[Spoiler alert: Information about this week’s episode of Who inside]
Maybe I’m getting old but it seems like only yesterday that the time-traveling hero of Doctor Who first entered the lives of Amy and Rory – the companions who were given the sci-fi show’s equivalent of a full Viking funeral on tonight’s mid-season finale, “The Angels Take Manhattan.” Was it really two and half years ago that we saw Matt Smith’s freshly regenerated, dripping wet monster-battler crash the TARDIS into Amy’s garden and request a bite to eat (“You’re Scottish. Fry something!”)? My computer-consulting head says “Yes” but my Who-loving heart, which has yet to fully recover from the departure of Elisabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith during the latter days of the Ford administration, says “Not so fast, matey!”
Of course, as Doctor Who executive producer and “Angels Take Manhattan” writer Steven Moffat never tires of reminding us, time is a strange thing – less a progression of cause to effect, as a wise man once said, than a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff. In the course of the 2010 episode that introduced Amy, she aged a dozen years and, as last week’s episode made clear, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill’s characters have apparently been companion-ing around with the Doctor for a decade now, at least in terms of their own time line. Actually, in Rory’s case, it’s been a couple of thousand years since he initially encountered the keeper of the sonic screwdriver, if you include his spell as the Last Centurion. And let’s not forget “alternate” Amy’s decades-long spell of Handbots-fighting in last season’s “The Girl Who Waited” episode, a show whose heartbreaking climax was echoed this week in the scene when Amy encountered a version of Rory who had aged 50-something years. (To be honest, it seemed a shame to me that “old Amy” couldn’t somehow have been partnered with “old Rory” and sent to an old folks to tackle scary beasties, like Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis d0 in Bubba Ho-Tep. But, hey, maybe that’s why I’m recapping Doctor Who and not writing it.)
In this week’s show we learned that Amy even now requires glasses to read a newspaper. Meanwhile, the headline of said newspaper (“Detroit Lions Win Super Bowl”) strongly suggested this episode, which Moffat had long made clear would be the Ponds’ last, might be taking place in the strangest, and most unbelievable alternative universe ever encountered by anyone ever (suck it, Fringe!!!). But perhaps it’s best to leave further discussion of that for another, well, time.
Indeed, the specter of aging, and of how getting old might affect one’s relationship with a virtually immortal being, stalked the episode like a Dalek with nothing better to do on a wet Sunday afternoon than indulge in some medium-to-heavy stalking. While Alex Kingston’s Doctor Song – sorry, Professor Song – might be able to vanquish most adversaries as expertly as her Gallifreyan boyfriend – sorry, husband – conquering the cruel advance of time is not among her talents. As Song said to the Doctor, explaining why she had not told him she broken her wrist, “When one’s in love with an ageless god that insists on the face of a 12 year old, one does one’s best to hide the damage.”
Next: The end of the Ponds (?)