Episode 10 has become something of a "mini-event" since Doctor Who re-launched in 2005. We've had superb stories such as "Blink," "Midnight" and "Vincent and the Doctor" - with the notable exception of "Love and Monsters" which still gives me shivers. Thankfully the latest entry maintains the excellent standard.
Set on Apalapucia, a planet where Time Engines spilt everything into multiple time streams, this is a tour-de-force for Karen Gillan who, by simply pressing a wrong button, gets to show us two different versions of Amy Pond. The young feisty model we know and love, and the older embittered thirty two year future Amy – bitter with the Time Lord who left her behind, yet still truly, madly and deeply in love with the boy from Leadworth.
The idea of using Temporal Time Glasses and the Tenth Doctor's geek-chic specs which allows Rory and the Doctor to communicate across the parallel time streams is a simple, effective device – as are the sets. The stark, clinical white waiting rooms echo a lot of Kubrick’s 2001, a great contrast to last week’s murky grimy modern day high rise in London. The Handbots are also very well designed - with the great gimmic that their function is to help with the unfortunate side-effect their medicine can kill Humans and Time Lords.
Throughout, as the story twists and turns between the parallel time lines, we get a glut of emotions from the lead actors. Anger: as older Amy scorns the Time Lord who left her behind. Tears and cruel deception: when The Doctor tells Rory the Tardis can’t maintain the temporal paradox of keeping his two wives. Initially lying to keep up Rory's hopes, and then making him have the final cruel choice to decide which Amy fights another day; showing glimpses that the Dream Lord is still hanging around perhaps? The visual of having the Tardis doors acting as a barrier between Rory and Older Amy cresendos an effective final act. Kudos to new Director Nick Hurran for bringing in some effective sequences especially the slow-motion battle and the end of decision scene.
"The Girl Who Waited" sees the very welcome return for Tom MacRae, who uses some nifty hard science to tie things together. He’s come a long way from the debut episodes where he reintroduced the Cybermen (who crop up soon in Episode 11). Excellent dialogue and concepts from the mention of a planet full of coffee shops to the idea of Older Amy having a Handbot called Rory and the voice of Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge echoing in her ears.
For causal viewers, some may well have struggled with the nifty concepts but this is a story that requires several viewings to appreciate all the multiple plot layers. Summing up, another great story which ranks alongside "The Doctor’s Wife" as one of the best this series so far.