perihadion: (Amy Pond)
[personal profile] perihadion
I've been meaning to write a review of "The Pandorica Opens" but when I started writing it sadly turned into a diatribe about my problems with the Amy/Rory relationship as told on Doctor Who. Parts of this may make it into an eventual review of that episode, but I had to get it off my chest now before I can try to write anything positive about an episode I did truly enjoy.

I just don't understand why the story that Steven Moffat has chosen to tell is that of Amy and Rory's "grand love" when almost no real emotional turns have passed between them. In fact, almost all of the significant emotional moments have passed between the Doctor and Amy while Amy has been depicted as luke warm at best about her relationship with Rory. There is no reason why their relationship had to be written the way it has: there could have been moments of real emotional honesty between Amy and Rory (and I know that Steven Moffat knows how to write it) but there never were. The only "emotional" Amy/Rory moments were Rory's deaths first in "Amy's Choice" and then "Cold Blood" and neither of them were about developing an organic emotional connection between Amy and Rory because one of them was about shocking Amy into 'realising' that she loved him (without going to the trouble of writing an emotional moment between them) and the other was a plot point.

Not only that, but the problems inherent in an Amy/Rory relationship — namely that she did feel luke warm towards him, and that they wanted irreconcilably different things from life, and that they were incapable of talking to each other about either of these things or their own emotions — were literally never addressed. Even after Amy has supposedly decided that she loves Rory and is settling into the idea of being with him the issues in the relationship are underlined — because if she's so secure in her love of Rory then why is she so surprised that they are together ten years in the future? Yet I am supposed to be invested in the idea of them as a "great love story". Why? What has happened in this series to justify that kind of investment? Everything else that has happened this year has been shown and not told; the "love story" between Amy and Rory is the only thing that has been told and not shown and I want to know why. Why were Amy and Rory never really intimate or affectionate with each other? Why were they never open with each other?

In fact, why is this the story that Steven Moffat repeatedly chooses to tell? — as in "Blink", where the significant emotional turns of the episode passed between Sally Sparrow and Billy Shipton and yet it was the Rory-esque Larry Nightingale that she ended up with (having gone from "Mm, no, I don't really want anything to do with you," to "I don't want any more mystery or adventure; let's build a life together," in the space of five minutes). It feels like the story Steven Moffat wants to tell is that of how nomatter how adventurous and awesome you may yourself be, even if you meet a charming, charismatic, engaging man like Billy Shipton you'll end up with a Larry or a Rory in the end — characters who are at best vaguely useless puppies and at worst passive-aggressive "nice guys": someone to whom you can't relate and for whom you don't seem to be able to muster any real passion, and you'll be the one in the end to give up your dreams for the sake of the relationship (a relationship riddled with problems which will never be resolved). Why would Amy give up the chance to travel the universe with the Doctor, or even to marry Vincent van Gogh for Rory — someone she "loves" but can't relate or talk to, someone she never especially seems to want to hold or be held by?

And it drives me up the fucking wall because, contrary to whatever bullshit people have been trying to peddle about how "plot-heavy" Doctor Who has become under Steven Moffat, Doctor Who is and always has been a character-driven show; it might contain Weeping Angel-esque interesting plot concepts but it's not Lost — the significant moments are always character and emotional beats and I know that Steven Moffat knows this: because the pay-off for "The Doctor Dances" was an emotional pay-off, because the core of "The Girl in the Fireplace" was the intermittent relationship between Reinette and the Doctor, because "Blink" had that relationship between Sally Sparrow and Billy Shipton, because he wrote Donna struggling to comfort Miss Evangelista after she had already died in "Silence in the Library", because the relationship between River Song and the Doctor is almost certainly a riff on The Time Traveler's Wife (which is not even close to being a "plot-orientated" book). But this year Steven Moffat himself has written no significant emotional beats into the Amy/Rory relationship except for the scene between Amy and Rory in "The Pandorica Opens" and I just don't understand why. The pieces have not been put in place for a "grand love story" between these two characters — and not through lack of skill but by design — and yet we're told that a "grand love story" is what Steven Moffat is telling.

Does Steven Moffat think that the ideal relationship is one with no passion? — that "true love" is really about giving up your dreams and settling for someone you'll be slightly bored by, someone who won't make you especially happy, but someone who won't make you especially miserable either? Is that really what he's trying to show here?

