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Rory: I don't care that you grew old. I care that we didn't grow old together.
The Doctor lands the TARDIS, claiming to Amy and Rory that they have arrived at Apalapucia, a futurist holiday resort. But on opening the door, they find themselves in a clinically white room, a single door in front of them. Amy returns to the TARDIS to retrieve her phone, while the Doctor and Rory step ahead and examine the door, which has a panel with two buttons. Rory hits the green top one, revealing yet another clinically white waiting room behind it. They enter it, the door closing behind them. Amy, by now, has left the TARDIS, and, figuring them to have gone through the door, hits the second red button and enters the room.
Neither party sees the other, causing both to freak out. The Doctor observes a strange lens in the middle of the room. On activation, it allows them to see Amy. They try to have Amy leave the room, but the button on her side doesn't work, and when Rory tries to leave and enter via the second button, Amy's not to be found. The Doctor and Rory are surprised by the appearance of a white, faceless robot with human hands. The Doctor asks the Handbot about the situation and discovers that Apalapucia is in quarantine. It's facing the Chen7 plague that affects beings with two hearts. They're in the Two Streams treatment facility for plague victims and their loved ones. Through the lens, Amy is yelling at them, because she's been there for a week now. She doesn't need food or sleep or water. She's just very, very scared.
The Doctor, in a panic, realizes that Amy has found herself in an accelerated time stream. It allows an infected being to live out their full life within the short period that it takes for the plague to kill them. Their loved ones can see that full life unfolding rapidly from the observation rooms though a time lens. When the Handbot fails to recognize them as alien and tries to administer a vaccine, the Doctor warns Rory to stay away, knowing the dose would be fatal.
The Doctor quickly tells Amy, through the lens, to stay away from the Handbots, because their disinfectant might seriously harm her human biology. He sonics the lens off the stand. He also tells her to wait for them, as they will be there soon. The Doctor and Rory race back to the TARDIS, and the Doctor fiddles with the lens mechanism to use it to lock onto Amy's time stream out of thousands occurring simultaneously in the facility.
Amy, taking the Doctor's advice, steps through into the Two Streams facility proper, and is introduced to Interface, the vocal system that operates the facilities. The place is beautiful: there are lush alien gardens, films, a pool, and many adventures to be had. But the Handbots still want to sedate and disinfect her, which could be lethal to her. Encountering a group of Handbots, she leaves a message for the Doctor and Rory with her lipstick on a door, and then escapes into the bowels of the facility, where the emissions from the time drives interfere with the Handbots' ability to detect her. She finds a quiet cache behind an engine and waits.
After a brief tussle with the TARDIS controls, the Doctor provides Rory with his sonic screwdriver, the lens, and a pair of glasses. The glasses are a camera, wired to relay what Rory sees and hears back to the TARDIS, since the Doctor (having two hearts) cannot venture inside without becoming infected himself. Rory tries to follow Amy's footsteps, but he's soon surrounded by Handbots, ready to sedate him...
...until they are attacked by a swordsman and deactivated. Rory looks to his savior. It's Amy, but a much older and much angerier Amy. When she realizes the Doctor can hear her, she reveals that it's been 36 years. 36 years of hell. The Doctor immediately warns Rory that if they option to save the older Amy, they will be unable to go back to rescue the younger version without creating a time paradox. Rory tries to convince Amy to help find her younger self, but she adamantly refuses. She no longer wants to be rescued. She wants to be left the hell alone. Rory is a memory long gone, and the Doctor is her personal devil. If her younger self were to be rescued, she would die, and 36 years would have been for nothing. She tells Rory to just go away. The Last Centurion tries to explain to his wife that age, pain and years of loneliness really aren't unfamiliar to him.
Rory follows the older Amy into the bowels of the facility, discovering where she has hidden herself from detection. There, her own companion is a (literally) disarmed Handbot, which she has drawn a dorky face on and named "Rory". She also built herself a sonic screwdriver (which she calls a "probe", because fuck the Doctor's terms), which the Doctor is pretty damn impressed with. Again, the Doctor tries to gain Amy's help but she flatly refuses. He's the one who left her there. He's the one who abandoned her for 36 years. He's the one who didn't check if the planet would be dangerous before landing. "That's not how I travel," he tries to protest, which earns him an extremely painful What the Hell, Hero? from Rory.
