In dreams, I walk with you
In dreams, I talk to you,
In dreams, you’re mine
All of the time
In dreams … in dreams
Roy Orbison, In Dreams
OH the Moff! You do so love your little games, but for the first time this series I think I have realised just what we are playing.
I wonder if it took an episode like Amy’s Choice to make me really open my eyes. For the first time this series I watched without really engaging – I wasn’t thrilled, dazzled, stumped. I wasn’t bothered really.
And then, at the end, it hit me. I wonder if I have finally woken up?
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Amy’s Choice saw the Doctor visit Amy and Rory after five years away and find them happily settled in Upper Leadworth with a baby on the way, only for the rug to be pulled as they nod off and find themselves waking up in the TARDIS, playthings of the Dream Lord who sets them a challenge.
One reality is a dream, the other is real – but which is which? And with certain death the result of the wrong choice.
Cue an old fashioned and more cerebral Who than we are used to, which somehow failed to totally click for me. Why? A few reasons, but if I was to sum it up it struck me the episode could have done with a bit more effort.
For starters, I don’t think the story was helped by the direction which seemed very pedestrian compared to the rest of the series and didn’t support the story. Even a few unusual camera angles would have helped generate an air of unreality for the viewer, but its normality – which Stuart praises in his excellent Behind The Sofa review – didn’t cut it in my eyes.
My other major bugbear was the Leadworth section did not do enough to ever convince me it was real despite the enjoyable zombie pensioners, significantly reducing what tension there was.
The revelation at the end that the dream was caused by psychic dust was the type of deus ex machina that Sir Terry Pratchett railed against in Who recently. Normally I don’t care about that type of stuff, but this seemed especially lame and much too convenient a resolution, one I feel Steven Moffat would have rejected out of hand in one of his own scripts.
And for an expectant mum, Amy was very quick to sacrifice her unborn baby’s life by crashing the camper van.
Karen Gillan was well advised to dial down the kooky this week, which made her character much more believable and appealing and Amy’s relationship with Rory feel more real than has been the case. Although she binned the baby with haste, I liked the way she realised the strength of her feelings for him after his ‘death’, and the limits of the Doctor’s abilities with the great line, really well delivered ‘what’s the point of you Doctor?’.
Toby Jones worked hard with what he had as the Dream Lord. Simon Nye – whose script had some inspired moments, despite its weaknesses – deserves credit for his idea of a monstrous reflection of the Doctor from the id and Jones struck the right balance of playful and sinister (just like the Doctor in fact).
I was rather taken with the way the Doctor casually threw the fact the Dream Lord was him into the conversation.
After all, what he was brushing over was the fact that he could very easily become the arrogant and dangerous Time Lord Victorious, and that option is always there.
How tempting must that nagging, dark voice be when he ends up talking to himself, and how many times has the Doctor turned away from that mocking reflection? I wonder. (And I am leaving the Dream Lord = The Valeyard thing aside for now, before you ask)
But what was my big revelation? It goes something like this and may prove to be bollocks, but here goes – why were there only two dreams?
There was the Doctor’s in the TARDIS and Rory’s in the village. Nothing for Amy? Just a choice between the Doctor and Rory and their competing imaginary realities?
My theory is there were only two as Amy – the girl who met the Doctor in the middle of the night, then woke up in bed and went away with him in her nightie, then rubbed dust from her eye – is already living her own dream.
The dream of travelling in the TARDIS with the Doctor.
For the first time since we saw her in The Eleventh Hour, I’m wondering just what Amy had to endure as she grew up in her Aunt’s empty house.
It’s no wonder she took refuge in the fantasy world of the Raggedy Doctor which protects her sense of childhood wonder, but which is in danger of cracking if she ‘grows up’ – as represented by the date the Universe will end being revealed as her wedding day in Flesh and Stone last week. What’s more grown up than that?
Steven Moffat has always put his faith as a Doctor Who writer in the power of children’s imaginations and he is taking that idea to the max here by – I think – trapping the Doctor in Amy’s mind or created reality somehow, which like the magic dust is drawing ideas and characters from his psyche. Like he says, 907 years old, lots to go on.
And what did the Dream Lord mean when he said he’s seen some of Amy’s dreams twice? As he is the Doctor, is another version of him sneaking around behind the scenes, for reasons yet to be revealed? Maybe trying to free Amy from her dream state?
A load of fan-wank rubbish? The ramblings of a madman? Maybe, and almost certainly wrong, but looking across the series as a whole that’s the best I’ve got.
Like the Dream Lord says – with what I assume is a deliberate double meaning – ‘I’ll leave you to ponder on that’.
I’ll be pondering something different, as we’ve reached the stage of the series I have dreaded. The Chris Chibnall two-parter.
Can the Doctor possibly survive the man who managed to make Torchwood defy any internal or external logic, in a bad way, for a significant time of his spell in charge? We’ll find out next week.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Doctor Who: Amy’s Choice – series 31, episode seven (guardian.co.uk)
- ‘Doctor Who’ Stars Talk Time Travel And Story Ideas In New Season (splashpage.mtv.com)