I'm going back to sleep.

Date: 2010-06-23 03:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So much motto to this entire post. We've talked about this a number of times before, but I'm going to post some of my additional thoughts again anyway.

Even forgetting whether one likes Rory, or prefers another ship...there's just too much about Amy and Rory that simply doesn't work. Like you said, the emotional turns aren’t there, and it’s because there are problems at the very core of their relationship which, given their personalities, seem pretty much insurmountable.
For one, they have ideas of happiness that aren't compatible: Amy wants adventure and wonder, Rory wants safety and security. I presume the argument that would be brought up against this particular assertion would be that in real relationships you must have compromise...and that's true. Usually though, in relationships that last, there’s more common ground and compromise doesn’t intrinsically destroy the core principle of a “happy life” for either party involved. However, this is a case where the differences are so extreme that compromise means either meeting in the center for a kind of life that fulfills neither of them, or it means one of them giving up their dream to placate the other. In most cases I find that people are inclined to have Amy be the one that gives up her dream–to "grow up" in the rather damning modern sense of the phrase–and settle down into the married life. That's horribly unfair. It's equally unfair to expect Rory, who wants to live in a little village where nothing bad could ever happen, to follow Amy around the universe in dangerous situation after dangerous situation. I really can’t think of a situation where the two of them could stay together their entire lives and both be happy.

What bothers me the most about this problem is the idea that comes out of it that one of them owes it to the other to give up their dream. It might be a subconscious thing on the part of fandom, but I see it everywhere: if some character spends a certain amount of time with some other character, and they are faithful, they are treated like they are OWED the relationship’s continuation, regardless of their partner’s happiness. And if a character say, saves another character’s life? Or waits years and years for them? If their partner doesn’t want to continue the relationship, they’re treated as villainous, and no consideration is given for whether the character truly loves their savior or protector, or whether they can be happy in that kind of life. As a specific spoilery example apparently Rory will be guarding the Pandorica with Amy inside it for thousands of years in The Big Bang. After that show of devotion, I’m sure fandom will be gushing about how no one can say Rory doesn’t deserve Amy now.. But that’s not the point at all; love isn’t a game you win, it’s something you have to feel. You can’t force it and you can’t expect to just earn it, like it’s something to be bought with enough Nice Guy tickets.

Amy and Rory’s personalities also provide make the success of any longterm romance between the two of them pretty unlikely. Rory is weak-willed and passive aggressive, and Amy is evasive and strong willed. These are facts, with hard evidence to back them up. That's fine, that's not bad writing at all. Those are very real personality types. But it does make them horribly bad for each other because it means that their personalities are such that they will never be able to confront their problems. Rory will hint at them dismally, Amy will dismiss them with a shrug and "oh let's go do this instead" and he won't force the issue. The problems will go unconfronted and they will fester and keep the relationship from ever being healthy. There’s been no indication whatsoever that they’ll ever overcome this fundamental problem in their relationship and it seems to me like they can only ride out the initial high of say, “Amy’s choice” or “oh you’re not dead” for so long before they slide back into the same habits, because they haven’t done anything to fix their foundation.

So yeah, long story short, I agree with you, and I’m going to stop typing now because my mom is giving me a death glare.

Date: 2010-06-23 04:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Rory will hint at them dismally, Amy will dismiss them with a shrug and "oh let's go do this instead" and he won't force the issue.

This is literally the exact thing that happened in 'The Vampires of Venice' and I remember being struck by how much that moment made me scratch my head. "Oh, Amy, woe is me, you didn't even miss me." *pause* "Don't be silly, Rory, I knew I'd be coming back. Hey look shiny Venice! Let's pretend everything's fine." "Well, if you insist." And then they went giggling off through the city and never talked about it again. And this is supposed to be a "great love story"? WTF.

Date: 2010-06-23 09:02 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (Amy Pond (sail on shooting stars))
From: [identity profile]
Right. What was even the point of moments like that?

Date: 2010-06-23 09:01 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: ("Several Circles")
From: [identity profile]
But that’s not the point at all; love isn’t a game you win, it’s something you have to feel. You can’t force it and you can’t expect to just earn it, like it’s something to be bought with enough Nice Guy tickets.

Right. Sometimes, nomatter how nice someone is, nomatter how lovely, nomatter how much they've been there for you... you just don't feel that way about them. It's nobody's fault.