Rory uses the lens to discover younger Amy, in the same room but 36 years prior, sobbing to herself. Rory tries to convince the older Amy to say something to her younger self, but the older Amy can only remain pessimistic, remembering herself on the other end of this conversation and being told there would be no hope. Older Amy just doesn't want to die. And when the time comes for younger Amy to be on the other end of this talk, 36 years from now, she'll say the same thing. But time can be rewritten. Younger Amy finally convinces her older self to help, not for herself, but for Rory's sake. The revelation sparks a change in the older Amy and she agrees, but only on one condition: the Doctor must rescue both Amys. Older Amy can live her own life. She can visit the Ponds on Christmas, she can be distant, she can be independent, she'll think of a way to make it work. The Doctor frets, worried about that being too much stress on the TARDIS, but ultimately agrees.
The Doctor sets the plan in motion, requiring Rory to disable a time engine safeguard while both Amys share the same thought: something extremely powerful, the most important moment of their life. Which is... doing the Macarena. Because that was her first kiss with Rory. The plan works, and both Amys are present in the same timeline. Older Amy is shocked and very distraught when she realises they're still just the same person, with the same thoughts and the same mind. But the overload on the time engines causes the glasses to overload, leaving Rory and his wives on their own. They race through the facility, the older Amy using her swordsmanship to defeat the patrols of Handbots converging on their location. As they race through the last hallway to the TARDIS, older Amy steps back to cover their backs. The younger Amy runs smack into a Handbot and is quickly sedated. Older Amy tells Rory to get her younger self into the TARDIS while she clears out the remaining Handbots.
As soon as Rory crosses the TARDIS threshold with his wife, the Doctor slams shut the TARDIS door behind him. As the older Amy pounds on the door, the Doctor explains that he had to lie to get her to work with them. There is no way of allowing both Amys to exist. The Doctor forces Rory to make a choice of which Amy to rescue, but the older Amy ends up making that choice for him, telling Rory to stay true to his wife. They both cling to their own side of the TARDIS door as they're separated forever. As the TARDIS disappears, the older Amy asks Interface to show her Earth one last time as she is surrounded by Handbots. The screen fades to white, and older Amy vanishes slowly from existence.
In the TARDIS, Amy wakes up to the Doctor and Rory watching over her. She asks about where her older self is, but the Doctor quietly leaves that explanation to Rory.
- Acting for Two: Older and younger Amys.
- Action Girl: Older Amy is kicking ass and taking names.
- Action Survivor: Older Amy; it's kind of a necessity when you're trapped in an empty facility and hunted non-stop by robots that will unintentionally kill you.
- Apocalypse How: Apalapucia is under planet-wide quarantine thanks to the plague.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Doctor's answer to whether or not both Amys can join Rory in the TARDIS:
The Doctor: Maybe, if I shunted the reality compensators on the TARDIS, recalibrated the doomsday pumpers, and jettisoned the Karaoke Bar, yes… maybe, yes.
- Ascetic Aesthetic / White Void Room: The hospital.
- Auto Doc: The Handbots. Too bad they're designed for patients with two hearts, and would unintentionally kill any single-hearted patient.
- Badass Adorkable: As always, Rory, who hits a Handbot with a copy of The Mona Lisa.
- Battle Couple: Amy and Rory.
- Big Damn Kiss: Older Amy and Rory after the former's Heel Realization. Writer Tom MacRae called it the most romantic kiss in the show's entire history.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The robots can kill you with kindness if you have the wrong biology. The reason the Doctor is stuck on the TARDIS is because Chen 7 only affects two-hearted races.
- The Blank: The Handbots.
