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A First-Timer Watches Doctor Who: “Amy’s Choice”

BBC

At the beginning of this episode we’re presented with a dizzying number of questions: What’s going on? Have the Doctor, Amy, and Rory become unstuck in time à la Slaughterhouse Five’s Billy Pilgrim? Have the cracks in the universe finally caught up with them? Or has the TARDIS gone on the fritz? Who do you even call about that anyway? By the end, we get an answer to a question we’ve been wondering about since the start of the season: Does Amy love Rory or is she going to abandon him for the Doctor and his intergalactic gypsy life?

In “Amy’s Choice” the three travellers keep hopping between two places—err—times, actually. In one “reality” they’re on the TARDIS, getting dangerously close to a frozen star. In the other, they’re on earth, it’s five years into Amy’s future, she’s pregnant, and Rory is a doctor (though not the Doctor) and has made the unwise decision to grow a sickly looking ponytail—one so bad it requires its own intervention.

But the ponytail isn’t the only problem. The sleepy village that future Amy and Rory have settled down in is also home to some surprisingly long-lived seniors… with a secret.

Yikes. Somebody needs to clean their dentures more often. Never trust anyone over 65, kids.

Anyway, after a bewildering bit of back and forth between pregnant on earth and freezing cold on the TARDIS, Amy, Rory, and the Doctor are visited by this guy:

He’s the Dream Lord. Cool concept for a villain, though the fact that he didn’t make his entrance set to this was a bit of a let down. Nevertheless, the trap he’s set for the trio is pretty scary (though not James-Hetfield-with-his-shirt-off-scary).

The Doctor and his companions have to decide: which world is the real one? At stake: their lives. No big deal. The thing is, when you’re a time-travelling alien (or the close friend of one) unusual things don’t seem as unusual (or dreamlike) as they may for your run-of-the-mill earthling. It’s harder to tell a dream from reality because, to you, this is normal:

And so is this:

But what’s real? A choice has to be made, and it involves sacrificing themselves in one world in order to wake up in the real world. After Rory is killed on earth, the choice becomes obvious. Amy and the Doctor hope aboard a pristine Volkswagen Westfalia and smash it square into a beautiful pre-war cottage.

And poof! all three wake up back on the TARDIS, Rory a pile of dust no longer (and a doctor no longer). Their relief is short-lived however, because the Doctor decides to set the TARDIS to self-destruct. How many times can you die in a single day?

Twice, apparently. Turns out that both “realities” were dreams. The freezing TARDIS can’t be real because the Dream Lord has no power in the real world—the Doctor figures that out when he discovers who Mr. Sandman is: him. “It all came out of your imaginations,” hints the Dream Lord, “I’ll leave you to ponder on that.”

All, of course, includes the Dream Lord himself—he’s the manifestation of the Doctor’s dark side. The whole ordeal was the result of a bad psychic pollen trip Amy, Rory, and the Doctor unwittingly went on after the stuff made its way into the TARDIS’ time rotor.

But, like some acid-fuelled 1960s couples therapy session, the experience made Amy realize her true feelings for Rory. She totally loves him. Aw.

Meanwhile, the Doctor seems to be quietly worrying about possible future flashbacks.

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