Date: 2010-06-23 04:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So I saw the link to this post on twitter and I just had to comment. I completely agree with you. I like Rory. I like Amy. I do not like them together. I have liked a few "Safe and easy" relationships in fiction but I think that only works if there is acceptance, love, understanding and commonality between both partners.

Amy/Rory lack that. I don't think Rory understands her or accepts her need for something beyond the ordinary. There is evidence within the show to show that he doesn't get her and there's not even been character development to show Rory starting to accept Amy. If there was even that, then I could live with Amy/Rory better.

Also, what you said about emotional turns is absolutely true. Even after seeing "Amy's Choice" or "Cold Blood", I still can't believe Amy loves Rory romantically. There is a lack of evidence to support that prior to her being forced to acknowledge Rory's death. Amy willing to call Rory her brother in "Vampires of Venice" and generally treating him like one or Rory basically appointing himself as mother hen/protector over Amy...doesn't equate to epic love story. There's been little development within Amy/Rory so I just can't support nor can I believe in their love.

Sorry for the novel. But I just wanted to echo your thoughts.

Date: 2010-06-23 08:59 am (UTC)
ext_34962: (Bat For Lashes)
From: [identity profile]
Right. I mean in all honesty I don't like Rory and I was probably never going to be thrilled by a relationship between him and Amy -- but there is a way it could have been written so that I would have accepted it or at least so that I wouldn't have these problems with it. Instead...

Date: 2010-06-23 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes. Thank you. Steven Moffat can write compelling, believable relationships, and I'm dumbfounded why Amy and Rory are exempt from that. They just don't work. They're incompatible, they're ill-suited to each other in every way possible. And, frankly, that bothers the hell out of me.

Date: 2010-06-23 08:16 am (UTC)
ext_34962: (Amy Pond (sail on shooting stars))
From: [identity profile]
Yes, me too -- because it clearly is a story-telling choice, and it's just incomprehensible to me.

Date: 2010-06-23 08:58 am (UTC)
ext_22618: (mortola - eleven and amy)
From: [identity profile]
See, here's an honest discussion of Steven Moffat's issues as a writer that doesn't hinge on misogyny! Thank you so much for writing/sharing this.

I think I said once before that while I don't mind Amy/Rory as a couple (and I really don't), I still ship Amy/Eleven. I think you just helped me realise why.

Date: 2010-06-23 09:07 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (Eleven & Amy (Red))
From: [identity profile]
Haha, thanks. I kind of do mind Amy/Rory, at least at this point. If none of this is ever addressed and they just skip off happily ever after I'm going to be fairly upset.

Date: 2010-06-23 09:09 pm (UTC)
ext_22618: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I don't want them to get married at the end of this series, but I wouldn't mind if it happened at the end of S6, by which point they'll have had enough time to develop the relationship properly.

Date: 2010-06-23 09:13 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (Amy Pond)
From: [identity profile]
It really depends. I feel like they had the time to develop it over the course of this series -- they just (apparently) chose not to, which is what's so baffling to me. I really don't want them to get married this year, though.

Date: 2010-06-23 09:16 pm (UTC)
ext_22618: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
It's weird - Moffat does show-not-tell so well most of the time, and then sometimes he just...flops. Granted, he didn't write any of the episodes Rory was really in except for The Pandorica Opens (incidentally the one episode that really did seem to have some Rory/Amy development), and maybe that's got something to do with it, but...

...I don't know. I love Rory to tiny little bits, I really do, but I'm just not feeling Rory/Amy as a solid canon ship, even though it's obviously supposed to be.

Date: 2010-06-23 09:22 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: ("The Tiger Cat")
From: [identity profile]
...that in itself is weird. If Amy/Rory is his canon pet project then why did he delegate the writing to (among others) Chris Chibnall of all people? I've always considered Moffat to be quite jealous about his creations, considering he hasn't given, say, River to anyone else to write yet, so why wasn't he more involved in shaping the relationship between Amy and Rory? Was it just a clash of priorities and it was more important to him to write the episodes that he did than take care of Amy and Rory?

Date: 2010-06-23 09:34 pm (UTC)
ext_22618: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Maybe he wanted to focus more on his arcs than his canon ship? All of his episodes have been the really arc-heavy ones, after all. TEH and TBB set things up, ToA/FaS introduced Jacket!Doctor and now the finale is wrapping it all up. I think he knew he couldn't write every episode and therefore chose the ones he did very carefully. Maybe that meant he had to sacrifice something.