- Bottle Episode: Almost everything is white rooms; Karen Gillan Acts For Two and the TARDIS fizzes a bit, plus there are robots and a quick shot of a garden, but there is nothing beyond that.
- Break the Cutie: Rory really gets put through the wringer in this one. Amy too in those thirty six years, although we only see the end result.
- Call Back: Older Amy and Rory's conversation as they lean on each side of the TARDIS's door seems to be a parallel to the wall scene in "Doomsday," especially given Rory's earlier line, "This isn't fair. You're turning me into you!". Older Amy's line "Amy Pond in the TARDIS with Rory Williams." also echoes Mickey's "That's the Doctor, in the TARDIS, with Rose Tyler." line from "The Age of Steel" (a line itself later reprised in a deleted scene from "Journey's End").
- Calling the Doctor Out: Rory points out that picking up a history book and looking up disasters before the TARDIS lands would help avoid going into harm's way. The Doctor flippantly responds that he doesn't travel that way. To be fair, there are explicit times when the Doctor has read the history and still doesn't know what specifically happened (Pompeii, the first colony on Mars, etc.), but this is probably one he could have avoided with a little research.
- Catch Phrase: "This is a kindness."
- Celebrity Voice Actor: Imelda Staunton as the voice of the interface.
- Chekhov's Gun: Amy's phone. It's what caused Amy to not see what button to press. Later Amy later turns it into a sonic "probe".
- Chekhov's Handbag: Amy has a lot of different items usually found in a girl's handbag, among them lipstick, eyeliner (which are used to draw Rory the Handbot's face) and bandaids.
- Closed Door Rapport: Rory and Older Amy have the most painful conversation ever through the door of the TARDIS.
- Companion Cube: Rory the Handbot, the eternally faithful pet. Even young!Amy is surprised that the other Amy didn't call it the Doctor or their favorite cat, Biggles.
- Continuity Nod:
- The check-in girl makes a reference to "Disneyland Clom".
- "I come in peace! Peace! Peace! Peace! Peace…" (Coming from a guy who claimed it would never work.)
- The What the Hell, Hero? quote is reminiscent of what Davros called the Doctor out on doing.
- Rory calling the Doctor out on his actions at the end of this episode seemed pretty remiscent of Steven Taylor doing the same, some 45 years earlier.
- Amy still has issues about how real or valid a person is under weird circumstances, though the similar themes aren't mentioned by anyone.
- Amy's husband is more important than the laws of destiny, causality and the nexus of time itself.
- Cranial Processing Unit: Stab a robot in the head, it dies. Or hit it with a painting. Y'know, whatever's on hand.
- Cruel Mercy: Unfortunate and unintended; the Apalapuchian mercy traps Amy in a time-shifted paradise. Not to mention that anyone who is immune to Chen 7 will be killed by the Vaccine.
- Cruel to Be Kind: The Apalapuchian mercy that separates a person from their loved ones and making them live a lifetime in a day is actually the inverse of what it first appears to be. It gives victims of a twenty-four hour death plague a full life to live and lets their loved ones see it all. In a day. (Green Anchor for visitors and Red Waterfall for victims, in case you were wondering.)
- Debate and Switch: Averted; neither Amy is conveniently killed trying to escape, and the Doctor rigidly enforces the "only one" Amy can be brought along rule; Rory is forced to choose.
- Defrosting Warrior Queen: Older Amy, after meeting Rory again, and especially after speaking with her younger self.
- Despair Event Horizon: Amy was abandoned and alone, surrounded by evil robots for thirty-six years.
- Dissonant Serenity: "Do not be alarmed. This is a kindness."
- Driven to Suicide: Older Amy, arguably. Even though she'd just said she'd go down kicking and screaming and fighting, Rory's choice seems to have taken the will out of her.
- Dual-Wielding: A katana and a quarterstaff.
- Dynamic Entry: Rory, carrying an unconscious Amy, kicks open the door and bursts into the TARDIS.
- Eyeless Face: The robots have no eyes, instead seeing through sensors in their organic hands. The heads house a syringe launcher to subdue unruly patients.
