Perhaps the most important thing to say up front about this episode is, if you’re one of the people who has criticised Karen Gillan for her portrayal of Amy Pond over the past two seasons, then you’re either going to loathe this episode and regard it with utter detestation, or, hopefully, will watch it and begin to understand what everyone else has seen in her. For as the throw-forward at the end of Night Terrors showed, she’s not just playing one Amy here – there are two Ponds, one the bright version we’ve come to know, the other one who has had her faith tested in Rory and the Doctor.
While a lot of attention will inevitably be on Gillan, it’s Arthur Darvill who actually deserves more plaudits for this week’s episode than perhaps he’ll receive (as indeed he does for his performance throughout this season). Rory’s the one who’s faced with the difficult decisions, the one who finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place – the one who, quite rightly, rounds on the Doctor on more than one occasion.
This is the Doctor-lite episode, and it’s nearer a Blink in structure than a Turn Left: Smith is integral to proceedings, but wouldn’t have been needed for a high proportion of the shoot. He does have a couple of critical lines though that may pertain to the series’ arc, and writer Tom MacRae gives Smith a number of equally critical reaction shots – so this might not be the standalone it initially appears to be.
Verdict: As much about the relationship between Rory and Amy as it is the difficulty in which the Ponds find themselves, this is another strong episode. 8/10
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