The seventh episode of the new Doctor Who season sets out to be about Amy choosing between happy domesticity with her betrothed, Rory, and a vagabond existence with the Doctor. But it turns into something much more sinister. Spoilers ahead...
So I'm just going to go ahead and own up to the fact that I'm writing this at Wiscon, an awesome science fiction convention in Madison, WI, where I'm hanging out with Josh Wimmer aka Moff. And I've had innumberable beers with pictures of evil cows on their labels. So if you notice any factual or logical inconsistencies in this recap, blame Wisconsin's mighty breweries. For they are mighty.
Okay. So let's talk about the fact that "Amy's Choice" is basically about the dark side of the Doctor's psyche torturing (and eventually killing) his companion Amy and her soon-to-be-husband Rory. He even admits it towards the end of the episode: sure, there are timey whimey psychic spores that got stuck inside the TARDIS' control console and created the "Dream Lord" who set up the false dilemma that the three travelers struggle with. But really, all of the nastiness of the Dream Lord and his evil scenarios comes out of the Doctor's head. And we're left with a lingering feeling that subconsciously, the Doctor wants to punish Amy for wanting him, and Rory for not being able to take her away from him.
Okay, maybe that's the evil cow beer talking. But let's back up a bit. The Doctor has unwittingly taken Amy away the night before her wedding, on a chaste but suspicious-looking jaunt in his time machine. He returns her to Leadworth five minutes after they left, so it's still the night before her wedding. At which point she attempts a Pantomime Seduction and tries to molest him, with her bed bracketed by her wedding dress and his weirdly institutional-looking blue box. And somehow Amy's wedding - and therefore, in some sense, her fidelity to Rory - are connected to a giant luminescent slash in the space-time continuum.
So the Doctor decides that Amy must be "sorted out," which involves the Doctor jumping out of the cake at Rory's bachelor party. And then he decides to take Rory and Amy on a trip in his time machine as a "wedding present," so Rory can witness Amy volunteering to be vampire-bait just in the vain hope of winning the Doctor's approval. And then... the dream torture.
So the Doctor's psyche manifests itself as the Dream Lord, who's a sleazy taunting sadist, who accuses the Doctor of robbing the cradle. (Does the Doctor subconsciously fear that he's having impure motives in keeping such absurdly young people around, in the wake of Amy's Advances?) And he takes a special pleasure in taunting Amy about how little she really means to the Doctor. After all, Amy doesn't know the Doctor's real name - unlike a certain woman we won't mention, whose name almost rhymes with Never Wrong.
And the Dream Lord's horrible dream scenarios are tailor made to scar Amy's psyche. On the one hand, there's life aboard the TARDIS with the Doctor, which is beautiful and exciting - but so, so cold. Not just cold as in "emotionally distant." But cold as in cold, thanks to the presence of a supercold supernova that flies in the face of the laws of physics.
What's the alternative to this frosty, empty life with a man who will never care about her? Life in Leadworth, where there is nearly unlimited emotional fulfillment, thanks to a loving husband and a baby on the way. But it's dreadfully boring, and it's like growing old before your time. How do we know it's like premature old age? There could be a clue in the fact that we're being mobbed by evil pensioners.
In the end, of course, both visions are false. But they both come from the Doctor, and they suggest that "Amy's Choice" is between two dismal alternatives. She loses either way, and really she should just give up. Update: Of course, as various commenters have pointed out, after Amy sees Rory die in the Leadworth dream world, she does realize she loves him, which may in fact be the purpose of the exercise.
Which brings us back to the point that the Doctor's psyche is apparently torturing Amy (and Rory, who seems to be collateral damage) for no purpose other than to vent his annoyance at her momentary friskiness towards him. Could this be a new spin on the "Doctor is blind to his companions' romantic interest in him" trope? Or is there a lesson Amy needs to learn, in order to avert whatever spatio-temporal slashiness is doomed to occur on her nuptials? Is the Doctor just epically maladjusted? Time will tell - but anticipate weird dreams after watching this one.