- First Kiss: What inspires Amy to Paradox. We never see it.
- Foreshadowing: "Sometimes knowing your own future is what allows you to change it, especially when you're bloody-minded, contradictory, and completely unpredictable."
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: The first time that time goes wobbly, you can see Amy pacing, being bored, sitting in various poses. She really was stuck there for a week.
- Future Badass: Older Amy.
- Genre Blind: Leaving Amy in the TARDIS to enter another room, which closes, and then neglecting to tell her which button to push? Nice going, boys. Strangely, Amy also qualifies. Normally you would ask which button to push, or at least opt for the (to a human) more natural choice of the green button on the top instead of the lower red button.
- Genre Savvy: Older Amy, as soon as she sees the Doctor, knows he intends to abandon her.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Tom MacRae had a lot of fun with this one.
Rory: Two Amys, together, c-can that work?
- Amy and Rory played "Doctors and Nurses" growing up. How? Use your imagination.
- Goggles Do Something Unusual: The Nerd Glasses are a camera/two-way radio.
- Good Is Not Nice: The Doctor shows himself to be unrepentantly manipulative, getting both Amys and Rory to believe that he could save all three of them, knowing full well that he was never going to bring the Older Amy with them. Worse still, to the Doctor there isn't a choice; he intended from the start to leave the Older Amy behind. He forces Rory to make the choice when he protests and for added cruelty, he takes his hand and makes him lock the door himself.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: Even after thirty-six years, Rory thinks Amy is hot. "You look great."
- Harmful Healing: Of the "averts No Biochemical Barriers" type. All the medicine is meant for lifeforms with two hearts, and Amy can't make the robots understand that it's lethal to her.
- Heel Realization: Rory forces Older Amy to face her weeping younger self.
- Henpecked Husband: Rory, again.
Older Amy: Woman with a sword, don't push it okay?
- It becomes even more apparent with the Rory-bot. He's considered a pet by Amy, completely "disarmed" (since he's blind and has no hands, he's basically neutered) and follows Amy's every command instantly. Symbolism doesn't get more obvious than that.
- And when Older Amy says "Rory, sit down." Both of them immediately do.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Older Amy.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: The interface is voiced by Imelda Staunton, best known as Professor Umbridge in Harry Potter.
- Hipster: The Doctor is the ultimate hipster, taking Rory and Amy to the second most popular tourist destination because the first is over-run by coffee shops.
- Hope Spot: After both Amys are in the same time stream, there's a few moments of awkwardness, but soon Rory starts making jokes about the benefits of having two of his wife. Maybe this can work after all, the audience thinks...and then Old!Amy and the Doctor lock eyes across the gallery...
- I Lied: The Doctor knew from the beginning that having two Amys onboard wouldn't work, but made them believe it would until they were forced to choose.
- Improvised Armour: Older Amy.
- Improvised Weapon: The Mona Lisa.
- Inherently Funny Words: Apalapucia.
- It also sounds remarkably like some butcherings I've heard of "Appalachia" from people who've never heard how it's pronounced before.
- Insistent Terminology: Older Amy insists on calling everything what it is. "Sonic screwdriver" is too whimsical. It's a probe.
- Also, useful as it is, she doesn't want to be reminded of the Doctor.
- Jade Coloured Glasses: Older Amy. Thirty-six years of absolute solitude, constant danger, and waiting for a rescue that never comes will have that effect.
- Just Following Programming: The handbots aren't trying to hurt anyone, it's just that their medicine isn't made for humans and would be lethal to Amy. This is the second time this season a literal-minded medical program has unintentionally caused problems.
- Just for Pun: To make him harmless, Older Amy disarmed Rory the Handbot. Literally.
- 'armless, rather?
- Katanas Are Just Better: Older Amy certainly wields one very well.
- Justified in that it's improvised weaponry, and thus probably something she pulled off a display wall in the museum.
- Or given that she's in an adventure park, she could have grabbed one because they were intended to be used for entertainment purposes.
- Kick the Dog: When Old!Amy and Rory first meet, she bluntly tells him that he didn't save her. He looks understandably crushed.
