‘Doctor Who,’ ‘The Girl Who Waited,’ and Time Paradoxes

(Warning, ‘Doctor Who’ fans. Utter spoilers ahead. You can’t say I didn’t warn you. I did. If you haven’t watched “The Girl Who Waited,” yet, go away, watch it, and then come back. I’m only thinking of you. Who tells someone to go away from their web page?!? People who care, that’s who).

Did anyone else get the idea with “The Girl Who Waited” that the Doctor rid himself of Older Amy because she hated him? There was that bare eighth of a moment at the very end when Amy asked Rory what happened to Older Amy, and the Doctor had this chilling look of menace. Matt Smith doesn’t do weighted looks lightly, clearly there was meaning behind it.

And here’s the other thing. Like any fan of science-fiction, I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about time paradoxes. As a writer of sci-fi, maybe even more so. My novel, The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management actually takes place in one. They are complicated, unwieldy creatures and people try to avoid them with good reason; when you’re in the middle of one, you wonder how you can make it work, how you can escape it with any hint of logic intact.

Unless you have a TARDIS.

Yes, yes, before you start, I realize that the Doctor has long warned against creating time paradoxes, let alone maintaining them, but the technology at the Two Streams Kindness Facility seems to have no trouble with the paradox created when younger Amy and Older Amy talk. We know there’s a paradox, because what younger Amy says shapes Older Amy’s recollection of the conversation. Older Amy can remember being younger Amy in that moment.

No black hole.

No implosion of time and/or space.

When the two are actually in the same stream at the same time, it seems to make no difference at all to the time engines in the facility. Why wouldn’t the ever-so-much cooler TARDIS do the same?

The question also remains whether bringing Older Amy would have created a time paradox at all. Amy had been rescued at that point, so one of two things should have happened. Either Older Amy should have ceased to exist, as Amy was never held for 36 years, or Older Amy became an alternate time stream, which pretty much makes her another person. They have moved past the point
of time they had in common, branching off.

We saw that Older Amy did not cease to exist.

When Older Amy is outside the door, begging Rory not to let her in, it could lead you to imagine that maybe she knows what she might do, she knows that if she takes Amy out of the TARDIS, she could continue to live. Maybe as the older version, all of the possibilities of how she came to be are all in her head.

But she still doesn’t disappear.

Or maybe she does. In the flash of the light of the TARDIS as it’s taking off, she, the handbots and the facility fade into white.

But then we see the Doctor’s look, and you just have to wonder.





  1. I completely had the same idea. The whole episode left a very bad taste in my mouth, if I’m honest. The bit where Amy contemplated putting the lipstick on was so real and heartbreaking. The idea though that the Doctor could leave anyone behind just seemed so very, very wrong.

    There should have been a way to fix it, I could think of about a million and one different ways you could easily write around the situation so the subject of paradox doesn’t even come into it.

    And, of course you’re completely right, Amy 36 did become an alternate time stream, as if the intention was to leave her behind and only rescue young Amy, then they both existed in their own rights. In fact, Amy 36 should have ceased to exist once they brought Amy into Amy 36’s time line, if she was a true paradox.

    The leaving her behind left mean spirited and the Doctor seemed wholly unapologetic about the situation and it’s now getting to the point where I’m considering just not watching anymore until there’s a new show runner.

    • Ben, I was totally with you, until the show runner part. I’m with theoncominghope below, I think this development will really give depth to the show as a whole and the Doctor specifically.

      It was one of the most emotional episodes in a long time, I would say, with us losing Amy and not losing her at the same time (and as a companion, she rocks), but I can’t help but think that there is a very organic path of growth for the Doctor in this storyline.

      But to me the most intriguing part was how unapologetic the Doctor was. He usually has some emotion, even when killing enemies. Dark, absolutely. Curious, even more so.

    • Hey, theoncominghope, as I said above, I completely agree with you on the narrative issue. Moffat tends to really weigh his storylines in terms of what would actually happen, what the real-world consequences would be, and I think this twist is part of that.

      And now I’m checking out your post. 🙂

      • I do hope that he addresses the real-world consequences in a real format! I doubt Rory would actually be as forgiving of the Doctor as he seemed, for instance.

        But oh well! Plenty of food for thought as we careen toward the finale 🙂

  2. Careen is right, the rest of this season is screaming by.

    Your post is fantastic, btw, I’m commenting over there even as we type (well, that would be physically impossible, but you get the idea).

  3. It seems like the universe is happy when it’s paradox free. When Rose saves her dad’s life the consequence is an attack of Wyverns. Rose’s memories don’t spontaneously change, a bunch of random and dangerous things happened.

    So I think both Amy’s can exist, but no one would be safe.

    I think also the Doctor is trying to learn about his own predicament here. It might be that we’re watching the second iteration of this timeline, one in which the doctor has already altered his past, then intentionally died to prevent a paradox from destroying the universe.

    • Ryan, I’m with you on your theory about the Doctor, I’ve been wondering the same thing, if the Doctor we saw die in the lake was an alternate one. He’s clearly been up to something this season.

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