help. When the whole universe was in peril, fixing Amy, undoing the damage that was done at the start of “The Eleventh Hour”, was integral to saving it — and so the relationship between the Doctor and Amy was integral to saving the universe and therefore to the narrative. And fundamentally this was a story that could only be told at least in part through Amy’s eyes; it was a story that necessitated laying out the cartography of her inner landscape; it was a story all about manifesting Amy’s internal world in the external world. That’s why I always dismissed the idea that the show had somehow become less emotionally driven under Steven Moffat’s run (and I still think that’s an argument people only pose because they are determined to compare Moffat with Davies as if they were the only two showrunners the show has ever had, as if one has to be a flawless writer and the other deeply flawed and as if their strengths and weaknesses had to be perfectly contrasted — as if Moffat and Davies couldn’t share strengths or weaknesses); that’s why I always dismissed the idea that we never got to ‘know’ Amy — because the whole series was about getting to know her; that’s why I always dismissed the idea that Amy was something other than a deep ocean of complexities.

Amy herself was drawn very vividly and very clearly: the contours on the map of her internal landscape were laid down in India ink: she was strong and compassionate, emotionally intelligent in a way which contrasted with the Doctor’s intellectual intelligence (which is why she was able to “save the day” in “The Beast Below” and “Victory of the Daleks”), a dreamer whose dreams were too big for her little village to contain, strong-willed and stubborn, and adventurous. Beyond that, she was a very active, dynamic character whose actions were always integral to the plot of whatever episode she appeared in — because she made herself integral, because she forced the Doctor or whoever happened to be around to involve her in what they were doing. Her story was never about what was being done to her but about what she was doing, what she was thinking, what she was feeling.

That’s why I feel betrayed by her arc this year. I feel betrayed because the whole arc thusfar has been about her kidnap, about the kidnap of her daughter, about things which were being done to her. I feel betrayed because she’s almost never been integral to the plot, because too often she has been relegated to a passive, background role, or because the things she did do ultimately had absolutely no bearing on the plot. I feel betrayed because the only real look at her inner world we got was in “The Doctor’s Wife” — and it was all about Rory, because this year Amy’s whole existence is about Rory; in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me that Amy had less than three lines in the whole “Rebel Flesh” two-parter which weren’t either about or addressed to Rory. Always with the Rory.

I didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t sign up for a series all about Amy having a daughter and never getting to see her reaction to the idea of becoming a parent — something which was presented as nightmarish to her as recently as “Amy’s Choice” (and we have no reason to believe that her feelings have changed); I didn’t sign up for a series in which Amy doesn’t even get to play a part in her own rescue, in which she’s left behind when the Doctor goes to rescue her daughter. I didn’t sign up for a series in which the only time we get a look at her thoughts or her feelings they’re on the subject of Rory or the Doctor vs Rory. I didn’t sign up for a series in which Amy’s arc is all about her body and not a bit about her personality or her feelings. I didn’t sign up for a series in which the emotional beats and the plot are almost entirely disconnected, in which plot motors forward under its own steam rather than being driven by characterisation and character interactions. I did not sign up for this. And I sure as hell didn’t sign up to have one of my favourite characters of all time possibly sent off like this, in a way which undermines her bodily autonomy and her agency and quite frankly her previous establishment as a proactive character.

3 years ago on 7 June 2011 @ 11:42pm 224 notes
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