- Lampshade Hanging: The creepy robots see with their creepy hands. The Doctor wonders, "Why not just give them eyes?" The reason for that is because the head is where the syringe guns are kept.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Rory, once again. And Amy has decided to become concentrated badass.
- Literal Metaphor: Don't worry, Amy disarmed the robot.
- Loss of Identity: Older!Amy argues that she would rather be saved now as opposed to the past, since time would be rewritten and she would more-or-less die.
- Madness Mantra: While Older!Amy is telling him he shouldn't let her in, Rory can only repeat "I'm so so sorry" over and over again.
- Manly Tears: From the moment where he meets the older, jaded version of his wife, Rory's eyes remain suspiciously red. He fully breaks when he has to make the Sadistic Choice.
Rory: I'm sorry, I can't do this.
- Medical Horror
- Minimalist Cast: The Doctor, Amy, Rory and Older Amy are the only physical characters here. The only exceptions are the Handbots, the holographic Check-In Girl and the Interface voice.
- Mission Control: The Doctor is very much Mission Control in this episode, since the events take place in a quarantine facility for a deadly plague that affects being with two hearts. The Doctor can't leave the TARDIS, but Rory can.
- Mood Whiplash: During a pretty serious scene, both Amys start doing the Macarena. Whiplashes back once Rory explains the significance: that's what they had their first kiss to.
- Mrs. Robinson: Older Amy towards Rory, who flirts with him in front of her younger self.
- When Rory asks her to stop, she mentions that in all the times they dressed up, he never complained before.
- My Eyes Are Up Here: Rory stares for a bit too long at a naked statue, then at Older Amy. The Doctor, watching through the Nerd Glasses, says "Eyes front, soldier." Older Amy says the same.
- My Future Self and Me
- Future Me Scares Me: Older Amy is intimidating.
- Nerd Glasses: Older Amy wears them briefly but they are mostly worn by Rory.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Both the Doctor, for taking them to the second most beautiful planet after it's been hit by a devastating plague, and Rory, for telling Amy "Push the button" while omitting the small detail of which button to push.
- No Biochemical Barriers: Played with. The 'One Day Plague' affects species with two hearts, but humans are fine. Ordinary Apalapucian medicine is probably lethal to humans, but anaesthetics work just fine.
- Noodle Incident / Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Older Amy's alternate life appears to have been a series of these.
- Off with His Head: One of Older Amy's methods for dealing with the handbots.
- Oh Crap: For both Older Amy and the audience - Old Amy and the Doctor lock eyes across the gallery and suddenly everyone knows what the Doctor's going to do...
- One Amy Limit
- Poor Communication Kills: If Rory had specified which button to press, or Amy would have bothered to ask, none of the problems in this episode would have happened.
- Reset Button: Saving young Amy would prevent her from having lived on her own for 36 hellish years. Strangely, Older Amy initially refuses to help do this.
- The Runner Up Takes It All: The reason the Doctor brings them here. It's considered the second best planet to visit. When Rory asks why they don't go to the best, the Doctor says that it's become a touristy nightmare, "The Planet of the Coffee Shops."
- Running Gag:
- "Glasses are cool".
- The (in)famous fez gets mentioned again.
- Sadistic Choice: Rory can only choose to save one of his wives; the young, cheerful Amy he set out to protect, or the older, bitter Amy who is desperate to not be abandoned again. In the end, he chooses the younger one, at Older Amy's behest. See What the Hell, Hero? below for the quote that sums it up.
- For bonus points, Older Amy could understand what he went through as the Last Centurion, or he could spare younger Amy that fate. He rejected the selfish choice, but only with help. "If you love me, don't let me in." This episode is effectively "Rory's Choice".
- Scenery Porn: Brief, but it's there.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Amy's a remarkable woman indeed if she's managed to remain so stable after her predicament. Even the first week would affect most people a LOT more than what we've seen.
