I felt that last week's superlative-laden episode didn't quite live up to it's raised expectations. Then this week I noticed the preview writers were at it again, so I automatically lowered my expectations accordingly. However I'm happy to report that this week's episode is pretty decent and will probably be remembered as one of the more memorable instalments of this series.
The Doctor, Amy and Rory are off on holiday, so it appears that any pretense of looking for baby Melody/River has been well an truly jettisoned. When the Tardis materialises on the universe's second most popular holiday destination they are presented, not with glittering colonnades, but a sterile white featureless room. Rory and the Doctor enter another room by pressing a green anchor button. Amy has been lagging behind and presses a red waterfall button instead. She ends up in the same room but there's no Doctor or Rory.
It transpires that there are two time streams, one faster than the other with Amy in the fast stream. The reason given has to do with the planet being under quarantine from a virus that kills you in a day. Uninfected people could live out their lives in the fast stream and still have the company of their infected loved ones who stay in the slower stream. At least thats my interpertation. The Doctor seemed to suggest the opposite and I think that the point was poorly explained.
The Doctor promises to slip over to the fast stream to rescue Amy, however when he arrives he discovers that she has aged 36 years. Oops. She's not the same Amy after being left alone to fend for herself. Rory wants to go back and somehow rescue Amy when she first got trapped so she doesn't have to wait all that time. Understandably the older Amy wants to live and not vanish from existence.
And Doctor tells Rory that he must make a choice.
The old Amy make up is pretty well done and Karen Gillan does a good job playing the same character differently. At the episodes heart is the relationship between Rory and Amy with the doctor actually taking a bit of a back seat. The story doesn't shy away from having what is actually a bit of a downbeat ending. Credit to Arthur Darvill for taking the potential fifth wheel Rory and making him essential to the show.
On another note I quite enjoyed the white rooms which reminded me a little of the empty white space where the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe find themselves in The Mind Robber. And I've just realised both stories have mysterious white robots...