I don't know. Just a theory, and probably a baseless one. But it might explain things.

Date: 2010-06-23 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I just don't... get it. Rory is fine and all, he'd be a good husband probably, but Amy doesn't seem to be at the point of settling down yet. She chose Rory over the Doctor romantically/sexually, but she didn't choose Rory's lifestyle over the adventure. She spends so much time in Amy's Choice convinced that the marriage-and-babies reality can't be true, probably because that's not what she wants at this point. I can't see her - at this point - giving up life on the TARDIS for a marriage to Rory or really anyone.

Date: 2010-06-23 09:10 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (down is the new up)
From: [identity profile]
Even the Amy who had "lived" that reality was bored with it. I just don't understand what is going on with their relationship -- because apparently we're supposed to be getting behind it, but if we are then... why has it been written like this? idgi.

Date: 2010-06-23 09:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maybe he thought we'd get behind it because it's normal and doesn't involve aliens? Idk :(

Date: 2010-06-23 09:14 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (Bat For Lashes)
From: [identity profile]
But that's not what I like you for, Moffat. :(

Date: 2010-06-23 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Moffat has failed us D:

Date: 2010-06-23 09:18 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (Striped Top)
From: [identity profile]
After I pinned all my hopes and dreams on him, too. D:

Date: 2010-07-07 01:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Total word.

Also, find it really telling that The Lodger was NOT written by Steven Moffet, because there you have a love interest who fits the Rory/boy from Blink mold and yet the romance is clearly reciprocated and the conclusion of the episode involves the beginning of the relationship ENCOURAGING adventure outside of the relationship (going to help animals, going to Paris) instead of being the end of an adventuresome life.

Also, I adore and am continually horrified by that xkcd.
Edited Date: 2010-07-07 01:58 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-07-07 04:41 pm (UTC)
ext_34962: (Amy Pond (scarf))
From: [identity profile]
Craig actually seemed genuinely sweet; I could understand why Sophie was in love with him and could conceive of wanting to be with him myself. When Craig says he'll go wherever Sophie wants if it makes her happy he really means it, and you know that he means it because he already sacrificed a new job with better pay to be around her with no sense of being entitled to her love. Rory always seems to be trying to convince Amy that she really wants to come back to Leadworth with him (per "Amy's Choice"), rather than considering that maybe she just doesn't, which is exactly the same kind of thing that Larry was doing at the end of "Blink" (you don't really want answers to mysteries, you want, erm, well, you know, "something more", like, between us). I sometimes think that part of it is just Arthur Darvill's acting choices because he does always seem to choose to play Rory as being passive-aggressive but honestly, it's undeniably there in the writing — when he speaks on Amy's behalf without giving her the right of reply and ascribes her choice to be heroic to, like, hypnotism by the Doctor which she just couldn't help herself obeying or something ("The Vampires of Venice"), when he tries to convince her that he knows better than her what she wants ("Amy's Choice")...

Date: 2010-07-07 11:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I could understand why Sophie was in love with him and could conceive of wanting to be with him myself. When Craig says he'll go wherever Sophie wants if it makes her happy he really means it, and you know that he means it because he already sacrificed a new job with better pay to be around her with no sense of being entitled to her love

Yes. And I think the 'Sophie was clearly in love with him' was a big factor in how that relationship played; she wasn't shown as being outworldy focused in the way that Sally Sparrow or Amy Pond is.

Date: 2010-07-07 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This makes me wonder what would happen when the time comes for Amy to leave the Doctor... it seems like all she has to look forward to is the same stay-at-home situation from "Amy's Choice" if she stays married to Rory and that was his dream, not hers. From the looks of things, that isn't likely to change anytime soon.

It doesn't sit right with me at all because she has always been one for adventure, whether it's with someone or by herself and I don't want for her to give that up. If it were up to me, I'd find another alternative from the wedding like having her get out of Leadworth--maybe move to Reading or London--and have great earthly adventures of her own when the time comes for her to leave the Doctor.

I would have loved to see her solve all sorts of weird mysteries and fight aliens on Earth like Sarah Jane Smith... ooh, they should definitely team up!


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