Doctor Who: the evolution of Amy Pond

News Chris Haydon
7 Sep 2011 - 14:22

With the second half of Doctor Who series six in full swing, Chris examines the growing stature of feisty companion, Amy Pond…

Life in Leadworth just wasn’t enough for Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond. And since she discovered the TARDIS, and was reunited with the “Raggedy Doctor” who invaded her childhood, her travels and new-found adventures cannot come more frequently.

However, Amy Pond is not your traditional Doctor Who companion – she’s a renegade with whip-smart wit, fiery hair and a complementing attitude. Amy may still be the female on board the TARDIS, but she is a very different woman from some of the Doctor’s previous companions.

From her introduction in Steven Moffat’s The Eleventh Hour back in April 2010, until the sixth series in the present, Amy Pond has been much more than the supposed eye candy many journalists unfairly referred her to as, or indeed much more than a female human to accompany the Gallifreyan Time Lord. She is far more three-dimensional and developed than the pre-existing judgements made her out to be.

As the fifth series continued its course last year, it seems that many of her critics had a change of heart. Those earlier, negative thoughts toward Amy (and, indeed, Matt Smith’s Doctor) seem to be in the past now, and the majority of fans adore the traveling twosome, and have responded the same way toward Amy’s husband, Rory Williams.

The introduction of Rory has helped render Amy’s character into something quite special. Although previous companions have been romantically involved with others (Rose Tyler and Mickey Smith, Donna Noble and Lance Bennett), those relationships have all been flawed, and the Doctor’s arrival into these womens’ lives made their relationships a secondary concern.

Amy and Rory’s relationship has stayed fundamentally intact, regardless of their location and time setting. Sure, Amy has had a slip-up and flung herself on Smith’s Doctor, but he clearly tries to restrain her and remind her that she is, at that point, engaged to Rory.

With Amy’s plotlines becoming increasingly darker and more convoluted, faith in Gillan’s ability to perform is frequently exercised, and she’s more than able to deliver. During the ongoing narrative arc regarding her pregnancy, and the reveal that her daughter, Melody Pond, is actually Alex Kingston’s River Song, the level of drama and weight of emotion forced upon Gillan is far greater than her predecessors.

Furthermore, she revels in it, lapping up every drop of screen time possible. Amy’s evolution has certainly been the most interesting out of the regulars, too, particularly in Moffat’s grand opener for this series, The Impossible Astronaut, and its companion episode, Day Of The Moon, which saw our heroine creeping around an asylum searching for clues, as well as going head-to-head with the Silence. 

Having three, if not four bodies onboard the TARDIS at any one point completely revolutionises the character developments and structures in the world of Doctor Who – nothing is expected or massively foreseen. Rory is a great example of this. On his entrance last year, Mr Williams was a bumbling idiot, who was constantly scared and frightened by the unknown. But now he’s a hero, regardless of his attire, whether he be draped in Roman armour, or a shirt and sleeveless puffa-jacket.

Admittedly, Amy is still dominant over him, and the Doctor refers to him as Mr Pond rather than the more traditional transition of surnames after a wedding. But Rory has developed greatly, and this is because Moffat and company have allowed essential changes to the formula of the show.

Amy’s story is exactly the same. It’s been a tradition that the Doctor’s companions are brave and outgoing. Jumping aboard a time machine with a two-hearted alien takes courage, but Amy has been through much more than her fellow passengers. The Doctor has influenced her life since childhood, so the mystery man has affected her past, present and certainly future.

However, his impact upon her was only particularly forceful during her childhood and teen years, where she was constantly questioned about the reality of her meeting with the man with the blue box. Since she became a companion, and held her own in the dangerous worlds she faces, Amy’s image is something for fans to cherish – particularly young women. There are few strong female characters in British television today, but Amy Pond is something of a sci-fi role model to many.

She’s feisty yet heartfelt, bold but thoughtful, and she appreciates everything she has. Although the media quibbled over her sexual dress sense of short skirts and police uniform, Amy’s sexuality is not exploited – it’s true that many men find her desirable, but her presence in the show is not for her looks, but for her character.

In a world where reality television rules and underweight women are captured for their supposed beauty, it gives one great pleasure to know there is still something out there to give hope to those who seek it.

Now the show is back from that summer hiatus, fans can once again enjoy their favourite group back in the Saturday slot they deserve, and after a strong return with Let’s Kill Hitler, things can only get better (and Gillan is on excellent form in the next episode, The Girl Who Waited, too). With the great news that Gillan will be returning for the seventh series, our time with Amy is thankfully not up yet.

So we might just be able to look forward to at least another 13 episodes of that dashing red hair and quirky wit lighting up our evenings once again. I just hope they keep Rory around, too, for the perfect balance.

Check out the new and ever growing Doctor Who page at DoG, where we are marshalling all the Who content at the site, including interviews, DVD and episode reviews, lists, opinions and articles on our favourite time traveller...

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