- Potentially Justified in that at the beginning of the episode the Doctor says not only is she in a faster timestream but that time is compressed for her, hence why she didn't feel hungry, didn't need to eat or find it odd she hadn't eaten in a week.
- Separated By The TARDIS Door: With a little Window Love thrown in.
- Robo-Rory = Wilson from Cast Away.
- Oh, an initially deadly robot is now the protagonist's companion. Sounds familiar?
- "There can be only one Amy!"
- The aesthetic is borrowed from THX 1138 and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- When older Amy charges through the Handbots, the sequence is shot like the battles in 300.
- Robo-Rory = Wilson from Cast Away.
- Skewed Priorities: The Doctor has just brought his companions to the second-best planet in the universe... and Amy's primary concern is her phone. The Doctor complains that she's trying to update Twitter, but Amy explains that she wants to take pictures.
- The Slow Path: Older Amy. Having run into this once before, she's doubly pissed off.
- Stable Time Loop: Subverted. At first older Amy insists this is the case, but then her younger self persuades her to help, when she remembers being her younger self in the same position and her older self then refused.
- Stab the Scorpion: Older Amy's introduction.
- Stress Bleach: Averted; considering she would now have to be nearly 60 and had a very stressful previous three-and-a-half decades, Older Amy has held up surprisingly well, with nary a grey hair in sight.
- Potentially justified in that the facility's stasis field may well be designed to preserve and extend the life of its inhabitants and lessened the impact of Older Amy's aging.
- Take a Third Option: In order to avoid a Temporal Paradox, only one Amy can be saved... until the Doctor says to hell with paradoxes and that he'll save them both. In the end, it's an aversion. The Doctor lied about it so that Older Amy would help them.
- Talking Is a Free Action: The handbots are nice enough to stop and let Older Amy tell the interface about this nice boy on earth before swarming in to kill her.
- Temporal Paradox: The Timey-Wimey Ball is avoided here. They straight up break causality to save the day, and much Lampshade Hanging about it is done.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Rory gives the Doctor an epic put-down in this episode;
Rory: This is your fault! You should look in a history book once in a while! See if there's an outbreak of plague or not!
- This Ain't Rocket Surgery: The Doctor complaining about Rory being slow at rerouting the regulator valves for the temporal engines.
The Doctor: It's hardly rocket science, it's just quantum physics!
- Took a Level In Badass: Older Amy. Fighting robots with a katana and hand-made armour, hacking into computer systems and making her own sonic probe? Epic.
- Vader Breath: Older Amy's first appearance.
- Vasquez Always Dies
- Weaksauce Weakness: Okay, they're not combat robots, but who seriously designs a robot that shuts down if it so much as high fives another robot or claps? For that matter, who designs a robot so fragile you can break a normal painting over its head and still disable it?
- Well, if one of them gets a virus or a glitch, wouldn't you want a quick and easy way to stop them before things went all pear-shaped? Maybe what we see as a "weakness" was their version of a "killswitch."
- We Could Have Avoided All This: Rory notes that looking up plagues in a history book would have kept Amy safe.
- Also applies to Amy and Rory. If she never went back for her phone or if he'd specified what button to press, then none of this would have happened. It makes his having to choose and the hell she went through all the more heartbreaking.
- And also, if the inhabitants of a major tourist planet had thought to incorporate more judgment and biological scanning equipment than God gave a mosquito into their beyond-state-of-the-art quarantine facility and its robots, they might actually check to see if a given alien is even capable of carrying the plague, never mind what medications work on it.
- We Named the Monkey "Jack": Rory the Handbot.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Until younger!Amy can sway her opinion, older!Amy spends the whole episode viciously grilling the Doctor.
Amy: I waited. I waited for you. I waited.
- "This isn't fair. You're turning me into you!"
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Sorry, Older Amy, but there can't be two Amy Ponds in the universe.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: The different rates of time passage between the Red Waterfall and the Green Anchor.
- Justified: Since the planet is a plague facility, the plague sufferers who would be dead in a day get to live a full lifetime. The visitors need to stay in a normal timestream, hence the other side of the planet.