Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor is coming to a close on “Doctor Who,” so it seems only fitting to look back on some of his best moments. Zap2it’s resident Whovians are selecting their favorite 11th Doctor episodes to take a look at exactly why they’re so important, not only to Smith’s portrayal of the role but for the show’s legacy.
First up is the Series 6 episode, “The Girl Who Waited.” It’s an interesting pick, since so much of the episode happens with the Doctor stuck in the TARDIS, but it’s very important to his relationship with Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) and the bond he has with all of his companions.
After landing on the planet Apalapucia, Amy gets separated from Rory and the Doctor due to a quarantine. It turns out the planet is plagued by a disease that can kill beings with two hearts, like the Doctor, in a day. She is placed in an accelerated time stream and when the Doctor and Rory finally figure out how to rescue her, no more than a couple hours for them, 36 years of Amy’s life have flashed by. She’s become a hardened version of herself, ravaged by trying to survive after coming to terms with the Doctor and Rory abandoning her.
The Doctor and his companions have been in peril many times before. But this is one of the most heartbreaking instances, as the Doctor has to come to terms with the fact that he ruined Amy’s life and can’t do anything about it. It’s an episode that truly explores the dangers of traveling through time and space with the Doctor and how isolating that can be.
The interesting thing about “The Girl Who Waited” is the Doctor is somewhat painted as a villain, which isn’t a shade of the character fans are used to seeing. As the episode comes to a climax, it’s determined that the Doctor can save past and future Amy, allowing them to co-exist on the TARDIS. Once Rory and the younger Amy are on board, the Doctor slams and locks the door behind them, admitting that he lied about the ability for both Amy’s to exist in the same time stream. He forces Rory to choose which version of his wife to save, leaving the other to perish. In the end Rory saves the younger Amy, meaning that the older one won’t have existed, erasing her 36 years of hardship.
While the Doctor is many things, human isn’t one of them. It’s that moment that shows the humanity he lacks in some instances, when hard decisions have to be made, with an ability to detach himself entirely. Furthering that point was the Doctor dismissing himself when the younger Amy asked where her future counterpart was, leaving the difficult task to Rory.
Smith’s Doctor has been a barrel of fun, from fezzes to bow ties and everywhere in between, but those rare times when he’s cast in a less than flattering light stand out as the moments that truly define his turn in the role.