I’m counting down my favorite episodes from the Matt Smith Era.
8. The Girl Who Waited
When the Doctor first unintentionally leaves Amy behind, she is a little girl who fears a strange crack in her wall and is bemused by this bumbling and ridiculous incarnation of the Doctor.
When he returns twelve years later, she is physically an adult yet emotionally she is still a child waiting for her raggedy doctor, her imaginary friend, and her hero to return to her. Her strange, confusing life, (“Does it ever bother you, Amy, that your life doesn’t make any sense?” The Doctor asks her in The Pandorica Opens) is consumed by her memory of the Doctor. As a result the Doctor returns to find a beautiful young woman who is emotionally stuck at seven years old.
During her travels with the Doctor and Rory, however, she begins to mature. She never loses her feisty and sarcastic sense of humor, but she is no longer waiting for her imaginary friend to return. She is married to someone who had in turn, been waiting for her to notice him, and her relationship to the Doctor is more of a deep friendship rather than that of a young child worshipping her hero. It appears as if one can safely say that Amy Pond is no longer a little girl waiting for her imaginary friend to return and sweep her off of her feet and take her on a journey through time and space. The reality is a bit more complicated, however.
Once again, in this episode, Amy is left behind. Of course it wasn’t intentional (just like it wasn’t intentional the first two times the Doctor left Amy behind). The TARDIS lands in Apalapucia, which is under a planet wide quarantine and while the Doctor and Rory enter one time stream, Amy accidentally gets stuck in the faster time stream. Since there is no direct route for Rory and the Doctor to follow in order to get to her, he and Rory have to go back into the TARDIS and crash into her time stream. When they do, they find out that she has been waiting for 36 years for the Doctor and Rory to return.
She still has her sassy and sarcastic demeanor but her fun spirit is replaced by anger and bitterness. No longer the child eagerly awaiting the return of her hero, she is jaded and angry. Like a believer who gets tired of waiting for her deity figure to return, Amy is filled with hatred and angry towards the Doctor.
She calls the Doctor God, mocking his ability to jump in and out of people’s lives, regardless of the consequences and his self-confidence that he will be able to “fix” everything. But perhaps she is also making fun of the childlike faith-she held onto for so long. In his ninth incarnation, the Doctor jokes that he would make a horrible god, “Don’t worship me, I’d make a very bad god. Wouldn’t get a day off for starters.”
And in his tenth incarnation we see the harm that comes when he begins to believe that he is a deity figure and that the laws of time no longer apply to him. But through Amy we see the pain and suffering that his companions experience when they view him as a “God.”
The problem with viewing the Doctor as a deity figure is that at least in traditional/classical Christian theology God is understood as perfect and unchanging. God does not make mistakes, God is all knowing and all-powerful. God can break natural laws, God can choose to intervene or not intervene in the lives of individuals and nations. God is portrayed as an independent being who does not need anyone else. And in traditional theology, God is understood as impassable, meaning he is not affected and moved by suffering. (Though to be fair, many theologians and individual Christians, while agreeing with other aspects of classical theology have firmly rejected the notion of God as being indifferent towards human suffering). Even in increasingly secular countries- the Judeo-Christian understanding of God has impacted how those in said countries view deity figures. (Even if they reject the notion of a deity figure- the God they are most often rejecting as nonexistent is based on the Judeo-Christian understanding of God.)
The Doctor can never be such a god and to view him in such a way ends up disappointing and hurting his companions. The Doctor is not aloof and uncaring, he repeatedly intervenes in the affairs of those who are in trouble even when he shouldn’t. The Doctor is imperfect and faces impossible choices. He makes decisions that while they might be the “right one” or at least, the “best option,” they are often unfair and the consequences of his decisions cause pain. The Doctor often (but not always) ends up saving the day, but at what cost?
The Amy who waited 36 years for the Doctor and Rory lost her child-like faith in the Doctor. She stops viewing him as God but in the end, that Amy never existed. The Amy that wakes up in the TARDIS at the end of the episode still retains her child-like faith in the Doctor…